Saturday, May 17, 2008

Retracing the Lumpa Church

Retracing the Lumpa Church
By Mwala Kalaluka
Sunday May 11, 2008 [04:00]

THE story of Alice Mulenga Lenshina, the founder of the banned Lumpa Church, was feasted upon by the media within and outside the Southern African region from 1964 up to her demise in 1978. Hers was certainly a hot, selling story. A quick perusal through the newspapers of the day however brings to the fore the skewed manner in which some news articles on Lenshina and the Lumpa Church were presented by the media in certain instances. In some cases it was more of highly opinionated commentaries than the presentation of facts as they arrayed themselves.

How much has the media contributed to the ‘tarnishing’ of Lenshina and the people that have remained faithful to her manner of religion to date and to the banning of the Lumpa Church on August 3, 1964?

The colonial media in describing Lenshina and her followers coined such words as primitive, religious fanatics, uneducated, evil and uncivilised in their stories. Reading through the compilation of stories today one cannot rule out the fact that a majority of them were sexed up and were laced with some of the social stereotypes that existed prior to Zambia’s independence.

This sexed news barb permeated the minds of the people at the time; a notion that still makes the round today that Lenshina was just a witch leading a sect, without a care to delve into the intricacies of the issue.

A headline on a story published in the Rand Daily Mail of August 14, 1964 following Lenshina’s surrender to government agencies in Kasama read: ‘ALICE ‘DIED’ TO LEAD RABID LUMPA SECT.

The story or ‘opinion’ read in part that: “Alice Lenshina, the ‘resurrected’ prophetess who led the Lumpa Sect in Northern Rhodesia’s bloody holy war, surrendered in a remote northern village 55 miles from Kasama this week amid ‘touching scenes’ of wailing singing followers.

“Famed for issuing ‘passports to heaven’, Alice says she died in 1953, but was resurrected immediately. She also claims that Christ appeared to her in a vision and that under his divine command, she formed the Lumpa Church.

“The so-called holy war that Alice launched upon the government came about because her primitive tribal followers believed her story. It is conceivable she even believed herself.”

The media frenzy continued and the parochial manner in which the whole issue was handled by the media then becomes apparent.

The Northern News in an editorial comment headlined WHEN EVIL OUTWEIGHS GOOD published on August 14, 1964, stated as follows: “Unquestionably, there is good as well as bad in the Lumpa religion, but basically it is founded on witchcraft, and there is no arguing with such people. Their beliefs are absolute. They are not an educated people, and they are not to be moved by reasoning.

“Their readiness to die for what they believed to be the truth has been demonstrated hundreds of times over in the past three weeks, and this is only history repeating itself. Africa has many precedents.

“…A good deal of what Lenshina preached is unacceptable in a civilized state.”
A plethora of violent exchanges between the Lumpas and the government culminated into the banning of the Lumpa Church as we have stated before.

In his address to the nation then, Dr Kenneth Kaunda said the murderous attacks made by the followers of the Lumpa Church in many villages in Lundazi were the source of the ban.

“These attacks have resulted in the deaths and the infliction of injuries on a considerable number of people. In an earlier statement made a few days ago, I said that my government has no quarrel with the Lumpa religion as a religion.

“But the events in the Chinsali district last week and the happenings in Lundazi in the past 24 hours, have satisfied me that the management and activities of some branches of the Lumpa Church are incompatible with the maintenance of peace, order and good government.

“I have this evening, therefore, exercised the powers that rest in me under Section 12 of the Societies Ordinance, and I have signed an order declaring all branches of the Lumpa Church to be unlawful.

“While the order is in force any office bearer or any person managing or assisting in the management of any branch of the Lumpa Church will be liable to imprisonment for up to seven years.”

The number of casualties, according to the Northern News of Tuesday August 4, 1964, stood at 150 people and that a day of national mourning was declared for the victims who died in 10 days of bloody fighting.

Dr Kaunda was concerned that the violence would bloat Northern Rhodesia’s advance towards political independence. But on Friday September 4, 1964 a screaming headline appeared in the Central African Mail and it read, ‘20 LUMPAS, 2 SOLDIERS DEAD IN FRESH OUTBREAK.’

This headline came only a month after the Lumpa Church was banned and a month ahead of Northern Rhodesia’s independence from Britain.

The story read as follows: “Two soldiers and at least 20 followers of the banned Lumpa Church were killed when members of the sect clashed with security forces in Lundazi district yesterday.

Reports say the soldiers who are killed were shot with a 404 elephant gun which was among the weapons used against the troops.

The Lumpas also opened fire with muzzleloaders, shot guns and rifles after rejecting the call of a government officer to surrender. The scene of the clash is now known to be a previous unknown stockaded settlement containing about 300 people.

The army reports that the soldiers stopped firing and withdrew when the Lumpas lined up women and children in the field of fire. Today leaflets were dropped on the settlement calling upon the occupants to surrender peacefully. The clash was the first since Alice Lenshina surrendered three weeks ago.”

However, a few months earlier on May 29, 1964, the same newspaper had published another news story headlined ‘TROUBLE FEARED BETWEEN LENSHINA AND ‘OTHERS’.

“There are growing fears here that fresh trouble might break out between members of the self-styled prophetess Lenshina.

Reports from Ilondola area say that some people are complaining that their food stores have been burnt down. They are blaming adherents of Lenshina’s Lumpa Church for their losses.

“During the campaign preceding the January election which swept Dr Kenneth Kaunda’s UNIP into power there were serious clashes between UNIP and Lenshina’s followers as a result of which several people were killed.

“After the elections, however peace and quiet were restored. Even now the situation is relatively calm in spite of the reports from Ilondola.

“Chief cause of friction between UNIP and Lumpa is that Lenshina has declared that members of her sect are not to take an active part in politics. Not only do they refuse to join any political party, but they are also not prepared to register as voters.

“The attitude of the government has been one of trying, first, to reconcile the Lumpa religious fanatics and the more politically-conscious of their compatriots as a first step towards integrating them into modern society.

“But the general public tends not to be as patient as the government. They are complaining bitterly that Lenshina’s followers do not have much respect for government ministers. As one angry UNIP member put it: ‘These Lumpa people are accusing our ministers of doing nothing for us.

They say that we are just enriching them. They simply are not prepared to recognise the fact that our government is spending more money on developing the rural areas than any previous government’.”

Yet again, on April 26, 1965, the Northern News ran a story headlined ‘LUMPA MURDER: TWO UNIP MEN ON TRIAL’.

The story read as follows: “FOUR former Lumpa followers described at the High Court (Ndola) here today a daylight attack on a hilltop to which they had fled ‘in fear’ from a village in the Chinsali district on January 10.

Before the court were Simon Mumba, 32, a farmer who was a UNIP branch chairman, and Chonto Mfula, 47, villager, who said he was ‘just a UNIP member.”
Both have pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr. Simon Kapikila, a Lenshina follower, on a hilltop near Musunsu Village, by spearing him.

…Mumba said that he had been instructed by police to round up Lumpa followers and to report back to the police. On January 19 he found a group on the hilltop.”

A few days earlier, the African National Congress (ANC) and UNIP traded accusations on the floor of the National Assembly, over what had caused the 1964 Lumpa uprising which claimed 700 lives.

According to the Northern News of April 22, 1965, then Namwala ANC member of parliament Edward Liso said the uprising was caused by UNIP’s intimidation of Lumpa members.

The news article stated that the then vice-president Reuben Kamanga denied the charge and said he was not surprised at the stance taken by the ANC and he further accused them of being irresponsible.

Said Mr. Kamanga: “This malicious propaganda has continued and today in this House it has been made very clear that there is still a group of people which is interested in bringing about disorder in this country.”

The Northern News wrote that Kamanga said that at the time of the Lumpa disturbances in July of 1964, the colonial government had invoked emergency powers enabling him to detain people without trial.

“Since then the former leader of the banned Lumpa Church, Alice Lenshina, her husband and seven deacons of the church had been held in detention,” the article read.

The news article further read that Kamanga said the position in the Northern and Eastern Provinces was now much quieter, but it was not yet possible to remove the government’s powers and revoke the emergency regulations.

“Mr. Liso said it was about time the government released Lenshina and her followers and that no real reasons had been given by the government for the prolongment of the emergency powers,” the news story read in part.

But Kamanga said in response that the situation that existed could have led to a state of public emergency if it was allowed to continue.

On the other hand the resident minister for the Northern Province, Robert Makasa, accused the ANC of orchestrating the Lenshina uprising.

He said Liso had been in a village in Chinsali when President Kaunda had visited Lenshina.

“A week after he left, we had this trouble which led to 10 people being killed and 60 injured,” the Northern News quoted Makasa as saying.

Makasa told the House that 832 people had been killed in the uprising and since the beginning of the year about 90 more had died, before listing a number of Lenshina incidents since 1955.

On September 17, 1964, Lenshina, who was then described by the Northern News as the ‘plump prophetess whose fanatical followers set the Northern and Eastern provinces ablaze with their ‘Holy War’, and was in detention at Mumbwa with her husband Petros, Lameck Sumayile, Justin Bwalya, Lameck Simbewi, Dickson Mbao, White Phiri, Wilson Museba and Moses Tambatamba, asked for an inquiry into the Lumpa uprising of July and August 1964.

She told her Ndola-based solicitors: “My people who are still hiding in the bush must return to their homes and stay well. They must not worry about me as I am well and in a safe place.

“I want them to be peaceful and report violence to the authorities, and not take the law into their own hands.

“Now that there is no fighting I want the government to appoint a commission of inquiry so that the truth about all these troubles will be known, and there will be a peaceful, lasting solution.”

The answer to this request only came in 1965. In the month of April the Northern News reported again that Dr Kaunda had said the time was ripe for a full inquiry into the Lenshina affair. The story read that Dr Kaunda said that the inquiry would be held in secret but that its findings would be published.

The decision by Dr Kaunda to institute an inquiry into the Lenshina uprising coincided with a surprise request by Lenshina during an appearance before a special tribunal in Lusaka that she would rather remain in custody in Mumbwa than be released.

She was however, released on December 23, 1976 and was put under house arrest. Kamanga pledged then that the government would release the findings of the commission of inquiry into the Lenshina uprising.

Had she lived on, Alice Lenshina would have been 84 - years old today and her contemporaries would be social luminaries such as Zambia’s first president Dr Kenneth Kaunda and other unsung heroes of our past.

But why is it that Lenshina’s existence and reverence at the peak of the independence struggle has been accorded a tag of notoriety rather than a popularity one? Was this a case of acute male chauvinism that existed then and that still exists today in the Christian and political circles, which caused society to cast aspersions on Alice Lenshina and her Lumpa Church? Or was there a political gimmick involved? Was Lenshina really a witch or sorceress that some people believed her to be? If so, why have those that converted into the Lumpa Church failed to severe ties with such a foggy and traumatising past? The story of Lenshina continues.

According to Lenshina’s followers, the woman who was at one time described as leading a primitive and evil sect spoke against injustice and one of her sayings went as follows: “Mutima wandi shipikisha witelententa nangu pamo wilenga babiyo umwenso (persevere my heart, and relent not in order not to make others afraid).”

Lenshina’s protégé, Maggie Kasungami Mfula, who is the overseer of the Uluse Kamutola Church in Kapiri Mposhi told the Sunday Post that Lenshina did not hide the godly visions she had over a period of three days and nights, from the missionaries at Chinsali’s Lubwa area. Mfula said the first person Lenshina narrated her experiences to was Reverend Fergus Macpherson. Hence Lenshina had nothing to hide.

“After Rev Macpherson had heard her story, he told her to go back home and come back on Sunday since on this promised day there was going to be a church gathering,” Mfula narrated. “The following Sunday she went to Lubwa Mission and met again with Rev Macpherson, who later introduced her to the gathering.

When introducing her to the gathering, Macpherson said that this person has been sent by God to preach the holy gospel to the nations so that whoever hears this message and repents may be saved.”

Mfula said the gathering welcomed Lenshina joyfully and that Lenshina later confidentially gave Rev Macpherson the book of life that she was given during her interaction with the supernatural beings at the time of her death and resurrection on the night of October 24, 1953.

“In November 1953, Lenshina was baptized at Lubwa Mission by Reverend Paul Mushindo and was given another Christian name called Alice,” said Mfula. “Alice Lenshina Mulenga continued going to Lubwa Mission together with other Christians from Kasomo Village and the neighbourhood.”

Mfula said a cordial relationship existed between Lenshina and mission leaders at Lubwa, who developed a habit of paying frequent visits to Lenshina at Kasomo Village and here they usually found many people gathered to hear God’s word from Lenshina.

“Reverend Macpherson and other church leaders at Lubwa Mission at one time had a meeting with Lenshina when she went there for a Sunday service,” Mfula said. “They told her to be conducting her prayers on Wednesdays every week while church services were given to church leaders only.”

She said another condition given to Lenshina by the church leaders was that she must never stand in front of the crowd to preach.

“This kind of arrangement did not please her and to make matters worse, even the Lord Jesus Christ who sent Lenshina to preach the gospel to mankind was against it,” Mfula said.

Mfula said this action by the Lubwa Mission leaders was done to wane down Lenshina’s popularity, which had by then extended to beyond the borders of Northern Rhodesia.

“Lenshina could not bow her head to this unprogressive, poor and jealous kind of arrangement any longer but was compelled to start preaching at her village on Sunday. She also started remitting sins and baptizing people,” Mfula narrated. “Lenshina’s move angered the leadership at Lubwa Mission to such an extent that even her helpers who were assigned to help her stopped visiting.”

Mfula said another issue that enhanced the right between Lenshina and the Lubwa Church leaders was when Lenshina and her husband Petros declined to surrender the church money offerings they got during the service held at Kasomo Village.

“When the missionaries heard of this information, they did not hesitate to suspend Lenshina and her husband, as this refusal contravened one of their rules concerning the handling of church monies,” Mfula said. “It was not only the contravening of the rules, but also to them it was insubordination. So they expelled Lenshina from their church.”

Was this the beginning of a conspiracy or an exercise by the church to cleanse evil and insubordination or to stamp out unorthodox religious practices from within its ranks?
Mfula said Lenshina continued her evangelical work and she even went further to build another village away from Kasomo Village, where she used to receive counseling from God.

“People could be asked by Lenshina to surrender all their charms such as witchcraft bones, crosses, medals, and so on. These charms were stored at one place,” she narrated. “No one was allowed to come closer or even to touch any of these charms surrendered by people apart from special workers assigned to handle them.

These were Kenani Matamanga, Smart Nkonde and Agness Chitundu.”
Mfula said those people that failed to heed Lenshina’s advise not to go back to their evils ways died instantly.

In 1956, Lenshina decided to build a very big church at Kasomo which was completed in 1958. The church was officially opened on November 1, 1958 and the name given to the structure was Uluse Kamutola; a derivative from Matthew 11: 28 which reads: ‘Come unto me ye that labour and heavily laden, and I will give you rest).

Nevertheless, this development was just the beginning of ‘trouble’ for Lenshina and her Lumpa Church members, because a few years later Lenshina’s status would be relegated from prophetess to prisoner and despite her attempts to keep her church as a close knit group during a decade long incarceration, the Lumpa Church could not survive the onslaught.

A perusal in the newspapers of the time reveal that apart from her converts, the general population in the then independent Zambia perceived Lenshina as a prophet of doom.
Will Lenshina’s followers, who consider their lifestyle as a persecution, be able to erase this past record? Let the anthropologists get to work and balance the record for posterity’s sake.

For sure the dawns of independence in most African countries were characterized by ‘uprisings’ among the African nationalists. South Africa’s apartheid came with a cost following the murderous exchanges that existed between the Inkhata Freedom Party (IFP) and the African National Congress (ANC).

The same was the case in Namibia, Angola and Mozambique and other countries. It is known that the imperialist forces caused and relished these divisions. Could the ‘Lenshina Uprising’ be a case in point for Zambia?

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Levy and Sata's new kiss, kiss policy

Levy and Sata's new kiss, kiss policy
By Laura Miti-Banda
Saturday May 17, 2008 [04:00]

Without question the story of the week, nay of the year is that of Opposition leader Michael Sata’s professed reconciliation with President Levy Mwanawasa. With all that has happened on the Zambian political scene since 2001, very few could have predicted that Michael Sata would ever extend a hand of friendship to his nemesis Levy.

But then in politics like in love, nothing is ever predictable. So now Zambia is trying to get its collective mind around this situation in which a man who, a few weeks ago, was in the habit of openly declaring his disdain for his political rival proclaims that that political rival is his new best friend. In no time, the former rival and head of state announces that he accepts this astounding offer of reconciliation.

The President in welcoming the new chapter of relations confirms what everybody has always suspected that he has for years hated the leader of the largest opposition party in the country. The extent of that hatred however has to be a little startling for many when put into words by the President.

Levy declared this week that Sata has made his life so miserable over his years in State House that the very sound of the voice of the opposition leader had become repulsive to the presidential ear.

The President confirmed too what many observers have stated many times that for his whole time in State House, he has been in campaign mode failing to get on with the business of running the country.

This he says has largely been because of Sata’s
incessant public attacks and confrontational manner. Well we are told all that is now in the past. We will now have a season of friendship, respect and shared political goals between these men so that at last the country can benefit from President Mwanawasa’s stay in State House.

Now of course every- body knows the circumstances that precipitated this monumental change of heart. It’s simply that when the Patriotic Front Leader had a serious heart attack that we are told could not have been managed by the medical facilitates within our borders, his sworn enemy quickly got him evacuated to South Africa for treatment.

That the president went out of his way to save Sata’s life is shown by the fact that he had to use his presidential influence to get over a couple of hurdles not least of which was that Sata did not have a passport. Levy had previously (through the Minister of Home Affairs, Ronnie Shikapwasha) withdrawn the passport for some funny little reason that sounded very much like the use of power to settle personal scores. The official story was something to the effect that Sata had acquired the passport by cutting corners after having claimed to lose the first one to a Chinese porter in a London hotel. An investigation therefore needed to be carried out.
As things turned out, the passport was returned to Sata while he was in South Africa. I guess that investigations have been laid to rest together with the hostilities between the two men.

Now it has to be said that it is not surprising that a man who has looked death in the face would consequently take time out to take stock of the way he has lived his life. At a human level, there is no question that Michael Sata needed to express his thanks to the man who saved his life and that from now on there would be some connection between the two of them.

I, as stated last week, will never be a fan of government’s evacuation policy until the medical facilitates that the ordinary people of Zambia depend on are improved to the point where those ordinary lives can be also be saved. Something in me rejects this unspoken policy that renders the lives of those that are not on the government ‘A-list’ expendable.

On the other hand, I do not fail to recognise that in deciding to fly Sata out, Levy showed a very commendable and very Zambian ability to put aside his personal differences with the Patriotic Front leader when crisis hit. No matter what anybody says, what Levy did is something that citizens will recognise as intrinsically Zambian and therefore respect in their president.

What is a little problematic is that Mr Sata has extrapolated his personal debt of gratitude to President Mwanawasa into party policy. Somehow Sata has once again failed to separate his person from the party he leads. What will be of particular interest is to see how the Patriotic Front itself deals with the change of heart of their leader.

Quite obviously Sata made the decision to put aside his hostilities with President Mwanawasa and the MMD on his own. In typical Zambian political party fashion, he made this fundamental announcement without informing and much less discussing it with his party.

I am very sure that like the rest of us, the PF leadership read about the monumental realignment of party policy in the press. Before they knew it, their president was shaking hands with Mwanawasa and promising him that he will from now on not criticise him in public.

Any points of disagreement it seems will be dealt with in private and the press will get no wind of it.

In the end, the party spokesperson was left floundering for words trying to spin the uncomfortable situation his party president had put him in, into “ a nothing to be surprised at’ situation. What will happen, I wonder, if the rest of the PF do not agree with Sata’s new position? Will they be brow beaten into submission? I guess Sata has plans for this.

What remains to be seen is how Sata imagines that an opposition party can operate without its differences of policy with the ruling party becoming public knowledge?

The point is that the kind of personal attack politics that Sata and Levy say they would like to put an end to, are horrible, empty politics that everybody would like to see ended anyway.

However, mutual respect and lack of rancour between ruling and opposition leaders does not entail that opposition leaders undertake to never criticise government.

It is the name of the game that opposition parties hold government to account so that the best interest of the country is always kept on the table. So yes it will be great to get rid of the unpalatable language between Sata, Levy and everybody else on the political scene. Individuals after all generally hide their emptiness in their ability to insult the person of their rivals.

That said however, we will be watching the new kiss, kiss policy that Sata and Levy are espousing with suspicion hoping that we will not be called to save the country from their new love



No u-turn on our deal with Levy, assures Sata

No u-turn on our deal with Levy, assures Sata
By Patson Chilemba and Lambwe Kachali
Saturday May 17, 2008 [04:00]

PATRIOTIC Front president Michael Sata yesterday assured that he will not U-turn on his reconciliation deal with President Levy Mwanawasa. And PF secretary general Edward Mumbi said the shift in Sata's policy regarding his reconciliation with President Mwanawasa represented the party position. Meanwhile, Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) executive director Bishop Paul Mususu advised opposition political leaders not to be prophets of doom but rather support President Mwanawasa and Sata's reconciliation in the interest of political peace and unity in the country.reservations that have been expressed following his reconciliation with President Mwanawasa, Sata said the truth shall prevail over his shift in policy. Sata said he would not be drawn into commenting on people's panic over his new position.

"Those who are panicking, that's their problem and that's why we don't want to do anything," he said.

Asked about PF spokesperson Given Lubinda's statement that the party’s central committee would sit to review his new relationship with President Mwanawasa, Sata refused to comment saying Lubinda was his junior and that he had authorised Mumbi to comment on his behalf.

And Mumbi said the PF constitution empowered Sata to make decisions and then consult the central committee later. He said apart from endorsing Sata's position, the central committee would also come up with proposals that PF would present to government. Mumbi said the position PF had taken was good for the country. He said time was up for those who joined PF for the sole purpose of criticising President Mwanawasa.

"Peter Machungwa joined PF to come and fight Levy, considering he remained a suspended member until he joined PF," Mumbi said.

He further said that United Liberal Party (ULP) president Sakwiba Sikota was not a credible politician to criticise Sata. He said Sikota made a U-turn on the UPND after he lost elections to Hakainde Hichilema.

"He's not fit. Just a few hours after losing elections, he formed ULP. Is that not a U-turn?" asked Mumbi.

Meanwhile, Bishop Mususu said it was important for politicians to realise that reconciliation was the best way of resolving differences.

Bishop Mususu said in the recent past, Zambia had been engulfed by politics of hatred and insults among political leaders, which he said was unhealthy for Zambia's economic development.

"It is said that when two elephants are fighting, it is the grass that suffers. We have witnessed this situation in our country where our political leaders have been concentrating on politics of insults at the expense of development. This has greatly affected the poor people on the ground," he said.

Bishop Mususu said after the general elections in 2006, President Mwanawasa had invited the opposition to work with the government in bringing development. He said out of anger and bitterness because of the election results, the opposition refused to work with the government.

Bishop Mususu said although the reconciliation had come at a wrong time, it was important for citizens to give it a benefit of doubt.

"Without watering down the spirit of reconciliation, it would have made greater impact if it was done before president Sata fell sick and was evacuated to South Africa by President Mwanawasa, because Zambians are now thinking that president Sata is paying back for the help he was given. So on the other hand, their reconciliation leaves some little doubts, but should be recommended," he said.

Asked whether the reconciliation could be sustained, Bishop Mususu said Sata would lose people's trust if he continued failing to live up to his words.

"If he does that, then the people of Zambia will judge him. But for now I want to believe that their reconciliation is genuine. We will cross the bridge when we get there," Bishop Mususu said. "It will be unfair for people to say that those are Mr Sata's political schemes. Human mind is able to change for the better."

However, Bishop Mususu said Sata should not stop criticising President Mwanawasa and the government because doing so would disadvantage the role of the opposition. He said reconciliation did not mean that there would be no opposing views.

He said Zambians expected the opposition to provide checks and balances to the government.

"That is the only unfortunate statement if at all Mr. Sata will do that. I urge him to rescind his decision and continue to provide checks and balances by constructively criticising the government when things are wrong," said Bishop Mususu.

And UPND spokesperson Charles Kakoma said he believed that it was the duty and responsibility of the opposition to constructively criticise government. Kakoma said UPND did not believe that the culture of silence and cutting deals secretly with the government should be the role of an opposition political party.
He said it would be a great idea for Sata to publicly apologise to all the leaders he called names, in the spirit of national reconciliation. Kakoma said UPND had noted with interest the alliance formed between PF and MMD.

He said it would be in the interest of unity between the two parties to formalise in writing their secret pact. Kakoma said with this new friendship, UPND would not be surprised if the MMD picked a presidential candidate from a sister party like PF.

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Caregivers need support, says Maureen

Caregivers need support, says Maureen
By Masuzyo Chakwe
Saturday May 17, 2008 [04:00]

CAREGIVERS play a major role in cushioning the shortage of manpower in health centres, first lady Maureen Mwanawasa has said. Speaking after she toured the renovated male ward C12, the female and maternity wards and the mothers shelter at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) yesterday, Maureen said caregivers needed support as they were always on the bedside of their loved ones.

“We want to cushion the mothers’ stay while in the mothers shelter. We want to make it habitable so that they can be able to cook on their own,” she said.

Maureen, who also presented a donation of building materials from the Minister’s Spouses Club to the hospital for the mothers shelter, observed that there was an improvement at the hospital.

She said many people thought UTH was a death trap and yet there were so many things happening.

“UTH is very paramount and important to all of us. Whether you are Zambian or not, all of us need UTH. Even before you are evacuated out of the country and stabilised, you need UTH. UTH is ours and we must ensure we do everything possible to ensure that things go well,” she said.

Maureen also said there was need for a fathers shelter as it was not strange to find men looking after their wives in the hospital.

“The donation comes a day after we were celebrating the International Day of the Family. Men sleep at bus stations and in the casualty ward and if there is a shelter, we will move a mile ahead and there will be no excuse of nowhere to sleep for men,” she said.

She also said the Maureen Mwanawasa Community Initiative (MMCI) would soon launch a modern maternity wing and mother’s shelter in Kapiri Mposhi.

And UTH managing director Dr Peter Mwaba said people looking after the sick at the hospital had been a strain on the hospital.

Dr Mwaba said the hospital’s mandate was to look after the sick but was now forced to also look after the caregivers.

He said the hospital had also seen an influx of patients from outside Lusaka who were receiving specialist treatment.

Dr Mwaba said the hospital was forced to admit patients that were not supposed to be admitted, thus straining the present staff.

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Making ICT accessible to all

Making ICT accessible to all
By Editor
Saturday May 17, 2008 [04:00]

The highest level of political thought was reached when some men became aware that the fruits of the efforts and intelligence of each human being should reach all others. As we celebrate World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, there is need for us to realise that globalisation is an objective reality underlining the fact that we are all passengers on the same vessel – this planet where we all live. But passengers on this vessel are travelling in very different conditions.

A trifling minority is travelling in luxurious cabins furnished with the internet, cell phones and access to global communication networks. They enjoy a nutritious, abundant and balanced diet as well as clean water supplies. They have access to sophisticated medical care and culture.

The overwhelming and suffering majority is travelling in conditions that resemble the terrible slave trade from Africa some centuries ago. That is, the great majority of the passengers on this ship are crowded in its dirty hold, suffering hunger, disease and helplessness.

Obviously, this vessel is carrying too much injustice to remain afloat, pursuing such an irrational and senseless route.

It is our duty to take our rightful place at the helm and ensure that all passengers can travel in conditions of solidarity, equity and justice. But to achieve this, communication has to improve.

Those at the lowest levels have to catch up. And World Telecommunication and Information Society Day heralds the enabling and transformative role of communications and information in societies, and the universal need to communicate and cooperate across borders.

It is also the day in 1865 when the International Communication Union (ITU) was founded. At the time, the idea to transmit electronic signals across wires had already set forth a dramatic chain reaction of competing technologies.

ITU was formed to address the growing need for international standards. From these early days, ITU has played a key role in connecting the world, a challenge which continues today with 3G Mobile and Broadband technologies.

Yet the reach of telecommunication technology is not universal; it’s benefits have not been shared equally.

The theme of this year’s observance, “Connecting persons with disabilities”, highlights the importance of making information and communication technologies (ICT) equipment and services accessible to meet the needs of persons with disabilities.

This may not seem to be much of an issue in nations like ours where the majority of the people without disabilities have no reasonable access to ICTs. But we shouldn’t forget that it is important to remember that any one can be disabled at any moment.

It is vital, therefore, that as we develop our ICTs, we from the start take into account the needs of persons with disabilities and ensure their right to fully participate in the information society.

And we should work towards acquiring communication technologies that will be inclusive and accessible to all. Everyone must have the opportunity to participate in the digital age. And no one should be denied the potential benefits of ITC, not least because they are hampered by their disabilities.

As ICT bring a range of innovations in the workplace, at home and in every facet of our lives, these benefits must also be harnessed for the benefits of persons with disabilities.

There is need for us to address the special requirements of persons with disabilities along with other marginalised and vulnerable groups in our national e-strategies.

There is need for us to promote the universal ubiquitous, equitable and affordable access to ICT and ensure that the benefits are evenly distributed to bridge the digital divide by creating digital opportunities to harness the full potential for development offered by state-of-the-art ICT.

There is need for us to pay reasonable attention to meeting the ICT needs of persons with disabilities by aiming to empower every citizen with information and knowledge, improving the lines of communication to the remotest and most vulnerable groups, and building an inclusive information society geared towards the advancement of a better, more peaceful and productive nation.

As we celebrate World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, we invite the nation to join us in our endeavour to provide Zambia with high-speed wireless broadband internet services and communications solutions.

Next month, through Post ISP Zambia, we will be launching high-speed wireless broadband internet services and communications solutions to cater for both corporate and individual clients.

The move to establish Post ISP Zambia was prompted by the continued complaints of extremely low internet connectivity speeds on account of old technology deployed by our current providers of internet services. The failure to deploy latest technology has resulted in low market penetration, high roll out costs and inefficient service provision which have been passed on to the users leading to prohibitively high costs of accessing the service.

In response to this, Post ISP Zambia has acquired and will be rolling out superior equipment based on WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) technology, which not only provides a cost-effective roll out advantage, but will help boost internet access among our people and will work towards bringing down the cost of service provision in this sector.

This technology will enable Post ISP Zambia to provide other new services not limited to broadband internet access, such as IPTV, backhaul for Wi-Fi hotspots, VoIP, and many more.

And even though currently Zambia has seven ISPs, there are still many segments of our country that are underserved or poorly served or not served at all with regard to internet speeds and connectivity. Post ISP Zambia will provide a key service to our people by being the catalyst for e-mail commerce development, low-cost internet services and increased web interaction with the world.

Post ISP Zambia will be able to tailor design services to fit many different needs. Consulting, web hosting, internet security, and maintenance are all add-on services that can add to the broad product range that Post ISP Zambia will offer.

It is envisioned that with the launch next month of Post ISP Zambia, the nation will finally have a service provider that plans to grow with the community and understands its needs.

In this way, we hope to contribute to making the reach of communication technology universal and its benefits shared equally.

With Post ISP Zambia, we hope to contribute to the linking of ICT with human development and contribute to the building of a global inclusive, people-centred and development-oriented information society through the sharing of information and knowledge.

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ICT should be accessible, says Ban

ICT should be accessible, says Ban
By Mwila Chansa
Saturday May 17, 2008 [04:00]

INFORMATION and Communication Technology (ICT) equipment and services should be made accessible to meet the needs of persons with disabilities, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has said. And transport and communications minister Dora Siliya observed that as Zambia commemorated the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, it was important to realise that ICT was not the future because the future was already here.

In his message on the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, which falls today, Ban stated that the reach of communication technology was not universal and its benefits had not been shared equally.

"The World Summit on the Information Society held in Geneva in 2003 and Tunis in 2005, linked ICT with human development and called on member states to build a global inclusive, people-centered and development-oriented information society through the sharing of information and knowledge," Ban stated.

He added that the summit also urged member states to address special requirements of persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups and that this year's theme which is ‘Connecting Persons with Disabilities' highlighted the importance of making ICT accessible to persons with disabilities.

"There are an estimated 650 million persons with disabilities worldwide. Including their families, there are nearly two billion persons who are directly affected by disability, almost a third of the world's population," he stated.

Ban added that it was important to remember that anyone could become disabled at any moment.

He called for a change in attitude towards persons with disabilities so that all their fundamental rights and freedoms could be honoured, including the right to fully participate in the information society and bring forth input, ideas and effort from their community.

Ban further urged policymakers and industry leaders to accelerate scientific and technical research aimed at developing technologies that would be inclusive and accessible to all.

"On this day, let us pledge to adhere to the guiding principles of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and work together to connect all human kind equally to the present opportunities and those yet possible in our ever evolving world," stated Ban.
And Siliya said there was need to mainstream ICT in all government services through e-governance and in business through e-commerce.

She said mainstreaming provided real opportunities for the provision of jobs especially for young people.

Siliya also said in countries that had recorded rapid ICT growth, there had been a corresponding growth in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

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Africa's media heads to meet

Africa's media heads to meet
By Mutuna Chanda
Saturday May 17, 2008 [04:00]

AFRICA'S media leaders are to meet in Uganda for an annual summit to look at how the continent is embracing new technologies to serve the changing needs and interests of their customers. According to a statement, 40 media executives from across Africa would attend the conference co-hosted by Rhodes University's Sol Plaatje Institute (SPI) for Media Leadership of South Africa and Germany's Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) Foundation. SPI director Francis Mdlongwa stated that the conference would be looking at a range of digital media platforms that had continued to emerge and the challenges that media companies in Africa faced in adopting them.

"Given the breath-taking technological changes which are reshaping and even redefining the entire media industry, we felt that Africa should pause, take stock, look at what works and does not work in our part of the world and why, and plan ahead," stated Mdlongwa.

And KAS head of sub- Sahara Africa's media programme Frank Windeck stated that the meeting among others gave Africa's top media executives a unique opportunity to network at the highest level.

He also stated that the meetings gave media leaders an opportunity to examine and find practical solutions to key industry and other issues that affected them.

The conference series was launched by SPI and KAS in 2002 to promote high level interaction among Africa's media chiefs and to seek practical and innovative solutions to challenges faced by the media.



Friday, May 16, 2008

World Bank, PEP to spend US$ 105,000 training SMEs

World Bank, PEP to spend US$ 105,000 training SMEs
By Fridah Zinyama
Friday May 16, 2008 [04:00]

WORLD Bank resident representative Dr Kapil Kapoor has said there is need to increase local participation through Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) if the country’s economy is to grow. And Development Bank of Zambia (DBZ) managing director Dr Abraham Mwenda said the World Bank’s International Financing Corporation (IFC) and the Private Enterprise Partnership (PEP) for Africa had set aside US$ 105, 400 for the training programme that would help to improve the skills of SMEs in the country.

Signing the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between DBZ and World Bank’s International Financing Corporation’s (IFC) PEP Africa, Dr Kapoor said Zambia’s economy was growing rapidly and needed the input of the local people.

“It is important to note that the SME sector has challenges which have hindered it from fully participating in the economy,” he said. “Most of them lack skills in writing business proposals which can assist them in accessing the much needed finances.”

Dr Kapoor said the signing of the MoU between the two parties would enable the SME sector to receive the much needed skills training that it needs.

And Dr Mwenda said the signing of the MoU would provide the required expertise for the 20 SMEs initially and entrepreneurships skills development for 35 participants that had been selected for the training programme.

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Chigunta accuses IMF of being unhappy at Zesco's non-privatisation

Chigunta accuses IMF of being unhappy at Zesco's non-privatisation
By Joan Chirwa
Friday May 16, 2008 [04:00]

ZESCO Limited only needs organisational restructuring and streamlining as it is a very viable company, University of Zambia (UNZA) development studies lecturer Dr Francis Chigunta has said. Dr Chigunta said the recent assessment of Zesco’s commercial viability by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) resulted from government’s refusal to privatise the entity.

He was commenting on IMF’s recent summary paper on Zambia’s electricity sector, which described Zesco as a financially unviable company that was incapable of mobilising resources for the necessary expansion of power generation and the electricity grid.

“It is apparent that the IMF is not happy with the government over its refusal to privatise Zesco. Zesco is this large octopus which combines the functions of power generation, transmission and distribution in one. The IMF would have wanted to see this octopus cut to size.

That is, unbundling it, to use their term,” Dr Chigunta said. “In my opinion, we need to establish whether Zesco is supposed to be a profit-making firm or not. Obviously, the IMF assumes that Zesco should be making a profit. Failure to do so renders the corporation ‘bankrupt’ in order to pave way for its unbundling.”

Dr Chigunta said although Zesco Limited was established to serve a social function, the utility should be allowed to operate commercially and viably in order to give a reliable power service to Zambians.

“As far as I am concerned, Zesco was established to serve a social function. The shareholders are the Zambian people through the State. Zambia is not supposed to be making profits; rather Zesco is supposed to be delivering a reliable service to the Zambian people,” Dr Chigunta said. “This, however, does not mean that Zesco should not operate commercially and viably. Zesco should operate commercially and viably in order to give the Zambian people a reliable power supply and the issue of bankruptcy does not arise here.”

The IMF stated that Zesco was a troubled company, beset by well-known inefficiencies and high costs, contributing to the strong resistance to increases in electricity tariffs.

But Zesco Limited managing director Rhodnie Sisala last Friday refuted IMF’s assessment, saying the comments were not made in a sincere manner as the IMF had always worked closely with government in mapping out the growth strategy for Zesco Limited.

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Sata seems to be ahead, says Sikota

Sata seems to be ahead, says Sikota
By Staff Reporters
Friday May 16, 2008 [04:00]

Opposition United Liberal Party (ULP) president Sakwiba Sikota yesterday said Sata seemed to be ahead and advised President Mwanawasa to be careful in his dealings with him. Commenting on Sata's reconciliation with President Levy Mwanawasa at State House on Wednesday, Sikota said Patriotic Front (PF) leader Michael Sata had a character of U-turning on his earlier positions, hence the need for those dealing with him to be careful.

Sikota said in the recent past, Sata had U-turned on important national issues such as the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) and the mining taxes.

He said at first, Sata supported the two undertakings but later changed his position.
"With that kind of background behind him, let's hope we won't see him U-turning, and those dealing with him have to be careful and keep that in mind," Sikota said. "Sata seems to be ahead. He has gained his passport. It's working well for Mr Sata. Let's hope that is not the reason he has gotten into this reconciliation. We will see what happens."
However, Sikota said Sata should be given the benefit of doubt over his shift in policy. He said certain crises such as the heart attack Sata suffered had the potential to change people fundamentally.

Sikota said it was gratifying to note that Sata seemed to have seen the value in reconciliation rather that politics of character assassination.
Sikota had an electoral pact with Sata in 2006 but it crumbled just after the tripartite elections.

But MMD spokesperson Benny Tetamashimba said opposition UPND and ULP leaders should not mock Sata for reconciling with President Mwanawasa.
Tetamashimba, at a press briefing yesterday, said what Sata had said in the past about MMD and President Mwanawasa was water under the bridge. He said the burying of the past by the two presidents was enough to stop MMD and the Patriotic Front leaders from making statements that would be against the spirit of reconciliation.

He said Sata had told the nation that he would not publicly criticise President Mwanawasa but would personally go to State House to discuss any issue of national importance.

"In view of the reconciliation shown by president Sata, we urge all leaders of opposition parties, especially ULP and UPND not to mock president Sata on his reconciliatory statements by trying to find faults in him about the past which Mr Sata has stated is water under the bridge," Tetamashimba said.

Tetamashimba said MMD was looking forward to seeing Sata and his party leadership attend this year's Africa Freedom Day celebrations at State House.

"We want to see president Hakainde Hichilema, president Edith Nawakwi (FDD), president Tilyenji Kaunda (UNIP), president Godfrey Miyanda (Heritage Party), president Ben Mwila (Zambia Republican Party), president Ken Ngondo (APC) to be led by the first Republican president Dr Kenneth Kaunda and Dr Frederick Chiluba to consolidate reconciliation of leaders," Tetamashimba said.

He also urged the Church to take advantage of Sata and President Mwanawasa's reconciliation to organise breakfast prayers in order to foster peace and unity in the country.

And PF Chawama member of parliament Reverend Violet Sampa-Bredt hoped Sata had repented. Rev Sampa-Bredt said from a moral point of view, she welcomed the reconciliation and prayed that Sata would not U-turn on his move.

"I hope that Mr Sata has repented; I hope this is a change of heart for him. I personally believe that human nature can change; I have prayed for Mr Sata. He has attacked me for no real reason, I never responded but other people responded. I respected him as a father and as a seasoned politician," Rev Sampa-Bredt said. "I hope for our president, this is the beginning of the new heart. God calls people to a new beginning and our president Mr Sata has been using Godly language and I hope that God has really touched his heart and God has touched our President Mr Levy Mwanawasa that what they are doing and saying is not from a human point of view but from above so that we can begin a new chapter in this country."

Rev Sampa-Bredt said Sata did not have to be sick for him to repent.
"I hope Mr Sata has learnt a great lesson that he is not going to go around and antagonise people and crucify them for no real reason because he doesn't like them," Rev Sampa-Bredt said. "We have been pushed to say things we didn't want to say because we had been pushed left and right for no real cause."

She said opposition political parties and the MMD government had for a long time unnecessarily antagonised one another.

"We must create a position where there is give and take; and where there is nobody who is going to bulldoze the other, where we have to sit on a round table and exchange views," said Rev Sampa-Bredt. "I think we have to look at Zambian people as people not look at them as MMD or opposition members."

Rev Sampa-Bredt is among the six members of parliament who were expelled from the PF but they are contesting their expulsion in court.
Another expelled member of parliament Barnabas Chellah of Wusakile constituency said Zambians would benefit from the reconciliation.
"I think it's a plus for both presidents," Chellah said. "The past is now bygone."

Group leader of the PF 'rebel' members of parliament, Peter Machungwa said Sata and President Mwanawasa should now resolve their differences on the NCC.

"Now that there is talk of reconciliation, it is well and good. One of the issues they have to look at, if they are emphasising on working together, is the Constitution. Constitutional matters are very important to the nation," said Machungwa, who is Luapula member of parliament.
Meanwhile, former Republican vice-president pastor Nevers Mumba said he did not think Sata would be compromised by not being confrontational in his approach to politics.

Pastor Mumba said in politics, one could make their point without being insulting, hurting or vengeful.

"Dialogue brings more results for people than confrontation," Pastor Mumba said.

He said Sata's decision would obviously be painful for newsmen who rejoiced when politicians fought and insulted each other because such news sold their newspapers. He said he was thankful that God had finally spoken to Sata and that his decision was not only a blessing to his family and the party, but the entire nation.

Pastor Mumba said politicians needed to make it a rule of thumb to speak graciously about matters by discussing issues and not personalities. He said such an approach would make Zambia a high level politics state where respect, honour and dignity for one another were paramount.

And Lusaka Province minister Lameck Mangani said if Sata's reconciliation would be sustained, it would be a memorable precedence in Zambian politics for generations to come.
Mangani said Zambians should not think that Sata had sold his party to the MMD because he had merely realised that politics of name-calling and insults would not develop the country.

"As Provincial minister, this development is a miracle in the political history of our country and should be commended. It is high time that we took our politics to another level that would be of benefits to all Zambians. Politics is about development and the route that Mr Sata has taken will unify our country and bring development by working together," said Mangani.

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ZEC extends period within which to hold runoff

ZEC extends period within which to hold runoff
By George Chellah in Harare, Zimbabwe
Friday May 16, 2008 [04:00]

THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has extended the period within which to hold the country's presidential runoff from 21 to 90 days. And ZANU-PF, which will launch its presidential runoff campaigns today, has instructed all its structures countrywide to get ready and prepare the electorate. Meanwhile, SADC executive secretary Dr Tomaz Salomao has said Zimbabwe's political environment is not yet secure or fair ahead of a presidential runoff.

ZEC announced the extension through an electoral notice that was published in an extraordinary government gazette dated May 15, 2008.

"Notwithstanding section 110 (3) of the electoral Act (chapter 2:13), following upon the poll taken on 29th March, 2008 in each constituency for the election of a President which resulted in no candidate receiving a majority of the total votes cast, the period within which a second election to the Office of President is to be held is hereby extended from 21 days to 90 days from the date of the announcement of the results of the first poll of the election of a President," read the notice.

The 90-day extension means that the Zimbabwean presidential run-off has to be held by July 31, which is the 90th day from May 2 when the first round of presidential result in which MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai emerged victorious was announced.

And the ZANU-PF politiburo met in Harare on Wednesday and resolved to launch its presidential run-off campaigns today. The ruling party has also unveiled its new theme for the runoff, which is '100 per cent empowerment, total Independence'.

ZANU-PF media sub-committee chairman Patrick Chinamasa confirmed the unveiling of the new theme and the launch of the campaigns.

Chinamasa said ZANU-PF was geared for the runoff and that it had established sub-committees to reach out to all of its supporters countrywide.

He said the ruling party's campaign message was that Zimbabweans should have full entitlement to unfettered sovereignty and political independence.

"We are saying 100 per cent total freedom, political and civil rights. We are 100 per cent Zimbabwean. We just do not want Zimbabweans to fly the national flag while former colonisers enjoy the economy," he said.

On post-election political violence, Chinamasa said ZANU-PF was calling for joint teams from the two parties to investigate any allegations of violence.

"If facts show that it's MDC or ZANU-PF, the perpetrators must be arrested," Chinamasa said.

And Dr Salomao said Zimbabwe's political environment was not yet secure or fair ahead of a presidential runoff.

"At the moment we can't say the playing ground is safe or will be fair, but we are there to create a conducive environment for everybody to be confident," Dr Salomao told Reuters in Maputo, Mozambique.

He indicated that there was a decision by the AU and SADC to increase the number of election observers for the runoff.
"The minimum is 250 in all and the minimum for SADC is only 200 which can go well beyond 300," he said.

Dr Salomao dismissed calls by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai for the regional bloc to send peacekeepers to Zimbabwe ahead of the runoff.
"We don't have a war in Zimbabwe and what we need to do is to address the issue and create a conducive environment and not put up a standby peacekeeping force," Dr Salomao said. "We have a team on the ground to address issues and if we see there is a problem we will solve it."

He called on the two rival parties, ZANU-PF and MDC to help ensure that the vote can proceed smoothly.

"Don't provoke each other, stay in your corner, mobilise your fellows, present your programmes. That's how they should behave," Dr Salomao said.

The actual date for the presidential runoff is yet to be announced by the electoral commission.

According to official results from the ZEC, Tsvangirai received 1,195,562 votes, representing 47.9 per cent of the valid votes, while President Mugabe polled 1,079,730 votes, which is 43.2 percent of the valid votes.

Makoni won 207,470 votes, which translates into 8.3 per cent of the valid votes, with Langton Towungana, another independent candidate, getting 14,503 votes, translating into 0.6 percent of the votes.

A total of 39,975 ballots were spoilt while the percentage poll was calculated to be 42.7 per cent.

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Zimbabwe denies having liquidated its debt with AfDB

Zimbabwe denies having liquidated its debt with AfDB
By Kingsley kaswende in Harare
Friday May 16, 2008 [04:00]

ZIMBABWE has denied having liquidated its debt with the African Development Bank (AfDB) as claimed by the bank. A press statement pasted on the AfDB website indicated that Zimbabwe last month repaid US $700,000 it owes the bank despite its internal problems.

"In a bid to actively reconnect with international donors, the Zimbabwean government last month paid part of its arrears to the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group," the statement reads. "On April 14, 2008, the country paid US$ 500,000 to the African Development Bank and US$200,000 to the African Development Fund.

Zimbabwe has, in all, paid US$ 700,000 to the Bank Group despite numerous economic challenges currently facing the country, both globally and locally. According to Mr. Abdirrahmene Beileh, AfDB acting director in charge of southern African countries, 'Zimbabwe is still owing the Bank large amounts of money in arrears'."

But Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Dr Gideon Gono denied having repaid AfDB, saying Zimbabwe still owed the bank.

“...As the country's central bank and custodian of government's foreign exchange receipts and payments, we wish to categorically state that to our knowledge, there has not been any such payment,” Gono stated yesterday.

He said Zimbabwe only made such a "surprise payment" to the IMF in the 2004/2005 financial year.

"If the country had such resources, the Reserve Bank would have prioritised the importation of grain (maize and wheat); the importation of fuel, electricity, medical drugs, industrial chemicals, fertilisers, seeds, water treatment chemicals, agricultural equipment, and other infrastructural development essentials, and of course leaving some for debt service," stated Gono.

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Morris urges enhanced banking in Asia, Africa

Morris urges enhanced banking in Asia, Africa
By Kabanda Chulu
Friday May 16, 2008 [04:00]

STANCHART head of wholesale banking Jonathan Morris yesterday said there is need to enhance banking services in Africa and Asia in order to facilitate the increasing trade between the two regions. Announcing the launch of the Africa-Asia business unit to be based at the Standard Chartered (STANCHART) Bank’s Africa regional office in Dubai, Morris stated that the trade corridor between Africa and Asia was growing rapidly.

“Trade between Africa and Asia exceeded US $ 120 billion in 2007 with India, Japan and Korea accounting for over US $ 45 billion hence STANCHART is launching the specialist business unit in order to provide even more support and focus to clients looking to capitalise on these growing opportunities,” Morris stated. “The launch of our Africa-Asia business unit is an exciting initiative because it will enhance our services to clients operating in Africa and Asia and facilitating closer relationships across this growing trade corridor.”

Morris further stated that trade between Africa and China had grown by 43 per cent per annum during the last five years, which was estimated at US $ 75 billion.

“Although the bulk of Chinese investment in Africa is government to government, international banks, such as STANCHART continue to play an important role in facilitating the development of a growing China-Africa investment corridor, particularly in the energy, mining and power sectors,” stated Morris. “This continued growth requires a range of specialized financial products and we are looking forward to develop these businesses with financial advice and products.”

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'Stable families create a strong nation'

'Stable families create a strong nation'
By Editor
Friday May 16, 2008 [04:00]

Commemorating the International Day of families yesterday, many thoughts ran through our minds. The first thing that came to mind was the plight of the children on the street. And the other was the sexually abused child. These are issues which were yesterday eloquently talked about by our Minister of Community Development and Social Services, Catherine Namugala, and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

Namugala urged fathers to cherish and take care of the family unit. She also urged fathers to play their role if this nation has to develop.
Namugala called on Zambians to avoid divorce, streetism and child neglect. She says it’s only by having stable families that we can create a strong nation.

We fully agree with Namugala. And without trying to sound like priests speaking from their pulpits, we are not and cannot be against the right to divorce, but we wish that there were more stability in the family, so the less divorce, the better. We say this because stability really helps the children who are the ones most affected and it helps the individual, for instance, to control one’s instincts. Nothing is gained by exacerbating them.

We also share the concerns raised by Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on domestic violence and sexual abuse. It is true that some fathers inflict domestic violence or even sexual abuse, devastating families and creating profound physical and emotional scars in children.

It is very sad that although reports of child defilement are occurring on almost a daily basis from nearly all parts of our country, very little appears to be put in place to protect children from such abominable abuse. What we should realise is that this repugnant behaviour of clearly heartless men has long-term effects on children, sometimes even fatal.

There have been reports of children not only getting infected with sexually transmitted diseases but some of them have died from such infections which have been as a result of sexual abuse, in some cases from very close relatives. Not only are the physical effects grave on abused children, as in the case where they acquire diseases such as STIs, but these children have to live with the pain of knowing that someone cruel enough not to care about their tenderness abused them.

And available statistics regarding child defilement in this country are not in any way impressive. Clearly, there is a huge battle that has to be fought and won on behalf of our children who are on a daily basis exposed to abuse by men who lack respect for life.

Everyone has a duty to make it a point that children are protected from any form of abuse. It is especially important that children are protected from defilement because such abuse destroys their lives, it leaves a permanent scar on their minds.

Children are a precious gift from God, the giver of life. This being the case, children deserve to be nurtured and loved by everyone, not just their parents. This is very important because the existence of any society is dependent on the smallest unit called the family.

The family is basically a group consisting of one or two parents and their children. Therefore, it can be said that societies are built by families. And the nature or character of society will largely depend on the nature or characters of the various families in that particular society.

What we are saying in short is that good families are more likely to form good societies just like bad ones are expected to form bad societies. That is why it is particularly important to pay more than the usual attention to the way children are cared for from the time they are born.

This is out of the realisation that a home must be built on solid foundation in the same way people do not normally build houses on water. Of course, building a child into a responsible citizen or adult requires a lot of work on the part of parents.

They have to inculcate good morals into their children as well as to teach them everything about life and living. When a child is well inducted into life, he or she will learn to be independent and to survive the storms of life.

For such a child, home will be where life is found in all its fullness. Home will be the place where this child will feel most contented, regardless of the location. On the other hand, a child who is not properly initiated into life by his or her parents will never know the importance of building good societies.

Such a child will be like one who is carried on the back and does not therefore know how far the journey is. Such a child will not be able to gauge how far it has travelled because it has not undertaken the journey itself. There is a lot that parents and guardians alike are expected to do in responsibly raising their children for the benefit of society.

Parents are expected to expose their children to good health facilities and provide them with good education so as to prepare them for future challenges and economically empower them.

Parents are also supposed to provide for their children materially. Therefore, it will be expecting too much to anticipate that children who lack these things can grow into good citizens to build a strong and admirable society. It cannot be denied that there is a general breakdown of families in our society for various reasons.

This is a direct result of the manner in which many families are bringing up their children. Is it any wonder then that today we have an unprecedented number of street children and many other vulnerable children in various orphanages across the country?

It is said that to give birth to children is to add on to oneself, and to society. As children grow up, parents are able to delegate some work to their children. In this way, children are perceived as an extension of their parents. Probably, that is why it is said that the youth of today is the leadership of tomorrow.

However, if the youth are poorly brought up, we can only expect poor leadership from them because one is only able to give what they have. If the youth of today are tomorrow's leaders, there is need, not only for parents, but also the youths themselves, to ensure that proper investment in such youths is done for thegood of the future.

The children or youths also have a great role to play by ensuring that they fully apply themselves at school, college or university. Today's world is fast changing. Without good education, it is impossible for anyone to be meaningful to themselves and society in general.

Therefore, much emphasis should be placed on good education because everything starts and ends with education. The world has seen how educated young men and women globally have greatly contributed to the development of science and technology in the last century. And of course, we all know that life, or everything we do on earth, is essentially centred around science and technology.

So the importance of good education in this regard cannot be over-stated. For anyone with good education, the sky is the limit. But for the less or not educated ones, there is very little they can do. In most cases, they end up being beggars up to the time they go to the grave. So let us all learn to care for our children. If we do not do this, we will have no society to talk about tomorrow.

We shouldn’t forget that the individual does best in a strong and decent community of people with principles and standards, common aims and values.



Namugala urges fathers to take care of families

Namugala urges fathers to take care of families
By Masuzyo Chakwe
Friday May 16, 2008 [04:00]

COMMUNITY development minister Catherine Namugala has urged fathers to cherish society's human unit, the family, by taking care of it. And United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has observed that some fathers inflict domestic violence or even sexual abuse, devastating families and creating profound physical and emotional scars in children.

Commenting on the International Day of Families which fell yesterday under the theme ‘Fathers and Families: Responsibility and Challenges', Namugala urged fathers to ensure that they were involved in all matters pertinent to their families.

"Do not just leave this to the womenfolk. Be involved in family well-being. Where possible, escort your children to the clinic and wife to antenatal clinic, be interested in the children's schoolwork, what they are going to eat and their other needs.

I urge all fathers to play their role. If this nation has to develop, fathers need to stand up and play their role in the family. This is key to sustainable national development of our country," Namugala said.

She said the institution of the family was the first and most important socialising institution where shelter and security were to be found when facing difficulties in life.

Namugala said fathers were crucial to the family members' integration into the community life, especially children.

"The presence of a father is a precondition for a stable family, just as their absence can often cause vulnerability and eventually unstable society. It is only by having stable families that we can create a strong nation," Namugala said.
She said the problem of child delinquency and children taking to the streets was partly a result of the missing role of fathers.

Namugala said although some children had fathers, they were not available to protect and manage the family.

She said the role of fathers had also been faced with a lot of challenges such as the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which had either left the family vulnerable due to the death or prolonged illness of the bread winner.

Namugala said fathers had also been challenged by unemployment leading to poverty and lack of access to basic needs.

She said on the other hand, some families had been challenged by lack of responsibility by their male head of the house.

"Although certain fathers are in gainful economic activities, they do not take care of their families. Instead they emotionally and physically abuse them," she said.
Namugala called on Zambians to avoid divorce, streetism and child neglect.
She urged the government and non-governmental organisations implementing programmes on the family not to leave out fathers' involvement.

And Ban said many men had difficulty assuming the responsibilities of fatherhood. He said other fathers abandoned their families outright and failed to provide support.

Ban said traditionally, in many societies, fathers had been moral teachers, disciplinarians and breadwinners.

"In many countries, there is now an increased emphasis on the father's role as a co-parent, fully engaged in the emotional and practical day-to-day aspects of raising children," he said.

Ban said this was an opportunity for men to re-envision imaginatively what it meant to be a father and to see opportunities to make a difference in communities.

Ban said at international level, migration forced many fathers to often face separation from their families, consequently being rejected by their children as they grew up.



Thursday, May 15, 2008

SADC region has potential, says Chilipamushi

SADC region has potential, says Chilipamushi
By Fridah Zinyama
Thursday May 15, 2008 [04:00]

COMMERCE permanent secretary Davidson Chilipamushi has said there is need for the region to build its infrastructure if more markets in the region are to be opened up. During the EU SADC Investment Promotion Programme (ESIPP) workshop held at Cresta Golf View on Tuesday, Chilipamushi said the SADC region had a lot of potential which was yet to be exploited.

He said infrastructure development would go a long way in ensuring that the countries in the region had better access to each other’s markets.

He cited Congo DR as Zambia’s second largest trading partner after South Africa and said trade between the two countries would improve if infrastructure linking the two countries were improved.

Chilipamushi added that there was also need to have a railway system built up to Angola, as it would equally open up more markets in that country.

He said it was important for countries to start adding value to their products if they were to fetch more on the international market.

And Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) director general Andrew Chipwende said the agency was building its capacity through joint ventures that would enable it continue to promote investment in the country.

In an interview on Tuesday, Chipwende said ZDA was working with its cooperate partners like the ESIPP in order to help build and develop the capacity of the agency.

He said ESIPP brought potential partners together through sectoral business to business meetings at which one on one contacts could be made between SADC and EU/third country entrepreneurs.

Chipwende said that gave investors the opportunity to sign highly profitable inter-enterprise co-operation agreements where companies with complementary skills collaborated on a project.

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India to help Zambia in flood management

India to help Zambia in flood management
By Masuzyo Chakwe and Pulasta Dhar
Thursday May 15, 2008 [04:00]

INDIAN High Commissioner to Zambia River Onell Wallang yesterday disclosed that India will soon help Zambia with expertise in flood management. During a handover of commodities by several donors to the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU), High Commissioner Wallang said the problem of food security and floods was receiving the attention of the Indian government.

He said India would soon help Zambia with expertise and experience in flood management and protection of infrastructure from these devastations caused by mother nature.

However, High Commissioner Wallang said he was thankful that Zambia would have more than ample food stocks to take care of the country’s needs.

High Commissioner Walang said the people who had been affected by floods would need a lot of help to get through this period.

United States Ambassador to Zambia Carmen Martinez said the donation would replenish the DMMU’s stock supplies and enhance its capacity for rapid response to future disasters.

Botswana High Commissioner to Zambia Tuelonyana Ditlhabi Oliphant said the government and people of Botswana had followed the floods, which devastated the country and decided to help Zambia.

Tanzania Zambia Mafuta (TAZAMA) managing director Largeman Muzelenga pledged to continue helping when need arose.

In receiving the donation, Vice-President Rupiah Banda said Zambia appreciated the role India had increasingly assumed as an emerging economy.

“Being prone to disasters, India provided good lessons for Zambia and therefore, we intend to grow our relations in the area of disaster management and mitigation,” he said.

Vice-President Banda said from the time of independence, the United States government had been assisting Zambia and it was not surprising that they had helped in the time of the floods.

Vice-President Banda also said TAZAMA Pipeline Limited deserved special recognition for considering contributing to the welfare of flood disaster victims.

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Zesco loses K173bn due to uneconomic tariffs

Zesco loses K173bn due to uneconomic tariffs
By Kabanda Chulu
Thursday May 15, 2008 [04:00]

ZESCO Limited has made a huge exchange loss of K173 billion during the 2007 financial year due to the adverse effects of the kwacha depreciation and the uneconomic tariffs that are not cost reflective. And during 2007, remuneration paid to the directors amounted to K836 million as compared to K1.2 billion in 2006 and the total remuneration paid to employees in 2007 amounted to K430 billion as compared to K437 billion in 2006.

Zesco attributed the huge exchange losses to the power rehabilitation project that had taken out 450 mega watts (28 per cent electricity generation capacity) hence resulting in loss of sales.

Other factors which affected Zesco’s overall performance were the rise in the prices of inputs such as fuel, transformers, conductors, poles and cables.

According to the 2007 annual report and financial statements, Zesco recorded an exchange loss of K173 billion, which was a complete reversal of the exchange gains recorded during the previous year of K180 billion that arose from an unusual appreciation of the kwacha against the United States dollar.

In 2005 up to mid 2006, the kwacha appreciated against the US dollar to cost K3, 200 but by March 2007, the kwacha was pegged at K4, 300 against the US dollar.

“The financial year 2007 was particularly challenging as the company experienced adverse effects of the depreciating kwacha which led to a huge exchange loss of K173 billion,” it stated.

“And delayed disbursements by the Rural Electrification Authority (REA) in funding their rural electrifications projects also posed a financial challenge because Zesco, as contractor, had to utilise its own resources.”

The report stated that the PRP experienced cost over-runs arising from change of scope from rehabilitation only to include up-rating (increase capacity) of machines.

“All these costs were to the account of Zesco since the financiers had fixed budgets for their components and the PRP (Power Rehabilitation Project) also took out 28 per cent (450 mega watts) of electricity generation hence resulting in loss of sales,” it stated.

The report stated that Zesco had hedged (protected) its foreign currency loan obligations by securitising US dollar receivables from mining customers.

“Out of its monthly receivables from the mines of US $ 8 million, US $ 2 million is securitised, Zesco therefore, has mitigated the risk of default on its hard currency denominated loans even where there are fluctuations in the Zambian kwacha against other currencies,” it stated.



Rising fuel prices call for strict controls, says Sekele

Rising fuel prices call for strict controls, says Sekele
By Joan Chirwa
Thursday May 15, 2008 [04:00]

RISING fuel prices and agricultural commodities call for strict controls in business, Zambian Breweries Plc Company secretary Ezekiel Sekele has stated. And Zambian Breweries has stated that it failed to fully exploit market opportunities last year owing to a regional shortage of glass bottles.

In a statement to announce the company’s performance during the financial year ended March 31, 2008, Sekele stated that large proportions of the group’s costs were driven by agricultural commodity and fuel prices.

“This will simply re-emphasise the need for strict cost controls to be in place at all times,” Sekele stated. “The Zambian economy is however expected to continue enjoying the benefits of low inflation, low interest rates, a strong currency and robust GDP growth, and there is every reason to believe that these will translate into continued growth in demand for the group’s products.”

And Sekele stated that the group experienced strong underlying demand for most of its products during the just-ended financial year, but failed to exploit the market resulting from a regional shortage of glass bottles.

“A region-wide shortage of glass bottles prevented the group from fully exploiting these market opportunities. Nevertheless, volumes of both beer and sparkling beverages did grow over prior year by 2.8 per cent and 2.1 per cent respectively,” Sekele stated.

The group’s profit after tax was 36 per cent higher at K60.1 billion during the financial year under review compared to K44.2 billion in the corresponding period.
Net turnover increased by 20.5 per cent to K450.5 billion from K373.9 billion during the 2007 financial year.

“Prices of beer products had to be increased in February 2007 in response to an unexpected increase in the rate of excise to 75 per cent. Thus the increase in net turnover of more than 20 per cent is the combined result of both volume growth and prices increases,” Sekele stated.

“The fact that profit after tax was able to grow faster than net turnover, is partly due to the strong Kwacha lowering the cost of imported items, and partly due to the strong emphasis that the Group puts on cost control.”

Meanwhile, National Breweries saw a reduction in its net profit during the financial year ended March 2008, recording a 15.2 per cent loss compared to the previous year.

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Celtel shares in high demand, observes Postel

Celtel shares in high demand, observes Postel
By Kabanda Chulu
Thursday May 15, 2008 [04:00]

PANGEA stock brokers’ senior partner Eric Postel has said the strong demand being shown by Zambians in acquiring Celtel shares might result in an over subscription. During a tour of the Celtel Initial Public Offer (IPO) database that has been set up at Zambia Centre for Accountancy Studies (ZCAS), Postel on Tuesday said there was a possibility that the country’s biggest IPO would result in an over-subscription.

“When we started, we were receiving between 200 to 500 applications daily. But currently, we are handling several thousands of applications in the range of 30,000 to 50,000 and at this rate it’s possible to get an oversubscription because of the strong demand we are seeing from all people, including individual and institutional investors,” he said.

Postel explained that the IPO database received applications from banks, processed and stored the data in the system.

“We capture all the data and print them out for verification then it is stored in the system and there are measures to ensure that no data is lost and in case of errors, corrections are made at each stage of data processing.

But if the error cannot be corrected, applications are sent back to the banks for adjustments and final corrections,” said Postel. “And it will take about 10 days to complete data processing after the IPO is closed on May 20, 2008,”
Postel urged Zambians to get shares now and not wait for the last days.

Celtel Zambia is offloading 20 per cent shares to become the first mobile company in Zambia to list at the Lusaka Stock Exchange.

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Sata is a good fellow to have around - Levy

Sata is a good fellow to have around - Levy
By Chibaula Silwamba and Lambwe Kachali
Thursday May 15, 2008 [04:00]

President Levy Mwanawsa yesterday said he had realised that opposition Patriotic Front (PF) president Michael Sata was a good fellow to have around. President Mwanawasa also revealed that he so detested Sata that he did not even want to hear his voice because he was making his job very difficult. And Sata pledged not to openly criticise President Mwanawasa but talk to him in person.

Meanwhile, PF spokesperson Given Lubinda said the party’s central committee would sit to review Sata’s new relationship with President Mwanawasa.

Addressing journalists at State House after reconciliatory discussions with Sata, President Mwanawasa said when he received the news that Sata had suffered a heart attack, he was gripped with sadness and realised just how much he needed him.

“Today is one of the important days in Zambia in my administration of six years. I have always wanted the opposition to work with me to develop this country. I am always of the view that it is not right that we should be campaigning for five years and do nothing else to develop the country,” President Mwanawasa said.

“It is unfortunate that it must take serious illness for all of us to realise just how much we need each other. When the young man Ministry of Health permanent secretary Dr Simon Miti came to inform me that Mr Sata had developed a heart attack, I was at the gym in Chamba Valley.

I was so gripped with sadness at the news. If you asked me before, I would have told you that nshimfwaya nokumumfwa ishiwi lyakwe iyo. That is how much I detested this man because he was maliciously making my job difficult to govern this country.”

“I told Simon Miti that ‘where is Michael Sata?’ He told me that he was in some private hospital. Then I said ‘is he in a position to move? I want government to help for Mr Sata to be taken to South Africa for treatment’.

He told me that the doctors had said they are still stabilising him, that as soon as he was fit enough…again that would depend on the willingness of his relatives because Mr Sata is not in the position to make any decision,” President Mwanawasa said. “I agreed and I said ‘okay, let us wait’. I said ‘keep me informed and as soon as he is fit enough find out from Mrs Sata if he can be taken to hospital’.”

President Mwanawasa said around 22:00 hours or 23:00 hours, he received the news from Dr Miti that the doctors had advised that Sata could be flown and the government had since chartered a plane to take him to South Africa.

“I had also spoken to Mrs Sata and she feels very grateful that the government is able to assist in this way,” he said.

“I want you Sata to convey my thanks and those of government to Mrs Sata for having given us the opportunity to help despite the perception which was there that there is nothing in blood between you and myself.”

President Mwanawasa said at the same time, Sata had a problem of a passport, which had been confiscated by the government.

“I was unable to get in touch with the minister who was dealing with the matter, Hon Shikapwasha. So how could he arrive in South Africa without any form of travel documents?
I gave instructions for the system to make arrangements for Mr Sata to be received even though he had no passport or any other travel documents. That could be looked into later,” President Mwanawasa explained. “Fortunately, this was agreed; around past 01:00 hours in the morning Mr Sata, his wife and I think his niece were flown to South Africa for treatment.”

President Mwanawasa said he kept being worried until he received information that everything had gone on well and that Sata was out of danger. He said he was glad that his discussions with Sata yesterday had marked a new beginning in Zambia’s political history.

“I will be glad to convene a meeting of some senior party and government officials when you say you want to meet us. We have agreed that you will give us a paper to indicate the subjects you want us to discuss,” President Mwanawasa said.

“This is what I have always wanted. I consider Zambia as mine but Zambia is not mine alone, it is yours as well, it’s for everybody. Each of us, we are too small; we are smaller than Zambia so we must advance the interests of the many.”

President Mwanawasa said it would be good for his and Sata’s children saying, in future, that their fathers had contributed something to Zambia’s development.

“I want my children to be proud that we had a father, a grandfather, a great grandfather who ruled this country and he contributed. Do you still have children Mr Sata?” President

Mwanawasa asked as Sata responded: ‘I even have grandchildren.”
President Mwanawasa offered his condolences to Sata over the death of his son, Chilufya.

“But I want these children to be proud of the fact that our parents were there and they led this country to higher heights,” he said.

“Insults do not build the country, criticism especially if it is misdirected, does not build. My wife told me of a story that there was funeral which you and her attended Dean Mung’omba’s funeral and you were joking and you said ba Maureen tell Levy he is working very well but we are fighting for the presidency.

I said ‘that was a joke, I wish Michael Sata could do such jokes with me’.
“But the only thing we do when we meet is to come almost to blows, you remember when we met at the Electoral office…(Sata chips in: ‘that was when we were fighting for the chair.)”

President Mwanawasa said Sata was welcome to go to State House to see him personally or phone him.

“I am humbled to hear that it’s not your intention to be openly criticising me. I want to say that it is also mutual, it’s not my intention to openly criticise you.

I want us to discuss real issues that will build this country,” President Mwanawasa. “I am very happy to see you here at State House. And that goes to show where we are, this is State House, it’s not Mwanawasa House, it’s your house as well.”

President Mwanawasa invited Sata to be attending national events at State House.

“I want you to come and join us, come and laugh with us and come and reflect on what happened in the past year with us. Then our followers will say ‘yes, we are being led in the right direction’. Not as of now when they can say we are being led in the ditch,” said President Mwanawasa.

And Sata said the main purpose of his visit to State House was to thank President Mwanawasa for having taken him to South Africa for specialist treatment.

“I am entitled, everybody is entitled but somebody has to make a decision and make a decision at the right time. Your Excellency, I am very, very grateful,” said Sata and repeatedly praised President Mwanawasa. “Now having said thank you, Zambia provided leadership before and after independence and Zambia can still provide leadership.”

He said that in a few years’ time, President Mwanawasa would not be in State House and there would be another president.

“We as a nation, and most especially in the opposition, are sensitising the people and prepare for a smooth and honourable exit and assure that the new president will feel the comfort and appreciation for the people who were there,” Sata said.

“I have never been a president and that is why I am not going to join the MMD because all the jobs of minister I have been minister, I have never been vice-president and I don’t want to be vice-president; so I will remain in PF.”

Sata said yesterday was a new beginning for PF to dialogue with the government.
“We are grateful to the President for according us this opportunity to see us.

We will prepare a number of things which we want to discuss,” Sata said. “We were just the two of us, we haven’t told you everything we discussed. We have only selected what to tell you and we shall continue meeting the two of us.”

Sata told President Mwanawasa and his aides to call him any time so that he could meet President Mwanawasa.

“It will only be me who will know what we have discussed with President Mwanawasa, not even Guy Scott will know,” Sata said. “As colleagues, we must keep confidence of each other.”

Sata, however, denied that he had ‘sold’ PF to the MMD and President Mwanawasa.

And Given Lubinda said although PF appreciated Sata’s open position regarding his association with the MMD government for the benefit of the country, he was not running the party alone. He said Sata did not consult all members of the central committee about meeting President Mwanawasa at State House.

“But I can confirm that only a few members were consulted and not the whole committee. I think whatever has been discussed between the two presidents, they have to present before their party organs.

So, as PF, members of the central committee, we’ll have to sit and review the issue so that we can come up with a policy direction,” Lubinda said. “I think it will not be good to keep the members of the committee speculating since not everyone was consulted.”

Lubinda said Sata’s political shift would be extensively discussed by the central committee soon. He refuted fears of a possible merger with MMD, saying a PF and MMD merger would compromise Zambia’s democracy.

He said President Mwanawasa only remained with three years before he leaves office and a merger would be meaningless.

“For what benefit would be a merger with MMD? If that is done, the losers will be the people of Zambia. I can tell you, a merger is out and cannot happen at all,” Lubinda said.

Asked on how Sata could make peace with MMD when he had failed to do that in his own party, Lubinda said PF was a peaceful party and should continue to maintain peace with all parties as a way of promoting democracy in the country.

Asked further if PF members were happy with Sata’s political shift since they were against MMD policies, Lubinda said the meeting at State House would not change PF’s position in dealing with issues of national interest.

Lubinda said Sata’s meeting with President Mwanawasa was a fulfillment of his calls to end political tension in the country. He said on many occasions, Sata had wanted to meet President Mwanawasa and discuss national matters.

“I hope you will recall when government invited PF to participate in the NCC. President Sata refused but said he is ready to meet President Mwanawasa and discuss the matter so that contentious issues that were raised by most stakeholders are resolved. So, as far as I am concerned, president Sata is just fulfilling his mission.

He is not like others who meet President Mwanawasa in the cover of darkness,” Lubinda said.

He said even PF members of parliament had been holding meetings with government ministers to discuss developmental issues.

“I have held meetings with local government minister Sylvia Masebo, Minister of Lands and many others. So, as president of the party, president Sata has the right to meet President Mwanawasa to unite the country and bring development,” said Lubinda.