Saturday, September 13, 2008
By Fridah Zinyama
Saturday September 13, 2008 [04:00]
STANDARD Chartered Bank managing director Mizinga Melu has said the increasing interest rates that the country is currently experiencing are temporary. In an interview, Melu said the interest rates were being pushed up by the current high inflation in the country.
"The high interest rates are being fuelled by inflation and we are optimistic that come next year when inflation goes down, interest rates will go down as well," she said.
Melu explained that commodity prices in the country have generally been rising and this has forced most banks to increase their increase rates.
"High fuel prices lead to high transport costs, production costs and this generally pushes everything up," Melu said.
Finance Bank managing director Dick King said reducing bank interest rates based on inflation was not feasible.
King explained that there were a lot of other macro-economic factors to consider apart from inflation when dealing with interest rates in the country.
He explained that bank portfolios were different hence it would be very difficult to use inflation as a basis for reducing interest rates.
"One of the other things to consider is that not all banks compete in the same way," King said. "Therefore, reducing interest rates based on inflation alone would not be feasible."
King said as far as Finance Bank was concerned, they were offering interest rates that people could afford.
"We are a Zambian bank and we offer fair rates. We offer 19 per cent which is all right considering all the economic indicators in the country," said King.
Most banks have increased their lending rates from 17 to 19 per cent citing inflation as a major contribution to the upward adjustment in interest rates.
By Joan Chirwa
Friday September 12, 2008 [04:00]
WORLD Bank's Doing Business 2009 has ranked Zambia 100th on its index based on its business regulations implemented by the government. Doing Business, a joint publication of the World Bank and its financing arm - the International Finance Corporation (IFC), ranks economies based on 10 indicators of business regulation that record the time and cost to meet government requirements in starting and operating a business, trading across borders, paying taxes, and closing a business.
This year's report ranked 181 economies worldwide and reported on reforms in 113 of those economies, of which Zambia is placed in the 100th position. Economies are ranked on their ease of doing business from 1 to 181, with the first place being the highest. The rankings are from the Doing Business 2009 report, covering the period June 2007 to June 2008.
These rankings however do not reflect areas such as macroeconomic policy, quality of infrastructure, currency volatility, investor perceptions, or crime rates.
"Economies need rules that are efficient, easy to use, and accessible to all who use them. Otherwise, businesses are trapped in the unregulated, informal economy, where they have less access to finance and hire fewer workers and where workers lack the protection of labour law," said Michael Klein, World Bank/IFC's vice-president for Financial and Private Sector Development. "Doing Business encourages good rules, and good rules are a better basis for healthy business than who you know."
According to the report, Zambia simplified business registration and reorganised the one-stop shop through process reengineering and computerisation. It also improved the operation of the Zambia Revenue Authority by creating a customer service centre.
"Similar improvements at the Land Registry office cut the time to register propert by almost half. Amendments were made to the Income Tax Act and Value Added Tax Act to update, strengthen, and remove ambiguities in these laws and enhance the effectiveness of tax administration," stated the report.
"In addition, the withholding tax on savings and deposit accounts was reduced from 25 per cent to 15 per cent. Areas of reform included starting a business, registering property, and paying taxes."
In SADC region, Botswana was one of the top reformers in the overall Doing Business 2009 report after it moved up 14 slots to thirty-eighth in the rankings. With a record 58 reforms completed in 28 economies, sub-Saharan Africa placed three economies among the top 10 reformers.
By Kingsley Kaswende in Harare
Friday September 12, 2008 [04:00]
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has legalised licensed shops to sell goods in foreign currency. In a move described by economists as dollarisation of the economy, RBZ Governor Gideon Gono said he will license 1,000 retail and 250 wholesale shops countrywide in a bid to ease the burden on people who have been facing problems accessing Zimbabwean dollar in cash.
Of late, most goods and services have illegally been pegged in US dollars or South African rands.
"The reserve bank is pleased to hereby unveil the introduction of Foreign Exchange Licenced Warehouses and Shops (FOLIWARS)," he said at a press briefing on Wednesday. "As Monetary authorities, we have watched and observed with heavy hearts the suffering of fellow Zimbabweans as they waited and continue to wait in long queues at the borders seeking to bring in basic commodities. We have also seen desperate mothers and youths spending cold nights in foreign lands in pursuit of basic commodities."
Gono said his heart was bleeding at the daily sights of workers being laid off due to industrial capacity underutilisation and struggling with the unavailability of basic goods and services.
"It is for this reason; the reason to stand for and defend the welfare of fellow Zimbabweans that the FOLIWARS are being introduced for an initial period of 18 months to 31 March, 2010 as an experiment as we gear ourselves for the 2010 World Cup Games which must find ourselves ready to cater for all visitors to our country," he said.
Gono said all successful applicants would be issued with licences for immediate assumption of operations by not later than September 26, 2008.
Zimbabweans in the diaspora have up to October 10, 2008 to send in their applications, Gono added.
By Lambwe Kachali and Patson Chilemba in Kafue and Mutuna Chand
Saturday September 13, 2008 [04:00]
RUPIAH wants to eat with both hands, Patriotic Front (PF) president Michael Sata has charged. And PF spokesperson Given Lubinda observed that president Levy Mwanawasa's legacy was buried with him at Embassy Park.
During a mammoth rally at Zambia Compound in Kafue on Thursday, Sata said it was sad that Vice-President Rupiah Banda would contest elections on the MMD ticket when he had not officially resigned from UNIP.
Sata said most Zambians did not know Vice-President Banda before he was appointed by the late president Mwanawasa and therefore it would be scandalous for the country to elect him.
He said he had earlier challenged Vice-President Banda to publicly tell the nation when he officially resigned from UNIP, saying as far as Zambians were concerned he was still carrying UNIP blood.
"Rupiah wants to eat with both hands. He has one leg in UNIP and now wants to put the other in MMD. Rupiah ate alone in UNIP without regard for poor majority Zambians. And now that Levy appointed him as his Vice and that Levy is no more, Rupiah wants to take advantage of that to eat in MMD again," Sata said.
Below is an excerpt from a profile interview former Post news editor Webster Malido conducted with Rupiah Banda in 2003. "Question: Where do you stand in terms of politics at the moment?
Answer: I am really a UNIPIST, what people call UNIPIST. So it's very difficult for me perhaps at my age to join another political party... Q: And your views about the previous government?
A: The previous government? I went to prison under the previous government (Chiluba government). I was one of the Zero Option people and up to now my case is not over yet. We won the case in the lower court and the government appealed and the same government did not go to defend the case. They have been staying away and the case is taking nearly seven years to sort out.
Q: So where do you place the previous government in terms of performance? A: You know as an active UNIPIST, you know we tried our best to...to.. but you know let us also add something positive. They brought pluralism at great risk to themselves.
Q: What do you mean at great risk to themselves? A: It was not easy to tackle UNIP at that time. We were very strong that time, we were very categorical; if you opposed us, we normally dealt with you. It paid to belong to UNIP. But they brought pluralism, they brought press freedom and opened up he country to new investment.
In 1991 the economy was almost on its knees but they brought in new investments. And the credit must go to the MMD."
And Sata, during the Kafue rally on Thursday, said mockingly that Vice-President Banda had the fortune of being given leadership positions on a silver plate when others worked hard to attain positions.
He said even his presidential candidature for the MMD was given to him on a silver plate. Sata said Vice-President Banda had no interest in serving Zambians because he was a failure by nature.
"The evidence is there. He failed in UNIP. That's why he packed himself at the farm to shield his failures," Sata said. "Thank God for allowing Levy to poach him from the farm because Zambians have now known who this Rupiah is, with his failures."
Sata said he had a proven track record as opposed to Vice-President Banda. "Rupiah Banda was MP in Munali for 10 years, me I was councilor in Bauleni. I built a school and a hospital. Rupiah Banda went away with a big tummy," he said.
Sata said Zambians should not be cheated into thinking that Vice-President Banda would continue with president Mwanawasa's legacy because the two were different in principles and vision for the country. He further said that Vice-President Banda had never said anything on how the government would keep former first lady Maureen Mwanawasa and her family.
"What he is focused on is eating well and growing his cheeks. President Mwanawasa and the family are Zambia's property but no one is talking about looking after the orphans," Sata said.
He also said that MMD kept on attacking him on his age but questioned the initiative behind their adoption of Vice-President Banda.
"When they brought NCC National Constitutional Conference, they said I am old but they brought Rupiah Banda who is three years older than me. In the eyes of MMD, that is young age," Sata said.
He also bemoaned the deplorable state of Kafue and Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ).
And Sata indicated that the proposed electoral pact between PF and UPND might not materialise. He said he will contest the presidency just as UPND president Hakainde Hichilema would do. He said PF and UPND were different political parties with different symbols.
And Given Lubinda said Vice-President Banda and those surrounding him could not match the standing of late president Mwanawasa.
"The legacy of Levy was buried at Embassy Park because Rupiah and the people surrounding him are not even capable of passing the first phase," said Lubinda.
PF vice-president Dr Guy Scott urged Kafue residents to correct the mistakes of MMD by voting for PF. He said government would try to distribute fertiliser on time and try to lower fuel prices but that people should not be deceived by such temporal arrangements.
He said immediately after the elections, prices of goods would sky rocket again.
"So don't be fooled we beg you please," said Dr Scott. PF national chairman Chitalu Sampa said the lies of MMD were too many such that there was no room left to accommodate them.
Sampa said Kafue was littered with many problems and that NCZ was one such example. At the same rally, former Lusaka mayor John Kabungo announced that he had resigned from FDD to join PF.
Meanwhile, Sata claimed that the MMD was so divided that district leaders on the Copperbelt Province were in solidarity with him.
Reacting to Vice-President Banda's comments on Thursday that he hoped the PF leader would go to sleep so that he could have a field day in campaigns for the national presidency, Sata described as wishful thinking hopes that he would go to sleep now because he knew what he was fighting for.
He said he had received calls of solidarity from MMD leaders from all the districts on the Copperbelt, a sign that there were divisions in the ruling party.
"MMD is very divided," Sata said. "I have been receiving lots of calls from the MMD leadership on the Copperbelt.
I have received calls from MMD leaders who were in Lusaka recently when they were choosing Rupiah Banda. I have received calls from MMD leaders in Luanshya, Ndola, Masaiti, Lufyanyama, Kitwe itself, Mufulira, Chingola and Chililabombwe. Even from the Eastern Province."
Sata said MMD NEC officials from the Copperbelt elected Vice-President Banda as presidential candidate although they did not have confidence in him. He said all they were interested in was money they were offered.
"They even told me of the bribes that they were given. It was K30 million each," Sata said. "They were just interested in the money. Some of them are in rent arrears and some them haven't finished paying for the houses they bought so they just wanted to get the money from Rupiah."
Sata said the MMD leadership on the ground had lost confidence in their party. He also dismissed talk by MMD deputy national secretary Jeff Kaande that Copperbelt Province was no longer a PF stronghold.
"If Copperbelt is not a PF stronghold how did they greet Rupiah when he went to watch football?" Sata asked. "Was MMD there? We had a by-election in Nchanga and we beat them. MMD has surrendered the party to UNIP."
Sata charged that MMD was raising funds from the communities that it had neglected.
"MMD is going to the Muslim and Hindu communities to raise money," said Sata. "These are people that they have let down before and I have been saying this from 2001 that these people, their grandfathers and fathers are buried here. They have been with us."
By Chibaula Silwamba and Christopher Miti in Chipata
Saturday September 13, 2008 [04:01]
VICE-President Rupiah Banda yesterday said it will be nice to defeat Patriotic Front (PF) presidential candidate Michael Sata so that he retires from politics. And Vice-President Banda, who hails from Eastern Province, said he expects the highest number of votes from this province to offset any deficits he might have in other provinces.
Addressing people who welcomed him at Chipata Airport, Vice-President Banda - in an apparent reference to the PF and Sata - reminded the people that a certain opposition party was leading in the 2006 presidential elections but was defeated by the MMD.
"Like you remember in the last election when we heard the news that the other party has swept the Copperbelt and has swept Lusaka but North-Western Province came with a bang.
Their vote alone was able to wipe out what the other party had gained. Then we heard the result that came from Western Province, then we heard that the Central Province had given big vote to their son, the late president, so we left them behind for good," said Vice-President Banda who is also MMD presidential candidate in the October 30 presidential election.
"The time the Eastern Province came was to wipe out the name of that party, they are walking on one leg now because we defeated them. It will be so nice to defeat them again this time so that they can retire from politics. Of course I expect that the Eastern Province will give me the biggest vote so that anywhere where there will be a deficit, the vote from Eastern Province will cover."
Vice-President Banda asked the easterners to vote for him, their own son.
"The other candidates tell them to return where they have come from. I will come here later for campaigns. I will start from Chongwe and I will be travelling by road," Vice-President Banda said.
"I want to thank my colleagues who have come with me here to support me to show you that they will carry me to all the provinces of Zambia in order to ask for their votes which I am sure if we ask the people properly, if we work hard and walk door-to-door they will give us that support."
Vice-President Banda said he was very thankful to the people of Eastern Province for having "created" him.
"I am from you; I have my late mother here, my grandparents here, my brothers, my children, my grandchildren. I look round here, I almost know everyone, I am very proud of that and I am very happy to be in front of you now as a representative of the party in the forthcoming elections," he said.
Vice-President Banda thanked the people in Eastern Province for the manner they loved president Mwanawasa when he was alive and in death. He said he was happy that several people attended the late president's body viewing procession.
Vice-President Banda also unveiled his campaign slogan.
"The slogan is: '30th of October! Pankoloko!' On 30th October, you should show the strength of our party, the MMD which is dedicated to Zambians, which is doing wonderful developmental projects to uplift the lives of Zambians, which is building schools, hospitals," Vice-President Banda said.
He said he was in the province to attend the Kulamba traditional ceremony, scheduled for today, at paramount chief Gawa Undi's palace in Katete.
Vice-President Banda said the death of senior chief Nzamane's first born son was unfortunate.
And Eastern Province minister Charles Shawa assured Vice-president Banda that officers in the province would vote for him. He said it was difficult for the people in the province to come to terms with president Mwanawasa's death.
Shawa said people were thankful to the government for various developmental projects such as school construction and employment of teachers, health centres, roads and employment of teachers.
Shawa urged people in the province to take advantage of traditional ceremonies like Kulamba for social and economic gain.
MMD Eastern Province chairman Kennedy Zulu thanked the MMD national executive committee for adopting Vice-President Banda as the party's presidential candidate.
Vice-President Banda arrived at Chipata Airport aboard a Zambia Air Force (ZAF) aircraft.
Accompanying Vice-President Banda in the ZAF aircraft were some MMD party members including deputy national secretary Jeff Kaande, MMD spokesperson Benny Tetamashimba, information minister Mike Mulongoti - who is also Vice-President Banda's campaign manager, tourism minister Michael Kaingu, presidential minister Cecil Holmes, John Musukuma and several others.
By Mwala Kalaluka
Saturday September 13, 2008 [04:01]
PUBLIC Accounts Committee (PAC) acting chairperson Emmanuel Hachipuka has said the proposed amendment to the accountants Act will assist in reducing indiscipline among accountants in the public service. And finance minister Ng'andu Magande said the proposed amendments to the accountants Act will help bring sanity in the accounting profession because it will be harmonised with other relevant Acts.
Contributing to the debate on the accountants Bill number 13 of 2008 before it passed second reading in the House on Thursday, Hachipuka commended the Ministry of Finance and National Planning for seeking to review the legal provisions in the accounting profession.
"This House will agree that there have been numerous developments in Zambia and world over which affect the accounting profession," Hachipuka said. "Therefore, the accounting profession has to be responsive to these changes."
Hachipuka, who urged the House to support the progressive legal amendment, called on the government to ensure that once the bill is enacted, it should not continue for another 20 years without amendment in view of the ever-changing landscape of the accounting profession.
He said when the bill comes into force, accountants would be regulated from two angles, that is from their employer and the Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants (ZICA).
"It will be important if ZICA should be taking interest in the reports of the Auditor General and check the performance of accountants in the public sector," he said.
Hachipuka also said the issue of qualifications in the profession would be addressed because the major excuse that most controlling officers cite for the many financial irregularities in their ministries was the lack of qualified accounting personnel.
He noted that the inclusion of a provision to protect whistle-blowers in the new amendments to the accountants Act would have a positive effect on the fight against corruption.
"My appeal is for this regulation to be finalised without further delay," said Hachipuka.
And Magande said the Bill seeks to set high standards in the accounting profession and that these would be maintained for the good of public interest.
He said the current accounting legal framework was inadequate to effectively regulate the profession and to help in the upholding of good corporate conduct and ethics.
"There is lack of a harmonised set of laws regulating the accounting profession," Magande said. "The Accountants Bill therefore requires that all qualified accountants be regulated by ZICA, including foreigners engaged to work in Zambia."
Magande said the proposals also seek to harmonise the accountants Act to other pertinent Acts such as the money laundering Act.
By Kingsley Kaswende and George Chellah in Harare
Saturday September 13, 2008 [04:01]
POLITICAL parties in Zimbabwe have commenced setting up an inclusive government after endorsing the template of a unity agreement that will potentially end the crisis in the country. President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF and the two opposition MDC factions led by Morgan Tsvangirai and Professor Arthur Mutambara "unanimously and unreservedly" struck the deal on Thursday night after marathon negotiations since Monday.
The unity talks had stalled on several occasions since the parties signed a memorandum of understanding spelling out the agenda and ground rules for unity negotiation on July 21.
The talks were necessitated by the inconclusive March 29 elections, which preceded a bloody campaign for the presidential runoff election of June 27 that claimed more than 100 lives and displaced over 30,000.
Tsvangirai, who had won the March election but failed to reach the magical 50 per cent plus one threshold, withdrew from the runoff citing violence and intimidation of his party members.
The SADC-appointed facilitator, South African President Thabo Mbeki, who arrived in Harare on Monday, announced the development that will possibly breath a new lease of life to the country's decade-long political and economic woes.
"We have concluded the negotiations that the three political parties represented in the parliament have been engaged in for some time since last year. An agreement has been reached on about all matters on the agenda of those negotiations.
There will be a formal signing ceremony on Monday at 10 o'clock in Harare at which point the document that has been signed by the political leaders of Zimbabwe will be released to the public," the jovial President Mbeki told journalists at a press briefing.
He said several African leaders would witness the event to express support for the agreement.
It is not yet known what the template document contains but it seems to have settled the sticking points regarding how much power President Mugabe would cede to the Prime Minister, Tsvangirai.
Tsvangirai, whose signature had been elusive, confirmed the endorsement of the agreement when he emerged out of the five-hour meeting.
"...What I want to say is that there is a deal," he said, without explaining further.
President Mugabe left the Rainbow Towers Hotel, the venue of the talks, while journalists attended the press briefing and therefore could not be reached for a comment.
President Mbeki said the parties had commenced constituting the government, which will be unveiled next week.
"On Monday the leadership of Zimbabwe will also give a report concerning the constitutional changes and the composition of the inclusive government which has been agreed and they are going to be spending the next few days actually constituting that inclusive government," he said.
President Mbeki said going forward, the new government should immediately begin the process of winning back financial and moral support from the region and beyond.
"The government of Zimbabwe, with the support of the region and the African continent will from then on work very hard to mobilise support from the region, the African continent and the rest of the world.
This support is needed to assist the people of Zimbabwe to recover from the current challenges that the country faces. And we would hope that everybody in the world would support the agreement that has been reached and extend the very necessary hand of assistance for the country to recover from the socio-economic challenges," he said.
The United States and most European countries have recently categorically stated that they would not extend aid to Zimbabwe if President Mugabe remained a critical factor in the new leadership.
"We are confident that the region, the African continent and our friends around the world will respond to this particular challenge to give the necessary assistance so that the political agreement succeeds," the facilitator said.
President Mbeki said he was confident that the agreement would be sustainable.
"I'm confident that the leadership of Zimbabwe is committed to implementing the agreement. It is common recognition that the leaders of Zimbabwe carry a common vision which they must chat together, a common responsibility as a matter of urgency to address the challenges," he said.
President Mbeki has had to ignore stern criticism about his soft and patient approach in dealing with the Zimbabwe crisis.
His critics had wanted him to use a strong hand and to censure President Mugabe's regime.
However, he said he paid little attention to such criticism.
"We have never paid any particular attention to criticisms about the so-called quiet diplomacy.
All diplomacy is quiet, if it isn't quiet then it isn't diplomacy it's something else. We have agreed with the Zimbabwean parties for a long time that we will not conduct negotiations through the media and I'm glad that everybody has respected that.
Once you conduct negotiations publicly, it complicates your arrival at an agreement. It's not anything that has been of any particular concern to us, this criticism about the so-called quiet diplomacy, because we understood what was required here to produce a positive outcome and I'm glad that that process has produced the required outcome," he said.
He said he had been involved in difficult negotiations in countries such as Lesotho, Comoros , Burundi , DRC and Cote d'Ivoire using the same approach but that nobody ever protested that there was quiet diplomacy in those countries.
"Quiet diplomacy seemed to be a particular concern about Zimbabwe. The processes that were acceptable in other countries seemed not acceptable in Zimbabwe but it didn't bother us that much," he said.
He said it was important that the agreement that had been reached was purely Zimbabwean.
"At last we have come to a decision made by the people of Zimbabwe. It is not a facilitation outcome. It is the agreement of the leaders of Zimbabwe. There is no solution or settlement anywhere in the world that would survive if the people of a particular country don't own it," said President Mbeki.
Labels: NATIONAL UNITY GOVERNMENT
By Laura Mushaukwa
Saturday September 13, 2008 [04:01]
JUSTICE Minister George Kunda has said the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) should not be seen as an opportunity for apportioning blame among stakeholders. And Chief Justice Ernest Sakala congratulated late president Levy Mwanawasa for establishing the National Governing Council to locally oversee the implementation of the APRM.
Speaking at a workshop for judges, magistrates and judiciary officers on the APRM held at Pamodzi Hotel yesterday, Kunda, who was represented by Solicitor General Dominic Sichinga, said there was need to give equal participation to all the stakeholders in the process.
"THE APRM should not be seen as an opportunity to apportion blame amongst stakeholders but instead a real platform to chart our governance potential in order to provide lasting solutions to Zambia's governance challenges," he said.
Kunda explained that the purpose of the APRM was to foster the adoption of policies, standards and practices that lead to political stability, high economic growth, sustainable development, accelerated sub regional governance and continental economic integration.
"This purpose requires a participating state such as Zambia to undertake a self introspective examination of her own governance processes and be the judge of what needs to be done to improve governance," he explained.
Kunda added that Zambia had already fulfilled the APRM requirement of establishing the National Governing Council.
Kunda said the judiciary played an important role in the governance process hence the need to sensitise them on the APRM processes.
Officiating at the workshop, Chief Justice Sakala expressed optimism that the judiciary as an important stakeholder in the APRM process would play a critical role by interpreting and giving life to the standards contained in the different codes of governance.
Justice Sakala suggested the need for the NGC to critically look at the performances of other countries and avoid the mistakes, which they might have made in the APRM process.
Peer review refers to the systematic examination and assessment of the performance of a state by other states (Peers) by designated institutions or by combinations of states.
APRM is the brainchild of the African Union (AU), born at the 37th summit of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in July 2001 in Lusaka.
The APRM is aimed at helping African countries improve governance.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Fri, 12 Sep 2008 09:22:00 +0000
THE independent Member of Parliament for Tsholotsho North Jonathan Moyo yesterday announced that he will challenge in the High Court the election of Movement for Democratic Change party’s Lovemore Moyo as speaker of the House of Assembly as he was elected unconstitutionally.
Moyo says the new speaker was elected on a “platform of fraud” and that was acceptable in a new Zimbabwe and branded the electoral process a “circus”.
Earlier this month, Moyo, the former Zanu PF information minister, alleged that the MDC-T members openly violated the secret ballot that is required in terms of Ordinance Number 6 of the House of Assembly Standing Rules by turning the exercise into an open ballot adding that the breach “was too glaring and its implications far-reaching.”
He said they showed each other ballot papers in defiance of House rules and that “authorities in Parliament who conducted the election of the Speaker allowed a secret ballot to become an open ballot against the clear provisions of Section 30 (2) of the Constitution and Ordinance Number 6 of the House of Assembly Standing Orders”.
According to the independent MP this “was not only scandalous but also patently unlawful and needs to be addressed.”
Moyo alleged that all MDC-T members showed completed ballot papers to Innocent Gonese, the MDC Chief Whip and other MDC-T party leaders including Thokozani Khupe, the party’s deputy president, before depositing them in the ballot boxes.
The MDC-T party, however, released a statement this wee claiming that Moyo wanted to reverse the election of the Speaker “to prevent a robust and vibrant parliament” and that the “MDC would like to make it clear that the MPs’ vote for Lovemore Moyo was a true reflection of the will of the people of Zimbabwe.”
Jonathan Moyo described these claims by the MDC-T party as “a jumpy and jittery reaction of poor folks who are guilty”.
“This is a classical example that the guilty are always afraid because they know only too well the gravity of their speaker’s electoral fraud. That is why they are running scared and throwing mud all over the place,” added Moyo.
“Everyone saw what the MDC MP's were doing – showing their ballot papers to Khupe and Goneso. Somebody must tell them that their claim of plot against their embattled speaker is preposterous because an open court application cannot be a plot. It is a simple and straightforward legal matter which they should handle legally unless they know they have something to hide from the court.”
He disputed allegations that the challenge was mooted about at a strategy workshop held by MDC Mutambara faction at Kadoma Ranch Motel last weekend which he attended.
Describing those allegations as “idiotic stories” Moyo said, “As for those who are manufacturing idiotic stories about what they imagine or wish I said at the MDC-Mutambara workshop in Kadoma last weekend, I challenge them to have the courage of their idiocy and submit affidavits with their Kadoma allegations to the court in support of their speaker's indefensible electoral fraud that was committed in broad daylight with breath-taking arrogance.
“As one of Paul Themba Nyathi's election agents on the day I have legal and ethical obligation to bring the matter to justice without any fear or favour whatsoever,” Moyo said.
Moyo also said the process sets a bad precedence for the new Parliament which is supposed to discharge of its constitutional mandate of making laws for the peace, order and good governance of Zimbabwe.
Zim Guardian/Zim Independent
Fri, 12 Sep 2008 10:28:00 +0000
THE recently appointed Senator for the Mutambara MDC has spilled the beans about the structure of the new government despite President Thabo Mbeki’s warning yesterday that Zimbabweans should not speculate on the nature of the deal signed by the principals yesterday paving the way for an all-inclusive government.
David Coltart has issued a statement on the historic signing of the deal between the two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change and the Zanu PF party in which he gave details of the power arrangement in the new government.
In what he termed the “bare bones” of the deal, Coltart revealed that the all-inclusive government will be headed by President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader will be appointed as Prime Minister with “substantial powers” and “will advise (President) Mugabe on all future appointments including Judges, Ambassadors and the like.”
Coltart also revealed that there will be two deputy Prime Ministers “one from MDC T and one from MDC M.”
“Cabinet will be chaired by Mugabe; Tsvangirai will be the vice Chair. Then there will be a Council of Ministers chaired by Tsvangirai which will supervise the work of Cabinet,” said Coltart.
“The Cabinet will largely reflect the votes cast for the different parties in the March election in which Zanu PF got the most votes (if not the most seats), followed by the MDC T and MDC M. In a 31 person Cabinet Zanu PF will have 15 seats, MDC T 13 and MDC M 3. There will be 8, 6 and 1 Deputy Ministers respectively.”
Coltart also revealed that "Constitutional amendment 19 will shortly be moved in Parliament" which will pave the way for setting up the all-inclusive government.
"That process will last 18 months by which time a new democratic Constitution must be implemented, which will also include a time frame for new elections at some point to be conducted in terms of the new Constitution."
President Mbeki in a press conference yesterday warned against speculation about the nature of the deal signed, adding that the process was not complete until signatures had been officially appended by the principals to the agreement.
He said: "Don't trust what you think you know."
Thu, 11 Sep 2008 20:01:00 +0000
President Mugabe (r) Morgan Tsvangirai agree to share power in an all-inclusive government
THE leader of the Movement for Democratic Change has confirmed to reporters in the capital of Zimbabwe, Harare that a power-sharing deal has been signed by the main political parties in Zimbabwe and President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, the appointed mediator, has held a press conference to announcing the news.
Tsvangirai confirmed the news shortly after 8pm (GMT). "We've got a deal," he told journalists in Harare, Zimbabwe's capital.
The talks have long been deadlocked over the allocation of executive power between Mugabe and Tsvangirai, but the principals managed to unlock the impasse shortly after 7.30pm (GMT).
The news has also been confirmed by South Africa’s Department of Foreign Affairs.
President Mbeki held a press conference after the agreement and urged the international community to help in the reconstruction of Zimbabwe. He told reporters: "An agreement has been reached about all the matters on the agenda of the negotiations... all of them (leaders) endorsed the document tonight, signed it."
"The new government will work hard to mobilize support from the region to assist the people of Zimbabwe to recover from the economic problems currently being faced," said President Mbeki. "The agreement reached should be supported. Certainly, the region (Sadc) will help in the reconstruction efforts."
"I'm sure this new leadership is ready to address the challenges" facing the country, said Mbeki.
"This is an agreement of the leaders and the people of Zimbabwe and should be respected," he continued. "Zimbabwean people have taken their own decision about the future of their own country, and the rest of the world should respect that."
The South African president said, in response to a question that the power-sharing document had been drafted by the African Union, that it reflects the wishes and aspirations of the Zimbabwean people.
President Mbeki said that a formal ceremony will be held on Monday at 10am (9am GMT) and regional leaders will attend to commemorate the signing of the deal. He urged the media not to speculate on the content of the final document to be officially signed. He warned: "Don't trust what you think you know."
The principals to the talks, President Robert Mugabe, MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai and leader of the smaller faction of the MDC, Arthur Mutambara had expressed optimism Wednesday that a deal was imminent.
The signing of the deal is a major success and diplomatic breakthrough for President Mbeki’s quiet diplomacy which many critics had heralded as a failure. It is also a triumph of African diplomacy as no Western powers were involved in the talks.
President Mbeki has been in Zimbabwe since Monday trying to work out how Tsvangirai and President Mugabe would run an all-inclusive government.
The news was received well by the international community and news correspondents across the world. BBC Africa editor Martin Plaut says the deal opens the way for international donors to help to revive Zimbabwe's economy.
Mhofu Yemukono – Opinion
Thu, 11 Sep 2008 19:42:00 +0000
DEAR EDITOR–Zimbabweans should get it into their heads that they are not treated the same way as Europeans, USA, Canada, and Australia in terms of ability to determine our own future.
On being asked to confirm whether he had endorsed a democratic candidate in the USA presidential race, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown replied that it was up to the American people to determine their future.
“I leave the decision, rightly so, to the American people,” he said. Really!
Brown’s only 'acceptable' outcome is one where more power is given to the Movement for Democratic Change and a government led by Morgan Tsvangirai, or as he popularly says: “Respect the outcome of the March 29 elections,” – inconclusive elections that required a runoff presidential election.
That scenario is not only reflective of hypocrisy, but also is a patronizing view on African politics.
When will Mr. Brown learn that, as well meaning as he may be, there is almost a desperate cry in Africa for political space to determine our own future?
Only with that political space will Africa identify with its mistakes and shortcomings and put a stop to this blame-shifting because a look across the continent gives testimony to the struggle that it is having with leadership largely helped to governance by the West.
To Mr. Brown we say: “Your involvement in Zimbabwe, under the circumstances, boils down to interference.”
By Kabanda Chulu
Friday September 12, 2008 [04:00]
THE Bank of Zambia (BoZ) has attributed the increase in supply of foreign exchange to the good performance of the mining sector and non-traditional exports. According to the second quarterly report covering April, May and June released by BoZ, following the increased net foreign exchange inflows into the market, the kwacha appreciated by 11.3 per cent against the US dollar during the period under review as compared to an appreciation of 4.2 per cent recorded in the first quarter.
"The foreign exchange market was characterised by increased supply from the mining sector, non-traditional exports and foreign portfolio investments and in order to allow the business community to plan with a longer time horizon, BoZ participated in the market to ensure stability," it stated. "In this regard, BoZ purchased US$ 37 million as compared with US$13 million in the first quarter and during the period under review, BoZ also sold US$ 20 million as compared with US$13 million in the previous period."
And copper export earnings declined by 0.1 per cent from US$ 968.2 million in the first quarter to US$ 967.6 million in the second quarter.
But on a year-to-year basis, copper receipts increased by 27.3 per cent from US$ 1.520 billion in 2007 to US $ 1.935 billion in 2008.
Also, Cobalt export earnings declined to US$ 104.4 million in the second quarter from US$ 105.5 million in the first quarter but on year-to-year basis, cobalt receipts increased by 82.3 per cent to reach US $ 209.9 million in 2008 from US$ 115.1 million in 2007.
During the second quarter of 2008, non-traditional exports increased by 12.3 per cent from US$ 167.1 million in the first quarter to US$ 187.6 million in the second quarter and this could be attributed to earnings associated with export of copper wire, burley tobacco and electric cables.
The central bank stated that favourable export earnings have led to the strengthening of the external sector reflected in the appreciation of the kwacha against major currencies on the exchange rate.
This development resulted in a 10 per cent increase in international reserves from US $ 1.216 billion in March 2008 to US $ 1.338 billion in June 2008.
Friday September 12, 2008 [04:00]
As we approach the October 30 presidential by-election, we must express concern regarding intolerance, intimidation and lust for power. We call upon the leadership, cadres and supporters of all political parties that are going to field candidates in this by-election to avoid lies, distortions and malice. Responsible politics demands truth, honesty and fairness. We need to remember the lesson: “The truth shall set you free” (John 8:32).
In the present atmosphere of fierce competition and character assassination, we remind the nation of the noble goals of political activity. Politics should aim at the promotion of the common good and the service of all the people.
We read in the scriptures that “the Son of Man himself came not to be served by to serve” (Mk 10:42). Political debates should concentrate on the vision to improve the life of the nation rather than on personality issues.
But in saying this, we are not saying the character of the candidates is not an issue or should not be an issue. The character of candidates is a very important issue in any serious election. We say this because our people have a divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, we mean the characters and conduct of those who seek to rule them or those who rule them.
If a candidate has a record of dishonesty, selfishness, greed and vanity, the electorate needs to know this. If a candidate has a criminal record, that record should be part of the issues about his candidature and his suitability for public office. If a candidate had crooked someone, had stolen money from someone, that record should be part of his character and the voters need to know it. This is not being petty, this is not an unjustified personality issue.
It is important to know the characters of our candidates because this is the only way we will be able to vote wisely and only for people who are known for their honesty, ability, dedication and concern for the welfare of all. It is not hatred to expose the character, the record of a candidate in an election. How else are the voters going to know who to vote for if previous deeds and misdeeds are not brought out?
The purpose of any serious election is to choose the best candidate among all others. And doing so is not an expression of hatred for the candidate who loses as a result of his poor past record of conduct and performance.
There is need for understanding, dialogue and reconciliation before, during and after these presidential by-elections elections. Reconciliation should be a daily thing and not a one-off activity. We should recall the teaching of Christ on this score: “If you are bringing your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go and be reconciled with your brother first and then come back and present your gift” (Mt 5:23-24). “If you forgive others the wrongs they have done to you, your Father in heaven will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive the wrongs you have done” (Mt 6:14-15).
We can never support the principle of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”. If such a principle were applied, strife would never end.
More time should be spent on seeking ways and means to improve the quality of life of our people and all reconciliations, all our political activities should be aimed at that.
There is no peace without reconciliation. It is said that Christ is our peace because he has reconciled us to God. That reconciliation continues daily in the life of each one of us through our love of God and one another.
Those seeking political office, leadership positions are being asked to be the channels of Christ’s peace in our country and to our people. That is their vocation. And the challenge of the Christian code: “Love one another; forgive one another as God has forgiven you in Christ; bear one another’s burdens; blessed are the peacemakers…”
And let us not forget that there will be no peace in our country if there is no justice because the two are said to be twin sisters. Justice demands that all have a right to share in the management of the affairs of our country and indeed in its wealth. We should all have some share in political aspirations, in government services, in available material resources and so on and so forth.
The use of unjust means of any form, by anyone, is against justice. To be engaged in bribery, corruption and like things is injustice.
The word “peace” has become the most spoken word in our country today. Many extol our country as a peaceful nation and we are every day being urged to maintain and safeguard this peace. We all want and long for peace. The future of our country and the happiness of our people will depend on the kind of peace we reach.
There is the peace of death. There is the peace one experiences after the total extermination of one’s enemies. There is the peace in which no guns are fired but in which people are trodden underfoot, despised, exploited, discriminated against and very unhappy.
There is the peace in which people do not talk to one another – the peace of the dumb, because people hate and fear one another, because there is selfishness, greed, pride and so many other walls they have built between themselves. None of them is peace, none can be called peace. What we need is that peace that is worthy of human beings, and enjoyed by everyone.
No human being will exert one’s energies for meaningless peace. What kind of peace does Zambia need today? Not just any peace, but the kind of peace for which people are prepared to struggle, to exert their energies and even to die.
There can be no meaningful peace in our country if dishonest people, people with very limited abilities, people without dedication and people with little concern for the welfare of all are allowed to manipulate their way into the top political offices of our country. It shouldn’t be the shrewd and inept that win elections to public office but the honest and most able, the most meritorious that are voted into public office.
Where merit prevails, justice can be said to be done and peace stands a better chance of reigning. And for this reason, among others, we urge all our people to exercise their right to vote carefully and only vote for those who are the most honest, the most able, the most dedicated and the most caring of the candidates before them.
By Patson Chilemba in Lusaka, Mutuna Chanda and Zumani Katasefa
Friday September 12, 2008 [04:00]
OPPOSITION UNIP deputy secretary general Reverend Alfred Banda yesterday said Vice-President Rupiah Banda has not officially resigned from the former ruling party. And Patriotic Front (PF) president Michael Sata has said Vice-President Banda does not have the vision to move the nation forward because he has surrounded himself with people who were either rejected or fired by late president Levy Mwanawasa.
But Vice-President Banda hoped that Sata would go to sleep in the campaigns for the presidency to enable him to have a field day. In an interview, Rev Banda said he was not aware that Vice-President Banda had resigned from UNIP.
"According to my knowledge, there has been no official communication that he has resigned from UNIP. I will be talking to Mr Anamela and Mr Tilyenji Kaunda just to get the details. What we just saw during the 2006 general elections was him on the campaign platforms with MMD but there is no official communication that he has resigned from UNIP," said Rev Banda.
However, Rev Banda could not explain why Vice-President Banda campaigned for MMD, saying at that time, UNIP was involved with the United Democratic Alliance.
And a long serving member of UNIP in Siavonga district has claimed that Vice-President Banda was still an active member of UNIP because he had not yet handed his resignation letter to the party.
Siavonga district UNIP chairman Charles Sikwama said in an interview that despite being adopted as MMD candidate in the October 30 presidential by-election, UNIP still considered Vice-President Banda one of its full time members.
Sikwama, who has been a UNIP member since 1959, said at no time did his party receive a resignation letter from Vice-President Banda from the time he was handpicked by president Mwanawasa to serve as Zambia's Vice-President. Sikwama, who wondered what criteria that the MMD's National Executive Committee (NEC) used to adopt a candidate who is not their member, has challenged Vice-President Banda to prove to the nation when he resigned from UNIP to join the ruling MMD.
Sikwama cautioned MMD members not to be excited with the adoption of Vice-President Banda in the forthcoming by-election and convince themselves that they would easily win the elections. He said it was too early for MMD to predict its triumph because opposition parties also have strongholds where they would receive massive support from their members.
Sikwama said it was sad that the NEC adopted Vice-President Banda, leaving out other candidates with good leadership qualities as well as proven track records.
But information minister Mike Mulongoti said Vice-President Banda was not under obligation to officially announce his resignation from UNIP.
"What official communication do they want? If you see your member active in another party, is it not an indication that that member has left?" Mulongoti asked. "I told you that we were all UNIP before multi-party. How many of us wrote letters that we have resigned?"
And featuring on Yatsani Radio yesterday in Lusaka, Sata said it was a lie for Vice-President Banda to pledge that he would continue with late president Mwanawasa's programmes. He said Vice-President Banda had already shown strong indications that he had no intention of building on president Mwanawasa's legacy by engaging people the late president fired such as Vernon Mwaanga, Mbita Chitala and George Chulumanda.
Sata wondered what vice-President Banda would achieve at national level which he had failed to fulfill in various government positions he had served in the past.
"Rupiah Banda has never resigned from UNIP. Levy Mwanawasa was MMD and moved according to MMD manifesto. How can Rupiah advance president Mwanawasa's vision when he is UNIP?" Sata asked. "So when you talk of vision, what vision are you talking about? Levy was not greedy. He opposed hefty salary and allowance increments for government officials."
Sata said unlike president Mwanawasa who promoted local and foreign investment, some individuals in Vice-President Banda's camp wanted to suppress Zambian Airways.
"Magande finance minister has exempted Albidon from paying taxes fuel taxes," Sata said. "Why don't you extend the same concession to Zambian Airways because Zambian Airways has provided dignity to Zambia?"
Sata further charged that Vice-President Banda deliberately directed a reduction in fuel prices to win people's support in view of the forthcoming presidential election.
"And Rupiah Banda has already instructed defence and security chiefs to upgrade all salaries for the soldiers, policemen, office of the President, ZNS and Air Force. That is corruption," said Sata.
On the electoral pact between PF and UPND, Sata said there should be honesty.
"If we are going to have a pact and my friend has put posters, what will be in the pact? So what is he expecting in the pact?" Sata asked. "Comrade Hichilema is not picking up the phone to call me. The proposal for a pact came from me."
And commenting on campaigns for late president Mwanawasa's successor, Vice-President Banda said he wished Sata good luck in his bid for the presidency.
"I hope that he (Sata) will sleep so that I can have a field day," Vice-President Banda said. "He has said all sorts of things that 'I will be easy to defeat and that he'll whack me'; I wish him all the best."
And Vice-President Banda dismissed Sata's allegation that he was a tribalist.
"I am sure that he was just joking," he said. "He knows that I am not tribal."
Initially, when approached for comment over Sata's remarks, Vice-President Banda said: "Please, keep quiet so that we can hear the questions from The Post. The Post wants to ask Judas Iscariot some questions."
The people present just laughed. This was after Vice-President Banda officiated at a function where Konkola Copper Mines and Football Association of Zambia signed a memorandum of understanding guaranteeing payment of salaries to national soccer team expatriate coaches Herve Rernard and Patrice Beaumelle.
And speaking when he addressed MMD cadres at Kasompe Airstrip shortly before departure for Lusaka, Vice-President Banda accused those who were attacking him of looking for agenda items.
"I know the reason they are attacking me is to provoke me so that when I react then they make that an issue," he said.
However, Vice-President Banda said Zambians wanted to hear matters that affected their welfare.
"Everywhere you go to in our country, you can point to programmes that we have embarked on...people want to hear issues to do with their roads, jobs and their wellbeing," Vice-President Banda said. "Let others concentrate on quarrels.
Zambians are beyond divisive issues. They want to carry on with unity and building of the nation like the Chinese and Indians work hard like ants to build the country."
Vice-President Banda said he offered mature and humane leadership which was not bent on finding faults.
"We are human and if we look for faults, we will find them. If you look for good, you will also find it," Vice-President Banda said.
He said Zambians were one irrespective of where they hailed from and that people should concentrate on what united them. He said the MMD was fighting to retain what had already been granted to them by Zambians.
"We have to fight relentlessly," said Vice-President Banda, who left Chingola at Kasompe Airstrip aboard a Zambia Air Force (ZAF) plane at 09:58 hours.
On Wednesday night, Vice-President Banda addressed Copperbelt MMD members and urged them to be united and ensure he won the October 30 presidential by-election. He commended them for overwhelmingly supporting his adoption as MMD presidential candidate.
And in a separate interview, MMD deputy national secretary Jeff Kaande said come November 1, Vice-President Banda would be sworn-in as Zambia's fourth President.
"The campaigns will officially start after the filing of the nominations," said Kaande. "All that is happening now is sampling. From the feedback we are getting, I have no doubt that Rupiah Bwezani Banda will be sworn in as the fourth President of Zambia."
Kande said this time around, the opposition PF would not have it easy on the Copperbelt.
"PF is no longer an issue here. This time round, we are going to get more votes on the Copperbelt than PF," said Kaande.
By Chiwoyu Sinyangwe and Fridah Zinyama
Tuesday September 09, 2008 [04:00]
GOVERNMENT should adhere strictly to the budget deficit target and stick to prudent macroeconomic policy to ensure that the forthcoming presidential election does not disturb the country's sustained economic growth, the World Bank has cautioned. And international economic consultant Bob Liebenthal has supported the government and Bank of Zambia's move to restrain demand pressure and keep the deficit down as a way of arresting the rising inflationary pressures.
Commenting on the announcement by finance minister Ng'andu Magande that the government hopes to cut its fiscal deficit to below 2.0 per cent of GDP this year and would take measures to fight a worrying current inflation rate of 13.2 per cent, World Bank country manager for Zambia Dr Kapil Kapoor however said the problem of controlling inflation was not unique to Zambia only.
Dr Kapoor said there was need for the government to remain alert as election-related expenditures could sometimes result in compromising fiscal targets.
"The increase in the international price of petroleum, accompanied by the increase in food prices across the globe has been a double whammy, which has resulted in many countries facing the same challenge that Zambia is presently facing - which is how to bring inflation down to projected target levels. Fortunately, there has been a significant decrease in the price of petroleum in recent months and oil is presently trading at under US $110 per barrel, which is a five-month low," Dr Kapoor.
"This is a pretty dramatic decline of about US$38 per barrel or a 26 per cent decline from the US $147 per barrel high in July this year. It still remains to be seen if, as some analysts are now beginning to predict, oil prices will fall below US$100 per barrel. Experience from other parts of the world demonstrates that countries need to be particularly watchful during periods when elections are scheduled as election related expenditures can sometimes result in fiscal targets being compromised."
Dr Kapoor, who observed that it was unlikely that the country was going to compromise on its fiscal target, reiterated that it was important that government finance the elections in line with the set economic expenditure framework.
He also said there was need to ensure that the financing for fiscal deficit does not fuel inflationary pressures or result in increasing the interest rates in the country.
"It is important for the policy makers to be vigilant and to ensure that the expenditures incurred are in line with the budget and consistent with the targets in the medium term expenditure framework," Dr Kapoor said. "As a general rule, most fiscal economists are not in favour of supplementary budgets as these can undermine fiscal discipline.
In fact, there has been a trend among some countries to pass balanced budget laws to ensure that they will spend within their means and will not have to finance fiscal deficits by printing more money, which can be very inflationary, or by borrowing from the domestic market, which can result in high rates of interest and therefore increases the costs of doing business for the private sector and consumers.
Therefore, having a budget deficit target and sticking to it makes for prudent macroeconomic policy. Zambia has done well on this score in recent years and I hope that trend continues as it is vital for sustained economic growth."
And Liebenthal, who supported government's move to cut down the fiscal deficit to 2.0 per cent of the GDP, said it would be hard to keep inflation below 10 per cent this year.
Liebenthal also urged government to hold back the recently-passed salary and allowance increases for ministers saying the move would help to contain the costs and to discourage a huge wage next year.
"It will be hard to keep inflation below 10 to 12 per cent this year, but government and the BoZ are right to restrain demand pressure and keep the deficit down. They should withhold the recently-passed salary and allowance increases for ministers both to contain the costs to the budget and to send a signal that they don't want to unleash a huge wage round in 2009," Liebenthal
He also said although he did not know where the country stood in as far as GDP growth rate was concerned, he was optimistic that seven per cent might still be possible.
On the fears that the forthcoming Presidential elections would disrupt targeted fiscal deficit, Liebenthal said: "It's not only election expenses, it's the Fertiliser Support Programme, the additional support to Zesco and the additional salary costs above those provided in the budget.
But against that, there may be some reductions and additional revenue especially from the mining taxes, though these are supposed to be held separately from the rest of revenue. It's hard to know precisely until the ministry comes up with specific numbers. The direct and indirect election costs are unavoidable, but what government must avoid is extra spending for campaigning."
Liebenthal said there was need for government to be cautious on spending and implement proper fiscal management to prepare for anticipated downfall of metal prices on the international market.
Liebenthal said the continued economic recession in the United States and United Kingdom and some Eurozone might negatively impact on the demand for copper as China, India and the rest of Asia seem to be the only regions fuelling the demand for metals.
However, he said the situation did not call for fright.
"The international economic scene is looking distinctly more gloomy. The US, UK and most of the Eurozone seem to be in, or heading to, a deeper and longer recession than appeared likely a few months ago. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and others monitoring the global economy are revising their forecasts down," said Liebenthal.
"China, India and the rest of Asia seem to be the only engines of growth. It's not something to panic about, but the chances of less favourable conditions for Zambia next year - especially lower mineral prices - must have increased. This strengthens the need for caution on spending and fiscal management generally right now."
And a financial expert who elected to remain anonymous predicted that it will be difficult to achieve the targeted seven per cent GDP target for this year because the economic slow down the country has witnessed in the last few weeks of late president
Mwanawasa's death is likely to go on until after the November presidential election.
The expert suggested that the government should use some of the money from the newly introduced mining taxes to fund the forth-coming election.
The analyst explained that since the expected revenue from the mining taxes were not budgeted for in this year's budget; it would be more prudent for the country to use the money for the activity that was not equally planned for.
He also observed that the K240 billion that was expected to be spent on the same election was "too much" not to cause a disturbance in the country's fiscal targets.
"Well, I understand the Minister of Finance has some contingency funds somewhere, part of which could be used for the elections but on the other hand the money from the taxes could be used to finance the elections...of course this would be at the expense of other activities like building roads and schools but since this Presidential election was not planned for, it is more appropriate to use the money that was not budgeted for in the national budget," the analyst said.
"Those guys at the Central Bank are very intelligent and they know how to deal with inflation... they are the best experts around, but for them
to reduce the annual inflation rate from 13.2 to seven per cent before the end of the year, that is interesting.
"We have been having problems with electricity and now the challenges of petroleum, Zambia has the highest cost of fuel in Africa...I just can't see that being achieved. And most importantly, the economy has slowed down within the last two-three months following the uncertainty surrounding President Mwanawasa's illness leading to his death. So I see that trend (slow economic growth) going on until after the November elections. I just can't see Zambia achieving seven per cent growth rate."
Meanwhile, economic consultant Professor Oliver Saasa observed that the current bottlenecks the country is facing in the energy sector posse the biggest challenge to the attainment of the targeted seven per cent annual GDP growth rate.
Prof Saasa observed that the electricity deficit the country was experiencing would further affect production in the country.
"Whilst everything else is being put in place to reduce inflation, the energy crisis that Zambia is experiencing is going to have a negative impact on government's efforts to increase productivity," he explained.
Prof Saasa said although fuel prices were going down on the international market, it would not affect Zambia.
"The current pricing system does not take into account what is happening on the international market, Prof Saasa regretted.
He also said the expected donor inflows for the forthcoming election would further help to strengthen the local currency against the US dollar.
Prof Saasa said the excess dollars that will come into the economy from the donor community for the election will help to stabilise liquidity levels in the country.
Magande recently announced that the country hopes to cut its fiscal deficit to below 2.0 per cent of GDP this year and will take measures to fight a worrying current inflation rate of 13.2 per cent.
Bank of Zambia intended to mop up excess liquidity in circulation in a bid to rein in inflation. The latest target for the fiscal shortfall is lower than the 3.2 per cent deficit
figure forecast in the 2008 budget but higher than the 0.95 per cent fiscal deficit in 2007.
Magande said the budget has planned supplementary expenditure to finance a presidential vote expected in November following the death of president Mwanawasa.
By Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Friday September 12, 2008 [04:00]
CHINA Railway Material Import and Export Company Limited has said Ron Forlee, who last week signed the MoU with the government over the proposed railway line between Zambia and Angola, is not a representative of Sino rail.
And NWR has written to Vice-President Rupiah Banda over the government's decision to sign the MoU with other parties for the development of the railway line despite the matter being before the court.
According to the letter dated September 11, 2008 addressed to Northwest Rail Company (NWR) Limited chairman Enoch Kavindele, China Railway Material Import and Export Company president Gao Zhendou also said the giant Sino rail was ready to help partner with NWR company to develop the infrastructure needed to transport raw materials from the North Western Province.
Zhendou also said China Railway Material Import and Export Company Limited would use its knowledge and experiences in constructing Tanzania-Zambia Railway (TAZARA), Nigeria Railway as well as Angola Railway to perform engineering evaluation, engineering design and the possibility of discussing the operational management of Northwest Railway line as well as the joint venture among other things.
"I do not know any one whose name is Mr Ron Forlee and I am the president of China Railway Material Import and Export Company Limited. There is no CEO in my company," the letter read in part.
And in a letter to Vice-President Banda, who is also Acting President, Kavindele said NWR was "forced" to seek judicial intervention over the termination of construction licence for the railway line after dialogue attempts with communications minister and other key government officials proved futile.
"The recent actions of the honourable minister culminating in the signing of a MoU with unregistered entities has left the board of directors on NWR with no other alternative. Indeed, it is my concern that the matter may be a source of severe embarrassment for government in due course," Kavindele stated. "Our own investigations have revealed that the other party to the MoU, Zambezi Trans Railways is not a registered entity with Zambia and has no record of existence.
Mr Forlee who is named as chief executive officer of that company is a resident in South Africa and came to Zambia seeking a mining exploration assets in Mumbwa. It appears that Mr Forlee's primary occupation is that of being a broker, seeking to bring parties together for a commission if the deal is successful. He operates from his residence in Mount Road, Bryanston, Johannesburg SA.
"It is my sincere hope that you deem it necessary to intervene and allow NWR to continue with this very important national programme under the private-public partnership concept."
Last weekend, Siliya signed MoU with Zambezi Trans Railways chairperson Kapembe Nsingo, China Railways Limited chief executive officer Ron Forlee, and AYR for the construction of the 405 kilometre way line to connect North Western Province to the national line, eventually linking Zambia to Angola and was expected to come on stream in 2010 at a cost of over US $500 million.
By Lambwe Kachali
Friday September 12, 2008 [04:00]
PARLIAMENTARY committee on estimates chairperson Godfrey Beene has expressed concern that supplementary appropriations have continued to surpass the original budget estimates. Presenting a report on the committee's observations during the second reading of the supplementary appropriation Bill, Beene who is also Itezhi-Tezhi UPND member of parliament, said the committee noted that a number of subheads had supplementary provisions above 1000 per cent of the original budget.
"For example, under the Ministry of Justice, Attorney General's chambers-legal consultancy programme, an amount of K1,000,000,000 was provided in the 2006 budget, but the vote received supplementary funding of over thirty billion kwacha K30,627,647,956, amounting to over 3000 per cent of the initial provision. Similarly, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Paris mission had slightly over seven hundred and sixteen million K716,581,394 as budgetary estimate for office administration but received well over thirteen billion K13,237,374,659, or over 1,800 per cent of the provision, as supplementary provision to finance the procurement of a residence," Beene disclosed.
"Another example was the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives which had a budgetary provision of fifty billion kwacha K50,000,000,000 to be remitted as a grant to the Food Reserve Agency FRA under the Agribusiness and Marketing Department, but received well over seventy six billion kwacha K76,262,394,482 as supplementary funding, which amounted to over 150 per cent of the original estimate."
Beene said such a situation where the actual budget deviates from the original estimates was indicative of a serious problem in the planning and budgeting system, and rendered the entire budgeting process redundant.
"Notwithstanding this, there is a reduction in the total amount of supplementary budget for 2006, K331,143,234, 891 as compared to that incurred in 2005 which was K453,584,031,243. Nevertheless, the amount is still unacceptable," he said.
Beene cited low ceilings imposed by the Ministry of Finance at the time of budgeting as well as poor forecasting of revenues by the ministry as major causes of such problems for the routine activities.
"In light of this, a limit be set on the amount of expenditure that can be incurred under any specific head of expenditure in any given financial year to encourage more careful planning by all spending agencies as well as better revenue forecasting by the Ministry of Finance. It is sometimes unavoidable to have such disparities, your committee strongly believes that this should be in exceptional cases and unforeseen circumstances which cannot be foreseen at the time of budgeting," he said.
Beene urged the finance minister Ng'andu Magande to set ceilings for spending agencies during the budgeting process.
He said it was sad that because of the inconsistencies in the legal framework, supplementary expenditure occurred before Parliament's approval.
"This undermines democratic accountability and Parliament's role in the budget process. The supplementary budget may be perceived to be a method of financing activities over and above what Parliament had approved, thereby derogating from the power of Parliament to deliberate and approve all public expenditure," he said.
Beene also said most controlling officers did not have the knowledge to understand and appreciate the provisions in the constitution as well as financial regulations.
"As long as the controlling officers are not conversant with the regulatory framework, the management of public finance is seriously compromised," said Beene.
And Magande said the Bill was intended to account for supplementary expenditure of monies appropriated for the services of the Republic as provided for under Article 117 (4) (b) of the Constitution of Zambia.
The Bill then went through the second reading and was expected to pass through the committee stage yesterday.
By Chiwoyu Sinyangwe and Joan Chirwa
Friday September 12, 2008 [04:00]
GROUNDING Zambian Airways will not only erode investor confidence but will also be against the provisions of the Citizens Economic Empowerment Act, Zambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ZACCI) chief executive officer Justin Chisulo said yesterday.
But in a turn of events, transport minister Dora Siliya yesterday claimed media reports that she was trying to frustrate the operations of Zambian Airways were totally unfounded.
Chisulo said grounding Zambian Airways would negatively affect the growth of the Ministry of Communications and Transport as well as Zambia's general economy.
Chisulo stressed that he was making comments on the matter purely because it was a business transaction and not that Zambian Airways was a member of ZACCI.
“NACL (National Airport Corporation Limited) and Zambian Airways are purely two business entities. As to why Zambian Airways incurred that debt, it is up to them to disclose. From our own investigations, we are aware that as of now, Zambian Airways is paying between US $300, 000 to US $400,000 per month through landing rights, passenger ticket taxes etc,” Chisulo said. “And we speculate that part of the reason could be the high fuel cost. Now, whatever Zambian Airways and NAC agree upon, if it requires the ministry responsible to sanction as a policy issue, we would strongly urge the concerned minister to do so bearing in mind three things: this is a business transaction; second, the debt could have been brought about by high fuel cost and third, Zambian Airways is benefiting NACL to the extent of over US $300, 000 and therefore grounding of Zambian Airways would have negative implications to NACL, to the country but also to the employees of Zambian Airways.”
Chisulo also said policy decision might be required in view of the significance of the aviation sector to the growth of the Ministry of Communications and Transport.
“Above all, grounding of Zambian Airways would erode investor confidence and also the provisions of the Citizens Economic Empowerment Act,” said Chisulo. “Lastly, we know that (Zambian Airways and NACL), and the growth of the ministry in terms of the provision of policy direction depend on road, rail infrastructure and air infrastructure in addition to communication.”
And during a programme on Radio Phoenix yesterday, Siliya - who has U-turned on her earlier comments in the Times of Zambia last Friday that allowing a deferment of debt owed by Zambian Airways to NACL would be discriminatory and against public interest - said she would be a sad person to see a local airline collapse because of operational problems. Siliya said she had held meetings with management of NACL on how to assist the local airline in its operations despite the debt owed.
Discussions were being held on possibilities of deferring a US $1.6 million debt which Zambian Airways owes NACL, largely on account of rising operational costs brought about by high fuel prices. But the Times of Zambia, under the headline: 'Magande, Siliya clash over Zambian Airways', reported that Siliya was opposed to the deferment of the debt because she had earlier rejected unofficial requests of a similar nature from another player in the industry. Siliya was further quoted by the state-owned Times of Zambia as saying that there was nothing special about Zambian Airways for her to facilitate the deferment of the debt by Zambian Airways.
However, Siliya said yesterday such reports were not correct, as government's intention was to see local businesses operating without any problems.
“These media stories coming up are totally unfounded. I have had many discussions myself with the chief executive officer of Zambian Airways Mr Mutembo Nchito about the challenges facing the airline and I have done that with other airlines,” Siliya said. “I also met the acting managing director of National Airports who assured me that they will try to resolve some of the problems facing all airlines. It will be sad for me to see a local airline failing in its business, because we have to promote them.”
Siliya said people should keep politics out of business problems facing local investors.
“We should keep our politics out of this because what we need are business solutions. This government is made of laws, and as minister, I will provide policy direction,” Siliya said. “It is in our interest to see that Zambian investments are assisted. I was even summoned by the Acting President (Rupiah Banda) to discuss this matter.
He was surprised with accusations that we are being insensitive to the matter. We need business solutions to this matter and not political solutions, which do not last. I’m aware of what is happening and this is why Zambian Airways is still flying even today.
I believe that Zambian Airways is a very welcome business in the aviation sector and we have seen it grow in the last few years and I do not see how people can accuse me of trying to close the business. This government is committed to ensure those in business remain in business.”
Thursday, September 11, 2008
By MARGARET MANGANI AND NEBERT MULENGA
WITH his national address on radio and television on Tuesday night, acting President Rupiah Banda effectively asserted his authority and appears intent on galvanising the country out of the hangover from the 21-day period of mourning president Levy Mwanawasa.
In the wake of president Mwanawasa’s demise in a French hospital on August 19, and his subsequent burial on September 3, a 21-day period of national mourning was declared which ended on September 9.
In his inaugural national address as acting president broadcast on Tuesday on State television and radio, Mr Banda unveiled his key issues of attention during the transition period leading to the forthcoming presidential by-election, and also touched on a number of areas needing immediate attention.
The main sectors of his concern include: economic policies, the constitution-making process, human rights, public service management and performance of the media, especially in the run up to the presidential polls, which the acting president set for October 30, 2008.
On the economic front, Mr Banda says his administration would seek to build on the late president’s pro-market economic policies, that had led to significant achievements in almost all sectors.
Over the last seven years of Dr Mwanawasa’s reign, Zambia recorded an annual economic growth of five per cent, and for the first time in 30 years, inflation remained in single digit throughout 2007 while the Kwacha greatly appreciated against major convertible currencies.
Dr Mwanawasa re-introduced national development planning, which was abandoned during his predecessor, Frederick Chiluba’s 10-year-rule, and in 2006 launched the Fifth National Development Plan (FNDP) as well as the Vision 2030. The FNDP is credited among other things, for the speedy economic recovery that the country has attained at macro-level over the last two years, while the Vision 2030 remains a guide for the country’s progress from a poor income to a middle-income status by 2030.
“These hard-earned economic strides have been appreciated in the international financial circles to the extent that Zambia is now poised to have a sovereign credit rating for the first time ever,” said Mr Banda. “We are determined to continue with the implementation of prudent economic policies to score even more successes particularly a rapid reduction in poverty among our people.”
The country’s inflation, however, early this year slipped back into double digits on the back of the global food shortage and escalating fuel prices. The upswing in fuel prices resulted in Zambia, as a non-oil producing country, experiencing a sudden upsurge in the prices of all essential commodities including foodstuff.
By August this year, a 25kg bag of mealie meal had risen to K52,000 from an average of K33,000 during the same period in 2007, while several other prices of commodities such as cooking oil, sugar and bread trebled over the same period.
According to the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection’s Food Basket for August 2008, even the trends in the cost of living have continued to show an increase with Ndola recording the highest at K710,920 for basic food for a family of six. Across the surveyed towns of Livingstone, Kabwe, Mongu, Kasama as well as Ndola, Kitwe and Luanshya on the Copperbelt, huge increases were seen in the cost of mealie meal, dry fish and cooking oil.
In that vein, the acting president called for the re-examination of fuel prices in Zambia, and took cognisance of the fact that the oil prices on the international market had started reducing.
“I direct the ministers of Finance and National Planning and Energy and Water Development to sit together and examine the matter with a view to reducing the price of fuel,” Mr Banda said.
Energy plays a pivotal role in the socio-economic development of the country. But the country in recent years has experienced disruptions in the form of power-outages which have triggered a public outcry impacting negatively on the overall performance of the economy.
In order to address these constraints, Mr Banda disclosed that in the short-term Government was undertaking a rehabilitation programme at Kafue Gorge and Kariba North Bank power stations respectively.
The work at Kafue Gorge power station is expected to be completed before the end of the year, while work at Kariba North Bank will be over by March next year. The two projects will result in an increase in power generation while reducing on power deficits.
In addition, new power stations are earmarked for construction in the wake of the growing economy. These areas include Kafue Gorge lower, Kariba North Bank extension, Kalungwishi, Kabompo and Itezhi- tezhi hydro-power projects.
In an effort to promote alternative power sources, Mr Banda’s administration will encourage the production and utilisation of bio fuels and solar energy.
During Dr Mwanawasa’s reign, in which Mr Banda served as vice-president in the last term, the agriculture sector consistently posted an annual surplus crop on maize.
This year, Government has already started distributing farming inputs under the Fertiliser Support Programme (FSP). The State has since increased the subsidy from last year’s 60 per cent to 75 per cent, while the number of beneficiaries under the Food Security Pack has risen from 150,000 to over 200,000 peasant farmers this year.
The sector still remains one of the key priority areas of the country.
“We shall continue to implement the policies and programmes of our departed president … the ultimate goal is to ensure sustenance of household and national food security,” said Mr Banda, adding that his administration would continue to develop agricultural extension and research services.
The mining industry is undoubtedly, Zambia’s economic lifeblood, accounting for 80 per cent of the country’s foreign earnings. Zambia has over the last five years experienced massive investments in the sector following the record prices of copper on the world market.
Major investments include Chingola’s Konkola Deep Mining Project, Solwezi’s Lumwana Copper Mining Project and Kansanshi Mining Project. Others are Mulyashi Copper Project in Luanshya and the Munali Hills Nickel Project in Mazabuka.
Analysts say other than the favourable policies, the influx of investments in the mining sector has also been prompted by the rise in copper prices on the world market. Copper prices have since 2006 been trading at record highs of around US$8,000 per tonne – the average in 2000 was $1,200 per tonne – on the back of strong demand from China and India.
Government early this year upped the royalty tax from 0.6 per cent to the global norm of three per cent, thereby significantly increasing earnings from the country’s chief export, copper.
All mining companies have since reiterated commitment to continue their operations in the country, according to Mr Banda.
“I want, in this regard, to assure both local and foreign investors that there will be no departure from the current policies and focus in the mining sector,” he said.
The media, which is the Fourth Estate of government, has consistently offered widespread coverage of the national mourning period with both the public and private media highlighting various programmes around the life of the late president.
Without the media’s active involvement in the burial programme of the late president, Mr Banda said the public would have been starved of the vital information that was required to keep them updated on all the funeral events.
The acting president has pledged to continue providing a conducive policy, legal and institutional framework for the development of a free media on the basis of free expression of views being fundamental to good governance.
Government will also continue with the policy of liberalising the media industry for continued private sector participation. In this respect, the review of media laws will continue in a quest to find an appropriate media legislation that will enhance freedom of expression.
The late president Mwanawasa fought hard for the country to have a people-driven Constitution that could stand the test of time. Following Dr Mwanawasa’s death, there has been growing anxiety among citizens concerning the ongoing constitutional reforms through the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) with some people calling for its dissolution.
Mr Banda has, however, reaffirmed his government’s commitment to the process, saying it would continue to its logical conclusion.
Such is the enormity and versatility of the master plan that the acting president has unveiled for the country!
By MARY LUSAMBO-NDHLOVU
I AM filled with spiritual enthusiasm as I put these words together. The words of a “once upon a time” leader and father of the nation, His Excellency President of the Republic of Zambia, Levy Patrick Mwanawasa, SC.
Well-defined is the legacy that this leader has left behind. A legacy one can surely be compelled to admire and emulate. A legacy full of personal potential, personal achievement and world recognition. A legacy spread across in different sectors of life.
I went into analysing this selfless man’s life, and my findings are that this man was a prophetic symbol.
Those with spiritual understanding shall certainly agree with me that only prophetic symbols are biblical celebrities. I liken Mwanawasa to prophetic symbols like John the Baptist whose reason for life was to prepare a way for the Anointed one, Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
I also liken him to Christ himself whose birth on earth was to reconcile man to God. Jeremiah too was another symbol whose purpose was to rebuild the nation of Israel. Jeremiah’s message to the Israelites in Chapter 6 vs 9, reads in part” Thus saith the LORD of Hosts, they shall thoroughly glean the remnant of Israel as a vine but turn thy hand as a grape gatherer into the branches’’.
All these outlined symbols, with a synonymous characteristic of unpopularity amongst their own people, were raised to put things right through warnings and actions. Somewhat fulfilling the scriptures that a prophet has no honour in his own country!
President Mwanawasa began his journey 60 years ago in Mufulira, Copperbelt Province in Zambia under the capable hand of God.
He was seen through thick and thin by God because he had a purpose to accomplish for the nation. Whenever the devil raised a flood against Levy, God raised a standard against the devil. Mwanawasa had God’s hand of Grace upon him to pull through all temptations and trials.
In 2001, Mwanasawa was ordained by prophet Frederick Jacob Chiluba who had God’s revelation at the time, and the spirit of the Lord was upon him to go and LAUNCH INTO THE DEEP!
I do not need to shed more light on this matter to make readers believe without doubt that President Chiluba had prophetic anointing during this unique ordination.
I mean, it was physically unexpected for FTJ, as Chiluba is fondly referred to, to jump his camp and search for one man whose focus at the time was on practising law and farming.
Chiluba had earlier-on made a Deep, Wide and Fore-bearing statement; a prophetic utterance “ZAMBIA IS A CHRISTIAN NATION”. What more does a prophet do than declaring that which is bestowed upon his spirit by God?
A prophet is God’s mouth-piece, pronouncing His messages to the nations. One that carries a burden until it is released. Through a prophet, God’s word is established. It is never missed as some selfish Christians are maliciously stating. God’s word through a prophet is ever established.
The sense here is that the prophetic utterance, which Prophet Chiluba pronounced shall be established. This is the reason why Mwanawasa was brought on the scene as a symbol. His service is now over, his spirit now rests where it was destined to be.
He has left a good report, accomplishing that which was God’s purpose for his life. He added a brick to building this nation as one poet, Father Evarist Mwaba Ngalande states in his book I cannot see and I quote “Let us all be joined in one blood of co-operation and building a better tomorrow, constructing a home worth living in and dying for”.
Levy added a good brick to building mother Zambia. He added to what others had already started, people worth mentioning and these are no other than the great fathers Kenneth Kaunda and Fredrick Titus Jacob Chiluba.
These added their well-chosen bricks to the building of mother Zambia and surely their profiles would be much longer.
So, the next leader builds from where Levy has left. We all have the potential and will-power to rally behind Zambia and add a brick in our own individual ways.
Mwanawasa did it and he died while pursuing a noble cause. What a hero he was! Highly-criticised, but surely noticed. The thought which started as Nathanel’s in John 1 Vs 46 “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Alas, a rejected stone has now become a corner stone. Blessed indeed be the womb that carried this mighty man!
Diverting my thoughts now to life continuity. As I prophetically stated in my publication in the Times of Zambia of July 17, 2008 entitled “PRAYER FOR THE PRESIDENT”, I continue revealing the mysteries of God that Levy’s successor is under God’s Hand of Grace.
There is a great shift in the things of God and only spiritual eyes would see. So the next leader is one to perform God’s miracle for Zambia. Not an ordinary person, but fully filled with God’s wisdom.
Readers may at this moment be inquisitive to learn the conclusion of this matter – with the question “To what Spiritual Shift then was this symbol appointed?”.
With all spiritual illumination, this symbol was appointed to root out, and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant a new face of God in our nation, Zambia.
Zambia is a chosen nation; like Bethlehem Ephratah, little among thousands of countries, and yet highly favoured by God.
The Ark of the Lord is upon this country. God is speedily unfolding His final plan in this country where His sons and daughters shall lift His name in reverance.
We shall witness great works of the Lord if we discern His word and keep watching. The cloud of favour has descended on us.
I call upon the spiritual city fathers to listen to God and steadily give guidance in this matter, comprehending what God is doing in this End Time and in this country Zambia.
Men and women of God, we should all strive to be content also with what God has deposited in us, lest we fall to the devil’s prey.
Some are ordained kings (rulers), some priests to serve in the Holy Tabernacles, some also prophets to pronounce God’s mysteries as bestowed upon them by Himself. All this is made known to mankind through scripture, the Holy Word of Life.
It is time to be content with our anointing and serve God faithfully.