Saturday, March 15, 2008

LETTERS - Youths

The Zambian youth
By Daaram Simakungwe
Saturday March 15, 2008 [03:00]

Please allow me as a youth to share my views with the nation on the state of affairs for the Zambian youth. Most youths do not even know whether they will complete their secondary education.

If they pass Grade 12, they are not sure if they will get sponsorship at our universities. If they graduate at university level, they do not know if they will get jobs. If they get employed, they are not sure if that company will be sustainable (especially in Kafue district).

This cycle of uncertainty is making it impossible for the Zambian youth to prosper and fight poverty. Only the privileged ones with government contacts get free sponsorship to study overseas.

It is a sad to see how many of our friends are languishing in the streets everyday despite doing well at school, all because the system do not favour youth development in Zambia.

Politicians need to critically analyse the real state of the lives of the Zambian youth if we are going to respect their speeches.
It's now rhetoric to hear annual speeches from the Head of State on Youth Day but things are hardly changing on the ground.

Many youths have no jobs. Others have no education. We won’t have a good future for the Zambian youth as long as the status quo persists.

Levy's blacklisting of construction companies
By Kangwa Musenga
Saturday March 15, 2008 [03:00]

The directive by President Levy Mwanawasa to the Zambia Tender Board not to award contracts to 42 companies for poor and shoddy work is very much welcome.

I wish the blacklisting could have extended to private companies so that these cheating contractors learn a lesson of doing a good job for the huge some of money paid by taxpayers.

There is no way a country which is striving to upgrade its infrastructure can risk awarding contracts to briefcase businessmen who end up doing a bad job.

For the sake of transparency, can the Tender Board publish the names of these companies so that we know them. And can the board also consult the Anti-Corruption Commission for any company suspected of being awarded contracts without following legal tender procedures.

Can we also know apart from blacklisting these companies, if they will pay back some of the money.

There are many companies in Zambia today which are run by top government officials, there relatives or close friends and are awarded contracts based on relationships; this is corruption and must be stopped.

These are some of the companies which end up doing shoddy works.

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Reconcile wages, basic needs basket

Reconcile wages, basic needs basket
By Editor
Saturday March 15, 2008 [03:00]

All our workers have a right to receive a just wage. All employers should give their employees an honest wage or salary and then ask them for more substantial support. Remuneration for work should guarantee people a dignified livelihood for themselves and their families. And the government should regulate industries and commerce to protect workers’ rights and to curb exploitation.

The current minimum wage of K268,000 per month needs urgent upward revision. This minimum wage was considered too low even when it was enacted into law over two years ago. Even at that time, it was still far below the cost of living or the basic needs basket for a family which at that time was just over a million kwacha.

Currently, the basic needs basket for a family of six stands at K1,870,650. Clearly, there is no way K268,000 can guarantee a worker a dignified livelihood for himself or herself and his or her family. Government needs to increase the minimum wage to at least K1,900,000.

We know that this suggestion will be denounced by many businesses as ridiculously too high. There is no way we can expect them to accept this when just two years ago they vigorously opposed the K268,000 minimum wage as being too high. And most of them said they didn’t want a minimum wage at all. But imagine what the situation would be like if the government never came up with a minimum wage at all.

It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that workers receive a fair and just wage and their survival is not left totally to the whims of market forces, of demand and supply. We say this because wages or salaries, or indeed labour in general, are not like any other service or commodity one buys from the market.

With labour we are talking about the dignity of human beings. It shouldn’t be forgotten that people’s work concerns not only money in the form of wages or salaries but also, and especially, personal values. Work is rooted in respect for human dignity.

Employees have a strict duty to give their employers efficient and conscientious work for which they have a right to a just wage or salary. Work provides an opportunity for each of us to show that we are images of God. We say this because God is our creator and we, every woman and man, show forth God’s image when we continue creation through our work, our labour, our engagement in shaping our Zambia of the future.

For this reason, the dignity of work must be recognised with just wages or salaries and other conditions of service. And for this reason, we should condemn all forms of business that place profit before persons and are totally based on the maximum or unbridled exploitation of one by another. And we shouldn’t forget that it is by means of work and making use of intelligence that people are able to make the earth a befitting home. Therefore, every effort that enables workers to improve their conditions should be valued and promoted by everybody in society.

There is need for the government to set a reasonable minimum wage, because if a ridiculously low figure is enacted as a minimum wage that will be what will be paid by most employers. If this figure is low, there is little much one can say because the employers will be acting within the law.

If the minimum wage is K268,000, the employers will pay the worker K300,000 which they will justify as being far above the minimum wage set by government.

But we know that K268,000 is ridiculous as a minimum wage. And the leaders of our government, including our legislators, know very well that it is absolutely ridiculous to pay a worker K268,000 in Lusaka but they still went ahead and legislated for that.

Probably this was in the hope that employers have a moral obligation to pay more than the minimum wage, to pay a just wage, but as we know it, capital is not driven by morality, fairness or justice.

It is propelled and motivated by profits. Capital doesn’t see the fact that the dignity of work must be recognised with just wages. Capital is not here to promote just employment policies but to extract maximum profits. It has no problems with placing profits before persons because it primarily profits from exploitation of the worker. We have seen this from how businesses have taken advantage of the minimum wage requirement to pay their workers very poor wages.

There are businesses that pay their workers exactly or just above the minimum wage requirement of K268,000. And this is with their full knowledge of the fact that the basic needs basket is way beyond K1 million. They don’t even care to ask themselves what an individual with a family of five can do with K268,000 per month.

They don’t bother to ask themselves how an employee getting a wage of K268,000 per month can be expected to not only buy food but also to pay for his transport to and from work, pay children’s school fees and pay for other services needed for one to function.

It is clear that left on their own, most employers will not bother about paying workers a just wage. And this is why the government should come in and legislate for a just wage to protect those who have to sell their labour to earn a living.

We hope that this time the government will reconcile the minimum wage to the cost of living. The minimum wage should enable a worker to meet the basic needs basket. It is the responsibility of the government to protect our workers from exploitation. After all, it is these workers and their families that voted them into office and not capital.



Govt has not abandoned APRM, says Banda

Govt has not abandoned APRM, says Banda
By Mwala Kalaluka
Saturday March 15, 2008 [03:00]

VICE-President Rupiah Banda yesterday said the government highly rates the performance of the Zambian civil service, ministers, deputy ministers and some parliamentarians. And Banda has said the government has not abandoned the implementation of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), even though it might take some time to realise its objectives.

Responding to a question from Chadiza MMD member of parliament Allan Mbewe, during the Vice-President’s question session time in Parliament, the Vice-President said Zambia was one of the few countries that could boast of a good and solid civil service.

“I would like to say that we rate our civil service very highly,” Vice-President Banda said. “Things are running normally and we have got peace in the country.”

He said this positive performance among public officers was as a result of the collective efforts that had been engendered in the growth of the country’s democracy.

On the concerns raised by Chipili PF member of parliament Davis Mwila over the government’s failure to revamp the Mununshi Banana Scheme in Luapula Province, Vice-President Banda said members of parliament and citizens should not wait for the government to do everything for them.

He said in as much as the scheme was previously owned by the government, it was privatised and it was now up to the private sector to take up the challenge of resuscitating Mununshi Plantation.

Vice-President Banda further asked parliamentarians from Luapula Province to inculcate a sense of responsibility in the people for them to stop tampering with the growth of the fish resource.

He told Luapula PF member of parliament Dr Peter Machungwa that the government was still resolved in its plans to restock fish in the rivers and lakes.

And Vice-President Banda said a recent assessment visit by APRM officials had shown that Zambia was not one of the countries that has been left behind in the implementation mechanism.



KCM to repair 18 TAZARA locomotive engines

KCM to repair 18 TAZARA locomotive engines
By Gillian Namungala in Kapiri
Saturday March 15, 2008 [03:00]

KONKOLA Copper Mine (KCM) has offered to assist in the repair of 18 locomotive engines for Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) at a cost of US $10.08 million. And communications minister Doro Siliya has said that the government is in the process of engaging private sector participation in the operations of TAZARA. Speaking during the launch of the first two newly rehabilitated locomotives, KCM resident director Deb Bandyopadhyay said the move was intended to revitalise the operations of TAZARA.

He said KCM was concerned with the rate at which TAZARA was carrying out its rehabilitation of locomotives hence its decision to assist the company. Bandyopadhyay explained that the project started with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between KCM and TAZARA in September 2006 in which it was agreed that Electric Transport was to provide kits and supervise the rehabilitation work at TAZARA’s workshop at Mbeya in Tanzania.

Bandyopadhyay said KCM would stand to benefit from the locomotives through an increased volume in exports, reduced transit times and predictability of copper deliveries to the port. Bandyopadhyay said currently KCM was exporting 70 per cent of the total copper export through TAZARA.

“To move our goods to the various ports, we need the railway therefore, we will continue to support any move aimed at improving the system,” he said.

He appealed to the Ministry of Communication and Transport to evaluate and examine the current railway infrastructure in terms of meeting the mining industry’s requirements.

Bandyopadhyay noted that the mining industry had grown and continued to grow at a remarkable pace but regretted that there was no corresponding growth in the railway services.

He also disclosed that production in the mining sector had grown from 250,000 per tones per year in 2000 to 500,000 tonnes per year currently.

He noted that this growth would be fourfold by the year 2010 through various investments such as Konkola Deep Mining Project in Chililabombwe and the new smelter in Chingola that were underway.

And Siliya in a speech read for her by Central Province deputy permanent secretary Luke Makupi said the government was aware of the challenges that TAZARA was facing.

She said the participation of the private sector would help revitalise TAZARA’s operations.

Siliya challenged the private sector to take advantage of government’s good investment policies to invest in the economy.

She hoped that once the 18 locomotives were rehabilitated they would help in improving TAZARA’s operations and enable it to compete effectively with other transporters.

And TAZARA managing director Clement Muwinya disclosed that business had declined to 50 per cent compared to a 70 per cent 20 years ago.

Muwinya attributed the decline to the dilapidated infrastructure but he hoped the two rehabilitated locomotives would help increase their haulage from the current 600 metric tonnes to 800 metric tonnes of goods.

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Mukuma challenges unions to prove their transparency

Mukuma challenges unions to prove their transparency
By Bright Mukwasa
Saturday March 15, 2008 [03:00]

LABOUR minister Ronald Mukuma has challenged unions to submit their books of accounts to prove their transparency. Speaking at the national union of miners and allied workers (NUMAW) quadrennial conference on Thursday, Mukuma said he had continued to receive complaints of abuse of workers’ contributions by their union executives.

“And if we put in place laws meant to safeguard and regulate workers’ rights, it’s not meant to punish anyone, it’s for the benefit of everyone,” said Mukuma.
He said there was need for unions to exercise transparency and show their membership how the money was being spent.

At the same function Federation of Free Trade Unions of Zambia (FFTUZ) executive secretary Lyson Mando called for the dismissal of labour commissioner Noah Siasimuna for allegedly violating labour laws by interfering in elections of his organisation.

“Under the department of labour, statutory instruments number 23 of 2008 was published on the 20th February 2008. The labour commissioner had effected this statutory instrument on the 18th February 2008 by using it to discontinue FFTUZ elections.

The labour commissioner did not wait for the instrument to be gazetted, neither did he wait for the 30 days to elapse before effecting it,” Mando said.

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PF leaders risk being cited for contempt, warns Machungwa

PF leaders risk being cited for contempt, warns Machungwa
By Lambwe Kachali and Patson Chilemba
Saturday March 15, 2008 [03:00]

PATRIOTIC Front (PF) Luapula member of parliament Peter Machungwa has warned that his party leaders risk being cited for contempt of court should it go ahead to expel six parliamentarians. The six members of parliament are Saviour Chishimba (Kasama Central), Faustina Sinyangwe (Matero), Reverend Sampa Bredt (Chawama), Marjory Masiye (Mufulira), Percy Chanda (Kankoyo) and Barnabas Chellah for Wusakile Constituency.

The six will appear before the PF central committee today to answer charges of resignation from the party. Machungwa, who is spokesperson for PF members participating in the National Constitutional Conference (NCC), said party leaders should know that the targeted parliamentarians obtained an injunction restraining the party from expelling them.

“I don’t think our party would like to experience that (contempt of court), because it will show that the party is not obeying the law of the land. I think it would be unfortunate because one might be arrested for contempt,” he said.

Machungwa said the party should be frank enough by stating that the members were facing expulsion for participating in the NCC rather than raise trumped up charges against them.

“How come there are no charges against any member who is not attending the NCC?” asked Machungwa.

Chanda said the party was engaging into a long legal battle that would go beyond 2011.

Chanda said he was not surprised over the allegations because the party had been planning to do so immediately he went to the NCC.

He said he was ready to challenge the party’s decision should he be expelled.

“I have got evidence right from my constituency where PF officials had a meeting, saying that they should look for cases against me.

People are ready to come and testify in the courts of law. So it is not a simple matter. In this meeting, provincial and district officials categorically said that we have won the matter about participating in the NCC but now officials should look for other charges to rely on.

I have got people who will testify in the court, so I am not even worried, let them just go ahead,” said Chanda.

Masiye said whoever was fighting her for no cause would be fighting against God.

She said she was not worried about what her party might decide.
Masiye said PF members used to be very good “buddies”, until others chose to obey the law by participating in the NCC.

According to the letters dated March 14, 2008 addressed to the six members parliament, party secretary general Edward Mumbi directed them to appear before the committee in person.

Mumbi in an interview later said the committee would make the final decision over the matter.

He said it was sad that some party members were misbehaving instead of building and preparing the party for the 2011 crucial general elections.

He said PF was a respected party and would not condone any misbehavior especially from members of parliament.

Mumbi said serious measures would be taken to any members who disobeyed the party constitution.

And PF president Michael Sata said any measure that would be slapped on the six offenders would be welcomed by the party.

Asked why the party had chosen to discipline only six when many members of parliament especially those participating in the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) withdrew their subscription from the party, Sata responded: “If you belong to a club, you pay membership fee and subscription fee.

Now if the top leadership i that club insult you or use strong language on you, do you have to withdraw your money? If you withdraw then you are telling everyone that you have resigned to that club and so you are no longer a member of that club. The same applies to these MPs. They are no longer members of PF,” he said.

Reminded that the members of parliament stopped contributing because he told them that he did not want their “blood money”, Sata said the excuse was unfounded and inconceivable.

“All I can tell you is that wait for tomorrow (today) and the central committee will make a final decision. Whatever decision will be passed, these people deserve it. Tomorrow everything will be laid bare. It will no longer be a secret,” said Sata.

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Chiluba 'loses house claim' against Kaweche

Chiluba 'loses house claim' against Kaweche
By Maluba Jere
Saturday March 15, 2008 [03:00]

CHILUBA’S claim that he bought Dr Kenneth Kaunda’s son Kaweche a house using money from Zamtrop is unfounded, Task Force on Corruption chairperson Maxwell Nkole has said. In an interview, Nkole said his officers had interviewed Kaweche last week and considered him as an important witness to ascertain abuses on Zamtrop payments to Access Finance. Nkole said their investigations so far have established facts that did not support Chiluba’s claims.

“We have been looking at the matter in which former president Chiluba alleged that he bought Kaweche a house and the facts we have established so far don’t support these claims.

Following a preliminary interview we had with Mr Kaweche Kaunda last week, it is apparent that he is more of a witness for the state on the Zamtrop/Access Financial Services account abuses than a suspect,” Nkole said.
He said when the Task Force tried to trace the

money that Chiluba claimed was used to buy Kaweche a house, it all pointed down to Zamtrop account.

However, Nkole said this development did not mean that Kaweche had already been turned into a state witness but rather the state considered him an important witness to certain abuses on Zamtrop payments to Access Finance.

He said according to their investigations, Kaweche obtained a loan from Access Finance for a mining project and provided collateral for the loan.
Nkole said that state would use Kaweche to assist establish why a Zamtrop account was used to clear his loan with Access Finance.

“The loan has been liquidated using money from Zamtrop account without Kaweche’s knowledge,” Nkole said. “As far as Kaweche is concerned, the loan is supposed to be outstanding because he still has collateral. So we feel Kaweche should assist with what was going on.”

Chiluba late last year claimed that in his efforts to assist the Kaunda family, his government bought Kaweche a house in South Africa after it was brought to his attention that the son of a former president was in distress.

And speaking through his spokesperson Emmanuel Mwamba from South Africa yesterday, where he is undergoing medical review, Chiluba said he would comment on the matter after studying the Task Force statement in full.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Assault on the dignity of all our people

Assault on the dignity of all our people
By Jacob Zuma
Friday March 14, 2008 [03:00]

THE acts of abuse and humiliation committed last year by students from the University of the Free State, which were captured on a video leaked last week to the media, are an assault on the human dignity of all South Africans. These acts are a stark reminder of the many ways in which the basic rights of our people have been violated over centuries, and how the attitudes that fed such violations still stubbornly persist in a democratic South Africa.

The incident shown in the video, which shocked the nation and received international attention, reveals how historical power relations between people of different race, gender, class and age continue.

By choosing to abuse black women workers, the perpetrators drew attention, probably unknowingly, to the triple oppression that a large proportion of our society confront.

As women, as workers, and as black people, this section of society remains particularly vulnerable, not just to the outrageous abuse seen in graphic detail over the past week, but to daily exploitation and suffering.

They are the section of society most likely to be living in poverty, to be unemployed, to be caring for children and elderly family members, and most exposed to violence and abuse.

The struggle against this triple oppression is not merely a struggle against the kind of hateful barbarism shown by four young men in the Free State, but a struggle against the social, cultural, political and economic chains that bind black women workers.

It poses a challenge to deepen efforts to remove all of these chains. Centrally, this must include intensifying the ANC's economic and social transformation programmes aimed at improving the lives of the poorest.

The Polokwane Conference resolutions on a comprehensive social security net, accelerated housing provision, improved access to health care and quality education, the expanded public works programme, and rural development, among others, need to be implemented.

The pursuit of accelerated economic growth must be accompanied by the creation of decent jobs for poor women and effective interventions to improve opportunities for those in the second economy.

It also requires a concerted assault on the patriarchal relations that permeate all facets of social interaction, whether in the home, in the workplace, in schools, in political organisations, in the media, or in the countless other places where women are discriminated against and oppressed.

The depth of sexist attitudes in our society was evident in another recent incident, this time in Johannesburg, where a young woman was harassed and abused by taxi drivers because of the clothes she was wearing.

It shares in common with the Free State incident the actions of a few South Africans that infringe on the rights of other South Africans on the basis of attitudes that should have no place in a democratic society, particularly in a country that has fought so hard against racism and sexism, and for which so many people have sacrificed.

The sense of general outrage that these incidents provoked among ordinary South Africans, both black and white, does however point to the progress made in developing respect for human rights and a rejection of overt racism and sexism.

It shows a society that has travelled some way along the road towards a non-racial and non-sexist future - a society which, although still faced with the legacy and reality of racism and sexism, is nevertheless struggling to overcome its past.

Such incidents do not signal a return to the trenches of racial animosity. Nor should they be quickly buried to ensure a semblance of normality. They should be used as an opportunity for reflection and debate.

Society should be able to discuss such incidents openly and frankly, better to understand the many ways that racism, sexism and class oppression (and ageism) still affect our people. And then to discuss how all South Africans, working together, can overcome these remnants of our divided and brutal past.

This theme was reflected in discussions that took place at the recent meeting of the national cabinet. A statement released after the meeting dealt with these issues in some detail. The relevant section reads as follows:

"Cabinet took a dim view of a number of incidents that have the potential to undermine the country's goal of building a democratic, non-racial and non-sexist society. The meeting strongly condemned the production of a racist video by four students at the University of the Free State.

The humiliation of workers who are old enough to be their parents is totally unacceptable and cannot, under any circumstances, be condoned by anyone. This incident highlights the fact that racism still remains one of the major challenges that face our young democracy.

"This shocking video exposes deep-seated racist stereotypes that are harboured by a section of our population and constitutes a complete disregard for the rights not only of the workers of the institution but a total disrespect for adults.

All South Africans must condemn such conduct and ensure that no South African, either black or white, can be subjected to such dehumanising and disrespectful behaviour. Government believes that the majority of South Africans are trying hard to emerge from the apartheid legacy of racial discrimination and no effort must be spared in ensuring that the South African project of building a united nation is not undermined by individuals who are opposed to transformation.

The University of the Free State must show strong leadership by bringing those responsible to book and setting an example to all institutions of higher learning by adopting concrete measures to abolish all forms of racism in the institution.

"All heads of public and private institutions have a responsibility to create conditions that would entrench constitutional values in their institutions and they must urgently take steps to ensure that all vestiges of apartheid are removed henceforth.

It cannot be acceptable that our universities, schools and other public and private institutions can continue to tolerate apartheid practices such as racially segregated residences and other facilities. Government calls on all our institutions to review their policies and practices with a view to making sure that the values as enshrined in our constitution such as non-sexism, non-racialism, and human dignity are observed by all.

"Cabinet condemns unreservedly the recent harassment of a young woman by taxi drivers in Johannesburg for wearing a mini-skirt. Such an attack represents the most backward and the worst form of gender-based abuse and deserves the condemnation by all South Africans. Government calls on all men, and taxi drivers in particular, to stop harassing women and to distance themselves from any sexist and disrespectful behaviour against our mothers and daughters.

"The meeting also condemned the use of the 'Kaffir' word by a senior soccer official at a press conference recently. We should take care not to use derogatory words that were used to demean black persons in this country. Words such as 'Kaffir', 'coolie', 'Boesman', 'hotnot' and many others have negative connotations and remain offensive as they were used to degrade, undermine and strip South Africans of their humanity and dignity.

"The only good that must come out of these unfortunate incidents is that South Africans, irrespective of race, gender, religion, colour, or creed, must openly confront the scourge of racism, sexism and other undemocratic practices that continue to surface from time to time.

All institutions must develop diversity programmes aimed at training and educating both young and old about the country's history and the reasons why the principles of non-racialism, non-sexism, discrimination had to be enshrined in our constitution.

"Whilst these diversity management programmes are important, those who engage in activities that undermine the constitutional rights of others must face the full might of the law.

The public, particularly the victims of abuses, are encouraged to fully utilise institutions that were created by the Constitution such as the Courts, the Human Rights Commission, the Gender Commission and others, to enforce their rights. The transgressors must know that there will be legal consequences for undermining the constitution and trudging the rights of others."

We owe it to the generations of South Africans who will follow to remind each other that what defines us as a nation is our unique statement of a nation that values its non-racial, non-sexist and united democratic ethos.

Stop racism now!

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Banda cautions mines unions against tribalism, racism

Banda cautions mines unions against tribalism, racism
By Bright Mukwasa and Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Friday March 14, 2008 [03:00]

VICE-President Rupiah Banda has cautioned unions in the mining sector against tribalism and racism in their operations. And National Union for Miners and Allied Workers (NUMAW) has observed that the inequality among workers doing the same job in most mines on the Copperbelt is a recipe for industrial unrest.

Meanwhile, labour minister Ronald Mukuma has advised mine unions to engage in social dialogue with their employers to resolve their grievances.

Speaking at the official opening of the NUMAW quadrennial conference in Lusaka yesterday, Vice-President Banda said any from of racism and tribalism was archaic and retrogressive.

Vice-President Banda also said the rising copper prices should enable investors to pay their workers accordingly.

He also advised unions in the country to avoid of violence.

“We urge your union, in this regard, to always remember that unionism of violence, retrogressive rhetoric, industrial disharmony and lack of responsibility belongs to the past.
Government, therefore, condemns the behaviour of the mine workers at Chambishi Copper Smelter who participated in an illegal work stoppage and the destruction of property,” said Vice-President Banda.

He said the rise in copper prices at the international market should stimulate productivity in the mining sector which in turn should result in motivation for the workforce through better pay and conditions of service.

Vice-President Banda also said the government also expected mining companies to fully comply with the local labour laws.

And NUMAW president Mundia Sikufele said there was need for the government to strengthen its regulatory policy in monitoring the mining owners over the conditions of service they offered.

“Despite the mining industry employing about 75 per cent of the eligible employees on the Copperbelt, we are concerned with the increasing levels of contract labour,” Sikufele said. “It is becoming clearer day by day that some contract workers are receiving remuneration and terms and conditions which sometimes are in violation of our country’s labour laws. Such inequalities in conditions of service among the workers doing the same job are a clear recipe for industrial unproductivity and resentment.

We do understand that our role is to expose abuses workers endure in mine houses but there is need for government to consider strengthening regulatory frameworks in both the Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development and Ministry of Labour and Social Security.”

Sikufele also said NUMAW regretted the violence and the subsequent destruction of property at Chambishi Copper Smelter last week.

“We believe that violence in any situation retards development, demoralises economic players and frustrates clearly defined efforts and procedures in dispute resolutions,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mukuma said social dialogue remained the most effective way of addressing the workers’ plight in the country.

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DEC refuses to arrest Kaweche

DEC refuses to arrest Kaweche
By Brighton Phiri
Friday March 14, 2008 [03:00]

THE Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) yesterday said they have not arrested Kaweche Kaunda in connection with the transfer of US $7 million from Jamaica because he is not the principal suspect. Commenting on Kaweche's challenge for the DEC to arrest him instead of the Jamaican woman who is charged for money laundering involving US $7 million, DEC spokesperson Roston Chulu said their investigations revealed that Ingrid Loiten was the principal suspect, hence her arrest.

"I would not want to comment on what has come out in the paper. But as far as we are concerned, the principle has been arrested," said Chulu in reference to Kaweche's challenge to the DEC to arrest him instead of Loiten because he was the prime mover of the transfer of the US $7 million.

But Kaweche insisted yesterday that he should be the one to be arrested because he was the one who asked Loiten to use her personal account to transfer the money.

"Why are they separating me from the case when they know that I have been dealing with them over this same matter for some time?" Kaweche asked.

Investrust Bank chairman Friday Ndhlovu declined to comment, saying it was not right for the bank to issue a statement on the matter that was before the courts of law.

Home affairs minister Lt Gen Ronnie Shikapwasha refused to comment on Kaweche's challenge, saying the DEC were the right institution to deal with the matter.

The DEC arrested and charged Loiten with money laundering, failing to account for the money and falsification of documents.
And Loiten disclosed yesterday in a telephone interview from Johannesburg that the US $7 million was sourced from a Jamaican investor who had shown interest in investing in the Mfuwe development project.

According to Loiten, a Jamaican investor directed his company, which had account with a financial lending institution, to transfer the money to Zambia.

"This financial lending institution is listed on the Jamaican Stock Exchange. I wonder how such an institution can allow me to use it to transfer dirty money," she said.

Loiten said the Mfuwe development project, which was designed for the construction of two factories, a financial institution, skills training centre and over 4000 low cost houses for the local people, attracted interest among investors from Jamaica, Unites States of America and Israel.

She said one of the American investors demanded for a government grant before releasing funds while the Israeli investor sent to Zambia a technical team to assess the feasibility of the project.

She said upon concluding the preliminary plans of the project, she approached her contact from the European Union Development Council and Overseas Private Investment Commission for support.
"I am amazed to see the massive undeveloped land in Mfuwe. Since I have a lot of contacts of financial support, I begun soliciting for support. The support was overwhelming from the investors," Loiten said.

She said the US $7 million was meant for fundraising activities towards the project, which was estimated to cost over US $60 million. She said she had been involved in strategic planning with Educate Jamaica Network.

Earlier, Loiten said both her family members and financiers from the European Union and oil producing countries supported the project proposal.

She wondered why Investrust Bank rushed to report her to DEC when she had discussed with the bank before they allowed her to transfer the money for the project.

"It is not that the bank did not know what I was doing. They knew before the money was transferred," she said.

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Sikaneta expresses concern over police's abuse of public funds

Sikaneta expresses concern over police's abuse of public funds
By Mwala Kalaluka
Friday March 14, 2008 [03:00]

MINISTRY of Home Affairs Permanent Secretary Susan Sikatena yesterday said management of public funds in the Zambia Police Service leaves much to be desired. Appearing before PAC to explain unconstitutional expenditure cited in the report of the Auditor General for the 2006 financial year, Sikaneta said measures were being put in place to reverse the weak financial management systems in the police.

“One thing that I would like to mention is that the system at Zambia Police, the way it has been functioning, leaves much to be desired. I have taken this to the attention of the Secretary to the Treasury,” she said.

Sikaneta said when it comes to management of public funds within the Police Service, she was just a controlling officer by name and on paper. “That is why there have been so many problems in the police,” Sikaneta complained.

“All the monies that are sent to the police do not go through the controlling officer, they go straight to the police.”She asked PAC to help her ensure that she was given a strong mandate to oversee matters of financial management within the Zambia Police.

Sikaneta said the K2.9 billion unconstitutional expenditure that was accrued in 2006 was as a consequence of the urgent need to buy vehicles for the police during the 2006 general elections.

“We have taken note of the observation of the Auditor General and we will be able to apply to the Ministry of Finance to allow this amount as excess expenditure so that it can come in the appropriation bill for 2006,” she said.

Sikaneta said they would ensure that the police and any other departments within the Ministry of Home Affairs spent within the budget.

Milupi asked Sikaneta to explain why the money supposedly for procuring the motor vehicles for the 2006 general election in the Police Service were not budgeted for.

“Our worry as a committee is that when the executive knows certain events that are going to happen and does not follow the constitution, it is as if they want to circumvent our constitutional provision,” Milupi said.

However, the Ministry of Home Affairs’ chief accountant Jessy Nkhoma, said a supplementary provision raised in view of the unconstitutional expenditure was submitted late and was therefore not captured.

Milupi also said the committee was worried that similar issues might surface in the 2007 financial reports and in subsequent years if they were not brought to an end.

Responding to the concerns, Sikaneta said she was doing everything possible to address the problems.

She said it was also regrettable that the traffic section at Livingstone Central Police decided to divert revenue amounting to about K37 million without treasury authority.

“We are monitoring very carefully and seriously and anybody found wanting will be brought to book,” she said.

And Milupi said he was concerned with the state of affairs at Interpol Headquarters, where K230 million was stolen by an officer by the name of Agrippa Zulu, who also misappropriated K167 million the following year.

He said it was frightening that senior officers were helping themselves to public funds.

But Sikaneta said everything was being done to recover the misappropriated funds because simply reverting the erring officers to other duties and deducting from their salaries would amount to converting the stolen money into a loan.

“What we are doing is to go for prosecution,” she said. “Agrippa Zulu has been arrested, prosecuted and is in court and we believe the evidence against him is so overwhelming and chances are that he is going to be convicted.”

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Sondashi declares himself Levy's best successor

Sondashi declares himself Levy's best successor
By Mwila Chansa
Friday March 14, 2008 [03:00]

FORMER works and supply minister Dr Ludwig Sondashi yesterday said he is the best man to succeed President Levy Mwanawasa. Announcing his intension to contest the MMD presidency and subsequently the national presidency at a press briefing in Lusaka, Sondashi said amongst all those that had made their intentions known so far, he believed he was the best candidate to take over from President Mwanawasa.

“I will offer myself as an aspiring candidate for MMD and if adopted for the Republican presidency, I will go for it. I am a politician most suited and with the relevant experience to carry forward the programmes of Dr Levy Mwanawasa,” he said.

Dr Sondashi said he hated corruption and that the anti-corruption crusade embarked on by President Mwanawasa would be safe in his hands. He said he was the first person to congratulate President Mwanawasa when he was adopted to stand in.

“By now people should be seeing that what I said was right because Zambia is no longer the same Zambia we knew before Levy became President,” Dr Sondashi said.

He also bragged that the current Anti-Corruption Act was drafted with his assistance.

Dr Sondashi further said if the public wanted to prove how much he hated corruption, they could also go to the University of Zambia and read the thesis for his masters and PhD because it talks about how corruption could be curbed in Zambia.

He said he had sufficient experience and relevant expertise in good governance and that having worked under all the three Presidents of Zambia made him a better person to run the affairs of the government.

“We hear some of the people that want to aspire are aeroplane mechanics but we are not running aero- planes here, we are running people and I have been in the business of running people for a long time,” said Dr Sondashi.

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Funjika's case confirms Chiluba's corruption - kk

Funjika's case confirms Chiluba's corruption - kk
By Brighton Phiri, Laura Mushaukwa and Noel Sichalwe
Friday March 14, 2008 [03:00]

DR Kenneth Kaunda yesterday said former Zambia National Service (ZNS) commander Lieutenant General Wilford Funjika’s jail sentence confirmed former president Frederick Chiluba’s corrupt mind. Commenting on the decision by the High Court to sentence Lt Gen Funjika to nine months imprisonment, Dr Kaunda said he felt sorry for the former service chiefs who were currently being prosecuted for having been polluted with Chiluba’s corrupt mind.

“Young man, Funjika’s imprisonment is a very sad development. I hope and pray that Chiluba’s corruption disease does not spread and that those polluted are isolated. This is not the Funjika I knew when I was president of this country. He was a young, developing and promising officer,” Dr Kaunda said.

“This is a Chiluba development. Funjika was completely destroyed by Chiluba’s regime. I hope and pray that those officers currently serving in President Mwanawasa’s administration will use this case to see that President Mwanawasa is not like Chiluba.”

Dr Kaunda reminded public officers that President Mwanawasa was following the path that was there under the UNIP administration. He urged public officers to help President Mwanawasa develop a different and honest path of running the country’s affairs.

And Task Force chairman Maxwell Nkole has said the decision by the High Court to sentence Lt Gen Funjika to nine months imprisonment was a great morale booster in the fight against corruption. Nkole said for the first time, there was a signal from the criminal justice system that corruption was here to stay and needed to be fought.

“We feel that our efforts are not in vain. It motivates us to do more,” he said.
Nkole said although Lt Gen Funjika’s sentence had been upgraded to nine months, he expected a much longer sentence considering the gravity of corruption.

Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) president Reuben Lifuka noted that the state of health should not be used as an excuse for handing light sentences on people convicted of corruption.

"While we appreciate and are compassionate about the state of health of Gen Funjika, we are also mindful that this should not be an excuse for letting off lightly those who have been found guilty of corruption," Lifuka said. "The judiciary plays a pivotal role in the fight against corruption and for a while now, we have been concerned at the type and nature of punishment given to offenders.

The sentences clearly have been mild and a light slap on the wrist in most cases and it can be concluded that these sentences are ineffective especially if the intention of the government is to use the investigation and prosecution of high profile cases as a deterrent to those who may be inclined to engage in such activities."

Lifuka said TIZ had been advocating for a high level of activism by the judiciary to send a strong message that corruption, especially grand and political corruption, would not be tolerated.

Lifuka, however, said some of the judgments passed had not been commensurate with the alleged offences and had raised concern in the anti-corruption movement on the efficacy of the fight against corruption.

"We generally consider the revision of the suspended sentence a fair judgment. However, we strongly feel it should not have come to this if the lower court had done its work properly," he said. "The judiciary needs to be bold and courageous in dealing with issues of corruption. In their judgments, the judiciary should be aware of the seriousness of corruption.

We therefore appreciate that judge Musonda has aptly highlighted the severe consequences grand corruption has on the social, economic and political developments of the country. However, we hasten to add that even the other four types of corruption mentioned by judge Musonda are serious and should not be considered as acceptable and those engaged in such acts should equally face the wrath of the law.

"The clarity and boldness exhibited in this case should remain the hallmark of the Zambian judiciary. We have been disappointed before, especially on cases of political or electoral corruption and it is our considered view that the judiciary have, in some instances, not risen to the occasion and what we have previously seen are judgments which acknowledge the seriousness of corruption but fail to categorically mete out appropriate sanctions."

He said the judgment should send a clear message to other controlling officers like permanent secretaries, commanders of the armed forces, Inspector General of Police that their actions would continue to come under close scrutiny.

"For too long, the Zambian people have sat on the fence and we have inadvertently praised and adored those among us who are corrupt. As a people, we have failed to sufficiently denounce corruption no matter the size of the act," he said. "In 2008, we want to urge each and every Zambian to play an active role in their own environment to eradicate corruption.

While we all appreciate and demand that President Mwanawasa and his cabinet should provide leadership in this fight, it is incumbent that we are all fully engaged and contribute to cleaning up government and society as a whole."

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Generous Jamaican investors

Generous Jamaican investors
By Editor
Friday March 14, 2008 [03:00]

Ingrid Loiten should not be surprised that Investrust Bank, as she claims, "rushed to report her to the Drug Enforcement Commission when she had discussed with the bank before they allowed her to transfer the money for the project". It is not that the bank did not know what she was doing; they knew before the money was transferred. Investrust Bank did the right thing. They acted in a professional way and in accordance with requirements of the law.

It is clear that Ingrid and her friends were for some time trying to patronise the bank and lower its guard. But this is a professional bank run by very professional people and in a very professional way. We can say this with confidence because we bank with them. There is efficiency at Investrust Bank but no short cuts.

And it's not surprising that they did what Ingrid claims they did - report her transfer of US $7 million into her account with them to the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC). Any prudent banker would have done the same.

There are a number of issues that Ingrid needs to explain to the satisfaction of the DEC.

First, there are contradictions and inconsistencies in her story. On Wednesday, she told this newspaper that the project was supported by both her family members and financiers from the European Union and oil-producing countries. But yesterday, her story to this newspaper somehow changed. She now says the entire US $7 million came from one investor in Jamaica.

And there is no mention of contributions from Europe or the oil-producing countries. However, she adds that the project has attracted interest from not only Jamaica but also the United States and Israel. There is no mention now of the oil-producing countries and Europe. moreover, there is no contribution from America or Israel to this US $7 million.

On Wednesday, Ingrid described her arrest and subsequent charges as malicious and intentional by those who wanted to destroy her personality. We don't know her personality. And we don't think anyone in this country other than her friend Kaweche Kaunda really knows her personality to go for its destruction.

We don't think the management of Investrust Bank was motivated by malice to report the matter to DEC. We also don't think the DEC is moved by malice in arresting her and charging her with money laundering, failing to account for the money and falsification of documents.

We cannot comment on the merits of these charges, first because we don't know what she told the DEC for them to come up with these charges. But from what she has told us, we feel there are inconsistencies or contradictions that merit the DEC's probe of her US $7 million transfer.

One doesn't need to be very intelligent to see that there are definite questions that need definite answers from Ingrid. And if truly, as the DEC says in its charges, Ingrid has failed to account for the US $7 million and has falsified documents, then she deserves to be arrested and accordingly charged.

However, we do understand her panic and desperation. It arises from the fact that this money is not hers but belongs to someone else in Jamaica who has never been to Zambia. This overgenerous Jamaican investor, who we believe does not come from Moco - a Jamaican area associated with people who are dull or stupid, may demand his money and Ingrid will have difficulties accounting for it.

And it seems in this whole project, accountability is a strange word. The way the money was transferred to Zambia raises so many questions about accountability for this money. And money that is meant for a project is deposited in an individual's account, Ingrid's personal account. This raises serious questions about accountability. How would the Jamaican investor get his money back if say Ingrid died or somehow disappeared? Is this really the way to implement a US $7 million or US $60 million project?

As for Kaweche, there is no need to become hysterical about the US $7 million. Yes, it may be big money but it's not his money. He doesn't know where it is coming from or how it was raised where it is coming from. We appreciate his concern about the poverty and lack of development in Mfuwe. But this will only be addressed meaningfully with clean money. We need investors from other countries but let it be known where the money is coming from lest we turn our country into a centre for money laundering.

Let the matter go to court and if DEC has no case, the money will be handed back to Ingrid and if she is still interested in Mfuwe, she will then go ahead to carry on her projects. But at the moment there are questions that need to be answered to the satisfaction of the Zambian authorities.

Moreover, Jamaica is a poor country and needs a lot of investments to alleviate the poverty of its people and money should not be transferred out of that country unjustifiably. This is not to say there should be no south to south investment. What we are trying to say is that if this happens, it must be in a rational and justifiable way.

In fact in this country, we have the Zambia Development Agency where investors go to be assisted in obtaining investment licences, work permits and even advised on how to bring in their capital. Did Ingrid do this? Or Kaweche has become the Zambia Development Agency in his own right?

There is need to do things the right way. There is need for order. And whatever our desperations for investments, we should not lose sight of this. We live in a world where crime has become very complicated and if we are not careful, we may find ourselves with a lot of problems arising from questionable investors.

Here, we are not saying that Ingrid and her friends are involved in money laundering or related offences. All that we are saying is that the explanation Ingrid is giving raises further questions that need to be answered. And if what she told us is what she told the Investrust Bank and the DEC, then there is every reason to question her on these issues. And in the absence of satisfactory answers, the DEC has every reason to arrest her and charge her with money laundering and failing to account for the US $7 million she caused to be transferred into this country.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Prof Chirwa reaffirms presidential ambitions

Prof Chirwa reaffirms presidential ambitions
By Bivan Saluseki
Thursday March 13, 2008 [03:00]

MMD presidential aspirant Professor Clive Chirwa yesterday said he had not run out of steam. Prof Chirwa said he still had the momentum. “As you can see, I still have momentum and I will take this all the way to 2010 when we go to MMD party convention,” he said.

Asked if he had run out of steam, Prof Chirwa said; “Far from it. I am not out of steam. In fact, my reservoir is so full that I wish 2011 was now.”

Prof Chirwa said recently he had a public lecture at the London School of Economics and Political Science and he planned to have six more public lectures to Zambians in Moscow, Tokyo, Sydney, Perth, Washington and Atlanta.

“By the end of the year, I will present two big lectures in Zambia, one on my vision on economic policy and the other on my education policy. I intend to present my manifesto in stages until 2010,” he said.

“So far, I have been very frank with the Zambian people. I am the only person in Zambia who has openly presented vision for Zambia and how I am going to achieve success by eradicating poverty and building an educated nation at ease with itself and ready for tasks ahead in the 21st Century.

I want to see other politicians in MMD and other parties stipulate their visions for Zambia. I bet they have none. If so, let them come out.”

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Kansanshi Mining, MUZ talks stall

Kansanshi Mining, MUZ talks stall
By Mulimbi Mulaliki
Thursday March 13, 2008 [03:00]

NEGOTIATIONS for new conditions of service between Kansanshi Mining Plc, Mine Workers Union of Zambia (MUZ) and National Union of Mines and Allied Workers (NUMAW) have stalled following management’s refusal to accept the workers’ demands. And government has given Kansanshi mine management up to March 31 2008 to conclude new conditions of service with the two unions, which started in January this year.

The two union representatives told workers during a meeting, which was held in Solwezi on Monday that management, had refused to increase their salaries by 50 per cent.

According to the workers who attended the meeting, the two union members resolved to stand by their demand of 50 per cent salary increment across the board, review of contracts to five years from two years and also increase of the education allowance from K100,000 to K1 million among other demands.

“We have resolved that if management still rejects our proposals then we are going to declare a dispute resulting in a industrial strike. Kansanshi mine management should stop cheating government that it pays its workers better than other mine companies because the least paid worker at Kansanshi gets K1million while at Konkola Copper Mine the least paid employee gets K1.9 million,” the workers said.

The workers said their nine proposals to management among them, 50 per cent salary increment, increase of leave passage from K200,000 to K1 million housing loans mortgage to be paid and review of two years contracts to five years, were very genuine comparing with life in Solwezi and especially that accommodation was very expensive.

According to a joint communiqué, which was read out to workers, management had refused to give them a 50 percent salary increment and to review contract of two years but had offered to increase salaries in grades.

For those in grade one and two 10 per cent, grade three 12 per cent, grade four 14 per cent and grade five 16 per cent which the two unions rejected.
Management had also refused to harmonise salaries for workers doing the same work but instead pay on individual performance.

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Kitwe mourners beatup gravediggers

Kitwe mourners beatup gravediggers
By Correspondent
Thursday March 13, 2008 [03:00]

GRAVEDIGGERS at Kitwe’s Chingola Road cemetery were on Monday morning beaten up by mourners after they stopped them from burying their deceased relative at the high cost site. Kitwe City Council public relations officer Dorothy Sampa said the mourners beat up the gravediggers after they were advised that they could not bury their deceased relative at the high cost site unless they paid a certain amount of money. Sampa said the mourners went to the cemetery in a light truck registration number ACH 9498,.

“Yes, I can confirm that our gravediggers were beaten up by some mourners who wanted to bury their deceased relative at the high cost. The mourners wanted to bury their deceased relative at the high cost site, but they were advised that they needed to pay a certain amount of money but in turn the mourners ran amok and started beating up grave diggers,” she said.

Sampa said it was sad that mourners could fail to reason with gravediggers and resort to violence and physical confrontation.

She said the matter had since been reported to Mindolo police and appealed to residents to follow procedures on policy issues.

She said the people that dig graves were doing a commendable job as it was not an easy task and therefore needed to be supported.

“The people who prepare our final resting place are doing a good job and deserve to be respected for the good job they were doing, but it is saddening that some people could go to the cemetery and start beating up our gravediggers. This is very barbaric and inhuman. We have since reported the matter to Mindolo police station,” said Sampa.



ZADESA to open bank for small-scale farmers

ZADESA to open bank for small-scale farmers
By Collins Chilambwe
Thursday March 13, 2008 [03:00]

ZAMBIA Development Studies Association (ZADESA) wants to open a bank for small-scale farmers to access loans and a parallel institution to render help in utilising the loans. ZADESA president Tiyaonse Kabwe said in an interview that the association wanted to open a bank for poor peasant farmers to render loans to them without collateral.

“As ZADESA we have a proactive action of identifying certain programmes that can contribute to the development of a country,” he said.

“I believe Zambians should be empowered to take the centre stage in economic development of our country through financial help. And I have firm conviction that Zambian nationals are building blocks of our country,” he said.

Kabwe said the starting point in development was revamping agriculture in Zambia.
He said peasant farmers were mostly left behind and if those farmers were empowered, there would be a multiplier effect in terms of development.

Kabwe said the bank would have branches throughout the country at district level accompanied by a parallel institution that would render training to peasant farmers.
He said the parallel institution would prepare farmers seeking loans to effectively utilise them and it would certify the farmers to proceed and get the loan.

Kabwe also said the institution would carry out market research and link farmers to them so that they are not exploited by unscrupulous businessmen.

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Albidon confirms uranium presence at Njame project

Albidon confirms uranium presence at Njame project
By Kabanda Chulu
Thursday March 13, 2008 [03:00]

ALBIDON Mining Zambia has confirmed the presence of high-grade uranium mineralisation at its Njame east project near Chirundu. Giving an update on the pre-feasibility studies that would be completed this month end, Albidon Zambia on Monday stated that uranium resources at the Chirundu joint venture with African Energy Resources had increased by 25 per cent to reach 4,120 metric tonnes.

“The pre-feasibility study on the Njame and Gwabe deposits in the Chirundu joint venture is on schedule for completion by the end of March 2008 and an updated resource calculation for the Njame uranium deposit is in progress,” it stated.

Albidon indicated that the first uranium production was expected by the end of 2009.
However, mines minister Dr Kalombo Mwansa warned prospective uranium miners in Zambia that it was illegal to commence production because the government was still developing guidelines.

Mwansa said the government had devised guidelines to regulate the mining of uranium in the country and the guidelines had been sent to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for scrutiny and guidance. Following the recent discovery of uranium, there have been concerns that Zambia lacked capacity to control uranium mining in terms of storage, safety, security and transportation.

Albidon Mining has become the third company to discover uranium deposits after Equinox Minerals discovered uranium deposits at its Lumwana copper project in North Western Province and has since embarked on a Bankable Feasibility Study (BFS), whose outcome would decide the way forward.

The other company is Omega Corp Limited, whose uranium exploration operations in the Siavonga area have reached advanced stages, with company managing director Mathew Yates stating that metallurgical discoveries had resulted in new areas of uranium mineralisation at its Kariba Uranium Project (KUP).

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Chief Chanje bans tobacco trade with briefcase buyers

Chief Chanje bans tobacco trade with briefcase buyers
By Christopher Miti
Thursday March 13, 2008 [03:00]

CHIEF Chanje of the Chewa people in Chipata has banned his subjects from selling tobacco to briefcase buyers that have already flooded the area. And chief Chanje has commended the Malawian government for getting rid of buffaloes that had run away from the national park. In an interview from Chipata yesterday, chief Chanje said briefcase buyers should not sway people.

“I have taken my indunas as security men to guard against the unscrupulous people who are buying tobacco before the opening of the tobacco market. I want the people to sell their tobacco to the companies that gave them loans once the market opens later this month,” he said.

He appealed to tobacco companies to open the market as soon as possible to prevent farmers from selling their commodity to briefcase buyers. Chief Chanje said people in his area were expected to have average yields this year because of the floods.

He expressed gratitude to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) for abiding by President Mwanawasa’s instruction to start selling maize in the province. Chief Chanje appealed to FRA not to have a limitation on the number of bags to be sold in the area.

And chief Chanje commended the Malawian government for getting rid of the buffaloes that had escaped from Kasungu National Park late last year.

“The Malawian government sent some game rangers here to get rid of the buffaloes whose presence caused fear among my subjects,” said chief Chanje.

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Levy, NEC differ over administration of youth and women's funds

Levy, NEC differ over administration of youth and women's funds
By Lambwe Kachali and Mwala Kalaluka
Thursday March 13, 2008 [03:00]

MMD members of parliament and some national executive committee (NEC) members on Tuesday differed with President Levy Mwanawasa during a caucus meeting at State House over the administration and implementation of youth and women empowerment funds through the Citizens Economic Empowerment (CEE) Act. And former lands minister Judith Kapijimpanga fumed at State House security personnel after they blocked her from driving into State House premises using her personal vehicle.

MMD sources disclosed yesterday that that MMD MPs and NEC members expressed concern over intentions by the government to administer the Youth Empowerment and Women Empowerment funds under the CEE.

The source said some members argued that the transfer of such funds would disadvantage the rural youths and the womenfolk, as they would not be able to meet the required conditionalities attached in accessing the money.

The sources said some members of parliament indicated that the step that the government had taken on the funds had the potential to worsen the poverty situation in rural areas.
The source said upon realising that the issue was getting hot, President Mwanawasa said it was not right for NEC and members of parliament to fight the government. The sources said the members told President Mwanawasa that it was not a question of fighting the government but a question of ensuring that the national cake was equally shared among Zambians.

“They said that the way things stand, the rich will become richer and the poor, most of whom are rural dwellers, will become poorer. What criteria will be used to access this fund taking into account that the Act itself is not clear? This was their argument and they wanted proper clarification from the President. But to our surprise, the President thought they are fighting the government,” the source said.

The sources further said they were servants of the people in their respective constituencies and were in dire need of accessing those funds.

It took the members more than 45 minutes arguing and stressing their points to convince President Mwanawasa.

When they failed to reach a compromise, President Mwanawasa declared a division and called for a vote. The source said after considering the impression that might have been created to vote against the President, some members unwillingly voted in favour of President Mwanawasa’s wish.

“You know, you cannot bite a finger that feeds you. Even when all of us were raising our hands up, we still did not agree with the President,” the source said.
And another source said the other issue on the agenda was the revision of the road user fees proposed by RTSA.

The source said it was resolved that the public should be consulted before the Statutory Instrument was signed.

And Kapijimpanga, who went to attend the caucus meeting was told to park her car in the general car park outside State House, as ministers and deputy ministers were ushered in through the main gate after screening. Kapijimpanga, who is MMD chairperson for lands, obliged with the security officers’ advice and parked her car in the general car park.

She was later joined by another NEC official who wanted to know why only those who had flag-flying vehicles were allowed to drive into State House.

“So does it mean that these with flags are more important than NEC members who are the supporters of the party?” the unidentified NEC member asked the security officers.
Kapijimpanga and her colleague, however, went into State House but returned shortly after seeing that another NEC member by the name of Munkole was allowed to drive through the main gate despite him not being a minister or deputy minister.

The duo confronted one of the security officers and asked him why Munkole had been allowed to drive in when they were blocked from doing that.

“I have been a minister; I have been a deputy minister and why are you treating me like this?” Kapijimpanga asked the security officer, who responded that Munkole told them that he was a ‘honourable’.

Kapijimpanga said Munkole was not a ‘honourable’ and that he had just joined the ruling party NEC a few weeks ago.

“Actually, I demand an apology from you because you have treated me like a street pushover,” said Kapijimpanga. “When you set standards, they have to be levelled. I am going to drive in because I was also a minister and deputy minister.”

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Zesco seeks K380bn for Kafue, Kariba

Zesco seeks K380bn for Kafue, Kariba
By Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Thursday March 13, 2008 [03:00]

ZESCO Limited requires US $100 million (about K380 billion) to expedite uprating works at Kafue Gorge and Kariba North Bank power stations, company managing director Rhodnie Sisala has disclosed. And Zesco director for transmission and generation Christopher Nthala has said completion works of uprating two generator sets with 165 megawatts each at Kafue Gorge Power Station was not likely to reduce load shedding as the country’s demand for power had continued to skyrocket. In an interview, Sisala said Zesco had managed to overcome all the bottlenecks it faced earlier and that the rehabilitation work was in progress.

“Initially, our objective was only to renovate the equipment but later we saw that as an opportunity to upgrade the equipment and that meant doing a lot more work,” Sisala said.
“As a result of that, the total cost of the projects has increased from our initial estimates of US $210 million to US $305 million. And so we need about US $100 million to finance that gap.

“We have engaged a number of lenders and we have secured some money but we have not secured the full amount of money required to complete this project. The government has come to our rescue and they have said in the interest of completing this project as soon as possible, they would like to know from Zesco how much is required to complete the projects so that they can provide those financial resources. And I wish to confirm that we have already submitted to our parent ministry our estimates of what is required to complete this project and we are very hopeful that this will be given favourable consideration.
“We have had some challenges because of delayed payment but all those issues have been resolved, the contractors are back on site and are working very well.”
And Nthala explained that the Kafue Gorge Power Station was only going to recoup its full capacity of the plant after December this year.

“By June this year, we are going to bring on stream two generating sets number six and seven at Kafue Gorge with an addition generating capacity of 330 megawatts,” Nthala said.

“This will result in a restoration of full capacity of the power station but this will only last for about two days because later, we will remove generator number two which will knock out 150 megawatts from the system. And later we will remove another 150 megawatts generator set for about two months. So as we will restore 330 megawatts in June, we will take out another 330 megawatts, so the full capacity of the plant will only be restored after December.”

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Govt to release K580m for construction of schools in Monze

Govt to release K580m for construction of schools in Monze
By By Pride Bwalya
Thursday March 13, 2008 [03:00]

MONZE District Education Board has disclosed that the government would release about K580 million for the construction of two new schools in the district. Speaking during the district development coordinating committee meeting yesterday, District Education Board Secretary Josephine Shamputa said that this was in an effort to ensure that certain schools in the district were decongested.

Shamputa said that most schools were congested because of government policy in the education sector to enrol every child above seven years of age for grade one.
And Shamputa said that the rehabilitation of schools was expected to be carried out over a period of three months.



What kind of youths do we need?

What kind of youths do we need?
By Editor
Thursday March 13, 2008 [03:00]

IT is good that President Levy Mwanawasa gets very irritated when the youth are treated as mere political tools for use during the period of political campaigns. But the question is: what is Levy and his party, the MMD, doing about this? Levy’s political party is one of the major culprits in the abuse of the youths during political campaigns. And what has the MMD done over the last 17 years to change things or the way the youth are treated in the politics of our country?

The question which our politicians and their political parties need to address is: what kind of youths do we need or don’t we need in our political parties?
It cannot be denied that there is a decline in the political morality, ethics and values in our country. And we must note that this has caused considerable strain on the moral standing of our politicians and their political parties.

We need to have youths who conduct themselves in a manner that should be acceptable politically. We need youths in our politics who are selfless and are not taking or influencing decisions based on their own interest and who should subordinate their interest to that of the nation at large. We need youths who understand the broader national and international situation and who view accountability as an important duty of their political work. Our youth in politics must be rooted and grounded in society, and understand their role in transforming society.

But the issue of the type of youth we need in our politics is also tied to the issue of what type of political parties and politics we need in our country.
We need politicians and political parties that respond to the needs, aspirations and interest of the broad masses of people. We need political parties that directly mobilise our people to struggle for a more just, fair and humane society. Our political parties should be the hope of our people in ushering in a society free of injustices and unfairness.

To achieve all these things, our politicians and their political parties will need to invest a lot in developing the youths politically. They will need to ensure that their mission and objectives are deep-rooted among the youths and society at large.

One extremely worrying aspect of our political parties and our politics in general is the lack of political education for the youths, the cadres. There is need for political education among the youths that is based on the question of real life activism and linked to the political campaigns of our political parties.

We have witnessed the absence of political education and cadre development programmes in all our political parties, including the ruling MMD which Levy heads. How can things be well with the youths politically when they are not being educated politically at all?

We need to build political parties of activists and not mere members. And we should see the campaigns of our political parties focusing on issues that affect the youths. Our political parties need to focus more on campaigns that deal with poverty and unemployment among the youths.

There is a growing membership in our political parties. However, this is not reflected in the activities of our political parties. Most members and some of the leadership are not involved in the daily lives of their political parties.

There should be continuous political education programmes for members, especially the youths.
There is need to probe into some attributes of the situation and awareness of youths’ participation in our politics. There exists a certain degree of indifference to politics among the youths, which is closely intertwined with the prevalent values of the time we live in.

There is also a phenomenon that the youths’ awareness and activities in political participation appear to have split from each other. Affected by economic utilitarianism, they know the fact that political participation cannot bring them direct economic returns.

As a result, on the one hand, they recognise the systems, principles and functions of the current Zambian political operation; on the other hand, they, more often than not, take a pragmatic attitude in political participation.

Their political awareness does not coincide with the specific political activities. Nevertheless, they are not totally indifferent to the politics in reality. In fact, they are often engaged in limited participation in politics although they are only concerned about it. It is striking unparallel between their political awareness and political activities. They doubt whether real political participation can bring them true profit. Consequently, they hesitate to take part in political activities.

It is inevitable for the youths to have immature, flawed and even incomplete awareness in political participation in today’s Zambia. No country can transcend such a period on the road of development when the youths are immature in the awareness of political participation and when they are unable to understand the reality of the contemporary politics of their country. Pragmatism affects the youths’ political participation and political evaluation. Our youths’ understanding of politics is still very superficial and, by and large, their evaluation originates from their private interest.

On the one hand, this kind of tendency results from the immaturity of their character; on the other hand, it is closely related to the negative influence of economic pragmatism and utilitarianism in their mind.

In terms of social problems, they try to view and understand them realistically and try to evaluate and consider them based on their own direct interest. Yet, there are comparatively uninterested in the study of political theories. Consequently, their recognition to politics is very direct and superficial.

Individualism is very conspicuous among our youths. Our youths do not have a strong awareness of participation, and political indifference does exist in certain range. The absorption of pluralism in values and the acceptance of relativism in world outlook has given rise to a great change in our youths’ values.

The steady influence of all these values has all the more discouraged our youths’ enthusiasm for political participation. They even go to extremes to believe that it is an ideal attitude to keep a distance from politics. Meanwhile, the pluralism of youths’ values results in the different understanding of political participation. Hence, they can hardly form the same community, identity, points of view or discourse, that may exert a negative influence on their political participation.

Currently, the increasing diversity of youths’ values may give rise to their plural political mentality and views which make it impossible to form a dominant trend of thought. In a sense, the diversified political recognition and awareness will affect our youths’ political attitude and the stability of their political tendency.
As a result, we cannot have a strong cohesion in the process of development, and we cannot form a powerful political force to promote the all-round change in an effective, efficient and orderly manner.

There are no shortcuts to these. We can only address these problems by serious political education and mobilisation among our youths. But how are we going to achieve this when even the generation that is relatively much older is politically bankrupt? Who is going to be the teacher? One can only teach what one knows; one can only give what one has – no more.

The leaders of our political parties are not doing much to educate themselves politically and raise their levels of political awareness so that in turn they can teach the youths. This is the dilemma we find ourselves in politically – there is too much political bankruptcy, ignorance among our politicians. The challenge is how to change this!

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Political abuse of youths irritates Levy

Political abuse of youths irritates Levy
By Chibaula Silwamba, Sandra Mulowa and Agness Changala
Thursday March 13, 2008 [03:00]

President Levy Mwanawasa yesterday said he gets very irritated when youths are treated as mere political tools during political campaigns. And a youth representative Allan Sakala said youths wanted eight per cent of the national budget to be allocated to their welfare because they were the majority in the country.

Officiating at this year’s Youth Day commemoration under the theme: ‘Promoting Partnership Between the Youth and other Stakeholders for National Development’ at the Freedom Statue in Lusaka yesterday, President Mwanawasa said it was essential to prepare youths to become future leaders when the current leadership is gone.

“I remember my time as a youth, time has run too fast. I cannot imagine that I am 60 and yet it seemed not long ago when I was talking of being 25 years old,” President
Mwanawasa said.

“I am determined that the youths of today will have a prosperous future and grow into prosperous citizens. It is for this reason that I get very irritated when matters of youths are handled with kinder grooves and when the youths are treated as mere political tools, which should be used during the period of political campaigns. It is essential that we should prepare our youths effectively so that they can become future leaders when we are gone.”

President Mwanawasa said the partnership between the youth and other stakeholders for national development did not simply end at young people being incorporated into adult decision-making processes but must be institutionalised in issues, settings and practices that were very much of young people’s lives.

“One of the greatest benefits of youth, government and stakeholders’ partnership is that of policy framework formulation which my government designed in partnership with the young people themselves.

This has helped to give a better understanding of strategies, roles and responsibilities to be played by each stakeholder including the youth,” he said.

President Mwanawasa said the policy of establishing youth resource centres in every province was on course and the objective was to continue the process until each district could have a youth resource centre.

“I, therefore, urge young people through the nation to take advantage of the skills training programme offered in the centres to uplift their lifestyles,” President Mwanawasa said.

“I wish to pay tribute to our cooperating partners for their continued support by supplementing government efforts as stipulated in the national youth policy. I therefore urge them to fulfill all the pledges they made towards youth programmes especially with regard to the upgrading of these youth resource centres and skills development programmes.”

He said youths that would graduate from the youth resource centres could produce goods and services for consumption within their communities.

“I therefore urge the Ministry of Sport, Youth and Child Development, the Office of the Vice-President and the Citizen’s Economic Empowerment Commission to join forces and spearhead the establishment of a youth industrial complex starting at provincial level and eventually at district level,” President Mwanawasa said.

“Once established, youths who graduate from youth resources centres can utilise the industrial complex to utilize their acquired skill in productive ventures and take advantage of community needs in their areas and around the country.”

And President Mwanawasa announced that the government’s policy on the management of the youth empowerment fund has been shifted from the Ministry of Sports, Youth and Child Development to the Citizens Empowerment Commission.

“The changeover has caused some delays in the disbursement of the youth empowerment fund. In order to avoid any further delays, the Citizens Empowerment Commission must act quickly to ensure that delays are eradicated in collaboration with the ministry responsible for the youths,” said President Mwanawasa.

And Sakala said youths had for a long time been used to provide labour for the private sector and that there was need to come up with a policy for the private sector to support youths.

Sakala commended the government for introducing new taxes for the mines that would ensure that Zambians benefited from the mineral resources.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

LETTERS - Energy, Judges, The World Bank

Zambia can solve its energy crisis
By Kaping'a Smogy Isaac Lusaka
Wednesday March 12, 2008 [03:00]

The article which appeared in your paper of Monday March 10, 2008 in which the government was blaming the World Bank and loading the consequences on its wagon for having misled the country on the energy crisis made very sad reading.

I can’t believe that after about 44 years of political independence, and having dealt with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for many years, we still seem not to know and understand the dealings and policies of the two financial institutions.

Zambia, a very peaceful and beautiful nation endowed with plenty of rivers and falls, is capable of solving the energy chaos given the educated and trained human resource the country has.

As a sovereign state, we were supposed to be making our own independent and viable decisions which suit our own setup rather than be “yes bwanas” to bad foreign policies. I am not saying that all foreign policies are bad but we should be very selective.

My humble plea to the powers that be is: let us engage the right and qualified technocrats at all levels of our governance system so that they can advise the government accordingly, and to avoid mediocrity.

De-linking judiciary
By Kombe Ngolwe.
Wednesday March 12, 2008 [03:00]

The recent announcement of the de-linking the Judiciary from the executive arm of government is a step in the right direction if Zambia is really serious about democratic governance.

I applaud the government for this initiative.

However,Zambians need to ask questions and demand accountability on why and how long Zambians been living under the executive judiciary. This touches the confidence that the general public put in the court system. Without a distinct separate judiciary, people will question their guarantee for a fair and impartial hearing; and protection of the law.

Without a separate and independent judiciary, it would be very difficulty to avoid public accusations and labeling some trials as being politically motivated. A separate judiciary will ensure that justice is rendered in accordance with oath of office of judges and magistrates; and not according to the interests of any political party.

The only way to serve the best interests of Zambians is to effectively implement checks and balances in government by maintaining a distinct separation of those who legislate, execute and decide on laws. Democratic the governance too follows the principle of division of labour.

It is good that this issue comes this moment of constitution making. The best safeguard to avoid this overstep to executive judiciary is make a constitutional amendment now that will make it illegal and extremely difficulty for future executive powers to grab the judiciary in Zambia to serve their political appetites. Mere pronnouncement of de-linking the practice is not enough; make a constitutional law to protect it.

My hope is that this de-linking process of the judiciary will eventually lead to the real separation and independence of the judiciary in Zambia. The only link that needs to be maintained is funding for the judiciary and those Executive privileges as mandated by the Constitution.

World Bank, energy sector
By Kaliza Nyoni UNZA student
Wednesday March 12, 2008 [03:00]

I wish to contribute to the subject on the energy crisis which the permanent secretary Peter Mumba attributed to the wrong advice the World Bank gave to Zambia.

The World Bank is a bank from which many developing countries do borrow in order to finance their developmental projects.

However, when a country borrows, the bank attaches conditions that have to be met for a country to be given the money. Among these conditions are privatisation, restructuring, reducing inflation rate, reducing government budget deficits and cutting government expenditure, devaluation of local currency and many others. Restructuring also includes the energy sector.

Your editorial of 10th March, 2008 stated that the reliance of our government on the World Bank, the IMF and other donors to run the country is frightening. I wish to say that for a country to borrow from the World Bank, these conditions have to be met. Maybe this is why the PS attributed the energy crisis to the World Bank. Zambia had 280 public companies which have been privatised, with only a few remaining;

the sale of Zanaco was just one requirement which the World Bank demanded. We all know that the introduction of multiparty democracy in Zambia was one of the requirements that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank advised Dr Kaunda's regime to allow in order to receive funding from these two financial institutions after our economy had almost collapsed with inflation standing at 200 per cent. The World Bank has to approve some developing countries’ national budgets, thus compromising sovereignty of these nations.

The developmental plans are made in Europe and are not compatible to our situation here. In most cases, they have reaped bitter results. But why should a country like ours borrow. Even in our own national budgets, there is a percentage for donor funding.

When you borrow, you are almost like a slave. Even the so-called HIPC and debt write-off is just one way by which the IMF and World Bank wants to reap our resources. Not all debt under HIPC has been written off, but that it has been spread over to be paid in a longer period. The question is: do we have our own enough resources?

Let’s see if developing countries can organise local resources to finance their development plans without IMF and World Bank. If Zimbabwe will manage to do it without IMF, World Bank and donor agencies in her current state with inflation over 10,000 per cent, then other developing countries can copy from her.

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Zesco doesn't bother to explain load shedding, complains KK

Zesco doesn't bother to explain load shedding, complains KK
By Fridah Zinyama, Florence Bupe and Maluba Jere
Wednesday March 12, 2008 [03:01]

Dr Kenneth Kaunda has complained that Zesco Limited does not bother to explain to the nation when the country is experiencing load shedding. And National Energy Sector and Allied Workers Union (NESAWU) secretary Yotam Mutayachalo has said the government should be held accountable for the power outages that the country is facing.

Meanwhile, Winnie Madikizela- Mandela has urged Zambia to partner with her country in the search for long-term solutions to the power outages. In an interview, Dr Kaunda said Zesco did not take the trouble to explain to the nation the problems that the power utility was experiencing.

“If we had been prepared for the increase in demand for electricity, Zambians would not be sitting in darkness on a daily basis,” he said.

Dr Kaunda said the government was aware of the increase in demand for the commodity but did not put measures in place to mitigate the problem.

“If people in authority had the foresight and planned adequately, we would not have the problems that we now have,” he said.

And Mutayachalo has said it was wrong for government to shift the blame of the prevailing power shortage to organisations such as the World Bank.

“Government should account for the power shortages because the power crisis we are facing now is purely due to government’s failure to heed advice from concerned parties,” he said.

Mutayachalo charged that the government had decided to ignore calls for urgent infrastructure rehabilitation and capacity enhancement in the electricity sub-sector.

“When we brought out our fears on the operations of Zesco, we were not supported by government, and if government continues to downplay the problems we are facing, Zesco will land into a bigger crisis,” Mutayachalo said.

He said the current power crisis could only be resolved if those charged with the responsibility of handling the country’s energy sector took an honest and pragmatic approach to the problem.

He charged that there were still high levels of lack of transparency in the management of the power sector.

“Zesco needs to objectively inform the nation of what’s going on instead of concealing issues on the ground. The current power shortages have the potential to seriously cripple this county’s economy and threaten job security within Zesco,” said Mutayachalo.

And Winnie said South Africa was equally affected by the on going power deficit.

“When Eskom wanted to rehabilitate and expand its production capacity, government stopped the utility company,” Winnie said. “Now the government has realised its error and is pumping enough funds into the utility company for its rehabilitation and expansion programme.”

Patriotic Front vice president Dr Guy Scott has said it was arrogant of the government to shift blame on the energy crisis in the country to the World Bank. Dr Scott said the World Bank might have misunderstood the agenda of privatising Zesco but were not the ones to live with the consequences.

“It’s the government’s job to find a solution to this problem because it was anticipated as far back as 20 years,” he said. “Zesco is supposed to be looking after its own affairs and not expecting someone from outside to come and address these issues.”

Energy permanent secretary Peter Mumba last week said the World Bank should bear the consequences of having misled the country on the energy situation.

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Govt should have avoided power shortages, says Konga

Govt should have avoided power shortages, says Konga
By Joan Chirwa and Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Tuesday March 11, 2008 [03:00]

GOVERNMENT should have taken necessary measures to avoid the electricity shortages in Zambia as experts advised, energy and water development minister Kenneth Konga has said. And the World Bank has said it will be impossible for Zambia to attract private sector investment into power generation as long as government fails to put right policies in place.

Meanwhile, Zesco Limited has predicted Zambia's power demand to sky-rocket to 2,500 mega watts (MW) in the next five years from the current estimated 1,300 MW.

In an interview, Konga said experts had projected a power shortage several years back, saying the government should have put in place necessary strategies for increased investments in generation to avoid an electricity deficit.

Konga said Zesco Limited should therefore not entirely be blamed for the current power shortages as the government should have put come up with incentives to attract investments in the sector.

“The truth is that experts advised us that there would be a power shortage and this is exactly what is happening. So to entirely put the blame on Zesco’s management for the current power shortage is far-fetched,” Konga said.

“The projections that were made about 10 years ago indicated that Zambia, like many other countries in the region, would have a power shortage and government should have then taken measures to ensure that there were investments in the energy sector to avoid electricity shortages.”

Zesco Limited has intensified its load shedding programme, as demand for electricity continues to outstrip supply.

The company's current generation capacity stands at around 1,000 mega watts of electricity against a peak demand of over 1,400 mega watts.

Load shedding has now become more intense following the suspension of electricity imports from neighbouring countries due to the region’s power deficit.

Several manufacturing companies have begun to feel the impact of the power shortages, with Parmalat Zambia Limited announcing a decline in production of dairy products for the Zambian market.

Zamanita Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Zambeef Products Plc, also indicated that over K1 billion had been lost due to reduced production of edible oils as a result of power outages.

According to recent statistics compiled by the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), power demand in the SADC region has been increasing at a rate of about three per cent per annum over the last 15 years.

But there have been no corresponding investments in generation and transmission infrastructure to match the increase in the demand, and as a result, generation surplus capacity has been diminishing steadily over the past few years.

The total installed capacity in countries included in SAPP is about 53,000 mega watts, but available capacity is only 45,000 mega watts due to technical limitations.

The dependable capacity is further reduced to 41,000 mega watts as the available hydro capacity varies depending on season and other constraints.

The peak demand in 2006 was 42,000 mega watts resulting in load shedding in some extensive parts of the region.

Zambia's power utility Zesco Limited is currently carrying out rehabilitation works on all its major generation and transmission plants, a project that is likely to take the next four years before it is completed.

Up-rating of some equipment is also in progress, the exercise that is likely to increase Zesco’s total installed capacity to close to 2,000 mega watts in the next few years.

During last year’s SADC meeting held in Lusaka, it was noted that the power deficit would negatively affect the economies of the region and potential investors, considering that electricity is a critical component in production.

SADC countries were therefore urged to urgently implement the main power generation and transmission projects in view of the region’s power deficit.

The rise in regional power demand has been largely on account of economic expansion in member states requiring more power to supply the new industries, increase in population of most SADC countries, non-economic tariffs in most member states that do not support re-investments in power generation as well as insignificant capital injection into generation and transmission projects from either the private or the public sectors.

The South African government recently announced that it would invest millions of rands into Eskom’s operations for efficient power generation and supply to the country - one of Africa’s largest economies.

And Konga further said the government was concerned with Zesco staff costs, which he said were currently high and needed to be looked more critically.

“The limited investments being made in Zesco also has to do with the company’s performance were staff costs have been quite high,” Konga said. “Government is currently looking into the issue of staff costs that are being incurred by Zesco Limited.”

A recent independent study conducted by the Norton Base, IPA Energy Consulting and PB Power revealed that staff costs had been Zesco's major expenditure item in the company's income statement, which accounted for 50 per cent of the total costs three years ago.

The study stated that staff costs, that include basic pay, over-time, allowances such as housing, travel, medical, hardship, inducement, transport, standby and shift allowances, leave pay, pension contributions, funeral grants, and retirement benefits were a major expenditure for Zesco Limited.

The report stated that Zesco's staff costs were growing rapidly even though the power utility was reporting that staff numbers were decreasing.

The Cost of Service Study was conducted over 12 months in collaboration with Zesco Limited and the ERB as part of the government's commercialization programme for the power utility.

And World Bank country manager Kapil Kapoor said while most players in the private sector were willing to invest in power generation, they felt discouraged by the sector’s low profitability in Zambia.

“Private sector participation in the energy sector is not only possible but there is a great deal of interest in it - but the policy environment must be right,” Kapoor stated in response to a press query. “Let me just take one policy issue, which has been discussed quite a lot recently, which is the tariff issue.

“According to most observers, a conservative estimate of the cost of generating 1 kilowatt per hour (kwh) of electricity is 4-5 US cents; it is not unusual to find costs going as high as 9-10 US cents per kwh in various parts of the world. The tariff in Zambia is under three US cents per kwh, even after the recent increase. Why would investors come and invest in generation if they cannot make a profit?”

He stated that electricity tariffs in the country had lagged behind the inflation rate, adding that Zambia had also one of the highest petroleum prices on the continent.

“Twenty years ago, the price per kilowatt hour of electricity in Zambia was 5 US cents per kwh,” Kapoor stated. “Over the years, tariff adjustments have not kept pace with inflation. So, today you have a situation in Zambia where the price of petroleum is one of the highest in Africa, while the price of electricity is among the lowest.”

He further stated that an increase in electricity tariffs should correspond with Zesco’s efficiency levels in service delivery.

“But increasing tariffs is only part of the solution. This has to be accompanied by improvements in efficiency, which means reducing technical losses, aggressive metering;

improving billing and collection; reducing the arrears that are owed to Zesco; reducing Zesco staff costs and helping Zesco invest in updated plant and equipment,” Kapoor said.

He also stated that privatizing the power utility was not a major solution to the current problems in the sector, stressing that policy reforms in the industry was paramount.

Kapoor however stated that privatising Zesco was only one way of the options of achieving efficiency in the electricity sector.

“Privatising Zesco is not necessarily the solution because privatisation without any change in the policy environment will also result in the private provider operating at a loss and they will have to stop operations,” Kapoor explained.

“From my point of view, what is critical is to make sure that Zesco operates in a policy environment that allows it to deliver energy services efficiently, at the lowest cost possible - while at the same time generating revenues that allow for the expansion in capacity so that the nation's energy needs can be met.”

Kapoor observed that there were several other options that could be considered, based on international experience.

He stated that World Bank and other institutions were willing to render both financial and technical assistance towards the development of the energy sector in Zambia.

And responding to a press query, ERB communications officer Kwali Mfuni said while the new electricity tariffs provided a good return for Zesco, they also addressed needs and concerns of consumers such as local industries, farmers and domestic users.

“The Energy Regulation Board (ERB) has adjusted electricity tariffs 11 times between 1998 and 2007. In all those adjustments, the ERB has been guided by the need to strike a balance between consumer interests and utility interests,” Mfuni said.

“It must be noted, however, that until 2007, the actual cost of providing electricity was not known. Thus, a study was commissioned in 2006 by ERB to determine how much it cost Zesco to provide a unit of electricity to various customer categories. This study was very important in determining what cost reflective or economic tariffs would be for each customer category.”

She explained that the essence of commissioning the Cost of Service Study was to provide a basis upon which economic tariffs would be determined and that ERB tariff decision of 2007 was largely based on the Cost of Service Study.

And Zesco Limited says power demand in Zambia is expected to reach 2,500 MW in the next five years as investments in major economic sectors increase.

“The installed capacity of the Zambian electricity grid is 1,600 Mega Watts, of which 450 Mega Watts has been taken out for rehabilitation and up rating. Two machines from Kafue Gorge, each with a capacity of 150 Mega Watts and one machine from Kariba North Bank Power Station with a capacity of 150 Mega Watts, giving a total machine outage of 450 MW,” said Monica Chisela, Zesco Limited’s senior marketing and public relations manager.

“The current maximum demand is estimated to be 1,300 MW and it is anticipated to reach 2500MW in the next five years. We also need to keep a reserve of 150 MW as a safety measure to prevent total black out in the event of system disturbance. During the evening peak, 300 MW has to be shed off in order to save the machines from total collapse should the demand exceed available supply.”

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