Saturday, August 09, 2008

(LUSAKATIMES) Youths urged to learn entrepreneurship skills

Youths urged to learn entrepreneurship skills
Posted on August 7th, 2008

The Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) has assured youths in the country that it has provided seed money in order to mitigate the difficulty that youths face in accessing empowerment funds from the commission. CEEC Chairperson Jacob Sikazwe reiterated that the commission has K150 billion which will be used to support broad based economic empowerment programmes for targeted citizens such as youths, women and the disabled.

Mr. Sikazwe urged youths to get close to successful business persons in the country in order to learn the best practices of managing an entrepreneurship. He said this in Lusaka today at a youth sensitization workshop on the operations of CEEC and funding guidelines organized by the Youth Association of Zambia.

And YAZ Executive Director Evans Musonda said his organized stands ready to partner with the CEEC in the area of sensitization in order to ensure that all young people access the empowerment funds.

Mr. Musonda also disclosed that his organisation has since January this year spent over K1 billion in giving loans to young people in seven provinces.

He said YAZ which works in partnership with the Copperbelt Forum will by September this year cover all districts in all the nine provinces in a bid to supplement government efforts in youth empowerment.

The two-day workshop has drawn about 30 youths from all the nine provinces and is being held at the Commonwealth Youth Programme office at the University of Zambia great east road campus.


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(LUSAKATIMES, ZANIS) Zambia to handover SADC chairmanship to SA

Zambia to handover SADC chairmanship to SA
Posted on August 8th, 2008

Information and Broadcasting Services Minister, Mike Mulongoti says government is ready and prepared to hand over the Southern African Development Community (SADC) chairmanship to South Africa this month. Mr. Mulongoti says in the absence of President Mwanawasa ,who is the current chair of SADC, Vice President, Rupiah Banda will hand over the chairmanship. Mr. Mulongoti said in an interview in Lusaka today.

He added that Foreign Affairs Minister, Kabinga Pande or any other minister who will be available at the hand over ceremony will present the chairmanship in case Vice President Rupiah Banda will not be available.

Mr. Mulongoti said various ministers are currently preparing to travel to South Africa to handover chairmanship positions in the various committees.

“As a country we are ready to handover the SADC chairmanship despite the absence of President Mwanawasa who is currently the chairman of SADC,” Mr. Mulongoti said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Mulongoti has urged Zambians to prepare and embrace the SADC/ COMESA customs unions once introduced in December this year.

Mr. Mulongoti said Zambian business and the general public should not be scared of the customs union once introduced but rather they should sharpen their various skills in benefit services the facilities will offer.

He said Government is ready to support the customs union adding that other member states should do so in order to ensure success of the union in the region.


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(LUSAKATIMES) PAC calls for effective procurement system

PAC calls for effective procurement system
Posted on August 2nd, 2008

Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee Chairperson Charles Milupi, has called for the establishment of an effective and efficient public procurement system which will promote national development. Mr. Milupi said there was need to device an effective public procurement and supply system that would play a paramount role in harnessing the growth of the national economy.

He told ZANIS in an interview in Lusaka today that government was loosing a lot of money due to poor and ineffective procurement and supply system. He said his committee has continued to receive complaints from the public that there was lawlessness in the public procurement and supply system.

Mr. Milupi, who is also Luena Member of Parliament, said his committee was concerned with the manner most government tenders were awarded to some contractors who provide poor workmanship in government projects.

He further urged government to continue deregistering companies in the construction industry that are abrogating the provisions of the contracts.

He urged the Zambia National Tender Board (ZNTB) to device effective mechanisms that would help in ensuring that all public procurement and supply systems are done without using dubious means.

The Luena MP said effective public procurement and supply measures would help to building capacity and efficiency and contribute to national development.

He further said contractors, consultants and clients, who were found to be abrogating the provisions of the contracts signed with the tendering departments, must be severely dealt with by the law in an effort to deter other contractors from doing shoddy works.

Mr. Milupi has since cautioned both local and foreign contractors to follow the laid down professional ethics in a bid to protect their companies from being deregistered from the National Council for Construction (NCC).


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(LUSAKATIMES) Nepotism killing councils- Masebo

Nepotism killing councils- Masebo
Posted on August 5th, 2008

The Minister for local government says nepotism and tribalism are vices which have contributed to the poor performance in local authorities. Sylvia Masebo says this has led to misapplication of government grants to councils. She said this is despite a sharp rise in government grants to local authorities over the last four years. Ms. Masebo also noted that most of the councils have employed ill qualified staff.

The Minister was speaking when she addressed Town Clerks, Mayors, Districts Administrative officers and council secretaries from 70 districts. This was at a consultative meeting on the re-establishment of the local government service commission.

The local government service commission will oversee the employment of workers in councils to ensure qualified people are recruited. And the National Housing Authority (NHA) may be forced to scale down the construction of houses in Lusaka due to lack of land.

Public Relations Manager, Tamika Mulenga told ZNBC news that the Authority has already exhausted the land in the capital city. Mrs. Mulenga said the Housing Authority will now concentrate on building houses in other parts of the country. This will also include the 300 housing units in Solwezi scheduled to take off early next year.


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(LUSAKATIMES, ZANIS) HH slams proposed salary hike for ministers

HH slams proposed salary hike for ministers
Posted on August 7th, 2008

The United Party for National Development (UPND) has received the proposed salary increments for cabinet ministers and top government officials with a deep sense of shock and dismay. Party President Hakainde Hichilema said at a press briefing today that the proposed increments are a disgrace on the part of government in as far as the management of public resources is concerned.

Mr. Hichilema said the correct thing for government would have been to increase the salaries of the lowly paid civil servants such as teachers, nurses and police officers. He explained that increasing the salary of a lowly paid civil servant by 15 percent does not justify increasing the salary of an already well paid Minister by the same 15 percent saying the move is an indication of not understanding the principle of fairness and equity in the distribution the country’s income.

He wondered why cabinet has decided to approve hefty salary increments for themselves when they have not implemented various developmental projects under the pretext of not having adequate funds. Mr. Hichilema noted that government’s statement that parliament will make the final decision on the proposed increments is unacceptable saying under the current parliamentary procedure MPs are not allowed to debate matters which affect them.

He cited government’s refusal to increase the meal allowances and Salaries for University of Zambia students and lecturers respectively as an example of government’s unfair approach to the distribution of Zambia’s resources. He described the proposed increments which include Ministers’ fuel allowance, vehicle sale, President and Speakers’ pension and gratuity as unacceptable and unjustifiable.

Mr. Hichilema alleged that government did not spend almost K1 trillion from last year’s budget in order to award themselves huge amounts of allowances at the expense of developing the country’s education, health and agricultures sectors among others.

Meanwhile, Mr. Hichilema says government should recapitalize the Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ) at a commercially viable level. Mr. Hichilema told journalists at a press briefing today that the current National Agricultural policy is dismal hence the problems being faced at NCZ. He said there is need for a more explicit and viable policy to improve agriculture in the country.


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(LUSAKATIMES, ZANIS) Read widely, Mulongoti urges Zambians

Read widely, Mulongoti urges Zambians
Posted on August 9th, 2008

Information and Broadcasting Services Minister, Mike Mulongoti has implored Zambians to develop a culture of reading and utilize various public libraries doted around the country. Mr. Mulongoti said libraries were important institutions in any given country from where people should acquire knowledge which was necessary for developing the nation.

He said this in Lusaka today when he officially opened the Francis Kasoma Media Library and Information Resource centre at the University of Zambia (UNZA).

Mr. Mulongoti also launched a book entitled “The Press in Zambia” by Francis Kasoma.

He noted that the Kasoma Media Foundation projects have proved to be effective in the development of Journalism and Mass Communication as it has offered the best and reliable media library.

Mr. Mulongoti said government attached great importance to the provision of information services which he said was an ingredient for social and economic development.

He said it was therefore imperative that journalists and other members of the public acquired the historical book and draw lessons from it, adding that they should also utilize the library.

“As most scholars recommend, for every journalist to have a good and sound historical background of the origin of the press in Zambia, they should understand and exhibit professionalism in the trade,” Mr. Mulongoti said.

Earlier, Kasoma Media Foundation Executive Director, Lesa Basil said the foundation aimed at advancing the practice of journalism through media education and development.

Ms Basil said her organization has since developed a three year strategic plan which would help the foundation to strike a balance between complementing media development and enhancing journalism and mass communication in the country.

And UNZA deputy Vice Chancellor, Wilson Mwenya said the late professor Francis Kasoma contributed significantly to the development of the media community in Zambia.

Dr. Mwenya noted that Prof. Kasoma was in the forefront spearheading media issues, adding that the media has developed because of his tireless efforts.

He said UNZA management was privileged to house the Kasoma Library.

He has since urged students and other members of the public to make use of the library.


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(NEWZIMBABWE) Will society accept you?

Will society accept you?
Nancy Nyamhunga–Opinion
Sat, 09 Aug 2008 05:19:00 +0000

EXPERIENCE has taught us that all conflicts are resolved through dialogue – and the ongoing talks between Zanu PF and the two MDCs give us hope that finally our politicians have decided to do the right thing, putting Zimbabweans first before themselves. My respect goes out to President Mugabe, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai and Prof Arthur Mutambara for taking this initiative.

Whenever there is a quarrel within the family, there are outsiders who are quick to “empathise” with the aggrieved, and offer to fight on behalf of them. Sometimes such offers are too tempting to resist, because we will be so hurt that we will want revenge at any cost. Because our reasoning capacity is so diminished, due to anger, we become vulnerable to manipulation even from the most dangerous people on this planet.

However, once that period of “madness” passes, we then realise that blood is thicker than water. We may have fought as siblings, or as extended family members, but ultimately at some point in our lives, when it matters most, the family will always stand for each other.

Looking at the voting patterns in the recent elections, the vote was split almost in half between MDC and Zanu PF. It is not wrong to say in almost every family in Zimbabwe, there is a member of MDC and Zanu PF, which is why it should be easy to unite the people of Zimbabwe through a negotiated settlement instead of expecting some kind of ”foreign” pressure to turn brother against brother.

In earnest, as Zimbabweans we can safely say we have travelled through this rough terrain before. We fought a bloody liberation war to claim back our dignity and self-determination. Yes, we had to fight to reclaim our self-worthiness.

It was never going to be easy to reclaim economic independence. As in all revolutions, there are trials and tribulations along the way. There has been some who have gone beyond “the call of duty” across the political divide to further their personal economic gains by destroying other people’s lives. These have been disguised as fights for “indigenisation”, “freedom of press, human rights and democracy.”

Some our brothers and sisters had become overnight western press “political analysts”, not to defend their country, or to promote democracy in Zimbabwe, but to chastise their own country in return for a few silver shillings. Some, either through ignorance or selfishness even called for military intervention in their own country. Others conveniently renamed military intervention with a much nicer name, “international peacekeepers”.

Back home there are others who declared themselves “supreme war veterans”, some too young to have participated in the war, using this status to settle their personal grudges and causing distress to some neighbourhoods. There are certain actions that are just unforgivable no matter how justified.

I’m reminded of an incident that occurred just before Independence. My late grandfather was one of the few black farmers to be allocated a farm (known as the mixed farms) in the then Wiltshire (now Chivhu) during the Smith regime some time in the 70`s. They used traditional methods of farming because they just could not access capital from banks to finance their farming (it’s hard being born black on this planet, I tell you!)

The Save River divided the white commercial farmers (where the tarred road, electricity and telephone lines ended) from the black farmers on the other side of the river. Because of the good infrastructure of the road up to Save river, Ian Smith’s regime army had easy access to this part of the country where they terrorised and killed any young man they found as they perceived them to be collaborating with the freedom fighters.

The local youths decided to defend themselves by destroying the bridge along the Save River to prevent the soldiers from using the road.

Mr Chiminya taught at the local primary school then and was well-respected by the local community and was often referred to as Teacher Chiminya. He lived just next to the bridge and during school holidays would use his personal car as a commuter to and from Harare to get extra income. He had vehemently objected to the idea of destroying the bridge as this would affect his “business”.

For the local youths, destroying that bridge would mean saving lives. For Teacher Chiminya it meant loss of income.

The youths, with the consent of the elders in the community, went onto destroy the bridge. Teacher Chiminya got so angry and did the unthinkable. He crossed the Save River, into the white farmer’s residence and together they summoned the army. The youths were ambushed and they all perished on that Save River Bridge on that fateful afternoon. They numbered up to 20 and most probably they would have been Teacher Chiminya’s students at some point.

The whole community was inconsolable.

Teacher Chiminya did not return back home after his assignment. When the war ended in 1980, most people who had fled their homes for various reasons came back to their homes but Teacher Chiminya could not. The farm lay with overgrown grass well into the 90`s unoccupied, perhaps only serving as a stark reminder to the community of its occupant’s actions on that fateful afternoon.

All the bus operators who plied the route, upon reaching this sacred bridge would drive very slowly as a mark of respect of the youthful lives that was lost here. There were just too many and too young to die in such a manner.

“This is the place”, you would hear passengers on the bus appraising each other, shaking their heads and holding back tears, 20 years after the incident happened, yet while the wounds appear healed outside inside they still are heavily bleeding.

Perhaps it is time to ask yourself, seriously, this time: have you ever in your life failed to manage a personal conflict and sought to nationalise it along the way by destroying someone’s life?

Will Zimbabwean Society, (not law enforcement agents), accept you?

Nancy Nyamhunga



Harrison calls for equal distribution of wealth

Harrison calls for equal distribution of wealth
By Agness Changala
Saturday August 09, 2008 [04:01]

ZAMBIA has an interesting set of challenges in the years to come because of the effected tax regime, outgoing British High Commissioner to Zambia Alistair Harrison has said. In an interview shortly after announcing the names of Zambians who have been awarded scholarships to study in the United Kingdom, High Commissioner Harrison said the effecting of the tax regime was a challenge to the government as they were required to make difficult decisions.

"It's up to the government to know and make good choices of developing infrastructure in the education, transport and health systems," he said. High Commissioner Harrison said it was also important that Zambia's economic boom trickled down to the poor.

Earlier, when presenting the British scholarships to 19 Zambians to undertake post-graduate studies in the UK for the September intake, High Commissioner Harrison said girls should be pushed to full potential in education, as it would contribute to the development of the nation.

He expressed worry at the quality of education that the vulnerable were exposed to considering that they were future leaders.

High Commissioner Harrison said the scholarships were part of the British government's programme to promote greater capacity for the next generation of Zambian leaders and to further develop the excellent relationship between the two countries.

"The schemes aim to nurture talented Zambian scholars with the potential to become future leaders in their field," said High Commissioner Harrison.

And one of the recipients of the scholarships talked to said she deserved the scholarship because she had worked hard in her entire life.

Mususu Kosta is currently at the University of Zambia (UNZA) as Staff Development Fellow (SDF).

Kosta, who is also the first female lecturer at the UNZA in the School of Mines at the Department of Metallurgy and Mineral Processing, said she would study Advanced Engineering at Liverpool University. The scholarships were awarded to 10 females and nine males.



ERB increases fuel prices

ERB increases fuel prices
By Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Saturday August 09, 2008 [10:44]

THE Energy Regulations Board (ERB) has with immediate effect announced an increment in fuel prices in the country. ERB executive director Silvester Hibajane announced in a press release yesterday that the price of petrol has been increased by K1,103 per litre to K9,458 from the previous K8,355 while that of diesel has been increased from K7, 237 to K8,190, representing an increase of K953.

The price for kerosene has also been upped by K641 per litre to K5,745 from the previous K5,104. Hibajane stated that the new pump prices for fuel in the country were based on the current cargo which docked in Dar-es-Salaam on August 3, 2008.

Hibajane explained that the increase in the pump price for fuel had been necessitated by increasing cost of fuel on the international market as well as the continued depreciation of the kwacha against the United States Dollar.

“Oil prices recently reached an all time high of US$147.27 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange in July 2008,” stated Hibajane. “In addition, the kwacha has registered depreciation against the United States Dollar trading at an exchange rate of K3,404 in July, in comparison to the June rate of K3,264.”

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(THE GUARDIAN UK) Turn left for growth

Turn left for growth

In contrast to the right, the left has a coherent agenda. It's one that offers not only higher growth, but also social justice
Joseph Stiglitz
Wednesday August 06 2008 21:00 BST

Both the left and the right say they stand for economic growth. So should voters trying to decide between the two simply look at it as a matter of choosing alternative management teams?

If only matters were so easy! Part of the problem concerns the role of luck. America's economy was blessed in the 1990s with low energy prices, a high pace of innovation, and a China increasingly offering high-quality goods at decreasing prices, all of which combined to produce low inflation and rapid growth.

President Clinton and then-chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, deserve little credit for this – though, to be sure, bad policies could have messed things up. By contrast, the problems faced today – high energy and food prices and a crumbling financial system – have, to a large extent, been brought about by bad policies.

There are, indeed, big differences in growth strategies, which make different outcomes highly likely. The first difference concerns how growth itself is conceived. Growth is not just a matter of increasing GDP. It must be sustainable: growth based on environmental degradation, a debt-financed consumption binge, or the exploitation of scarce natural resources, without reinvesting the proceeds, is not sustainable.

Growth also must be inclusive; at least a majority of citizens must benefit. Trickle-down economics does not work: an increase in GDP can actually leave most citizens worse off. America's recent growth was neither economically sustainable nor inclusive. Most Americans are worse off today than they were seven years ago.

But there need not be a trade-off between inequality and growth. Governments can enhance growth by increasing inclusiveness. A country's most valuable resource is its people. So it is essential to ensure that everyone can live up to their potential, which requires educational opportunities for all.

A modern economy also requires risk-taking. Individuals are more willing to take risks if there is a good safety net. If not, citizens may demand protection from foreign competition. Social protection is more efficient than protectionism.

Failures to promote social solidarity can have other costs, not the least of which are the social and private expenditures required to protect property and incarcerate criminals. It is estimated that within a few years, America will have more people working in the security business than in education. A year in prison can cost more than a year at Harvard. The cost of incarcerating two million Americans – one of the highest per capita rates (pdf) in the world – should be viewed as a subtraction from GDP, yet it is added on.

A second major difference between left and right concerns the role of the state in promoting development. The left understands that the government's role in providing infrastructure and education, developing technology, and even acting as an entrepreneur is vital. Government laid the foundations of the internet and the modern biotechnology revolutions. In the 19th century, research at America's government-supported universities provided the basis for the agricultural revolution. Government then brought these advances to millions of American farmers. Small business loans have been pivotal in creating not only new businesses, but whole new industries.

The final difference may seem odd: the left now understands markets, and the role that they can and should play in the economy. The right, especially in America, does not. The new right, typified by the Bush-Cheney administration, is really old corporatism in a new guise.

These are not libertarians. They believe in a strong state with robust executive powers, but one used in defense of established interests, with little attention to market principles. The list of examples is long, but it includes subsidies to large corporate farms, tariffs to protect the steel industry, and, most recently, the mega-bailouts of Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac. But the inconsistency between rhetoric and reality is long-standing: protectionism expanded under Reagan, including through the imposition of so-called voluntary export restraints on Japanese cars.

By contrast, the new left is trying to make markets work. Unfettered markets do not operate well on their own – a conclusion reinforced by the current financial debacle. Defenders of markets sometimes admit that they do fail, even disastrously, but they claim that markets are "self-correcting." During the Great Depression, similar arguments were heard: the government need not do anything, because markets would restore the economy to full employment in the long run. But, as John Maynard Keynes famously put it, in the long run we are all dead.

Markets are not self-correcting in the relevant time frame. No government can sit idly by as a country goes into recession or depression, even when caused by the excessive greed of bankers or misjudgment of risks by security markets and rating agencies. But if governments are going to pay the economy's hospital bills, they must act to make it less likely that hospitalisation will be needed. The right's deregulation mantra was simply wrong, and we are now paying the price. And the price tag – in terms of lost output – will be high, perhaps more than $1.5trn in the US alone.

The right often traces its intellectual parentage to Adam Smith, but while Smith recognised the power of markets, he also recognised their limits. Even in his era, businesses found that they could increase profits more easily by conspiring to raise prices than by producing innovative products more efficiently. There is a need for strong anti-trust laws.

It is easy to host a party. For the moment, everyone can feel good. Promoting sustainable growth is much harder. Today, in contrast to the right, the left has a coherent agenda, one that offers not only higher growth, but also social justice. For voters, the choice should be easy.

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Economic solutions to poverty

Economic solutions to poverty
By Editor
Saturday August 09, 2008 [04:00]

There is a great danger that government policies, if not combined with clear social concern, will bring economic deprivation. Economic growth depends in the first place on social progress. We agree with the observations made by Professor Oliver Saasa that economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa has been greeted with worsening social conditions and that poverty cannot be fought with economic solutions.

We are aware that politics is an area of great importance for the promotion of justice, development and community among all. The government is the instrument by which people co-operate in order to achieve the common good.

And an authority is needed to guide the energies of all towards the common good.

Truly, economic growth could explain a proportion of poverty reduction but the rest is dependent on good policies to harness the growth of poverty reduction. Meeting the basic needs of families must take top priority in any government planning. Hunger in our society is a sign of gross injustice and a block to development.

Trying to develop a country without developing its people, without lifting their standard of living is meaningless.

Economic justice requires that each individual has adequate resources to survive, to develop and thrive.

There are people who each day cannot meet the basic needs necessary for a decent human life. It is a strict duty of justice and truth not to allow fundamental needs to remain unsatisfied.

There is need for the transformation of our social structures in order to build the economy of our country in a manner which is beneficial to all, especially the poor.

The government is expected to work for the benefit of all. It has a duty to serve the people and to equitably distribute goods and services among all the people.

In addition, there is no political participation without economic participation. This implies a new, fundamentally humanistic conception of the economic process, which surpasses the system where capital is privileged and work is considered as marketable.

The experience lived by our people leads us to reject this type of economic order. We should therefore aim towards the creation of a qualitatively different society. By this we understand a society wherein the willingness of justice, of solidarity and equality reigns, one that will respond to generous aspirations and the search for a more just society and where values, particularly freedom and responsibility which will guarantee the integral development of individuals will be realised.

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

Education thus conceived will lead to the creation of a new human being and a new society – social humankind and a communal society where democracy is real through the effective political participation of the members of a society, through the human concept of work, through the submission of capital to the needs of the whole society.

Humanity should be that artisan of its own destiny, responsible before history, creator of its own culture and civilisation, an act which becomes more urgent in the process of social political change.

This means that individuals should have a real and direct participation in the political action against structures and oppressive attitudes and for a just society for all. This participation will be made manifest by the awakening of critical consciousness and by the activity which demand that channels for participation in decision-making be created.

Only thus can we avoid the myth of a formal democracy which hides a situation of injustice: actually, if beyond juridical laws a more profound sense of respect and service of one another is lacking, and even of an equality before the law, it could serve as an alibi for fragrant discrimination, for constant exploitation, for effective deceit.

This participation goes beyond the limits of law or governmental organs, even if these were designed to favour it, because we must prevent popular participation from being channelled along a predetermined line or under political leadership. It should be a creative and autonomous process.

In the last seventeen years, a hope has spread through our country that economic growth would bring about such a quantity of goods that it would be possible to feed the hungry at least with the crumbs falling from the table, but this has proved a failing hope.

Even the jobs provided are so few that, not infrequently, most workers are left unemployed. These stifling oppressions give rise to great numbers of marginal persons, ill-fed, inhumanly housed, illiterate, and deprived of political power as well as of the suitable means of acquiring responsibility and moral dignity.

In saying all this, we are not in any way implying that we should build our country’s economy on the basis of entitlements. One cannot build an economy or a society purely on the basis of entitlement. Our progress on reducing or eradicating poverty will depend on how well we are able to mobilise the sweat equity of our people themselves. Our people have to make a contribution.

As it has been pointed out before in this column, social justice and equity means “equality of rights, of opportunities, not of income. Equality is not an egalitarianism. The latter is ultimately another form of exploitation: that of a good worker by one who is not, or, even worse, by the idle”.

Clearly, it cannot be denied that it is a fallacy to fight poverty with economic solutions because in a country like ours with highly uneven income and asset distribution, the poor are significantly disadvantaged in the growth process. Therefore, there is need to work on interventions that increase our poor people’s income and assets. We have no choice but to take an option for the poor.

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Cabinet pay rise continues to receive criticism

Cabinet pay rise continues to receive criticism
By Jack Zimba
Saturday August 09, 2008 [04:01]

TEN civil society organisations in the country have called for the immediate withdrawal of the proposed bill to increase salaries and allowances for senior government officials and constitutional office holders. At a joint press briefing at Hotel Intercontinental in Lusaka yesterday, the non-governmental organisations condemned the proposal by Cabinet to award themselves, members of parliament and constitutional office holders, salary and allowance increments of up to 300 per cent, saying the move was "greedy and irresponsible".

The organisations also questioned the introduction of the responsibility allowance to be paid to the President, Vice-President, ministers and their deputies.

"What extra responsibilities have all our senior government officials suddenly acquired?" the organisations questioned in part.

The organisations said they were not against any improvement of conditions of service for government employees, but were against the "selective principles of increments that only benefit a few and disadvantage the majority."

"It is unacceptable and greedy of ministers to increase their pay while so many critical sectors in the country's economy are in dire need of resources, financial and otherwise," they stated.

They also warned that the government should not use money from the expected windfall taxes from the mines.

The civil society organisations called on Vice-President Rupiah Banda to show true leadership on the matter by ensuring that the proposals were shelved.

"We dare them to take the bill to Parliament and we will surround that place and demand its withdrawal," Caritas Zambia executive director Sam Mulafulafu said.

The organisations argued that the current conditions of service for ministers were sufficient to enable them live comfortably, while the majority of the taxpayers in the country earned far less.

Women for Change (WfC) executive director, Emily Sikazwe said it was not necessary for Cabinet to create unnecessary tension in the country, instead of uniting in prayer for the President, who is currently admitted to a military hospital in Paris, France, after suffering a stroke.

The organisations also advised Cabinet to learn from other countries like Ivory Coast, where the government recently cut by half salaries for ministers in order to address the needs of the majority citizenry.

"People should not go into public service for survival, but for service," they stated. "What justifies increasing basic allowances by 50 per cent, let alone the 100 per cent proposed for telephone, cell phone, water and electricity allowances? Have these services increased by the same margin?" the organisations questioned.

Non-Governmental Organisations Coordinating Council (NGOCC) executive director, Engwase Mwale said the salary increment proposal was ill-timed, as the government had the responsibility to tackle high poverty levels as well as the President's medical fees in Paris.

The joint briefing was convened by Transparency International Zambia (TIZ), Caritas Zambia, Southern African Centre for Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD), Women for Change (WfC), Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP), Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR), Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ), NGOCC and Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR).

Cabinet on July 24 approved salary and allowance increments for constitutional office holders and senior government officials.

Cabinet approved a 15 per cent salary increment for constitutional office holders.
Cabinet also approved the introduction of a Responsibility Allowance, which shall be paid to the President, Vice-President, ministers and deputy ministers.

They also approved increment in the rates of allowances currently being paid to ministers, deputy ministers and senior government officials by 50 per cent of basic salary for housing allowance and 100 per cent for telephone, cellphone, water and electricity allowances.



PF infighting is recipe for failure, says Chimbaka

PF infighting is recipe for failure, says Chimbaka
By Inonge Noyoo
Saturday August 09, 2008 [04:01]

BAHATI Patriotic Front (PF) member of parliament Besa Chimbaka has said the current confrontations and infighting in the party are a recipe for failure. And Chimbaka has challenged the Task Force on Corruption to give a satisfactory explanation on the criteria they used to arrive at the decision to sell Mansa Milling Company to MMD spokesperson Benny Tetamashimba.

In an interview, Chimbaka observed that it had become clear to any well-meaning voter who supported the PF and its leadership that the party had lost track of its development agenda.

He said the name-calling, bickering, insults and character assassination in the party were at the expense of the party’s development agenda.

“What is the Patriotic Front as a party and its leadership doing about strikes and go slows at our universities? What about the issues of preventing ignorance and diseases? How about the issues of democratic governance in the nation itself?

How much impact has Patriotic Front and its leadership created in the development of Zambia resulting from its policies and development agenda? These are the issues we need to address as a party, not intra-party bickering,” he said.

And Chimbaka urged the Task Force on Corruption not to simply brush aside people’s complainants about the Mansa Milling Company transaction but to offer satisfactory explanation.

“People have a lot of queries regarding this transaction. They want to know whether the Task Force sold Mansa Milling to Tetamashimba because he was MMD. They are also questioning the effectiveness and transparency of the Task Force,” he said.

Chimbaka said the people of Luapula were not only surprised but unhappy with the sale of Mansa Milling Company to Tetamamshimba and there was need for the Task force to give its position.

“People of Mansa, especially the business community, expected Mansa Milling to be sold to management. The people of Mansa were waiting for Task Force to advertise and for people to openly bid but all they heard was that the milling had been sold to Tetamashimba at a cost of K840 million,” he said.

Chimbaka challenged the Task Force on Corruption to produce a list of people who bid for the sale, the offers received and from whom.
“We also want to know how much publicity the whole sale was given because the people feel sidelined by the secret sale of Mansa Milling by the Task Force to Tetamashimba,” he said.

Chimbaka further dismissed Tetamashimba’s claims that he has since invested K1.3 billion in Mansa Milling as false.

“Let him show us which bank and which project he is working on, because it is very clear to see that nothing is being done and Mansa Milling has been closed,” he said.

Chimbaka revealed that he had since written to President Levy Mwanawasa to inform him about the people’s complaints concerning the sale of the company.

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Mtesa salutes Levy's stance on human rights

Mtesa salutes Levy's stance on human rights
By Mutuna Chanda in Kitwe
Saturday August 09, 2008 [04:01]

Mwanawasa has left a legacy of upholding human rights in his tenure as chairperson of SADC. In an interview on Thursday, Ambassador Mtesa said President Mwanawasa emphasised on human rights not only for Zambia but the southern African region. Zambia hands over the leadership of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to South Africa at the annual heads of state and government summit scheduled for August 16.

"As a result of President Mwanawasa's emphasis on human rights, he convened an extraordinary summit on Zimbabwe on April 11 this year," Ambassador Mtesa said. "This was preventive diplomacy at its best."

Ambassador Mtesa said had President Mwanawasa fully attended the African Union heads of state and government summit in Egypt, he would have further stood for the human rights cause.

"He would have championed the cause of the people of Zimbabwe and the region as a whole," Ambassador Mtesa said. "The people of Zimbabwe fought for independence with our help which they got in 1980 but the democracy that they fought for has been lost."

Ambassador Mtesa said South Africa which was taking over from Zambia was faced with a huge challenge of ensuring that the negotiations over the political settlement that were underway between President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) factions of Morgan Tsvangirai and Professor Arthur Mutambara were successful.

South African President Thabo Mbeki has been leading negotiations on Zimbabwe since being tasked by SADC during an extra-ordinary summit in Dar es Salaam in March last year

"President Thabo Mbeki is involved in quiet diplomacy and sometimes it may be successful or may not be successful," said Ambassador Mtesa.

"The problem with quiet diplomacy is that people out there may not know where the negotiations are going, whereas with open diplomacy people get to know...the challenge that South Africa has as it takes over the leadership of SADC from Zambia is to ensure that SADC continues to work as one as unity is very important for the regional body."

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Govt bars NGOs from FSP

Govt bars NGOs from FSP
By George Zulu in Monze
Friday August 08, 2008 [04:00]

THE Ministry of Agriculture in Monze says it will not allow NGOs to participate in the distribution of government sponsored Fertiliser Support Programme (FSP) in this year’s farming season. In an interview, district agri-business and marketing officer Zandonda Tembo said that the decision to ban NGO’s from participating in the programme was arrived at, during a meeting to evaluate the FSP programme.

He said that NGO’s should instead supplement government’s effort by sourcing for more inputs from donors rather than depending on what the central government had budgeted for.

Tembo also advised small-scale farmers to prepare adequately because they would pay more than what they paid in the last farming season due to the increased fertiliser prices the country was experiencing.

He said only vulnerable but viable small-scale farmers would benefit in this year’s programme.

Last year, Monze received 34,200 x 50 kg bags of Urea and the same quantity of Basal dressing.

Meanwhile, the department of veterinary says it has drawn up a programme to ensure that there is no further foot and mouth disease outbreaks in the province.

Monze district veterinary officer Phanwel Nyimba said that the department had identified areas affected with outbreaks of foot and mouth disease and the department would ensure that a vigorous vaccination campaign was put in place.

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Unions have no substitute to struggle, engagement

Unions have no substitute to struggle, engagement
By Editor
Friday August 08, 2008 [04:00]

WORKERS and their organisations need to seriously participate in politics to help determine policies that affect their lives. For this reason, we find it difficult to accept the narrow trade unionism that is being advocated by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). ITUC maintains that trade unions should stick to their mandate of representing workers instead of turning into political tools, and that it is unacceptable under ITUC rules and regulations for trade unionists to engage in political operations of a particular country.

ITUC insists that it will never allow trade unions to turn political or to be used by the government because that does not fall under their mandate.

Demagogue is easy – we all know that – and not for nothing has our working class, our trade union movement, learned so much over these years.

Economism is easy – and we all know that – and one of the weapons of capitalism to prevent and block the influence of the workers is precisely economism.

Economism has caused many a headache to more than one democratic process before the workers have had a chance of becoming aware of their role in society. And because in as much as a policy is not their policy, then it is not a policy for the workers.

The labour movement has a role of watching over the interests of the workers and of watching over their rights, over all the prerogatives the state gives it to protect the interests of the workers against any misunderstandings, arbitrary action or injustice. It must be the spokesperson of the interests of the workers as such; of all their problems, of all the legitimate, just interests of the workers in all fields and in all senses.

And in this world, things are complicated and are decided by many factors. We should look at problems from different aspects, not just from one.

The wealth of society is created by the workers, peasants and working intellectuals. If they take their destiny into their own hands, follow a correct political line and take an active attitude in solving problems of society instead of evading them, there will be no difficulty in the world which they cannot overcome.

From our own experience, and having observed the international developments, no trade union can avoid political struggles if it is to bring tangible benefits to its members. Yet, a political engagement holds many complex challenges and opportunities for a trade union movement.

Perhaps one of those challenges is how to balance shop-floor struggles and broader political struggles.

If not carefully managed, this can produce an imbalance – over-reliance on political deal making and abandonment of the trade union base and shop-floor struggles.

A union movement reliance exclusively on political deal and lobbying underestimates its power and is generally reluctant to use power to tilt the balance of forces in favour of the interests of its members. As such, it becomes part of the elite that has a stake in maintaining the status quo.

Our trade union movement has before and after independence learnt to combine workplace struggles with broader political struggles. From inception, the labour movement in Zambia recognised and understood that workplace injustices under colonialism were linked to the broader political system of colonialism.

And under the one-party state, our labour movement recognised and understood that the solution to its problems lay in the broadening of democracy and the dismantling of the one party political system.

At the same time – and in all stages – our labour movement recognised that it would not, on its own, defeat colonial operation and exploitation and had to enter into alliances with a range of other forces, in particular the independence struggle movement, to do so.

And at the beginning of the 1990s, for the same reason, the labour movement entered into alliances with a range of other forces to return the country to plural politics. It is in this vein, that the labour movement became a key component of our independence struggle and the campaign for the return to multi-partism.

At the same time, it did not abandon the workplace struggles – in fact, workplace grievances were utilised to mobilise the workers in the broader political struggles. So, workers’ workplace struggles were knitted together with other sectoral grievances. This historical position had put the labour movement in a position of strength politically after independence although it didn’t succeed in doing so after the return to multipartism.

And with this experience, there is no need for our labour movement to retreat to a narrow trade union movement – concerned solely with workplace issues. Of course, both after independence and the return to multipartism, the trade union movement was faced with two stark choices: retreat from the political train and revert to a narrow trade union role or continue to play an active political role whilst ensuring that the new regimes begin to deal with the old contradictions.
However, there is need to realise that even in the best democratic society, workplace struggles and political struggles cannot be divorced from one another.

Whatever the disappointments, setbacks and betrayals, our labour movement’s strategy of engagement in the political terrain to shape policies and legislation has in some way – especially after independence – paid off to the working class. It played an active role in shaping labour, social and aspects of economic policy.
Trade unions are by nature not political parties and form alliances with political formations. Trade unions or workers on their own cannot deliver independence or liberation or a better life for all and have to form alliances with political formations.

There are prerequisites that make any alliance between a trade union and political parties in particular once those political parties win political power. The trade union movement has to be strong both organisationally and politically – after all, without power, one cannot negotiate or force a deal.

The trade union movement must jealously guard its independence and develop a willingness to stand firm on matters of principle or issues that will have a negative impact to members. The trade union movement must develop an array of tactical alliances with a range of civil society organisations so that it learns to have a broad approach to issues and at the same time make it difficult to be isolated. There have to be rules and structures that govern its involvement in the determination of policy; otherwise it ends up being used as a vote catcher by the political party. The trade union must have the capacity to engage in complex transformation issues at the policy level.

Clearly, there is no substitute to struggle and engagement. In a nutshell, our labour movement has to learn to combine a multi-pronged strategy of forming strategic and tactical alliances. It has also to develop its capacity to formulate policies and maintain its ability to mobilise members in support of its demands. Equality is important, and our trade unions should embark on struggles to represent workers on the shop-floor for better working conditions. Without that no trade union can survive.

The central argument being articulated here is that trade unions can represent members’ political interests by articulating clear policy positions around which they can galvanise their members; second, in forming political alliances, they must choose political parties that can best represent workers’ interests but who are also capable of winning an election; third, they must never relinquish their ability to mobilise their members and society in broad struggles to achieve their aims – the boardroom must be combined with mass struggle; fourth, members should be actively involved in shaping the positions of the trade union movement and internal democracy guarded jealously; lastly, trade unions must continue to represent workers’ interests at the shop-floor.

In this way, we think unions can best represent their members politically.

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Trade unions should not engage in politics - ITUC

Trade unions should not engage in politics - ITUC
By Joan Chirwa in Turin, Italy
Friday August 08, 2008 [04:00]

TRADE unions should stick to their mandate of representing workers instead of turning into political tools, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has said. In an interview yesterday, ITUC press officer for campaigns and communications Mathieu Debroux said it was unacceptable, under the confederation's rules and regulations, to allow trade unions to engage in political operations of a particular country.

Debroux said the ITUC would not hesitate to disassociate itself from trade unions that were being influenced by the governments in power.

"We have and will never allow trade unions to turn political or be used by the government because that does not fall under their mandate," Debroux said. "It is sad that some unions have become part of the government or acting as political institutions when they are not supposed to do so."

Debroux said trade unions must assist the government in the implementation of some International Labour Standards (ILS) of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), ratified by individual countries.

For example, Zambia - which has been a member of the ILO since 1964 - has ratified more than 20 of the ILS, among them the Collective Bargaining and the Workers Representative conventions, which should give trade unions an impetus to negotiate adequately with the government, employment agencies and companies on workers' conditions and rights.

ITUC, which has a regional structure in Africa called the ITUC-Africa, has a historic role of trade unionism, with a mission to better the conditions of work and life of working women and men and their families, and to strive for human rights, social justice, gender equality, peace, freedom and democracy.

The Confederation calls on the workers of the world to unite in its ranks and make instruments needed to bring forth a better future for employees as well as for all humanity.

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(TALKZIMBABWE) Is Zimbabwe checkmating a neo-Jonas Savimbi and Unita?

Is Zimbabwe checkmating a neo-Jonas Savimbi and Unita?
Lloyd Whitefield BUTLER, Jr.
Fri, 08 Aug 2008 23:01:00 +0000

“Security is the priceless product of freedom. Only the strong can be secure, and only in freedom can men produce those material resources which can secure them from want at home and against aggression from abroad. – B. E. Hutchinson, 1930s industry leader.

The opposition to the duly elected Zimbabwe government takes pride in their U.S. and EU strategic support. But according to the Honorable Nelson Mandela and President Thabo Mbeki their support is equivalent to inviting guests with questionable morals into the home; as evidenced in Iraq, Afghanistan, Granada, Panama, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Uganda, Somalia, Zaire, DR Congo, Haiti, Rwanda, and Vietnam.

The Opposition MDC-T should ask the US and EU; where are the success stories for the African countries they colonized in the past 400 years? What African nations, the US and EU supported, over the past 50 years sits as a beacon of success, prosperity, and civility?

What are the social and economic conditions of the US-EU governed 100-plus million former captive and enslaved “landless” African populations in North, Central, and South America?

The top commanding principles of MDC-T have made their positions known world-wide that if the 51% plus results favor Zanu PF; MDC-T will declare war or file a lawsuit at the International Criminal Court or the International Court of Justice.

Both courts are owned and operated by former colonizers. Courts that refuse to consider or indict America and Europe for the European-American Atlantic Slave Trading with Africans as commodities and or Human cargo. A ten-trillion dollar trade if we include theft of treasures, crown jewels, refined minerals, and intellectual property from colonized African kingdoms, queendoms, or countries.

As a reminder it was MDC-T’s July 1, 2002 federal court ruling that led to asset freezes in the United States against the government of Zimbabwe. A federal magistrate in New York recommended a $73 million civil penalty against Zanu PF.

By March 2003 President George Bush’s executive order sanctioned the government and people of Zimbabwe: “by the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code” no one in the US can conduct business with the Zimbabwe government; thanks to yours truly Morgan Tsvangirai and MDC-T.

The Western Arrogance of Power

Old Testament Prophet Obadiah’s advice to We-stern, pardon me, Western civilization: “The pride of thy heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the grown?”

“Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court, for the LORD will take up their case and will plunder those who plunder them.” - Proverbs 22:22-23. “He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the rich--both come to poverty.” - Proverbs 22:16. - “The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it an unscalable wall." - Proverbs 18:11.

South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki said; "The prospect facing the people of Iraq should serve as sufficient warning that in future we too might have others descend on us, guns in hand to force-feed us (with democracy)"…"If the United Nations does not matter...why should we, the little countries of Africa...think that we matter and will not be punished if we get out of line?” Mbeki said in remarks prepared for a conference on elections, democracy, and governance.

"Great Britain does not limit the period during which a person may hold the position of Prime Minister, to say nothing about the hereditary position of Head of State," he said.

"I have never heard of international observers visiting the United Kingdom verifying whether any British election was free and fair," Mbeki said.

The Honorable Nelson Mandela, Nobel Peace Prize winner, warned America and Britain about illegal aggression against Iraq and told the International Women's Forum (2003): "Why does the United States behave so arrogantly?" Mr Mandela asked. "Their friend Israel has got weapons of mass destruction but because it's their ally they won't ask the United Nations to get rid of them…They just want the oil...We must expose this as much as possible."

“One power with a president who has no foresight and cannot think properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust,"…"Why is the United States behaving so arrogantly?"

Concerning US & UK disrespect for U.N. Security Council’s advice and Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who is from Ghana, Mandela declared: "Is it because the secretary-general of the United Nations is now a black man? They never did that when secretary-generals were white,"

Concerning United States pass atrocities in Nippon, Mandela said the United States, which dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, has no moral authority to police the world.

"If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don’t care for human beings," he said.

"Who are they now to pretend that they are the policemen of the world, the ones that should decide for the people of Iraq what should be done with their government and their leadership?" he said.

Dealing with Jonas Savimbi’s Hell on Earth – a history lesson

The purpose of the quoted excerpts below taken from The United States Institute of Peace Special Report 10/12/99: “Angola’s Deadly War – Dealing with Savimbi’s Hell on Earth.”

Should act as a historical reminder that war talk leads to war and that pre-emptive war avoidance mechanisms must be enforced to secure the peace.

‘Despite a $1.5 billion peacekeeping operation and the tremendous potential a peace-time economy could unlock, Angola has descended back into Africa's most deadly war for the fourth time in the last four decades. The rebel UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi has decided for the second time this decade that war is a better option than peace, choosing to plunge the country back into war in 1992 after losing national elections and in 1998 after abandoning—after four years of uneasy peace—an internationally brokered peace plan to which he had agreed. Savimbi again has decided that if he himself cannot govern the country, he will continue to endeavor to make the country ungovernable.’

‘Better armed than ever, the Angolan government and UNITA rebels engage in scorched-earth offensives, destructive sieges, and other tactics that primarily rebound on civilians. More vulnerable than ever, Angola's civilian population continues to pay an increasingly heavy price.’

‘After Savimbi and UNITA walked away from two peace agreements this decade, should he continue to be viewed as a credible negotiating partner? Or should the war option be played out in full, with the military defeat of UNITA—as elusive as that goal surely is— becoming the sole path to future stability? Or is there a middle option, perhaps hard to envisage now, in which other elements of UNITA beneath Savimbi are engaged diplomatically in order to lay the foundation for a future peace agreement beyond Savimbi's capacity to destroy?’

‘Over the last decade, UNITA has sold over $4 billion worth of diamonds, despite United Nations (UN) Security Council sanctions. This wealth has helped purchase one of the most highly militarized countries on earth, peppered with 10 million landmines and up to 100,000 amputees. Angola stands alone at the top of UNICEFs Child Risk Measure, which examines the risk of death, malnutrition, abuse, and development failure for children worldwide.’

‘The fuel for UNITA's resupply efforts during this decade has been diamonds, replacing the aid UNITA received from the United States and apartheid South Africa during the Cold War.’

‘Given current projections, Angola will produce 2.5 million barrels of oil per day by 2015, more than Kuwait's current daily production. American refineries are the only ones outfitted for Angolan crude. Angola clearly must be treated as a country in which the United States has direct national security interests, both for the future energy security of the United States and for the American jobs related to contracting for and supplying the infrastructure necessary to exploit the oil.’

‘Over the last five years, UNITA was able to rearm and resupply—during implementation of the 1994 Lusaka Protocol peace agreement and despite international sanctions— because of a robust network of sanctions busters.’

Renewed Warfare Erupts

‘With the breakdown of the Lusaka Protocol peace agreement, full-scale war between UNITA and the government resumed in late 1998, following a number of attacks throughout the year by UNITA on government positions. The Lusaka Protocol, signed by the government and UNITA in 1994, included: (1) a cease-fire (2) demobilization and disarmament of UNITA forces (3) the integration of UNITA senior military officers into the government army, and (4) the extension of government administration into all UNITA territory.’

‘UNITA seeks to hold its positions, continue to increase pressure on key government-controlled towns, conduct hit-and-run attacks on vulnerable targets, make some advances in the context of a counteroffensive, make some areas ungovernable, and eventually create what it hopes will be a "victory by social explosion"- thus forcing the government back to the negotiating table or to collapse under its own weight.’

‘To do this, UNITA will likely increase pressure on infrastructure targets, such as water and electricity, and hit where the government is vulnerable. It also continues to attack small towns and villages throughout the country, resulting in countless civilian casualties and continuing displacement. Some argue that a fallback goal of UNITA is to divide the country in a way in which UNITA could control a major port and many of the key diamond-producing areas. Whatever the goal, Savimbi perceives war as his best option for now, buying him time as he fights for the day if/when his military and political fortunes might improve.’

‘Nevertheless, there seem to be an inexhaustible supply of young cadres recruited by Savimbi and fiercely loyal to him long enough to cultivate the next batch of recruits. Savimbi retains the loyalty of his army in part because of his method of recruiting young people: totally saturating them for years with pro-UNITA and antigovernment propaganda, aiming to win their hearts and minds at an early age, and terrorizing those who don't comply.’

‘Corruption on both sides continues to be a massive obstacle to peace and development in Angola. Power has increasingly been concentrated in the Angolan presidency (Futungo), and UNITA authority remains concentrated in the hands of Savimbi.’

‘UNITA has pursued a policy of pushing civilian populations into government-held cities in order to stress the government's capacity to control these areas and demonstrate that the government is unable to protect civilians. Then UNITA shells them incessantly and indiscriminately. Most of the civilians moved into government areas are children and the elderly, whereas those of productive ages are press-ganged into military service or kept to work the fields.’

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Savimbi’s UNITA dissatisfied with elections

‘What to do with Savimbi is as much as anything the cause of the return to war in Angola.’

‘Dissatisfied with election results in 1992, and again unhappy with the end state called for in the Lusaka Protocol, Savimbi has exercised his veto with extreme prejudice. He has twice gone back to war and halted tentative transitions. The international community should search for ways to bring pressure to bear on Savimbi to remove himself from active UNITA leadership. Misplaced advocacy for direct talks with him or offers to mediate between him and the government provide a forum to Savimbi that will only fuel his further machinations.’

‘Angolan civil society has shown an increased resolve in its advocacy for peace. Led initially by the Protestant Church, a diverse group of civil society leaders—mixing all sorts of points of view—produced a Manifesto for Peace, advocating for renewed negotiations and arguing for a role for civil society in the peace process. The Catholic bishops also have contributed to the push for peace with a pastoral letter calling on the government to negotiate.”

(The United States Institute of Peace is an independent, nonpartisan federal institution created by the United States Congress to promote research, education, and training on the prevention, management, and resolution of international conflicts.)

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(TALKZIMBABWE) Zvayi deported from Botswana

Zvayi deported from Botswana
Our reporter
Sat, 09 Aug 2008 01:29:00 +0000

ZIMBABWEAN journalist and former senior Herald staffer Caesar Zvayi was yesterday deported from Botswana where he was working as a lecturer for after a spirited campaign by anti-Zanu PF activists to have him deported.

political reasons, a development observers say could have repercussions on regional co-operation.

Zvayi, a former political and features editor of The Herald, was employed at the University of Botswana as a media studies lecturer.

The Herald reports that Botswana State agents delivered the deportation order, which was written and signed by President Ian Seretse Khama “in the presence of journalists”.

According to the paper the whole affair was meant to be a publicity stunt.

"The deportation order came from the President’s office and was handed to Mr Zvayi in front of journalists, mostly from the foreign media though the State broadcaster was also present," a source was quoted by the daily as saying.

Zvayi was recently added on a European Union sanctions list together with another journalist, Munyaradzi Huni, the political editor of The Sunday Mail.

Zvayi was last month hired by UB to lecture in print journalism but was later placed amongst the 137 people published by the EU that have been targeted for sanctions for their support of President Robert Mugabe's regime.

“I make no apologies for supporting Zanu PF because I subscribe to its Pan African values," Zvayi told The Botswana Gazette yesterday.

“I will never support the (Movement for Democratic Change) MDC as currently constituted because to me it is a counter-revolutionary Trojan horse that is working with outsiders to subvert the logical conclusion of the Zimbabwean revolution,” said Zvayi.

“Being at UB does not mean I stop being a Zimbabwean, supporting Zanu PF has no bearing on my qualifications as a journalist or competence as a media practitioner. The maliciousness and childishness of this campaign (to have him deported) is testimony to the fickleness of the people behind it who apparently believe universities employ people on political grounds. They need only look at the University of Zimbabwe today, whose Chancellor is President Mugabe, but which employs vocal MDC office holders, sympathizers and activists like Dr. Lovemore Madhuku, Dr. John Makumbe, and Eliphas Mukonoweshuro, among others.”

The government of President Khama has recently come under criticism for its treatment of journalists.

The editor of the Botswana Gazette, Aubrey Lute, last month criticized a Bill introduced by the Tswana government which he said was aimed at “muzzling the media.”

MmegiOnline accuses President Khama of ruling by decree. “Khama should live up to his promise that he joined politics to defend democracy. We are not too convinced that he is a democrat. Other than the few populist stunts that he made to dupe the gullible masses we see no democrat but a dictator,” said a recent editorial in the paper.

The deportation of Zvayi is likely to cause more diplomatic tension between Botswana and Zimbabwe according to critics.

Last month Botswana’s military was reported to be building up along the Zimbabwean border. President Mugabe responded harshly, warning neighbouring countries to ‘think twice’ before launching an attack against his government.

Opposition leaders in Botswana warned Khama against making derogatory statements about Zimbabwe as the country was a key trading partner with of Zimbabwe.

The opposition Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) said “because of the economic position we have crafted for ourselves, it may not be in our best interests to choose our enemies, especially those that we depend on for our livelihood”.

BPP’s leader, Bernard Balikani read: “It is all very right to be holier than thou and come up with a foreign policy that does not recognize Robert Mugabe and his government. However, we must not forget that the electricity that we import from the Cahora Bassa Dam in Mozambique flows through Zimbabwe.”

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Friday, August 08, 2008

PF 'rebel' MPs are soliciting financial aid, charges Lubinda

PF 'rebel' MPs are soliciting financial aid, charges Lubinda
By Gloria Siwisha
Friday August 08, 2008 [04:00]

PATRIOTIC Front (PF) Kabwata member of parliament Given Lubinda has revealed that some ‘rebel’ parliamentarians participating in the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) are soliciting financial and material support on the pretext of organising the forthcoming party conference.

In a statement, Lubinda who is also PF spokesperson, urged party members to be wary of the unscrupulous people that were allegedly soliciting for funds, as they had no consent from party authority to do so.

Lubinda stated that such a scheme was successfully used during the run-up to the 2006 general elections and many managed to get away with large sums of money from well-wishers under the pretext that the funds were for party mobilisation.

And party leader Michael Sata said the PF was aware that the money being raised by unscrupulous people would go towards the formation of a new party.

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(AFRICAFILES) A new Zimbabwe? Eddie Cross and the MDC

Southern Africa Report Archive
vol 15 no 3

A new Zimbabwe? Eddie Cross and the MDC
Patrick Bond

Patrick Bond writes on the emerging, rather worrying role of Zimbabwean businessman Eddie Cross within MDC economic planning circles. Bond's findings are now rather more sobering than his last writing on Zimbabwe in SAR (Vol 14 No 3, May 1999) as he now documents the extent to which neo-liberal emphases have indeed found their way deep into the fabric of the MDC's alternative politics. (jbv)

Southern Africa Report

SAR, Vol 15 No 3, May 2000
Page 8



Patrick Bond is author of a 1998 book, Uneven Zimbabwe: A Study of Finance, Development and Underdevelopment, published by Africa World Press.

A leading official of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), Eddie Cross, was appointed economic secretary of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in February. His first public presentation, in mid-March, represented a decisive signal that the MDC has graduated from its initial "Workers' Party" image and constituency, to ally with big business elements.

While the balance of forces within the MDC remains fluid, the worker-capitalist alliance against Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) regime will no doubt win the MDC a large - potentially majority - share of votes in the May parliamentary elections. But the implications are complex, because Cross appears intent on mixing divergent political traditions.

Cross comes from a faction that has long supported the introduction of structural adjustment, and which applauded Mugabe for turning to free-market policies during the 1990s. Even after a decade of failure, Cross told the Zimbabwe Independent in May 1999, "We in industry believe that the only way to make a significant impact is to comply fully with the IMF conditions."

Two months earlier, the International Monetary Fund had explicitly ordered Mugabe to reverse the only three progressive things he had done in recent years, namely his imposition of a) a ban on holding foreign exchange accounts in local banks (November 1997), b) price controls on staple foods (mid-1998, in the wake of mass food riots), and c) a luxury-goods import tax (late-1998). Although all three measures were emergency responses to a deep-rooted crisis, pressure from the CZI, IMF, World Bank and foreign donors, was sufficient to win Mugabe's consent and were rewarded with a temporary inflow of funds. But when Mugabe also pegged the Zimbabwe dollar to the US dollar after a speculative run in early 1999, holders of forex accounts began hoarding hard currency, and by late last year Zimbabwe ran out of foreign reserves and, in turn, could not pay for petrol imports. The crisis continued deepening, with Mugabe taking recourse in bashing the IMF, the British government and his own white subjects. But Zimbabwe's rich political terrain provides additional space for alternative strains of populism, as demonstrated in the speech given by Cross to a packed house at Harare's Book Cafe on March 16: "Zimbabwe at the Economic Crossroads: Which Way Forward."

From the corporate critique ...

Cross began with a diatribe against the massive state debt accumulated by the ZANU regime (there was no mention, until a questioner pointed it out at the end, that the debt was mainly built up as a result of the pro-corporate structural adjustment programme's logic). Cross turned quickly from the critical shortage of forex to the fact that Mugabe is "totally politically isolated," with only friends like Kabila, Nujoma, Mahathir and Qaddafi - "providing you don't ask them for money." He noted the total dependency of Zimbabwe upon one company, British Petroleum (for petrol imports) - but "you [Mugabe] go and kick them in the teeth. A telephone call to the chairman of BP and we are sunk!"

The point was becoming clear: only Cross can restore to Zimbabwe the confidence of economic elites. As for Mugabe's recently-announced economic programme, the "Millennium Recovery Programme," Cross railed,

It is toilet paper. It is worth nothing. Complete junk and if implemented it would simply compound our problems. They talk about exchange controls, they talk about price control, they talk about continuing to maintain controls on the Zimbabwean dollar. They talk control on wages. But nothing in the document to address the fundamental problems, absolutely nothing. I actually met with the IMF team after they had spent four fruitless days in Harare, going through the document, going through the planning with the Government and everybody that the Government could bring to speak to them - including Bernard Chidzero the ex-Minister of Finance - to plead with them to reconsider their position. They saw me after the process and said that there was nothing in the document that they could take back to Washington. Nothing. They said if they took that back to Washington they would be the laughing stock of the financial community in Washington. And I am afraid that throughout the financial institutions of the world, Zimbabwe is the black sheep.

Similarly, Cross remarked, the controversial trip to Harare by South African president Thabo Mbeki and several key officials in early March generated very little. A threatened cut to Zimbabwe's electricity supply from SA's Eskom parastatal due to nonpayment was reportedly deferred pending Eskom's takeover of Zimbabwean state facilities, but a US$120 million loan hinted at by Zimbabwe and widely reported as a bailout in the SA press was hastily denied by the SA Finance Ministry. As Cross interpreted,

South Africa is terrified of our situation here. When Thabo Mbeki was here he agreed to a programme of assistance with Mugabe and he agreed to a wide variety of other things. Went back to Pretoria and the guys in Pretoria said there is no way on this earth that we are going to allow you to prop up their regime in Zimbabwe. He had to go back to the drawing board, as you know. The financial proposals that were agreed to here in Harare were torn up and the South Africans are giving us very limited assistance.

What, then, does Cross propose to resolve the economic crisis?

First of all, we believe in the free market. We do not support price control. We do not support government interfering in the way in which people manage their lives. We are in favour of reduced levels of taxation. We are in favour of introducing Value Added Tax and we will do so quickly, within six months. We are in favour of a National Revenue Authority, these things are things which the government has been talking about for years. We believe they are sound developments. We would like to cap tax levels, both for individuals and for companies. We would like to reduce the levels of border duties ... The tax burden is simply not sustainable. It is negative in terms of the way it impacts on our society. Now that means we have got to reduce the size of government and not just talk about it.

On privatisation, Cross was especially brash:

We are going to fast track privatisation. All fifty government parastatals will be privatised within a two-year time frame, but we are going far beyond that. We are going to privatise many of the functions of government. We are going to privatise the Central Statistical Office. We are going to privatise virtually the entire school delivery system. And you know, we have looked at the numbers and we think we can get government employment down from about 300,000 at the present time to about 75,000 in five years.

This emphatic agenda has represented the medium-term wish-list of the CZI for several years. As Cross reaffirmed, "There is no doubt in my mind that the only way to grow the economy is on a free market basis."

... to anti-corporate populism? ...

Yet Cross is not without the sophistication required to work within a party formed by trade unionists. He talks of "a mixture of a highly conservative approach to economics and a strong social emphasis on improving the quality of life for the average Zimbabwean." Indeed, Rhodesia hosted a peculiar brand of white politics traceable to British working-class immigrants who during the 20th century brought their successful struggle for a generous social welfare state out to the colonies. Confirmed Cross,

My father was an alcoholic and I was raised by a single mom. My mother could not afford to pay school fees and I would not have received an education if the government of Rhodesia had not simply treated me like a special citizen and given me a free education of a very high standard.

At first blush, positive references to the IMF and "international community" may disguise the fact that historically, this political tradition often contested the interests of foreign capital. Indeed, to hazard a label, Cross is today a leading post-independence representative of a relatively patriotic white settler-bourgeoisie. Notwithstanding its British-colonial world-view, the assets of this class are more fully developed and cemented within Zimbabwe than anywhere else, thanks mainly to the 1960s - 80s period of rigid exchange controls (a large degree of capital flight occurred in the 1990s, but Zimbabwe remains an extremely comfortable habitat for wealthy whites).

The roots of Rhodesian populism are in intra-white struggle against Cecil Rhodes' British South Africa Company (BSAC), which formally ran the colony from 1890 - 1923. Various factions of the white community expressed such strong grievances - small miners over royalty rights; white unions over wages; settler farmers over their need to block black competition; and the church over social and political relations - that "self-governing status" was chosen in a 1923 whites-only vote. In 1933, struggling white farmers, artisans, and civil servants elected a "left"-sounding (yet very racist) Reform Party under the leadership of Godfrey Huggins.

Huggins promised to rescind BSAC's mineral rights, to impose protectionism, to nationalise key parts of the economy, to provide unemployment relief and white labour rights, and to establish a central bank for the colony. The election was, as Iden Wetherell observed in his seminal 1975 analysis of white politics, "fundamentally a populist protest designed to remind the State that its primary consideration lay not with the protection of profit, but with the promotion of institutional safeguards that would insure against a repetition of the recent experience."

After Huggins drifted towards establishment interests, angry white men reappeared on the political scene in 1962, when Ian Smith led the Rhodesian Front to power. Smith's broad coalition of white Rhodesians included not only those racists fearful of British decolonisation, but others who were adversely affected by the colony's early-1960s economic crisis. Indeed, the 1965 Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI), according to sociologist Giovanni Arrighi, "was directed as much against large-scale capitalism as against the Africans. The populist undertones of the UDI campaign were very noticeable." Those undertones harked back to the 1933 Reform Party victory, Wetherell insisted, since Smith's intention was "undoubtedly to conserve a system of safeguards that the radicals of the 1930s fought so hard to establish ... The inheritors of the pre-war populist or `left-wing' legacy [were] now self-defined as `right-wing'."

It is this uneasy combination which Cross appears to have inherited. It combines "conservative'' economic policies that meet the needs of the white-dominated business elites, with the memory of state support for a then-white, now-black working class. For even while punting rapid privatisation, the argument Cross makes has an anti-monopolistic flair:

An MDC government will sell our shares in the Dairy Board [the partially-privatised national milk and cheese marketing board] immediately, use the proceeds to retire debt and we will work actively to encourage competition. What about all the other cosy monopolies? What about Anglo American Corporation and their stranglehold on the sugar industry in Southern Africa? Let us open our border posts ... It is competition that will sort out the fat cats in the private sector.

Cross was especially scathing of his CZI colleagues:

They have been too complacent, they have been playing footsie-footsie with this government for too long. They need to be tougher. This Millennium Reform Programme - we see leaders of the private sector saying it is a good programme! It is, well I was going to use a rude word but I won't. It is absolutely nonsense.

... to corporatism and social democracy?

Critical of fat cats living off ultra-cheap Zimbabwe labour and acquiescing to ZANU power, Cross adds two additional pillars - corporatist industrial relations and an expanded social plan - to the foundations of the MDC programme:

On the social side we are going to re-visit the issue of minimum wages. Now I am an industrialist and I am well known in industrial circles for actually following this political strategy. I do not believe in low wages. I do not believe in an industrialist or anybody else being allowed to pay wages which are well below the basic cost of living in cities ... So we will, as a Government, and with the private sector through a social contract, and working with the trade unions and employers, work towards a situation where we will pay much higher wages in industry, even if it means losing jobs, so that people working in the cities will be able to afford to live in those cities on a whole family basis. He will be able to send his children to school, he will be able to rent or own accommodation which means he can live there with his entire family. For us that is fundamental.

In addition to "attacking that [migrant labour] system with everything at our disposal" - in part because of migrancy's contribution to the spread of AIDS - Cross sets out impressive social promises:

Education is the key and seven years of compulsory free education - free education - and free, not in the way we are doing it at the moment [with parent fees]. We mean free, parents will not be required to pay for it. And you ask, "Can we afford that?" Yes, we damn well can, we damn well can! And the international community has the resources to help us build that system and they are willing to do so ... We have a programme for housing - we are going to give tenure, freehold tenure, to everybody who holds tribal trust land leases, immediately we come to power ... The government has been talking about this for the past ten years, we are not going to talk about this, we are going to do it and we are going to fast-track the administration procedures through massive housing schemes, to provide site-and-service schemes in all our cities for the entire backlog of housing within five years. And you say, "Can we afford to do it?" Yes, we can! Yes we can, and the international community is prepared to help us with a programme like that ... We have got to have primary health care throughout the country. We have got to get our hospitals back on their feet ... Our social programme is going to be strong and it is going to be dynamic and it is going to be directed at the absolute poor, and there's no compromising that. We are totally committed to that, and you need to know it - this is not a rhetorical commitment, this is not a party of the "haves," this is not a party on the gravy train.

Beginning around 1990, Zimbabwe's have-nots were ferociously pummelled not only by Mugabe and his then labour minister (now vice president), John Nkomo - who tried often enough to fracture the trade union movement - but by the IMF and international community. Here arises the central contradiction. Cross, ironically, now implies that his own ticket to the MDC dance is IMF access.

This leads to the obvious question: what is, and will be, the balance of power within the MDC when the obvious choice between free education and free markets must be made? That will be the real crossroad.

To his credit, Eddie Cross is transparent about his agenda. But it will be up to the MDC's left-leaning populists, not populists who distortedly echo questionable traditions, to better represent the needs of Zimbabwe's black povo.

- 30 -

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer(s) and not do necessarily reflect the views of the AfricaFiles' editors and network members. They are included in our material as a reflection of a diversity of views and a variety of issues. Material written specifically for AfricaFiles may be edited for length, clarity or inaccuracies.

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Cabinet pay rise a good test case for Zambians - Bishop Lungu

Cabinet pay rise a good test case for Zambians - Bishop Lungu
By Christopher Miti and Patson Chilemba
Friday August 08, 2008 [04:00]

ZAMBIA Episcopal Conference (ZEC) president Bishop George Lungu has said the approval of Cabinet's salary and allowance increments for constitutional office holders is a good test case for Zambians. And opposition UPND president Hakainde Hichilema yesterday dispelled claims by the government that the proposed salary and allowance increments will be debated and determined by Parliament. Bishop Lungu, in an interview, said it was the responsibility of the electorate to do something over what their representatives were doing.

"It is time that our people have to deal with these issues themselves. This is a good test case to see how it will be handled by Zambians if the electorate feel that they have been let down. Let us see what will be a way forward. The representatives were chosen for the purpose and that is to serve the welfare of the people.

If the people come to realise that this is what their leaders, those that were elected by the people, are doing and come to awareness that they are not representing them, then it's their responsibility to do something about it. And this does not just mean that the Bishop is the one who is supposed to say this or that, or figures who are prominent in the political or religious field are the ones to do it. No, they can assist but the main responsibility is in the hands of the electorate," Bishop Lungu said.

He said it was entirely up to Zambians to chat the way forward if they were not satisfied with what their representatives were doing. Bishop Lungu said there should be a way of engaging the people that were elected into office.

"In the Catholic Church we have a social arm, justice and peace, that is supposed to help us engage the politicians. We need to come to an understanding of what is happening there. So it is indeed the electorate that are supposed to act and they are people who are better placed to help organise so that there can be a voice that can be heard," he said.

Bishop Lungu said the people that were elected into power needed to listen to the voices of the electorate.

"If the elected ignore what people are saying the electorate have power to remove them from office because they are not representing their concerns. It is helpful for people to comment on the issue but it's not an organised voice where people are going to express what they feel as an electorate.

So I do hope that for us as the Catholic Church, there are people concerned about development issues and they will really go to the nitty gritty of what it is all about and come up with a way forward. If it means that we have to know what these increments are all about, then let us know," he said.

Bishop Lungu reminded the elected that the electorate were their employers who had a right to determine their dues.
And addressing the press at the UPND secretariat, Hichilema said Cabinet would be deceiving the people by defying the rules of logic and proceeding with impunity to take the salary proposals to Parliament for ratification. He said the bill on the proposed salary increments would pass without debate.

"We are aware that many benefits the ministers get are never taken to Parliament or made public. These include allowances for telephone, electricity, water and fuel. In 2006, the ministers sold themselves their personal-to-holder vehicles at book value without taking the matter to Parliament," Hichilema said. "Government's announcement that new salaries and conditions of service will be debated and determined by Parliament is not true. Under the current parliamentary procedure, MPs are not allowed to debate on matters affecting them or their conditions of service."

Hichilema said Cabinet was on a mission to try and show that the hefty allowances had been ratified by Parliament.
"UPND MPs have no opportunity to debate because that will be against parliamentary procedure," he said.

Hichilema said UPND had received the proposed allowance increments with a deep sense of shock and dismay.

"In our view, increasing the salary of a lowly-paid teacher or nurse by 15 per cent does not justify increasing a salary of an already better paid minister by the same 15 per cent let alone introducing the frivolous responsibility allowance," Hichilema said. "This is a clear failure to understand the principle of fairness and equity and how a country should redistribute income among its citizens."

Hichilema said it was saddening that while Cabinet continued to drag its feet on many important issues under the pretext that there was no money, they had found it convenient to approve hefty allowances.

"The cost of fertiliser now stands at between K210,000 and K230,000 per 50 kilogramme bag yet this government in its own wisdom has decided to reduce the funding and number of beneficiaries under the Fertiliser Support Programme in order to make savings directed at their own pockets and stomachs. What level of political deception and personal aggrandisement is this," he asked.

Hichilema explained that the current fuel allowance for for ministers' personal-to-holder vehicles is pegged at 600 litres per month.
"At the current ruling pump price this translates to K4,800,000. This is given as cash and the allowance is proposed to go up.

In addition, every minister has a utility vehicle with fuel, driver and other maintenance costs borne by the government/taxpayers," he said.
Hichilema said the gratuity payable to ministers and others eligible currently stood at K600 million per person and that the figure was expected to increase to K2 billion in view of the proposed increments.
On the proposed responsibility allowance, Hichilema said people should not be paid responsibility allowance for performing their normal duties.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Trust and credibility

Trust and credibility
By Editor
Thursday August 07, 2008 [04:00]

PRESS freedom will always be contested. And when courage for that contest is lacking, press freedom itself is terribly diminished. Voluntary self-regulation, whether as individuals or as a collective, is at the apex of press freedom. It is not for Parliament or legislators or indeed the executive or their agents in the Media Council of Zambia (MECOZ) to decide that press freedom is some sort of disease that we must quarantine.

As we have pointed out before, it is crass ignorance of the way laws are enacted and executed for one to think that a legislated media council is a self-regulating body. It is ignorance of the law for one to even insinuate that the Law Association of Zambia is a self-regulating body.

Lawyers in this country are not self-regulated; they are regulated by laws usually initiated by the executive and enacted by Parliament and adjudicated upon by the judiciary. Almost everything that is done by the Law Association of Zambia is a product of the law.

It is also folly for one to think that journalism, as a profession, can be symmetrically compared to professions like law. Press freedom is a right much linked or connected to the freedom of expression to be enjoyed by every citizen.

And like all other rights, its enjoyment doesn't need to be earned by good behaviour or obtaining of some certificate, diploma or degree. Journalism is a profession by occupation and not by any qualification other than that. To regulate that type of profession will be a great injustice to the people of this country.

And this is why we say the greatest danger to press freedom in this country lurks in the insidious encroachment by individuals of zeal, appearing to be well-meaning but without understanding.

Instead of putting additional legal restrictions, like a legislated media council, on journalists, we should be sure to help them handle their responsibilities and give them the freedom to fly.

People believe having freedom of the press is a natural phenomenon. It's not. It's the result of intense care and vigilance.

We are being challenged by members of MECOZ to state why we should fear the law. Probably we understand the law better than most journalists in this country because we have had more encounters with the law than most of them.

No media organisation has been subjected to the trials and tribulations that we have had to endure over the last 17 years.

We have suffered more arrests and criminal prosecutions than any journalist or media organisation in this country at the hands of both the executive and the legislature - and once or so by the judiciary. We have had the misfortune of being the only newspaper in the history of this country with a banned edition - done under the law.

And in these cases we have emerged triumphant. So who can legitimately talk about us fearing the law? Which journalist in this country knows the law as we do?

And with all humility - without being boastful in any way - we are the only newspaper probably in the history of this country whose editor and his deputy are both lawyers, are both advocates.

In life, it's always better to be clear about things.

The unregulated voice isn't as dangerous to the public as the regulated or silenced voice. Again, as Nelson Mandela once advised, "none of our irritations with the perceived inadequacies of the media should ever allow us to suggest even faintly that the independence of the press could be compromised or coerced".

Both freedom of speech and press freedom often provoke public and political controversy, but experience shows us again and again that when freedom is diseased, the only cure is more freedom and not the curtailment of that freedom or its strict regulation.

The government should not have any power whether through its agents in a legislated media council or other to rule the press. Trying to have a legislated media council is a big mistake. And in saying this, we are not exhibiting cowardice or fear of the law. We are merely sounding the warning. If we don't sound the warning, who will?

And in opposing a legislated media council, we are not in any way trying to condone and support irresponsibility or impunity. In any discipline, there are people who pursue it with honour and with decency and there are people who don't.

Using this as pretext to come up with a legislated media council is not right, fair or just. We see journalists as manual workers, the labourers of the word. Journalism can only be of value when it is free from statutory controls under whatever guise, and is passionate.

There is a feeling that the very word 'responsibility' implies wimpiness. One can be a fully 'he-man' journalist responsibly - and we mean that in a gender-encompassing way.

Isn't it up to journalists to wrestle with what is in the public interest, not necessarily what is of interest?

The idea of diversity becomes our strength, sacred to us. The range of broadening, the potential becoming a way and a song. Many have fought this reality. We know the wounds.

To censor in any way is to destroy, or at least to oppose the process of reality. To hear one voice clearly, we must have the right to hear them all.

The essence of a free life is being able to choose the style of living you prefer, free from exclusion and without the compulsion of conformity or law.

And no set of professional ethics is better than your own personal ethics.

A truly free press, that is not subjected to statutory media councils, is to a great people what winds are to oceans and malarial regions, which waft away the elements of diseases, and bring new elements of health. Where free speech is stopped or regulated, miasma is bred, and death comes fast.

We all want to do right and do well. But if you don't do well, you are not going to be in a position to do right.

The freedom of the individual and the rights of conscience will have no place in a society where a small group of people in a legislated media council, protected by the law and supported by the government, espouses a particular view of morality, of what the media should publish or broadcast, one that has no room for deviation from the norm.

We shouldn't forget that news unfolds but is never complete. It is written in haste but not carved in stone. It often wounds but more often it heals.

Our Constitution - even the new one being debated - rebels at the thought of giving government or Parliament the power to control people's minds. When the conspiracy of lies surrounding us demands of us to silence the one word of truth given to us, that word becomes the one word we would wish to utter above all others.

Moreover, a free and independent media that is regulating itself will be more trusted than a media regulated by a statutory body like MECOZ. Trust and credibility are the commodities we trade in.

We say all this in reaction to the remarks made by members of MECOZ on their radio programme yesterday, accusing us of having a misguided notion about the nature of a legislated media council.

We are not cowards. And we have a long track record of fighting for press freedom and other liberties, a record that is recognised globally and for which we have received many international press freedom awards.

We have fought more battles in defence and advancement of press freedom than the combined force of all those who today are championing the creation of a legislated media council. We know the politicians will be on their side in all this.

But this is not the first time most of these elements have sided with politicians against us. And as always, we will be ready to take them on and fight for that which is just, fair and humane.

We may not be able to stop them from having their MECOZ legislated but such a setback will never deter us from struggling with all the tenacity we can marshal against their evil MECOZ Act.

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