Saturday, November 29, 2008

(TALKZIMBABWE) MDC: The bearer of the news

MDC: The bearer of the news
Petros Mashingaidze – Opinion
Sat, 29 Nov 2008 06:12:00 +0000

DEAR EDITOR – Yesterday’s events in South Africa were very interesting. The party that was adamant would not sign anything until former President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa was dropped as Facilitator in the power-sharing talks was the bearer of the news that a deal had been reached over Constitutional Amendment No 19 Bill.

The spokesman for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party led by Morgan Tsvangirai was the one who announced this news. Zanu PF and the other formation of the MDC led by Prof Arthur Mutambara were not available for comment.

Chamisa said "We have reached an understanding, an agreement on the draft constitutional bill, pending consultations and endorsement by our different leadership organs.”

Western newspapers went into a frenzy, reporting what they never wanted to report for many weeks.

I hope that now Zimbabweans will look further into reconstructing their country rather than follow these sickeningly partisan lines of thought.

We have suffered enough and now hope that the MDC-T will be mature enough to see through these commitments they are making and not change positions at the crucial stage.

Petros Mashingaidze writes from Auckland, New Zealand

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(TALKZIMABWE) MDC supporters and the media baffled

MDC supporters and the media baffled
Philip Murombedzi
Sat, 29 Nov 2008 06:14:00 +0000

MANY people are baffled by the latest somersault made by the MDC-T party in signing the Constitutional Amendment No 19 Bill. But how could they be baffled? The MDC-T baffles those that want to be baffled. Endless times those whose protest vote they learnt to the MDC have quibbled the decision of this virgin group of politicians – the green group, I call them.

“It’s a nullity, it’s a nullity,” cried one UZ-trained lawyer, Tendai Biti, against the wise advice of his former constitutional law professor, Welshman. Never defy your elders, unless they are not your elders and unless they represent someone else.

Our elders have been discredited by those whose interests they do not represent; so how could we accept other people’s elders?

“Morgan Richard Tsvangirai is the next President of the Republic of Zimbabwe,” belted a lawyer – an abrupt lawyer whose only trip overseas was to oversee and put in line a group of partisan and blindingly loyal supporters in the Diaspora who were crossing the line and defying the protocol. This is his experience.

The only other time we see him overseas is when he is invited to blurt in front of a more informed group of funders. He informs them that their “investment” is still worth the while. “We can still bet on that horse,” and the horse obliges.

Monday morning: “It’s a nullity. We will not enter into any further negotiations until the facilitator is changed!” We all believed them, despite the perennial history of political flip flops. “This time they really mean business,” said one MDC drunk. I was naïve. I believed him.

Friday afternoon: “If you're optimistic, the glass is half-full, if you're pessimistic, it is half-empty," belted the inexperienced Chamisa announcing, half-heartedly that they had appended their signature to a document they said was full of faults. Are you pessimistic or optimistic Chamisa? When did it ever become our choice? It’s your choice, the MDC’s choice to decide whether that glass is half full or half empty. Tell us: Is it half-empty, or half-full? Save your skin! What did the Funder say this time? Did he or she say “It’s the end of the road?” If not, how do you explain your turnaround? Then again, the history of flip-flops is characteristic of your party’s leadership.

We have signed Amendment Number 19 Bill, the one presented by Zanu PF “pending consultations and endorsement by our different leadership organs,” says Chamisa. How could you sign anything pending consultations and endorsements? You either sign or you don’t and many people I know consult first and then sign. Your party always does things in reverse, doesn’t it?

“Zimbabwe parties agree on power-sharing bill: MDC” writes the Washington Post, hesitatingly! “On-off talks between President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC have made little progress since they reached a deal in September seen as the best hope of pulling Zimbabwe back from economic collapse,” writes the paper further. So Mugabe is the President? Yes indeed, he always was. He has been, since the June 27 runoff presidential election.

“Chamisa said the talks had ended,” reluctantly reported the Washington Post.

"On our part, the MDC leadership will meet next week to discuss this, and give a direction as to how we are going to proceed." Proceed on what? You have already proceeded!

“ZANU-PF officials were not immediately available for comment.” What an amusing statement from the Washington Post. Available for comment? So that they can put their own spin to the comments and twist words from Zanu PF or MDC Mutambara – their usual way of reporting on Zimbabwe? They have become media savvy now and will not communicate with hostile media anymore.

We now impatiently await the next turnaround from the MDC-T party, in characteristic fashion.

philipmurombedzi ***

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(DAILY MAIL) 39 constituencies miss CDF

39 constituencies miss CDF

MINISTER of Local Government and Housing Benny Tetamashimba yesterday told Parliament that 39 out of 150 constituencies will not benefit from the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) this year because of their failure to submit their expenditure returns.

Mr Tetamashimba said in a ministerial statement that the 39 constituencies which were not funded had not submitted their expenditure returns for the utilisation of CDF for 2007 at the time they were directed to do so.

Government released K44.4 billion to 111 constituencies out of 150.

He said the 39 constituencies would require K15.6 billion after submitting the returns.

Mr Tetamashimba said it was a requirement for councils to prepare progress reports on the disbursement of CDF.

He said government was saddened by the failure by council managements to submit expenditure reports.

Mr Tetamashimba said this had put pressure on members of Parliament who wanted to see development projects in their constituencies implemented.

He however said the MPs should not be blamed for the failure of the councils to submit their expenditure returns on time.

Mr Tetamashimba said he was happy that the management of the CDF had improved as opposed to the previous years when there was misuse and misapplication of the funds.

He urged the MPs to use the 2008 CDF on tangible projects that would benefit the people.

Mr Tetamashimba apologised to the MPs for the delay in the disbursement of the funds and that this was due to the Presidential elections which consumed most of the money.

He directed councils to ensure that CDF meetings were not held without informing MPs and that the MPs should come up with dates on which to hold the meetings.

The minister said respective councils should retain only K20 million for administrative purposes.

He appealed to the MPs to ensure that constituencies submitted returns on time to avoid a situation where some councils would not get the CDF.

Namwala MP Robby Chizhyuka (UPND) wanted to know measures government was taking to increase funds given to large constituencies that also held districts status.

Mr Tetamashimba said although he appreciated the challenges that such constituencies were facing, the CDF would not be called constituency district development fund.

Roan MP Chishimba Kambwili (PF) said President Banda promised during the campaigns that the CDF would be increased to K1 billion

He wondered whether that statement was for political expedience.

Mr Tetamashimba thanked Mr Kambwili for allegedly secretly attending MMD rallies.

He said President Banda mentioned that he would ultimately like to see the CDF increased to k1 billion
“Our projection is that let us have K1 billion next year because we want this Government to continue after 2011,” Mr Tetamashimba said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Commerce Trade and Industry, Felix Mutati told the House that Government had allocated K10 billion for economic empowerment programmes for each of the nine province. This brings the total allocation to K90 billion.

Mr Mutati said this was because the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) would like the beneficiaries to have easy access to financial resources and also expedite the approval process.

He said the remaining K60 had been left at the CEEC for large capital projects and special purpose vehicles.

Mr Mutati said the CEEC also realised that the targeted people may have difficulties in providing collateral

He said collateral for projects of up to K50 million would be dealt with in various ways such as asset finance, key man insurance, community referencing and other Small Medium Enterprises (SME friendly permutations.

Meanwhile, Parliament heard that 102 people died in fire accidents from the year 2000 to 2008 with Kitwe recording the highest number of fatalities at 82
Deputy Minister of Local Government and Housing Crispin Musosha told the House that Lusaka recorded six deaths, four in Kabwe and another four in Ndola.

He said Kitwe recorded 82 deaths while Mufulira recorded six fatalities.

Mr Musosha was responding to a question from Kankoyo MP Percy Chanda (PF) who wanted to know the number of lives that were lost in fire from 2000, to this year.

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(DAILY MAIL) Misuse of public funds still rife Parley

Misuse of public funds still rife Parley

THE Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has urged the Ministry of Finance and National Planning to strengthen internal controls in government ministries and departments to avoid loss of public funds through various irregular practices.

PAC chairperson Ben Mwila said this in Parliament on Thursday when he presented the report of his committee for 2008, on the report of the Auditor General for 2006.

Mr Mwila who is also Nchelenge MP (NRP) said in spite of the assurances made by Ministry of Finance to redress the situation, billions of Kwacha in public funds were still being lost through misappropriations, misapplications, failure to follow tender procedures, unretired imprest, lack of reconciliation of bank accounts and other irregularities.

He also called on government to strengthen oversight institutions such as the Office of the Auditor-General.

“The Auditor-General’s office must be strengthened so that it can audit more ministries, government departments and other spending agencies.

The cumulative savings, over time, will be much higher than the money that can be spent to improve operations at the office,” Mr Mwila said.

He said the Office of the Auditor-General (OAG) audited provinces, ministries, government departments and spending agencies, including 17 missions abroad.
Mr Mwila said while spending and accountability of funds had improved in some institutions, the situation had deteriorated in others.

He said responses from controlling officers, in most cases were inadequate while others attributed irregularities to the inadequate funding or late release of funds from the Treasury.

Chililabombwe MP Esther Banda (PF) who seconded the motion said controlling officers should be able to work with OAG and assist the auditing process by responding to queries in time.

Mrs Banda said there were times when the committee had to play the role of “referee” where controlling officers disputed some of the audit findings.

She said government should ensure that ownership of Zambia’s properties abroad was well documented to avoid complications in future, especially where a new government took over the affairs of the country.

Bangweulu MP Joseph Kasongo (PF) said severe action should be taken against those who misuse public funds to serve as a deterrent to would-be offenders.

He said MOFNP should be able to provide leadership to controlling officers so that they run their respective institutions effectively.

Kabwata MP Given Lubinda (PF) paid tribute the OAG for its outstanding performance in auditing the financial accounts of government.

He said the Auditor-General, Anna Chifungula, had revolutionalised the concept of auditing and had continued to fulfill her mandate of ensuring public funds were accounted for.

Minister of Defence George Mpombo said the PAC report recognised the effort government was making in ensuring accountability of public resources.

Mr Mpombo said the fact that donors still supported government meant that they had trust and confidence in the leadership of the country.

Minister of Finance and National Planning Situmbeko Musokotwane said his ministry would act on the recommendations of the report.

He said his ministry had taken a number of steps to tighten internal controls, one of them being quarterly meetings with controlling officers.

Dr Musokotwane said a number of officers who had stolen public funds had been disciplined, and that some of them were appearing before the courts of law.

He commended Ms Chifungula for the work she was doing and said his office would continue to render assistance to OAG as the office was doing the exact task it had been given.



(LUSAKATIMES) Solwezi district makes K 800 million from fertiliser sells

Solwezi district makes K 800 million from fertiliser sells
November 29, 2008

Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives in Solwezi district has received more than K800,000,000 from sales of fertilizer and seed under the Fertilizer Support Programme to farmers in the district.

Acting District Marketing and Cooperatives officer Francis Mwansa said in an interview, Friday, that his office has collected K872,908,572 from farmers through maize seed and fertilizer sales in less than two weeks but due erratic supply of fertilizer all stocks has since been exhausted in the shed.

Mr Mwansa said that his office only received 15,352 x 50kg bags (1919 packs) instead of 19,200 x 50 kg bags (2400 packs) resulting in a serious shortage of both urea and basal fertilizer in the district.

He nevertheless, advised the farmers to only deposit money for maize seed so that they are able to plant as they wait for more fertilizer expected to be delivered soon.

He appealed to farmers not to panic as the situation was being handled by higher authorities to ensure that the remaining fertilizer is sent to the district.

By Tuesday this week about 136 registered cooperatives had collected their consignment of fertilizer from Nyiombo depot.

Meanwhile 15 registered cooperatives from Mushindamo block may not benefit from this years fertilizer support programme due to the late submission of the farmers applications forms.

Chairperson for Lwambanga cooperative, Abel Kafwimbi said that he was not happy that his block had been left out in this year’s fertilizer support programme.

Mr Kafwimbi, who is also Vice Chairperson for Mushindamo block, said that the fertilizer got finished and the entire Mushindamo block only managed to get 240 x 50 bags (30 packs) which have not been collected yet.

The cooperatives that submitted late include, Kafifolo, Lubinga, Lifesaver, Lunga source, Kan’gamo, Kyamato, Mushindamo, Masaka, Milembe, Kashiba, Kyafulabunga, Lwamibanga, Kasanfu, Kapako and Minkonk.

However, District Agriculture Committee Chairperson (DAC), Paul Chipoya said the distribution of the fertilizer has been okay.

He said that the number of bags of fertilizer was too low as compared to the number of applicants, adding that farmers bought off all the stocks in the shed resulting to some cooperatives not benefiting.

Mr Chipoya said that Mushindamo block should not blame DAC for not participating due their late submission of applications, but told the 15 cooperatives that in case of any additional fertilizer the DAC may considered them.

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(LUSAKATIMES) Only 3% of the farmers in Gwembe will benefit from Fertiliser programme

Only 3% of the farmers in Gwembe will benefit from Fertiliser programme
November 29, 2008

Only three percent of the farming community in Gwembe will benefit from the 240 packs of farming inputs received under the 2008-2009 Fertilizer Support Program (FSP) because of insufficient number.

Speaking at the flagging-off ceremony in Gwembe, District commissioner Dorothy Hamvula said Government was aware that the inputs allocated to the District were insufficient, adding that efforts were being made to source for more inputs.

“My office is aware that the inputs allocated to Gwembe will only cater for three percent of the farming community, and my office will support all efforts to source more inputs,” she said.

She observed that it was unfortunate that some co-operatives were only seen to be active at the time of input distribution.

“Unfortunately, for some co-operatives this becomes their only active , they do nothing to promote growth of their co-operatives, some of them even fail to hold Annual General Meetings” Mrs Hamvula said.

She advised the Co-operatives to develop enterprises that can provide services to the community, in order to generate more money for themselves.

She also called on the beneficiaries of the inputs to utilize the packs for the production of the staple food (maize), saying that her office would not take kindly to anyone found selling the inputs, as the program was aimed at enhancing household and subsequently national food security.

And speaking at the same occasion, District Agriculture Community Chairman Simeon Mungazi said the 240 packs of FSP inputs received in Gwembe would benefit 29 farmer co-operatives groups.

“Last year only 21 co-operatives benefited, this year 29 will benefit, but the amount of inputs received is not enough, we need at least 600 packs,” he noted.

Mr. Mungazi appealed to Government to consider scaling up the program to cover not less than 1,000 beneficiaries in the District.

He implored the farmer co-operatives to utilize the inputs to ensure increased production of maize from the current two tones per hectare, to at least five tones per hectare.

And District Co-operatives Officer Emmanuel Mulenga said it was regrettable to note that 97 percent of the farmer co-operatives would go without inputs this year.

He appealed to Government to consider scaling up the exercise to benefit at least 10 percent of households in the District, as a measure aimed at reducing the dependency on relief food.


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LETTERS - Pay and Agriculture

Livestock, fisheries sector
Written by Concerned citizen, Kabwe
Saturday, November 29, 2008 5:01:55 PM

The Post, Wednesday November 26, 2008, reported that president Rupiah Banda has maintained two cabinet ministers at the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives. Honourable Bradford Machila will now be in-charge of livestock and fisheries. This might have been received with mixed reactions by members of the public, especially that our cabinet is already bloated.

However, I wish to commend the President for this gesture. It is very clear that very soon, the ministry of livestock and fisheries is going to be formed. This has been long overdue. The livestock/fisheries sector can indeed play an important role in stabilising our ailing economy if well managed. Botswana stands out as an example.

The livestock sector has not been given recognition in the Ministry of Agriculture. To that effect, the sector has failed to tick. Livestock diseases have rocked this country year in and year out. Funding to this sector has suffered at the expense of crop. They have failed to realise the factor that most farmers use oxen to plough their fields. When motorbikes or vehicles are given to the ministry, it is the agriculture department that has always benefited more.

At a camp level, for example, you would find an agriculture extension officer with a motorbike while his veterinary counterpart has none. This has reduced the veterinary sector to an orphan department in the ministry. The transport problem has also turned the veterinary staff into office workers instead of field workers.

I therefore wish to encourage the President to establish the ministry of livestock and fisheries as quickly as possible.

The minister is already there, the deputy minister, the permanent secretary, the director, etc. And more importantly, the veterinary/fisheries department already has the existing structures at all levels, from camp to headquarters.

We wish to see this ministry funded separately in next year’s budget.

Kambwili on salaries
Written by Johnstone Chikwanda, Former UNZASU Treasurer-General
Saturday, November 29, 2008 5:03:39 PM

Roan Patriotic Front member of parliament Chishimba Kambwili has stated that salaries that parliamentarians get are a joke (Post edition dated 25th November, 2008).

Further, he has revealed that MPs get K5m per month less K1.2m insurance and K2.3m for the recovery of vehicle loan repayment (I suppose). There is a further deduction of PAYE!

Although this revelation does not paint a good picture for our honourable members of parliament ( I believe in fair compensation for our MPs), I feel that Kambwili did not deal circumspectly with the issue at hand. His revelations are not complete and have created room for many questions that need answers.

1. How did the K5m monthly salary give rise to a staggering mid term gratuity of more than K200m? Standard gratuity calculations are based on basic pay. In this case, it appears to have been calculated at more than 100 per cent of the basic. It ceases to be gratuity. Gratuity is that tip given in the form of money in return for a service.

2. How much is one’s sitting allowance when Parliament is in session?

3. Do MPs get any sitting allowance for sitting on constituted committees of Parliament. If they do how much is this?

4. How do they manage to clear vehicle loans based on the K2.3m monthly deductions bearing in mind the cost of vehicles most of them drive even if they are duty-free? You will need 5 years to raise K138m which is not enough to clear most vehicle loans and10 years to raise double that amount.

I request that someone deal with this matter exhaustively . Our MPs must be paid fairly but at the same time, it is important for the nation to know their current total earnings when Parliament is in session and when it is not.

Hi, MrK Home Business Sports Lifestyle Columns CourtLetters World Comments Home News Education Post Home Letters Rupiah’s position on pay rise Saturday, November 29, 2008 5:08:34 PMRupiah’s position on pay rise
Written by Godfrey Mambwe
I read Rupiah’s position on the signing of the bill to increase salaries for himself, Cabinet ministers, MPs and other constitutional office bearers with absolute disappointment.

Describing the increment as very small is indeed inhuman and a mockery to the taxpayers and the whole nation that expected this new government to do contrary to this display of their self-centredness and hypocrisy.

Surely, in this economic crisis, a sane government cannot think of increasing salaries for only a few privileged, but exploitative and selfish politicians.

Are these the only persons who have been hit by the economic crisis? What about the many suffering Zambians living in abject poverty and can hardly afford three meals a day?

It is a shame. While we expected the RB camp to begin to deliver on their promises, we are greeted with the worst kind of election aftermath that has only exposed the true, but ugly colours of the leaders we have entrusted to drive the nation’s economy.

If anything, I never expected the President to sign the bills or even to have allowed this once-shelfed bill (only as a campaign gimmick) to go back to Parliament. Serve the nation first before you can service your pockets.

MPs’ pay rise
Written by Concerned citizen
Saturday, November 29, 2008 5:09:00 PM

I would like to believe that our MPs are living far much better lives than teachers, police officers, council workers and most of our public workers.

Otherwise, how would you explain the great lengths our parliamentarians go to in ensuring that they get a seat in the house?

Some of our parliamentarians even give up well-paying jobs to join politics. What does this mean? It simply means that there is something good in being an MP, minister or indeed president.

I'm not entirely against the pay rise but what our MPs, ministers and the President should have considered is that things are rough for the average Zambian at present.

Hunger does not only target MPs, ministers or the President; it actually attacks everyone regardless of one's status or age.

Our leaders should have carefully studied the poverty levels in the country before awarding themselves unreasonable salaries and allowances.

Let the government go out in the rural areas and see how the poor people that voted for them are suffering. They go without food for days, while those they voted into power forget about them till the next election when they are visited for more corruption and bribes.

Why should our President, ministers and MPs complain when all their expenses are paid for by taxpayers. I have now come to believe that human beings have unlimited wants. I am sure if these people were to start getting just K800,000 or less at the end of every month some would just hang themselves because it seems they have become so used to luxurious living.

My advice to our leaders is: please make life better for your fellow human beings when God has given you a chance to. This is the only time God has given you to make life bearable for your fellow human beings. This attitude our leaders have adopted of thinking they are special compared to the general public is rather unfortunate.

The gap between the kind of life our MPs are living and that of a teacher, a police officer, a nurse and others is just so unreasonable. Where are the Christian values in these leaders? Would Jesus treat us the way these leaders are treating us?



Financial accountability in public service cheers PAC

Financial accountability in public service cheers PAC
Written by Mwala Kalaluka

THE Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Thursday noted that Zambia is on the right track to improving financial accountability in the public service. Delivering a report of the committee on the Auditor General’s accounts of the financial year ended December 31, 2006, PAC acting chairman Ben Mwila said it was worrying however that the failure to discipline erring officers had continued.

“What was witnessed was the same old story,” Mwila said. “The report that is before this House is quite voluminous not because there were a lot of financial irregularities.” Mwila explained that the above scenario was as a result of the increased operational capacity office of the Auditor General.

He said 40 ministries, provincial administration, spending agencies and 17 foreign missions were audited during the period under review.

“What would be of interest is perhaps the movement of the figures,” Mwila said.

He said compared to 2005, the biggest spending agencies – Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education – had recorded fluctuations in the levels of misapplication and misappropriation of public funds.

Mwila said in some cases, there was a reduction in the amounts misappropriated or misapplied by the two ministries between 2005 and 2006.

He said controlling officers attributed the situation to inadequate budgetary allocations, a development that caused the varying of the funds.

“The concern of your committee is the failure by controlling officers to seek authority when they vary funds,” he said.

Mwila said another concern for PAC was the misapplication of funds from the Poverty Reduction Programme (PRP) towards meeting Recurrent Departmental Charges (RDCs).

“The Ministry of Finance and National Planning needs to put a stop to this practice forthwith,” he said.

Mwila also urged the Executive to put in place measures that would stop the increase in the amount of unretired imprest in view of the fact that the public service operates on bureaucratic systems, key of which was following rules and procedures.

“It is very difficult to discipline erring officers in the public service. As long as this remains so, all the efforts to encourage transparency and accountability will not yield tangible results,” said Mwila.

Seconding the report, Chililabombwe PF member of parliament, Esther Banda urged the government to find a better way of auditing unserviceable stores in the country’s foreign missions.

Banda also asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ensure that the country’s properties abroad were well secured, as political systems change time and again.

Bangweulu PF member of parliament Joseph Kasongo said the few people that were pocketing public funds would continue to undermine the government of the day if they were not dealt with sternly.

PAC held a total of 23 meetings to consider the report of the Auditor General.

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Written by Editor

The fragmentation in the labour movement in the country is a matter that needs serious consideration, reflection and deep meditation. We say this because the power or strength of trade unions lies in unity and numbers.

It is clear that our trade unions are not performing as expected; they are not representing workers as well as they should due to fragmentation.

We therefore welcome Zambia National Union of Teachers (ZNUT) general secretary Roy Mwaba's call for the teachers' unions in the country to unite and avoid being manipulated by politicians.

Mwaba says ZNUT has proposed a possible merger with Secondary School Teachers Union of Zambia (SESTUZ) and Basic Teachers Union of Zambia (BETUZ). And he is worried that the unions have been weakened by our politicians through divide-and-rule tactics while making promises when they want their support.

ZNUT's suggestion is very progressive and other trade unions should consider going in the same direction.

A strong and united trade union is not only prerequisite to industrial harmony; it is key to economic and political development in the country.

Undoubtedly, the labour movement generally in Africa played a key role during the liberation struggle and their strength was tested years after independence when most trade unions opened themselves up to political manipulation by the ruling parties and various governments, thus leaving workers vulnerable due to poor labour laws and representation.

The splinter unions that were introduced in Zambia in the early 1990s when the Chiluba regime changed the law to allow for pluralism in the labour movement. This fragmented the labour movement and weakened our trade unions' capacity to represent workers effectively due to different interests by their leaders.

We see absolutely no need for teachers or miners to have three or four unions if their concerns are the same or very similar. We are not against diversity or pluralism.

But diversity or pluralism is of very little value if all it does is divide and weaken our trade unions, rendering them impotent. It is said that there is strength in unity. Moreover, it is much easier for one to manipulate a small trade union, a small group of people than a big trade union.

Right now, the country, especially in the mining sector, is affected by the global economic crisis, which has already led to serious job losses. This situation requires urgent attention by various stakeholders, including government and the labour movement. We need our trade unions to be more united than ever during this global economic crisis, which will affect almost every sector of the economy.

There is need for concerted efforts to ensure that measures are put in place to cushion workers from suffering, and this can only come through united action. The central function of the trade union is to represent workers, and their wider role is to protect workers' interests.

They also have a role to ensure a healthy and safe working environment for their members. However, there is very little that the labour movement will achieve on this score if the current fragmentation continues.

This fragmentation is further compounded by internal squabbles and rivalry driven by personal ambitions of trade union leaders, which further weaken the unions' capacity to play an effective role.

These divisions are sometimes perpetuated by politicians, who try to use trade union leaders for their own political ends. This further weakens trade unions' capacity to effectively represent workers.

Our labour movement also needs to understand that fragmentation in the union has its own administrative costs, which are currently very high.

If the trade unions, say in the teaching profession, decided to merge, they would save a lot of money. And such savings could be channelled towards further strengthening their trade unions. This could also help to improve the quality of leadership in the trade unions.

Our laws, as they stand today, do not support or favour the establishment of effective and efficient trade unions. To some extent one can even say that the trade unions have become almost useless. And this is not good for the country's labour and economy in general. We need strong, effective and efficient trade unions that will be able to promote and defend interests of the workers and indeed of the people.

The problems some of our workers are facing today have come about because their leaders have entrusted their plight in the hands of others.

The role of trade unions is also key in the political transformation of our country. But this too can only be achieved if there is unity of purpose in the labour movement.

South Africa is a very good example of what unity in the labour movement can do. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) was founded in 1995 and has a membership of over two million workers, of which 1.8 million are paid up. Apart from working towards improving conditions for workers and other working people and organising the unorganised, COSATU has also continued to encourage workers to participate in the struggle for peace and democracy.

From inception, COSATU has had firm principles on important issues such as the constitution, wages for workers, non-racialism, social and political policy, international worker solidarity and leadership among others. The union has been very effective in pressing for the interest of their workers and we strongly believe that our labour movement can learn lessons from this gigantic and strong labour movement.

It is very clear that plurality has failed to strengthen our trade unions and it is about time that the various unions in all sectors of the country got back to the drawing board. The labour movement is not as strong as it was 20, 17 or 15 years ago and something has to be done to correct the situation.

The plurality of trade unions, or indeed unity itself, is not a principle but an expedience in the quest to promote and defend workers' interests. And since it is not a principle, compromises that promote unity are not a violation of any principles and should be undertaken. This may help to strengthen the labour movement's muscle and put it in a better position to promote and defend the interests of our workers.

We therefore call for the unification of all our trade unions so that we have one strong congress of trade unions in the country.

We also call for a return to the position of one industry, one union. Again this is not a matter of principle but of expedience in our efforts to strengthen the capacity of our trade unions so that they can effectively promote and defend the interests of workers.

It can be done and it must be done.

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Low copper prices threaten Zambia’s economic growth

Low copper prices threaten Zambia’s economic growth
Written by Mwala Kalaluka
Saturday, November 29, 2008 4:28:02 PM

FINANCE minister Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane yesterday said the low copper prices pose a significant threat to the continued strong economic growth experienced over the last five years.

And Mapatizya UPND member of parliament Ackson Sejani asked the government if it had not learnt lessons over its capitalist dictum that the government has no business in business following the global economic crisis.

Delivering a ministerial statement on the global developments on the country's economy before Parliament adjourned sine die, Dr Musokotwane said if these low copper prices persist, future investment in copper mining, which has been very robust in recent years, may slow down or even decline.

"This is not good for our economy and job creation," Dr Musokotwane said. "While the situation warrants serious concern, we also need to put the effects of the global crisis in context, at least on the basis of current prices of copper."

He noted that although the prices of copper had drastically fallen from their peak of US$930 per tonne in July 2008 [actually about $9000 per metric tonne - MrK], the present level is still much higher than the worst that the country had seen in the last decade.

"About a decade ago, a pound of copper was US$ 60 cents. Today, it is about US$1.7 per pound," Dr Musokotwane said. "The situation is therefore not yet a disaster and as such we should not lose confidence."

However, Dr Musokotwane said the government would have to realign certain expenditures next year, in view of the expected lower mining revenues, to ensure that priority programmes aimed at poverty reduction were safeguarded.

He said the government had already initiated dialogue with the mining companies to assess how best the impact of the current global crisis could be mitigated.

"Notwithstanding, the projected slowdown in the global economy and the fall in copper prices, the fundamentals in the Zambian economy remain strong in the medium term," Dr Musokotwane said. "Government views these events as a short-term phenomenon."

He said it was against this background that the government still expects growth for the year 2008 as well as 2009, even though at a lower rate for the latter.

And Sejani asked what lessons the government had derived from the global financial downturn in line with some of the capitalist policies it was pursuing.

Dr Situmbeko responded that some of the points he had made in his ministerial statement indicate to how the government was moving out to attract investment into the country.

Meanwhile, commerce minister Felix Mutati said none of the conditionalities set in the Citizens Economic Empowerment Policy (CEEP) is exploitative.

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Magande condemns inclusion of civil servants in FSP

Magande condemns inclusion of civil servants in FSP
Written by Mwala Kalaluka
Saturday, November 29, 2008 4:26:13 PM

FORMER finance minister Ng’andu Magande on Thursday said the inclusion of civil servants as eligible beneficiaries in the government-funded Fertiliser Support Programme (FSP), is disadvantaging the peasant farmers. And Chasefu FDD member of parliament Chifumu Banda has asked the government to drill water points in the Eastern Province following the vigorous support they gave to the MMD during the last presidential election campaign.

During the oral question and answer session in Parliament, Magande, who is Chilanga member of parliament, stood on a point of order and asked deputy Speaker Mutale Nalumango to rule whether agriculture minister Dr Brian Chituwo was in order to commence the distribution of FSP inputs without specifying who the beneficiaries were.

Magande also wanted to know if Dr Chituwo was in order to issue a ministerial statement in the course of the week where he was urging the distribution of more fertiliser.

“Last night, I saw him on TV instructing one of the companies to start distributing,” he said. “There is confusion in my constituency between the civil servants and small, vulnerable but viable farmers. They are now going to get the fertiliser and the peasant small-scale farmers are being clouded out of the process, which is a very good government programme.”

Magande wondered if it was fair that such a well-intended public programme could end up benefiting non-vulnerable people, who were already rich.

“Is he (Dr Chituwo) in order?” asked Magande as the opposition side applauded him and told him that he had come back with a bang.

But Nalumango said she had not seen any contradiction between Dr Chituwo’s ministerial statement and the situation on the ground regarding the distribution of FSP inputs.

“The ministerial statement was on the distribution of fertiliser,” she said. “The chair is also careful to say that she did not watch the minister to give the instructions.”

Nalumango said in view of that, it would be like operating in a vacuum to make a ruling on the matter.
However, Nalumango was in order to give the House the fact that fertiliser had been distributed.

And making an observation of the low number of boreholes in Lundazi despite the pursuit made by parliamentarians from the area to the Ministry of Local Government and Housing, Banda said they had campaigned for the MMD during the elections.

But local government minister Benny Tetamashimba said the distribution of boreholes would not be based on who campaigned for the ruling party as the MMD government was for everyone, including the PF.

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Sata vows to deal with Sampa Bredt, Sinyangwe

Sata vows to deal with Sampa Bredt, Sinyangwe
Written by Noel Sichalwe
Saturday, November 29, 2008 4:24:31 PM

PATRIOTIC Front (PF) president Michael Sata yesterday vowed to firmly deal with his members of parliament Reverend Sampa Bredt and Faustina Sinyangwe for indiscipline. Sata said this when he addressed cadres that gathered at Lusaka High Court grounds to hear the case of over 20 members of parliament who had applied for an injunction to restrain the party leadership from expelling them for attending the National Constitutional Conference (NCC).

Amid cheers from his supporters, Sata said the party would deal with Chawama member of parliament Rev Bredt and Matero member of parliament Sinyangwe now that his lawyers had argued their case.

Sata said the supporters should organise more buses to ferry people to the High Court on Friday next week when the matter would be heard again.

Earlier, PF cadres assumed the responsibility of screening people that were entering the High Court in the absence of adequate police officers.

However, at a later stage, police officers took over from the cadres and told them to remain outside while the case was being heard in chambers.

In an interview after the court hearing, PF lawyer Mathew Pikiti said they had successfully argued to restore the matter to active cause list and that the affected MPs’ lawyers did not object to the issue.
Pikiti said they had also argued that the injunction needed to be disposed off since it could not remain forever.

He also said the lawyers added more merit to the case but that the affected MPs were not ready and asked for more time before they could respond.

The matter has since been adjourned to December 5.
However, six PF members of parliament on Thursday discontinued their case against Sata and secretary general Edward Mumbi.

The members of parliament who have since discontinued the matter are Obius Chisala [Chilubi], Samuel Chitonge [Mwansabombwe], Christopher Mulenga [Chinsali], Lazarous Chota [Lubansenshi], Alfreda Mwamba [Lukashya] and councillor Steven Chilatu.

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Rupiah’s security annoys ‘job seekers’

Rupiah’s security annoys ‘job seekers’
Written by Chibaula Silwamba
Saturday, November 29, 2008 4:19:45 PM

MMD 'job seekers' on Thursday night protested after their fellow party member who allegedly purported to be a security personnel for President Rupiah Banda blocked them from shaking hands with the President on his arrival from Nigeria. And President Banda said he was not very happy that some MMD members were rushing to advocate for him to become party president, barely a month after being elected Republican President.

The MMD cadres, who shouted that they were looking for jobs, were angered when an MMD member, whom they identified as Musonda blocked them from shaking hands with President Banda. The cadres, complained on top of their voices, soon after President Banda's motorcade left the airport.

Some prominent MMD members who were at the scene of the incident were Kabwata party chairman Chilekwa Munkonge, former presidential minister Webby Chipili and MMD choir members, among many others.

According to an audio recording, the cadres were heard saying they were looking for jobs.

"Twalefwaya inchito palya. [What we wanted were jobs]," the cadres shouted.

"Who is he? Ba Munkonge, let him tell us which constituency he belongs to. Why did he cut the line [queue]? We have been here from 14:00 hours up to now [22:00hours]. We wanted to greet our President. We all wanted to greet our President. People wanted to greet their President. There is no way..."

The cadres demanded that Musonda should not be allowed at the airport again or else they would beat him up.

"We don't want him and you should tell him that he should be coming to the airport with your permission. Next time we will beat him. We will tell ama youths bakamwikatefye nokumupuma," the cadres randomly shouted. "Where is he going to work?"

One official assured the cadres that he would personally complain to President Banda.
"This is not the way to treat party members. We all want jobs," the official said.

However, some cadres further demanded that their leaders inform President Banda about the incident.

"Can you put something in writing? You are the only person who can decide who is going to greet the President or not. Give him a warning. He is undermining your authority," the cadres shouted.

The cadres continued complaining as they walked from the runway to the VIP car park.

An MMD member Anthony Mumba, who was one of the people protesting, later said the cadres were upset because Musonda had blocked them from shaking hands with President Banda.

Mumba wondered why Musonda stopped the cadres from shaking hands with President Banda when in fact the state security personnel had screened and cleared them, a proof that they were not a danger to the President.

"The President's security personnel have put in place security measures to ensure that the President is safe. So who is he to stop the party members from shaking hands with our President?" asked Mumba.

Earlier responding to questions from The Post upon arrival from Abuja in Nigeria where he had gone for a two-day official visit, President Banda said he was not very happy that some MMD members were advocating for him to ascend to the party Presidency, this early.

"I don't know why people are rushing to this thing, I have just been elected President of the country I still have a lot of work to do with my colleagues," President Banda said. "I think that the party issues should not be brought to the public to discuss so early. I am not very happy about that, I must be honest."

MMD spokesperson Benny Tetamashimba, among several party members, was demanding that the MMD National Executive Committee (NEC) should elect President Banda as party vice-president and subsequently elect him as president at the national convention.

President Banda also said the government was working hard to uphold the economy and increase the tax base to ensure that the lives of Zambians become normal again.

"You know we are going through a lot of problems that is why I like your question, so that we understand what is happening in our country. You know the prices of copper and other metals have gone down. There are many problems that we are facing as a country and we don't manipulate the exchange rate as you know, it finds its own levels," he said.

"But that is why we are working very hard to make sure that we have alternative things to do to uphold our economy and to increase the tax base so that our lives can become normal again. The price of copper has gone down from US$ 8,000 to below US$ 4,000. These are the reasons for that."

About his trip, President Banda said: "The trip was well, we were very well received and we are very happy that we went there."

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I want to keep my job, declares Tetamashimba

I want to keep my job, declares Tetamashimba
Written by Chibaula Silwamba
Saturday, November 29, 2008 4:18:21 PM

LOCAL government minister Benny Tetamashimba on Wednesday declared that he wants to keep his job. And Tetamashimba has said he is waiting for MMD national chairman Michael Mabenga to do something about MMD Katuba member of parliament Jonas Shakafuswa for disobeying his [Mabenga’s] directives that no party member should discuss party issues in the media.

Asked to comment on Shakafuswa’s observations that he [Tetamashimba] as party spokesperson had caused divisions in the ruling party because of his statements, Tetamashimba retorted: “I want to keep my job, you can’t employ me. Please leave, you can’t keep me.”

Tetamashimba then pushed this author away, saying: “I am working here.” This was at Lusaka International Airport on Wednesday before the departure of President Rupiah Banda.

Tetamashimba later returned to the place where ministers, senior government officials and MMD officials stood to see off President Banda. He jumped around while waving at the Presidential plane when it took off.

Tetamashimba, who was elusive, later said in an interview that he was waiting to see what Mabenga would do against Shakafuswa.

“The party chairman gave us instructions that nobody should speak. Now that Shakafuswa has spoken, go and ask the chairman that ‘what are you going to do, now that somebody has disobeyed your instructions?’ Otherwise I have nothing to say myself,” Tetamashimba said.

However, Tetamashimba said there were no differences in MMD between people considering themselves as old or new members.

“I had already said that there is nothing like true blues and light blue, we are all MMD. But if there are people saying there are true blues and light blues, the only person who can comment is Mabenga who is the head of the party as at now,” Tetamashimba said.

When contacted, Mabenga declined to comment on the counterattacks involving Tetamashimba, Shakafuswa and national secretary Katele Kalumba.

“I will never discuss party matters in the press. No! Never!” Mabenga said. “I have written a circular. Go and read the circular I have written that members should not speak about party matters in the press.”
Mabenga said his only way of communicating with MMD members would be through circulars.

Shakafuswa on Tuesday advised Tetamashimba to shut up, accusing him of weakening the ruling party because of his media statements. Shakafuswa was commenting on the exchange of words between Tetamashimba and Kalumba.

Recently, Tetamashimba called for an audit of the October 30 presidential election to ascertain why President Banda lost in constituencies where the MMD has members of parliament.

President Banda lost in Chiengi Constituency in Luapula Province where Kalumba is member of parliament.

Responding to Tetamashimba’s remarks, Kalumba urged MMD members not to insult Zambians who did not vote for President Banda.

Kalumba said parliamentarians could not force people on who they should vote for because human beings were capable of making their own decisions.

But Tetamashimba argued that Kalumba was trying to justify his failure to deliver Chiengi Constituency to President Banda.

However, Kalumba responded saying only ‘true blues’ [original members of the party] could determine his fate.

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(NEWZIMBABWE) SADC tribunal rules 78 white farmers can keep Zimbabwe land

SADC tribunal rules 78 white farmers can keep Zimbabwe land
Posted to the web: 28/11/2008 14:16:23

A SOUTHERN African tribunal ruled Friday that 78 white Zimbabweans can keep their farms because Harare's land reform scheme discriminated against them.

Judge Luis Mondlane, president of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) tribunal, said Zimbabwe had violated the treaty governing the 15-nation regional bloc by trying to seize the white-owned farms.

President Robert Mugabe's government "is in breach of the SADC treaty with regards to discrimination," Mondlane said, in a ruling seen as a test of the new tribunal's influence.

"The 78 applicants have a clear legal title (for their farms) and were denied access to the judiciary locally," he said.

Three of the 78 farmers have already been forced from their land, and the court ruled that Zimbabwe had also violated the treaty by failing to pay them fair compensation, he said.

For the remaining 75 farmers, Mondlane ordered Zimbabwe's government "to take all measures to protect the possessions and ownership" of their land.

"No actions may be taken by insurgents and others to interfere with or disturb the peaceful activities of the remaining 75 applicants," he said.

The verdict is the first major ruling by the court since it first convened in April last year.

By treaty, the court's rulings are binding, but Zimbabwe did not immediately say if it would comply.

Zimbabwe's ambassador to Namibia, Chipo Zindoga, said the government did not yet have a formal response to the ruling, but warned the verdict could interfere in the country's controversial land reforms.

Eight years ago Zimbabwe began seizing white-owned farms to resettle them with landless blacks, but the chaotic programme was plagued by deadly violence and some farms ended up in the hands of cronies of President Robert Mugabe.

"The resettled farmers will be perplexed and alarmed that this ruling will interfere with the land reform," Zindoga said.

The group of white farmers was led by William Michael Campbell, who filed the case last December to seek court relief "from a continued onslaught of invasions and intimidation," according to court papers.

"I am overwhelmed," a tearful but joyful Campbell said minutes after the ruling, after exchanging hugs with fellow farmers and his lawyers.

"The judgement is historic, the end of a very long legal battle. I call on all SADC leaders to see to it that the rule of law is respected in SADC and that peace prevails in Zimbabwe and we all can farm," Campbell's son-in-law Ben Freeth told AFP.

Chris Jarrett, vice chairman of the Southern African Commercial Farmers Alliance, said he hoped that Zimbabwe would respect the ruling.

"Today's ruling does not just stop here, it will affect the whole of the SADC region. It sends a precedent for the African continent," Jarrett said.

The SADC tribunal was created as part of a peer review mechanism within the organisation. It aims to ensure the objectives of SADC's founding treaty, including human rights and property rights, are upheld.

If it is respected, the ruling could influence land reforms other countries around southern Africa.

In Zimbabwe and many neighbouring countries, white settlers took most of the best farmland during colonial times. Now African nations face a dilemna in how to bring black farmers back onto the land without disrupting food production.

Zimbabwe gave much of its land to inexperienced farmers and provided them little support, causing an enormous drop in food production that critics say is at the root of current shortages. - AFP

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Friday, November 28, 2008

(TALKZIMBABWE) Full text: Mbeki's letter to Morgan Tsvangirai

Full text: Mbeki's letter to Morgan Tsvangirai
Our Reporter
Fri, 28 Nov 2008 08:39:00 +0000

THE Movement for Democratic Change says it has officially withdrawn from negotiations with Zanu-PF until former President Thabo Mbeki is replaced as the official Zimbabwe facilitator of the Southern African Development Community.

MDC announced this on Wednesday in response to a letter which Mr. Mbeki wrote to Tsvangirai on Monday. Mbeki wrote the letter in response to a letter which MDC secretary general Tendai Biti wrote to him on November 19.

Following is the full text of these two letters.


Mr Thabo Mbeki

Dear Sir,

Re: Constitutional Amendment No 19

Given the fact that the SADC resolution is a nullity and has not been rescinded, it is then difficult for any of the parties to move in any direction for fear of legitimising the SADC Summit "ruling". It means then that the negotiators cannot meet and work on the draft of Constitutional Amendment No 19.

There is a total meltdown in Zimbabwe and indeed a complete collapse of the state. Put simply, the state has lost any capacity to provide the basic amenities to the people in the form of food, education, health, transport. This situation, if left unresolved, will explode or implode and indeed such explosion or implosion will have a contagious multiplier effect in the region.

In addition to the meltdown, there are vicious attacks on the members of the MDC contrary to the dictates and spirit of the MOU and the GPA. There is a renewed wave of violence, abductions and assaults against the MDC and the people of Zimbabwe in the obvious direction of replicating the post 29 March barbaric violence, in particular the arrest and continued detention at unknown centres of MDC Mashonaland West senior leadership such as Concilia Chinanvanana and 11 others. Furthermore, the Zanu PF regime is crafting an assassination plot, code-named Operation Ngatipedzenavo (Let Us Finish Them) intended to eliminate the MDC leadership and decimate the party through frivolous allegations.

There are flimsy attempts to frame the MDC as a terrorist organisation that is training people for the purposes of banditry and insurgence. There are people that are being used to frame confessions and militias are being trained by Zanu PF to act as MDC bandits in an attempt to delegitimise the MDC.

We look forward to hearing from you on the way forward.

Tendai Biti, MP

MDC Secretary General


(Mbeki's response was addressed to "Mr Morgan Tsvangirai")

Dear Morgan

Today I received the letter dated 19 November 2008, which was correctly communicated through the South African Embassy in Harare, written to me by your secretary general, the Hon Tendai Biti, MP, concerning Constitutional Amendment No 19.

I must confess that the contents of this letter came to me as a complete surprise, causing me grave concern.

As you know, Mr Biti's letter describes the decisions on Zimbabwe, taken by the November 9 SADC Extraordinary Summit Meeting held in South Africa, as "a nullity".

The letter goes further to say that "it is then difficult for any of the parties to move in any direction for fear of legitimising the SADC Summit 'ruling'".

The first point I would like to make with regard to the foregoing is that, as you know, we were appointed as facilitator of the Zimbabwe Dialogue by the SADC.

This position was later endorsed by both the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN), both of which expressly rely on SADC to facilitate the Zimbabwe Dialogue, and thus contribute to the resolution of the Zimbabwe problem.

You will, therefore, understand that it is absolutely impossible for us as the SADC-appointed facilitator to contemptuously to dismiss solemn decisions of an SADC Summit Meeting as "a nullity".

Indeed, and necessarily, all such decisions serve as a binding mandate on the facilitator.

The second point I would like to make is that contrary to what the Hon Tendai Biti says in his letter, the three Zimbabwe negotiating parties, including yours, and with the support of the facilitation, have agreed that they should meet with the facilitation to consider the Draft Constitutional Amendment No 19.

The facilitation had proposed that this meeting should take place in South Africa on November 19 and 20, with the intention to finalise this draft during this interaction.

Both Zanu PF and the MDC (M) agreed to this proposal. However the meeting did not take place, essentially because of the reportedly unavoidable unavailability of your secretary general, the Hon Tendai Biti, who is one of your negotiators.

Subsequently, your negotiators suggested that the meeting should be rescheduled to take place in South Africa on November 25.

The facilitation canvassed this proposal with the other Zimbabwe negotiating parties and secured their agreement.

Accordingly, as of now, we expect that the meeting to consider the Draft Constitutional Amendment No 19 will be held on November 25, as your negotiators proposed.

As you know, on November 17, the facilitation received from the Hon Patrick Chinamasa the First Draft of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No 19 Bill, 2008.

We immediately distributed this draft to all three Zimbabwe negotiating parties, preparatory to the meeting then scheduled to be held on November 19-20.

Subsequently, the facilitation was informed that the MDC (T) had prepared its own Draft Constitutional Amendment No 19.

The facilitation welcomed this initiative by the MDC (T), which was consistent with the manner in which the SADC-mandated Zimbabwe Dialogue has been conducted during a period of over 18 months.

By agreement, this has allowed that each and any of the Zimbabwe Negotiating Parties should be absolutely free to present their views during the dialogue process, without let or hindrance, which has happened.

I would therefore like to assure you that consistent with previous practice, the facilitation is ready to facilitate consideration of all Drafts of Constitutional Amendment No 19 in an even-handed manner, guided by what is contained in the signed Global Political Agreement.

(As has been agreed, we will take all necessary steps to ensure that Amendment No 19 includes the provisions contained in the agreement signed privately on September 11, which, for whatever reason, are absent from the agreement signed in public on September 15.)

Correctly, the Zimbabwe negotiating parties had agreed, without any SADC intervention, that some of their decisions, as reflected in the Global Political Agreement, would have to be legalised through constitutional amendments.

We are completely at a loss as to what the Hon Tendai Biti means when he writes that with regard to Constitutional Amendment No 19, "it is then difficult for any of the parties to move in any direction for fear of legitimising the SADC Summit 'ruling'".

When the SADC Summit Meeting called for the approval of Constitutional Amendment No 19, it did nothing more than to endorse a logical decision which the Zimbabwe negotiating parties had already concluded.

Neither the MDC (T), nor the other two Zimbabwe negotiating parties had expressed this (Biti) view to the facilitator, as we prepared for the November 19-20 and November 25 meetings, that the SADC approval of an existing decision of the Zimbabwe negotiating parties created a new problem.

And indeed, neither Zanu PF nor the MDC (M) has, to date, expressed any such view. To the best of our knowledge, they remain ready to participate in the November 25 meeting.

In addition, you will also remember that, in your presence, at the November 9 SADC Summit Meeting, both President Mugabe and Professor Mutambara informed the meeting that they accepted the SADC decisions, and committed their organisations to their full implementation.

The deputy treasurer general of the MDC (T), and one of your negotiators, the Hon Elton Mangoma, kindly conveyed to the facilitation the resolutions adopted by the 7th MDC National Council of 2008, which met in Harare on November 14, 2008.

In this regard, the facilitation took particular note of the resolution which stated that:

"3. Given the lack of sincerity and lack of paradigm shift on the part of Zanu PF, the MDC shall participate in a new government once Constitutional Amendment No 19 has been passed and effected into law."

In this regard, the facilitation also took note of the November 14 report carried on the Kubatana Internet website, which said:

"(MDC (T) Vice President Thokozani) Khupe said: 'Given the lack of sincerity and lack of paradigm shift on the part of Zanu PF, the MDC shall participate in a new government once Constitutional Amendment No 19 has been passed and effected into law."

All this suggested to the Facilitation that the Zimbabwe Negotiating Parties should indeed proceed as speedily as possible to agree on Constitutional Amendment No 19.

The immediate foregoing is part of the reason why we find it immensely puzzling that even after the announced decisions of the 7th MDC National Council of 2008, your secretary general has now informed us that it is in fact impossible and impermissible to draft and enact Constitutional Amendment No 19 into law.

This is not the appropriate platform to discuss the intricacies of the Zimbabwe negotiations, in which you and ourselves have been involved for many years.

However, you know the circumstances which led the SADC Troika of the Organ on Politics and the SADC chairperson, and subsequently the November 9 SADC Extraordinary Summit Meeting, to focus on the matter of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

As the SADC executive secretary reported to the November 9 SADC Summit Meeting, when the SADC Troika of the Organ on Politics and the SADC chairperson met in Harare on October 27-28, they engaged the Zimbabwe negotiating parties, including yourself, in intense negotiations, deliberately without the participation of the facilitator.

The clear message communicated to the SADC Troika of the Organ on Politics and the SADC chairperson during these interactions was that the only obstacle to the formation of the Zimbabwe Inclusive Government, as agreed in the Global Political Agreement (GPA), was the finalisation of the dispute about the political leadership of the Ministry of Home Affairs, and the subsequent legalisation of the GPA through the enactment of Constitutional Amendment No 19.

You will remember your own insistence that in the context of the agreement that there should be two ministers of home affairs, these should serve in rotation, with the MDC (T) appointee taking the first slot.

You affirmed that if this were to be agreed, it would mark the conclusion of the negotiations about the distribution of the ministerial portfolios, and therefore enable the establishment of the Zimbabwe Inclusive Government, with your endorsement and support.

Because of this, basing themselves on what they learnt from the negotiations they conducted directly with the Zimbabwe negotiating parties, without the involvement of the Facilitation, the Troika of the SADC Organ on Politics and the SADC chairperson concluded that the most urgent and outstanding task relating to the formation of the Zimbabwe Inclusive Government was the resolution of matters relating to the Ministry of Home Affairs.

During the SADC meetings, the Troika of the Organ on Politics and the SADC chairperson emphasised that they recognise the fact that there are some outstanding matters that still need to be negotiated, and therefore asked that the facilitator should help ensure that this happens.

As we said earlier, for us as the facilitator, this constitutes a binding mandate which we must honour.

It is therefore factually incorrect that SADC has ignored various outstanding matters which you might have raised or which have served and serve on the agreed dialogue agenda.

In this regard, I would like to make one or two observations about the matter of "equity" with regard to the distribution of ministerial portfolios, which is mentioned in the resolutions of the 7th MDC National Council of 2008.

At your request, which was supported by the other two Zimbabwe negotiating parties, we prepared and submitted a document to you as the Zimbabwe principals, naturally including you, entitled "Reflections and Proposals of the Facilitation: Towards the Achievement of the Objectives of Equity and Power-sharing in the Constitution of the Inclusive Government: Harare, October 17 2008."

All three Zimbabwe negotiating parties responded to this document in writing. Of the three, only the MDC (T) fundamentally disagreed with the observations of the facilitator.

As you know, the facilitator's document did not constitute a "ruling", as it could not. It was a response to a suggestion you yourself had made, and should have been subjected to a discussion among the Zimbabwe principals and the facilitator.

However, as was your right, you responded to the facilitator in two documents. This happened shortly before the Troika of the SADC Organ on Politics and the SADC chairperson were to meet in Swaziland.

In the light of this decision, the facilitation thought it proper that it should submit to the Swaziland meeting copies of these five documents - the facilitator's "Reflections …" and the four responses, two from the MDC (T), - both to the SADC Troika of the Organ on Politics and the SADC chairperson, as well as the SADC Extraordinary Summit Meeting, which was done.

The facilitation has no reason to assume that these documents were not considered by the SADC structures.

We are, therefore, not aware of the basis of the statement made by the 7th MDC National Council of 2008 that SADC ignored the issue that MDC (T) had raised, relating to "equity" in the distribution of ministerial posts.

With regard to other outstanding matters, in your presence the SADC executive secretary reported that the SADC Troika of the Organ on Politics and the SADC chairperson agreed that these should not be forgotten or ignored, but should not hold up the formation of the Inclusive Government.

SADC directed that the facilitator should continue to focus on these matters, within the context that it set, which coincided with the approach of the facilitation.

It is perfectly clear to us as the facilitation that SADC is firmly of the view that the sooner the agreed Zimbabwe Inclusive Government is established, the better.

Our region considers this to be the most critical and urgent strategic task to implement, to move decisively towards the resolution of the challenges facing Zimbabwe.

As you know, the facilitation agrees with this view.

In this regard, you as the Zimbabwe principals agreed with the facilitator that senior officials of the Zimbabwe and South African governments should engage one another to address the issue of the provision of agricultural inputs that would help to ensure that during the current summer agricultural season, the people of Zimbabwe do everything possible to produce the food they need.

As you will recall, this decision was taken on the basis of an urgent request presented to the facilitator by the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU).

Together we agreed with the CFU that the intervention to produce food should not be held back because of delays in the conclusion of an agreement among the politicians about the composition of the Zimbabwe Inclusive Government.

On the basis of this mandate, the relevant Zimbabwe and South African senior officials have indeed interacted with one another.

I have the assurance of the president of South Africa, HE Mr Kgalema Motlanthe, that the Government of South Africa is ready to honour its obligations in this regard, precisely because of its abiding concern about the welfare of the sister people of Zimbabwe.

I mention this particular issue, concerning the agricultural season that is upon us, to emphasise the point that all of you, the principal Zimbabwe Leaders, have consistently communicated to me your unqualified understanding of the reality that it was of strategic and urgent importance that the Zimbabwe Inclusive Government should be established without further delay, as the SADC Extraordinary Summit concurred.

In his November 19 2008 letter, the Hon Tendai Biti, secretary general of MDC (T), raised various matters of grave concern to the MDC (T).

In particular he mentioned:

• a complete collapse of the Zimbabwe state;
• the absolute inability of the state to "provide the basic amenities to the people";
• the threat of an "explosion" or "implosion" in Zimbabwe, which would "have a contagious multiplier effect in the region";
• "a renewed wave of violence, abductions and assaults against the MDC and the people of Zimbabwe";
• the "crafting (by Zanu PF) of 'an assassination plot, code-named Operation Ngatipedzenavo (Let us Finish Them) intended to eliminate the MDC leadership and decimate the party through frivolous allegations;
• "flimsy attempts to frame the MDC as a terrorist organisation that is training people for the purposes of banditry and insurgence"; and,
• "people being used to frame confessions, and militias being trained by Zanu PF to act as MDC bandits in an attempt to delegitimise the MDC".

Again, as you know, the letter from the Hon Tendai Biti ends with the appeal to the facilitator - "We look forward to hearing from you on the way forward."

The above observations and allegations made by the Hon Tendai Biti are indeed extremely grave and demand immediate action.

The very firm and unequivocal view of the facilitation in this regard, which the Hon Biti requests, is that we must move with the greatest speed to establish the Inclusive Government, as provided for in the Global Political Agreement.

We must, as a matter of extreme urgency, establish the new Zimbabwe government, which will include the three parties represented in the democratically elected Zimbabwe parliament.

This government must operate according to the principles and procedures detailed in the Global Political Agreement, which both determines that RG Mugabe will be president, and that Morgan Tsvangirai will be prime minister, and specifies the roles of these leaders in the Inclusive Government.

The MDC (T), like the other Zimbabwe parties, must, within an Inclusive Government, take responsibility for the future of Zimbabwe, rather than see its mission as being a militant critic of President Mugabe and Zanu PF.

The signing of the Global Political Agreement has provided the possibility for the leaders of the people of Zimbabwe to govern Zimbabwe together, and together to solve the national problems, including the ones raised by the Hon Tendai Biti in his letter to me.

All that is now required is that these leaders must remain true to their word. They must implement the agreement they have signed.

In this regard, they have absolutely no need to refer to their external supporters for approval, however powerful they might seem, including any and all South African formations.

All that is required is that you, the leaders of the people of Zimbabwe, should do what you have committed yourselves to do, and that is all!

In the context of the observations made by the Hon Tendai Biti in his November 19 letter to the facilitator, Zimbabwe urgently needs precisely the agreed Inclusive Government, to:

• rebuild the state machinery of Zimbabwe;
• enable it to meet the needs of the people;
• overcome the current socio- economic crisis;
• end the threat of the explosion or implosion of Zimbabwe;
• end all manifestations of repression, intimidation and violence; and
• guarantee the democratic and human rights of all Zimbabweans, including their political and other formations.

The Hon Tendai Biti should not transfer the achievement of these tasks to the facilitator, SADC and the AU.

This responsibility belongs squarely to the people of Zimbabwe and their leaders.

The official signing of the Global Political Agreement in Harare on September 15 opened the way for you as Zimbabwe's leaders, and the formations you represent, to act together not as political opponents, but as partners in pursuit of a shared and defined objective of the reconstruction and development of Zimbabwe, the reconciliation and unification of its people, and the entrenchment of democracy.

As you have agreed, in the first instance this must be expressed in the formation of the Zimbabwe Inclusive Government, which must work together as a cohesive formation, together as one, to address the priorities identified in the Global Political Agreement, in the manner prescribed in this agreement.

You and I know that objectively, Zimbabwe desperately needs the establishment of this Inclusive Government, and that this is the most urgent demand of the masses, the people who elected the three parties, including yours, which are represented in the Parliament of Zimbabwe.

Without in any way reflecting on their merits, which would require protracted investigations, the only and most rational way to address the challenges raised by the Hon Tendai Biti is to form the Zimbabwe Inclusive Government and table the matters at issue even at the very first meeting of the cabinet of the Inclusive Government.

We suggest, humbly, that given the fact of the Global Political Agreement, the MDC (T), and indeed the MDC (M), should no longer treat themselves as opposition parties or protest movements, and neither should Zanu PF consider and relate to them as such.

The agreement that has been reached and signed provides that Zimbabwe will and must have a ruling coalition of three co-operating parties.

Acting together, within the agreed framework, these will and must constitute the new "ruling party" of Zimbabwe, which must govern Zimbabwe as this "one" entity.

Contrary to all this, the Hon Tendai Biti asks that we should support the delay in the formation of the Zimbabwe Inclusive Government and help to sustain an untenable situation according to which, despite the agreed and signed Global Political Agreement, the signatories should continue to treat one another as opposed political formations engaged in a deadly fight, one against the other.

Where conflicts and problems continue to persist among the Zimbabwe political parties and the supporters of these, surely the framework has now been established for these to engage one another to address these conflicts and problems!

I am certain that the longer we postpone using this framework, relying on the luxury of a facilitator and other informal advisers, the longer we will perpetuate the terrible misery that afflicts the people of Zimbabwe.

As facilitator, a neighbour and an African, I am immensely proud of the extraordinary work you have done to develop the comprehensive consensus that now exists among yourselves as the leaders of the people of Zimbabwe, which provides the roadmap which defines what must be done to pull Zimbabwe out of the abyss.

What the people of Zimbabwe, our region and Africa now need is the sense of patriotism among yourselves as leaders of the people of Zimbabwe and as African patriots, which will inspire you, despite and beyond personal and partisan interests, to implement the agreements you have concluded.

In this regard, it may be that together, openly, and sooner rather than later, we must give an account to the masses of the people of Zimbabwe of what has been agreed during 18 months of negotiations, and what it is that holds up the united, national advance towards the alleviation of the problems of Zimbabwe, and therefore the speedy improvement of the quality of the lives of the people.

You know this, too, that the rest of Southern Africa, your neighbouring countries, has also had the unavoidable obligation to carry much of the weight of the burden of the Zimbabwe crisis, in many ways.

You know that, among other things, various countries of our region host large numbers of economic migrants from Zimbabwe, who impose particular burdens on our countries.

Loyal to the concept and practice of African solidarity, none of our countries and governments has spoken publicly of this burden, fearful that we might incite the xenophobia to which all of us are opposed.

Nevertheless, the leaders of the people of Zimbabwe, including you, dear brother, need to bear in mind that the pain your country bears is a pain that is transferred to the masses of our people, who face their own challenges of poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment.

This particular burden is not carried by the countries of Western Europe and North America, which have benefited especially from the migration of skilled and professional Zimbabweans to the north.

In the end, when all is said and done, Zimbabwe will have to exist in peace and productive collaboration with its neighbours in Southern Africa and the rest of Africa.

Realistically, Zimbabwe will never share the same neighbourhood with the countries of Western Europe and North America, and therefore secure its success on the basis of friendship with these, and contempt for the decisions of its immediate African neighbours.

I say this humbly to advise that it does not help Zimbabwe, nor will it help you as prime minister of Zimbabwe, that the MDC (T) contemptuously repudiates very serious decisions of our region, and therefore our continent, describing them as "a nullity".

It may be that, for whatever reason, you consider our region and continent as being of little consequence to the future of Zimbabwe, believing that others further away, in Western Europe and North America, are of greater importance.

In this context I have been told that because leaders in our region did not agree with you on some matters that served on the agenda of the SADC Extraordinary Summit Meeting, you have denounced them publicly as "cowards".

Such manner of proceeding might earn you prominent media headlines. However, I assure you that it will do nothing to solve the problems of Zimbabwe.

As you secure applause because of the insult against us that we are "cowards", you will have to consider the reality that our peoples have accepted into their countries very large numbers of Zimbabwean brothers and sisters in a spirit of human solidarity, prepared to sustain the resultant obligations. None of our countries displayed characteristics of cowardice when they did this.

All of us will find it strange and insulting that because we do not agree with you on a small matter, you choose to describe us in a manner that is most offensive in terms of African culture, and therefore offend our sense of dignity as Africans, across our borders.

As facilitator I am more than convinced that we should hold the November 25 meeting as proposed by your negotiators, to agree on the text of Constitutional Amendment No 19, and the procedures for its approval.

The facilitation therefore confirms the arrangements that have been made for this critically important meeting.

Consistent with the principle agreed from the very beginning of the SADC-mandated negotiations, that no party to the negotiations has veto powers, the facilitation will engage any party that arrives to attend the November 25 meeting which your negotiators proposed, and which we convinced the other parties to accept.

As a matter of courtesy, as well as for their information and action, I would like to inform you that I will make available the November 19 letter of the Hon Tendai Biti to me, and this response to you, to:

• the other Zimbabwe negotiating parties;
• the chairperson and acting chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics etc;
• the chairperson of SADC;
• the chairperson of the AU;
• the chairperson of the AU Commission;
• the secretary general of the United Nations; and,
• the executive secretary of SADC.

Yours sincerely,

Thabo Mbeki

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(TALKZIMBABWE) Sept. 15 agreement now drips with blood

Sept. 15 agreement now drips with blood
Leonard Makombe - Opinion
Fri, 28 Nov 2008 05:18:00 +0000

WHAT is wrong with Zimbabwe? Why is a political solution becoming so elusive? Why is it there is so much talk about the best way(s) forward yet we remain at the junction perpetually? Is it the leaders lack reason or the proposed solutions lack reason. Or simply put, we are cursed, so much so that the leaders have been blinded by trivialities.

Even mother nature has unleashed the deadly cholera, just to expose us further, the ominous outbreak may be a rude nudge to the leaders to once again look at the situation and take stock of what they are doing and how it is helping to assist the situation. Assist here is double edged, as it may mean contributing to the problems or making sure that they are eliminated.

As a Zimbabwean whose potential, future, past and present has been frozen in a mortal combat of the elites, I have been left wondering what will happen to the country.

In my very humble opinion, one informed by a struggle for survival, the September 15 agreement now drips with blood. I was against the manner through which the talks were held, and have argued that they should involve the ordinary Zimbabwean, but as many other people we accepted the final product with reservation. It it was a bastard, born outside the wedlock of the basic aspirations of the ordinary Zimbabwean.

Reading through th agreement, many thought there was room for input of the ordinary citizen, especially during the constitutional process as well as the formation of different bodies such as the National Economic Council, which I thought would bring the best brains together to map the way forward for the country.

However, as has been argued earlier in July, there is always a danger of giving politicians all the power to decide on our behalf. In fact what the agreement has done is to execute a coup on the masses of the country as it is now not clear what role we have to play for example if a sitting member of parliament dies or is recalled. Is it possible for us to march through Harare demanding that the agreement be implemented when we were not part of the the initial process. Celebrating the agreement, for us the poor, was like enjoying a meal in a train we did not even know the destination and why we had the meal and what will happen next.

We may have forgiven this coup, if the agreement had restored some of our basic needs, that is food and water. Maybe we would have concluded it was a necessary evil with the end justifying the means. But not at the moment. If anything, there has suddenly been a number of issues which have extended the suffering of the people whose origins directly or otherwise is on that document.

Why is it that there has been the fastest acceleration of the rate of inflation, currency devaluation and erosion of the social service in the last two months. If compared to last year, is what we are witnessing a normal development or a completely new phenomenon. Why has there been a sudden and sharp change at a time when we should have been restoring hope or witnessing a wait and see in the business sector.

A critical analysis of the situation could show a scorched earth policy which has been adopted by politicians and business. The politicians are held up in a rather silly combat as to who should have what, when and how reminiscent of robbers sharing a loot in the graveyard at the witching hours of the night.

The business on the other hand has taken the failure to agree as a sign that central control has collapsed, at least as of now, thus they are capitalising on the situation and sell orange juice for US$7 a product which costs US$2 in neighbouring countries.

These internal acts of terrorism against the people by the politicians and the business sector has brought untold suffering of the people. (We should be asking who in the top brass of the three political parties has a child attending a school in Zimbabwe or has a relative on a deathbed in a semi closed hospital) It (the terror and arrogance) has in other words eroded the hope that was laid in September.

This is not to argue that there should not have been disagreements but we are saying the manner in which they were held and the time it takes to resolve disputes was detrimental. They seem to be in no hurry as I see it. After all the negotiators and their immediate families are assured of three meals and the best health and education. That has always been my argument, how would we let those scratching their stomachs after a hearty meal address issues of 'sadza'.

Some of the issues which spilled into the public sphere, show that the agreement was hastened and issues were brought as an after thought.There is also an underlying fact that the delay in creating a government can also be traced to individual fights for personal pursuits. For most of the time the issues which are discussed are not on policy but on police. My God.

What politicians should note is that the people are not stupid and they would be shocked if they go back to their constituencies at the moment as there is voter fatigue and mere hopelessness. To cite an example given by Julius Nyerere, placing hope in the three parties is like having a village faced with famine send the able bodies to source food. The chosen ones would instead of coming with food enjoy the plenty away from the madding growls never to come back.

Apart from the scorched earth policy which has been adopted by Zanu PF, MDC-T and MDC-M, there are some external factors which have compounded the Zimbabwe problems. I call it the 'scorched earth policy' as they are literally burning all the things in sight, the hope, the confidence in negotiations and the ownership of the process.

The Southern African Development Community (Sadc) for example has been caught in a web which it may not extricate itself, at least in the short term. The issue of the contradictions brought by the decisions of the troika and the main body are not anything new. There were not contradictions in what the troika recommended and what the main body recommended, but one is left wondering why take a circumspect route. Why did we have to have a troika in Swaziland, aborted, over the passport issue, then the Harare one with its disputed communique and then the Sadc Extra Ordinary Summit whose decision was also disputed? Its like a a script of a tragedy where we almost can guess what the next line is yet we cannot change anything but wait and see what will happen yet we already know what it is.

Sadc has largely let down Zimbabwe. It is an expose of the bloc, as it has to learn from its handling of the Zimbabwean issue. This is not the first time there has been contradictions in the regional body, the war in DRC a decade ago brought such contradictions and it was a learning curve.

The Troika decided to send a force while the main board was not decisive then. But on the Zimbabwean issue, it is time Sadc be decisive. Like what it said on the Extra Ordinary Summit, it is time for the regional bloc to take steps which will help Zimbabwe out of the political, social and economic problems.

In the same breath, what Botswana has been trying to do has, if anything, been contradictory. We have accusations that the MDC-T is using the country to train a force, which is denied by that country and yet the minister of foreign affairs says they are prepared to have Morgan Tsvangirai resident in the country as a leader in exile.

The minister also said they would assist in "democratic resistance". This statement, in strategic terms would give Zanu PF arsenal which, I believe, will use gladly but not for the betterment of the country but buttering of relations.

Even suggestions by Ian Khama that the country should go back to the polls are misplaced, mistimed and go against the grain of the realities on the ground. It is not too harsh to suggest that there is no political party that is willing, as of now, to go to the polls once again. A return to the polls, with the harrowing experience of the post March 29 harmonized elections still fresh, would make the whole affair another fuss.

Questions may also be raised as to what conditions should prevail before a new elections are held, whether there would be a new constitution, new electoral bodies and the issue of supervision. At this time, like was the case after March 2008, it is not necessary to hold another election.

In other words a call for another election will speed up the turmoil in the country. A cursory look at statistics will show that the slide in economic turmoil accelerated in an election year. A call for another election may be informed by a desire to sweep to power, but what lies beyond that is darkness as of now.

Actually, I support what Khama and Mohlante said this week when they said the unity government is the best way forward. The review period may be reduced, or the government may operate for a shorter period of time, say 24-30 months instead of the 60.

It is quite heartening that the past week has seen a change in the tone pertaining to the speed with which the talks should be concluded.

Arguing that these may take longer or should so that the final product is water tight are inhuman and meant to mislead us. We have respected men and a woman negotiating, and they have been doing this for quite some time. Remember Constitutional Amendment Number 19 came as a result of the hushed talks. They even have a draft constitution in the form of the Kariba Draft. Taking longer on the constitution may mean the parties would walk through more bodies on their route to corridors of power.

Ironically, all the three parties purport to be doing each action it takes in our name and we wonder, at least I do, if as a people I wish to see more of my relatives and friends dying or see the media mud-slinging.

Leonard Makombe

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LETTERS - Inviting foreign farmers

Inviting foreign farmers
Written by Charles Lengalenga, Nairobi
Friday, November 28, 2008 12:15:57 PM

I have read with great sadness in the press about the new finance minister’s plan to invite foreign farmers to come and take part in the production of white maize.

It appears our leaders don’t learn from history and current precarious situations in neighbouring countries that arise out of hurried and uninformed government decisions.

Whilst we all look up to the government to provide leadership in ensuring self-sufficiency in food production, the direction the MMD government is taking to uplift our farming fortunes is not only misplaced but totally shortsighted.

The honourable minister should not look for quick fixes to solve our self-inflicted food shortages. Solutions to our food deficit problem lie within Zambia. It all depends on policies that will empower our Zambian farmers to be able to produce and not looking for foreigners to come and do it for us.

Honourable minister, land in Zambia is about much more than producing more guavas and oranges. It is our national heritage. After years of plunder and mismanagement of our natural resources, we cannot let you concession the last of our possessions - land.

Surely, liquid foreign capital should not be the excuse for inviting foreigners to come and grow food for us. It appears the minister and his advisors have run out of ideas.

We have a very good example just next door - Malawi - about how deliberate promotion of local/indigenous farmers can increase food output. Malawi simply tripled the farm subsidies - at 90 per cent discount on fertiliser and the country has more than it can consume and is even able to feed countries like Zambia. The other upside of the Malawian lesson is that the indigenous Malawians are still able to wake up the following farming season with their tracts of land still in their names!

Look at the same countries that are propagating your global approach to increasing corn/soy production by taking over tracts of land in poor Third-World countries: The US itself has been pouring billions in subsidies to its corn, wheat, cotton, soy farmers etc, including making disaster relief handouts to its farmers.

Now, these same countries have been producing so much surplus and they have time and again destroyed their "excess" stock so as to balance their demand and supply mathematics - all in their selfish capitalist interest.

For the finance minister to wake up today and say he will concession part of our land to foreigners is not only preposterous and shortsighted but smacks of a serious lack of the democtratic culture of consultation with the population and agriculture experts.

There are so many lessons that could have guided the minister to make the right policy pronouncements. Look at the way the mines have been operating. The mines have been concessioned all to the detriment of the ordinary Zambian and the only thing the ordinary Zambian is sure to reap from the mines are the acidic plumes of smelly smoke coming from the copper smelters whilst the fat profits pass right through Cairo Road to Europe and Asia!

This is a very serious proposition on the part of the minister which needs to be stopped right in its tracks before it goes anywhere. We have available alternatives. Please, stop those unnecessary remunerations to those district commissioners and redirect the cash towards the maize/soy subsidies. Stop those purchases of 4 x 4 luxury government vehicles and redirect the savings towards subsidising agricultural inputs.

Erase some of those unnecessary deputy minister portfolios and get the savings to upgrading the existing farm blocks like Mpongwe. And what are the $1billion foreign reserves doing at BOZ when part of that cash can be re-invested in short-term profit-bearing ventures? Stop the corruption first before you go out with your begging bowl.

Land means much more than growing more bananas and oranges. I wish the civil society and other concerned Zambians could wake up and stop minister Musokotwane fast.

This is one matter we should collectively address and not let a few individuals with political nests decide for us.

Foreign, local investment
Written by Patrick Mulenga, UK
Friday, November 28, 2008 12:22:50 PM

Ministers Musokotwane, Mutati and Namugala should acquaint themselves more with the world economy instead of repeating the same old 'foreign investor' messages we have heard since Chiluba's time.

There is presently little money available on foreign markets for long-term investment in developing countries or to spend on personal luxuries like foreign holidays. Period. Let us be pragmatic and focus on improving local capacity because the foreigners have already shown us that they do not have Zambia's interests at heart when the chips are down.

Namugala for instance can look at improving the quantity and quality of budget facilities to cater for the football tourists that will be in the region in 2010.

Musokotwane and Mutati can ask BoZ to release part of the US$1 billion reserves to:

1. Immediately develop a new 300-400 MW coal-fired power station at Maamba. This would take only 12-15 months to construct as opposed to the 3-5 years for a similar capacity hydro-power station, and electricity is an exportable commodity;
2. Provide soft loans to serious local companies (not mine suppliers) who will be able to create long-term employment and import-substituting products and services;
3. Recapitalise NCZ and place it under a responsible management;
4. Improve agricultural production and distribution in high rainfall areas.
All this can be accomplished if our elected leaders are focussed and not driven by selfish motives and corruption and it is certainly achievable before 2010.

Let us emulate countries like Botswana and Namibia.

Job losses in mines
Written by Mubanga Luchembe, Lusaka
Friday, November 28, 2008 12:21:40 PM

Allow me to comment on the ongoing job cuts by mining companies on the Copperbelt and North-Western provinces.

Personally, I was disappointed with the President’s statement on the same and salary increments for Cabinet ministers, MPs and other constitutional office bearers.

On one hand he says he is happy to increase salaries and allowances for constitutional office holders and in another, he says he has discouraged mining companies from retrenching employees. It boggles my mind to see our President’s double standards.

The reality is that the mining companies are trying to reduce operational costs due to low copper prices on the world market and one of the options is reducing the workforce.

Mining companies have for a long time engaged the government in dialogue regarding improvement in the mineral tax regime and nothing tangible has materialised.

Now that the mining companies have started laying off employees, our political leaders are in a state of panic. What the government should have done was freeze all salary increments, including the ones for constitutional office bearers. Though in Zambia we practise politics of benefits, the timing is bad.

The mealie-meal prices are high, jobs are not secure and the government has a bloated Cabinet which is highly remunerated. How do you reconcile such a scenario?

The global financial crisis may take months or even years, and our government should learn to adapt its economic policies in tandem with the rest of the world, ironing out the kinks and advancing with the times.

The government should keep in mind its people’s welfare and always remember that hungry people are angry people.

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