'Fumes and smoke appear before the flames do'
Saturday October 18, 2008 [04:00]
The atmosphere is tensing up and if things continue this way, Zambians are unlikely to have peaceful elections this month-end. There is so much suspicion in the air about the possibility of rigging. Public trust in the Electoral Commission of Zambia and the government seems to be at its lowest.
There is great fear among opposition leaders and their supporters that this election may be rigged. It is said that fumes and smoke appear before the flames do; insults come before violence (Sirach 22:24).
The issues being raised by Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) may have a lot to do with these suspicions. At the beginning of these campaigns, Rupiah Banda’s agents made it very clear that for them, this election was a matter of life and death. And we all know what happens in a contest that is a matter of life and death – rules are ignored, laws are broken, principles are violated.
And as TIZ has correctly observed, Rupiah and his sponsors have been breaking electoral rules without the Electoral Commission of Zambia taking them to task. At the beginning of his campaign, Rupiah was distributing sugar and mealie-meal bought with government money to the electorate.
When issues were raised, the Electoral Commission, instead of coming out strong on it, tried to mitigate for him. Rupiah made discriminatory statements in Chipata inciting the people of Eastern Province to chase other candidates whose origins are in other parts of our country and stop them from campaigning in this important province of our nation.
Again, issues were raised about this but the Electoral Commission turned a blind eye. There was the electoral bribery issue of James Lukuku. The Electoral Commission did nothing about it. Government motor vehicles are being abused by Rupiah to ferry supporters and other agents. And these include police vehicles and even ambulances. The Electoral Commission know about these abuses but have done nothing.
It seems Rupiah is a highly privileged presidential candidate who is above the law. The rule of law doesn’t seem to apply where Rupiah is concerned. Where Rupiah is concerned, it seems the right to equality before the law, or equal protection of the law as it is often phrased, does not apply. But we know that this principle is fundamental to any just and democratic society. It seems in Zambia today, we have electoral rules that apply only to Rupiah’s opponents while none apply to him.
Rupiah doesn’t seem restricted in any way by electoral rules. He can do what he wants without being questioned by anybody. The Electoral Commission seems helpless when it comes to Rupiah and his misdeeds or violations of the electoral code. But the rule of law requires that whether politically powerful or weak, we should all be equal before the law, we should all be entitled to equal protection before the law.
We appreciate that no one can guarantee that life will treat everyone equally. But under no circumstances should the Electoral Commission impose additional inequalities; it should deal with all the candidates and their supporters evenly and equally. But this is not the case today. Rupiah and his supporters appear to be above the law.
We are reminded that “every lawless act leaves an incurable wound, like one left by a double-edged sword” (Sirach 21:3).
Simply permitting the opposition presidential candidates access to the ballot is not enough. The rules and conduct of the election contest must be fair.
If what Rupiah has been doing was done by an opposition candidate, we have no doubt the Electoral Commission would have come out strong on them. But when it comes to Rupiah, their reaction is usually in the form of a generalised condemnation – trying to blame even the opposition candidates when they have not done anything wrong.
This type of behaviour is dangerous; it creates serious suspicions and dissention. It is not right to favour the guilty and keep the innocent from receiving justice (Proverbs 18:5). Rupiah is getting away with a lot of things, a lot of wrongs. And it is difficult to understand why the interests of an individual – Rupiah – should take precedence over the interests of the rest of the citizens of this country.
TIZ is right in its observation to the effect that the Electoral Commission’s inertia when it comes to Rupiah’s violations raises the question: “Why do we have an Electoral Code of Conduct if we cannot enforce it?”
And we agree with TIZ’s conclusion that the impunity Rupiah’s campaign team continues to show in the abuse of government resources is partly aided by the Electoral Commission’s inability to adequately carry out its duties.
It will be very difficult under these circumstances for the opposition candidates and their supporters to accept unfavourable results of the October 30 election because the Electoral Commission has failed to level the play field and to organise the electoral process in a manner that inspires confidence and dispels suspicions. The way the Electoral Commission has treated things so far leads to only one reaction: suspicion of rigging and other malpractices.
The way the Electoral Commission reacted or tried to explain the ballot papers that were nearly taken to Kalabo without their ‘knowledge and authority’ is frightening. It leaves any sensible and fair-minded person worried about their efficiency, effectiveness and ability to conduct elections in an orderly manner. If someone can drive in their stores, pick up ballot papers and drive away without their knowledge, how on earth can they expect anyone to have confidence in their ability to organise free and fair elections?
If anarchy follows this election, the first blame should go to the Electoral Commission. And the second one, should lie with Rupiah.
And probably it’s time the performance of the Electoral Commission management is reviewed. It is not enough to be changing chairpersons without paying attention to those who daily direct the operations of the Electoral Commission.
Poorly conducted elections are very dangerous. They are a recipe for anarchy.
We need to conduct our elections as openly as possible so that our people at the end of the elections have confidence in the results, in their accuracy and are left with no doubt that whoever has won has the majority support, was voted for by most of the voters.
We do appreciate the fact that democracy is in many ways nothing more than a set of rules for managing conflict. We say managing conflict because things do not sort themselves out, solutions have to be found to problems and conflicts have to be resolved by consensus and other acceptable means.
Conflicts or disagreements over how the elections must be conducted need to be managed within certain limits and result in compromises, consensus or other agreements that all sides accept as legitimate. An overemphasis on one side of the equation, an overprotection of those in government, can threaten the entire undertaking. If our candidates and their supporters perceive democracy as nothing more than a forum in which they can press their interests, do or die as Mbita Chitala said, we are in trouble, anarchy may soon engulf our country.
It shouldn’t be forgotten that this democracy we are pursuing is not a machine that runs by itself once the proper principles and procedures are inserted. A democratic society needs the commitment of citizens who accept the inevitability of conflicts as well as the necessity for tolerance, compromise and consensus.
It is said that democracy is not a set of revealed, unchanging truths, but the mechanism by which, through the clash and compromise of ideas, individuals and institutions, the people can, however imperfectly, reach for truth.
As we have stated before, the ability to conduct free, fair and honest elections is at the core of what it means to call a society democratic.
Casting a vote for a presidential candidate of our choice on October 30, in itself, guarantees us nothing. It offers instead the opportunity to succeed as well as the risk of failure.
Going to the polls is then both a promise and a challenge. It is a promise that if we work together in the spirit of love and tolerance, we can elect representatives who will help us govern our country’s affairs in a manner that will serve our aspirations for personal freedom, economic opportunity and social justice. It is a challenge because the success of such elections, of this democratic enterprise we have embarked upon rests upon our shoulders as citizens of this country and on no one else. In the end, we get a government we deserve.
For these reasons, we urge the Electoral Commission and Rupiah to mull over things and consider the feelings, the concerns of other stakeholders, of fellow citizens over the manner in which they are conducting this presidential election. We know Rupiah wants to win, and justifiably so, but it shouldn’t be at any cost – at the cost of igniting the sparks of anarchy in this country.
As for the Electoral Commission, there has to be an admission that all is not as it should be in the manner they are conducting this election. There are clear manifestations of inefficiency, ineffectiveness, lack of orderliness and sometimes dishonesty in the way they are managing things. This needs to be corrected and corrected very quickly because time, although of essence, is not on their side. Public mistrust in them – as a result of their inefficiency, ineffectiveness, disorderliness and sometimes dishonesty – is starting to run very high.
All efforts should be made to restore public confidence in their work. As things stand today, it will be very difficult for the opposition to accept defeat on October 30. This is not a conducive atmosphere for holding such important and highly competitive elections. We say this because these elections are not symbolic – they are competitive and the president of this country is supposed to be decided by the voters of Zambia on October 30.
And these elections are not about the political survival of Rupiah and his sponsors, they should be for the good of the people and our country. If the spirit of this primacy of the common good were to animate Rupiah and his sponsors and those in charge of the affairs of the Electoral Commission, we would not witness elections that leave the public dismayed and disheartened.
We should therefore ensure that this coming presidential election is held or conducted in national interest for the good of all our people and not necessarily for the good of the candidates or one of them – Rupiah.
Anarchy can be avoided by doing everything in the most transparent and accountable manner. There should be nothing secret about this election.
The only exception should be the casting of the vote itself – everything else should be transparent for all to see or verify. This is the only way we will ensure a free and fair election that will be accepted and respected by all our people – winners and losers alike.
Sata accuses Rupiah of being provocative
By Patson Chilemba in Mkushi
Saturday October 18, 2008 [04:00]
No bullet will stop us, declared Patriotic Front (PF) president Michael Sata yesterday. Reacting to Vice-President Rupiah Banda's threats to deal with Sata or any other person who will not accept the results of the forthcoming presidential elections, Sata warned that the Vice-President was taking the most provocative and dangerous path.
He vowed that Zambians would not allow Vice-President Banda to rape the country through empty threats to deal with anyone who would dispute the October 30 presidential elections.
He said he was aware that there were manoeuvres by the government to rig elections. However, Sata said Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) chairperson justice Florence Mumba should be allowed to conduct a free and fair election.
Sata said Vice-President Banda could not have issued the threats if he were not assured of rigging.
"They lied about VJ. We have information," Sata said. "In 2006, I did not want to embarrass the incumbent. Rupiah Banda is not an incumbent. Rupiah Banda has been rejected by his own party.
This is evidenced wherever he has gone as Acting President, he's not accompanied by ministers."
Sata said the normal way of running government was that the president should be flanked by a deputy minister or one or two Cabinet ministers.
"But in Northern Province, he was flanked by Sakwiba Sikota and Nevers Mumba. Where was Lameck Chibombamilimo Northern Province minister?" Sata asked.
He maintained that he would not accept 'rigged' election results and that Vice-President Banda was using Dr Kenneth Kaunda's language of detaining people without trial.
He said Zambians would not be intimidated because time had come to stop rigging once and for all.
"Rupiah Banda can run to Zimbabwe where he was born. This is our country and we are not going to allow Rupiah Banda to rape this country," Sata said. "So they must take this warning seriously. No bullet will stop us.
On the last minute directive by Vice-President Banda to reduce the price of fertiliser from K200,000 to K50,000 per 50 kilogramme bag, Sata said this was the old UNIP gimmick of reducing prices during an election.
"We don't want ad hoc measures. Today he says he will reduce and after elections we will again pay more. They should wait for PF because fertiliser will be free," he said.
And Lusaka businessman Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba popularly known as GBM revealed that two of his buses were in the early hours of yesterday morning stoned by MMD cadres in Serenje area where PF had earlier held a mammoth rally on Thursday. He said desperation was creeping into the MMD.
And Sata said it was sad that political opportunism has blinded 'once upon a time' men of integrity like pastor Nevers Mumba, Sakwiba Sikota and Akashambatwa Mbikusita-Lewanika from condemning the blatant abuse of public resources by Vice-President Banda's campaign team.
He said it was sad to see people who were once hailed for their anti-corruption stance join hands with Vice-President Banda whose image was dented with corruption.
Sata said it was sad that pastor Mumba, Sikota, Aka and many others had thrown their principles to the wind. He said these people were part of the alarming abuse of public resources by Vice-President Banda.
"It is sad that people who are not even MMD members like Sakwiba Sikota and Ben Mwila are using public resources to campaign for Rupiah Banda. People like Jeff Kaande, even though it is immoral, can ask for a lift from Rupiah Banda but not Ben Mwila and Sakwiba Sikota. They belong to other parties...," Sata said.
"MMD can't prove if these people are being looked after using MMD money or government money. Sakwiba Sikota thinks going round with Rupiah Banda will help him for 2011, but it can't. In fact, he is not even making any impact and he will never make any impact."
Sata said pastor Mumba should consider resigning from the church because apart from embarrassing the church, he was a false pastor. He said pastor Mumba was holding the Bible in one hand while embracing corruption in the other.
"Nevers Mumba's presidential ambition is misplaced. And I understand why Levy Mwanawasa fired him. It was because he saw his naked ambition to be president," Sata said.
And addressing a huge rally in Samfya on Thursday, Sata pleaded with the people to forgive him for having adopted Joseph Kasongo. He said PF would in future adopt people who stayed in their constituencies and of high principles.
Sata promised that PF would be distributing fertiliser free of charge using chiefs and their headmen.
"And the ones charging fish levy, let them create their own river and put their fish there," said Sata to a loud applause.
In Serenje, Sata said PF would embark on massive construction of secondary schools. He said education should be for all people in the country.
Labels: RUPIAH BANDA, SATA
Contractor abandons a K319 million project in Gwembe
October 15, 2008
A named contractor constructing the K319 million community ice plant in Gwembe district has allegedly abandoned works, bringing the project to a standstill. This is despite the fact that the government had fully paid the contractor for the project.
Speaking in an interview with ZANIS shortly after a tour of the site today, Gwembe District Commissioner, Dorothy Hamvula, expressed concerns over the delays in the completion of the project which was supposed to have been commissioned in June this year.
“This project was supposed to have been commissioned in June this year, but according to information I have received, the contractor has not been on site since March this year, this is despite the fact that he has been paid in full for the whole project,” she lamented.
Ms. Hamvula wondered why the named contractor was paid in full before the completion of the project.
She explained that at first, the contractor had cited delays by ZESCO to erect power lines at the site as the reason for the delayed completion.
“At first the contractor said he could not complete the project because ZESCO had not yet powered the site, but now ZESCO has done its part, but the contractor has not been on site for more than six months now,” she explained.
A check by ZANIS at the project site revealed that very little progress has been made, with the wiring and plumbing not yet completed, while the plastering of the buildings housing the ice machine and the offices were partially done.
This is despite all the necessary materials to complete the project being readily available on site.
The contractor only did a bit of chiseling of the walls for the wiring. The ice machine has not yet been connected to the power supply.
The named contractor, who was awarded the contract by the Justice for Solidarity Poverty Reduction Funds (JSPRF) early last year, has been away from the project site for more than six months, and was allegedly seen in Lusaka and Sesheke, where he was awarded another project.
Once completed, the Chipepo Ice plant project would benefit both local and general fish traders by providing refrigeration and cold room services to traders who store or transport fish to other parts of the country.
Labels: BOONDOGGLES, CONTRACTORS, DEVELOPMENT
Rupiah is panicking, says HH
By Zumani Katasefa in Chingola
Saturday October 18, 2008 [04:01]
UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema has charged that Vice-President Rupiah Banda is panicking to win the October 30 presidential election. And unruly Patriotic Front (PF) cadres on Thursday nearly disrupted a mammoth UPND rally held at Chingola's Kaunda Square in Chiwempala.
In an interview on Thursday after he addressed a series of rallies on the Copperbelt, Hichilema said the government's decision to reduce the price of fertiliser was a clear indication that Vice-President Banda was panicking to win the election.
"Rupiah Banda is panicking, he is just emulating the UPND manifesto. Things are bad for Banda, image builders are not working for him, that is why he is now panicking," said Hichilema.
He said reducing the price of fertiliser during an election period was tantamount to corruption.
"The MMD is confused; why reduce the price of fertiliser around this time? Twachula pafula, MMD kuya bebela," he said.
He said people on the Copperbelt had realised that it was only the UPND that could transform the country's economy.
"You saw the rallies that I held on the Copperbelt I challenge Banda to come here and see how many people will attend his rallies," he said.
He said once UPND formed government, people would be given free fertiliser for three years to ensure increased food production in the country.
Hichilema refused to comment on the outcome of the Kanchibiya parliamentary by-election where the PF emerged victorious.
And commenting on the behaviour of PF cadres who caused disturbance at his rally, Hichilema said the cadres' behaviour clearly reflected who their leader was.
He warned Copperbelt residents not to vote for leaders who would fan trouble in the country.
"But we are not worried about the behaviour of PF cadres, they were just jealous of our mammoth rallies on the Copperbelt, that is why they decided to come and disturb us," he said.
He said PF cadres failed to disrupt the rally despite their frantic efforts to do so.
The PF cadres gathered on Chiwempala road near where Hichilema was addressing his rally and started chanting PF slogans and raising their fists.
The cadres mostly taxi and minibus drivers also honked as they drove past the UPND rally, as police officers watched them helplessly.
The behaviour annoyed the UPND leaders who started exchanging bitter words with the PF cadres and threatened to beat them if they continued with their behaviour.
UPND national deputy chairman for cooperatives Fred Chimuka condemned the police for watching the cadres misbehave.
At the rally, Hichilema promised to sort out dirty water in Chingola.
Hichilema urged people not to vote for PF leader Michael Sata or Vice-President Banda saying they were too old and had no ideas to bring about meaningful development to Zambia.
In Mpongwe during a courtesy call on chieftainess Malembeka at her palace, Hichilema said he was happy to be received by the chieftainess in her area adding that once he formed government, he would partner with the traditional leaders in achieving national development.
At chieftainess Lesa's palace, the UPND leader told chieftainess Lesa that he respects tradition as he was also a village head from the village he hails from.
He said he wants to improve the living stands of Zambians including chiefs once his party forms government.
Hichilema said he would improve the chiefs' palaces and ensure that they had better infrastructure and clean water.
At chief Ndubeni's palace, Hichilema explained to the chief through an interpreter that once voted into office, his government would work closely with traditional leaders in various areas.
He said chiefs would be involved in fertiliser distribution to the grassroots.
Hichilema added that once in power, he would improve the medical sector and build clinics and hospitals in all parts of the country.
Labels: HAKAINDE HICHILEMA, RUPIAH BANDA
Kabwe admits being well connected to Chiluba's govt
By Inonge Noyoo
Saturday October 18, 2008 [04:01]
ACCESS Financial Services Limited (AFSL) executive director Faustin Kabwe has said he was well connected to government during the reign of former president Frederick Chiluba. And the court yesterday heard that AFSL, Zambia Security and Intelligence Services (ZSIS) and others intended to own 49 per cent shares in Ndola Lime while Daniel Israel, director of Kwachamania, and other foreign investors would own the remaining shares.
This is a case in which Chiluba is separately charged with AFSL directors Kabwe and Aaron Chungu for theft of about US$488,000.
In his cross-examination led by prosecution lawyer Mutembo Nchito, Kabwe agreed to the evidence of Robert Standard in the International Court of Arbitration that he was well connected with government under the presidency of Chiluba.
He said he had various business encounters with Standard in Zambia.
Kabwe said Standard was part of the team that were the preferred bidders for Ndola lime's privatization and were supposed to partner with ZSIS, AFSL and other foreign and local investors in its acquisition.
He said he undertook to interface with local authorities as well as their active support and co-operation on all levels concerning activities of Israel and other investors.
Kabwe said the interface was to allow Kabwe to obtain all required information whether published or not.
He said he also undertook to ensure government protection of interest, positive attitude and co-operation with activities concerning Israel's group.
Kabwe said his company's role was to obtain information published or not that Israel and his foreign partners required from government and other existing companies.
Asked how he was going to manage to obtain unpublished information which could be of interest to Israel and his group when he was just a private citizen, Kabwe said he had a way of getting information from the government of the day whenever he required it.
Kabwe in the memorandum undertook to take all necessary measure to ensure that Israel was granted a license for instant lotto.
Kabwe was also undertaking to provide Israel with published or non published information on other companies wanting to set up lottery business in Zambia and provide proposal from other competing cooperation.
And Kabwe yesterday said according to the memorandum for the acquisition of Ndola Lime, AFSL had made an undertaking that Standard and his team would transfer 100 per cent shares to Israel's group who would in turn transfer the 49 per cent shares to AFSL and ZSIS.
Kabwe said in simple terms, Israel's group comprising multinational entrepreneurs intended to own the majority shares.
Asked if there was any agreement for the US$20 million Ndola Lime acquisition on how it was going to be shared among the parties involved, Kabwe said there was none.
And Ndola High Court deputy registrar sitting as Lusaka magistrate Jones Chinyama has allowed the state to use whatever evidence at its disposal to rebut the evidence of the defence as long as the documents are relevant.
Magistrate Chinyama allowed the state to refer or submit evidence that was used in the International Court of Arbitration as long as it was relevant.
This was after the three accused's lawyer John Sangwa objected to Nchito's use of Standard's evidence deposed in the International Court of Arbitration.
Sangwa objected to the use of statement, saying the prosecution cannot refer to evidence used in a civil matter in a criminal matter.
Labels: ACCESS FINANCIAL SERVICES, CHILUBA, FAUSTIN KABWE, KWACHAMANIA, ZSIS
Accusations of tribalism rock MMD
By Masuzyo Chakwe
Saturday October 18, 2008 [04:01]
The husband of losing MMD Kanchibiya parliamentary candidate Judith Kapijimpanga, Davies has accused community development minister Catherine Namugala and Northern Province MMD chairman Griever Sikasote of practising tribalism and being behind his wife's loss.
But Namugala said she did not want to respond to Davies because he did not hold any position in the MMD.
In an interview yesterday, Davies accused Namugala and Sikasote of being tribalists. He said his wife was totally abandoned by her own party.
"No one was sent there to go and campaign the way they did with the Milanzi by-election and even if resources were sent, she needed human resource; people who were going to be helping her there.
PF literally camped there, all the PF MPs camped in Kanchibiya. None of our MPs from Northern Province camped there. And the reason is very simple. It is people like Catherine Namugala and Griever Sikasote who think that Northern Province only belongs to their tribe because they are tribalists," Davies said.
He said from the beginning, Namugala and Sikasote never wanted Kapijimpanga to be close to the hierarchy of Northern Province because they think it belonged to them only.
"And if you remember at one time, Namugala was even fired by Mwanawasa because she made announcement that ‘Aba bemba baliteka pafula’ (Bemba's have ruled for many years) and Mwanawasa didn't like people who were full of tribalism and she was fired at some point and the only time she was re-appointed is when Richard Kachingwe (former MMD deputy national secretary) went to plead with the president and pleaded that 'No, Your Excellency people wont look at this as a good point because we are talking about 30 per cent women representation'," Davies said.
"That's how Namugala came to government, but she made it a point that she decampaigned my wife. Even when the adoption process started, she said 'I would rather support a dog than Judith Kapijimpanga’. So how are we going to be in a party where people are going to be selective in their dealings?"
Davies said Namugala was not a person of integrity and he had no apologies to make on this issue. He dared Namugala to challenge him on this score if she felt that she was a person of high morals and integrity.
"I know a lot about her and let her dare me. Namugala thinks she is a very intelligent person. She is not intelligent. I am not making excuses. Even Griever Sikasote has been misleading Rupiah Banda that Northern Province is okay, but there it is.
That by-election is not the true reflection of what the people wanted. Judy would have won the election if they had supported her but they never supported her, they never! It is the likes of Griever Sikasote and I am not making apologies to anyone: Namugala and Sikasote are behind my wife's loss.
Not that the people of Kanchibiya didn't want her, they are the ones who were decampaigning her. They didn't want her in the beginning, they wanted a lady called Patricia Mukwala to be the candidate," he said.
Davies said if people like Namugala surrounded Vice-President Banda, then MMD was in trouble. He said Vice-President Banda needed people with morals to surround him.
"I am not going to sit down and see MMD being wrecked by restless people. We are true supporters of MMD. I personally started MMD with my uncle Mr Humphrey Mulemba and I am still here. I am a true supporter of MMD and I have never changed from supporting MMD.
I supported the late president Mwanawasa from the first to last day and I am going to continue supporting MMD on that issue, but if we are going to have reckless people like Namugala coming and destroying Northern Province because of their own benefits, then we are in trouble.
Ask her where her integrity is. Even Sikasote has got no morals. I am not going to be a diplomat like Mrs Kapijimpanga," he said.
Davies said only desperate people could do desperate things and that was why Namugala would hoodwink people not to go to Kanchinbiya and campaign for Kapijimpanga.
He said PF president Michaela Sata knew that Kapijimpanga was a credible candidate.
"Ask Sata, he will tell you that Judy has performed in Kanchibiya. She was one of the few MPs in MMD that worked because if you go to Kanchibiya today, you will see clinics, roads and developmental projects," he said.
Davies said Namugala knew that if Kapijimpanga won the election, she had no chance of being given a ministerial job. He said president Mwanawasa appointed Namugala as a minister because he had a limited choice.
"How many women won the elections but if he had a choice he would have appointed a woman of integrity even where he lies, may his soul rest in peace. People of Northern Province must learn. There should be no tribalism. When making a programme for Rupiah Banda for Northern Province, they didn't want to go to Kanchibiya.
They wanted Rupiah to first go to Isoka where Namugala comes from. I had to call them myself and ask 'You guys, what are you doing? Let's go to Kanchibiya, that's where the elections are'. I was questioning why the acting president wanted to go to Isoka and not Kanchibiya where the elections were," he said.
Davies said there was a lot of tribalism in Northern Province and the people who were practicing tribalism were Namugala and Sikasote and this could never be disputed. He said Mwanawasa knew this and that was why he never appointed Sikasote in any position during his tenure.
"They are just full of lies. You have seen how the MMD had taken a causual approach to Kanchibiya. They just said it was a PF stronghold, but that's not the reality on the ground. Go to Kanchibiya, we lost because we had no support. Judy was alone. She was like an orphan. No one supported her.
So MMD should not say that 'Judy was not popular, and Judy has caused us embarrassment'. They have caused themselves embarrassment. They never supported their candidate and I have no apologies to make to anyone," Davies said.
But when contacted for comment, Namugala said she would avoid discussing this issue, saying if she responded, she would be attacking Kapijimpanga who did not raise the matter.
She said looking at where Kapijimpanga had come from (the loss), she (Namugala) didn't want to start arguing with people.
"I don't think we should come to that. We have lost as a party and we are not happy with that so I think for me I don't think you should write that story because Davies Kapijimpanga doesn't hold a position in the party. It will not even help his wife," she said.
Namugala said looking at where her constituency was situated, she wondered how she could practice tribalism in Kanchibiya.
"You know where Muyombe is and where Kanchibiya is. How do I practice tribalism and how do I affect the outcome of the election in Kanchibiya?
I am very far from where Judy is and if I am not a factor, how does my not supporting her make Judy lose?
Those stories don't make sense and I think it is unfair for Mr Kapijimpanga to blame individuals for his wife's loss in Kanchibiya," Namugala said.
She said it was sad that Davies wanted to get personal over his wife's loss.
"I am very far and this is not the first time she lost; she lost in 2006. How does tribalism come in? There are no Tumbukas in Kanchibiya, so how does practicing tribalism make her lose in Kanchibiya? Namugala asked.
She said Northern Province had many tribes and she was not in any way trying to dominate any tribe in the province.
"So I don't think it is fair for any one to call another person a tribalist. Judy lost in 2006, did we have anything to do with that? So when he says we did not offer support I think that is very unfair.
We all wanted Judy to win. Personally, I know that Judy did a lot of developmental work in her constituency and we felt she can be given a chance to continue with those projects. So for Mr Kapijimpanga to say those things, it is being unfair and ungrateful," said Namugala.
Labels: CATHERINE NAMUGALA, GRIEVER SIKASOTE, JUDITH KAPIJIMPANGA, MMD, TRIBALISM
Suspicions of rigging worry TIZ
By Agness Changala
Saturday October 18, 2008 [04:01]
IT is imperative for the government, ECZ and stakeholders to commit themselves to an election which is transparent and free from corruption and suspicion of possible rigging, Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) has urged. And TIZ has advised Zambia to learn bitter lessons of neighbouring countries that have continued to exhibit scars of failed elections. TIZ president Reuben Lifuka said Zambians must conduct an election that is befitting the country's reputation as a pacesetter for democracy in the region.
“We should seek all opportunities that will unite us as opposed to the numerous and yet unwarranted circumstances that will divide us,” Lifuka said.
He said the October 30 presidential elections would be a litmus test for democracy, adding that all candidates without exception should be above board in their words and deeds.
And Lifuka said the open display of defiance by the MMD despite the existence of an explicit Electoral Code of Conduct was not only worrying but also set a bad example for all other political parties.
“Zambia cannot afford to be divided merely on account of an election,” he said.
Lifuka said the silence and desire by ECZ to unnecessarily defend their inaction were propelling electoral malpractices by different political parties, including the ruling MMD. He expressed concern over the continued abuse of government resources by Vice-President Rupiah Banda's campaign team.
Lifuka said the impunity that Vice-President Banda's campaign team continued to show in the abuse of government resources was partly aided by ECZ's inability to adequately carry out its duties.
“We would like ECZ to be more assertive in the discharge of its duties and we can rest assure them that they will have our support if they decide to nip in the bud all forms of electoral malpractices whether these are committed by the ruling party or the opposition political parties,” Lifuka said.
He said it defied logic to imagine that Vice-President Banda and his entourage needed not only three planes but also government department vehicles to drive around members of the campaign team and cadres.
“We have seen party operatives, sympathisers and image builders jumping on these presidential planes and yet ECZ has not provided appropriate guidelines,” said Lifuka.
“This inertia raises the questions, 'why do we have an Electoral Code of Conduct if we cannot enforce it'?
Lifuka also said TlZ desired an election aftermath which would be peaceful and a moment for all Zambians to congratulate the winner and enjoy a successful electoral process.
Labels: ELECTIONS, TIZ
Political criminals can't be allowed to rule - Mpombo
By Mutuna Chanda in Kalulushi
Saturday October 18, 2008 [04:00]
DEFENCE minister George Mpombo has charged that political criminals such as PF leader Michael Sata cannot be allowed to rule the country. And Mpombo said UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema was a political apprentice who required 'polio injections' and needed time to be weaned into political maturity.
Meanwhile, Mpombo said the MMD campaign team on the Copperbelt went on a rampage using door-to-door campaigns in wooing voters to elect Vice-President Rupiah Banda instead of the usual political rallies.
Addressing a handful of Chibuluma residents on Wednesday evening, Mpombo said Zambians should not experiment with leadership.
Mpombo, who spoke mostly in Lamba, told the residents that from late president Levy Mwanawasa's illness to his eventual death, there was peace and security in the nation because of Vice-President Banda's leadership.
He said Vice-President Banda had demonstrated that he had good leadership qualities, unlike Sata whose only record was that of being a colonial constable.
Mpombo urged Zambians not to waste time on Sata because he had no principles.
He described Sata's behaviour as someone who was unreliable, possessed and had poor judgment.
"Aikona ukutumpaika ku bantu iyoo; Ba president Kaunda, first Republican president balabile ukwebati yes Sata talingile ukuba pali bu president Sata inchito ingamulinga yabu district governor nabu deputy minister Do not be cheated by people; president Kaunda said that Sata was not fit to be president but the only job that suits him is that of district governor and deputy minister," Mpombo said.
Mpombo charged that Sata was borrowing money from foreigners and that once he assumed power he would mortgage the country to alien interests.
"Umunthu kuti aya mukuleta shani aba ku South Africa balemwensha ne ndeke? Nga ba Michael Sata bafunya kwisa indalama isha kuchita hire helicopter brand new ukufuma ku South Africa? He is selling, mortgaging the integrity, sovereignty of this country
How can someone go and get pilots from South Africa to fly him around? Where has Michael Sata gotten the money from to hire a brand new helicopter from South Africa?," Mpombo asked.
He charged that South Africans were bankrolling Sata's campaign and that if he were elected President, the country would return into the hands of whites who gave him the money.
And Mpombo said Hichilema had long way to go before he could assume the leadership of Zambia.
He charged that Hichilema had nothing to offer. He said Hichilema only had cheap political pride and was therefore wasting his time.
Mpombo also declared that MMD was on a rampage on the Copperbelt where it was aiming to get more votes than it did in the 2006 elections.
Mpombo said instead of addressing campaign rallies, MMD was moving door to door to convince people to vote for Vice-President Banda and that the picture in the October 30 polls would change against PF.
Labels: GEORGE MPOMBO
Bolivia, Venezuela, Paraguay and Argentina: threatened by one and the same enemy
by Guillermo Almeyra
Global Research, September 16, 2008
Things have reached boiling point in Bolivia, where right-wingers emboldened and encouraged by Washington have set out on an upsurge in violence likely to culminate in civil war. Venezuela, in turn, is facing a possible media-backed coup d’état also orchestrated in the United States. Paraguay’s Fernando Lugo warned of a coup in the making while the country is still under pressure from the State Department’s demands for the resignation of the Foreign Minister, whom the US accuses of being linked with Hezbollah and Hamas, and the IMF’s opposition to the Paraguayan government’s plans to tax soy exports.
For its part, Argentina is enmeshed in the Miami-based trial of a Venezuelan-American criminal who tried to smuggle $800,000 in a cash-stuffed suitcase into Buenos Aires. Despite the fact that the money was seized by and remains intact in the hands of Argentine customs officials, and after three requests for extradition so far unacknowledged by the US authorities, the FBI is playing into the Argentine right’s hands with claims that it was an outside –and thus illegal– operation to fund Cristina Fernández’s presidential campaign. In the meantime, the US reestablishes its Fourth Fleet, which will be in charge of patrolling not only Latin American coasts but also rivers flowing through Brazil, Uruguay, Ecuador, Venezuela, Argentina and Paraguay, under pretext of conducting anti-drug trafficking missions.
Bolivia expelled the U.S. Ambassador after proving he was aiding and abetting secessionist Media Luna (Half Moon) groups who block highways, tamper with the supply of natural gas to Brazil and Argentina, and threaten Paraguay. The same measure was taken in Venezuela, while Honduras has yet to accept the U.S. Ambassador’s credentials and Argentina made it known that it feels under attack. Latin America is on the alert as tensions rise in the continent.
Any government trying to keep at a safe distance from Washington is exposed to the danger of a growing US economic crisis and the fall in the price of oil and raw materials, which also boosts the struggle in each country between the bourgeoisie and the oppressed and the fight for state revenue and power between the capitalistic agricultural and financial sectors supported by foreign capital and the much weaker elements who, unlike the former, strive to foster their domestic markets and find ways to help the poor for that purpose.
While these sectors seek US support and the reformists and distributionists hesitate, all efforts to defend national development and sovereignty fall entirely on the shoulders of the indigenous, peasants, workers and poorest layers of the urban and rural middle class. This situation further exacerbates classist and racist discrimination by the ruling capitalists, who sometimes fool popular sectors into thinking they’re above the “Indians” or “Blacks” and therefore closer to their masters’ ideology. That’s what imperialists do: when unable to send the Marines, they engage their mass media in socio- and psychological warfare in the voice of their reactionary middle class. Washington sets in motion by remote control the most conservative ruling class elements in every country, as it did in Salvador Allende’s Chile.
Furthermore, McCain’s vice-presidential candidate –Alaska’s governor Sarah Palin– has just said that the U.S. must prepare for war with Russia (and ergo with Moscow’s ally China) as Washington refuels Cold War on a worldwide scale. Such is the origin of decisions to overthrow even capitalist governments if they fail to take sides with the Empire. Venezuela buys Russian weapons to defend itself, and Bolivia leans on Iran, which turns Presidents Hugo Chávez and Evo Morales into instant targets.
The Bolivian government has just declared a state of siege in Pando while holding talks with the right. However, even if the country is ruled by the left, the State is still owned by capital, like in Venezuela, where a part of the State apparatus plots against Chávez. Unobstructed by a corrupt legal system, the Bolivian right wing intends to sic the State on the indigenous president, and it will neither conciliate nor negotiate, because it counts on the racist and fascist masses of Santa Cruz and the backing of the State and the military. Therefore, State repression is the only way to tackle the right-wingers, impose respect for the Constitution, and supply the peasants with arms to protect helpless workers –as well as democracy itself– from being killed by racist mobs.
Bloodshed must be avoided as much as possible, and not everything should depend on soldiers and policemen. Yet, peasants have been killed, and those in uniform are beaten by racist gangsters who find in their total impunity an incentive to become more and more daring, while the armed forces are disheartened by the government’s political weakness and unable to deal with pro-coup tendencies. Chávez is right, then, to say he will get involved in any armed conflict intended to topple Evo Morales’s legitimate government. Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador and Peru also offered Morales their “unconditional, unlimited support”, as should all Latin American governments. On behalf of Juárez and Zapata, we must demand similar support from the Mexican government.
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Global Research Articles by Guillermo Almeyra
Labels: BOLIVIA, COLOUR REVOLUTIONS, NEOCONSERVATISM, NEOLIBERALISM, PARAGUAY, VENEZUELA
Chavez says "Comrade Bush" turns left in crisis
Wed Oct 15, 2008 10:35pm EDT
2007 CARACAS (Reuters) - Socialist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez mocked George W. Bush as a "comrade" on Wednesday, saying the U.S. president was a hard-line leftist for his government's intervention of major private banks in the U.S. financial crisis.
Chavez, who calls capitalism an evil and ex-Cuban leader Fidel Castro his mentor, ridiculed Bush for his plan for the federal government to take equity in American banks despite the U.S. right-wing's criticism of Venezuelan nationalizations.
"Bush is to the left of me now," Chavez told an audience of international intellectuals debating the benefits of socialism. "Comrade Bush announced he will buy shares in private banks."
Chavez, who has insulted Bush in the past as a drunkard or the devil, called him clueless on Wednesday. He accused him of simply parroting the words of his aides without understanding the new policies that rely on heavy state intervention.
"I am convinced he has got no idea what's going on," said Chavez, who has nationalized swaths of the OPEC nation's economy in recent years and is in negotiations to take over a Spanish bank in Venezuela.
Chavez lauds his nationalizations for allowing the state to refocus companies' activities on helping the poor rather than creating value for their shareholders.
The Bush administration, which has promoted free-market policies throughout Latin America, resisted taking equity in banks for weeks. But, faced with a spiraling financial crisis, it reversed course this week with a $250 billion plan.
Chavez, who the United States labels an autocrat, is popular among his supporters at home for criticizing Bush and sometimes wins praise abroad for voicing anti-U.S. opinions.
Despite the ideological differences between the two governments and the diplomatic sparring that led weeks ago to the countries expelling each other's ambassador, Venezuela remains a major oil supplier to the United States.
(Reporting by Patricia Rondon; Writing by Saul Hudson; Editing by Anthony Boadle)
Labels: CHAVEZ, GEORGE BUSH, NEOLIBERALISM
Zimbabweans must tolerate opposing political ideas
Reader opinion in response to columnist Dr. Philip Murombedzi
Fri, 17 Oct 2008 11:02:00 +0000
DEAR EDITOR – [In response to Philip Murombedzi’s article published today (see here)] Frankly, the behaviour of some of the MDC-T supporters belies their mantra that they are democrats.
Some of them would not recognize democracy if even it was staring them in the face. Their intolerance of opposing views is unbelievable, their insults are shocking, their tribalistic rhetoric is simply frightening.
MDC-T supporters should be careful that their actions do not tip the country into civil war. Yes, the majority of Zimbabweans question why all of a sudden MDC-T supporters such as David Coltart, Eddie Cross and Roy Bennett are crying more than the bereaved when they all had very significant roles during Ian Smith era to deny the Zimbabwean blacks their human rights.
All of a sudden these guys are democrats. A leopard never changes its spots. Black Zimbabweans extended a hand of reconciliation to these guys after independence and frankly, these guys' actions to date is a mockery of that gesture.
There are many Zimbabweans who would like to see Coltart, Cross and Bennett at the Hague for crimes against humanity. Threats against Murombedzi by MDC-T supporters should be strongly condemned.
Murombedzi is advised to report such low-lives to the authorities.
Murombedzi has a right to belong to Zanu PF and defend its values and beliefs just as MDC-T supporters are similarly allowed to do so.
Democracy is about engaging in peaceful debates and not violence, threats and hounding fellow Zimbabweans out of universities, jobs and countries just because they hold different political views.
Zimbabwe is for all of us irrespective of race, creed, political differences etc. Let us all build a peaceful and tolerant Zimbabwe.
Media 'wising up' to MDC tactics
Nyasha Nyakonda – Opinion
Fri, 17 Oct 2008 06:47:00 +0000
WHILE many voice the slogan "united we stand, divided we fall," few realize what is required to achieve unity—common purpose, goals, objectives, and fewer still are willing to surrender their personal ambitions, or perhaps their hidden agenda, for the good of the community. In Zimbabwe today, the requisite political organization needed to determine such goals and objectives does not exist.
Zimbabwe is home to a few thousand organizations representing the common interests of their member organizations, and this includes political organisations.
During the last decade, the MDC has had modest victories necessitated by informal and formal cooperation with other civil society and political (not necessarily party political) organizations, but the party has never fully acknowledged the support it received from these organisations.
In the power-sharing talks, the MDC has completely ignored and failed to acknowledge the input of those organisations that helped the party gain the successes it boasts of today; viz the white commercial farmers, the various students bodies, the media and the various bloggers and individuals who campaigned for change.
Yet such acknowledgement and recognition was required to move forward and define the next phase of the development of our country.
Prior to the 2000 elections and subsequent elections, several organizations announced their support for candidate Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party who won some unprecedented and unexpected seats in Parliament.
Now these organisations are asking: How was the decision to support Tsvangirai made, and what did we get in return for our support? Should civil society, the independent media and other political groups support issues, rather than a party or presidential candidate? What are the goals and objectives of the MDC in its claim to represent us? What are the sources and uses of funds received by the MDC and do they benefit the common people? Is the MDC concerned about the suffering masses or about the welfare of party loyalists?
The answers are not forthcoming.
And while our organizations are ignored, our criticism is getting ahead. The only way now left to our sidelined organisations is to beat the MDC at its own game, but not by merely working harder for change or recognition, but by also working smarter.
We, in the media realize that the MDC sidelines us when it is seeing better days, but runs to us when the going gets tough. We will work much smarter in future and expose the MDC for what it really is.
[Nyasha Nyakonda is a media professional. This name is a pseudonym as he prefers to remain anonymous.]
Zim deal a blow to South African industry - report
Fri, 17 Oct 2008 07:08:00 +0000
ZIMBABWE’S power-sharing deal which is now very imminent is likely to exacerbate South Africa’s already strained human-resources situation, Ernst & Young mining sector leader Adrian Macartney said on Wednesday. An Ernst & Young concluded that the global mining industry is facing a critical shortage of staff with the requisite skills.
Macartney urged the mining industry to continue developing staff despite the current turmoil in global financial markets which has seen unemployment in the UK soar to 1.7 million from just 950, 000 people last year.
The report entitled, “Attracting Workers to the Mines and Retaining Them” concluded that South Africa will find itself with a “a bit of a hole to fill” if Zimbabweans returned home after the deal is signed.
The study also concluded that South Africa witnessed a departure of one-third of the its engineers over the past 40 years and shortages were in all levels of the mining industry. The shortages were dealing a huge blow on the productivity of South Africa’s mining industry.
The mining industry in the country is also affected by fast growth in Russia, China and India who are now competing with the Southern African country. There is also insufficient new graduates to fill the posts in the mining industry and an ageing work force in the country.
The report also says that South Africa’s HIV/Aids rate is affecting the productivity of industry in general, but especially the mining sector – one of South Africa’s chief foreign currency earner and which claims a large chunk of the country Gross National Product.
South Africa also has a legacy of poor education for 90% of the population, at a time of massive resources-sector demand.
Australia and Canada are also affected by skills shortages requiring an additional 80 000 workers and 70 000 respectively, to meet their mining industry’s projected needs.
In Canada, 40% of the mining work force would retire by 2014.
Staff turnover was also high, Australia’s the highest ranging from 20% to 45%, depending on location.
The South African mining industry is also facing competition for engineers from the booming construction industry, according to the report.
The report suggested looking outside the mining industry and attracting people with general, rather than specific skill sets, and opening up the sector to a broader demographic (to include women)..
The effective participation of women in the sector was currently low, in Australia women making up only 18% of the work force in mining, compared with 45% of the total work force.
Labels: MINING, ZIMBABWE
The era of de-regulation in financial services is over
By Victor Chimbwanda
Posted to the web: 15/10/2008 14:20:32
SINCE the East Asia Financial Crisis of 1997, financial regulators across the world have been adopting global standards in an attempt to detect, prevent and contain national, regional and global financial crises. These standards have been increasingly incorporated into domestic laws by respective governments in order to address weaknesses that exist in financial systems.
While the development of these standards presented a case for legal reform in emerging economies, the current global credit crisis has exposed the inadequacies of the regulatory frameworks used to monitor global financial markets to prevent liquidity crises. Hence, it is no longer emerging economies that are vulnerable but the entire global financial system.
This has put the entire global economy at risk. It has become necessary, therefore, for current regulatory frameworks to be revamped in order to close the loopholes that gave room to rogue traders and unscrupulous bankers in Wall Street that created the current liquidity crisis.
Banks over the years have been involved in risky off-balance sheet activities that are beyond regulatory control. Through a process called securitisation, they would off-load part of these risky business activities to special investment vehicles (SIVs) that would trade on the international financial markets with little or no regulation at all. This business strategy known in financial jargon as the “originate and distribute model” is less risky for the banks but has the capacity to bring huge profits.
It has always been the unwritten rule that banks and institutions that engage in such activities should not expect liquidity support of the central banks in times of crisis because of what is referred to as “moral hazard”.
What triggered the credit crisis was that risks associated with such activities which were supposed to be borne by investors found their way back onto the balance sheets of banks that “originated” them when the financial markets ran into a liquidity problem as a result of the 2007 US mortgage crisis.
These off-balance sheet activities created very complex financial instruments (securities) that could be traded in financial markets across the globe. So complex were they that they failed to absorb all the risk as had been contemplated.
What this meant was that when there’s a crisis in the financial markets, banks had no option but to support these SIVs. This inevitably put banks under tremendous strain. They needed adequate financial resources to sustain this sudden need for liquidity. But because banks borrow short and lend long, short-term assets are transformed into long ones which means that when there’s a shortfall to cover immediate liquidity needs, banks have to borrow from each other.
Because all major banks were experiencing the exact same challenges owing to the risky securitised transactions, they became unwilling to lend to each other because they needed to hold on to their resources and avoid compounding their own liquidity problems.
Under normal circumstances, banks would be able to raise money from the financial markets but they have been failing to do so because investors withdrew their money since they were not willing to be exposed to the “toxic” US mortgage securities that lost value on the financial markets when it was discovered that some mortgage lenders had given mortgages to borrowers who had no means to repay such loans. These are the so-called “subprime mortgages”.
The argument therefore is whether the institutions confronted with such liquidity problems should be guaranteed liquidity support by central banks when it’s clear that they took on too much risk? Sounds familiar?
This is precisely what the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe had to deal with during the banking crisis of 2003-4 when several banks that had engaged in risky practices bordering on illegality were no longer able to fund their operations. [Please refer to my article of 10/10/2008]. As we reflect on this issue in light of the on-going global liquidity crisis, there is need to address the question, how best can such crises be avoided?
Writing for the International Law Journal, a renowned expert and academic, Prof. J. Norton (1999) observed that financial crises in recent times reflect deficiencies in the legal frameworks that support various economic, financial and commercial systems.
Addressing problems in the financial sector in particular, such as corruption and irregularities in the liberalisation process, he argues that all these weaknesses are a result of law-based failures and that there is a need for “meaningful bottom-up economic, financial and commercial law reform throughout emerging and transition economies”. As I have noted above, this is no longer a problem unique to emerging economies because the ongoing financial crisis started in the US.
What is important is that Prof. Norton goes on to acknowledge the role of legal education as a part of this reforming process.
There is need, therefore, for effective and relevant training programmes to be developed that will target central bank employees, bankers, lawyers, accountants, auditors and even parliamentarians who will be instrumental in contributing to this much needed reform.
The significant developments in the financial services sector as well as in corporate and commercial law are being influenced by a growing literature of global principles and standards promulgated by various international institutions and committees such as the Basle Committee on Banking Supervision. Many of these committees have representatives on the Financial Stability Forum (FSF) that was established by G7 Ministers and Governors in 1999 after the East Asia Financial Crisis.
The FSF was mandated to “strengthen the surveillance and supervision of the international financial system…. to assess issues and vulnerabilities affecting the global financial system and to identify and oversee actions needed to address the problems identified”.
All the weaknesses in our banking system such as financial mismanagement, inadequate or lack of disclosure, structural deficiencies (under-capitalisation), corruption (misappropriation of depositor funds) which the RBZ has had to deal with in 2004, form the thrust of the work of the Basle Committee whose recommended standards have been ignored by many regulators across the world.
It must be mentioned that all these issues, particularly corruption, were at the heart of the East Asian Financial Crisis in 1997, which attracted the intervention of the IMF in order to contain what would have become a global crisis.
According to the 2008 Growth Report, “corruption must be fought vigorously and visibly. Government leaders send powerful signals about values and the limits of acceptable behaviour when they decide on how to respond to cases of misbehaviour”.
In the same context, the then Managing Director of The IMF in1998 called for the modernisation of the legal and regulatory environment. In this respect, it is also worth repeating the famous quote by the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe; “We call upon our legislators to come up with stringent statutes that punitively fight corruption and all its shadows.”
Recently, the group of 30 central bankers and regulators led by Paul Volcker, former Federal Reserve chairman, also admitted that there is need for considerable regulatory reform in many countries.So, while the current financial crisis is being addressed, relevant authorities must adopt a law-based approach to eliminate problems that are inherent in the financial sector.
The era of de-regulation and liberalisation of the financial services sector is certainly over.
The writer is currently conducting research for his PhD thesis on Central Banking and Banking Regulation. He can be contacted on e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Labels: DEREGULATION, FINANCIAL CRISIS
By denying Tsvangirai peace prize, Nobel Foundation preserved its integrity
By Obert Madondo
Last updated: Thu, 16 Oct 2008 01:13:53 GMT
SO, ZIMBABWE’S Prime Minister-designate, Morgan Tsvangirai, lost the coveted 2008 Nobel Peace Prize to former Finnish president Artti Ahtisaari? What rank nonsense! Tsvangirai may never have been on the coveted 2008 shortlist to begin with.
We have a potential Zimbabwe Nobelgate scandal here. Tsvangirai’s supporters may have exploited the biggest weakness inherent in the Nobel Prize institution – secrecy – to elevate him to the rank of Jimmy Carter, Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama and other great global peace icons.
Each year, the respective Nobel Committees distribute nomination forms to an undisclosed number of recipients who pick nominees. These nominees include past winners, prominent institutions, academics and respected members of the field.
Nobel Foundation statutes forbid the disclosure of information about nominees. Only winners in each category – physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, peace and economics - are announced.
The 2008 Peace Prize list reportedly had 197 nominees, comprised of 33 organisations and 167 individuals. Candidates reportedly included Irish singer, songwriter and political activist, Bob Geldof and Chinese dissident, Hu Jia.
The secrecy presents a quandary for Tsvangirai’s supporters. The nominator can only step forward with the evidence that Tsvangirai was on the list at the risk of betraying the Nobel Foundation’s trust.
By implication, Tsvangirai’s critics can posit a compelling argument that his nomination may have been manufactured.
For argument’s sake, I’m willing to consider that someone in the West may have successfully nominated Tsvangirai. Acceptable nominators include “members of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague and of the International Court of Justice at The Hague” and “university professors of history, political science, law, etc, and university presidents and directors of peace research institutes and institutes of international affairs”.
There’s a personal vested interest here. The Hague hungers for Mugabe. Over the last ten years, the intellectuals in the second category have created an irretrievable, larger-than-life evil persona of Mugabe through books, university lectures and media analyses.
It is possible that someone nominated Tsvangirai in retaliation for the spectacular failure of the West’s regime-change project. Maybe the nominator hoped to land a cheap political punch at Mugabe? In 1989, the peace prize was awarded the Dalai Lama, a decision lauded as a “slap at China”.
Or maybe someone genuinely believed Tsvangirai deserved the most prestigious prize in the world? They are wrong. Tsvangirai might have shown extra-ordinary courage in confronting Mugabe’s dictatorship, but he is no Nobel Prize material.
His popularity in the West derives more from being regularly roughed up by Mugabe rather than for bringing substance to the democratic process.
Let’s take a quick analysis of the history of the Nobel Peace Prize and the man’s political career.
Time Magazine suggests that the prize has “peace and security roots” and often favours individuals in the “international peace and security industry”. Time further notes that “it's not unusual for the Nobel Committee to honour individuals from that industry in order to draw attention to the importance of the work of the institutions they represent.”
The magazine suggests that the 2005 prize went to Dr. Mohammed ElBaradei to highlight the importance of the International Atomic Energy Agency's work in monitoring nuclear proliferation “two years after the Bush Administration blundered into Iraq, pooh-poohing the IAEA's finding that Iraq had no nuclear weapons”.
Kofi Annan, then United Nations Secretary General, was awarded the prize in 2001 “to affirm the importance of international law and consensus following the shock of 9/11.”
The Nobel Peace Prize has also sought to impact global civil society. In 1990, it was awarded to Russian President, Mikhail Gorbachev, who engineered the collapse of the Soviet Union and helped change the course of history.
Local efforts with global implications were evidently in the spotlight when the South African pair of Nelson Mandela and F.W. De Klerk, and Kenya’s Wangari Maathai, won the prize in 1993 and 2004, respectively.
The prize has also drawn attention to courageous individuals who have shown courage, inspiration and leadership in the face of violent repression. Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, is one example.
All these examples have “inspiring leadership” and “global implication” as qualifying pre-requisites.
To paraphrase Shakespeare, there are three types of great leaders: leaders who are born with greatness; leaders who achieve greatness and leaders who have greatness thrust upon them.
There’s nothing in Tsvangirai’s humble upbringing to suggest that he was born with greatness. He is yet to achieve greatness.
Stephen Chan, author of “Citizen of Africa: Conversations with Morgan Tsvangirai”, describes the PM-designate as “a hit-and-miss politician… prone to periods of wayward and ineffectual leadership”.
Chan only partially sums up the stagnated democratic struggles of the last nine years. Tsvangirai’s is an impressive history of failures.
Remember his famous call for the violent overthrow of Mugabe before the 2002 presidential poll? The election came and Mugabe stole it. In 2002, Tsvangirai pledged to unseat Mugabe “within a year”. The crippling mass protests and boycotts subsequently promised never materialised.
Tsvangirai’s dictatorial leadership and violent crackdown of dissent facilitated the 2005 split of the MDC. His failure to heal the rift and galvanise democratic forces around him cost Zimbabweans outright victory against Mugabe in the March 29 Presidential election. He won the first round but lost every contest.
After the election Tsvangirai went on self-imposed exile, putting his personal safety above the welfare of his supporters. Returning from exile, he promised a “rude shock for Mugabe” that never materialised.
Need I say more?
Tsvangirai’s jinxed politics have now contaminated the current inclusive government, condemning it to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). With an inflation rate of present (231 million per cent), the Zimbabwe of Robert Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, is burning, her spine broken.
Tsvangirai belongs with the group of leaders who have greatness thrust upon them.
The Nobel Peace Prize has often been linked to the anniversary of some significant event. The 2008 Prizes coincide with the 60th Anniversary of the signing of the UN Declaration of Human Rights.
Could Tsvangirai’s nomination have been designed to associate him with the noble struggle for human rights? Tsvangirai is no human rights champion. By signing the power-sharing agreement, Tsvangirai invited Zimbabweans to worship the same devil he condemned yesterday. After signing the agreement, he declared that Mugabe will not be prosecuted for crimes against humanity.
Those who may accept this undeserved immunity for Mugabe for the sake of national unity and progress had another rude awakening. For the MDC, prosecuting other alleged human rights abusers in Mugabe’s Zanu PF, including the military chiefs, is tantamount to sabotaging its future.
What a way to rubbish Gukurahundi, Murambatsvina and all the innocent lives the Mugabe dictatorship consumed over the last 28 years? Maybe Tsvangirai is just admitting that he is just an accidental by-product of Mugabe’s dictatorship, without the political substance of his own? Without Mugabe, there would be no Tsvangirai.
Over the last nine years, Mugabe has been demonised and associated with everything and everyone evil. A parallel campaign has sought to prop up Tsvangirai’s image by portraying him as Mugabe’s exact opposite. While Mugabe was busy destroying Zimbabwe, Tsvangirai was the “man who embodies Zimbabwe’s hope for change”, a democrat.
The West imposed sanctions on Mugabe while simultaneously sponsoring ‘events’ in Zimbabwe aimed at ‘discrediting’ Mugabe. Last week US Ambassador, James McGee inadvertently confirmed that he was among Tsvangirai’s top advisors when he admitted to playing golf with the PM-designate.
Then there were attempts to associate Tsvangirai with world-renowned movement and institutions. On October 10, The Telegraph told us the “Nobel Peace Prize shortlist includes Morgan Tsvangirai and Chinese dissidents”.
In one instance of absurdity, one Zimbabwean website proclaimed: “Tsvangirai loses Nobel prize to scientists who discovered AIDS virus”.
After Tsvangirai had “won” the March 29 presidential election, both the USAToday and International Herald Tribune newspapers carried biographies of the Presidential candidates. Tsvangirai: “graduated from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government in 2001 with a diploma in Executive Leaders In Development Program”.
In the real world, even a 2-week Harvard University “executive leadership training” crush course does not make a leader, let alone a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
Surely, if Tsvangirai had a single drop of Nobel Prize blood in him, this spirited, expensive campaign to spruce up his image would be unnecessary.
Again, I’m willing to consider that Tsvangirai may have been nominated for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize. By denying him the honour, the Nobel Foundation preserved its integrity and saved the West from sinking to yet another lower level patronage and desperation.
Obert Madondo is a Zimbabwean national and writes from Toronto,
Labels: HYPOCRISY, MORGAN TSVANGIRAI, NOBEL PRIZE
Rupiah, his image builders and their make-up
Friday October 17, 2008 [04:00]
Justice Florence Mumba and her staff at the Electoral Commission of Zambia have a duty to ensure that the October 30 presidential election is conducted as openly as possible, so that citizens are confident that the results are accurate and the government that will emerge from there does, indeed, rest upon their consent.
Justice Mumba also has a duty to ensure that the practice where the ruling party, MMD, is being allowed to abuse its position by using unlimited government resources in its campaign for Rupiah Banda is checked.
We cannot have an election which is being dubbed as free and fair in which government resources are being used by Rupiah for his campaign as if they were his. The Electoral Commission needs to send a very strong message to Rupiah and his handlers that this is not acceptable.
The party in power may enjoy some advantages of incumbency, but the rules and conduct of the election contest must be fair by ensuring that a limit is put to what advantages Rupiah may enjoy as Vice-President of the Republic.
There is a reason for these rules. Elections are only useful to a society if they are conducted in a free and fair way resulting in a clear reflection of the will of the people. Anything that distorts this process should never be allowed and is dangerous in the long-term.
And the ability to conduct free and fair elections is at the core of what it means to call a society democratic.
Abuse of public resources is not the only threat that there is to holding free and fair elections. Transparency and accountability in the conduct of elections is also very important. Indeed, the election is held for the people to express their opinion. They should be free to see how the process through which they express their opinion is managed. And the only part of this process that should be secret is the casting of the vote itself – everything else should be transparent and verifiable by the stakeholders.
None of us can ever say that the Electoral Commission and its processes are perfect. But its deficiencies and shortcomings should be part of the verification process by stakeholders so that at the end of the day, the process is acceptable to all the players. In this way, the result of the election is unlikely to be contested.
We do not expect the Electoral Commission to be perfect nor can it be. But we expect it to be magnanimous and humble in reacting to its shortcomings. When mistakes are made and discovered, they should be accepted and fully acknowledged and promptly corrected to the satisfaction of all. The Commission should never be shy to publicly say they erred. Failure to accept this creates an impression that what happened was not a mistake but a deliberate act intended to deceive, cheat or defraud the electorate. And when this happens, suspicions of rigging that could lead to a breakdown of law and order emerge.
There must be a reason why we have always had a judge as the overseer of our electoral processes. A judge, in our understanding, is trained never to prejudge and always to hear all sides of the argument. It is not enough that a judge has done justice in the matter that they are handling. Civilised societies require that where justice is done, it must not only be done, it must be seen to be done.
This is the challenge that justice Florence Mumba is up against. She must be ready to let the light of public scrutiny shine through every hidden recess of the operations of the Electoral Commission. She is at the moment presiding over a process that makes a difference between Zambia going forward or regressing into anarchy.
We can never overemphasise the importance of the next election being perceived as free and fair. It is not enough for the Electoral Commission to stand and tell the nation that the election was free and fair. They must strive to ensure that people feel that indeed the election has been free and fair.
This will not happen if the Electoral Commission will look on helplessly as Rupiah and his sponsors continue to abuse public resources in support of his campaign. We can never argue that Rupiah, as someone exercising some of the functions of the president, is not entitled to some of the facilities of the office.
On the contrary, no one can convince us that it is right for Rupiah to commandeer three government-owned aircraft on his campaign trail. This is clear abuse.
If anyone is in doubt as to what kind of government Rupiah wants to run if he is elected president, just look at what he has been doing. How can Rupiah’s campaign justify carrying their image builders using Ministry of Health transport, ambulances?
This is an insult to the people of Zambia. We know that many of our people who desperately need transport to obtain necessary medical attention can never dream of getting this transport and yet Rupiah and his sponsors have no problem in diverting government automobiles and other resources to their campaign. This is before they are elected and in full view of the nation, of the voters! If they can do this when we are all looking and they are seeking our votes, what are they doing in secret, what will they do when we have given them our votes?
The whole idea of hiring image builders is questionable in the first place. Instead of telling people what he is going to do for them if elected, Rupiah has hired magicians to come and hypnotise the people and hoodwink them into voting for him. This is what image builders do. They are not very different from dishonest salesmen who will sell whatever they are asked to sell.
They don’t care about its quality, they just want to sell. What these image builders are trying to do with Rupiah is put him in a beautiful wrapper and make Zambians think they are buying choice meat when it is simply Nyama Soya – an imitation of meat. It is also not different from what beauticians do to us with makeup.
The problems that this country faces do not require make-up – they do not need image builders, we need real solutions and not fake ones. The money Rupiah is spending on these image builders could have built so many primary schools and clinics in our compounds, in our villages. But in his own wisdom, Rupiah has decided to send this money to England and America to enrich the already rich.
But also it shows a high sense of desperation on Rupiah’s part. Why should a person who is all the time in touch with his people, try to colour himself using image builders for him to be acceptable, to be electable? What is he hiding? What is it that the image builders are meant to hide? It means that Rupiah is not electable on his own, without make-up by the image builders, who have now resorted to using public resources to carry their make-up kits for Rupiah. And if we are not careful, with this make-up, with this image building, we may end up buying, voting for a gong’a.
No amount of political plastic surgery will bring Rupiah closer to the people. The only way to be close to the people is to be real and take steps towards them. We are not in the UK or America where people choose candidates the way they choose cosmetics in shops. We are in Africa, in Zambia – the real Africa, and we face real problems. Our people are looking for real solutions not spin doctors such as the ones Rupiah has hired. He is wasting money and taking the Zambian people for granted.
And this is not the first time that the Ministry of Health is being abused in election campaigns. Frederick Chiluba did it in 2001 and look where Kashiwa Bulaya ended up. We are surprised that Simon Miti, the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Health, who worked for Bulaya and knows very well what happened to Bulaya, can commit the resources of the Ministry of Health to Rupiah’s campaign.
It is sad to see how Mike Mulongoti is ending up. He does not seem to have any shame in defending what is clearly wrong. His cynicism is a direct insult to the Zambian people. To suggest that Rupiah’s image builders may have been hired by the Ministry of Health is to take for granted the intelligence of our people. This is the same Mulongoti who said there was nothing wrong with bribery as long as it was a senior party bribing a junior party, in the James Lukuku bribery scandal.
These things may appear insignificant to some people but they are not. They demonstrate a general disregard for the rule of law and the predisposition towards abuse of authority.
The Electoral Commission should not look helplessly at these matters. They need to give confidence to the people by clearly, categorically and fairly denouncing such activities. Their silence in the light of such overwhelming evidence only serves to undermine the integrity of the institution and the confidence that people have in its ability to run fair elections.
It is their failure to deal with blatant abuses such as the one Rupiah and his sponsors have engaged in that makes it difficult for people to believe them when they say they have made a genuine mistake on another matter.
Justice Mumba should be very concerned about the ballot incident from the other day. It shows a total lack of confidence in the Electoral Commission which could spell disaster for our country. If people believe that the institutions that are set up to defend their interests are not doing so, it leaves them open to manipulation and could leave them with no choice but to take the law in their own hands.
We should learn lessons from what has happened in Zimbabwe and what happened in Kenya. Lack of confidence in the electoral authorities of those countries led to serious disturbances, loss of lives and property and dislocations of many innocent and helpless people.
We should not pretend that the job that justice Mumba has to do is an easy one. In many ways, it is a thankless job but she accepted to do it. It is not too late for her to grow the confidence that the public should have in her institution. All she has to do is to ensure that the spirit and letter of the law that she is administering is fully implemented in the most transparent and accountable way.
The Electoral Commission should not allow Rupiah’s political plastic surgeons to use public resources for their regrettable activities. They are not doing this for the love of Rupiah, for the love of MMD or indeed for the love of Zambia. They are doing it for money in the same way mercenaries are used in fighting dirty wars. However, it is important for the Zambian people to know what is going on and to make their choices without being influenced by make-up, by small and artificial things.
Labels: RUPIAH BANDA
Satamania hits South
By Maluba Jere
Friday October 17, 2008 [04:00]
Michael Sata has broken regionalism and tribalism barriers that dominated the area, declared Patriotic Front (PF) Sout-hern Province coordinator Opper Ham-iyanze yesterday. Hamiyanze said the people of Southern Province were like the rest of the country embracing Sata. “The Satamania has also hit Southern Province,” Hamiyanze said.
“People have realised that tribal politics does not bring development.”
Hamiyanze said he was confident the people of Southern Province were going to redeem themselves on October 30 by voting for Sata. He said Sata was the only leader of action who would uplift their living standards and those of all Zambians.
“The PF here is selling very well. After having been to every part, we have managed to put party structures in all the districts of Southern Province,” Hamiyanze said. “It is clear that Sata is winning in Southern Province because he has broken the barriers of regionalism and tribalism and people have accepted to work with him.
People have realised that voting on tribal lines doesn't help in any way.”
Hamiyanze said once elected, Sata would return Southern Province into the food basket that it once was.
“The frequent outbreaks of animal diseases in the area would be a thing of the past. Sata's government would ensure that funds for vaccines reached the intended beneficiaries,” Hamiyanze said. “Time and again you hear of outbreaks in animal diseases, especially corridor disease. Some of these diseases are preventable. We are very near Botswana which has lots of livestock but has no cases of corridor disease.
The problem is that the MMD lacks political will in fighting animal diseases but the PF will make sure it is eradicated and all these bans of animal movements lifted. We will ensure vaccines go straight to farmers through the chiefs unlike the MMD who use party cadres.”
Hamiyanze said rehabilitating feeder roads would also be top on the agenda as they were an important factor in agriculture.
“The PF will ensure all feeder roads such as the Zimba-Livingstone road, Choma-Niko road are worked on so that farmers can have access to markets for their produce,” said Hamiyanze.
Labels: SATA, SOUTHERN PROVINCE
Rupiah has gone beyond limit in abusing state resources - Caritas
By Maluba Jere and Chibaula Silwamba
Friday October 17, 2008 [04:00]
Caritas Zambia executive director Samuel Mulafulafu yesterday observed that Vice-President Rupiah Banda has gone beyond the limit in abusing public resources. And a Post reporter Lambwe Kachali on Wednesday had a personal encounter with Vice-President Banda's foreign image builders in Kasama where they complained about the state owned Times of Zambia and Zambia Daily Mail's alleged failure to publish pictures of the Vice-President's alleged huge rallies.
Meanwhile, The Post has established that one of the image builders is a former army officer who at one time served as an aide to US army general Peter Schoomaker, the former head of the US army and press officer for the UN in Bosnia.
Commenting on a picture in yesterday's Post showing Vice-President Banda's image builders arriving in a vehicle belonging to the Ministry of Health at an MMD rally in Mbala on Wednesday, Mulafulafu challenged Vice-President Banda to explain to the nation his definition of a free and fair election because such acts were a total contradiction of his messages. He expressed disappointment that the ruling party did not seem to listen to concerns raised by various stakeholders on abusing public resources during campaigns.
"I think Rupiah Banda has gone beyond the limit. First, it was the issue of using three airplanes in his campaign trail and now there is the use of hospital vehicles," Mulafulafu said. "The Vice-President's behaviour is not in the spirit of free and fair elections because he is not refraining from abusing public resources."
Mulafulafu said Vice-President Banda's action had clearly defied all principles of a free and fair election contrary to what he had been calling for.
And when contacted for a comment by Muvi TV, information minister Mike Mulongoti said he did not know why the image builders were using a Ministry of Health vehicle adding that maybe they had a project with the ministry.
The MMD has hired five image-building consultants from the Bell Pottinger, a UK-based firm, to help improve Vice-President Banda's political image to the public.
According to sources in Vice-President Banda's campaign team, the image builders first came to Zambia in early August through Mulongoti but went back after a few days.
"But they returned to Zambia a few days after RB was elected as MMD presidential candidate by the NEC," the source said. "Among these consultants is Luke Chauveau who is a director in Bell Pottinger. Others are Lee Petterson, Jonathan Caine and Ms Rhi Price."
And according to information on Bell Pottinger's website, Luke - with 14 years experience in consultancy - specialises in advising companies and prominent individuals on their reputational and communication challenges.
"Examples include the former prime minister of Thailand on media handling in the UK, the Nigerian President Ura'Adua on his election campaign, as well as heads of state on their officials visits to the UK. He also advises the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Trafigura and Emirates Airline," read the website in part adding that Luke is a former aide to the US army general Peter Schoomaker, the former head of the US army and press officer for the UN in Bosnia. Luke, whose sector specialism is the defence industry, also worked at the Press Complaints Commission.
Jonathan Caine was a special advisor to two successive Secretaries of State for Northern Ireland from 1991 to 1995 and from 1989 to 1990 he was a member of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher's political office in 10 Downing Street. He worked alongside David Cameron in the Conservative Research Department from 1988 to 1991 and as a fellow supervisor from 1992 to 1995.
At various times, Jonathan was the principal advisor to successive leaders of the opposition and members of the shadow cabinet on Constitutional Affairs, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Jonathan also served as a member of William Hague's PMQ preparation and speech-writing teams.
Labels: CARITAS, CORRUPTION, RUPIAH BANDA
Opposition stops ballot papers 'theft'
By Noel Sichalwe, Brighton Phiri and Masuzyo Chakwe
Friday October 17, 2008 [04:00]
Alert opposition PF and UPND cadres on Wednesday caught a driver from Kalabo District Council John Zaza loading unverified ballot papers in a government vehicle at Lusaka International Airport for dispatch to Kalabo in a scheme linked to election rigging.
And PF and UPND yesterday backed out of their earlier agreement with Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) for the commission to distribute extra ballot papers to polling stations across the country. This was after ECZ failed to provide a satisfactory explanation regarding Zaza's alleged attempt to ferry unverified ballot papers to Kalabo.
Meanwhile, a truck suspected to be carrying materials for ECZ yesterday arrived in Lusaka.
Zaza was caught loading the unverified ballot papers during the verification process in full view of armed uniformed police officers, electoral agents, stakeholders and ECZ officials.
Zaza, who was driving a maroon Land Cruiser registration number GRZ 841CA, had parked inside the main hall where the verification process was taking place. He started loading printers, toners and voters' registers that were supposed to be delivered prior to the dispatch of ballot papers.
In the process of Zaza loading the items from the table, which was about five meters from the vehicle, he also picked the unverified ballot boxes for loading. However, he was quickly spotted and one of the polling agents queried why he was loading the ballot boxes in his vehicle.
The PF and UPND cadres questioned why Zaza picked ballot boxes from the table where MMD representatives from Kalabo sat. They said this was a systematic way by the ruling MMD to rig elections.
The cadres contended that if Zaza claimed to have made a mistake in loading the ballot boxes, he could have picked ballot papers for another province rather than picking those for his district.
However, Zaza expressed ignorance that what he was loading were ballot boxes. This attracted attention from everyone in the verification room. The verification process was brought to a standstill as political agents started to manhandle Zaza while hurling insults on him as others tried to physically beat him up.
Police mounted a human shield around Zaza to protect him from any harm although some irate cadres tried to penetrate to beat him. The cadres alleged that Zaza had made an earlier trip with similar items though he denied having taken the ballot boxes.
In an interview after being caught, Zaza explained that his boss whom he identified as Kambole Kambole who is Kalabo deputy council secretary, told him to load the items in the vehicle that were suppose to be delivered to the district.
"He told me to get the toners and load them in the vehicle. Now when loading those toners, I thought that even these boxes contained toners. So when I had loaded some of these boxes, I was about to get some more and that's when somebody said I should not get those boxes. Some people are saying I wanted to steal but I just made a mistake. It's not that I wanted to steal, it's only that I thought they were toners as well. I only made a mistake and I did not want to steal," Zaza said.
Kambole, who was suspected to be from the Office of the President, said Zaza only made a mistake and did not mean to steal ballot boxes to rig elections.
Kambole said ballot paper boxes were ready to be verified to ensure that there was no foul play in the entire episode.
ECZ representative Priscilla Isaacs said Zaza loaded ballot boxes by mistake because he could not do so without permission.
Isaacs explained that ECZ's procedure was that they sent voters' registers to the districts before voting day to ensure that everything was set and that ballot papers were dispatched later.
Isaacs then ordered political agents and police officers to check the ballot papers and ensure that everything was in order. She said the only way to verify was by checking what was loaded in the vehicle and whether anything had gone missing.
PF vice-president Guy Scott, secretary general Edward Mumbi and party spokesperson Given Lubinda arrived at the scene while UPND secretary general Tiens Kahenya arrived later.
At this point, Zaza offloaded all the items from his vehicle and the party electoral agents started comparing serial numbers for the five boxes that were loaded with the serial numbers that were listed in their handouts.
After an extensive comparison, it was discovered that Zaza had loaded 16 ballot papers for Lokona polling station, six ballot papers for Munyonga polling station and five ballot papers for Lyahonga polling station, all from Kalabo Central Constituency.
Among the loaded items were certificates for those that were trained as election monitors, voters' register, printer and toner.
Further inspections on the vehicle revealed that it did not have chassis and engine numbers and it appeared to be a brand new vehicle that was recently bought from Durban with port discharge numbers.
The vehicle did not even have a licence or any documentation to prove that it belonged to the government apart from the number plate, which appeared to have been placed for convenience purposes.
Later, the cadres also found bags of electoral material in a separate warehouse and they suspected the bags contained ballot boxes until they were opened. However, the bags contained stationery.
The mood at the verification venue was highly charged and everyone was overly alert in trying to identify anyone that attempted to manipulate the ballot papers.
Mumbi said if the vehicle was not spotted by his vigilant members, it could have been driven to Shang'ombo.
Mumbi doubted whether or not ballot boxes were safe in ECZ's hands.
"I would like ECZ to come out in public through the media and inform the nation of what has transpired today so that they can start rebuilding their image," Mumbi said. "What has happened today in front of all uniformed policemen is that there was a vehicle which is not even verified and checking the vehicle, it has no chassis number, it has no engine number and it has got a brand new GRZ number plate with prints of a vehicle that has just been imported from Durban. So who was in Durban buying vehicles? We don't know because it has no details but what we have noticed is that on the screen, there are those port discharge numbers."
He said the vehicle would be detained at the airport and that ballot boxes would be handed to ECZ.
"If ECZ doesn't know who is picking ballot papers, then the election is not safe," Mumbi said. "So we find it very strange and very disappointing that the Commission which just this morning was trying to assure us that they would look after this election and conduct it in a very free and fair atmosphere to behave like this."
Kahenya said the issue was not a simple matter and there was need to understand it. He expressed disappointment with what had happened and demanded that Zaza and Kambole be detained by the police.
And yesterday after an ECZ closed-door meeting with the stakeholders over the matter, Mumbi said PF had decided to pull out of the "gentleman's agreement" with ECZ because they could no longer trust the Commission.
"We can't trust ECZ. We have since told ECZ that our gentleman's agreement is null and void due to the gravity of the anomaly that occurred at the airport," he said.
Mumbi said PF demanded for a comprehensive report over the matter before they could agree that extra ballot papers be distributed across the country.
"Since, we can't trust ECZ, we are going to court to seek judicial review over the matter," Mumbi said.
Kahenya said UPND was not satisfied with the explanation by ECZ and that they were greatly concerned with the manner in which ECZ trivialised electoral anomalies.
"We have asked ECZ chairperson justice Florence Mumba, whom we are told is in Kasama, to come back and convene a stakeholders' meeting over the issue," Kahenya said. "We have cancelled the earlier agreement with ECZ because of the gravity of their trivialising the electoral anomalies."
MMD presidential candidate Rupiah Banda's representative Akashambatwa Mbikusita-Lewanika said the meeting heard complaints and questions arising out of suspicions over the Zaza incident.
"The meeting received verbal responses to a variety of concerns and complaints, in both moderate and intemperate fashion, that were raised by representatives of presidential candidates, over this incidence and others," he said.
Aka said after much question and answer deliberations, he proposed, and that it was unanimously agreed, that the meeting be adjourned and reconstituted at a later date, when justice Mumba would be present. He further proposed that ECZ should present a comprehensive written report on the incident, including information on what happened and what follow up corrective and assurance measures have been undertaken or proposed to be undertaken. Aka said such a report should reassure stakeholders of the ECZ's competence, commitment and credibility in superintending over the whole electoral process.
Aka said Vice-President Banda was pleased that ECZ had been convening inter-party forums to address electoral complaints and questions.
On the foreign truck carrying ECZ election materials, Given Lubinda disclosed that the opposition raised the issue during the meeting to seek an explanation on the truck.
He said ECZ explained that the truck in question was carrying election booths for the forthcoming presidential elections.
"ECZ clarified that the truck was loaded with election booths and that it was going to offload at the airport where our election agents will monitor," Lubinda said.
The truck registration number B6010ANV, which had two containers, caused anxiety among Lusaka residents as word went round that a truck carrying ECZ materials was parked along Kafue Road near Afif Electricals.
Asked about the goods in the containers, one of the foreign drivers who only identified himself as Nyati said they were carrying goods for ECZ and were taking them to an office.
Another driver, a Zambian, said there were ballot papers in the containers.
Nyati explained that the goods were from South Africa even though the truck belonged to a company in Botswana called Road Freighters.
A foreign passenger wondered why they were being asked so many questions.
"Where are you from and why are you asking so many questions? Why are you taking pictures of the truck?" he asked before they drove away.
The truck proceeded towards Kafue roundabout before driving along Independence Avenue.
After realising that their truck was being followed by journalists, the drivers stopped along Chikwa Road for a few minutes before proceeding towards Haile Selassie Road where it again stopped in front of the Patents and Companies Registration Office for a few minutes.
The truck then drove towards Ndeke House where the Ministry of Health is situated and parked for a few minutes.
One of the security men at the gate was heard saying that they were asking if the truck could be parked at the Zambia Air Force (ZAF) headquarters.
After some minutes, the truck drove towards the ZAF headquarters but the officers denied the driver entry.
Labels: CADRES, ELECTIONS