Saturday, January 24, 2009

It’s a scandal for rupiah to appoint cadres – Lubinda

It’s a scandal for rupiah to appoint cadres – Lubinda
Written by Chibaula Silwamba and Gillian Namungala
Saturday, January 24, 2009 9:02:57 AM

OPPOSITION Patriotic Front (PF) spokesperson Given Lubinda yesterday charged that it is a scandal for President Rupiah Banda to shamelessly appoint some MMD cadres as permanent secretaries.

And PF vice-president Guy Scott charged that the appointment of some permanent secretaries by President Banda was a reward for their work during last year's presidential election campaigns.

Commenting on President Banda's appointment of permanent secretaries for various ministries and provinces, Lubinda said most of the new permanent secretaries were being rewarded for campaigning for the President during the October 30, 2008 presidential election.

"The appointments of permanent secretaries are reminiscent of [former president] Frederick Chiluba's scheme when he wanted to go for a third term. He appointed MMD district youth secretaries as DCs [district commissioners]. And this is what Mr Rupiah Bwezani Banda is doing; he has picked MMD cadres as permanent secretaries so that they can campaign for him in 2011," Lubinda said.

"One wonders why Rupiah Banda wants to compromise the running of the civil service by appointing MMD cadres to meet his own personal ambition to win the presidency in 2011."

Lubinda singled out MMD National Executive Committee (NEC) member Jazzman Chikwakwa, MMD losing parliamentary candidate for Kanyama constituency Mwalimu Simfukwe and former Lusaka district commissioner Stephen Bwalya, as some of the many MMD cadres who had been appointed as permanent secretaries.

President Banda appointed Simfukwe as new permanent secretary for Northern Province, Chikwakwa [Luapula Province] and Bwalya [Lusaka Province].

"Those people are known politicians who held political positions in the MMD. Simfukwe stood as a parliamentary candidate in Kanyama and lost. It's unfortunate that Rupiah Banda is politicising the civil service. This is a scandal and Rupiah Banda should be ashamed. We cannot have a civil service that is run by political cadres," Lubinda complained. "We want qualified civil servants who are non-partisan to run the civil service. We must divorce the civil service from political parties."

He said President Banda was practicing double standards by appointing MMD cadres into the civil service when in fact he had told Parliament last week that his government would be inclusive and not just for the MMD.

"There are a number of civil servants who are facing disciplinary charges on suspicion that they campaigned for the opposition but now Rupiah Banda is appointing MMD cadres into the civil service. Is this not double standard?" asked Lubinda.

And Scott said some of the people who had been appointed to serve as permanent secretaries campaigned for President Banda last year.

"The appointments are rewards so that they can campaign for him next time," he said.

Scott said people appointed as permanent secretaries ought to be qualified for the positions. He appealed to thegovernment to appoint qualified people to serve in administrative offices.

Scott said the appointments of the permanent secretaries were a clear demonstration of lack of seriousness by the government to find measures to mitigate the financial crisis.

"What government was supposed to do was to reduce [the size] but the appointment of 15 permanent secretaries shows how unserious President Banda's government is in addressing the global recession," he said.

Scott said the statement by Vice-President George Kunda that the government had no plans to reduce the size of Cabinet showed the government's lack of seriousness.

He said it was unfortunate that the government had decided to continue with the National Constitutional Conference (NCC), which only benefited a few individuals financially.

Scott said despite the hard times Zambia was facing due to the financial recession, the government had continued spending.

"We expected a holistic approach towards addressing this crisis but what we are seeing is continuous expenditure on travels and workshops," Scott said. "A number of people have lost their jobs in the mines and other companies but the size of government keeps growing."

President Banda on Thursday appointed 15 new permanent secretaries, retired four and promised to re-deploy six others.

Some new faces include former Clerk of the House of Chiefs Coillard Chibbonta [local government and housing], former chief immigration officer Ndiyoi Mutiti [Home Affairs] and former Lusaka district commissioner Stephen Bwalya [Lusaka Province].

Others are D. K. Mendamenda [lands], Goodwin Beene [mines and minerals development], Velepi Mtonga [Health], Dr B Msiska [finance and national planning], S. Kakoma [Office of the Vice-President] and Robinson Nkhonde [senior private secretary, State House].

The rest are Mwalimu Simfukwe [Northern Province], Eularia Zulu [Eastern Province], Ikanuke Noyoo [Western Province], Jazzman Chikwakwa [Luapula Province] and Villie Lombanya [Copperbelt Province].

President Banda has re-appointed Dr Nicholas Kwendakwema as permanent secretary for the Ministry of Defence.

President Banda transferred home affairs permanent secretary Susan Sikaneta to the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Child Development, Davison Chilipamushi [community development and social services], Dr Simon Miti [science, technology and vocational training], Mukuka Zimba [transport and communications] and Buleti Nsemukila [education].

Others transferred are Dr James Mulungushi [commerce, trade and industry], T. Kasonso [tourism and natural resources], Bernard Namachila [agriculture and cooperatives, controlling officer], Isaac Phiri [agriculture and cooperative, livestock and fisheries], Bob Samakai [State House] and Dr Eustace Mambwe [North-Western Province].

President Banda will redeploy former Lusaka Province permanent secretary Elijah Chisanga, Clement Siame [Luapula], Jennifer Musonda [Copperbelt], Joel Ngo [local government and housing], Ngosa Chisupa [Labour] and Gabriel Kaunda [Northern].

Among those retired or whose contracts have not been renewed are Leonard Nkhata [mines and minerals development], Kelvin Kamuwanga [Eastern Province], Alfred Susiku [Office of the Vice-President, parliamentary business] and Jeston Mulando [North Western Province].

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Sejani accuses MMD of exploiting rural vote

Sejani accuses MMD of exploiting rural vote
Written by Mwala Kalaluka
Saturday, January 24, 2009 8:58:44 AM

MAPATIZYA UPND member of parliament Ackson Sejani on Thursday accused President Rupiah Banda's administration of having plundered and exploited the rural vote, in view of the torturous poverty levels obtaining there.

And Mazabuka Central UPND member of parliament Garry Nkombo has questioned a decision by the National Pension Scheme Authority (NAPSA) to invest members' contributions in a heavily indebted company, Mubuyu Farms in Mazabuka.

Contributing to the debate on President Banda's speech during the opening of the third session of the tenth National Assembly, Sejani said whether they cling to power by hook or crook, the current government would have to one-day account for their exploitative and sinful acts on the rural voters.

Referring to President Banda's address, Sejani said the pledge to prioritise the fight against poverty relates only to the rural areas, which he said were overwhelmed with dehumanising poverty levels.

"The amount of poverty that our people in rural areas are experiencing is torturous," Sejani said. "Where is the money from the HIPC [Highly Indebted Poor Countries completion point]? This government has shortchanged its promises to the rural areas. There is no development in the rural areas and yet MMD won from rural areas. The urban people rejected you."

Sejani urged rural voters to know what they would be voting for next time they cast their votes in any election.

"At the end of my debate, I am going to lay on the table a map produced by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ), which shows the voting patterns during the last presidential election," Sejani said in an emotive manner.

"The MMD was returned to power on the basis of the rural vote. Once again this government has exploited and plundered the rural vote. I want to interrogate the fundamental paradox, why people who consistently and religiously voted for this government consistently and religiously get a raw deal."

Sejani said he also wanted to interrogate the government why country's rural areas’ continued record less success.

"...I am talking about extreme poverty, not just any other poverty," Sejani said.

He said after interrogating, he would want to torture the government in respect of the extreme poverty levels in the rural areas.

But deputy Speaker Mutale Nalumango momentarily curtailed Sejani's debate and told him that no one was allowed to torture in the House.

Sejani charged that the MMD had committed sin against the rural people and that a day would come when they would pay for it.

"God will burn this government for the sins it has committed to the people in the rural areas," he said.

However, Nalumango advised him to debate in a moderate manner.

Sejani said the poverty that the MMD had created was a threat to the rural dwellers.

"The MMD represents supreme poverty and we will continue to sensitise our people so that in 2011, this government is voted out of power," Sejani said.

And Nkombo asked labour minister Austin Liato to explain why NAPSA invested in Mubuyu Farms, which owes Barclays Bank about US$17.5 million.

He asked why this decision was tolerated when one of the directors at NAPSA sits on the ZAMBEEF board, a company that has interests in Mubuyu Farms.

Liato said discussions between NAPSA and Barclays Banks meant to see how the above debt would be liquidated were in progress.

"We are hoping that all the issues in that regard would be addressed accordingly," said Liato.

The response was received with grunts from some UPND parliamentarians.

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Manda Hill Ltd bemoans row over proposed developments

Manda Hill Ltd bemoans row over proposed developments
Written by Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Saturday, January 24, 2009 8:57:24 AM

CONTINUED wrangles regarding the proposed proposed developments of Manda Hill shopping complex has been a very frustrating experience, Manda Hill Centre Limited (MHCL) has complained.

And MHCL has insisted that Lusaka City Council (LCC) has wrongfully continued to claim that it is the owner of a portion of land which MHCL intends to use for the extension of part of the shopping centre.

MHCL described the recent media reports surrounding the US $32 million works as factually incorrect, misleading and behind the times.

MHCL also revealed that former local government minister Sylvia Masebo supported the proposed re-development of Manda Hill shopping complex but advised the developers to proceed with the works through the LCC.

Early this month, the LCC maintained its rejection of the proposed expansion of Manda Hill shopping complex in Lusaka despite President Rupiah Banda and Ministry of Local Government and Housing's authorisation for the continuation of the project. LCC public relations manager Chanda Makanta, who was commenting on local government and housing minister Benny Tetamashimba's revelation that his ministry had allowed the developer for Manda Hill shopping complex to go ahead, said the council still maintained its rejection of the proposed extension of the shopping complex.

But MHCL, in a press release, stated: “We wanted to provide further additional parking bays for Manda Hill customers and approached the [former] minister [Masebo] to lease the adjacent land for this purpose. MHCL wrote to and subsequently held a meeting with [former] Minister Masebo to discuss the leasing of the land to the west of Manda Hill for this purpose. [Former] Minister Masebo supported the application but requested that MHCL approach the Local Council in this regard, which was done.”

MHCL also claimed that it never approached the late president Levy Mwanawasa or other ministers in office to gain approval of the building plans.

“The only time that MHCL had a meeting with a senior government leader was to discuss the leasing of land. The entire process has been a very frustrating experience for Manda Hill’s tenants, loyal customers, MHCL and its majority shareholder HBW Group (Pty) Ltd who is investing substantial amounts of money in Zambia,” MHCL stated. “MHCL would also like to further place on record that they have and always will follow process and have never attempted to ‘bypass the law’ by ‘addressing themselves directly to government leaders as alleged in the aforementioned article in The Post.”

MHCL also claimed that the LCC, in August 2007, in-principal approved the Shoprite extension only and that the local authority did not comment on the remainder of the scheme and the additional land.

“MHCL denied this and provided supporting documentation. While the land dispute continued, MHCL were advised to proceed with construction, commencing with the Shoprite expansion as approval from the LCC was a matter of process and would take some time. In October 2007, a revised set of building plans was submitted to the LCC which incorporated a minor additional retail component enhancing the overall scheme. During the period from when the original plans were submitted and up until December 2007, 11 letters were sent to the LCC and nine meetings were held with various officials from the LCC in an attempt to obtain the approvals and resolve the land issue. This was done without any success,” MHCL stated.

And MHCL has accused LCC of having wrongfully continued to claim that they were the owners of a portion of land which MHCL was proposing to use for the extension of part of the shopping centre.

Management of the country’s biggest shopping centre stated that they were “forced” to seek relief through the Town and Country Planning Tribunal after attempts to amicably resolve the matter with the LCC on numerous occasions failed.

“In January 2008, the LCC finally released a statement that the building plans were approved but included in this approval various conditions which in fact made it impossible to commence with construction. In addition, these conditions noted that construction could not commence until the land issue had been resolved,” MHCL claimed. “The ruling by the Tribunal effectively gave MHCL immediate approval to proceed with the extension and upgrade of Manda Hill. Unfortunately, Shoprite, by virtue of rights contained in their lease, insisted that the additional parking proposed in terms of the original scheme be provided.”

MHCL also stated that it accordingly revised the plans to include a new multi-level parking deck which the LCC had advised previously.

“The amended plans were submitted to the LCC on December 2nd 2008 and MHCL now await an in-principal approval from the LCC,” stated MHCL.

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Get involved

Get involved
Written by Editor

There is need for all Zambians to pay particular attention to the proceedings of the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) if this country is to have a constitution that will stand the test of time.We say this because it is clear that most of the men and women participating in the NCC are not representing the true feelings of our people on what they want included in this important national document, the constitution.

There are deliberate efforts, especially by politicians participating in NCC, to tailor the constitution according to their desire.

This is wrong and it should not be tolerated. These men and women should understand the role they are playing on the NCC. They are people’s representatives, not own representatives. So if our people do not monitor what their representatives are doing on the NCC, this country is destined to have another failed constitution.

We all know how important a constitution is to a country. In fact, constitutionalism, as we are told by scholars, is a modern concept which desires a political order. This means that people must be governed by law and not men. Constitutionalism stands for the supremacy of the law. It is also a body which would ensure fair play and an accountable government.

Constitutionalism also desires a political order in which government powers are limited. Constitutionalism means respect for fundamental human rights and more so for the concept of the rule of law.

It cannot be over-emphasised that it is only a good constitution that can promote democracy and the rule of law. And a good constitution will receive respect from all citizens. But this respect can only be given if citizens agree to the contents of the constitution. We have stated this before and we are repeating these words to remind our people of their obligations. This borders on the concept of the legitimacy of the constitution. A good constitution has to be legitimate.

And the legitimacy of the constitution is concerned with how it will command the loyalty, obedience and confidence of the people. Many constitutional governments collapse when citizens have no respect for the constitution. In such a case, the state will become an alien to its own constitution and also to the people. Such a state or constitution will be remote to people’s lives and their thinking.

To be understood and to be legitimate, a constitution must be respected by the people. But the people can only understand and give respect to the constitution if they participated in its making process. This means that the content and form which the constitution will take must be discussed by the people. A constitution born that way will have the respect of the people; people will be loyal to it. But a constitution imposed on citizens will command no respect from them.

That is why it is important for our people to keenly follow the proceedings of the NCC to ensure that only their aspirations are included in the constitution, not the aspirations of the few NCC delegates.

The various NCC committees have, for the past few months, been discussing a number of national issues. But looking at the way these discussions are being handled, and decisions made from such discussions, it is clear that if Zambians do not intervene in the process, this country is on a path to having another doom constitution.

We say this because Zambia has never known a constitution that stood the test of time. A good constitution must never change regularly. It should always remain to guarantee the values and aspirations of citizens.

This can be said about the United States’ constitution which has never changed since 1877, save for a minor change in Article 4. In many democracies, especially those in the West, constitutions have remained stable despite change of government. This is possible because such constitutions are never imposed on people.

If Zambians allow the few selfish and greedy NCC delegates to impose a constitution on them, the next government will be reviewing such a constitution because it will not be reflecting the desires and aspirations of the people. It will be alien to their lives.

But it should be noted that this process of writing a constitution for the country is very costly and should be avoided by making a constitution that will stand the test of time. From the first Republic through to our day, a lot of billions of kwacha have been spent in trying to make a good constitution. However, this has never been achieved because leaders impose their will on the people. Constitutions are always associated with particular leaders; the Kaunda constitution, the Chiluba constitution or the Mwanawasa constitution.

This is not as it should be. A constitution is a people’s document. The danger is that when a constitution is associated with a particular leader or administration, the next leader or administration will change it to suit their thinking and desires. This has to be brought to a stop. A good constitution should be able to outlive its makers.

Most of the suggestions and decisions coming from the NCC delegates are purely designed to preserve their narrow and selfish political interests; nothing to do with national interest.

It is not too late for all Zambians to actively engage in this process of constitution making because we are yet to go to the final stage. Our people can use this stage to throw out all decisions that have been made in personal interest and not national interest. It’s about time that Zambia made a constitution that will stand the test of time. Individuals should come and go but the constitution must live forever, for generations to come.



Paying plunderers gratuity is criminal, says Rev Matale

Paying plunderers gratuity is criminal, says Rev Matale
Written by Lambwe Kachali
Saturday, January 24, 2009 8:52:58 AM

COUNCIL of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) general secretary Reverend Suzanne Matale yesterday said paying gratuity and benefits to a former president convicted of corruption and plunder of national resources is a crime of the worst kind.

And Rev Matale said the proposal by the legislative committee of the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) that members of parliament expelled by their political parties should not lose their seats in Parliament should be fought and defeated.

In an interview, Rev Matale said the proposal by the NCC that a former president who has been convicted of a criminal offence should not be entitled to his gratuity should be supported by all Zambians.

Rev Matale added that if the crime bordered on corruption and plunder of national resources, such a former president should lose all his presidential benefits and not only gratuity.

She said it did not make any sense to pay or reward a thief on top of what he had stolen, especially someone who held the highest office in the land and deprived majority poor citizens of decent life.

"...He should lose both gratuity and his presidential entitlements or benefits. Everything must go, especially if the criminality is related to corruption. He should be stripped off all his benefits. If it is proven that he has already taken away a lot of money from the Zambian people, then he has enough, he doesn't need more on top of that," Rev Matale said.

"We can't keep on pouring money to somebody who is corrupt, who plundered taxpayers’ money and national resources. If he is convicted, it means that former president already has enough, so what more money would he want?"

She observed that it was necessary to put stringent laws that would scare politicians in higher positions of office from tampering with public resources.

"I mean in this country we need a lot of money to go into social services. So, that money [benefits for a convicted former president] should be put in the national coffers to benefit Zambians. Because that former president has plundered, has taken away national resources and then we should pay him for doing that, it doesn't make sense," she said.

And Rev Matale said for the sake of discipline both in various political parties and Parliament, there should be no law to allow expelled parliamentarians to maintain their seats in the House.

She said if parliamentarians were allowed by law to maintain their seats once expelled, it would breed total indiscipline since politicians would be at will to jump from one party to another for political expedience.

"Knowing very well, we are not at a level where our politics have matured. So, as far as I am concerned that should be rejected. Should someone want to cross the floor to another political party, they need to resign and lose their seats," Rev Matale said.

"The bottom line is that is not a good idea at all. That should not even be implemented. If members of parliament are allowed to cross from one party to another at will, because there is a small problem in their party, then, it will just bring confusion in Parliament and bring de-governance issues in the nation."

She called on Zambians to challenge the NCC and ensure that such a clause was not included in the final constitution.

"I am just hoping that when it goes to the main body for discussion, it should not be adopted finally. I don't believe it's a good way to go. And I think the Zambian people should not accept such kind of a thing in the constitution," said Rev Matale.

On Thursday, the Legislative Committee of the NCC adopted a proposal that members of parliament that are expelled from their political parties should not lose their seats in Parliament to avoid unnecessary by-elections. A member of the Executive committee of the NCC also proposed that a former president convicted of a crime or any other offence should lose his gratuity but the proposal was opposed on grounds that the person convicted deserved to get their money because they worked for it.

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Joint forces capture Nkunda in Rwanda

Joint forces capture Nkunda in Rwanda
Written by Reuters
Saturday, January 24, 2009 8:51:22 AM

Congolese Tutsi rebel leader Laurent Nkunda was arrested in Rwanda after he resisted a joint Rwandan-Congolese military operation designed to pacify eastern Congo, officials said yesterday.

The arrest of Nkunda, who has led a Tutsi rebellion in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo since 2004, occurred during the joint Congolese-Rwandan operation which was launched this week to hunt Rwandan Hutu militiamen operating in Congo.

Wars, rebellions and ethnic violence since 1998 have killed more than five million Congolese, holding back the development of the huge former Belgian colony in central Africa, which is rich in minerals like copper, cobalt, coltan, gold and uranium.

"Ex-general Laurent Nkunda was arrested on Thursday, January 22 at 22:30 hours while he was fleeing on Rwandan territory after he had resisted our troops at Bunagana with three battalions," Congolese and Rwandan military commanders said in a statement.

The statement, read at a news conference in the eastern border city of Goma, gave no more details. A Congolese minister said Congo's government would ask Rwanda to extradite Nkunda.

A Congolese army colonel, who asked not to be named, said Nkunda and rebels loyal to him had fought against Rwandan and Congolese troops when they arrived at Bunagana, a town on the border with Uganda in Congo's North Kivu province.

Nkunda's leadership of his Tutsi rebel National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) group had been challenged this year by dissident rebel commanders who last week ended hostilities with the Congolese government.

The commanders' statement urged Tutsi fighters loyal to Nkunda to disarm and integrate into the Congo government army. - Reuters

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PF applies for injunction against Sinyangwe

PF applies for injunction against Sinyangwe
Written by Maluba Jere
Saturday, January 24, 2009 8:49:53 AM

THE Patriotic Front (PF) has applied for an injunction to restrain Matero member of parliament Faustina Sinyangwe from claiming to be its member. PF general secretary Edward Mumbi noted in an affidavit filed in the Lusaka High Court that Sinyangwe was on January 3, 2008 charged with misconduct for referring to its president Michael Sata as a thug on December 27, 2009.

The party also wants a declaratory judgment that Sinyangwe ceased to be a PF member since her expulsion on March 15, 2008.

Mumbi stated that the party's central committee met on March 15, 2008 and resolved to expel Sinyangwe and that she had never appealed, challenged or contested the expulsion, which was communicated to her.

He stated that despite the expulsion, Sinyangwe had continued to attend meetings and other programmes in Matero Constituency purporting to be a member of parliament and member of the PF.

Mumbi also stated that in her attendance of the party meetings and the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) sittings, Sinyangwe had contradicted the party's position on several national issues when she could be entitled to her views if she was an independent member of parliament or from another party.

He added that her divergent views against the official position of the party on national issues was confusing members and undermining the stability of the party in her constituency.

Mumbi further stated that during the last presidential elections, Sinyangwe campaigned against Sata and alienated several members from the party.

And PF leader Michael Sata expressed concern over the composition of the parliamentary Standing Orders Committee despite having written to Speaker of the National Assembly Amusaa Mwanamwambwa over bias in the selection of members in the sessional committees.

In a letter dated January 21, 2009, Sata stated that he wrote a letter to Speaker Mwanamwambwa on January 19 over the bias in the selection of members in sessional committees.

However, he stated that on January 19, Parliament constituted members of the Standing Orders Committee without due consideration to his plea.

"The composition of the Standing Orders Committee is as follows: Hon Mr Speaker, His Honour the Vice-President, Hon Minister of Finance and National Planning, Hon Chief Whip, Mr H. I. Mwanza, Mr D. Matongo MP, Ms E. M. Imbwae MP, Mrs F. B. Sinyangwe MP," stated Sata. "Looking at the above list the Patriotic Front is not represented at all. We have seen the name of Mrs F. B. Sinyangwe, this lady is a former member of this party. The Hon Mr Speaker is fully aware of the circumstances surrounding her.

"We are fully aware that Mrs Sinyangwe is representing the Hon Mr Speaker and not any political party in Parliament. We have written to put it on record for future reference."

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Li asks Chinese investors not to cut jobs

Li asks Chinese investors not to cut jobs
Written by Fridah Zinyama
Saturday, January 24, 2009 8:48:11 AM

CHINESE Ambassador to Zambia Li Qiangmin has asked Chinese investors not cut any jobs for Zambians while continuing with their expansion projects.

And Standard Chartered Bank Zambia has said the current economic turmoil being experienced worldwide is not going to badly affect the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth prospects for Zambia and China.

During the celebration of the Chinese New Year on Thursday, Ambassador Li said Chinese investors should continue with their projects in Zambia in order to mitigate job losses the country was currently experiencing.

Ambassador Li said there had been an increase in the level of Chinese investments into Zambia, a trend which he said was likely to improve overtime.

“As China, we believe that Zambia remains one of the most ideal investment destinations because it’s stable politically and has been making good economic gains,” said Ambassador Li. “Therefore, my government is trying to help Zambia maintain its good economic trends by asking some of the Chinese investors in the country to maintain their investments and not cut any jobs.”

And Standard Chartered Bank Zambia managing director Mizinga Melu said the Bank remained confident that the Zambian and Chinese economies would remain resilient despite the current economic downturn.

“Chinese and Asian companies will continue to invest in African countries like Zambia and we see no reason why the long term trend of deepening mutually beneficial economic relations between Zambia and China will be reversed,” she said.

Melu said despite the global slowdown, the broader China-Africa trade corridor would be the most influential socio-economic development for Africa over the next few years.

“It will give further credence to the revaluation of African and Zambian assets; it will strengthen global perceptions of Africa and Zambia as an international investment destination and it will generate new businesses and jobs and boost associated domestic growth and demand,” said Melu.

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Former Chambishi employees complain over benefits

Former Chambishi employees complain over benefits
Written by Mwila Chansa in Kitwe
Saturday, January 24, 2009 8:45:54 AM

SOME former employees of Chambishi Metals Plc have complained over Standard Chartered Bank’s alleged decision to deduct 100 per cent of their outstanding loans from miners’ terminal benefits without their consent.

The workers complained that it was unfair for Standard Chartered Bank to deduct 100 per cent of the outstanding loan repayment because the decision meant they would walk away with nothing after their retrenchment.

One of the employees, Conrad Malama, said the bank should have deducted only 50 per cent of the outstanding payment since the loans were secured through Madison Insurance.

“Surprisingly, when we went to the bank, we found that they had deducted 100 percent claiming that they would only refund the 50 per cent after insurance settles their claim. We are very surprised because their colleagues at Barclays [Bank] are only deducting 50 per cent and they both insured the loans with the same company,” Malama said.

He said there was no need for Standard Chartered Bank to hold on to their money because they were the ones who even enticed them to get the loans.

“They arranged for insurance by asking us to contribute 500,000 for that purpose,” he said.

Malama claimed that most people who had acquired loans with Standard Chartered Bank had only worked for less than two years at Chambishi Metals and that their terminal benefits were very little.

“So if they deduct 100 per cent of the outstanding loan payment, how are people going to survive?” he asked.

He accused the bank of acting unprofessionally on the matter especially that they could not seek audience with the parties involved to find a way of settling the outstanding payment.

“They have not even seen my redundancy letter so how could they decide to deduct everything?” he asked. “Banks are supposed to get things officially and not on the streets or market places.”

He charged that many more former employees were affected by Standard Chartered Bank’s decision.

Another former employee Charles Chansa urged Standard Chartered Bank to give room to individuals to negotiate how they would pay back the loan.

“Some people may be capable of paying back; they cannot just effect recovery of money minus involving the owners,” said Chansa.

When contacted, Standard Chartered regional head of corporate affairs Luke Njovu stated that the bank was aware of the issue and had set up a special care unit on the Copperbelt to deal with each customers’ account on an individual basis.

“As per group policy, Standard Chartered Bank does not divulge specific client information,” stated Njovu.

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Reports on tender for supply of diesel to Zambia reveal weaknesses

Reports on tender for supply of diesel to Zambia reveal weaknesses
Written by Chibaula Silwamba
Saturday, January 24, 2009 8:43:34 AM

TWO evaluation reports on the tender for the supply and delivery of diesel to Zambia have revealed serious weaknesses for potential suppliers - Dalbit Petroleum Limited and Energy Trading Group - whom the Ministry of Energy is trying to use to bring the commodity.

And the records have revealed that Dalbit Petroleum Limited of Kenya participated in the tendering process, although it was unsuccessful.

According to the evaluation report and re-evaluation report compiled this month and obtained by The Post in Lusaka, during the tendering process Energy Trading Group presented a trading license valid up to July 2007 and their profile did not indicate how much volume they were able to supply.

The report further revealed that despite Dalbit Petroleum Limited having more than five years experience in the supply and delivery of petroleum products, most of its supply and delivery was for relatively small quantities.

It revealed that Dalbit Petroleum did not indicate ability to mobilise rail tank wagons and did not clearly outline the key roles for the staff as requested in the bidding document.

Despite these weaknesses, the Ministry of Energy Tender Committee went ahead to recommend to the Zambia National Tender Board (ZNTB) to grant them authority to enter into negotiations with Energy Trading Group and Dalbit Petroleum Limited for each company to supply 7,500 cubic metres of diesel to Zambia.

According to the first evaluation report, in the initial bidding process, there were seven bidders that included Sabela Energy, Oryx Oil & Gas S.A, Petroneft, Independent Petroleum Group (IPG), Dalbit Petroleum Limited, Trafigura Beheer BV and Energy Trading Group.

However, Sabela Energy and Trafigura Beheer BV were eliminated at the preliminary evaluation stage because they were found to be non responsive due to their failure to submit either audited financial statements or bank statements for the past three years and the required bid security of US $1 million [about K5 billion].

During technical evaluation part one stage, IPG got 94.73 points, Oryx Oil and Gas S.A got 80.67 points, Energy Trading got 77.17 points, Petroneft got 67.12 points while Dalbit Petroleum was last with 65.24 points.

The report, therefore, revealed that Dalbit Petroleum was eliminated because it had failed to meet the 70 points cut-off line.

“The requirement at this stage was that firms needed to score a minimum of 70 points in order to qualify. Therefore, firms that scored below 70 points were eliminated. In this regard, Petroneft International Limited (bidder number three) and Dalbit Petroleum Limited (bidder number five) were non responsive due to the fact that they scored less than 70 points,” the report read in part. “It was noted that despite the bidder [Dalbit Petroleum] having more than five years experience in the supply and delivery of petroleum products, most of the supply and delivery was for relatively small quantities. Dalbit Petroleum did not indicate ability to mobilize rail tank wagons. Dalbit Petroleum did not clearly outline the key role for the staff as requested in the bidding document.”

On Energy Trading Group (ETG), the report revealed that the bidder submitted a fair project team for the assignment and it indicated ability to mobilize more than 50 by 35,000 litres road tankers.

“The bidder indicated ability to mobilize rail tank wagons,” the reported stated.

However, it noted that ETG had less than five years specific experience in supply and delivery of petroleum products.

“Their profile did not indicate how much volume they are able to supply,” the report revealed. “They (ETG) presented a trading license valid up to July 2007.”

At final analysis, the committee settled for Oryx Oil & Gas S.A and recommended the company to ZNTB to grant the Ministry of Energy authority to enter into negotiations with Oryx Oil & Gas S.A for the supply and delivery of 15,000 cubic metres of diesel per month for a period of two years.

“In the event that negotiations with Oryx are not fruitful, it is recommended that the Zambia National Tender Board grants authority to enter into negotiations with second lowest evaluated bidder which is bidder number seven, Energy Trading Group, for the supply and delivery of 15,000 cubic meters of diesel per month for a period of two years,” the report read in part.

However, a re-evaluation report done later by the same committee members revealed that the ministry's tender committee instructed the evaluation committee to re-evaluate the tender at the technical evaluation part one, taking into consideration the directives it had highlighted.

“The evaluation committee had initially carried out an evaluation of the tender for the supply and delivery of diesel on a two year running contract on 13th January, 2009 and submitted the report to the Ministry Tender Committee (MTC). The MTC held a meeting on Wednesday 15th January, 2009 to consider the report submitted by the evaluation committee,” the report read. “Upon consideration of the report, the MTC raised some concerns as indicated below: (1) there was no clear justification for allocation of points in criteria one of the technical evaluation part one. (2) The evaluation committee changed points in criteria two of the technical evaluation part one in order to make an arithmetic committee.”

The report stated that as a result of the two concerns, the MTC directed the evaluation committee to re-do its evaluation.

“The MTC directed that: (1) the evaluation committee allocates points objectively as provided for in the bid document sent to the bidders. (2) The evaluation committee retains the points as reflected in a bid document sent to the bidders,” the report stated. “The MTC, therefore, instructed that the evaluation committee re-evaluates the tender at the technical evaluation part one level taking into consideration the directives highlighted above. The representative from Energy Regulation Board did not take part in the re-evaluation due [to] other duties which had to be attended to.”

The report indicated that the committee revised the points allocated to all the bidders at technical evaluation part one. The summarised results of the technical part one were as follows; Independent Petroleum Group (IPG) 104.69 points, Energy Trading 91.15 points, Oryx Oil and Gas S.A 90.39 points, Dalbit Petroleum Limited 88.51 points and Petroneft got 77.51 points.

“The requirement at this stage was that the firms needed to score a minimum of 70 points in order to qualify. In this regard, bidder two [Oryx Oil & Gas S.A], bidder three [Petroneft], bidder four [Independent Petroleum Group], bidder five [Dalbit Petroleum Limited] and bidder seven [Energy Trading Group] were responsive due to the fact that they scored more than 70 points,” the report stated. “Consequently the bidders were evaluated further on the technical evaluation part two.”

After all the evaluation, the bidders were ranked as follows.

The reported indicated that the preferred bidder was Oryx Oil & Gas S.A, followed by Energy Trading Group, Dalbit Petroleum Limited came third, Petroneft came fourth while Independent Petroleum Group was last in fifth position.

“In view of the results of the technical and financial evaluation; (1) the [evaluation] committee concluded that Oryx Oil & Gas S.A has presented the best evaluated bid and therefore should be awarded the contract for 'the supply of 15,000 cubic meters per month of diesel to Zambia' on a two year contract,” the report stated. “It is, therefore, recommended that the Zambia National Tender Board grants authority to the Ministry of Energy and Water Development to enter into negotiations with Oryx Oil & Gas S.A for the supply and delivery of 15,000 cubic meters of diesel per month for a period of two years.

“In the event that negotiations with Oryx are not fruitful, it is recommended that the Zambia National Tender Board grants authority to the Ministry of Energy and Water Development to enter into negotiations with the second lowest evaluated bidder which is bidder number seven, Energy Trading Group, for the supply and delivery of 15,000 cubic meters of diesel per month for a period of two years.”

However, the report revealed that when adopting the recommendation, the Ministry of Energy tender committee ruled out the first choice successful bidder, Oryx Oil & Gas S.A.

“The Ministry Tender Committee (MTC) held a meeting on Monday 19th January, 2009 to consider the report by the evaluation committee. The MTC made the following observations on the recommendations made by the evaluation committee: (1) security concerns on bidder number two, Oryx Oil and Gas S.A. In view of security concerns that were raised on Oryx Oil and Gas S.A during the tender for supply of petroleum feedstock in 2007, it is not advisable to recommend the bidder for the award of the tender. There is need for the bidder to be cleared by the security wings before they can be considered for award of any tender in the petroleum subsector. Oryx Oil and Gas S.A should therefore not be considered for the award of this tender.”

The report further revealed that the MTC noted some logistics for delivery of tender quantities.

“The MTC noted that delivery of 15 million litres of diesel per month as per tender requirements translates into supply of about 15 road tankers per day. Based on the experience that the ministry has had in 2008 during the importation of 15 million litres of diesel, the company that was contacted to deliver the said quantities had problems in mobilising tankers due to the shortage of road tankers and rail tank wagons in the sub-region. It is therefore very difficult for one bidder to be able to deliver the tender quantities in view of this logistical challenge. The tender should therefore be awarded to two bidders,” the report stated.

The report disclosed that the MTC varied the recommendations made by the evaluation committee.

“It is therefore recommended that the Zambia National Tender Board grants authority to the Ministry of Energy and Water Development to enter into negotiations with the following two bidders. (1) Bidder seven - Energy Trading, which was ranked second in clause 10.4 financial evaluation, for the supply and delivery of approximately 7,500 cubic meters of diesel per month for a period of two years. (2) Bidder five - Dalbit Petroleum Limited, which was ranked third in clause 10.4 financial evaluation, for the supply and delivery of approximately 7,500 cubic meters of diesel per month for a period of two years.”

However, the report, in its strength and weakness column, maintained its initial observation that Energy Trading Group had presented a trading license valid up to July, 2007.

The report also maintained its initial observation in the earlier report that despite Dalbit Petroleum Limited having more than five years experience in the supply and delivery of petroleum products, most of the supply and delivery it did was for relatively small quantities.

“The bidder [Dalbit Petroleum Limited] did not indicate ability to mobilise rail tank wagons. The bidder did not outline the key roles for the staff as requested in the bidding document,” the report revealed.

And in a letter dated January 20, 2009, ZNTB director general David Kapitolo, energy permanent secretary Peter Mumba stated that his ministry had finished evaluating the bids for the supply and delivery of diesel and was therefore recommending to ZNTB to authorize the ministry to enter into negotiations with Energy Trading Group and Dalbit Petroleum Limited.

“Please note that the total amounts to be imported at any particular time will be determined by the amount of diesel required to supplement what is being produced from Indeni [Oil Refinery in Ndola]. In view of the apparent reduction in mining activities the monthly amount of diesel to be important may be less than the tendered 15 million litres,” stated Mumba.

There are complaints from well-placed sources within MTC that external forces are exerting power to push the ministry to unduly award Dalbit Petroleum a contract to supply diesel. The source said an official from Dalbit Petroleum was in the country and was accorded VIP treatment.

“A government Mercedes Benz was assigned to this official who was chauffeur-driven,” said the source. “He was even assigned an aide-de-camp (ADC). From this, it is easier to guess where pressure to award the contract to Dalbit is coming from.”

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Friday, January 23, 2009

(TALKZIMBABWE) Corrupt leaders are enemies of the people

Corrupt leaders are enemies of the people
Reason Wafawarova - Opinion
Thu, 22 Jan 2009 23:53:00 +0000

ON March 26 1983, Thomas Sankara spoke at a rally in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, then called Upper Volta and said these words, “The enemies of the people here inside the country are all those who have illicitly taken advantage of their social position and their place in the bureaucracy to enrich themselves.

By means of bribery, manoeuvres, and forged documents they have become shareholders in different companies........These are the enemies of the people. They must be exposed. They must be combated. We will combat them with you.”

It appears the protuberance of corruption in Zimbabwe has become too apparent that some of the rapacious human monsters pretending to be our political leaders are finally going to face the music for their ruinous plunder of the nation’s livelihood.

The Herald of January 22 reported that Ministers, legislators and other public officials were facing prosecution over corrupt conduct involving agricultural inputs intended to boost agriculture so that Zimbabwe can feed itself and also export food for the benefit of others in the region as well as earning itself foreign currency in the process.

The accused are part of the many rancid rascals that have chosen to prey on Zimbabwe’s suffering masses by way of abusing public office or whatever privilege they may be having over access to various resources.

When people stand up as happened when landless people rose to repossess the land that was stolen from their forefathers, imperialism trembles with fear but when the people’s project is eroded by the greed of the treacherous sojourners in the revolution then imperialism is rejuvenated and the future of the masses is threatened with ruin.

This is when those who disparage the people’s revolution feel vindicated. Indeed there are enemies of the people of Zimbabwe beyond our borders. These would be rendered absolutely useless if only they did not have a base among the unpatriotic people found at every level of our society – civilians, military men, the young, the old, the urbanites and the rural people.

Neo-colonialism and imperialism would be homeless among us if only some of our own did not harbour it deep down their insidious hearts. Imperialism has already launched a series of attacks on the homeland and these attacks have been launched from the base provided by Zimbabwe’s own stateless men and women – those with no shame in rejecting their homeland.

Zimbabwe has been taken through a full cycle of the nonviolent stage of imperialistic attacks where with the aid of the spiritless and stateless Zimbabweans, propaganda has resulted in radios, newspapers and televisions portraying Zimbabwe as all fire, blood and epidemics.

Now we have come to a stage where imperialism seeks to use the same spiritless and stateless children of Zimbabwe to help them launch the violent stage of imperialistic attacks. They are convinced from foreign capitals that Zimbabwe has been weakened enough by the nonviolent stage that it is now ripe for the picking.

At a time like that we see these supposed cadres of the revolution masquerading as Members of Parliament and as the nation’s political leadership when in fact they are the enemies of the people.

These are the people who have enriched themselves dishonestly through fraud and bribery, through the corruption of state officials, so they can divert state resources to the parallel market and profiteer a thousandfold.

The enemies of the people are the men and women in politics who travel through Zimbabwe’s countryside exclusively at election time. During these visits they endeavour to create the misimpression that only they can make Zimbabwe work. They are oblivious to the fact that Zimbabwe has thirteen million political beings that are not only capable of leading the country but also of shaping their own destiny.

Those politicians currently pretending that without their individual nodding to the formation of an inclusive government the country will not move on are of course delusional but most importantly, they are the enemies of the people and they must be exposed and combated.

The enemies of the people are those men and women who, under the cover of civic responsibility, spiritual guidance and tradition, they patronize our masses with deceit and a shallow gospel of human rights and limitless liberties.

These are the apostles anointed by imperialism to make sure that imperial domination is everywhere, making our young people think like it, submit to it, and go along with its manoeuvres by spreading its culture far and wide with the help of misinformation.

With all these odds against the country, and with imperialist sanctions biting to the marrow of the little bones of our toddlers, we still have the putrid and rogue political leaders and public officials who have no remorse in the blatant abuse of position, privilege and power to enrich their heartless selves.

Corruption comes with distinct but related problems. Morally it entrenches a ruinous culture and condemns entire generations to lives of laziness and dishonesty.

Economically corruption creates obscenely rich elites who are a bunch of crooks and evil minded rascals that prey on an ever-suffering nation.

Socially corruption creates a society of poverty, regression, exploitation and human suffering. It hampers all forms of development and it cripples social coherence.

This is why China is very right in executing corrupt public officials and this writer would be overjoyed if Zimbabwe did the same to those who carried out criminal acts of sabotaging agriculture through corrupt conduct aimed at making a quick profit at the expense of the masses of Zimbabwe.

Corruption as defined in the official laws of the country is very different from corruption as it affects the public. It is also very different from corruption as defined by public opinion.

Official laws offer a technical definition of corruption that is based on evidence, intention and motivation while prescribing penalties that only the most incompetent defence lawyers will fail to avoid.

This approach takes very little recognition of the fact that corruption adversely affects the public to the extent of destroying an entire social fabric and condemning generations to absolute poverty. When a whole country faces starvation just because its public officials deprived intended beneficiaries of farming inputs then the official legal definition of corruption must be shelved so that the rule of the victimized can take its course.

Corruption as defined by public opinion can entail that the people are the authorities and this is what is supposed to happen in any country that entertains any sense of democracy. This is when a newspaper story busting corrupt officials points towards jail, suicide or resignation, if not all three combined.

In a state where the people’s status as authorities has been thwarted corruption is defined by public opinion in a way that portrays the people as victims of the corrupt officials. This is when offenders get a pat on the wrist for murder or they just go scot free. This is when the policeman is bribed, the magistrate is bribed and the lawyers buy off judges.

Crippling accountability systems in a country is one sure way of destroying a nation beyond what the human mind can envisage.

The people must be the vigilantes guarding jealously on the service delivery systems of any country. They must not be reduced to victims of the corruption of their own public officials. That simply is unacceptable and cannot be explained away by any measure of mitigation.

It is incumbent upon Zimbabweans to choose how best to deal with the scourge of corruption. The enemy from abroad cannot be used reasonably as an excuse for failures that are a result of plain internal corruption. That kind of deceit is an insult to the masses of Zimbabwe and this is why those who have been found on the wrong side of the law must be tried, and if convicted, send away, if possible forever.

We cannot be a valiant nation only capable of putting up fierce fights with external enemies while we leave the enemies of the people among us enjoying a free reign.

Surely Zimbabwe did not come this far only for its revolution to be sold out and its people to be betrayed, not by a bunch of public officials whose appreciation of the liberation struggle is questionable.
This is a time for honest citizens to see justice and to have no fear. It is a time for those who have acquired their riches by illicit means to start trembling. It is a time for those who engaged in brazen exploitation of our masses to start running for cover and a time for that cover to be lifted mercilessly.

Who needs Ministers and Parliamentarians who still from the masses? Who needs military officials that rob civilians? Who needs councillors that abuse office to enrich themselves through illicit allocation of housing stands?

Who needs police officers that admire criminals and run after them pleading for crumbs? Who needs shop owners that exploit customers by overpricing and profiteering?

The police must be applauded for the latest crack on corruption, but more importantly these crimes must be dealt with expediently in the courts so that the public can once again assume their role as the authorities that monitor corruption.

This means public officials must realize that they owe their loyalty to the public and if they go against the public’s definition of corruption then they are committing suicide.

Corruption is not and cannot be a partisan issue. It is a national problem and the less politicking we have about it and the more combative against it we become the better for the country and for Zimbabwe’s public.

Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!

*Reason Wafawarova is a political writer and can be contacted on or or visit

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(NYASATIMES) Free secondary school education for poor children

Free secondary school education for poor children
David Mkwambisi
23 January, 2009 06:27:00

This article is for His Excellency Dr Bingu wa Munthalika, the President of the Republic of Malawi. Firstly, I do appreciate that this is not the very right platform to address such a respected and reputable office. I do also appreciate that His Excellency has more important issues on his menu for the sake of Malawi. In particular am aware of his great vision that has seen Malawi moving into the right direction within his tenure as the President.

However, as a Minister responsible for education, as well as development oriented President, I have been compelled to stand here to bring to his attention some of the problems that children of Malawi are facing. My point of view Your Excellency is how we can make secondary school education accessible to poor children.

I have just completed a study that was looking at problems faced by children in Malawi. Fortunately, this study coincided with the standard 8 selection for places in Form 1 in all government secondary schools across the country.

Your Excellency, at every district I visited, the District Social Welfare Office was extremely busy processing bursaries for needy students. Unfortunately, not all the students selected have been given the bursaries, some have been reject and are not going to access secondary education. In actual fact, every year since we received our independence, several children from poor families especially in rural areas have failed to access secondary education because of fees.

Your Excellency, I think this policy could be removed for the sake of meeting critical development indicators. Your Excellency, children who are selected at Std 8 level are intelligent and deserves special recognition from the government.

The implications of denying children to access secondary school are many. For example, most children fail to work hard in class because they are quite aware that no one will provide support for secondary school education. Their sisters or brothers who were selected have never proceeded and are either married or go into prostitutions to raise money. Statistics in many districts Your Excellency shows that girls have no hope in their future because no one can support their secondary education.

Secondly, failing to educate the nation to secondary school level is promoting child labour and child trafficking. Intelligent boys and girls who were once selected to secondary school are now abused in several areas within and outside the country. If these children were given the opportunity to access secondary education, some of the problems we face as a nation could have not been there.

Thirdly, parents have been in the fore front discouraging their children to go to school because they are quite aware that no one will support them when selected. As such young girls have been forced to get married to older people sometimes; they have been chased from homes for failing to obey their parents. Girls as young as 14, are now mothers without any support. This could promote the spread of HIV and other health related implications that can have an impact on national resources.

Fourthly, by denying poor children to access secondary education, it means denying the population timely information on several development issues. Secondary education is a critical window where children realise the importance of environment conservation, health and sanitation, security and become more knowledgeable on business approaches, agricultural practices among others. This is where extension messages on sustainable development start. If we fail to bring information to a village level by denying our children to access middle education, how can we meet the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy Goals?

The fifth implication is that failing to provide scholarships to these children, has an implication on the teaching staff. There is no need for teachers to continuously helping a student whom they know will not proceed beyond grade 8 due to lack of support. For example, In Mangochi, I failed to interview both the headmaster and his assistant because they went out to seek financial support for one of their student selected to Lisumbwi Secondary School. If teachers will be involved in such activities, who will be responsible for teaching and administration?

The sixth implication is the suffering of guardians especially older people. At all the district centres where bursaries are being processed, most of the students were being escorted by their grand parents. This shows that most of these children have more problems even at household level rather than just the education support. As such, educating these children is empowering the nation at the same time relieving pressure from older people.

The last but not least implication is the pressure given to the District Social Welfare Offices. Most of these offices tend to lack both technical and financial resources. On average they, receive K40, 000.00 in a month and it has two officers at most. How can these officers Your Excellency be able to manage all issues affecting Malawian children? Problems include child labour, child trafficking, physical abuse, rape, witchcraft, lack of accommodation, repatriation, lack of food among others.

Finally, I would like to bring to your attention Sir that a number of Malawians have suffered in their life because they were denied the opportunity to access secondary school education. Most of policies that tend to suffocate poor children are rarely discussed in our development discourse.

It is my sincere hope Your Excellency, through your Ministry, children that have been selected this year will access secondary education free. In particular, I have the whole hope because I have seen several development indicators during your period of serving this nation.

*The author, PhD holder is a lecture at Bunda College, University of Malawi.



(NYASATIMES) HRCC presses Malawi govt to act on fuel prices

HRCC presses Malawi govt to act on fuel prices
22 January, 2009 11:40:00

The Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC)- a network of over 80 nongovernmental organizations and civil society groupings in Malawi has called on government to explain on why the soared local fuel price is not responding to international changes.

In a media statement made available to Nyasa Times signed by HRCC's chairperson Undule Mwakasungula and national coordinator Mavuto Bamusi, the body notes that fuel prices have gone down on the global market but expressed surprise why Malawi is not reducing its prices.

“The international oil has roughly been reduced by 43 percent within the past one and a half months and yet, to our surprise, there have not been any changes to that effect,” the statement said.

“This is despite the fact that PIL is expected to effect the adjustments whenever there is a 5 percent (%) adjustment whether upwards or downwards.”

It says the price improvement on the international market raised anticipation to most Malawians as they expected the price to stabilize if not reduced a bit.

“HRCC therefore asks the government of Malawi through the ministry of Energy, or the newly established Energy Regulator Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA) Including the Petroleum Importers Limited PIL to enlighten Malawians on why the soured local fuel price is not responding to international changes? Why are Malawians not given reasons for the silence?” queries the statement.

HRCC noted that “the reason that bodies like the Petroleum Importers Limited PIL and others have given is that the cost of fuel is high partly because of high transportation costs incurred during importation of the commodity. Should the oil price only be increased and not decreased? What is the PIL doing on this issue? is therefore HRCC's plea to government to ensure that this issue has been carefully considered.”

The issue of fuel prize reduction came to the limelight when UDF presidential candidate Dr Bakili Muluzi upon his arrival from United Kingdom called on government to reduce fuel prize following world fuel prize decrease.

HRCC said apart from the levies attached to the fuel price, Malawians are already paying exorbitantly on other expenses in terms of tax making the cost of leaving very high.

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(TIMES) NCC - An opportunity for harmonising constitutional matters

NCC - An opportunity for harmonising constitutional matters

THERE is no doubt that by now, the majority of the people in Zambia are aware that the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) is making steady progress in its resolve to come up with a truly people’s Constitution to stand the test of time.

Although the NCC has representation from a very wide cross-section of society, it still needs some input from many other people on various issues which require special attention.

Among the issues that in the immediately come to one’s mind are the swearing in of the president–elect and qualifications of presidential candidates.

These issues which will be discussed in detail in this article will therefore need to be harmonised by the ongoing Constitution making process through the NCC.

Qualifications of a presidential candidate

This is a vexing issue which requires careful handling by the Conference.

On this issue, the Electoral Reform Technical Committee of 2005 chaired by renowned lawyer, Mwangala Zaloumis, agreed and recommended the view of the majority of the stakeholders who felt that a presidential candidate should posses a full grade 12 certificate or its equivalent recognised by the Government.

In addition, an aspiring presidential candidate should raise 200 supporters from at least five of the nine provinces.

Some stakeholders had earlier proposed that a presidential candidate should be supported by at least 500 supporters from each of the nine provinces.

The idea behind such a requirement is that a person who seeks to be Republican president should have the widest support going beyond tribal, racial, religious and regional considerations.

On the other hand, the Mung’omba Draft Constitution states that a presidential candidate should be a Zambian citizen by birth or descent, does not have dual citizenship and has been ordinarily resident in Zambia for a continuous period of ten years immediately preceding the election.

Other requirements as recommended by the CRC are that a presidential candidate should not be less than 35 years of age and should be in possession of a minimum academic qualification of grade 12 certificate or its equivalent.

A candidate must also be conversant with the official language of Zambia and must declare assets and liabilities as provided by the Constitution and by or under an Act of Parliament.

The Mung’omba Draft Constitution however, goes a step further by spelling out conditions under which one shall be disqualified from being elected as president and the following are some of the conditions.

A candidate should not hold or act in any office that is specified by an Act of Parliament the functions of which involve or are connected with the conduct of elections; is of unsound mind; is undischarged bankrupt or insolvent; is serving a sentence of imprisonment or is under a sentence of death; has, at any time in the immediate preceding five years, served a term of imprisonment for the commission of an offence the sentence for which was a period of at least three years; has been removed from public office on grounds of gross misconduct, or has been found guilty of corruption by any court or tribunal.

A person serving in the defence forces and national security agencies, public service, and commission among others can not seek election to the position of Republican president.

Swearing in of a president-elect

A number of proposals have been put forward on this matter hence the ERTC recommended that a president–elect whose election is being petitioned should not be sworn in until the election dispute is resolved.

Prior to this recommendation, there were a number of arguments for and against this school of thought by some stakeholders.

One stakeholder who did not support the recommendation felt that failure to swear in a president-elect would be a recipe for anarchy because political parties which have lost an election may use the period of a vacuum to incite violence and frustrate the efforts and smooth governance of the country.

Another stakeholder who also opposed the recommendation submitted that to avoid a vacuum and a possible constitutional crisis, a president-elect must be sworn–in immediately the result is declared by the returning officer.

However, the majority of the stakeholders who commented on the recommendation, supported it with one of them proposing that elections should be held 90 days before the expiry of the term of the outgoing president so that disputes are resolved before swearing in is conducted.

The stakeholder further proposed that if the disputes remain unresolved after the 90 days period, the president-elect must be sworn in but the petition should be allowed to run its full course so that no vacuum is allowed, as it would pose a security risk.

The committee as already indicated, retained the recommendation and in so doing, it was noted that the implementation of the recommendation would help reduce tension in the nation and ensure legitimacy in the presidency.

It was further noted that a vacuum in the presidency would not arise, as the sitting president would continue holding office until the expiry of the term and as such there will be enough time to resolve an election dispute through a fast track ad hoc special presidential election tribunal.

It was therefore, in light of the aforesaid that the ERTC retained the recommendation.

What then does the Willa Mung’omba Draft Constitution say about this same issue?
The draft Constitution says the president – elect shall be sworn in by the Chief Justice and shall assume office 90 days after the declaration of the presidential election results.

It further says the incumbent president shall from the date the presidential election results are declared perform any of the executive functions except the power to make appointments or dissolving the National Assembly.

In the event of an election petition being filed against the president–elect who happens to be the incumbent president, the speaker of the National Assembly shall perform the executive functions of the President during the period of the petition.
In the meantime, theconstitutional court shall within 90 days of the filing of an election petition, determine the petition and therefore, the decision by the court to nullify or not to nullify the election shall be final.

In the event that the constitutional court decides to nullify the election of the president–elect, then the speaker of the National Assembly shall perform the presidential executive functions or if the speaker is not able to do so for any reason, then the deputy speaker shall perform such functions until fresh elections are held within 90 days from the date of the nullification.

Having discussed what the ERTC and Mung’omba Draft Constitution are saying about the president-elect and qualifications of the presidential candidate, one may wish to understand what the current constitution also says about them.

On swearing in of president–elect, the current constitution says a person elected as president shall be sworn in and assume office immediately but not later than 24 from the time of declaring the election.

On qualifications of presidential candidate, the constitution states that one shall not be entitled to take part in an election unless he has paid such election fee as may be prescribed by or under an Act of Parliament on or before the date fixed by the Electoral Commission in that behalf; he makes a statutory declaration, of his assets and liabilities, which shall be open to public inspection at such time and at such place as may be prescribed by or under an Act of Parliament; and his nomination is supported by not less than 200 registered voters.

Going by the scenarios drawn, it is crystal clear that the NCC needs to harmonise a number of constitutional issues and consequently settle for the ones which will better serve the interests of the nation.

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(TIMES) Body to check medicines’ adverse effects launched

Body to check medicines’ adverse effects launched
By Times Reporter

THE Pharmaceutical Regulatory Authority (PRA) has set up a vigilance unit to improve the safe and rational use of medicines to prevent their adverse reactions to patients.

Acting Health Minister, Ronnie Shikapwasha, said at the launch of Pharmaco yesterday that although medicines were useful in treatment, they were potentially harmful, hence the need for a drug safety monitoring system.

He said the use of medicines was not without risks because they had caused great harm to many people and not all adverse effects were known before a medicine was marketed.

Some of the adverse effects of drugs might only be known when the drug had been administered to large numbers of people over a considerable period of time.

Lieutenant General Shikapwasha said effects associated with the use of medicines had considerable social and economic consequences and were increasingly becoming one of the major public health problems that were being recognised by health professionals.

The national drug policy acknowledged the need to have a system to continuously monitor the safety of medicines and was mandated to conduct post-marketing surveillance and monitors adverse drug reactions.

In view of the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, malaria, malnutrition and TB, it was likely that the incidences may be higher than it was known.

In the recent past, there has been an increase in the use of new drugs for the management of HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB for which there was insufficient safety data and there was need to put up mechanisms to monitor how safe they were.

The data to be generated within Zambia would have greater relevance and educational value and could assist the PRA to make evidence based decisions.

The minister said the unit would also be involved in the monitoring and documenting drug resistance patterns and treatment failures of both conventional and traditional medicines.

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(DAILY MAIL) MMD chides PF over investors’ about-turn

MMD chides PF over investors’ about-turn

GOVERNMENT has taken a swipe at Patriotic Front (PF) president Michael Sata for discrediting Chinese and Indians investors.

Chief Government spokesperson Lieutenant-General Ronnie Shikapwasha said in a statement issued in Lusaka yesterday that Mr Sata was making Chinese and Indian investment an issue by preying on the gullible because he believed he could gain political mileage out of it.

“It is strange that Mr Sata who, having rejected Chinese and Indian investors in 2006 presidential elections, but welcomed them during the 2008 campaign, has again rejected their investments without stating what has changed,” he said.

Gen. Shikapwasha said it was ironic that sentiments against Chinese and Indian investors were coming from a national leader at a time mine workers, who were more closely associated with mines owned by the two countries, were full of praise for the two investors.

He said Government would continue inviting local and foreign investment from countries that were willing and had the capacity to invest, including China and India, whose fast growing economies required a lot of materials that Zambia had.

“Many countries in the world, including developed ones, now look to China and India as the two emerging economic giants, for business and investment.

The two countries, as President Banda recently observed, are among the few with financial muscle under the current global financial crisis,” he said.

Gen. Shikapwasha said these countries mostly relied on imported materials and were willing to invest in the exploitation of such goods where they were available.

“Since Zambia has what they need, it is only proper that we take advantage of their financial capacity to develop our mines and other industries,” he said.

Gen. Shikapwasha said it was, therefore, an act of sabotage for national leaders who should be working with Government and local business houses to attract investment from the two countries to discourage such investment and use derogatory language to describe would-be investment partners.

He said when other investors in mining and other fields were laying off workers because of the effects of the global financial crisis, Chinese and Indian mining operators were restrained from doing so.

“It is worth noting that while Zambia invites investors from any part of the world, the investors that Mr Sata prefers have not come forward. Many of the investors now laying off workers or threatening to pull out of Zambia come from Mr Sata’s preferred countries,” he said.

Gen. Shikapwasha said like any other investors, Chinese and Indian investors’ motive was to make a profit, which he said was not a crime.

He said what was of interest to Zambians was whether these investors had the financial and technical capacity to run the mines or other undertakings in which they invested and were willing to obey the laws of Zambia in their operations.

“Investments, be they local or foreign, create business for Zambian suppliers of goods and services and consequently create employment,” he said.

Gen. Shikapwasha said as for Zambian investors, it was the MMD’s policy to attract local entrepreurship in mining and other fields.

He said old and new mine projects were open to local investors, adding that it was Government’s hope that they would come forward and not wait for Mr Sata to speak for them.

Gen. Shikapwasha said Government knew that Zambians had the knowledge and experience to run mines.
He, however, said local investors would be expected to prove their financial capacity as it was not Government’s responsibility to fund them.

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(DAILY MAIL) State to sue Zambian Airways

State to sue Zambian Airways

GOVERNMENT says it is considering taking legal action against Zambian Airways to see how it can recover money the firm owes various firms.

Among institutions Zambian Airways owes include National Airports Corporation (NAC), Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA), National Pensions Scheme Authority (NAPSA) and Development Bank of Zambia (DBZ). Zambian Airways owes several institutions a staggering US$29 million (about K150 billion).

And the State has maintained that it would not bail out Zambian Airways following the suspension of its operations due to financial problems.

This came to light when Minister of Communications and Transport, Dora Siliya presented a ministerial statement in Parliament yesterday.

“I am talking with my colleagues at the ministries of Finance and Justice to see how we shall recover these monies but legal proceedings have since commenced against the airline because Government institutions are owed money which we can channel to development projects such road rehabilitation and up-grading of hospitals,” Ms Siliya said.

Ms Siliya said Government had rejected a proposal that the State purchased shares in Zambian Airways.

Ms Siliya said Government regretted the suspension of Zambian Airways’ operations, but said the strategy plan the airline had given Government was not in the best interest of the country.

Ms Siliya said Government rejected the proposal because it was going to be based on political decisions rather than a business strategy.

“We did not want to put Government’s good money with bad money for the purpose of serving certain people, so we rejected it.

“I was always advising management at the airline to come up with business strategies rather than wanting to survive as a result of political decisions,” Ms Siliya said.

The Minister also told Parliament that information obtained from the Patent and Company Registration Office (PACRO) revealed that the Nchito brothers, Mutembo and Nchima had 50 per cent shares each, contrary to information at the Ministry of Communications and Transport, which indicates that JCN holdings has 57.5 per cent, Post Newspapers 30 per cent and Seaboard of United States of America 12.5 per cent.

Ms Siliya said Zambian Airways was not a member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as the airline did not meet required conditions for it join the association.

“There was a serious oversight on the part of the director of aviation because the information I have is that they could not do anything (to correct the situation) because there was pressure from someone.

“This airline was not even remitting taxes to statutory bodies despite passengers paying in full,” Ms Siliya said.

She said Government would continue to put measures in place aimed at attracting investors to the airline sector to mitigate looming job losses at Zambian Airways.

She said Government would enhance issuance of air permits to protect and provide alternative travel arrangement for passengers.

And Ms Siliya told Parliament that 41 Zambian passengers were stranded in Johannesburg, South Africa after the airline suspended its operations.

But several MP’s wondered why government had continued to allow Zambian Airways to operate despite the financial problems the company was facing.

PF Luapula MP Peter Machungwa wondered why Government allowed the airline to operate despite not meeting international requirements such as being a member of IATA.

UPND Sinazongwe MP Raphael Muyanda asked why the company had different details of shareholders at PACRO and at the Ministry of Communication and Transport.

UPND Kalomo MP Request Muntanga appealed to Government to constitute a commission of inquiry to investigate what led to the airline to suspend operations despite the loans it got from banks.

“I think there is need for a body of inquiry so that we can see what exactly happened to Zambian Airways because the money they owe is too much,” Mr Muntanga said.

The airline owes ZRA US$2 million, DBZ US$4 million, NAPSA US$2.5 million, NAC US$2 million, Investrust Bank US$1 million, Intermarket Bank US$1.5 million, Finance Bank US$ 6.8 million and Trade Creditor US$ 9.5 million.

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RB asks Korean Investors to invest in the troubled NCZ

RB asks Korean Investors to invest in the troubled NCZ
January 22, 2009

President Rupiah Banda has appealed to the republic of Korea to consider investing in the troubled Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ). Mr. Banda says he is aware that Korea has the appropriate advanced technology to rehabilitate the fertiliser plant.

He says agriculture is critical to the economic development of Zambia and a recapitalized NCZ can provide cheaper fertiliser for peasant farmers.

The President was speaking at state House on Thursday, when he received letters of credence from Korea’s Ambasador designate to Zambia, Oh Jae-Hack.

And Mr. Banda said he is happy, the Korean resources Corporation- KORES has begun to partner with Zambian Miners.

The President called for more partnerships to enhance mining activity in the country.

He also commended the Korean government for its continued assistance to Zambia in mitigating the effects of floods in some parts of the country.

And Presenting his letters of credence, Ambassador OH said Zambia stands out as one of Africa’s most successful examples of political stability and sound economic development.

He said his government is looking forward to working closely with the Zambian government in its efforts to further achieve economic development by sharing development experiences of the two countries.

Ambassodor Jae-Hack said it is gratifying to note that the bilateral relations between the two countries have continued to grow, since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1990.

Meanwhile, President Banda has appointed and sworn in Simon Kachimba, a former miner, as new Labor and Social Security Deputy Minister.

He urged Mr. Kachimba to help resolve the challenges of job losses, especially in the mining sector, where some companies are threatened with closures, following reductions in copper prices on the world market.

President Banda expressed confidence in the newly appointed deputy minister, adding that he is qualified and well placed for job to deal with the challenges the country is faced with in the labor sector.


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Letters - Zambians can run mines

Zambians can run mines
Written by Edwin Zulu
Friday, January 23, 2009 7:28:20 AM

It’s high time the Zambian government gave chance to indigenous people to run and own the mines. Who knows, they could do a better job than some investors who do not have the heart for the country but profits.

Given priority and incentives, Zambians can prove their worth and develop the nation. Besides, they want to bring prosperity to their country.

If the government continues to sideline its own people, then development will be far-fetched.

Whatever profits made will not be externalised. They will be used for national development. That way, the country will experience massive job recruitments, infrastructure development and social benefits for all, irrespective of background and status.

Zambians have been successful in many business ventures. They can do wonders if given an opportunity.

Mutati, local investment
Written by Sizwe, B Ndola
Friday, January 23, 2009 7:29:31 AM

I fail to understand why commerce minister Felix Mutati is always concerned with attracting and protecting foreign investors instead of building confidence in local investment by encouraging small to medium-scale enterprises to run key economic sectors in the country. ‘Coercing’ foreign investors with tax exemptions and other incentives will never develop our economy.

Mutati rightly observed and educated Rupiah on the risks of single sourcing of investors. But Mutati himself is ignorant of the dangers of over-dependence on foreign investment. Take a leaf from South Africa, China, India and others, see how they have developed and strengthened their economies. It is through empowering local investors and encouraging partnerships with foreign ones.

Among the immediate tasks for Mutati are:

(i) push for the quick release and disbursement of the Citizens Economic Empowerment Funds to deserving business proposals/firms.

(ii) convince the government to give tax exemptions to SME’s too and

(iii) devise workable systems of local and foreign investor partnerships.

CEEC is a sham
Written by Jevic Des, Lusaka
Friday, January 23, 2009 7:27:23 AM

Allow me to register my utmost displeasure at the manner in which the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) has been operating.
We have heard several calls from the CEEC inviting people to submit proposals for funding, but each time one visits their offices, they seem to be so disorganised with members of staff often issuing contradictory statements. The application forms seem to be in short supply and when you are referred to commercial banks, you are destined for a big “we have run out of forms”! One wonders where the many forms that were printed have gone because the CEEC has been on air lamenting how few proposals are being received.

Why should CEEC continue inviting applications when not even one of the projects approved in November 2008 has received funding? Is it not a shame that people's brilliant proposals are sitting in some office for so long, bearing in mind that Zambia is not a place where we respect intellectual property? My fear is that sooner than latter, some proposals will find their way into wrong hands, the result being that the one who spent so much time researching will lose out to some corrupt elements because there is simply no guarantee that the papers are secure. Unless somebody acts, this CEEC thing will soon prove to be a scam.

My advice to all those whose projects were approved in November 2008 is that they should take CEEC to task. This is the only way Zambians will be respected for their efforts and intellectual property rights.The fund does not belong to any individual, political or otherwise. It is simply for the deserving Zambian and, unless there was a scam, projects approved in November 2008 underwent the necessary scrutiny.

How long has CEEC been in operation? How many workshops have they been holding and how many salaries have the employees received to date? CEEC, please say the truth and shame the selfish individuals. You can suppress the truth, but only for a season, after which it becomes more truthful!

Zambians wake up! Remember what happened to the Youth Empowerment Fund.

Plight of NCZ workers
Written by T Zulu, Lusaka
Friday, January 23, 2009 7:26:11 AM

It is really shameful and sad for Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia workers in Kafue to still be fighting for their dues and crying for the re-opening of the fertiliser manufacturing plant.

It is sad that these workers have been singing the same song for a long time and it seems they will continue doing so under the Rupiah regime.

During Rupiah's campaign rally in Kafue, NCZ workers' wives were given chitenge materials and heared all sorts of promises.

A few months down the line, after the campaign dust has settled, NCZ is still in troubled waters. Maybe some voters in Kafue are being punished for not voting for the ‘right candidate.’

Keeping NCZ closed and not bailing out home-grown companies like NCZ will only work to the advantage of foreign fertiliser suppliers. Misplaced priorities, I guess, will just keep on piling up.

Increasing number of MPs
Written by Concerned citizen
Friday, January 23, 2009 7:23:55 AM

I have read with annoyance the desire by the wasteful NCC delegates proposing to increase the number of MPs from 150 to 250. This is a charade call! The MPs we have do not add value to the development and governance of this country. Zambia is on auto pilot. I reject such calls as costly due to the following reasons:

- This venture will increase MPs gratuity payment budget which they don't deserve

- The MPs we have tow party lines; they have no development agenda apart from sitting in Parliament waiting for their parties’ directives

- We, the Zambians, have seen very little relevance of the MPs so far. We have the cholera epidemic ravaging Lusaka. As law makers, they could have compelled the government to prevent it as it is a perennial disease which is predictable and preventable. They allowed it to blossom due to poor service delivery by the central the government.

- There are selective development projects in Zambia, with the ruling party’s constituencies receiving more attention than those of the opposition. See the shambles in mayoral elections as a test case.

- It will increase the rate of bye-elections due to unprincipled defections and expulsions that characterise each term ever since multipartism set in 1991. This is costly.

- The MPs have failed to compel the government to assent to the freedom of information Bill and democratise the public media institutions such as ZNBC, Times and Daily Mail as these still under government-owed and state-controlled draconian hands, which are still used as campaign tools by people in authority to perpetuate their stay in power even when we voluntarily in a democracy tell them we don't want them.

The current MPs have failed Zambians and there is no need to have a blotted group that will not achieve anything but perpetuate more failures.

Zambian Airways
Written by Kapambwe Salangeta
Friday, January 23, 2009 7:22:50 AM

The suspension of flights by Zambian Airways has been the discussion for
the past week or so. Many people, so far, are of the view that the government has been insensitive in the manner it has handled the issue of Zambian Airways. I feel the same.

First, the Minister of Communication and Transport Dora Siliya has been on record saying that the suspension of this local airline will have no impact whatsoever on the Zambian economy, specifically mentioning the tourism industry.

This is a lie! In my humble view, I know that Zambian Airways employs quite a number of Zambians. It also pays tax in one way or another.

This means that if it eventually closes down permanently, some people will be jobless and this will put pressure on the government because it is supposed to create employment for its citizens.

I have seen that some private companies on the verge of collapse have been bailed out by their governments. Such companies are one Italian Parmalat and AIG. Governments come to the aid of these firms because they realise how they might negatively affect their economies should they collapse.

Maybe we do not need this in our country, but I feel strongly that in one way or another, our country can benefit from it economically.

Our government should focus on creating employment and in my view, it is private firms like Zambian Airways which are supplementing its efforts. So please madam minister, think twice and come up with something to help our local airline.

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NCC circus

NCC circus
Written by Editor

IT is extremely important that those who are trying to write a constitution for us rise above personal and other narrow or petty interests. Obligations to the people of Zambia should take precedence over loyalty or commitment to any individual. At no time and in no circumstances should those who are trying to give us a constitution place their personal interests first; they should subordinate themselves to the interest of the nation and the masses of our people.

They should proceed on all issues from the interests of the people and not from one's self interests or from the interests of a small group and to identify their responsibilities with the people at all times.

It is unsettling to learn that the Legislative Committee of the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) yesterday adopted a proposal that members of parliament expelled from their political parties should not lose their seats in the House.

The Legislative Committee resolved that parliamentarians expelled by their parties should instead remain in the House as independent members of parliament.

The committee members argued that the move would help to protect members of parliament from being victimised by political parties and that it will also reduce on unnecessary by-elections.

The issue of allowing members of parliament who get elected on the basis of their party affiliation to become independent when they choose to is not in conformity with multiparty politics. People who go to Parliament on a particular party ticket use not only the party's resources - that is money and party cadres' support - but also the prestige of their party. They cannot walk out of that marriage and still retain all the benefits that they got as a result of that association.

If they do not want to continue in the party, they should go back to the people and seek a fresh mandate as independents. Allowing parliamentarians that have been expelled from their parties to stay in Parliament as independents will not only undermine the much-needed party discipline in our country but it will also cause a lot of confusion in the House itself.

Yes, by-elections are costly and should be avoided as far as possible. And unnecessary expulsions from political parties should also be avoided. But in a multiparty political system, political parties should have a say on those who represent them either in Parliament, local government or even in State House. They should be able to recall their representatives if they are not performing to their standards.

We think there is something to learn from the South African constitution setup where any representative of a political party, at any level, can be recalled by the party and replaced by another. We saw the recall by the African National Congress (ANC) of Thabo Mbeki as President and his subsequent replacement. It was sad to see Mbeki leave the presidency in that manner, but that act demonstrates a strong commitment by the South African people to multiparty democracy and not to individual or unilateral democracy - if there is such a thing.

The reasons advanced for the adoption of the proposal to allow members of parliament expelled by political parties to remain in the House as independents do not hold water. To some extent, these reasons go to show how some of our people sitting on the NCC are putting their interests before those of the masses. Our country can avoid unnecessary by-elections without weakening our political parties or causing confusion in Parliament. We should actually consider removing all by-elections from our constitution by simply replacing those who are expelled or those who die by allowing the party that won the local government seat or parliamentary seat or indeed even the presidency to simply appoint one of their numbers to take over.

If this was the case it wouldn't have cost the nation so much money or so much tension to replace Levy Mwanawasa following his death. The MMD would have simply, through their own party constitution or other democratic procedures, appointed someone to replace Levy and finish off his term of office. Actually the MMD wanted to do that but it was unconstitutional and as such it was against the law. Everything should be done according to the law, according to what the constitution stipulates.

Therefore, we think that the idea of allowing expelled parliamentarians to remain in the House is not in tandem with the country's democratic principles and should not be encouraged.

The proposal by NCC Executive Committee member Dr Swebby Macha that a former president who has been convicted of a criminal offence should not be entitled to his gratuity deserves serious consideration and reflection. Dr Macha says there is need to protect the integrity of the Office of the President and that a former head of state convicted of a crime should be given pension but not gratuity. This submission was however met with opposition from other members of the committee who felt that the president, despite having been convicted of a crime, deserves his gratuity because he worked for it and that stripping one's immunity is enough punishment.

We would like to remind the people sitting on the NCC that every word, every act and every decision of theirs must conform to the people's interests. Moreover, this is what democracy itself entails or calls for. For us democracy means that governments are closely linked to the people, arise from the people, have the support of the people and devote themselves entirely to working and struggling for the people and the people's interests.

This being the case, how can a former president who robbed the people or who committed other crimes against the people be rewarded by the same people? How can the same people reward someone who has stolen from them with huge benefits? Even in ordinary employment, one who steals or commits crimes against his employer forfeits his benefits. It is difficult for us to understand why a president who does nothing but rob his people, cheat his people, abuse his people should be given benefits arising from the sweat and toil of these same people he has robbed, cheated and abused?

We know that some of those who are advocating that a president who has committed crimes, who has stolen public funds should not lose his benefits are sympathisers of Frederick Chiluba and have him in sight when talking about this issue. Some of these people sitting on the NCC should remember that they are not being paid huge allowances to go and defend the pension of thieves. They are being paid these allowances to go and advance the interests of the majority of our people who today live in abject poverty. People sitting on the NCC are not there as lobbyists for certain interests of certain powerful individuals or groups.

This issue doesn't need much disquisition. Those who steal from their employers, from their jobs can't be treated in the same way or be open to the same benefits as those who are innocent and who have discharged their duties with sufficient honour and integrity.

There is need for people sitting on the NCC to understand the enormity of their task and the need for them to come up with a people-driven constitution. The document they are working on is not for any one political party or individual. The constitution is a document for the people of Zambia, it is a document that will guide the way we govern ourselves and hence should reflect the will of the people and ultimately stand the test of time. We should not encourage a situation where a constitution is tailored for certain interests or individuals and then a few years from now we constitute another Constitution Review Commission (CRC) and NCC. For once, let us have a good document that will guarantee fundamental basic human rights and freedoms.

Our democracy will only grow when political parties and the law of the land - the constitution - are decided upon with equal regard to the interests of all people in our country.

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