Saturday, December 06, 2008
By JERRY MUNTHALI
MINISTER of Works and Supply, Mike Mulongoti, says Government has handed over 21 blacklisted contractors to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to determine the merits of their cases.
Mr Mulongoti said this in Lusaka yesterday during a consultative meeting with the contractors. He said out of the 42 contractors that were banned, 21 had been cleared.
Mr Mulongoti said the contractors were notified that preliminary inquiries indicated that there was nothing worth taking to the DPP.
“There is another 21; the papers are with the DPP to determine whether there is merit in this,” he said.
Mr Mulongoti said instructions had been given to the directorate in the Ministry of Works and Supply to pursue the matter with the DPP.
Mr Mulongoti said the decision by Government to institute investigations for alleged unethical behaviour was not done in bad faith but was aimed at protecting and clearing the names of Government and the contractors.
He said this was vital to build confidence in the public who were the owners of the funds.
“When you are investigated, it does not imply guilt.
You must be ready to be investigated because you are paid public funds. I want to appeal to you that there must be no bitterness,” Mr Mulongoti told contractors.
He also said the Road Development Agency had already drafted the work plan for next year and that it was important that the names of the contractors were urgently cleared.
Mr Mulongoti advised the contractors not to be selfish but engage in partnerships with foreign companies with equipment and capacity so that they could build their capacities and complete projects in time.
He said Government wanted to construct nine major roads before the year 2011 but that the major hurdles were the contractors who delayed work due to lack of capacity.
“We want nine major roads by 2011. If you don’t see us, and we invite someone from Germany, do not be surprised,” Mr Mulongoti said.
He advised the contractors not to go straight to President Banda when they have a problem.
Mr Mulongoti also advised the contractors not to report their fellow contractors to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) but instead engage in fair competition.
“If you go straight to the head of State, that is a vote of no-confidence in me, and I will tell him that you are a useless and corrupt contractor. So please work with us, our offices are open…we are here to solve problems,” Mr Mulongoti said.
By Times Reporter
UNITED Party for National Development (UPND) general secretary, Tiens Kahenya has been expelled from his position and the party for activities deemed harmful to the party.
Mr Kahenya was expelled by the UPND’s national management committee (NMC) for alleged gross misconduct, insubordination and behaviour detrimental to the party interests.
This is according to an expulsion letter dated December 4, 2008, signed by UPND vice-president, Richard Kapita.
Mr Kahenya is accused of holding secret meetings to destabilise the party as well as releasing confidential information about the party to unauthorised people.
Other allegations levelled against him are that, without reasonable cause, he had been peddling malicious falsehood against the party president, Hakainde Hichilema, with the intent to bring him into disrepute.
Mr Kahenya is, among other things, accused of peddling false rumours that the party president stole proceeds from the sale of cattle donated to the party.
Mr Kapita reminded Mr Kahenya that the last national management committee meeting offered him an opportunity to substantiate the claims but he opted to keep quiet.
Mr Kapita alleged that the expelled official only spoke in clandestine meetings where he continued with the allegations.
“From the above stated matters, it is clear that you have offended the party and in the premise, NMC has no option but to expel you from your position as secretary general and from the party forthwith,” he said.
In accordance with article 70 of the party constitution, Mr Kapita said, the NMC recommends appropriate action while Mr Kahenya was free to exculpate himself over the allegations.
December 6, 2008
By Chanda K. Chishimba
Many people in Zambia have voiced their opinions on the direction that the country’s economy should take in order to raise the living standards of its people. Endowed with natural resources and blessed with a peaceful citizenry, the majority of people are still confined in the shackles of poverty. A greater part of the population is not in formal employment, agriculture remains predominantly peasant, education standards never seem to improve, infrastructure development and maintenance is an eyesore, income levels are low, and hopelessness is the order of the day.
Intellectual voices in the country have decried the lack of capacity for the government and the citizenry to turn development goals and objectives into practical realities. But the question I beg to ask is: What is Capacity Building and how is it relevant to development? My simple understanding of this broad concept is, ‘it is human resource development, equipping individuals with access to information, skills, understanding, and training. It is also organizational development, management of relationships between organizations and sectors, development of an institutional and legal framework, enhancing government regulation and oversight, and laying a foundation for economic and social progress.’ This to me can be summed up as development of a ‘standard way of doing things.’ Does Zambia have a coordinated system of developing the country?
In light of the above, is Zambia then capable of developing a standard to which its citizens can identify themselves? The answer is yes we can. We need the political will of our leaders as well as the citizenry to achieve high levels of development. Zambia needs to develop a cohesive system that is home grown and takes into account the skill sets of ordinary Zambians, the cultures of its people, and the available resources. We need a standard which many people understand, is not complicated and is easily implementable. This idea of trying to copy everything western has led to our current situation. We fail to note that each country has its own traditions and cultures, its own standards, and its own objectives, goals and priorities. Zambia needs to invest heavily in its human resource by upgrading institutions of learning, computerizing schools so students can have access to information and increase their computer skills, providing continuing education to those entrusted with policy formulation and implementation, introducing legislation that requires licensing for any person wishing to engage in financial advisory, teaching, insurance, engineering, medicine etc. These must be licenses renewable every 2 years or else can be revoked. It is not enough just to be a member of, say, the Engineers Institute of Zambia. We need a well knit system that monitors, evaluates, and makes recommendations based on its findings.
We cannot rely on our foreign partners to develop our own system. As long as they provide funding for some projects, they will always have a role to play in how we implement our objectives. Only we know what our priorities are and we are better situated to resolve them. Donors can still be our partners in our efforts, but we need to place them in check. Farfetched as this may seem, if we have the will to do this, our lives and those of our children will surely be improved. It takes commitment and courage to achieve these goals and I am positive that Zambians can take up this challenge with the right political will. Let us realize that we owe this as much to our future generations as we do to ourselves. Development in Zambia will not come without breaking sweat. We can all play a role in the progress of our country. This should not be left to politicians alone because we have seen what happens when we do this. The choices we make today, will determine our future.
Labels: CAPACITY BUILDING
December 3, 2008
Government has declared Solwezi District as an economic zone. Commerce ,Trade and Industry Minister Felix Mutati said this in Solwezi, today, after touring Africa’s largest Copper mine at Lumwana.
Mr Mutati said the the declaration of Solwezi district as an economic zone comes after the increased economic activities in the Northwestern Province, particularly the mine activities.
He said it was government’s hope that the economic zone would help increase direct tax and more employment activities for the local people and beyond.
Government has declared a number of economic zones in the country like the Chambishi and the Lusaka economic zones with the help of bilateral partners like China to boost economic activities in Zambia.
On Lumwana Mines, Mr Mutati said the mine had brought industrialization in the province and the neighbouring Copper belt Province as it would help boost the economy of the nation.
He particularly noted the Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (ZESCO)’s investment in supplying power to the mines saying the installation of power to the mine would speed up the processing of the copper ore rather than manually.
And the mine extracted copper ore which had 41 percent pure copper for the first time the processing plant was installed 12 year ago.
Lumwana Mine managing Director Harry Micheal told Mr Mutati that the copper concentrate mined today had 41 percent copper adding that his team was targeting to mine 45 percent of copper ore.
Written by Editor
The proposal by the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) secretariat for an extension of their mandate by 12 months is unsettling. We say unsettling because we feel the initial period that was given to the NCC from inception - September 10, 2007 to September 2009 - is enough to complete its very expensive work.
The NCC was constituted under an Act of Parliament of 2007 to examine, debate and adopt proposals to alter the draft Constitution submitted by the Willa Mung'omba Constitution Review Commission (CRC). The Mung'omba draft report recommended that the Constitution should be adopted through the Constituent Assembly and when the issue of forming the NCC arose, various stakeholders, including the Oasis Forum, opposed the idea.
They insisted that the constitution should be adopted through the Constituent Assembly. However, the MMD government maintained its stance over the NCC and a bill was drafted after some consultation.
Some sections of the Church and some civil society organisations accepted the idea reluctantly but called for further consultation over the matter. The people's fears were that the bill, which was formulated on the Zambia Centre for Interparty Dialogue (ZCID) road map, advocated piecemeal amendments of the Constitution and reserved the right of Parliament to debate and amend the recommendations of the constitutional conference. The stakeholders felt that the bill was retrogressive as it merely limited the NCC to making recommendations to the Minister of Justice.
However, the government ignored the people's wishes and went ahead to take the NCC bill to Parliament. When civil society threatened to demonstrate over the constitution-review process, then justice minister George Kunda - now Vice-President - accused the Oasis Forum of derailing the process and said the intention of the government was to achieve a comprehensive review of the Constitution in a less costly manner. The bill sailed through Parliament and late president Levy Mwanawasa accented to it, making it law.
Stakeholders such as the Non-Governmental Organisations Coordinating Council (NGOCC), the Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC), the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) and the Patriotic Front (PF) boycotted the NCC. Nonetheless, the NCC - with about 496 members, was then set up. At the time, we made it very clear that the NCC was not for consensus building or a negotiated approach to constitution review.
We had said it was simply a mechanism for the deception of people. We had a problem with composition of the NCC and we stated that there would be no real participation by the people but that what would be there would be the MMD's participation, its dominance or hegemony over the whole process.
The NCC then commenced its sittings on December 19 and the rest, as they say, is history. Now it is unsettling to hear that this Conference wants an extension of 12 months. According to the NCC's letter addressed to the General Purposes Committee on November 17, 2008, they had lost over eight months due to various factors such as the initial preparation during the setting up of the Conference, president Mwanawasa's death and the elections.
Valid as their reasons might be, we feel the demand for an extension by 12 months is unsettling and raises a lot of questions about its efficiency, effectiveness and orderliness.
The NCC should be able to finish its work within the stipulated time because the country cannot afford to buy time on the Constitution. People have hoped for a new constitution for a long time and actually offered alternative road maps which indicated that the constitution could be finalised within a shorter period of time but the government decided to go its way.
We were even recently assured by Kunda that the document would be ready on time so there should be no need for the NCC to continue to 2010. Setbacks will always be there in life but there is need for us to plan in such a way that we meet our set goals. What guarantee do we have that there will be no setbacks in 2009, which will lead them to asking for an extension to 2011 - the year of general elections?
We need a lot of seriousness on this matter because the constitution, which is being formulated is not for the MMD or an individual. This is a document for the people and it is needed urgently.
When the Oasis Forum presented an alternative road map through which to adopt the constitution, it was rejected on grounds that it would be an expensive exercise. The government came up with a 'cheaper' way of enacting the constitution by forming the NCC.
A lot of concern has been raised over the money that is being spent on this body. According to the 2008 budget, in excess of K300 billion was allocated to the NCC and definitely they will receive an allocation next year since their mandate spans up to September 2009. This is understandable but to think of another allocation in 2010 is unsettling.
Where will the country get the money? In view of the global financial crisis, the country is likely to see reduced revenue in form of taxes. This crisis will lead to job losses thus reducing the number of taxpayers, the country might not get as much money in aid as the developed countries are very much hit by the credit crunch and are trying to bail out their own companies.
The country might see reduced investment which could have helped to create more jobs and the economy is not likely to perform as projected. This precarious situation calls for a lot of foresightedness, prudence, thriftiness and good planning to ensure that the little money that the country has is spent wisely.
It will be unwise for us as a country to take the route of "business as usual" when the entire world is gearing up and finding ways of mitigating the effects of the global economic meltdown. And it will be unfair to continue milking the taxpayers who at the same time have to struggle with the rising cost of living - high prices of food, rentals, fuel and so on and so forth.
Such an extension should only be tolerated if members of the NCC decide to go for 12 months to serve the country - without any allowances being paid to them. As long as it involves the hard-earned taxpayers’ money, an extension will be difficult to support. It is sad that in these hard economic times, people can entertain such very expensive schemes.
We have always called for an acceptable constitution-making process and we have always encouraged consensus in the process. And we strongly feel that the country can have the new constitution by September 2009. Those sitting on the NCC should ensure that they deliver a good constitution that meets the people's aspirations. They should ensure that the defeat that people suffered over the Constituent Assembly is avenged, is reversed. This requires a high sense of selflessness, maturity and humility.
We need to remember that our people wanted a new constitution before the 2006 elections and the government refused. The government pushed the deadline to 2009 and it will be immoral to push it to 2010. Everything has a limit and people should not be pushed further than they already have. Pushing the deadline further is unacceptable. We need a new constitution not later than 2009.
Written by Patson Chilemba
Saturday, December 06, 2008 4:57:39 PM
THE National Constitutional Conference (NCC) is seeking an extension of its mandate by 12 months.
According to a letter submitted to the General Purposes Committee on November 17, 2008, the secretariat stated that the NCC Act, No.19 of 2007 came into effect on September 10, 2007 and that it provided that the Conference shall complete its work within a period of 12 months from the commencement of the Act or such longer period as the President may specify by Statutory Instrument.
The Secretariat stated that this meant that from September 10, 2007, any day that Parliament was not sitting was counted against the 12-months period.
“Indeed from 10th September 2007 when the Act came into effect to Monday 29th October 2007, when Parliament convened, the NCC lost fifty  days. The NCC also lost twelve  days in December 2007 as it was only convened on 13th December 2007. This brings the total number of days lost before convocation of the Conference to sixty-two  days or two months and two days,” the secretariat stated.
The secretariat stated that NCC could not meet immediately after September 10, 2007 because members and staff had to be appointed and equipment and other logistics put in place before the Conference could be convened.
“Hence the loss of fifty  days between 10th September, 2007 and 29th October, 2007 when Parliament convened,” the letter read in part.
The secretariat stated that Parliament had sat for 140 days since the NCC Act came into effect.
It further stated that in addition, NCC lost 62 days which were spent on preparation.
“This means from the first period of 12 months allowed by the NCC Act, starting from 10th September 2007 to 9th September 2008, the NCC has 202 days or six (6) months and twenty two (22) days remaining before the period expires,” read the letter in part.
The secretariat stated that NCC could not utilize the remaining time of six months and 22 days after Parliament adjourned sine die in September 2008 because the nation was involved in presidential by-election campaigns following the death of president Levy Mwanawasa.
“The President died on 19th August 2008 during the time that Parliament was in session,” read the letter in part. “The Presidential and Parliamentary by-elections were set for 30th October 2008.
The campaign period took 49 days from the day that Parliament adjourned sine die on Friday 12th September 2008 to the election day, on Thursday 30th October 2008. This brings the overall period when NCC could not have met since its inception on 10th September 2007 to 30th October 2008 to 251 days or eight (8) months and eleven (11) days.”
The secretariat stated that the next sitting was scheduled to begin on November 11 to December 5, 2008.
It stated that up to September 9, 2008, the Conference utilised five months and eight days, and left six months and 22 days for utilisation during the period starting from September 10, 2008.
Based on the above, the secretariat proposed that the NCC utilises 30 days in December 2008 for the six committees to approve their reports and the Secretariat to finalise the report in readiness for presentation to the Conference for adoption.
It also proposed that 172 days could be used to adopt the reports of the six committees, Secretariat to finalise the reports of the six committees. The remaining five committees, General Constitutional Principles, Human Rights, Executive, Legislative and Land and Environment, would meet to consider matters under their terms of reference.
“The Secretariat to prepare the reports of the five committees above (19 days). The approval of the reports by the five (5) committees (6 days), the Secretariat to finalise the Committee Reports (10 days), the Conference to sit to consider adopt the Reports of the five (5) Committees and part of the Final Report and Draft Constitution covering the work of the first six (6) Committees (34 days),” read the letter in part.
The secretariat stated that by the time the Conference completes the last item, it would have gone over the remaining six months and 22 days by five days.
“Therefore it will be necessary to request the President to extend the duration of the NCC by another 12 months,” read the letter in part. “The request should be made and authority obtained by the end of September 2009. At the time the NCC will be making the request for extension of the duration, it will need 265 days (i.e. Eight months and 25 days) to complete its work by October 2010.”
Written by Maluba Jere and Laura Mushaukwa-Hamusute
Saturday, December 06, 2008 4:54:57 PM
PATRIOTIC Front (PF) cadres yesterday besieged the Lusaka High Court lobby as they sang songs and danced in support of party president Michael Sata who had gone to court for a hearing in a case where 26 PF members of parliament have sued him.
The cadres, mostly clad in PF t/shirts and chitenges, pushed their way into the High Court lobby and all the way up the stairs to the courtroom entrance where the matter was supposed to be heard.
The matter was held in chambers but there were other proceedings within the court building.
The cadres sang songs in solidarity of Sata and denounced the rebel MPs, including Kasama Central MP Savier Chishimba who recently reconciled with Sata.
Unarmed police officers had a tough time trying to convince the cadres to leave the court, saying it was not right for them to be singing inside the High Court when other courts were sitting.
“How can you feel if you are working in your office and then some people just came and started singing in front of your offices?” asked an unidentified police officer. “Please go and sing outside. Let's just cooperate. Go and wait outside.”
The police eventually managed to escort the cadres outside but the cadres still continued to sing and dance. When they tried to go behind the court near the chambers, police officers ‘grabbed’ tree branches and chased the cadres with them. But the cadres also picked tree branches, also threatening to whip the officers.
The unarmed police officers asked the cadres to go and wait outside the gate but they refused saying they were very peaceful and that there was no need for the police to use branches on them.
When the cadres made it clear that they would not go and stand outside the gate, some armed police officers arrived on the scene to persuade them to go out but the cadres threatened to start throwing stones and so the officers withdrew and the cadres continued singing and dancing.
Earlier when Savier Chishimba arrived at the court, some cadres sang songs of praise while others openly denounced him.
But Chishimba told journalists that he was happy to have reconciled with Sata because PF could no longer afford divisions.
And addressing the cadres later, Sata thanked all of them for their support and told them not to worry because their lawyers were doing a good job. He urged his members to maintain peace as they await the ruling, which will be made on December 22, 2008.
As Sata gave a brief address to the cadres and was about to bid them farewell, some cadres shouted that mealie-meal prices were too high. Sata responded: “Unga wadula but don't do anything, let's all go home. Go and get on the buses and go home.”
Meanwhile, Lusaka High Court judge Gregory Phiri set December 22, 2008 as the date of ruling in the case where 26 PF members of parliament sued Sata and secretary general Edward Mumbi seeking an injunction preventing the duo from expelling them from the party after they (rebel MPs) resolved to participate in the National Constitution Conference (NCC).
Sata's lawyers and the lawyers for the rebel members of parliament in the matter gave oral submissions in chambers yesterday.
Solicitor General Dominic Sichinga also presented his submissions on behalf of the state, which is the intervener in the matter.
In his submissions, Sichinga urged the court to sustain the injunction being sought on grounds that if the injunction was discharged, the constitution-making process would suffer a set back which would not be atoned for in damages.
He argued that the members of parliament were elected to enact laws and that the core interest of the state was the integrity of a body known as the NCC and the integrity of an Act of Parliament, the NCC Act number 17 of 2007 by virtue of which the NCC was established.
And one of the lawyers for the rebel members of parliament, Mutakela Lisimba, asked the court to grant his clients the relief they were seeking contending that if they were expelled from PF, the injury would be irreparable.
Lisimba said his clients' right to participate in PF politics was being denied and that their membership of parliament was just by the way.
Another lawyer, Mwangala Zaloumis, augmented Lisimba's submissions, adding that the delay in setting the date for the hearing of an ex-parte injunction was occasioned by the defendant's themselves.
But PF's lawyer Bonaventure Mutale asked the court to discharge the injunction that the plaintiff's sought and not to include Matero member of parliament Faustina Sinyangwe in whatever the court decided as she said through her public utterances that she had been expelled from PF even before the injunction in question was being sought.
To corroborate Mutale's submissions, Mumba Kapumpa asked the court to discharge the injunction, saying the plaintiffs would not suffer irreparable damage.
The matter comes up on December 22.
Written by Chibaula Silwamba and Lambwe Kachali
Saturday, December 06, 2008 4:51:34 PM
NEWLY sworn-in Luapula Province minister Dr Boniface Kawimbe yesterday said his first task will be to find out why the ruling MMD is not doing well in the province.
And President Rupiah Banda has disclosed that he and late president Levy Mwanawasa made the decision to appoint legal advisor to the president, Darlington Mwape, as Zambia’s ambassador and permanent representative to Geneva, Switzerland.
Speaking to journalists soon after being sworn in as Luapula Province minister, Dr Kawimbe, an MMD stalwart who was recently nominated as member of parliament and subsequently appointed provincial minister, said he would establish the cause of the poor performance of the ruling party.
“I am sure it is an open secret that Luapula Province together with Northern Province, Copperbelt Province and Lusaka Province were once upon a time the strongholds of our party. My first task, as I go to Luapula, is really to find out why our party is not doing as well as it should be doing,” Dr Kawimbe said.
As you know, as a medical doctor, when something is wrong, the first thing you have to establish is to make a diagnosis to find out what the problems are and really my first responsibility will be to consult with all the residents of Luapula Province.”
He said he would ensure that he works with all the people in Luapula Province.
“We have a lot of challenges in reducing poverty, unemployment, hunger and disease. All these cannot be defeated by some of the people; it can only be defeated by the efforts of all the people,” he said.
President Banda lost in all but one constituencies in Luapula Province to Patriotic Front (PF)’s Michael Sata in the October 30 presidential election.
Dr Kawimbe takes over from MMD Mansa Central member of parliament Chrispine Musosha.
And President Banda said Luapula Province had vast potentials in mineral, agriculture and water resources as well as great people that need to be properly administered.
“I am so pleased to have this opportunity to swear in Dr Kawimbe who is very well-known to myself for many years and I do know that you are a founder member of this great party the MMD and that you have its interests very much at heart and that you are committed to the principles and the vision of this party to develop this country.
I am asking you to go and represent this government as provincial minister in Luapula Province; one of the provinces that really require the best that the party can offer to administer it in view of the potentials that lie there in minerals, in agriculture, in water and of course, its great people, President Banda said.
And after swearing in Mwape, President Banda asked him to represent him and the people of Zambia well in Switzerland.
“I am also very pleased to say goodbye to my young friend, my son as I always have called him, you have been in this house, State House, for many years advising our president in legal matters, so in that sense, I will miss you but as you know, this decision we made with the president [Levy Mwanawasa] before he left us,“ President Banda said.
He said he had no doubt that Mwape was one of the best legal experts the country had ever produced.
“...the people of Switzerland and those who come into contact with you will be able to see the Zambian people through yourself,” President Banda said.
Meanwhile, President Banda said the peace agreement in Burundi had been reached.
Speaking to journalists at Lusaka International Airport upon arrival from Burundi on Thursday, where he had gone to attend an emergency one-day heads of state and government summit on the Burundi peace process, President Banda said the summit was successful as they managed to reach an agreement between the opposition and the government.
“Fortunately, we have managed to reach the agreement with the political party in opposition and the government. So we have agreed that they will start the process of disengagement and establish the peace. It was a long and very hard negotiation. As soon as we arrived, we went in until we left this evening [Thursday],” said President Banda.
Reason Wafawarove - Opinion
Thu, 04 Dec 2008 21:31:00 +0000
WHAT this writer would like to consider this week is the role of the United States in the current political process in Zimbabwe, in particular and that role in its bigger picture of the global political landscape. The political lucubration which some have called the Global Political Agreement might have been hailed prematurely as an African solution to an African crisis.
Clearly and unsurprisingly, the global super power has not allowed a situation where such an important matter as is the Zimbabwe crisis can be solved without an input from the global power house – not when Robert Mugabe insists that he will only consider African input to the crisis and not when the facilitator to the negotiations, Thabo Mbeki clearly refuses to succumb to Western influence in his role as the centre man to the process.
The lucidity of the September 15 document that was signed by the negotiating political parties and the contrasting confusion that followed in the efforts to implement what looked like a straightforward position paper is most telling of the effect of the US-led Western influence in the running of political affairs in the world.
The letter recently written to Morgan Tsvangirai by the facilitator Cde Thabo Mbeki summarizes how this Anglo-American influence has managed to stall whatever progress people had placed their hopes on. Cde Mbeki bemoans the influence of these powerful allies of the opposition MDC-T and warns that such influence will not bring a solution to Zimbabwe’s problems.
This writer could write a lot about the opposition MDC-T, Morgan Tsvangirai’s party, or its immediate sponsors and mentors based at No. 10 Downing Street in London but these, like the rest of the world have become part and parcel of the US’s foreign policy. This is why it is important that we take a look at how the United States has played a role in the Zimbabwean crisis.
Firstly, the United States is the most important and most influential power in the world. It has overwhelming military force and other forms of power. By mere choice the US can decide at any time to have a determinative impact on anything that happens in contemporary world history, at least for now.
Secondly, the United States considers itself to have an unusual degree of freedom and for some this is seen as a privilege. This view is seen largely as the driving force that says the United States should confer upon herself an enormous responsibility for other people’s actions and for US influence on policy.
There are a number of ways by which one can decide to measure the US’ role in the affairs of the world and one such way is studying US aid, in particular military aid.
On a GDP comparative basis the US does not exactly have an impressive record of giving aid to less developed countries, ranking far less than some of the Scandinavian countries and countries like Canada and even Australia. This is made worse by the fact that more than 50% of the aid given by the United States is directed towards one very rich country and another middle range country (Israel and Egypt) – all clearly based on the US’ rather illicit association with these two countries.
The connection of US aid and foreign policy has been a subject of some academic work for some time now.
Lars Schoultz, the leading University of Carolina academic specialist on human rights in Latin America, did a study about this in 1982. He concluded that there was a very close correlation between US aid and human rights abuses in Latin America.
This is what he concluded in quotes, “US aid flows disproportionately to Latin American governments which torture their citizens......to the hemisphere’s relatively egregious violators of fundamental human rights.”
Edward Herman, a co-author with Noam Chomsky and an economist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, did a worldwide study of the same topic, focusing on the relation between US aid and torture. He established that there was an unpleasant high correlation between US foreign aid and torture. One can also look at Amnesty International’s records on torture and US foreign aid and this connection remains quite close.
The folly of statistical correlations is that they do not tell you about causalities. It is obviously wrong to assume that the US successive governments have had any specific interest in torture. This is why Herman did another study to establish the correlation of US foreign aid and other factors. It turned out that the best correlation was that of US foreign aid and “improvement in the investment climate”.
As a country “improves” opportunities for investors to extract resources, US aid to that country dramatically goes up. This is a very natural correlation that makes perfect sense and is not surprising at all. It makes perfect economic and business sense and one would expect the US foreign policy to be directed in this way.
It is only after one looks at how countries are meant to “improve” the investment climate that the brutality begins. One of the most favoured ways is to murder nationalists, patriots, union organizers, peasant leaders, to oppress the masses and to undermine popular social programmes such as was Zimbabwe’s land reform programme.
That creates what investors will call an improved investment climate and of course it creates a secondary correlation with US aid as was established by Lars Schoultz.
So while the US might not have a direct interest in egregious human rights violations, these violations happen to be a natural corollary to what the United States is interested in.
Yes, the United States might not have a direct sense of pleasure drawn from the starving of the masses of Zimbabwe and in their multitudinous disease-caused deaths, but the economic strangulation and illegal economic sanctions enshrined in the US’ Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera) has a natural corollary to what the United States wants done politically in Zimbabwe.
They want the peasants that occupied white held farms removed and returned to their original villages and they want President Robert Mugabe’s business indigenization laws reversed. This is what is called “improving” the investment climate and “respect for property rights”.
There is a precedent why the United States does not have any respect for a negotiated settlement to the Zimbabwe crisis.
According to the White House tradition the “improved investment climate” is not negotiated, but is fought for by violence and aggression.
The Reagan administration came to power shouting loudly that the focus of the US foreign policy was going to be a “War on Terror”, something George W. Bush and his madding crowd fought and failed to defeat in the last eight years.
Reagan’s Secretary of State, George Schultz, indicated that they would focus on what he called, “the evil scourge of terrorism” a terrible epidemic spread by the “depraved opponents of civilization itself” in a bid to return to “barbarism in the modern age.”
Shultz argued that terrorism had to be thwarted by violence and aggression, not by utopian legalistic means like mediation and negotiation, to him signs of clear weakness.
This is the same reasoning that says today that Robert Mugabe cannot be dealt with by utopian legalistic means like mediation and negotiation. To the US and to the West in general, this is a sign of weakness. This is why Barack Obama was mocked for promising to talk to Iranian leaders and Hugo Chavez during his campaign for the US presidency. His detractors said he wanted to talk to US enemies and to terrorists and this was denounced as a sign of weakness.
So the Reagan administration announced that they would have two battlefields against “Terror”, that is Central America and the Middle East.
In Central America the US military aid turned the sub-continent into a virtual graveyard. Two hundred thousand people were killed, over a million displaced, orphaned and tortured.
Nicaragua refused to use its own army against its own people as the US would have wanted, given their achievements in all other parts of Central government. Because the US could not raise a local army to carry atrocities on its behalf they decided to attack Nicaragua directly. Tens of thousands of civilians were killed.
Nicaragua followed the recourse available to nation states. They went to international institutions in response to the US’ massive international terrorism. They first went to the World Court, which condemned the United States for “unlawful use of force” and for “violation of international treaties”. The Court ordered the US to terminate the crimes and to pay massive reparations.
By bipartisan resolution, the United States responded to this ruling by escalating the war and giving official orders for the attacking of what they called “soft targets”, that is health clinics, agricultural cooperatives and skills training centres. This went on until the population was intimidated enough to vote for the US candidate in 1990 and that is when the terror stopped.
This is similar to the condemnation of sanctions on Zimbabwe by the African Union, Comesa, Sadc and the UN Security Council. The United States responded to this by escalating the sanctions and forcing more companies to stop dealings with Zimbabwe.
The hope was that the population would be intimidated to vote for the US-UK candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai and this nearly happened in March this year.
This is the mentality that seeks to exacerbate sanctions until the people revolt and remove the unwanted government on behalf of the United States and its Western allies.
After the US ignored and rejected the World Court ruling Nicaragua took their case to the UN Security Council and the US vetoed the resolution that called on “all states to respect and observe international law”.
This makes the world leader on the “War on Terror” the only country so far condemned by the World Court for international terrorism and most probably the only country that has publicly blocked a resolution calling on all states to observe international law.
This is renegade writing you will never find in the New York Times but the absolute reality of US foreign policy.
El-Salvador and Guatemala received massive military aid during Nicaragua’s hard times under US aggression. This was in line with their commitment to help the US in their slogan to “defeat liberation theology”. The US used these two countries as launch pads for attacks on countries described as targets of the “War on Terror” – countries whose grave errors included “the preferential option for the poor”; a crime that is unforgivable by US foreign policy standards.
This writer could go on and talk about Israel and its invasion of Lebanon and Palestine and many other atrocities backed by the US in the Middle East, but space will not allow.
For Zimbabwe, we need to understand the forces that are undermining the negotiated settlement. The official position of the MDC-T is that Zanu PF and President Mugabe are not sincere and that the March 29 election result, not the signed agreement, should guide the implementation of the so called Global Political Agreement, whatever that means.
The truth of the matter is that the current standoff has nothing to do with Zanu PF’s alleged lack of sincerity and neither has it to do with the MDC’s desire to please the voters who voted on March 29. In fact most of these voters have agonizingly waited in vain for the implementation of the signed agreement.
The stalling of progress has everything to do with the interests of the global super power and Ambassador James McGee knows exactly what this writer is talking about. Morgan Tsvangirai does too, just like he knows that his so-called democratic resistance is nothing but advocating the isolation of our Motherland from the family of nations.
Thabo Mbeki seeks to end Zimbabwe’s political crisis, but he is not with Morgan Tsvangirai in this. If there is anyone that can be justified for accusing someone of insincerity it must be Cde Mbeki relative to Morgan Tsvangirai.
The hyperinflation in the Zimbabwean economy is in corollary to US interests, so is the cholera outbreak, so are the starving villagers and so is the flight of skills into the Diaspora. These humanitarian atrocities make excellent politics for Morgan Tsvangirai and upon them, he can afford to stand overweight and shed crocodile tears in the posture of a humanitarian leader dying to end the crisis caused by his backers efforts to “stop propping the regime”, just to quote Tsvangirai’s favoured phrase whenever he is campaigning for sanctions.
Zanu PF has no excuse for failing to counter the sanctions, no excuse for the hyper-corruption in the public service, no excuse for the underutilization of acquired farm land and no excuse for unimaginative cabinet ministers and no excuse for a terrible policy implementation record.
There is no way one can hope to stand to the power of US foreign policy with this kind of lack of commitment. It just does not work that way.
Zimbabweans we are one. Together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!
[Reason Wafawarova is a political writer and can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or visit www.rwafawarova.com]
Pride Munemo -- Opinion
Thu, 04 Dec 2008 21:05:00 +0000
MANY mining companies have been put on the sanctions list by the United Kingdom (through the European Union machinery) and the U.S., through various Executive Orders issued by outgoing President George W. Bush. A quick scan of these companies reveals that almost all of them have to do with mining or minerals processing. Individuals put on the sanctions list, who are not part of the Zimbabwean government, have something to do with mining.
Interestingly, one of the biggest mining giants, Anglo-American has been spared by the EU and the US. Although it is one of those companies that is bringing foreign currency into Zimbabwe, it has not been designated by President Bush or by the EU. This is very interesting.
MDC Treasurer-General, Roy Bennet, unsurprisingly, said in June this year that all mining deals agreed with the Government of Zimbabwe will be reviewed. One mining concern potentially in the firing line was the AIM-listed Central African Mining and Exploration Company CAMEC, yet Anglo American, which is investing US$400 million in Unki district, was spared the criticism. This is Zimbabwe’s largest single foreign investment to date.
The company remains defiant in the face of criticism, saying that it has been a long-term investor in the nation, and that it remains in compliance with international laws in its dealings with the Government of President Robert Mugabe. Interestingly, Britain and the U.S., have failed either to sanction, or designate Anglo-American.
Some industry observers believe that Zimbabwe’s potential mining wealth more than outweighs the short-term damage to institutional reputation suffered by companies continuing to operate in Zimbabwe. They are, therefore, ‘weathering the storm’. That effort is supported by big business interests that want to take over from all those sanctioned companies and sanctioned individuals. It is, therefore, important for those big business interests to present Zimbabwe as a high risk investment country, in the meantime; while they maintain their presence in that country. Those countries that are not “big enough” to weather the storm will be driven out.
The plan is well spelt out. President Mugabe’s indigenization law is one of those pieces of legislation that have riled these big business interests, like Anglo-American, who “come-rain-or-thunder” will remain in the country.
President Bush and Gordon Brown have spared Anglo-American from designation and Anglo American has endured “persistent hyperinflation, stringent fiscal policies, and unconducive regulations” which allowed the country to be viewed as a high-risk destination. Surely, these individuals and connected companies should know something about the Zimbabwe economic environment that we don’t.
[Pride Munemo is an actuarial scientist with a UK based insurance firm. He writes from London.]
Friday, December 05, 2008
Written by Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Friday, December 05, 2008 11:50:42 PM
ZAMBIA should constitute a Task Force to deal with effects of the current global economic crisis unlike seeking help from another country that is equally facing similar challenges, economic consultant Bob Sichinga has advised.
Commenting on recent requests by President Rupiah Banda for Nigeria to help Zambia deal with the impacts of the current global economic crisis which has seen the country's mining sector affected on account of declining metal prices, Sichinga said Zambia had enough manpower to devise a plan of mitigating the impact.
Sichinga said there was need for domestic policy response to the current challenges the country was facing as a result of the global economic problem.
He further said there was also need to ensure efficient delivery of services by the government.
Sichinga, however, acknowledged that Nigeria had over the years developed its local economy and was in much stronger position to deal with the effects of the current global crisis than Zambia.
President Banda, on his first foreign trip since he came into power requested for Nigeria's assistance to tackle effects of the global economic crisis on Zambia's economy.
“I don't think Nigeria has any particular solutions to which we as Zambia can pick any new ideas from. What I would like to acknowledge though is the country needs a strategy to address the global financial crunch,” Sichinga said. “Zambia needs to address reduced earnings from copper due to declining copper prices.”
And Sichinga said the immediate challenge facing the country right now was to manage the exchange rate regime which has seen the local currency continuously collapse against major convertible currencies.
“Zambia needs to address this dual challenge of deteriorating exchange rate while at the same time, allowing the current foreign exchange control regime continue because right now the Bank of Zambia has been repeating that they are going to introduce measures to control the flow and outflow of foreign currency. I think they are mistaken,” Sichinga said.
“There is no single country in the world where you can do just as you like. There is need to manage the investments in the country and how that money gets re-externalised. I am not advocating that movement of foreign currency should be restricted.”
Written by Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Friday, December 05, 2008 11:47:31 PM
EASTERN and Southern African (ESA) countries have been urged to critically come up with a comprehensive document on EPAs to foster development for both the European Community Bloc and ESA countries.
Commenting on today’s meeting by ESA officials and ministers to discuss the economic partnership agreements (EPAs) in Lusaka, Consumer Unity and Trust Society Africa Resource Center (Cuts-Arc) stated that there was need for a comprehensive document before concluding the full EPAs by the end of this month.
“In finalising the contentious issues identified at technical level negotiations, the state of play and the outstanding issues among other things; rules of origin, Export Taxes, Quantitative Restriction, standstill Clause and Bilateral safeguards should be looked at critically and addressed,” stated Cuts-Arc in a press release yesterday.
Cuts-Arc noted that the final text should ensure that the proposed or remaining restricted tariffs would be absolutely beneficial to the ESA countries and that the then opened percentage would not kill the already existing industries, especially the newly-established.
“If this is done, it will certainly help promote development, improve the competitiveness of enterprises and enlarge shares in the European market,” stated Cuts-Arc. “We suggest that by the time of signing the full agreement, all the concerns raised by ESA countries should be addressed so that EPAs are concluded on a win-to-win situation and not leave any country worse than they are presently.”
Written by Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Friday, December 05, 2008 11:45:16 PM
ZAMBEEF Products Plc has recorded a 69 per cent increase in its turnover to K493 billion for the financial year ended September 30, 2008 despite the current global financial crisis.
According to the announced audited consolidated results issued by board chairman Dr Jacob Mwanza, profit after tax increased by 59 per cent to K38.3 billion while the interim and final dividend payout of K13.6 billion for this year was 43 per cent higher than last year’s dividend payout of K9.5 billion.
Dr Mwanza attributed Zambeef Products Plc’s strong performance to the company’s diversification strategy and its significant reinvestment policy, which had reduced the volatility in earnings and improved on their quality.
During the year under review, Zambeef Products Plc successfully concluded the acquisitions of Amanita Premier Oils Limited business, assets of Amanita Milling Limited, acquisition of Chiawa farm assets in Zambezi valley, 100 per cent shareholding in Master Pork Limited, 85.7 per cent shareholding in Nanga Farms Plc as well as establishing a palm plantation and commencing trading operations in Ghana.
“The above acquisitions have successfully integrated within the Zambeef Group and we are anticipating significant upside from these ventures during 2009 and beyond,” Dr Mwanza stated. “It is pleasing to note that the above business acquisitions were all strong earnings enhancing, contributing to the weighted average earnings per share increasing by 33 per cent. In addition, we approved a number of new and existing projects for 2009, totalling in excess of US $30 million, including the building of a new modern stock feed plant, the setting up of poultry hatchery, continued expansion of the irrigated cropping operations, the establishment of ranching operations, the expansion of the piggery and pork processing operations and establishment of the first 3, 500 hectares of the planned 20, 000 hectare palm plantation.”
And during the period under review, Zambeef Products Plc invested in excess of K255 billion in developing, expanding and diversifying the business, largely through the issue of 43,524,079 new ordinary shares.
“This has resulted in very well capitalised and diversified agri-business which is well-placed to benefit from the strong real growth not only in Zambia but in the region,” said Dr Mwanza.
Written by Nchima Nchito
Friday, December 05, 2008 11:41:41 PM
ZAMBIA Chamber of Small and Medium Business Association (ZCSMBA) executive secretary Maxwell Sichula has said falling copper prices have had an impact on small business in the country.
In an interview, Sichula said the SMEs, just like the rest of the economy, had not been spared by the decline in copper prices as some small businesses depended on mines for their survival.
“It has a tremendous effect on the entire economy including our SMEs. We have witnessed a fall in income generation all round,” he said.
Sichula added that some of his members where suppliers of various products and goods to the mining companies and the falling copper prices meant that there were less activities going on among suppliers of products to the mines.
“The problem of falling copper prices is compounded by the depreciation of the kwacha against the US dollar, making it very difficult for those of our members whose businesses comprise of importing products to resell within the country,” he said.
Copper prices have hit the lowest since 2005, with a tonne of the commodity being quoted at below US $4,000.
And Sichula has advised the government to establish structures and institutions that support entrepreneurship.
In an interview, Sichula said the establishment of supportive structures and institutions for entrepreneurs was important for capacity building among Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SMEs).
“We need to empower as well as to build capacity. That is why we need to identify institutions that are going to organise SMEs together,” he said.
Sichula said while his organisation appreciated the efforts and work of institutions such as the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC), there were major limitations faced by the institution.
“Giving loans to individuals will have less trickledown effects in terms of benefits than if the loans were given to institutions with proper structures to embark on business,” he said. “We are just scratching the surface, there is so much that needs to be done.”
Sichula, however, acknowledged the efforts of the government in supporting SMEs.
“I am delighted that now we are seeing a deliberate government policy directed towards SMEs,” said Sichula.
Written by Patson Chilemba, Gillian Namungala and Gloria Siwisha
Friday, December 05, 2008 11:38:20 PM
PRESIDENT Rupiah Banda yesterday described the planned Patriotic Front (PF) demonstrations over mealie-meal prices as nonsensical. But PF leader Michael Sata said President Banda is panicking because he made a lot of false promises to the people.
And senior chief Bright Nalubamba has said PF's continued threats to demonstrate over the escalating mealie-meal prices are a wake up call for the MMD government to re-examine its policies.
Speaking to journalists before leaving for Burundi where he had gone to attend an emergency one-day heads of state and government summit on the Burundi peace process, President Banda said there was no basis for PF's intended demonstrations.
"You know it's nonsense actually. Nowhere in the world do people solve problems by demonstrating. Every problem when it comes, you sit down and you talk. Somehow the Patriotic Front seems to think that the only way to solve problems is demonstrating. They look ridiculous for that," President Banda said. "There is no basis for it at all, and I think that the Zambian people have shown them that they are not interested in that."
But reacting to President Banda's statement, Sata said President Banda's false promises had now boomeranged.
He warned President Banda not to provoke PF because they were capable of repaying his words with actions.
"He should not think by denying us a permit, they will stop us from demonstrating. When we want the voice of the people to be heard, we shall go to the streets with or without a permit. Can you see what demonstrations can do? The prime minister of Thailand has resigned, and the courts were appointed by the same prime minister but the same court has banned the ruling party including the prime minister. And I hope our courts will emulate that," Sata said. "I'm pleased that his lordship the Chief Justice when he appealed to magistrates to dispose of cases quickly. Rupiah Banda should take it easy, keep cool; the busier the junction, the easier the job. And at the moment he does not need to compete with words because we can easily compete with him in action."
Sata said he respected Inspector General of Police Francis Kabonde and home affairs minister Kalombo Mwansa because they were gentlemen but that he would not take kindly to any daring from President Banda because there was still tension in the country.
On President Banda's usage of the word 'nonsensical', Sata said: "Rupiah Banda must start using sober words because we can use harsher words against him. Him, he's eating, the necktie that he's wearing is bought for him. That's why when we complain about fuel, fertiliser, he says it's nonsensical. He doesn't know the cost of mealie-meal."
On information minister Lieutenant General Ronnie Shikapwasha's statement that President Banda did not promise to reduce fertiliser across the board, Sata said President Banda's government was feeling the impact of former finance minister Ng'andu Magande's absence.
He said Lt Gen Shikapwasha said Magande announced before the October 30 presidential elections that people on the Fertilizer Support Programme (FSP) would pay only 25 per cent and government would meet the other 75 per cent.
However, Sata said it was President Banda and not Magande who promised that civil servants would be getting subsidised fertiliser.
"I have had no respect for Shikapwasha and now as he has gone there [information ministry], he's even losing the small respect that he has," Sata said. "I cannot help my brother [President Banda] panic. He's panicking because he made a lot of false promises."
Sata also urged the Supreme Court to quickly set a date for the recount of ballots so that the issue of the disputed election could be put to rest once and for all.
And chief Nalubamba of the Ila people of Namwala said the demonstrations were a democratic right and created an avenue through which people could express disappointment or appreciation of the events in the country.
"If people can't reach you as a leader in government by way of appointment, then they must find another avenue through which they can deliver their demands or grievances. To me, peaceful demonstrations are nothing to be afraid of in a democratic country because they create an opportunity for current leaders to re-examine themselves," he said.
Chief Nalubamba said as a leader, President Banda should ask himself what he had not done and what he could do in order for the policies to be responsive to the needs of the people who elected him.
He said it was only after re-examining and researching on issues that answers would be found.
"The answer lies in the fact that we told the people the impossible, so leaders should be honorable enough and explain to the nation why they find it impossible to deliver their earlier promises," chief Nalubamba said. "There is no harm in apologising. As a leader you owe it to the people to explain the problem other than blanket or cheat them [that] you can deliver when in actual fact you cannot."
Chief Nalubamba also urged Sata not to feel shy to offer a solution to the escalating mealie meal prices, if he had one.
"The problem we have in this country is that the opposition wants to keep ideas to themselves and wait up until they form government to implement them. If they have the interests of the people at heart, let them offer solutions to save this country as they are also equal partners," he said.
Chief Nalubamba stressed the need for President Banda to engage Sata in active dialogue to find a solution to the country's economic problems.
Chief Nalubamba, who said President Banda could not afford to have enemies in a democracy, advised him to initiate dialogue with Sata if a solution to some of the current problems was to be found.
"Time has elapsed to continue fighting the war because it has already been won. So this is a time to start re-constructing and developing the nation and everyone should be involved," chief Nalubamba said.
Recently, Sata said PF would organise nationwide demonstrations over President Banda's lies on fertiliser, mealie-meal and fuel prices. He said President Banda lied during the campaign period that the price of fertiliser had been reduced from K250,000 to K50,000.
Sata further said President Banda together with National Milling Corporation managing director Peter Cottan reduced the price of mealie-meal by K2,000 before the elections but increased the price of the commodity just after the election.
Meanwhile, chief Nalubamba appealed to the government to consider elevating the House of Chiefs to a second chamber of laws. He said traditional leaders were vital in developing the nation because they could contribute to the formulation of laws.
"Mwami tabeyi meaning it's a taboo for a chief to tell lies. Chiefs are honest people who can help bring sanity to the political arena," chief Nalubamba said.
However, he said the second chamber should include other intellectuals from outside.
Chief Nalubamba cataloged lawyers and prominent individuals as some of the people that could participate in the proposed second chamber of laws.
Written by Allan Mulenga
Friday, December 05, 2008 11:36:48 PM
MMD spokesperson Benny Tetamashimba yesterday said he is ready to relinquish his position and remain an ordinary member if he is found wanting by the national executive committee (NEC).
Responding to MMD national chairman Michael Mabenga's statement that the party will take disciplinary measures against him, Judith Kapijimpanga and Jonas Shakafuswa for issuing statements to the press, Tetamashimba said he was not among the people who disregarded party directives and challenged Mabenga to prove that he spoke to the media about party issues contrary to the authorities.
"Although I am not aware about the disciplinary action the national chairman is talking about, all what I can remember is that our national chairman [Mabenga] issued a statement directing members not to discuss party matters through the press," he said. "I don't remember really that I have said something to the press ever since the directive was made. If at all I will be found guilty, the honourable thing to do is to relinquish my position."
Tetamashimba challenged Mabenga to prove to the members that he had a case to answer.
"I think he [Mabenga] will be able to prove what he said; because I truly remember that I have not spoken out ever since the party directive. I have never responded to Shakafusawa's recent attack because I knew that doing so will be acting against the party leadership," he said. Tetamashimba hoped that he did not fall in the trap, saying there was need for party members to be disciplined and respect party leaders.
"As MMD members we need to unite and respect every decision made by the party," he said.
Tetamashimba urged members to respect the party leadership and President Rupiah Banda.
On Tuesday, Mabenga said the party would take disciplinary measures against Kapijimpanga, Tetamashimba and Shakafuswa for issuing statements to the press.
Mabenga said the MMD leadership would discipline erring members because the national executive committee had earlier issued a statement directing members to address issues affecting the party through the secretariat.
On Monday, MMD NEC member Kapijimpanga said the issue of 'true blue' and 'light blue' had the potential to divide the ruling party.
Kapijimpanga said new- comers in MMD often disregarded those they found in the party.
Kapijimpanga's comments came in the wake of MMD national secretary Katele Kalumba's statement that only true blue members of the party would determine his fate. This was after Tetamashimba's statement that Kalumba was trying to justify his failure to deliver Chiengi Constituency to President Banda.
Tetamashimba had earlier called for an audit of the October 30 presidential election to ascertain why President Banda lost in constituencies where the ruling party has members of parliament.
President Banda lost to Sata in Chiengi Constituency.
In response to Tetamashimba's statement, Kalumba urged MMD members not to insult the people of Zambia 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.
Kalumba also said only the "true blue" [original or MMD founder members] could determine his fate in the party.
Shakafuswa then asked Tetamashimba to shut up because his public statements were weakening the party.
Shakafuswa said the issue of 'true blue' and 'light blue' had arisen because people were beginning to re-assess their positions in the party because of Tetamashimba's provocative utterances and actions.
US says Mugabe's time is up
Written by Nelson Banya
Friday, December 05, 2008 11:29:39 PM
HARARE (Reuters) - The United States said on Friday that President Robert Mugabe's departure from office was long overdue and a food crisis and cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe meant it was now vital for the international community to act.
Zimbabwe has declared a national emergency and appealed for international help to battle a cholera outbreak that has killed 575 people with 12,700 reported cases of the disease, according to the United Nations.
"It's well past time for Robert Mugabe to leave," U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in Copenhagen.
In a further sign of growing international pressure, European Union diplomats said the EU planned more sanctions against Zimbabwe next week unless there was progress in ending the political deadlock.
The EU has prepared a list of 11 officials to be added next Monday or Tuesday to the existing list of over 100 officials, including Mugabe, who cannot travel to the EU, two diplomats said.
Nobel laureate and South Africa's Archbishop Desmond Tutu said on Thursday that Mugabe must step down or be removed by force and that the Zimbabwean leader faced indictment for war crimes in the Hague unless he quit.
Rice said the stalled power-sharing talks, a "sham election" earlier this year, economic meltdown and the humanitarian toll from the cholera epidemic required swift action.
"If this is not evidence to the international community that it's time to stand up for what is right I don't know what will be," Rice told a news conference, adding: "... frankly the nations of the region have to lead it."
Economic meltdown in Zimbabwe, isolated by Western countries under Mugabe's increasingly authoritarian rule, has left the health system ill-prepared to cope with the cholera epidemic that it once would have prevented or treated easily.
The country has the highest official modern-day inflation of 231 million percent but inflation is seen much higher with prices doubling every 24 hours. Basic foods are often unobtainable and the currency worthless.
The cholera cases have been fueled by the collapse of the water system, which has forced residents to drink from contaminated wells and streams.
South Africa said on Friday it would send a team of senior government officials to Zimbabwe next week to assess the food crisis and investigate what aid is needed.
"The purpose of the visit will be to assess the situation on the ground, determine the level of assistance required and to consult with the representatives of the various stakeholders in Zimbabwe on how a ... distribution and monitoring mechanism could be set up," government spokesman Themba Maseko said.
Thousands of Zimbabweans are believed to cross the border, often illegally, into South Africa each day. A cholera center has been set up in the South African border town of Musina
Mozambique said on Friday it had put all areas near the border with Zimbabwe on maximum alert over the threat of cholera entering the country from its neighbor.
"The massive and uncontrolled entry of Zimbabweans into Mozambique in search of a better life due to the economic crisis there could be an open door for the further spread of the disease which is also affecting us," Mozambique Health Ministry spokesman Martinho Djedje said.
Zimbabwe does not have the funds to pay doctors and nurses or buy medicine and aid agency Oxfam said at least 300,000 people weakened by lack of food are in danger from the epidemic.
"Millions of people were already facing starvation. With unemployment over 80 percent, and food unavailable across the country, they now have to contend with cholera and other diseases as the water and sanitation systems break down," Peter Mutoredzanwa, Country Director for Oxfam in Zimbabwe, said.
Mutoredzanwa said in a statement almost half of Zimbabwe's 13 million population have been weakened by serious food shortages and indications were that more than 5 million people will urgently need food aid by January.
South Africa will announce an aid package for Zimbabwe next week, Maseko said, adding Zimbabwe's political parties have agreed that all aid should be distributed in a non-partisan way.
Hopes of rescuing Zimbabwe from the humanitarian crisis are complicated by the deadlock between Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai over how to implement a power-sharing pact.
Western nations, which accused Mugabe of running the once prosperous nation into the ground, have promised aid. European Union ministers have agreed to provide an initial 200,000 euros to the Red Cross and other aid agencies.
Written by George Chellah in Harare, Zimbabwe
Friday, December 05, 2008 11:27:38 PM
BOTSWANA President Major General Ian Khama has likened Zimbabwe to a big refugee camp full of suffering and misery. And President Khama said Zimbabweans are currently worse than they were under Ian Smith's minority rule. During a special interview on Botswana Television (BTV), President Khama bemoaned the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. "I describe Zimbabwe as a big refugee camp full of suffering and misery," he said.
President Khama condemned the decision by Zimbabwean authorities to deny the Elders entry in the country to assess the humanitarian situation.
"In a power-sharing, Mugabe cannot unilaterally stop those people [the Elders] from coming. That's why we are saying nothing has changed in Zimbabwe," he said.
He said Botswana would not have any bilateral relations with Zimbabwe at a political level.
"There is no government there. Some of those people Mugabe is using as ministers lost the elections, so they are not supposed to be there," he said.
President Khama further spoke against African ruling parties that rig elections in order to remain in power, saying power-sharing deals with such parties were setting a bad precedent for the continent. He maintained his call for fresh elections in Zimbabwe so that people could choose their leader.
President Khama urged the regional bloc - Southern African Development Community (SADC) - to come out publicly on the Zimbabwe crisis.
"That's why we have broken ranks, if I may put it that way...because quiet diplomacy is not working," he said.
President Khama said some countries in the region had not been critical on the Zimbabwean crisis because of their historical links with ZANU-PF.
President Khama, who publicly stated that there is currently no ruling party in Zimbabwe, said even Botswana share history with Zimbabwe concerning the days of the liberation struggle.
"The reason for the liberation was to free the people from minority rule. Zimbabweans today are worse than they were under Smith," President Khama said.
And Zimbabwe's MDC has condemned the recent harassments and arrests of civic leaders.
"The police in Harare arrested ZCTU deputy secretary-general Japhet Moyo, Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary general Raymond Majongwe and several members of the ZCTU general council as security agents violently moved in to quell the labour union's national protest against the inadequate cash withdrawals from the banks," MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said. "The MDC condemns ZANU-PF's terror tactics. We believe that the workers' rights are inviolable and inalienable and any democratic authority should allow workers to exercise their constitutional rights of assembly and movement. We believe that the ZCTU's peaceful protest was justified as the people cannot survive on the $500 000 daily maximum withdrawal limit."
He said the cash shortages and high inflation signify the general collapse of all sectors in the country due to misgovernance, corruption and patronage.
"The Global Political Agreement (GPA) signed between the three major political parties guarantees the basic freedoms and rights of people to express themselves. The latest acts of thuggery are a clear indication that there is no paradigm shift on the part of ZANU-PF to act in accordance with the GPA. ZANU-PF remains the undemocratic party of terror and thuggery," said Chamisa. "It remains the epicentre of repression of the people's basic rights and freedoms. It remains the haven and sanatorium of an unstinting instinct that believes that the solution to all problems lies in violence and repression.
ZANU-PF's actions on the ground undermine their commitment on paper. The practicalities on the ground basically show that the leopard has not changed its spots. In the new Zimbabwe that we envision, never again should a government violently clamp down on innocent people for expressing themselves. Never again will a police force be allowed to beat up citizens for demanding a daily withdrawal limit that will enable them to provide food and other basic service to their families. Never again should a people run away from their own police force whose duty is to offer protection and professional service."
Written by Fridah Zinyama, Chiwoyu Sinyangwe and Allan Mulenga
Friday, December 05, 2008 11:02:44
Zambian government has not yet found an equity partner for the country's telecommunication company Zamtel but has just started the process of doing so, Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) managing director Andrew Chipwende has said.
But sources within Ministry of Transport have indicated that the government has already identified a telecommunication company from the Middle East to partner with Zamtel.
And chairman for the Parliamentary Committee on Transport and Communications Douglas Syakalima has said the government’s decision to partially privatise Zamtel should ensure that interests of Zambians were protected.
Chipwende said the government was still a long way from finding a strategic equity partner for Zamtel but had only started the process.
Transport and communications minister Dora Siliya on Wednesday said the government’s decision to find an equity partner for Zamtel was based on the company’s poor performance despite operating in a very profitable industry.
“What the minister announced is the commencement of the process which we hope will be quickly finished,” he said. “We still have some modalities to look at of how we are going to find a strategic partner.”
Chipwende explained that a legal review and the issuance of a licence had to be done before announcing an equity partner for Zamtel.
“It is a long process which has been started and will only be concluded next year,” said Chipwende.
And commenting on government’s decision to partially privatise Zamtel in the next four months, Syakalima said members of the Transport and Communication Committee had suggested that government should recapitalise the company for it to be run in a profitable manner.
“And if finding an equity partner is the best that government can do for Zamtel, then so be it but the interests of the workers and the people of Zambia should first and foremost be protected,” he said.
Syakalima said it was important for the government to ensure that everything was handled well to avoid disagreements that ensued after the sale of Zanaco’s 49 per cent shares to Rabobank.
And sources within the Ministry of Transport and Communications said the selection of an equity partner for the financially beleaguered Zamtel was “a foregone conclusion.”
“You can’t do any evaluation to privatise a company of Zamtel’s magnitude within three to four months. Look at how long it took for Zanaco,” said the sources. “Anyway, the bottom line is that the announcement by the government is just a formality because the company to buy shareholding in Zamtel has already been found...we are not very sure if the company is coming from Israel but certainly it’s from the Middle East.”
And National Union of Communication Workers (NUCW) general secretary Emmanuel Kasonde has urged the government to involve the union in the partial privatisation process of Zamtel to guarantee job security for employees.
Kasonde said while the union welcomed the stance taken by the government to find an equity partner for Zamtel, there was need to protect the interests of workers.
“The beauty is that the privatisation has come at a time when Zamtel has reached a level where it cannot operate effectively and compete favourably on the market. The government should ensure that the privatisation is carefully done to avoid other repercussions,” he said.
Kasonde said the privatisation of Zamtel was long over due, because the state utility company had failed to compete favourably with multinational telecommunication companies.
“We have seen the downfall in the business performance of Zamtel. The privatisation of the company is in the interest of all people and stakeholders. The development will change the business fundamentals of information technology sector in the nation,” he said.
Kasonde however accused the government of having been at the centre of the poor performance of Zamtel.
“The government has lamentably failed to run Zamtel because the company has enough facilities that could make Zamtel a leading telecommunication service provider on the continent,” he said.
Kasonde said once the privatisation process was completed and a proper equity partner identified, the Zamtel would be one of the leading telecommunication service providers in the region.
December 5, 2008
GOVERNMENT has formed a task force to tackle the rising food prices. The task force will come up with a national action plan and bring out interventions needed in the short, medium and long-term. The task force will be chaired by the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.
Chief Government spokesperson, Ronnie Shikapwasha, said this at a press briefing in Lusaka yesterday. He said Government had taken note of the concerns expressed by various people and organisations about the state of food security in the country and how this had impacted on the prices of mealie meal and its availability.
Gen Shikapwasha, who is also Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services said Government was aware that a number of districts were facing food insecurity arising from a number of factors.
These factors include the general rise in food prices, effects of the failure of the global economic systems, irresponsible sale of maize in some communities and households and the floods experienced last rainy season. Gen Shikapwasha said Government was taking appropriate interventions to prevent people in any part of the country from starving. The government has estimated the shortfall at 100,000 metric tonnes.
“Government is currently assessing the level of food insecurity in parts of the country that experienced floods or poor rainfall and is moving maize from surplus to deficit areas,” he said.
Gen Shikapwasha said there would be need to import the shortfall to last until May next year when the nation would rely on its own produce.
He said Government would continue providing relief food to people in areas that experienced food shortages because of floods.
Gen Shikapwasha said this would be one of the main activities within the rehabilitation programme.
He said Government had so far distributed 5,714 metric tonnes of maize out of which 3,254 metric tonnes had gone to Southern Province which was the most affected by the floods.
Gen Shikapwasha said the exercise would continue throughout all affected areas.
“Government’s only concern is that some people who have maize or can afford to buy mealie meal want to be listed among relief food beneficiaries, and some wards currently benefiting from relief food are more secure than those left out,” he said.
Gen Shikapwasha said Government was reviewing the situation to see if new vulnerable people could be taken on board.
He said Government through the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) would continue to conduct rapid vulnerability and needs assessment.
He said the findings of the vulnerability and needs assessment would inform Government on how much various parameters had changed.
“I wish, however, to point out that there is no need for panic and people should not be misled by those trying to make political mileage out of this situation,” Gen Shikapwasha said.
He said the rising mealie meal prices should not be used as an issue to incite unrest in the country because Government was taking all necessary measures to address it.
“Moreover, it’s misleading to suggest, as the Patriotic Front has done, that President Rupiah Banda promised to reduce mealie meal prices,” Gen Shikapwasha said.
He said President Banda emphasised the need to increase food production and increased subsidy on fertiliser for beneficiaries under the Fertiliser Support Programme (FSP) so that peasant farmers could increase production.
Gen Shikapwasha assured the people of Zambia that there was no need for the planned protects by the PF cadres.
He said information obtained yesterday from the provinces showed that the highest wholesale price for breakfast meal was K57,000 for 25 kilogrammes while roller meal was pegged at K51,000.
Gen Shikapwasha said some retailers added a mark-up of K10,000.
He was concerned that there was a big variance of retail prices between the line of rail and the rural towns.
“The difference is explained by the cost of transportation of either maize or mealie meal from surplus to deficit areas,” Gen Shikapwasha said.
He said the task force on the rising food prices was studying the matter and was expected to advise Government on how best to deal with the situation.
Gen Shikapwasha said PF president Michael Sata was supposed to seek dialogue with Government or look at the interventions in place.
He said the fertiliser issue had also been taken out of context because neither President Banda nor Government promised to reduce the price of fertiliser across the board.
Gen Shikapwasha said the subsidised fertiliser was not for the open market but for targeted people belonging to cooperatives and benefiting from the FSP.
On the recent job losses on the mines, Gen Shikapwasha said Government would ensure that it negotiated with the mining companies to find ways of mitigating the situation.
On the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe, Gen Shikapwasha said Government was concerned about the situation.
He said Zambian officials would only intervene in the matter when their Zimbabwean counterparts invite them.
[Zambia Daily Mail]
05 December, 2008 01:00:00
Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has set a four-day window in January in which presidential and parliamentary candidates will file their nomination papers ahead of May 19, poll, Nyasa Times has gathered.
The electoral body has set 26th to 30th January 2009 as dates for nominations for the country's forthcoming general elections.
Previously, MEC chairwoman Anstanzia Msosa announced that the Commission shall receive nomination papers from presidential candidates on 6th and 7th January 2009 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm in Blantyre and that Returning Officers shall receive nomination papers from parliamentary candidates from 5th to 9th January 2009 between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm in electoral offices to be established in their respective constituencies.
However, Nyasa Times sources in MEC said the dates have been shifted naming January 26 to 30 as official dates during which nominations shall be lodged with the commission.
Presidential candidates would also be required to pay a non-refundable nomination fee of K500, 000 and parliamentary candidates will pay K100, 000.
MEC spokesperson Fergus Lipenga could not immediately comment on the new development.But political scientist Pofela Nyekanyeka urged the commission to release information to the public swiftly.
“MEC should ensure the 2009 polls should not only be free and fair but credible as well. Therefore, preparations should be transparent such as release of information to stakeholders and the electorates,” said Nyekanyeka.
Human rights campaigner Nigel Mwalweni said MEC should publicize its electoral calendar and any of its amendment should be properly communicated to the public in terms of Section 36(1) of the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act no. 31 of 1993 as amended.
“Elections are important test of a democracy. The electorate and all players have a right to information in good time so that they make informed choice,” said Mwalweni.
The Presidential race is expected to be between incumbent Ngwazi Dr Bingu wa Mutharika, standing as the candidate of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), and former president Dr Bakili Muluzi who heads the United Democratic Front (UDF), the party which propelled Mutharika to power in 2004.
Mutharika will be contesting for presidency for the third consecutive time and also Muluzi it will be his third time to seek the top most job.
The third main contender is John Tembo, leader of the opposition in Parliament and President of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) which ruled Malawi for 31 years of dictatorship.
Other candidates expected are Mark Katsonga Phiri of People’s Progressime Movement and Dindi Gowa Nyasulu of Aford.
By Lebo Nkatazo
Posted to the web: 05/12/2008 10:25:13
ZIMBABWEAN President Robert Mugabe raised the prospect of dissolving parliament and calling a fresh election on Thursday in a move aimed at resolving a dispute with the opposition over a power sharing government.
"If we call for elections, you must be prepared," Mugabe said in comments broadcast on state television after meeting members of his ruling Zanu PF party in Harare.
An opposition spokesman said it would welcome a "genuine election," with international supervision.
If MDC leaders are not ready to join the national unity government, Mugabe said he would go ahead and appoint a Cabinet to take charge for at least the two-and-half years.
"We agreed to give them 13 ministries while sharing the ministry of home affairs, but if the arrangement fails to work in the next one-and-a-half to two years, then we would go for elections," said the 84-year-old leader who has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980.
Mugabe and his opposition rivals Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara inked a power sharing deal on September 15 following disputed elections in June. The power sharing deal has verged on collapse as Mugabe and Tsvangirai haggle over the control of the Home Affairs ministry under which the police falls.
Regional leaders have suggested that the portfolio be rotated between the parties – a suggestion first brought up by Tsvangirai. But the MDC leader has backpedalled from that position and insists on full control.
Luke Tamborinyoka, the director of information in Tsvangirai’s MDC said: "The MDC has always been ready for a genuine election -- even yesterday. We have always won."
But Tamborinyoka said he feared a violent crackdown on the opposition in the run-up to such an election.
"Mugabe can talk of an election when he is referring to an onslaught on the opposition as he did in the run-up to the June presidential runoff,” he said. “We want an election under international supervision, in which people can express their wishes freely. Violence and abductions of opposition members should not be part of the environment of an election."
The South African government has refused to give up on the power sharing deal. A spokesman said Thursday that he expected Mugabe and his rivals to agree shortly on a constitutional amendment Bill that’s due before the country’s parliament, and gives effect to the unity government.
"We expect the amendment should be signed within a matter of days," government spokesman Themba Maseko told reporters at a cabinet briefing.
"We will put pressure on the political principals to sign as soon as possible," he added.
By Lebo Nkatazo
Posted to the web: 05/12/2008 14:01:13
SOUTH Africa has called for an end to political squabbling between Zimbabwe's feuding political leaders amid growing international concern about the devastation being wrought by a cholera crisis.
The government said the situation across its border, where massive food shortages were being compounded by a cholera outbreak which has killed 565 people, was at crisis levels and "the time for political point scoring is over."
Government spokesman Themba Maseko said South Africa was sending a team to assess how it could provide aid to Zimbabwe, which made a rare appeal for international aid after declaring the cholera outbreak a national emergency.
He said Zimbabweans were "dying in the streets" as the country's leaders failed to reach agreement on the formation of a unity government almost nine months after an election left the country in political limbo.
"The time for action is now and we believe the Zimbabwean government is on board and wants help from the international community," he said, expressing hope the fresh crisis would help solve the political deadlock.
"I would be extremely surprised if the outbreak of cholera, the death of innocent Zimbabweans as a result of a failure of politicians to reach an agreement does not spur them to more urgent action."
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe remained intransigent Friday, threatening to call early elections if the power-sharing agreement failed to work within the next two years as the international community stepped up its criticism of him.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called on the veteran leader to step down, saying power-sharing talks with the opposition were a "sham process."
"It is well past time for Robert Mugabe to leave," said Rice during a brief visit to Copenhagen. "I think that is now obvious.
"If this is not evident for the international community, that it is time to stand up for what is right, I don't know what would be."
Foreign ministers from the European Union also plan to beef up sanctions against Zimbabwe, adding 10 names to its list of 168 members of the Zimbabwe regime who are banned from entering EU nations and whose European assets have been frozen.
A draft text seen by AFP said the EU would stress "its deep concern at the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe, particularly as a result of the cholera epidemic and the continuing violence against supporters of the (opposition) Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)."
As the United States and foremr colonial power Britain prepared hefty aid packages to rescue Zimbabwe from a food and humanitarian crisis, South Africa said it was key that aid be distributed in a non-partisan manner.
"Our interest as a government is to make sure any aid we give on behalf of the people of South Africa is given not to party officials, not to political parties, but to ordinary Zimbabweans," said Maseko.
Maseko urged parties to "put all political differences aside" as Rice expressed hope the cholera outbreak would lead neighbouring countries to pressure Zimbabwe into a speedy political solution.
Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga also told the BBC on Thursday that it was time for Mugabe to go.
"It's time for African governments to take decisive action to push him out of power," Odinga said.
"Power-sharing is dead in Zimbabwe and will not work with a dictator who does not really believe in power-sharing," he said. - AFP