Saturday, February 07, 2009
February 7, 2009
President Rupiah Banda said government is developing measures to mitigate the adverse impact of the global credit crunch on the mining industry.
President Banda said the measures are intended to address concerns raised by the mining companies in order to reduce job loses and develop a mechanism to salvage mining operations.
He said this in a speech read for him by Vice President, George Kunda, at the official opening of the 2009 African Mining Congress (AMC) in Livingstone yesterday.
Mr. Banda said although the economic meltdown has adversely affected the economy, particularly the mining sector, government will remain committed to get the country onto a firm economic base.
Mr. Banda said he was happy with the confidence from some investors who are willing to invest in the mining sector in Zambia despite the prevailing global economic problems.
He observed that despite the fall in metal prices, investors have not been deferred their investment plans in the country.
He said the long term view for the sector is that the world’s demand for the metals, mainly driven by India and China, is likely to rebound and bring back mining operations to normal.
The President said it is government’s policy to ensure that the business environment remains attractive for further investment in the country.
He said in the medium and long terms, Zambia will continue to attract investors in the mining sector due to its conducive investment atmosphere.
He noted that Zambia still offers some of the best incentives in the mining industry such as exemption from custom and exercise duty on all mining equipment and machinery imported for mining purposes.
President Banda has further expressed confidence that the congress would provide a framework for business people from southern Africa and other regions to discuss and share ideas on the future of the mining industry on the continent in the wake of falling metal prices on the world market.
He urged Southern African states and the continent at large to consider coming up with a common approach to issues of taxation and environment which are key to sustainable development of the mining sector.
He said the southern African region has much to gain from the development of their mining economies through employment, taxation and other benefits, adding that the mining sector will only be sustained through enhanced cooperation.
Mr. Banda said the decision to continue hosting the congress in Zambia is good for the region because it will help develop the mining sector and therefore contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of the people.
Earlier, AMC Chairperson, Michel Ashby, said the sector has continued to contribute positively to human needs.
She said despite the various downturns that the mining industry has gone through, there is still hope that it will still return to normal operations.
She said Zambia plays an important role in the production of minerals for the global market.
February 7, 2009
The speaker of the National Assembly has directed Agriculture Minister Brian Chituwo to issue a ministerial statement on the reported shortage of mealie meal especially in Southern Province.
Amusaa Mwanamwambwa said the minister should urgently make an inquiry into the reported shortage of the staple food and report to parliament quickly.
This followed a point of order raised by Mazabuka MP Garry Nkombo who wondered whether the minister of agriculture was in order to remain quiet amid reports of mealie meal shortage in Southern province.
Mr. Nkombo quoting Friday’s newspapers, told the house that people had formed long queues at Mazabuka’s shoprite as early as 04 hours in attempts to buy mealie meal.
In his rulling the Speaker said although the point of order was unprocedural, the subject matter was of great concern as it involved people’s welfare.
Choma milling which is the main supplier of mealie meal in Southern Province has shut down its operations citing a shortage of maize.
Company managing director Jon Mackatos who confirmed the development to ZANIS in Choma said the plant stopped operating due to lack of maize.
Mr Mackatos said the milling plant had signed a contract with the Food Reserve Agency for the supply of 7, 000 metric tonnes of maize for the month of January but only 400 tonnes was received.
He said the 400 tonnes is only sufficient for one day’s production of mealie meal due to the plants big production capacity.
Mr Mackatos said it has become difficult under the present circumstances to continue running the plant in the absence of the raw material.
The milling plant is the only one producing mealie meal in the district and servicing surrounding district of Sinazongwe, Namwala, Kalomo and other southern province towns.
And district commissioner Laiven Apuleni told ZANIS in Choma the suspension of production is unfortunate and will impact negatively on the availability of mealie meal in the district.
Mr Apuleni said management at Choma milling had tried their best to source maize but have found it increasingly difficult.
He said has appealed to the Food Reserve Agency to act expeditiously because the situation has gone out of hand in the district.
A survey by ZANIS in Choma found that most retail outlets have run out of mealie meal while those found with the commodity had abnormally inflated the price of 25 kilgoramme breakfast bag to K 75, 000.
Several residents have now been gripped with panic over the shortage of mealie meal whose price is rising on daily basis.
February 6, 2009
Opposition members of parliament have threatened not to pass the budget if government fails to increase the Constituency Development Fund (CDF).
Roan Member of parliament Chishimba Kambwili said opposition Mps will walk out of parliament if the CDF is not increased.
He said it is prudent for government to increase the CDF from its current K400 million to K1 billion.
Amid cheers from other opposition MPs, Mr. Kambwili said CDF should be increased because this is the money that benefits the grass roots.
He said CDF is also used to improve among other things road infrastructure in constituencies.
Mr. Kambwili has since urged the Minister of Finance to make an amendment to effect the increase.
And Katombola MP Regina Musokotwane also emphasised the need to increase the CDF.
February 6, 2009
A senior government official has called for the establishment of a legal framework to regulate and formalise mining activities in Luapula Province.
Acting Mansa District Commissioner Charles Makwaya observed that government was loosing revenue from mining companies and individuals operating in the area because of lack of legal framework to regulate the mining and mineral prospecting activities.
He said some mining activities were being conducted without impact assessment from the Environmental Council of Zambia (ECZ) and were causing degradation to the environment in the area.
Mr. Makwaya was speaking at his office when he received State House Chief Analyst for Policy Implementation and Monitoring (PIM) Tobias Mulimbika who paid a courtesy call on him .
The DC said there was need to legalise the activities so that mining companies and individuals are compelled to come up with programmes to mitigate the impact of mining activities on the infrastructure and environment.
“It has become very difficult for government to regulate the mining activities because we don’t have a legal framework to do so, that’s why we have a lot of illegal mining companies and individuals operating from whom we can’t even benefit but are using our roads to transport the minerals,” Mr Makwaya.
Mr Makwaya said the increased mining activities in the district had continued to deplete reserved forests especially in chief Matanda’s area.
There have been increased mining activities in Luapula Province which has attracted both local and foreign companies , that have ventured into mining of manganese and copper which is sold abroad.
February 6, 2009
Government has set aside K7.5 billion for the creation of the new tourism zone in Livingstone in Southern province.
Vice President George Kunda disclosed this in Livingstone today saying this is in an effort to diversify the country’s economy in the wake of the global financial crisis.
Mr. Kunda said this shortly after his arrival in Livingstone where he is to officiate at the Africa Mining Congress today.
He noted that the creation of the tourism zone in the tourism capital will help diversify the economy in the country.
He also said once the Zimba-Livingstone road is completely rehabilitated, tourism activities would be enhanced in the city.
Government has since set aside K99 billion in this year’s budget for the same road.
And Mr. Kunda has restated President Rupiah Banda’s call on Zambians to produce more food in order to promote domestic food security and encourage exports of the Zambian produced agricultural products.
He said it was important for Zambia to strengthen its agriculture sector, adding that it is government’s policy to diversify this sector.
He said government was confident that the people of Southern province will rise to the challenge of growing more food.
Meanwhile, Mr. Kunda said civil servants were critical in promoting good governance in the country and has since urged them to continue maintaining discipline in order to help implement government’s developmental agenda.
He urged the civil servants in the province to cut down on unnecessary expenditure and warned that government will not tolerate any wastage of public funds.
He said Zambia has continued with its good governance records which have continued to attract donor and investor confidence.
The Vice President said government, under President Banda’s leadership, will continue fighting corruption, which he said is one way through which Zambia can counter effects of the global financial crisis.
Furthermore, Mr. Kunda has urged the MMD in Southern province to unite and recruit more members to make the party even stronger.
He said there is need to further strengthen the party in the province despite the challenges that the province is dominated by an opposition political party.
He however commended the people of Livingstone for voting for President Banda in the October 30th 2008 election.
He urged them not to be complacent because the party needed to be more organised for the 2011 presidential and parliamentary election.
And speaking earlier, Southern province MMD chairperson, Solomon Muzyamba appealed to government to provide more agriculture extension services in the province.
Mr. Muzyamba said agriculture extension services will help people of Southern province to grow more food and contribute to the nation’s food basket.
He has since assured Mr. Kunda that the party in the province and Livingstone has remained stable.
He is accompanied by the Tourism Minister Catherine Namugala and Commerce deputy Minister, Richard Taima.
The Vice President was welcomed at Livingstone International Airport by Mines Minister Maxwell Mwale, Southern Province Permanent Secretary, Darius Hakayobe and senior MMD party officials.
Thursday, February 05, 2009
By ANGELA CHISHIMBA
GOVERNMENT says the inclusion of opposition political party members, party cadres or business persons in presidential delegations for assignments outside the country is not a new phenomenon, nor is it a waste of public resources.
Chief Government spokesperson Lieutenant-General Ronnie Shikapwasha said this had been done by past Presidents to add value to the processes and proceedings of the Zambian delegations.
He said at a press briefing yesterday that the choice of who joined such delegations was a prerogative of the President who determined who would add value to the work at hand.
“The President does not have to report to anyone why he chooses one person or party against another,” he said.
Gen. Shikapwasha said Mr Banda’s inclusion of members of the opposition showed how committed he was to the principle of inclusiveness.
“How else can we as a nation narrow our political differences than finding such platforms as the one the President is using to ensure inclusiveness in national issues?
“It is, therefore, hard to understand why the same people that cry for an inclusive Government should cry foul when President Banda, who considers opposition members as partners in development, asks them to participate in important meetings,” he said.
Gen. Shikapwasha said the President could not discriminate against Zambians on the basis of party membership or the jobs they held in any political party.
He said party cadres were also Zambians and using public funds on them when they added value to Zambian delegations attending important government business was justifiable.
Gen. Shikapwasha said the inclusion of Forum for Democracy and Development president Edith Nawakwi in the Presidential delegation to the 12th Session of the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa was not an anomaly, as she was expected to contribute in whatever area the President wanted her to.
“Moreover, giving exposure to Zambians from different walks of life is useful for the country as they will become knowledgeable on different issues,” he said.
Gen. Shikapwasha said Patriotic Front president Michael Sata and Federation of Free Trade Unions in Zambia president Joyce Nonde should not pretend that this practice was a new phenomenon which did not benefit Zambians.
“Mr Sata should not forget that this was the case when he served in the UNIP and MMD governments under former President Frederick Chiluba.
Mr Sata did not object to party cadres being included on official trips abroad when he was national secretary of MMD and Minister without Portfolio.
“In 2000, he included party cadres in a Zambian delegation that attended the Beijing Plus 5 conference at the United Nations,” he said.
Gen. Shikapwasha also said the late President Mwanawasa did the same when need arose for him to include opposition political party members.
President Banda on Tuesday said it was his policy to include members of the opposition, civil society, religious leaders, trade unions and youth groups in his delegations to various international meetings to enable them contribute to Zambia’s international engagements.
President Banda said he would involve all stakeholders, including his opponents, in international meetings which required wide consultations because he wanted Zambians to be united on issues that were above party politics.
“I will utilise the knowledge and skills of all Zambians, regardless of their political affiliations.
Members of the opposition, civil society and religious groups are Zambians who should be encouraged to contribute to the development of the country,” Mr Banda said.
The President said he would use the available knowledge and skills among Zambians regardless of their political affiliations in the spirit of building consensus and unity in line with his declaration to serve the nation above partisan politics.
Mr Banda hoped Zambians would embrace his leadership style of inclusiveness on matters that were beyond partisan politics such as the deliberations on the Union Government at the Africa Union and other similar meetings which required wide consultations.
Labels: RONNIE SHIKAPWASHA
By NKOLE CHITALA
UNION Gold Chairman Mark O’Donnell has lauded Government on the 2009 national budget as it would enable the country continue on its growth path.
Mr O’Donnell who is also a prominent businessman said he was happy with the budget because it was a continuation of existing policy which had enabled Zambia to make good economic progress over the last 10 years.
“Overall, I feel that under the circumstances this is a very good budget proposal and should enable us to continue on a growth path,’’ he said.
Mr O Donnell, who is also former Zambia Association of Manufacturers president, said in response to a press query that despite the difficulties, the Minister of Finance and National Planning had put forward a budget that targets growth of 5 per cent.
“I feel that Government is well aware of the problems that are looming and the minister is doing a good job under very difficult circumstances.
“Some concessions have been given to manufacturing but probably not as many as could have been given under better circumstances. I think the Minister has moved to rectify some anomalies that were there in the system and making it difficult for certain sectors,” he said.
He said farmers have been given some genuine relief on inputs. which was good for the sector and could lead to production that was more efficient.
He said the attempt to address the cost of doing business and red tape was welcome.
“The ministers statement on red tape was very clear in that he intends to take measures to reduce the level of bureaucracy that businesses have to deal with on a day to day basis,” he said.
He however said 2009 would be a very difficult year not only for Zambia but also for all countries around the world.
“There is a global problem and we in Zambia are not going to escape from it. We are going to feel it here but with good policy, we should not feel it as much as other countries are feeling things,” he said.
He said export earnings were most likely to drop.
4 Feb 09, 08:50 AM GMT
Politicians and commentators keep warning that "protectionism is what made the Great Depression Great". It's a good line. Pity it isn't true. Before you ask, I'm not endorsing protectionism. Or suggesting it could be a route out of our economic troubles. But it didn't cause the Great Depression.
If that sounds too heretical for the BBC Economics Editor, I should tell you that the US Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, agrees.
Academics have been arguing over the causes of the 1930s slump for decades. I can't do justice to the arguments here. But I've been going back over the competing theories. Protectionism and the infamous Smoot-Hawley legislation raising US tariffs in 1930 are surprisingly low on the list.
A crude summary of the state of academic thought in this area would be "Friedman & Schwartz meet Eichengreen, in a world of bank panics and John Maynard Keynes".
Let me explain. In a classic work, Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz say the US downturn of the 1930s was the Fed's fault, by failing to inject cash into a fragile banking system after the crash of 1929.
At a party for Friedman's 90th birthday, Bernanke (then a Fed Governor), said: " I would like to say to Milton and Anna: Regarding the Great Depression - you're right, we did it. We're very sorry. But thanks to you, we won't do it again."
But didn't protectionism help transmit America's problems around the world? Well, not really. Bernanke, Barry Eichengreen and other distinguished economists have established pretty convincingly that it was the gold standard that helped turn a mismanaged US stock market crash into a global slump - by causing a prolonged and devastating period of falling prices.
It was the gold standard - in effect, a fixed exchange rate system anchored by the price of gold - that led the world's leading economies into a deflationary spiral. That was because the only way for deficit countries to stem the resulting flow of gold - money - out of the country was by shrinking domestic demand, which led to a further downward spiral in prices and incomes.
Since everyone was doing the same thing (and surplus countries like the US were not allowing inflows of gold to stimulate demand), this didn't help countries out of their hole - they just collectively dug themselves deeper and deeper. The first countries to dump the gold standard were also the quickest out of deflation and the quickest to recover.
The depression certainly did see a collapse in global trade and capital flows, and a descent into protectionist tariffs and laws. But a fair reading of the evidence suggests these were more the result of the global downturn than the cause.
According to Peter Temin, a distinguished economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, exports were 7% of American GDP in 1929. They fell by 1.5 percentage points in the next two years.
Given the fall in world demand in those years, not all of that fall can be attributed to other countries' retaliation against the US tariffs. And even if it were - overall, GNP over the same period fell by 15%.
So, on any reasonable assumptions, Temin says "the fall in export demand can only be a small part of the story." And, as he points out, even that loss in foreign demand from the tariff would have been partly offset by the fact that the tariff diverted demand from foreign to home-made goods.
His conclusion? "Any net contractionary effect of the tariff was small."
This shouldn't come as a surprise. Even the greatest fans of free trade would admit that the benefits of lower tariffs - or costs of higher ones - are fairly small beer when compared to the kind of collapse in incomes and employment we saw during the depression.
To repeat, I'm not endorsing protectionism, or a policy of "national self-sufficiency" (though intriguingly for his modern admirers, that's what Keynes supported in 1933).
The world is more interconnected than in the 1930s, and in the financial realm, especially, the crisis is going to require international cooperation to fix. That's not going to happen if countries are at each other's throats.
But in constantly warning against overt protectionism, governments may be once again overstating their capacity to affect events.
The better lesson of the 1930s may be that you don't need tariffs or a revolt against foreigners to cause a collapse in world trade and capital flows. A fully synchronised global downturn can do that all by itself.
Labels: GREAT DEPRESSION II
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Written by Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Wednesday, February 04, 2009 11:24:49 AM
FINANCE minister Situmbeko Musokotwane has advised against creating an impression that Zambia’s failure to attract huge investments largely stems from it being the most corrupt country.
During a post-budget breakfast discussion organised by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Zambia chapter in Lusaka yesterday, Dr Musokotwane noted the need to create confidence and bring investments in the country in as much as corruption was being fought. He however admitted that corruption was endemic in the country.
“Yes, let us fight corruption but let us not create an impression out there that Zambia is the most corrupt country in this world and that is why it is not attracting investments. That is not true. Let us all work together, create confidence and bring in investments to this country as we fight corruption because that way, we shall move forward,” Dr Musokotwane said.
“I can’t deny that there is corruption in Zambia but we must always look at solutions.”
Dr Musokotwane said there was need to underplay the prevalence of corruption, saying even in the current scenario, the country could still continue to attract foreign direct investments (FDIs).
“There is corruption yes but let’s overplay things to imagine that it is only when there is zero corruption when you can attract investments,” he said.
“We know that our neighbouring countries and others who attract investments may be slightly better than us but I wouldn’t say they are 10 or 15 times better than us, we are almost at par. So, let us be careful, let us do much more to induce investments in this country because it is investments that are going to create the jobs and tax revenue.”
And Dr Musokotwane also defended the decision by the treasury to give more tax concessions to mining companies while making modest adjustments to personal taxes.
He also explained that the government was trying to balance on how the tax burden was going to be reduced between incomes coming to the pockets and the ability to sustain jobs.
Dr Musokotwane also said the government decided to increase the number of farming equipments to be exempted from duty to ensure that the sector absorbed people expected to be laid off owing to reduced industrial activities in the country.
“Our emphasis has been that we do something on pay as you earn (PAYE). This is why we have do so, but also this is the time that we are threatened with a possibility of so many job loses given this crisis. So, our thinking has been that can we do something to reduce the tax burden on the people who provide the jobs,” said Dr Musokotwane.
“Obviously, reducing PAYE is desirable but all it does is to improve your ability to consume whereas it does not address the challenge of the tax point of view like how to sustain the current jobs and create more.’’
Written by Editor
It appears that Zambians have entrusted wrong people to make their national constitution. We say this because some of the pronouncements and recommendations coming from some men and women sitting on the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) are hair-raising and causing goose pimples. In the recent past, there has been debate in the media on the quality of recommendations coming from some NCC committees.
Many people have observed that it will be a sheer waste of money and time if these NCC commissioners do not change their approach to the conference’s deliberations. It is clear that most NCC delegates, especially those in politics, seem to tailor the contents of the constitution according to their desires and aspirations, not according to the wishes of the people.
This debate has arisen because the media brought these contentious issues to the attention of the public. It is this exposure that has unsettled some of these selfish and greedy politicians who now seek to ban the media from playing its national and patriotic role.
It does not make sense that if one reporter from the Zambia Daily Mail or Muvi TV or indeed The Post makes a mistake, then all media organisations must be banned from covering NCC proceedings. Why should a mistake of one media institution affect the operations of other media organisations? And is banning the media the answer or solution? If a mistake has been made, why not deal with that mistake and the media organisation involved so that corrective measures can be instituted?
Like other professionals, journalists make mistakes from time to time in the course of their duty because they are not perfect human beings. And when this occurs, measures are swiftly put in place to ensure that necessary corrections and apologies are made.
So instead of dreaming of banning the media for their own selfish reasons, these NCC commissioners should endeavour to ensure a good working relationship with the media so that the nation can be appropriately informed on this important national issue.
That said, we are not in any way endorsing this retrogressive and wishful thinking from some NCC delegates that the media should be permanently excluded from covering NCC proceedings. We wonder if some of these NCC commissioners are even familiar with the law governing their operations.
Why should the media be stopped from informing the public when the law mandates the NCC to inform members of the public through print and electronic media?
The NCC Act, Number 19 of 2007 in article 19, provides:
“The meetings of the Conference shall be held in public and may be attended by any member of the public and for that purpose the chairperson shall ensure the orderly conduct of members of the public in attendance: Provided that nothing in this section shall preclude the members of from holding deliberations in private or camera if the circumstances so warrant.”
Article 20(1) further states:
“Save as may be provided for in the regulations, the Conference shall publicise its deliberations or avail a record of the proceedings of any meeting through the print and electronic media or the Gazette. (2) The Conference shall, for the purpose of subsection (1), consult the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation and other broadcasting stations and radio stations licensed under the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation Act or the Radio Communications Act, as the case may be, in order to secure suitable arrangements for the – (a) allocation of airtime and space for purposes of disseminating the deliberations of the Conference through the electronic media; and (b) provision of a sign language insert or subtitles in all television programmes aired for purposes of paragraph (a), civic educational programmes and in all other programmes covering the deliberations and adoption process.”
This is the law. And this is how NCC is expected to conduct its proceedings by law. If the media is banned from NCC, how will this particular aspect of the law be implemented? Do these NCC commissioners advocating the banning of the media from NCC proceedings understand why this law was put in place?
The constitution is a national document, which has to be approved by all citizens, through their representatives, before it is finally made into law. Without the participation and approval of citizens, the constitution will lack legitimacy and therefore be alien to people’s aspirations.
So the media is the mirror reflecting NCC proceedings to members of the public so that they can follow what their representatives are doing. In case they do not agree with their representatives, it is easier for members of the public to make interventions or contribute to that debate when the NCC proceedings are in the public domain. How will this be done if the media are banned from covering NCC proceedings? In whose interest are these commissioners sitting if they do not want the public to know what they are doing in NCC? Is this the people-driven constitution expected to stand the test of time?
You see, politicians are more concerned with self-preservation than national interest. Most of them are pushing personal agendas in NCC, nothing to do with national interest! They are busy scheming how they are going to protect their political prostitution by ensuring that the law protects them whenever they decide to defect to another party for personal benefits and favours. We are hearing some of the weirdest recommendations from some committees.
These are the type of recommendations they want to make in the absence of the media. Like we have stated before, we repeat our call on all Zambians to stand up and get involved in this constitution-making process. Leaving this process to these commissioners, some of whom do not even deserve to be there, will spell doom for the nation because most of them were appointed on a patronage basis. They are sitting on the NCC not to serve the people of Zambia but the selfish interests of those who put them there.
We cannot afford, as a country, not to have a stable constitution. Let this time be utilised by all Zambians to come up with a legitimate constitution that will stand the test of time. If these NCC commissioners want to impose their wishes and aspirations on the people, this constitution will be as good as null and void. And at an appropriate time, the people will give themselves a constitution that they will gladly embrace and accept to guide their way of doing things.
Written by Chibaula Silwamba and Allan Mulenga
Wednesday, February 04, 2009 11:18:55 AM
PRESS Association of Zambia (PAZA) president Andrew Sakala has challenged the NCC not to ban the media from covering its deliberations because the constitution making process is for the people.
And Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia chapter chairperson Henry Kabwe has urged the NCC delegates to take their work seriously as it was being funded by taxpayers' money. Commenting on the suggestion by the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) to consider banning journalists from covering their proceedings due to what they term as misrepresentation, Sakala said the constitution-making process ought to be public.
"The media must be allowed to cover the public process. I know that the Act allows not just the media but even members of the public to sit in and listen to the deliberations," Sakala said. "I think if there is a problem with the media, if the media is indeed misrepresenting the deliberations there, I think the solution is that an individual media institution must change the person who is covering the NCC."
He said PAZA was against the barring of media institutions from covering the proceedings.
Sakala said not all Zambians could go and listen to the deliberations at Mulungushi International Conference Centre.
He said those who could not travel to Lusaka to listen to the deliberations in person, depend on the media to know what their representatives were discussing in the NCC.
"The constitution-making process is the public process until such a time when they declare that this session will be held in camera. But when you are making the constitution, the constitution is the public document and the media and other members of the public should be allowed to sit in," Sakala said.
"If a particular committee of the NCC feel that they are being misrepresented, the onus is on the NCC publicity committee to put up the right information. As PAZA we are against any such kind of thing where you ban the media."
Sakala said the media were the window, ear and eye of the public.
"If there is a problem with the media, deal with each individual media institution because we don't believe that if for instance there are five media representatives covering a specific committee or indeed the entire NCC, all of them will get it wrong. I don't think that is possible," Sakala said. "The NCC cannot make a blanket decision to ban everyone from covering the NCC deliberations because the constitution is about the people. Hopefully the NCC has not made that decision already. That decision should not be made. People should know what their representatives are discussing."
And Kabwe said the delegates to the NCC should put the people's interests first because the constitution was for Zambians.
Kabwe said it was necessary for the media to cover the sittings of the NCC.
"It is very unfortunate that the people who we have entrusted with the powers to come up with the constitution have already started showing bad attitude towards the media by scheming ways of banning journalists from covering their proceedings," he said. "We expect the NCC members to lead by example in promoting media law reforms because they are there to represent us [media bodies]. But with the recent debates we have been hearing from NCC, we are worried that even the media law reforms will not be included in the constitution."
Kabwe said the NCC delegates were on that body on behalf of all Zambians.
"What they should know is that they are there to represent the people and they only put in the constitution what the people are saying because they are doing all that using tax payers' monies," he said.
Kabwe hoped that NCC members would change their attitude towards the media and allow journalists to cover their proceedings without undue influence.
On Monday, the executive committee of the NCC considered banning journalists from covering its proceedings following what it termed as misrepresentation of facts by some media organisations.
The debate comes in the wake of Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) trustee Mtumbi Goma's complaint that he was misquoted by a Daily Mail reporter during matters arising from last week's minutes. Goma claimed that the reporter quoted him as having said the Speaker of the National Assembly should take over the country in an event that the presidential election result is nullified and yet he proposed that Cabinet take over.
Written by Katwishi Bwalya and Allan Mulenga
Wednesday, February 04, 2009 11:16:32 AM
THE legislative committee of the National Constitution Conference (NCC) has adopted a clause that will give mandate to the National Assembly to extend its term by one year through a simple majority vote when the country is at war.
During the ongoing sittings, members of the committee unanimously agreed to adopt the clause, saying it was necessary for Parliament to extend its mandate by one year when the country was at war.
Supporting the clause, chieftainess Nkomeshya Mukamambo said it was necessary for Parliament to extend its mandate through a simple majority.
"If we allow a two-thirds majority I don't think that will work well because the country will be in an emergency and Parliament might not manage to call all the members of parliament to sit and approve the mandate," Nkomeshya said.
But committee member Chrispine Sibetta cautioned the members against allowing a simple majority saying a two-thirds majority would be most ideal.
Works and supply minister Mike Mulongoti also submitted that it would be logically difficult for all the members to be present when the country was at war and advocated a simple majority to approve Parliament's mandate.
"I submit that simple majority would be the most ideal because Parliament would not manage to mobilise all the members of parliament when the country was at war," Mulongoti submitted.
The meeting then agreed to give mandate to the National Assembly at any time - when the Republic is at war by a resolution supported by a simple majority vote of members - to extend the term of Parliament by 12 months at a time.
And the executive committee of the NCC reduced the age limit of the person to be appointed as the Secretary to the Cabinet from the draft constitution's proposal of 45 years and above to not less than 35 years.
During the ongoing committee sittings, members reached a consensus to adopt clause 154 of the draft constitution with amendments.
Lundazi member of parliament Mukhondo Lungu argued that the clause was discriminatory because it denied those with ability to serve in public service.
Lungu was supported by Lwampa member of parliament Josephine Limata who submitted that the age limit of 45 years for one to be appointed Secretary to the Cabinet would deny an opportunity for young and vibrant individuals willing to work in the public service.
"When we make the age limit of 45 years of age, what will happen to those who want to serve in public service?" Limata asked.
But Chifunabuli member of parliament Ernest Mwansa submitted that the age limit for the person to be appointed Secretary to the Cabinet should be between 35 to 40 years.
"Let us remember that we have already discriminated people of less than 35 years to the office of the presidency, so why don't we broaden the age limit? I am more comfortable with the age limit between 35 and 40 years," Mwansa proposed.
The committee also proposed an increase in the term of office of the Secretary to the Cabinet from the proposed three years in the draft constitution to five years.
Written by Moses Kuwema
Wednesday, February 04, 2009 11:14:25 AM
FEDERATION of Free Trade Unions in Zambia (FFTUZ) president Joyce Nonde has demanded a satisfactory explanation from the government over the inclusion of Edith Nawakwi and Judith Banda Simuziya in the African Union (AU) summit entourage.
In an interview, Nonde expressed concern over the inclusion of FDD president Nawakwi and MMD cadre Simuziya in President Rupiah Banda's entourage to the AU summit, saying the government needed to explain to the people. She said the government needed to provide satisfactory answers to the questions raised by people on issues that involved taxpayers' money.
Nonde said government should learn from developed countries that communicated to their people effectively.
"We need to be told in what capacity these people travelled there because for the President to have taken them along, there is a reason. So government needs to have an effective way of communicating because we are the taxpayers, the ones who made it possible for them to be there. They don't need to be rude, they need to answer with a lot of respect," Nonde said. "I know that the opposition can be invited at such functions, but we also need to look at the value that these people will have. For instance, what value is a cadre going to add there which will benefit the country?"
She said people should not be taken to such events for the sake of appeasement but that they needed to be of value to the deliberations.
"I don't know in what capacity Edith Nawakwi and the MMD cadre [Simuziya] travelled to Ethiopia but there is need to go to such events and add value to their country and the summit," Nonde said.
And Mansa Catholic Diocese Vicar General Fr Mambwe Mpasa said it was sad that the opposition, which was supposed to speak for the people had now joined government in misusing national resources.
Fr Mpasa questioned the value that Simuziya would add to the summit and ultimately benefit the country.
He said President Banda should not appease people.
"What is she going to do that will benefit the nation, because President Banda did not go there for a party function but a national function," he wondered.
Fr Mpasa called on other church leaders to pray for the leaders in government to make them realise that the country was in difficult times.
"One thing I find to be sad is that some opposition parties decided to join the MMD during the campaigns and this, I think, weakened the opposition and is a drawback to the our young democracy," Fr Mpasa said.
Fr Mpasa said the opposition political parties should stand against misuse of public resources as opposed to what was currently happening.
Written by Patson Chilemba
Wednesday, February 04, 2009 11:12:57 AM
OPPOSITION UPND president Hakainde Hichilema yesterday said he does not want people to vote for him just because they speak Tonga. Addressing the press at the UPND secretariat, Hichilema said people should vote for him because they believed he could serve the nation better.
He said tribe should not be the underlying factor when it comes to choosing leaders. Hichilema said poverty affected all people regardless of tribe.
"I have declared publicly myself, I don't want anybody to vote for me because they speak Tonga, no. I want people to vote for Hakainde Hichilema because they believe we can serve the country better," Hichilema said. "But my challenge goes to every other leader to say that 'can you vote for a team that will run Zambia better'. I think let us take it up."
Hichilema said he was not frustrated at contesting and losing elections because he sought public office to serve people and not as a means to amass wealth.
He said Zambia needed new leadership because those who fought for independence could not be relied upon to guarantee economic freedom.
On the inclusion of FDD president Edith Nawakwi and MMD cadre Judith Banda Simuziya on President Rupiah Banda's entourage to the African Union (AU) summit, Hichilema said the government was using taxpayers' money to fly opposition leaders.
"I cannot do that, I can pay for my own flight," he said.
Hichilema further said the 2009 national budget was another missed opportunity on the fight against poverty.
On windfall tax, Hichilema said had the government realised early enough, more money could have been generated from the mines to the treasury.
Hichilema also said he had received acknowledgement from United States President Barack Obama over the congratulatory letter he wrote to the American President.
UPND spokesperson Charles Kakoma said the party had opened a new chapter in international relations in that the President of the most powerful country had indicated willingness to work with Hichilema.
During the same press briefing, John Ziba together with other 40 former Reform Party members announced that they had joined UPND.
Ziba said UPND may not be the perfect party, but members could contribute to correct the imperfections so that the party could be used to achieve the nation's development goals.
Ziba urged Zambians to look beyond tribe, age or economic status by placing their hope in quality leadership that was capable of delivering.
Labels: HAKAINDE HICHILEMA
Written by Florence Bupe
Wednesday, February 04, 2009 11:08:57 AM
THE National Construction Council (NCC) has said the banning of advance payments to contractors has increased overall construction costs by about 40 per cent.
And the council has called for massive investments in the construction sector as a guaranteed measure for job creation.
NCC executive director Dr Sylvester Mashamba said the decision by government to discontinue with advance payments had pushed contractors to resort to high rate borrowing to finance their works.
“The government’s decision to ban advance payments to contractors also had the adverse effect of increasing overall construction costs by as much as 30 to 40 per cent as contractors resorted to high rate bank borrowing to finance their projects,” Dr Mashamba said.
He also noted that the ongoing global financial crisis was posing a great challenge to the country’s construction sector.
“The year ended with the global credit crunch, which was like the last nail in Zambia’s construction industry coffin,” he said.
Dr Mashamba added that the decision by the government to cancel the hosting of the 2011 All-Africa games contributed negatively to the woes of the Zambian construction industry.
He said there was need to scale up construction activities if the provision of various social amenities was to be adequately met.
“There is definitely need for increased construction activities if the provision of water and sanitation, railways, roads and other vital facilities are to be realised. The construction industry is very significant to the attainment of development aspirations in any country,” he said.
Dr Mashamba noted that the construction industry outlook for 2009 was bleak under the prevailing global financial challenges.
“From the outset, the prospects for the Zambian construction industry in 2009 and beyond, given the current economic circumstances, are not good especially given the experiences in the past,” he said.
And Dr Mashamba emphasised the importance of the construction industry in curbing the challenge of high unemployment levels in the country.
“The construction industry is credited for being one industry which is very labour intensive, thus massive investment in this sector always creates massive job opportunities at a time when most sectors will be laying off workers,” Dr Mashamba said.
“It is important to remember, however, that for this economic theory to succeed, you need to have a very low import content construction industry which also imports very little foreign labour, otherwise you end up importing unemployment.”
He observed that the foreign labour content for Zambia was still high and that pumping money into the industry as a stimulus to address the economic recession would backfire.
“Addressing the current global recession requires planning and understanding the forces at play. The construction industry offers the best instrument for addressing the recession problem. We should further be reminded that heavy investment in infrastructure development during a recession has the added advantage that after the recession is over, the country will stand to benefit from a good infrastructure that can be used to attract foreign direct investment (FDI),” said Dr Mashamba.
Written by Nchima Nchito
Wednesday, February 04, 2009 11:07:28 AM
LUSAKA Stock Exchange general manager Beatrice Nkanza yesterday revealed that progress has been made on the establishment of an alternative market on the exchange.
Responding to a press query, Nkanza said deliberations were being held with various stakeholders to find a way forward regarding the establishment of an alternative exchange for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
“With respect to this matter, we had our first stakeholder meeting in December where we addressed the member organisations whose members we would be targeting,” she said.
Nkanza revealed that the next stage was to address prospective companies directly with meetings being planned for Kitwe, Livingstone and Chipata.
“The purpose of these meetings is to interact with them and walk through the listing requirements,” said Nkanza
“The only new item on the SME listing requirement is the engagement of the designated advisor. This is really where the difference is from the current listing requirements for other companies not in the SME category.”
Lusaka Stock Exchange (LuSE) in the recent past announced intentions for the establishment of an alternative market for listing of small and medium enterprises to help them find alternative funding to expand their operations. This is in view of the recognition that SMEs had a vital role to play in the growth of the economy.
Written by Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Wednesday, February 04, 2009 11:06:13 AM
STANDARD Chartered Bank Plc has underplayed fears by some miners on the Copperbelt that they stand to lose out on their terminal benefits as the bank recovers the loans.
Reacting to concerns by miners on the Copperbelt that they were losing out on their terminal benefits because Standard Chartered Bank Plc was recovering the loans to the extent of depriving them of their terminal benefits, bank southern African region head of corporate affairs Luke Njovu said the bank had since dispatched a special team to the area to study the situation.
Njovu said although the current situation on the Copperbelt had been driven by the collapse in copper prices, forcing mining companies to downscale production and others closing down, the bank wanted to emerge from the problem in a “win-win” situation with its clients.
“The whole issue stems from perception that Standard Chartered Bank Plc wants to recover 100 per cent from the outstanding loans. That is not correct,” Njovu said. “We have sent a special unit to the Copperbelt to see how best the loans could be liquidated in a ‘win-win’ situation. You have to appreciate that those loans are not uniform and at the same time are insured. So, for those who had been on our books for more than 60 months, we will only recover 50 per cent and the remainder the bank will take it up with the insurers. The challenge might be with those of our clients who have been on our books for less than six months as those don’t qualify for insurance and that is where the bank comes in and want to discuss with our esteemed customers on how to liquidate the loan completely.”
Njovu claimed that Standard Chartered Bank Plc wanted to recover the loans with a “humane face.”
He explained that although the loans, which are believed to have been insured by Madison, were salary backed and that the current job loses meant a loss of income for the affected miners, Standard Chartered Bank Plc would also look at other revenue earning avenues for former miners.
“They are still our customers and we take a long-term view of our business relation with them which does not end with them losing employment because of this unfortunate development,” said Njovu.
February 3, 2009
About 300 Reform Party,RP, members led by the Party’s Former Chairman for elections and strategic Planning, John Ziba, have defected to the United Party for National Development,UPND.
Mr. Ziba said the Opposition UPND was the only Party in the country that would offer meaningful leadership.
Speaking at a press briefing in Lusaka today, Mr. Ziba said the RP members decided to join the UPND because it was the only party with a vision to develop the country.
Mr. Ziba accused the ruling MMD of failing to meet the expectations of people of Zambia.
In welcoming the defectors UPND President, Hakainde Hichilema, said the UPND was now growing its membership in readiness to form the next government after 2011.
The UPND President challenged President Rupiah Banda to implement programmes that focus at reducing poverty levels in the country.
He has since called upon Zambians to condemn tribal politics and instead promote unit in order to achieve the required development in the country.
And Mr Hichilema said he will soon hold a meeting with President Rupiah Banda over the global financial crisis.
Mr. Hichilema said the UNPD wrote to President Banda to give ideas to government on how to address the global financial crisis.
He said President Banda replied that he was willing to hold talks with the opposition leader when he returns from the African Union Summit in Ethiopia.
He said there is need for the opposition to demonstrate maturity in handling national issues by sharing ideas with the government.
February 3, 2009
COMESA secretary general Sindiso Ngwenya with Russian Ambassador to Zambia Boris malakhov when Mr Malakhov presented his credentials
Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, COMESA, Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya has hailed calls for the introduction of Africa’s single currency. Mr Ngwenya said a single currency would help reduce the cost of doing business on the continent.
Mr Ngwenya told ZANIS in an interview, today, that a single currency could also promote cross border trade and investment necessary for economic growth on the continent.
The Comesa Secretary General said the currency would ensure that prices of commodities will be easily compared in the region.
He emphasized that if European Countries have been successful in having a single currency, the Euro,nothing will stop African countries from doing the same.
Mr Ngwenya also acknowledged plans to form United States of Africa saying it a thoughtful idea adding that the only challenge that exists is how to form the continental Union.
He said that African countries will definitely benefit from this. He later noted that if Africa speaks with one voice it will be stronger.
He stated that African countries might be moving at a different economic development pace but what is important is that they are moving toward the same direction.
He said that the time is now for those countries who want to integrate to do so and that they should not wait for other countries.
He urged the countries who are sitting on the racing chair to continue and those who are not to be compelled to sit on that chair and race with others.
February 4, 2009
Parliament heard today that the state has has no immediate plans to dissolve the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) and revert to the defunct National Agriculture Marketing Board (NAMBOARD).
Agriculture Minister, Brian Chituwo told Parliament, today, that government has been meeting with the FRA management to discuss important matters to make the agency more effective.
Dr. Chituwo was responding to a question raised by United Party for National Development (UPND) Choma Central Member of Parliament (MP) George Chazangwe who wanted to know whether government has plans to dissolve the FRA and bring back NAMBOARD.
The Agriculture Minister said the FRA has not failed to deliver to the expectations of the people of Zambia adding that for this reason there was no need to dissolve the agency.
He said programmes have been put in place to make sure that FRA does not fail the people of Zambia.
And Dr. Chituwo also said the government had put in place a process to procure as much local maize as possible this year.
He also added that measures are being put in place to empower small scale farmers in the country to eradicate hunger.
Dr. Chituwo said the government does not get refunded by the FRA but continues to subsidize in order to make the agency keep moving and deliver to the people of Zambia.
The Minister has also since encouraged the FRA to consider also purchasing other commodities other than maize to give to millers in the country.
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Mon, 02 Feb 2009 15:30:00 +0000
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor has called on Zimbabweans to be wary of people who are deliberately sabotaging the economy and blaming the central bank for the economic crisis the country is facing when they are the one fanning the problems.
Dr. Gideon Gono, in his Monetary Policy Statement, warned against what he called “Snakes in Suits” who start “dangerous fires that we have had to put out through extraordinary measures.”
He said these economic saboteurs “have also been the loudest in the blame game against the Central Bank and its Governor.”
Dr Gono’s statement sounded like a response to MDC’s Policy Coordinator General, Eddie Cross who recently wrote an article entitled: “Let It Crash And Burn” in which he said “he was hearing the view that (the MDC) should let the country crash and burn and then pick up the pieces.”
“… we will not get on the bus until we are satisfied that the driver is our man and not Mugabe”, wrote Cross. “And that is not negotiable. If Mugabe is anywhere near the wheel, we would rather let the bus crash and burn.”
Dr Gono said this is an “unfortunate twist of logic” where people want to put out the fires they started in the first place.
“As a result, we have had an unfortunate twist of logic in which economic saboteurs and financial arsonists (from the BURNING concept) who have been stroking up all manner of social, political and economic fires of destabilization all over the place are now masquerading as economic experts, blaming and demonizing the Central Bank and this Governor for putting out the fires they started in the first place.”
The RBZ Governor said he has “put out those fires” with “a sense of personal and national pride.”
He urged all those people who "have sought refuge in playing the blame game" to desist from this "distractive approach."
"There is so much that needs to be done by each and everyone of us to waste our energies on yesterday while today remains unattended and tomorrow is being lost to the determination by others."
Dr. Gono also hinted that he will not leave until his term expires and until he has successfully done the job he was appointed to do.
“The bus driver is … not about to take any leave of absence, at least of all before the job is done and done well. That’s my commitment to all Zimbabweans interested in the successful turnaround of our economy.”
DIVISIONS IN THE MDC-T PARTY
Meanwhile, Eddie Cross has revealed that the differences rocking the MDC-T party over whether or not to join the all-inclusive Government, have not subsided.
Writing on an email forum on Monday, Cross said MDC-T Secretary General, Tendai Biti “is not employed as SG” and the decision to leave him out of the monitoring group, JOMIC, was his and other members of the MDC-T party.
“He is not employed as SG ... The decision to leave him out of the JOMIC was his as well as others,” wrote Cross.
South Africa Department of Foreign Affairs
Tue, 03 Feb 2009 00:16:00 +0000
THE following is a full transcript of a briefing to the media by Reverend Frank Chikane, the Director General of the South African Presidency, on the Sadc Agreement on Zimbabwe, Union Buildings, Pretoria, January 28 2009:
Good morning, you are welcome. Let me just clarify a number of things before we start. After the session on Tuesday morning there was a press conference where you were given the outcomes of the SADC Extra-Ordinary Summit. There was a view that we needed to do a briefing that was more than just a press conference to give all the background information that is necessary so that we can have the same sets of information.
Unfortunately the times did not work out well for Dr Salamao to be here.
I was going to speak to you as part of the Facilitation to give you background information and Dr Salamao would have spoken on the SADC issues but I am going to do both. Fortunately I am also part of the Chair of SADC because President Motlanthe is the Chair.
Secondly, because I am a facilitator I am not here to make statements about parties because facilitators do not do that. What they do is to facilitate, to assist parties to agree. So my approach here will not be that if you were briefed to come and ask me a particular question which will make the headlines that “Frank Chikane said this about a particular party” - unfortunately you cannot get it from me because when I start off this evening it is facilitation again.
The facilitation process for me is more important than controversy because our task is to make sure that there is a settlement in Zimbabwe and that we begin to turn the economy and people will then have a different quality of life.
I would like to start with the agreement to say that there is an agreement in Zimbabwe on how to resolve the political challenges of Zimbabwe. The problem is that most people work on the basis that there is no agreement as yet. That agreement in Zimbabwe is based on a number of fundamental issues that the parties agreed upon. I should have said the agreement is amongst the three main parties, which are represented in Parliament.
The parties met, and we facilitated all the meetings, and they all start from a common basis which most people do not start from.
There was an election in March and everyone accepted that those elections were conducted under conditions that were conducive for free and fair elections. The starting point will be that in those elections no one party got the majority votes in the Parliamentary election - you will remember there were changes but let me use the old numbers - it was 100 for MDC-T, 99 for Zanu-PF and 10 MDC-M.
So nobody won that election because nobody really got a majority. So if there is going to be a government in a Parliamentary system you will need to make coalition to govern, you could not govern without a coalition between two of the parties to form a government because together they would have the majority. So the minor party there is critical party because is the determinant party as to who they go with. If you want to put it that way there is a “hung Parliament”. Any party would need another to govern.
About the Presidential election, indeed the first round was held under conditions that were acceptable but nobody won the Presidential election because they did not meet the requirements of the Constitution.
I am explaining these things not to speak against any party but to explain the basis on which the agreement was built.
After the first round nobody got the 50% + 1 so in a sense you cannot use that outcome as a basis for determining who the President of the country is; so you had to do the second round. Now the second round was done and both SADC and the AU and everybody agreed that the conditions for the second round were not acceptable in terms of free and fair elections and there has not been any doubt or controversy about that matter.
Nevertheless there was an election. There is a de facto President there and even you discounted those elections, once you do that then the former President remains being President until you do a run-off. So it means whichever way you go into it you will en up with a President until another President is elected. I am just talking about Constitutional issues in terms of the processes there.
The sad thing is that everybody after the 27th of June, because we met, before and after, everybody agreed that to do another run-off was not going to help anybody because the conditions were not conducive to hold an election like that. So we needed a different route to deal with this challenge. The parties then proposed to have a MoU - we did not think it was necessary - but they said “No, we need a MoU”. So we helped them agree on a MoU. Basically the MoU does not say what the public discourse is and what the public discourse will listen to - I will explain that public discourse because it confuses a lot of people.
In terms of the MoU, the parties agreed that the agenda by the parties will be to deal with the objectives and priorities of the new government, which are economic, political, security, communication - you will remember that. So that is their choice.
They did not make a choice about who should be what. They made a choice about how do we agree on these issues so that we can have a fresh start. A key issue was that the agreement we produce must enable us to create the conditions for a fair and free election. It was meant to create space for the parties to govern together so that by the time they go to an election they worked together to create conditions conducive for an election.
I think it is important to clarify this issue because that is why as facilitators we tend to be focused on what we need to do and not listen to the noise outside because the noise confuses you. You see there are people who are campaigning and there will be people who campaign against the MDC-T; against the MDC-M and people who campaign against Zanu-PF. There will also be people who campaign against President Mugabe himself as their project. Now we are not in the project of campaigning, we are in the project of facilitating a settlement of the problem in Zimbabwe.
You see the campaigners who put measurements and say “you must achieve the following. If you do not achieve the following you have failed because you have not met our conditions”, rather than what did we set out to do. We set out in terms of the SADC resolutions and the AU resolutions to facilitate the establishment of an inclusive government. That is what we were mandated to do. Some people measure you against a particular outcome that they want and say: “no you have not met that requirement”. I am saying that if you measure what SADC is doing you must measure it against the resolutions of SADC and those of the AU. Those resolutions are based on the agreement that the people of Zimbabwe made.
The people of Zimbabwe agreed on an inclusive government and they determined how it should be constituted. And in constituting it they did not say in the agreement that one party would choose who would participate from the other party. Each party has the right to choose the people they puts forward - Zanu-PF has 15, MDC-T has 13 and MDC-M has 3 - who they are is not going to be determined by the facilitator or by SADC or AU, not even UN. The parties make their choices. We did the same in South Africa when the apartheid government wanted to determine who comes to the negotiations and that the bad people they did not like should not come to the negotiations and we said: “No it is not your choice; it is the choice of the party”. We should give the parties in Zimbabwe the right to make their choices; I think it is part of democracy.
The agreement that was signed says that the implementation of this agreement starts forthwith after the signatures of the parties on the agreement. So once they signed on the 15th the agreement was in effect. There is no other agreement, this is the real agreement.
This agreement says in paragraph 20.1.3 j - The President shall, pursuant to this agreement, appoint the Prime Minister pending the enactment of the Constitution of Zimbabwe amendment 19 as agreed by the Parties.
As you remember to make sure they agreed on Amendment 19, we spent two or three days to make sure that agreed upon it.
The Amendment 19 was agreed upon and was gazetted. In terms of this 20.1.3 j, you appoint the Prime Minister pending the enactment of Amendment 19. So in a sense immediately you agreed on Amendment 19 and enacted it you have to form a government. That is why SADC works on the basis that once this is agreed you form a government.
Again Amendment 19, in 24.1 it says - The Parties undertake to unconditionally support the enactment of the said Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment 19. So the agreement was that once it was agreed those parties must go and vote for it. It is not a question of debate in Parliament because you agree in advance and you go and fulfill the requirements in Parliament to make sure it is passed. That is why they said 30 days and after the 30 days you implement that.
You remember in their agreement there is no reference to Governors, there is a reference to Senators. You will remember that there was a dispute about the copy of the 11th September and the copy of the 15th which was signed. There were discrepancies between the two copies. We then agreed that the original copy they signed during the negotiations is the valid copy, we relied on that copy. So the Senators are part of the portions that have to be distributed according to a formula.
The only thing that is not in the agreement is Governors. So as they signed it the MDC wanted guarantees that these governors would be resolved even after the signing and we agreed. The Facilitator then made an announcement at the end of the ceremony to say the outstanding issue of the Governors was going to be dealt with accordingly.
All these matters were dealt with. By the way we also facilitated them agreeing on Ministries which the negotiators were not mandated to do. We facilitated and they ended up with 31 Ministries with names attached to them. When they went to the Principals, the Principals scolded them to say they did not mandate them to determine Ministries. Normally the Ministries are determined by the President or the Prime Minister. The Principals agreed that they had exceeded their limit.
Nobody really thought there was going to be a dispute on how you distributed the Ministries. When we left on the 11th September we expected that they would have put names next to the posts and that by the 15th we would announce the government - we thought it was as simple as that. Unfortunately they did not agree so we had to facilitate that. We facilitated it and all the time we negotiated up to the Home Affairs as the only one remaining and we got a deadlock which was “we will share the Ministry but who starts first?” You cannot mediate who starts first. It is a matter of deciding who starts first. So they could not agree.
Then they escalated the matter to the Organ and it could not agree; then they escalated it to SADC - we did say to the members that if you escalate it beyond the Facilitator and Organ then SADC will have to make a decision. You actually turn it into an arbitration thing; you go beyond facilitation to arbitration for somebody to assist you to make a decision.
We facilitated Amendment 19 and made sure it is dealt with it. The outstanding issues we dealt with them as well. I understood that the MDC in particular were saying the Governors were outstanding and we all agreed that they needed to be dealt with. Then there were new issues that were raised like the National Security Council because the agreement says the Prime Minister shall be a member of the National Security Council but they wanted legislation so we said: “Ok we will deal with that”. Then there is the issue about Amendment 19 - it is gazetted so it is not an issue any more. What they are saying in their statement is that it should be enacted. There is an issue about the allocation of portfolios. Then there is the issue about the Governor of the Reserve Bank and the Attorney-General, which they are saying were appointed during the time of the negotiations - that matter had to be dealt with as well.
The statement on Monday basically says: “pass Amendment 19 even if the agreement says you should form government before you pass it. Now that we are where we are it is water under the bridge and the notice that was given for which was the requirement of the current Constitution of Zimbabwe, pass that Bill”. The date is the 5th February. The original proposal was to form government and pass the Bill. This is a radical chance in this new decision that you enact the legislation and form government just to make it easier because of the demand of the MDC. And then swear in the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Ministers February 11 - by the way they could have been sworn in without Amendment 19.
Then swear in the Ministers from the 13th to conclude the process of forming the inclusive government. If you read that with 5, it says: The allocation of Ministerial portfolios endorsed by the SADC Extra-Ordinary Summit held on 9th November 2008 shall be reviews in six months time. In November it said the portfolio of Home Affairs shall be reviewed in six months time, this one now includes everything there. You are basing it on the agreement on the 9th November because the issue of portfolios was dealt with on the agreement of November 9th.
Then there was the issue of the Reserve Bank governor. They discussed the matter for the first time by the way, because there was no debate about this matter in September. Then they said the appointment of the Reserve Bank Governor and the Attorney-General will be dealt with by the inclusive government after its formation. It means it is a question of appointments. That is a natural problem. If you delay forming government and contracts of people end, the de facto government makes the appointment.
On the issue of the National Security Council and the provincial governors it is in 7: The negotiators of the Parties shall meet immediately to consider the National Security Bill submitted by the MDC-T as well as the formula for the distribution of the provincial governors. So it is our task as the Facilitator to help them to deal with the issue of the formula to share the governors. We agreed that we are going to deal with this matter from today on.
The MDC was asked to draft the National Security Bill and we are going to look at the draft to deal with that matter.
The last thing is the issue of JOMIC. It was that once we have signed the agreement then we must form a structure called JOMIC which will consist of four senior members of each of the three parties and gender considerations must be taken into account in relation to the composition of JOMIC. So when we go there on Friday the 30th we will make sure that JOMIC is formed and the committee shall be co-chaired by persons from the parties. We will enable them to appoint co-chairs who will then deal will the issues. So all those issues about bridges and security related matters, this agreement says this Committee shall receive reports and complaints of any issue related to the implementation, enforcement and execution of this agreement (22.3 c).
So you can see that this agreement took care of all the aspects - it took long and by the way they drafted it and we just facilitated. There are some people who say Mbeki forced people to agree but the people of Zimbabwe are very proud people who believe in taking charge of their lives and would choose to draft their document - even the language is Zimbabwean technical language.
This product of Monday and Tuesday, ultimately SADC sat in its own Summit, go full report of what happened up to Monday and once they were finished they invited the parties to sit through and debated each one of the concerns the parties raised - that is why it took so many hours. Everything that is in that agreement was agreed upon on the basis of consensus.
Now there is the different agreement and consensus. It means I may have had a different view but the consensus is that “now we are going this way”. All members of SADC were in attendance and they all agreed. I think a good thing that happened Monday and Tuesday was that SADC came out united; and that is a critical issue because it could easily have been divided. And they agreed on this outcome.
I realize the media asks “but did the parties agree to?” Now if consensus is built in your presence, and I think we must respect the MDC’s right, if you are a party and you agree on a consensus which is not everything you have asked for, you have to go back to your council. There is nothing wrong to do that. It is a normal process. They also raised the concern that they did not get everything they asked for. That is why they need to go to the national council.
Obviously everyone knows that nobody goes to a negotiation process and expect that everything you demanded; the outcome of the negotiations will be exactly as you demanded against every other demand of other people. Negotiations do not work like that. So you do lose things and gain things in a negotiations process and each one of the parties can tell you what they lost and what they gained in the process. I think MDC and the other parties have the right to say that not everything that they asked for they got.
We lost a lot during the negotiations. We started by saying there would be no round table but two sides of the table with the Bantustan leaders and the apartheid government on one side and us on the other side - we did not want to sit on the same side. What did we end up with? A round table and everybody else was equal in that round table. We lost a number of things. We thought we would change the generals and remove everybody else but we ended up with a new South Africa with General Meiring and General Fivaz. So you could have your demands but when you negotiate you come out with something different.
Indeed the National Party also is aggrieved. There are lots of people who still blame Mr. de Klerk for selling them out because he made compromises there as well.
When you go to negotiations you make compromises.
There are many people since November and December who say: “remove President Mugabe” but none of these parties ever asked for that. It is outside people who are asking for it. None of the MDC factions are saying the solution is to remove President Mugabe. Their agreement says they need to go through a transition to create conditions for a free and fair election. There is also no clause in the agreement that says you shall not allow Mr. Tsvangirai to be part of government. So when you judge the SADC agreement judge it against the agreement by the people of Zimbabwe.
I thought we should go through this so that we remove all the preconceptions and wrong conceptions about what this is all about. By the way it is not easy.
The only thing the people of Zimbabwe require is for the government agreed by the people of Zimbabwe to be formed and deal with the challenges; and then deal with the economic recovery. They have agreed what needs to be done - it is in the agreement. We just need to start the process and get the people of Zimbabwe to have a better life than the life that they are going through at the present moment. I have been there; I have dealt with the humanitarian issues and spoke to the people. It is tough. We need a quick resolution. We cannot delay forever. That is why SADC put dates on each on of the things that need to happen as soon as possible.
Questions and Answers
Question: What happens if the National Council of the MDC rejects the agreement? Secondly, there is a report in the London Times today saying that President Obama and (inaudible) are considering fresh drive fro increased UN sanctions against President Mugabe and they are taking this to the UNSC and are confident they can get Russia and China to abstain from this matter. What is your response to this?
Answer: Unfortunately I will not answer that question because it borders into a political debate. The only question for me is that all the parties should consider seriously the resolution that the leaders of this region reached after many hours, which is a product of a consensus where all of them agreed that this is the best way to resolve this matter. And I hope that all the parties will endeavour to cause the government to be formed. I think it is critical. It is for the sake of the people of Zimbabwe. By the way it does not rob any party of its own dynamics every party has its dynamics.
By the way there was a time when there was a deadlock. Mr. Mandela said he would never talk to de Klerk and they went for two months without talking because of Boipatong. I was General Secretary of the Council and the deadline was coming and I had a sense that the MK lot was preparing for the ultimate failure to meet the demand and they would do certain things. I had to go with Dr Bayers Naudè to Mr. Mandela to say: “let us deal with this thing differently” and the following day Mr. Mandela and de Klerk were talking. I am just saying in negotiations you do not get everything. I am hoping that all the parties will consider the resolution and find a way of forming the government speedily.
Then the issues of sanctions do not become relevant because it means that little girl should go through that pain longer whereas if you form a government tomorrow, you can fix the economy and we get on with business so that the people of Zimbabwe do not have this problem anymore.
Question: I wonder if you could say something more about the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee. How will that work?
Answer: The details are in paragraph 22 which elaborates on what they should do in 22.3 and then in 22.4 the reporting process about compliance and grievances to JOMIC. Remember this JOMIC is to be implemented with the first thing being the formation of an inclusive government. So it will report to the inclusive government to assist in resolving the problems.
If they fail then the guarantors of the agreement - the Facilitator, SADC and the AU - then kick in.
Question: MDC are also complaining that Mr. Mugabe was allowed to sit in the closed session of the plenary and that how he could be allowed to be the judge at his own court. Why was it that he was allowed to sit in the closed session?
Answer: Unfortunately Mr. Salamao is not here, I think he should answer that question. I think my understanding is that a Summit is a Summit of member countries. I think that is the basis on which they deal with that matter. There could be a complaint about a member country in the UN but that member country sits in the UN, so that is the basis. I do not think that had anything to do with choosing who sits in or not. That is a SADC protocol matter
Question: What will happen if these deadlines are not met?
Answer: I really will not answer a question of presupposition because you just encourage people to make sure they do not get met. We have to meet those deadlines. It is a plan of action. Once you agree on something you put in a plan of action to execute. You must have deadlines. In fact if you look at the previous mandate there were deadlines, which were put by the Organ with the Chair of SADC in Harare . The MDC turned those deadlines around to start with other things before the enactment and the formation of the government. So you can see in this agreement that I follows in the main that switch. The others said “form government and deal with the rest” and this one says “enact Amendment 19 and then form government”.
Question: Some spokes person from MDC said there was no agreement reached on Monday. Is that Morgan Tsvangirai saying “yes I am not happy but I agree that we go this way” or that “I cannot agree, let me go and consult?”
Answer: I was not in the meeting so I cannot answer this question in detail but the agreement says, and the parties have the right to consult their mandating bodies. I do not work on the basis of what spokespersons and other people say, we work on the basis of agreements and documents.
They have the right to say the things. Our job is to ensure peace is achieved in Zimbabwe and the people of Zimbabwe ‘’s conditions are changed.
Question: One of the most emotive issues that arose is the abduction that began in September of MDC supporters. Can you offer any comments on the abduction [and about allegations of Botswana training guerrillas]?
Answer: I cannot answer that question because it is a SADC question; I think the Executive Secretary can answer that question. This is about the training and SADC processes.
Those issues about the arrests of people etcetera, the Facilitator and the Chair of SADC have been engaging the parties about those matters, even the issues about a ruling of the court which was not followed. We intervened; we did a number of things. But I do not think I should go into detail here. If I go into detail they will accuse me of violating the MoU, which says we should not go public about these things. Indeed we are as concerned as anybody else and we will deal with the issues as they come. But we have emphasised that the best way to deal with those matters is to be together in government to make sure that such things do not happen. The more we delay more things will happen and it will be problematic because you do not have the agreement enforced.
Issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs, January 28 2009
Frank Dangarembizi — Opinion
Mon, 02 Feb 2009 22:40:00 +0000
DEAR EDITOR — The media has been awash with calls for the lifting of sanctions that have hurt the masses in Zimbabwe. The disastrous effects of sanctions cannot be overstated.
Angola, South Africa, the African Union, among others called for an end to the sanctions against Zimbabwe. Even the vocal Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former Secretary General of the UN Kofi Annan and former US President Jimmy Carter, were an inch short of mentioning the word “sanctions” in their call for the international community to support Zimbabwe.
In contrast, the Movement for Democratic Change Party (Tsvangirai), which in less than two weeks, would be in an all-inclusive Government with Zanu PF, has failed to condemn the disastrous “not so smart” sanctions on Zimbabwe.
The debate over whether sanctions exist or not can no longer be entertained anymore. Many of the problems bedevilling Zimbabwe today are a result of the biting sanctions that are making our economy ‘scream’ We have already ‘crashed and burned’ as a country because of the sanctions.
An MDC-T official said recently they cannot call for an end to the sanctions in Zimbabwe because they were not responsible for imposing them in the first place and because they could not influence countries to change their foreign policy on Zimbabwe.
We all now wait with bated breath to see if the MDC-T party will still say the same thing when they assume control of the Ministry of Finance, as envisaged in the Global Political Agreement. We hope they will find it easy to control that ministry with no access to credit lines and all the ‘badwill’ that comes with the package.
We also wait to see how they will pump in millions of dollars into the ailing economy when the West is not only incapable of aiding Zimbabwe, but also unwilling to do so.
Tue, 03 Feb 2009 12:15:00 +0000
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe on Tuesday urged Western countries to lift sanctions against Zimbabwe which he said have caused the country's economic collapse, which has left millions jobless and hungry.
Speaking on the final day of the 12th African Union summit in Addis Ababa, President Mugabe said the sanctions are "unjust and cruel" and have divided Zimbabweans.
"We believe that these illegal sanctions are not only unjustified and cruel, but they have also contributed deeply to the suffering and the poverty-induced polarisation of the people of Zimbabwe," he said.
President Mugabe accused donors of punishing Zimbabwe for its land reform programme, which began in 2000.
"Our condemnation, our isolation is because my government took the necessary measures to create conditions for equal opportunities, for decolonization, for creating conditions in which our people could regain their lost resources."
The African Union on Saturday called for the lifting of the sanctions against Zimbabwe to alleviate the humanitarian crisis facing the country.
President Mugabe also blamed the West for causing the global financial crisis by allowing the speculative activities of a greedy few and demanded Africa be given a role in shaping a healthier international economic system.
"We are therefore ready and more than willing in playing our part and contributing toward the rebuilding of the global economy," he said.
Tue, 03 Feb 2009 00:35:00 +0000
THE OBAMA administration has adopted a more diplomatic approach towards Zimbabwe than that of his predecessor, George W Bush, in a move seen as a continuation of the trend of reversing Bush administration policy.
A report by Reuters quotes unnamed U.S. administration officials saying that the Obama administration has toned down U.S. rhetoric against President Robert Mugabe, dropping a public demand for him to step down.
The Bush administration in its final days took a hard-line stance on Zimbabwe saying they could no longer support a deal that left President Mugabe as Head of State.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer, announced the new policy position in South Africa in December. “The power sharing agreement ... needs to be implemented with someone other than Robert Mugabe as president,” she said.
The policy shift attracted criticism from the Government of Zimbabwe which described it as “jungle politics”. The Government added that it “had no time” for then US President George Bush’s “diplomatic flute”.
The Obama administration will be “less forceful” than Bush’s administration, according to the Reuters report.
“The goal, they said, was to give southern African nations breathing space in dealing with Mugabe who has agreed on a power-sharing arrangement with Zimbabwe's opposition,” says Reuters.
President Barack Obama is yet to appoint his team of high-level African experts at the State Department and the White House.
On Friday during a daily press briefing, State Department Acting Spokesman Robert A. Wood was quizzed on whether it was still the U.S. view that President Mugabe must quit. Wood avoided calling for the ouster saying: “The key is always implementation.”
“What Robert Mugabe needs to do is to do what’s best for the people of Zimbabwe; and an effective power-sharing arrangement, one that is equitable, fair, and in line with the will of the Zimbabwean people, that’s what needs to happen,” said Wood.
Wood was asked whether the Obama administration was reviewing assistance to Zimbabwe and considering the lifting of economic sanctions.
“The Administration will be looking at our policy toward Zimbabwe. We obviously – we want to see what, if anything, comes out of this recent agreement that was reached. If and when there is a government in place in Zimbabwe … the United States will then look to see what we can do to continue to help the Zimbabwean people,” he said.
“The (Obama) administration will be looking to see what more we can do with regard to giving a jump start, a boost to the economy. But let’s wait and see what happens before we go forward...”
Reuters said a State Department official, who declined to be identified, said the plan was to let most of the pressure for change to come from African leaders, adding that there was fear of the consequences if President Mugabe was forced out ‘very fast’.
"If he goes precipitously his supporters may feel threatened and they are the ones with the guns," the official was quoted as saying.
Critics say the Obama administration which took over the White House in the middle of a global financial crisis and renewed conflict in the Middle East is likely to concentrate its efforts on tackling those issues and delivering on election promises to the American people. Hence, the plan to let African leaders deal with the crises in Zimbabwe and the region.
The Reuters report is in direct contrast to recent media reports which said that the Obama administration was planning to take the issue of Zimbabwe to the U.N. Security Council.
A report in The Times newspaper last week claimed that Obama has had a meeting with his ‘top Africa advisers in recent weeks’ and “the central idea they focused on was taking the issue of Zimbabwe before the UN Security Council, but for the first time to combine such a move with an intense diplomatic effort to persuade Russia and China not to block the initiative.”
Tue, 03 Feb 2009 11:33:00 +0000
BRITAIN is following in President Barack Obama’s footsteps regarding their public diplomatic policy on Zimbabwe.
Although the country expressed scepticism over the all-inclusive Government, the former colonial master on Tuesday said Zimbabwe’s power-sharing arrangement should be given a chance.
The new tone from Britain comes a week after a telephone conversation between Prime Minister Gordon Brown and President Barack Obama. Brown was the first EU leader that Obama called since he assumed office.
During the 15-minute call described as “friendly and substantive” the two leaders discussed the deteriorating global economy, the Middle East, and other international issues including Zimbabwe, according to No 10 Downing Street.
Details of the discussions on these issues were not available, although critics say it is already clear that Obama intends to use his enormous global popularity to undo some of the damage caused by his predecessor, George W. Bush's preference for military might over diplomacy and positive engagement.
On Friday during a daily press briefing, State Department Acting Spokesman Robert A. Wood was quizzed on whether it was still the U.S. view that President Mugabe must quit. Wood avoided calling for the ouster saying: “The key is always implementation.”
“What Robert Mugabe needs to do is to do what’s best for the people of Zimbabwe; and an effective power-sharing arrangement, one that is equitable, fair, and in line with the will of the Zimbabwean people, that’s what needs to happen,” said Wood.
Britain Following Suit
Britain’s Minister of State in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with responsibility for Africa, Asia and the United Nations, Lord Mark Malloch-Brown has adopted a similar shift of tone as did Washington.
On Tuesday, Lord Malloch-Brown told BBC's Radio 4 Today programme that he was convinced by leaders attending the African Union 12th Ordinary Session that Zimbabwe should be given a chance, marking a milestone in Britain-Zimbabwe relations.
Britain, like the U.S. has dropped its public demand for President Robert Mugabe to step down, in direct contrast to Bush policy. Lord Malloch-Brown said Britain listened to the advice of African leaders regarding Zimbabwe.
"I think the one message I've got loud and clear from this summit, and I'm very sympathetic to it, is we've got to give this (unity government) a go, we've got to all do our best to support it, because the needs of Zimbabweans are so overwhelming," Lord Malloch Brown told BBC radio in an interview from Addis Ababa.
"We're skeptical but we've got to try and help this work," he said, saying Britain and others would be generous donors if the all-inclusive Government was formed.
Zimbabwe is working on a Sadc-timeline for the implementation of the all-inclusive Government which will see MDC leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Prof. Arthur Mutambara installed as Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, respectively. President Mugabe remains Head of State.
Triumph for African Diplomacy
Britain and U.S. shift in policy on Zimbabwe heralds a new era in African diplomacy as the continent's leaders say they are determined to play a more active role in conflict resolution on their own continent.
African leaders' contribution to resolving African problems is symbolic, as in the past the continent depended on Western and foreign governments to intervene resolving seemingly intractable conflicts on the continent.
Few observers imagined this type of resolution to the Zimbabwe crisis would have been possible at the start of the Sadc mandated talks two and half years ago.
Months of tension and harsh criticism of Zimbabwe and the quiet public diplomatic approach of then President of South Africa and Sadc-mandated Facilitator, Thabo Mbeki, left Zimbabwe internationally isolated and facing unprecedented sanctions from the United States, the European Union and even the Commonwealth countries.
Critics now say the leadership in Zimbabwe has to work together to ensure the smooth implementation of the Global Political Agreement. With international political opinion shifting the best time for party rivals to work together is now.
The smooth implementation of the global agreement requires a strict adherence to the Sadc timeline and sincerity by the politicians.
Unity Government Timeline
30 January 2009: Activation of, and first meeting of, the Joint-Monitoring Implementation Committee (JOMIC), provided for in the Global Political Agreement to, among other things, elect chairpersons;
January – February 4: Enactment of Constitutional Amendment Number 19 Bill
February 5: Creation of posts of Prime Minister and Deputy PM
February 11: Swearing in of Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Ministers
February 13: Appointment of Ministers and Deputy Ministers (Cabinet)