Saturday, February 21, 2009

(TIMES) State ponders on Nanga farms’ economic zone

State ponders on Nanga farms’ economic zone
By Business Reporter

THE Government is considering the possibility of turning Nanga Farm Bloc in Serenje into a multi-facility economic zone (MFEZ), Commerce, Trade and Industry Minister Felix Mutati has said.

Mr Mutati said the turning of Nanga Farm Bloc into an MFEZ would create more jobs and facilitate value addition to local products.

He said the Government was committed to rural industrialisation as a way of supporting and enhancing growth in rural economies.

The minister said this in Lusaka yesterday at the MFEZ stakeholders’ forum organised by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants (Zica) and the Economics Association of Zambia (EAZ) in conjunction with the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry.

Mr Mutati said the Government would also ensure that infrastructure development at the Nansanga Farm Bloc in Serenje was completed by the end of this year.

The minister said development of the 155,000-hectare farming bloc was expected to be a model of agricultural development in Zambia.

About K42.4 billion will be invested in the initiative that includes K36.2 billion for roads and bridges.

When the bloc is fully populated, it will look like Nakambala Sugar Estates and 10 times bigger with large estates and small-scale farming blocs located in the same vicinity.

Mr Mutati said the Government was creating a lot of opportunities for the private sector to do business in the country.

On the $500,000 threshold to operate in an MFEZ, Mr Mutati said most Zambians had the capacity to meet the requirement as manifested by a number of lodges, buses and guest houses they were buying which cost more that the MFEZ requirement.

And speaking earlier, Zica secretary and chief executive officer, Hapenga Kabeta urged the Government to consider setting up MFEZs in areas which were economically depressed.

Mr Kabeta noted that Lusaka was already congested hence the need to consider setting up economic zones elsewhere in areas such as Kafue, Luanshya, Kabwe and Ndola among others.

He said development of support infrastructure in depressed localities would support growth for such areas.

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Rupiah has mishandled himself over Zamtel – HH

Rupiah has mishandled himself over Zamtel – HH
Written by Patson Chilemba
Saturday, February 21, 2009 7:06:27 AM

OPPOSITION UPND president Hakainde Hichilema yesterday charged that President Rupiah Banda has mishandled himself over the Zamtel and RP Capital saga.

Featuring on Radio Phoenix’s Let the People Talk programme, Hichilema said President Banda and Vice-President George Kunda must tell the nation why they must not acknowledge that they have failed the public on the Zamtel issue. He said communications and transport minister Dora Siliya was just a messenger over the saga.

"We also are aware that there is a related party who is associated with RP Capital Partners, is it RB Capital Partners? Now I can see the minister struggling and I know Dora very well. I feel sorry for her. I think she's a messenger," Hichilema said.

"She finds herself being a messenger of a well-orchestrated plan to actually take money from public coffers, US$2 million dollars. And let's not debate about whether the MoU is legally binding or not. The intent is very clear. I'm told RP Capital Partners are already working on the assignment."

Hichilema said the debate surrounding the Zamtel scam was filled with half-truths.

"When you are telling a lie, it shows and the Vice-President was very busy telling the nation that there was nothing wrong. Mr Vice-President, are you saying that your Attorney General is irrelevant? Are you saying that to tell RP Capital Partners using inside information is not wrong? The President I think mishandled himself on this matter," Hichilema said.

"The President came out calling all of us less intelligent than Dora. I don't understand what is the meaning of intelligence in this. I think we must remove intelligence outside of this debate. This is pure corruption."

Hichilema said the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with RP Capital must be cancelled forthwith. He said Siliya should step aside from her position.

Hichilema further said the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) should officially move in and investigate Siliya on her alleged corruption.

"The court process is being touted now. I know some people are touting the court process, a tribunal. A tribunal can take five years. A tribunal controlled by the Judiciary that is dependent in terms of salary increment, in terms of renewal of contract on the President can take five years," Hichilema said. "It means justice will be delayed and therefore denied."

Hichilema said in the last 100 days of President Banda, Zambians had witnessed an increase in corruption and improper conduct of the highest order.

"I don't know what price the Zambian people have to pay up to 2011," he said.

Hichilema wondered where President Banda's advisors were because the President was making so many serious blunders.

He said advisors should sit President Banda down because he was walking himself into a lot of traps.

"Unless he's creating the situation himself," Hichilema said.

Hichilema also said he felt that the trucks carrying Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) maize that was rejected by FRA may not have left the country.

"He suggested that we must re-open the debate when the trucks were already in the country. What does that suggest? It suggests that he's covering somebody up. I don't think we can tolerate this anymore," he said.

Hichilema said the government was uneasy because it had realised that Zambians would not allow them to continue with the things that they were doing wrong.

He said President Banda had taken Zambians back to the late 1980s when they were queuing for essential commodities such as mealie-meal.

On the plot by President Banda's government to arrest and silence Fred M'membe and Mutembo Nchito using the dealings of Zambian Airways, Hichilema said he did not want to focus much on the matter.

"The issue is that if one ran a transparent government, we operate above board. We will have courage as a government to deal with issues as they arise, because issues will arise in the country but if you are compromised yourself, you will find it difficult as a government to deal with issues that need to be dealt with," said Hichilema.

"So in my view, I think this is a general issue that government has created for itself by failing to provide leadership in various areas, including in the handling of commercial issues and social issues as we have demonstrated already."

According to intelligence sources, M'membe's planned arrest was aimed at weakening The Post while Nchito's arrest would enable President Banda to derail the prosecution of former president Frederick Chiluba.

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Let them go ahead

Let them go ahead
Written by Editor

Our good friend Fr Frank Bwalya wants to turn us into martyrs – certainly not religious matters but political martyrs. This is not a bad thing in itself because political ideas are worthless if they are not inspired by noble, selfless sentiments. Likewise, noble sentiments are worthless if they are not based on correct, fair ideas. We are sure that the same pillars that sustain the sacrifices a journalist makes, a person in the political arena makes sustained the sacrifices made in the past by a martyr who died for his religious faith.

We think that religious martyrs were generous, selfless men and women; they were made of the same stuff which journalism or political heroes are made. Without those qualities, there can be no religious or political heroes.

Arresting us – which won’t be a new experience – will certainly not make our Good Friday any better. This has been permanently done by Christ and no man can make Good Friday any better.

But what cannot be ignored in what Fr Bwalya is saying is the fact that there is a constant struggle between good and evil, and evil has to be punished. What’s more, Jesus tells us that there is no greater love for a wrongdoer than to prevent him from continuing to do wrong.

Wrong has to be always addressed. If something is wrong, the only sensible way to deal with it is to correct it. And if you have done something wrong, the first step in correcting that wrong is to admit it. If you are wrong, admit your wrong and after that start the process of correction.

Since Dora Siliya and her friends began their insinuations on us of having done something wrong with our investment in Zambian Airways, we have paid a lot of attention to every word they have uttered. We have tried to search everything, analyse everything we have done in regard to Zambian Airways to see if at any point we were carried away and did something wrong. We have collectively come to the conclusion that although the airline has faced a lot of problems, especially over the last twelve months, nothing wrong was done either by ourselves as The Post or our other partners in the airline or indeed the employees of that company. Of course, this is not to say everything that was done or is being done at Zambian Airways was or is the best because that will be to claim perfection. We do not claim to be perfect.

Mistakes were made but these were honest mistakes and not acts of dishonesty by dishonest or crooked people.

Nobody claims, or will ever claim, that what is being done is perfect no matter how much effort we devote to try and make things turn out in the best possible way. Only life itself will be able to tell us where the shortcomings are and which aspects or details leave something to be desired. But we will always be able to improve our work.

It is for this reason that we are not ashamed of what we have tried to do in Zambian Airways. We have not been quick to defend ourselves because we know that our actions will be weighed by others. We have always maintained that we did not invest in Zambian Airways to make a fortune. There are easier ways to make one. We did not go into Zambian Airways blindly. We understood its challenges and the risks. But we were convinced that with collective effort between ourselves and the banks that had invested in Zambian Airways, something good, something useful could be developed for our country. And we have no doubt this was the motivation of Investrust Bank, the lead bank that put together the Zambian Airways financing strategy. We also believe it was for this same reason that Investrust Bank invited the Development Bank of Zambia and Intermarket Bank to join their consortium.

There was definitely a commercial imperative for this project but we believe every Zambian who participated in this project had a patriotic incentive. There is something attractive about doing something that benefits more than oneself.

Traders who used to take two to three days to get to a place like Dar es Salaam sometimes in unsanitary conditions were able to do so in two hours. This certainly gave us pleasure as an investor. We were not just investing to make money but we were providing a service that the people needed.

The Post did not go into Zambian Airways because the picture was rosy, no. We did it because we thought we could help.

What those who are calling us names today and accusing us of all sorts of things do not know or have chosen to ignore is that The Post invested in Zambian Airways because DBZ demanded that for them to lend Zambian Airways money, the promoters of Zambian Airways should find more shareholders and bring more cash into the business. This is how The Post and Seaboard together purchased 42.5 per cent of Zambian Airways. This was after DBZ had lent Zambian Airways money – and not before. The Post and Seaboard were not party of the negotiations for this loan.

This loan was being negotiated, on behalf of Zambian Airways, by Investrust Bank who were the lead banker and arranger for Zambian Airways. This was all above board. And whoever wants to know the truth, nothing but the real truth, should go to Investrust Bank and ask its directors and managers. They are the ones who arranged for this financing. And without them, Zambian Airways would not have made the strides it made. And they deserve much credit. These are professionals who acted with utmost probity and due diligence.

We have kept quiet for a long time. But we know that during last year’s presidential election campaign, some people in government were calling officers in government controlled institutions that Zambian Airways had dealings with asking them to co-operate with Dickson Jere, now Rupiah Banda’s press aide, to provide information that would discredit and cripple the operations of Zambian Airways. This is because The Post was an investor in Zambian Airways and they believed that if they crippled Zambian Airways they could silence The Post.

What they did not seem to understand is that The Post was not dependent on Zambian Airways for its survival. It was actually Zambian Airways which needed The Post more for its survival.

And since investing in Zambian Airways, The Post or any of its directors or employees has never received a ngwee or a cent or even a free ticket from Zambian Airways. Even those who sit on the Zambian Airways board do not receive any directors’ fees. This being the case, where is the crime that Dora and her friends have been accusing The Post and its directors of?

It is for this reason that yesterday we invited Transparency International Zambia, the Law Association of Zambia, Bankers Association of Zambia, the Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants, the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions, Federation of Free Trade Unions of Zambia, the Zambia Union of Journalists, the Press Association of Zambia, the Media Institute of Southern Africa, the Zambia Episcopal Conference, the Council of Churches in Zambia, the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia, the Movement for Multiparty Democracy, the Patriotic Front, the United Party for National Development, UNIP, and the Heritage Party to check and find out if we did anything wrong with our investment in Zambian Airways.

And we have since written to Investrust Bank, Finance Bank, Intermarket Bank, the Development Bank of Zambia and National Airports Corporation asking them to disclose all aspects of our dealings with them pertaining to Zambian Airways.

We have nothing to hide and we believe that where there are allegations or insinuations, the best way to deal with them is to be transparent and allow the truth to be established by others.

There is no denying that Zambian Airways has a commercial debt with National Airports Corporation, like all other airlines operating in Zambia. If this is a criminal offence, then we don’t know what a crime is. And if all those who hold shares in companies that owe National Airports have committed a crime, then no airline will operate in Zambia. The thinking of our desperate friends defies logic. But this is what happens when people are blinded by greed, ambition and hate.

And if those who hold shares in companies that owe DBZ money have all committed a crime, we do not know how many Zambian entrepreneurs will run into the bush to hide to escape being arrested on Rupiah’s orders. If corporate debts were a crime for the shareholders and directors, then even Rupiah himself would have to run in the bush to hide. But again, this is how blind people become when their only discernible preoccupation is destruction, the crushing of those who question them.

Moreover, development banks exist to finance difficult projects. And the aviation industry is one such sector – a very difficult sector. And it is not surprising that even the mighty British Airways is today facing difficulties and making losses. And over the last twelve months, the world lost not less than 50 airlines.

If we have committed any criminal offences, let them arrest us. Those who think that arresting us is the solution, let them go ahead.

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Silence criminals in govt, not Post – Sata

Silence criminals in govt, not Post – Sata
Written by George Chellah and Mutuna Chanda
Saturday, February 21, 2009 6:58:32 AM

RUPIAH Banda must silence the criminals in his government and not The Post, Patriotic Front (PF) president Michael Sata has said. Reacting to revelations that President Banda's government was plotting to arrest Post editor Fred M'membe and Zambian Airways chief executive officer Mutembo Nchito, Sata said President Banda’s plans to arrest the duo would not yield anything.

“We knew about that, anyway. Tell them that where there is no truth, they won’t go anywhere,” Sata said.

“Rupiah Banda and Francis Kabonde (Acting Inspector General of Police) and all the officers in the security systems who are on contract that are wrongly advising Rupiah will not be able to silence the truth. Rupiah Banda is supposed to silence the criminals in his government who are depriving the people of Zambia the truth through corruption and not The Post and Mutembo.”

He reminded President Banda to be mindful of the fact that the truth shall always prevail.

“Fred M’membe and Mutembo are just two individuals and even if they arrest them, the paper will remain intact and the opinion of the Zambian people will remain the same and the fight against corruption will continue. M’membe and Mutembo Nchito should not fear, they should stand for the truth,” Sata said.

“Let them (government) not confuse the anomalies in Zambian Airways and these two individuals. M’membe and Mutembo were only doing business like anybody else in this country. In fact, let them know that prison hardens people’s feelings. So if they are arrested, they will come out more than they are today. Look at me, what happened after the late Mwanawasa threw me in prison for 40 days to silence me?”

And Radio Icengelo station manager Fr Frank Bwalya stated that Zambians would not allow President Banda to abuse the judicial process as a way of covering up the stinking corruption of his government.

"I think that such a move by government, though malicious and evil, would turn out to be the greatest thing that happened to Zambians this time around because it will mark the beginning of the end of the corrupt government of Mr Rupiah Banda," Fr Bwalya stated.

"Today, all Zambians know that had M'membe and others not called former president Chiluba a thief, his corruption and that of his friends would not have been exposed in the way it is now and that those who plundered public resources would have been enjoying our money freely and with impunity."

Fr Bwalya said everyone, including some honest people in President Banda's government, were fed up of the corruption of his regime.

"Even the courts, the police, the military, other civil servants including some honest people in the current regime and the general public would want the corrupt government of Mr Banda to collapse," he stated.

Fr Bwalya likened the plot to arrest M'membe and Nchito, if it materialises, to the days on which Jesus Christ was crucified and resurrected.

"Christians know that it was only after Jesus Christ rose from the dead that the day on which he was crucified came to be known as Good Friday and not bad Friday," Fr Bwalya said.

"So the arrest of M'membe and Nchito will be very bad on the day of the arrest but very good thereafter because it will touch the hearts of many and draw them to join the struggle against the corruption and manipulation of Mr Banda and his cronies... I have a vision that the arrest of M'membe and Nchito will be a blessing in disguise that will add more fuel to the fire in the hearts of Zambians. The move will inevitably lead to a clean-up operation. As such, if some Christians begin to pray for the arrest of M'membe, I will not be surprised. God can use the temporary triumph of evil as a threshold to common good and righteousness."

Fr Bwalya said Zambians were able to relate most of their suffering to corrupt practices.

"Zambians today are also able to attribute missing links everywhere to corruption," said Fr Bwalya. "People know that they have to bring their own beddings to the hospital because of corruption. They know that lack of medicines and mealie-meal is due to corruption. People know that privatisation did not benefit the ordinary people because of the corrupt manner in which some of the public assets were sold. In general, people know very well that 90 per cent of their suffering today is due to corruption perpetrated by government and selfish politicians."

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TIZ calls for Dora to step aside

TIZ calls for Dora to step aside
Written by George Chellah
Saturday, February 21, 2009 6:55:04 AM

TRANSPARENCY International Zambia (TIZ) yesterday demanded that communications and transport minister Dora Siliya step aside so that she does not interfere with potential tribunal witnesses. And President Rupiah Banda has welcomed the setting up of a tribunal by Acting Chief Justice Ireen Mambilima to probe the allegations levelled against Siliya.

Commenting on President Banda's decision to welcome the setting up of the tribunal to probe Siliya, TIZ executive director Goodwell Lungu stressed the need for Siliya to be relieved of her ministerial duties to pave way for the tribunal.

"The best is for her [Siliya] to step aside, even to go on leave, so that there is no interference with witnesses in this matter and also maybe the President must suspend her or something just to facilitate for the tribunal to be smooth running," Lungu said.

"It's actually good that the President has accepted the setting up of the tribunal. We are appealing to Honourable Siliya that we don't hate her, we actually like her so much. What we want is for her to use this process to clear her name if she knows that she is innocent."

Lungu advised President Banda to emulate the late president Levy Mwanawasa when dealing with matters of suspected abuse of office and corruption.

"The President has to be firm when such allegations are raised. When serious allegations are raised, he has to take appropriate action just like his predecessor Mwanawasa used to do because he [Mwanawasa] never used to take such allegations lightly," Lungu said.

And according to a statement issued yesterday by State House chief analyst for press and public relations Dickson Jere, President Banda had welcomed the setting up of a tribunal by Justice Mambilima to probe the allegations levelled against Siliya.

President Banda said it was his hope that all those involved in the ongoing debate would allow the tribunal established under the Ministerial and Parliamentary Code of Conduct to conduct its work in a professional manner.

President Banda has since written to the Acting Chief Justice Mambilima informing her that he has instructed the Secretary to the Treasury to make financial provisions for the tribunal's operations.

"I wish to say that I am happy that the tribunal has been constituted and I am confident that justice will prevail," President Banda stated in his letter to Justice Mambilima.

He appealed to all Zambians to refrain from making comments which could be prejudicial on the matter as it was now before a competent tribunal.

President Banda said the nation should wait for the final verdict of the tribunal after conducting its proceedings.

Last Monday, former communications and transport minister William Harrington petitioned the Chief Justice to appoint a tribunal to investigate Siliya for allegedly breaching the Parliamentary and Ministerial Code of Conduct Act.

Harrington submitted the complaint in a letter dated February 16, 2009 to Acting Chief Justice Mambilima on the alleged breach of Part II of the Parliamentary and Ministerial Code of Conduct Act, Cap 16 of the Laws of Zambia by Siliya.

"The particulars of the alleged breaches are as hereunder: That the Honourable Minister of Transport and Communications against professional advice of the learned Attorney General did award a contract in the sum of US $2,000,000 to RP Capital Partners of Cayman Islands to value the Zamtel assets without due regard and/or compliance with the provisions of the Zambia National Tender Board Act, Cap 394 of the Laws of Zambia," read Harrington's letter in part.

"That the Honourable Minister of Transport and Communications did arbitrarily cancel a duly awarded contract by the Zambia National Tender Board (ZNTB) for the supply, delivery and installation of a Zambia Air Traffic Management Surveillance Radar System at Lusaka and Livingstone in favour of SELEX Sistemi Integrati Company from Italy. The ZNTB had awarded the contract to Thales Air Systems of South Africa as the successful bidder."

And on Wednesday, 10 civil society organisations also presented a petition before Justice Mambilima over abuse of authority of office allegations involving Siliya.

Addressing the press shortly after presenting the petition, FODEP president Elijah Rubvuta said civil society organisations had presented their petition over Siliya's engagement of RP Capital Partners of Cayman Island to value Zamtel; the overruling of Zambia National Tender Board and cancelling a duly awarded contract for the supply, delivery, installation and commissioning of a Zambia Air Traffic Management Surveillance Radar System (ZATM-RADAR) at Lusaka and Livingstone international airports and her alleged claim of a K12.5 million refund from Petauke District Council Committee for two hand pumps for two boreholes in one of the wards called Nyika, when in fact the hand pumps were procured at K5 million.

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Impeach Banda, Lukuku urges MPs

Impeach Banda, Lukuku urges MPs
Written by Mutale Kapekele
Saturday, February 21, 2009 6:51:33 AM

MEMBERS of parliament should impeach President Rupiah Banda for condoning corruption, former New Revolution Party (NRP) secretary general James Lukuku has said.

In an interview yesterday, Lukuku said it was clear from the events that happened during last year's presidential campaigns and the recent developments in the Ministry of Communications and Transport that President Banda condoned corruption.

"I was the first person to come out in the open to expose corrupt activities that President Banda and his campaign team were involved in during the run up to the presidential elections last year and I did warn the nation that this government was not going to be transparent and corruption-free," Lukuku said.

"From the way President Banda is supporting Dora Siliya, it is clear that he does not take corruption seriously and it is high time that Zambians passed a vote of no confidence in him and his government. My appeal is to the members of parliament to impeach President Banda and come up with a transitional government to run the country until 2011."

He said when President Banda supported Siliya in the Zamtel and RP Capital Partners deal, without considering the advice from the Attorney General, he supported corruption and should therefore be impeached.

"President Banda has demonstrated gross misconduct by supporting the Minister of Communication and Transport [Siliya], even when it is clear that there was corruption and abuse of authority involved," Lukuku said. "That is solid ground for the President to be impeached."

He said Zambians in the civil service would not allow corrupt leaders to take them for granted and he appealed to those with information about corrupt activities and abuse of authority to come out and tell the nation.

"From what has happened at FRA [Food Reserve Agency where GMO maize was imported in the country], at Zamtel and National Airports, it is clear that not all Zambians in the civil service condone corruption and they are becoming responsible by exposing corrupt vices," Lukuku said.

"We don't know what is happening in other ministries and I am urging civil servants to come out with information because it is clear that we are in a mess and we need to restore leadership of integrity to the nation."

He recalled that President Banda said it would be difficult for him to rule this country in his inaugural speech because he knew that Zambians would not just sit and watch the government do wrong things.

"President Banda acknowledged that it would be difficult for him to rule this country because he knows that Zambians no longer condone wrong things," Lukuku said.

"Everything is going wrong in the country now. We don't know the future of the kwacha, jobs are being lost every day and we are not hearing a strong voice from the government as to what they are doing about all this. To make matters worse, our President is always going out of the country as if issues wherever he goes are more important than what is happening here."

And Lukuku disclosed that he was approached by suspected government agents to fabricate stories against The Post.

"The government is always looking for a way of sorting out The Post and I can confirm that they have formed what they are calling the Lukuku factor," he said.

"I was approached by a man, who I suspect is from the system, and he told me that I could make a lot of money if I agreed to work against The Post. He told me to go to the media and claim that The Post paid me money to speak against President Banda and Mike Mulongoti during last year's presidential campaigns. We talked for a long time but in the end I refused to take up the offer because I was looking at the future and not just financial gains."

Lukuku said the government wanted to use the fabricated stories to discredit The Post and compel them to join the Media Ethics Council of Zambia (MECOZ).

Last year prior to the presidential elections, Lukuku revealed that President Banda had given the NRP K15 million for them to endorse his candidature for the elections. However, President Banda denied the allegation but on the same day, his campaign manager then and now works and supply minister Mulongoti said the money given to NRP was just a donation from the big brother party. After the elections, Lukuku was arrested more than once on charges he claimed were politically motivated.

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‘FRA makes K9.5bn profit from maize exports’

‘FRA makes K9.5bn profit from maize exports’
Written by Ernest Chanda
Saturday, February 21, 2009 6:49:29 AM

AGRICULTURE deputy minister Albert Mulonga yesterday told Parliament that the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) made a profit of about K9.5 billion from maize exports between 2006 and 2008.

Responding to a question for oral answer from Luampa UPND member of parliament Josephine Limata who wanted to know how much profit was made by the Agency from maize exports between 2006 and 2008, Mulonga said the amount was realised from the sale of 301,796.64 metric tonnes of the commodity.

“The Food Reserve Agency made a profit of K6,852,283,800 from maize exports in 2006-2007 out of a stock of 60, 730 metric tonnes. In 2007-2008, K2,696,189,295 profit was realised from a stock of 241, 066.64 metric tonnes,” he said.

“During the 2006/2007 season, maize was sold at K874, 000 per tonne at a purchase cost of K740,000 per tonne. As for the 2007/2008 season, the selling price was K771, 174.41 per tonne for the maize which was purchased at K760 000 per tonne (K38, 000 per 50 kilogramme bag). The selling price for 2006/2007 was higher than that for 2007/2008 season, thus registering a smaller profit margin in the 2007/2008 season.”

He said the maize exported during the period under review was sold to different countries within the Southern African region.

Mulonga further said the FRA sold local millers a total of 335, 168.27 metric tonnes of maize between 2006 and 2008 valued at K285, 710, 585, 240.

And contributing to the debate on the Public Service Commission, Solwezi West MMD member of parliament and deputy chief Whip Humphrey Mwanza advised the government to limit contracts for permanent secretaries to two terms.

Mwanza observed that some permanent secretaries had overstayed in the civil service, thereby rendering them less relevant.

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Chifungula looks forward to convictions, recovery of funds

Chifungula looks forward to convictions, recovery of funds
Written by Masuzyo Chakwe
Saturday, February 21, 2009 6:47:12 AM

AUDITOR General Anna Chifungula yesterday said she will only find pleasure if she sees a conviction or a recovery of what has been lost through the abuse of public funds.

And Chifungula said the K36 billion allocation to the Auditor General's office in this year's budget is not enough for officers to carry out their works and even audit foreign missions.

Speaking when the visiting British members of parliament visited her office, Chifungula said a conviction or recovery would give the office a lot of pleasure and that officers had seen a few encouraging convictions including that of a former minister.

She said last year, most of the large losses were written off, because the statute of limitation had taken effect.

Chifungula also explained that most of the issues that could not be resolved by her office after numerous follow-ups end up in the report.

"Like last year, we carried out 75 expenditure heads and of those we have about 55 in the report which means that the other 20 we dropped because we had resolved the issues with the various controlling officers," she said.

Chifungula said her office also carried out performance audit as well as financial audits, which would be available in the next four weeks.

"We are also carrying out environmental audits as well as IT audits. We feel that we should be moving towards performance audits now more because then we need be looking at the effectiveness, efficiency and the economy of using those public funds," she said.

She said those were very critical especially when people were becoming more supplicated in how they dealt with corruption.

Chifungula said for some people, corruption had become business and did everything possible look for a return on their corrupt activities.

She also said there was need to strengthen the laws and institutions like the Drug Enforcement Commission and the Anti Corruption Commission which were quite weak at the moment both financially and in terms of human resource.

Chifungula said there was a tendency for people to link any prosecution by the ACC to politics and this gave some element of interference in their work, which they had since strengthened.

"ACC is doing its best; in the last month, they are working with our officers on the purchase of food by the FRA and other ministries. There is quite an interest suddenly. In the past, if you wrote a letter with evidence, you would never even hear from them. They are writing back and sending officers to further investigate," she said.

She cited revenue collection and procurement as the two major hot spots.

Chifungula also said her office protects whistle-blowers and treat their information as confidential.

She said civil society organisations like Transparency International and also the Press Freedom Committee of The Post had been very helpful in working with her office and disseminating information.

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Cop commits suicide at Rupiah’s farm

Cop commits suicide at Rupiah’s farm
Written by Christopher Miti in Chipata
Saturday, February 21, 2009 6:45:24 AM

A police officer has committed suicide at President Rupiah Banda's farm in Chipata where he had been assigned for duties.

The officer, only identified as Constable Chanda, shot himself around 23:00 hours on Thursday.

Sources at President Banda's Chasimpha farm confirmed the incident in an interview yesterday.

One of the sources said they heard a bang around 23:00 hours and later discovered that an officer had killed himself.

And a check by The Post at President Banda's farm yesterday morning found both uniformed and plain-clothed police officers at the scene.

Eastern Province police commanding officer Mary Chikwanda could however not comment on the matter by press time as she was out of office and unreachable by mobile phone.

And police spokesperson Bonny Kapeso said he had no details on the matter as he could not get in touch with Chikwanda.

But a source within the police service said the deceased was not on duty on the fateful day.

"I am told this officer was not supposed to be on duty, I think he arranged with his colleague who was on duty that he takes over so when he took over at around 22:00 hours, a few minutes after that, he shot himself. I am told he came out of the room where he was with stockings and shot himself," the source said.

The sources further said the deceased, who did not leave any note to explain reasons behind his decision , was transferred to Eastern Province barely three weeks ago from Lusaka.



Friday, February 20, 2009

(HERALD) Venezuela seizes, sells fraud suspect’s bank

Venezuela seizes, sells fraud suspect’s bank

CARACAS. Venezuela yesterday announced the immediate seizure and sale of a local bank owned by Texas magnate and top cricket promoter Allen Stanford, who is accused of defrauding investors around the world.

Faced with a run on the bank by panicked Venezuelans, and amid swirling allegations of enormous international fraud, Caracas "has made a decision to intervene and to immediately sell the bank", said Finance Minister Ali Rodriguez.

The bank, which has 15 branches in the country, had already received offers from interested parties, he said.

Rodriguez stressed that the decision was not related to his own country’s financial situation, which he described as "stable".

"In no way is the situation of this bank due to domestic conditions," he said, instead faulting a lack of oversight by authorities in the United States.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission filed civil charges on Tuesday against Allen Stanford, 58, for what they called a fraud "of shocking magnitude" in selling US$9,2 billion in securities, "promising . . . improbable high interest rates".

The Venezuelan minister said the decision to take over the bank was made to calm anxious clients, who made massive withdrawals in the hours leading up to the decision.

"The government’s job is to avoid the capitalist crisis from affecting the Venezuelan economy," he said. Rodriguez reiterated that Venezuela on Wednesday made inquiries about the Stanford Bank situation to US authorities.

Stanford’s wealth management and financial services group has offices across North America, Latin America, Europe and the Caribbean.

It is the most high profile alleged fraud scheme since the SEC charged Wall Street financier Bernard Madoff with carrying out a US$50 billion Ponzi scheme in December.

Stanford’s companies include Antigua-based Stanford International Bank, Houston, Texas-based broker-dealer and investment adviser Stanford Group Company, and investment adviser Stanford Capital Management. — AFP.

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(HERALD) World Bank okays reforms

World Bank okays reforms

WASHINGTON. The World Bank’s Board of Governors has approved a first phase of reforms to increase the influence of developing countries within the World Bank Group, including adding a seat for Sub-Saharan Africa to allow developing countries a majority of seats on the Executive Board, and expanding voting and capital shares.

"Expanding the developing world’s voice is central to delivering effective aid and promoting shared prosperity and development within a 21st Century economic reality," said World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick.

"Adding another seat for Africa, reaching developing country majority on the Board, expanding developing country shares and laying the groundwork for further reforms represent real change.

I’m pleased our reform process is on track.

I encourage shareholders to take action now on governmental approvals of the voting share changes, and to continue their efforts at further, more ambitious, reforms."

These reforms were initially agreed at the World Bank Group’s Annual Meetings in October 2008, ahead of the Spring 2009 target.

With the Governors’ approval, the amendment to the Bank’s Articles of Agreement to increase basic votes, which benefit smaller shareholders, now moves to the 185 member countries for final approval.

In order to take effect the amendment must be approved by 3/5 of member countries with 85 percent of votes.

Specifically, this package of reforms:

l Creates an additional Chair at the Board for Sub-Saharan Africa, which means that developing countries can have the majority of seats on the Bank’s Board:

l Brings the share of developing countries in Bank voting power to 44 percent, aimed in particular at adding voice for the low income countries.

As a second step, shareholders have agreed that the Bank should undertake a comprehensive and intensive work program to realign bank shareholdings, moving towards an equitable voting power between developed and developing countries.

Such a work program would also include voice reforms at the Bank’s affiliated member organization, the International Finance Corporation (IFC). Work on the second phase is already underway.

Participation of developing countries’ nationals in the staff and management of the World Bank plays an important role in the voice reform.

Already nearly two thirds of Bank staff and 42 percent of all Bank managers are from developing countries.

Since Zoellick became World Bank Group President, seven of his nine senior appointments have been from developing countries. — AFP.

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(HERALD) Tsvangirai tackles UK envoy over evacuations

Tsvangirai tackles UK envoy over evacuations
Herald Reporter

PRIME Minister Mr Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday tackled British Ambassador to Zimbabwe Dr Andrew Pocock over reports that London was evacuating its elderly citizens from Zimbabwe.

Mr Tsvangirai said he phoned Dr Pocock and told him that he was dismayed at the British government’s actions because they dented international confidence in Zimbabwe.

The Prime Minister told business leaders during a chief executive officers’ roundtable meeting that he told the British ambassador of his displeasure at the action taken at a time when everybody was working to instil confidence in the inclusive Government.

"I spoke to the ambassador and he said his government was only taking the old people who cannot live on the paltry Government pensions. We want to see people coming to Zimbabwe and not being evacuated. This Government is doing everything to create credibility," Mr Tsvangirai said.

He said there was need to rebrand Zimbabwe as the country’s image had been seriously damaged.

Mr Tsvangirai reassured the business community that the broad-based agreement and the formation of the inclusive Government were permanent features and would not be reversed.

"The consummation of the Global Political Agreement and the resultant formation of this new transitional Government is not a temporary affair. Rather, it marks a definite and irreversible move to a new era of governance in Zimbabwe.

"It represents an acknowledgement that in order to move forward, all of us have a duty to work together to overcome the numerous challenges facing our country."

Inviting the business leaders to join Government to rebuild Zimbabwe, he said the new set-up ushers in an era where national interest is placed above political party or individual interests.

He said the Government was actively engaging the South African government over the use of the rand as legal tender.

He told the business leaders that as Prime Minister, he was responsible for overseeing the formulation of policies by Cabinet and ensuring their efficient and effective implementation.

He encouraged the convening of regular meetings and the maintenance of transparent communication channels between his office and the business community to rebuild the economy.

Mr Tsvangirai set out the national priorities for the inclusive Government, which include protection of people’s freedoms, addressing the humanitarian crisis and economic stabilisation which, in turn, would spur business confidence, commercial and industrial growth.

"The uncertain political climate over the years has created a negative image of the country internationally and this has caused unnecessary international partnerships created over long periods to be set aside, postponed and cancelled to the detriment of the growth of industry," he said.

Mr Tsvangirai said millions of Zimbabweans who left the country would be attracted back to contribute to the growth of the country. He encouraged the business community to re-evaluate their business models to match those of Government and to desist from overpricing their goods, which are often pegged at twice the prices in South Africa.

He said business should pay wages and provide working conditions that are in line with the new dispensation and the skills retention policies that Government would implement.

"In line with our goal of reviving the local industry, we are exploring avenues through which local producers and suppliers can access lines of credit in order to increase and improve production and revenue."

The Prime Minister said he would work to restore in full, the true value of export industries that include gold, diamonds, platinum, horticulture and manufacturing exports.

He said corruption would be decisively dealt with.

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Musokotwane got it wrong

Musokotwane got it wrong
Written by Concerned lecturer
Friday, February 20, 2009 7:06:28 PM

Finance minister, Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane increased the allocation to the education sector by 24 per cent translating into K2.6 trillion this year. Some of the projects on which money would be used include recruitment of 5,000 teachers which will result in an improved pupil-teacher ratio, builds 2,500 classrooms, turning two colleges into university colleges, converting a rundown institution into a teacher college and procure teaching and learning materials.

What the minister did not tell us is the number of teachers who have been retired, transferred to other ministries or passed on in 2008. This information would have helped us analyse if the new teachers will go to improve the pupil- teacher ratio or will just replace those who have left the service.

Additionally, Central Statistical Office has indicated that Zambia’s population has risen to 12 million during the last count. In my view, the recruitment of teachers and building of classrooms is only responding to the rise in population and not necessary in improving the quality of education.

Dr Musokotwane further stated that Copperbelt Secondary Teachers’ Training College and Kwame Nkrumah Teachers’ College will be converted into university colleges this year at a cost of K5 billion. A positive move in the area of teacher education.

However, the minister should have stated that Nkrumah and COSETCO fall far short in terms of academic and infrastructure capacity to run as university colleges. Half of the lecturers in the said colleges do not meet the minimum masters degree academic requirements to lecture in a university. Transferring those with masters degrees from other colleges is only lowering the standards of those places where lecturers have come from.

The K5 billion should have been used to build a state-of-the art teacher training university college. Positions of lecturers and other related staff should have been advertised to attract qualified and motivated lecturers. This way, the minister would have saved millions of kwacha that would have gone into paying transporters of lecturers’ luggage. And some of the transferred lecturers are due to retire in less than three years; when will they prepare where to settle?

In order to improve the academic quality of all lecturers in Zamiba, the Director of Teacher Education, Ms Mubanga, should have embarked on a staff development project by ensuring that all current lecturers in teacher training colleges attain a minimum of masters degree either through a fast track programme with local universities or the nine months programmes abroad. This in turn would have increased professionalism and quality delivery in all teacher training colleges unlike the chaos the madam has caused and is still causing.

One notices that there is an emphasis on infrastructure, material and resource development in the budget. Needless to say, no money has been deliberately budgeted to improve the plight of the end users - teachers. Are we to believe, for example, that the new universities will have the teaching staff receive salaries as the five thousand teachers who will be recruited this year? Is the implication that the two university colleges will keep on closing prematurely as is often the case with the University of Zambia and Copperbelt University when it comes to staff emoluments?

What defeats reason is the prospect of spending K5 billion to convert the dilapidated Mulakupikwa Police Training College in Chinsali district into a teacher training college specialising in sciences? One wonders why so much money has to be spent on this college when NISTCOL-Chalimbana in Chongwe district for example, which has already built laboratories and trained staff cannot continue training science teachers.

The irony is that the college has not even been allowed to recruit first years in natural and social sciences. Are the minister and the powers that be waiting for the college infrastructure at the mentioned school to be run down and then be allocated K7 billion in 2010 for rehabilitation?

One question that needs a serious answer is: has the government increased funding to the education sector or was the minister being economical with the budget?



Desperate people do desperate things

Desperate people do desperate things
Written by Editor

Rupiah Banda and his friends are extremely desperate people. And desperate people do desperate things. The last two weeks have shown how desperate Rupiah and his friends are. They brought in GMO maize knowing very well that there is a government policy that doesn’t permit them to do so. But simply because they are desperate for money, they brought it in.

Rupiah even suggested that if there are problems bringing the maize into Lusaka and other towns, they should consider milling it at the border.

And for almost two weeks, the nation has been subjected to all sorts of conflicting nonsense over their Zamtel and airport radar deals. Many people have expressed surprise that these people can say what they had been saying about their deals. But that is what desperate people do – they say and do things no sensible person can say or do.

Today we are being told that Rupiah and his friends have another scheme to arrest Fred M’membe and Mutembo Nchito on trumped-up theft by agent charges because of Zambian Airways debt to National Airport Corporation and the airline’s dealings with a syndicate of Zambian banks.

They want to do this in the belief that this will cripple The Post and remove this stumbling block from their way. They also believe that this will stop Mutembo from completing the prosecution of their friends and political allies.

We know that even in their stupidity, they know very well there is no wrong that The Post has done with its investment in Zambian Airways. They also know very well that there is no single director or employee of Zambian Airways who can today be held responsible for the dealings and obligations of that airline.

This can only be done if the corporate veil is lifted by the High Court. They know that to lift the corporate veil, they must show that the directors or the employees were taking money from the business fraudulently to enrich themselves.

These fellows know that if they follow the proper procedure, they will find that although Zambian Airways had financing problems, none of the directors or employees were taking money from it. It seems they have no interest in the truth. What they are interested in is to deal with specific individuals through the abuse of the judicial process.

There is hardly a more abused tool in the arms of intolerant and corrupt politicians than that of initiating arrests of political opponents on trumped-up charges. They will not hesitate to abuse the judicial process to humiliate and harass their real or perceived opponents through unjustified arrests.

And we know that when this is done, the judiciary at whatever level may find itself confronting this abuses, and may find itself subjected to enormous pressures to accept them. Often, if the process is legal but unfair, there is little that the court can do.

People who don’t like the truth hate those who propagate it. We have faced this before and no doubt we will face it again. This hatred has had us behind bars on too many occasions. But it has not changed the truth. This newspaper exists to propagate the truth. No amount of intimidation, threats or pressure will cause us to change our commitment to the truth.

And this is what these corrupt elements cannot forgive. They will never forgive us for our integrity. And unlike them who fear independent probes when allegations are raised against them, we invite them. We are inviting Transparency International, the Bankers Association of Zambia, the Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountant, the Law Association of Zambia, the labour movement, the Church mother bodies, all interested political parties and other civil society organisations to come and investigate this issue and establish the truth for themselves.

And we accordingly authorise our bankers to avail any information pertaining to our investment in Zambian Airways and the dealings of this airline to them. We will also provide them with every piece of information that is in our possession so that the truth can be established and if we have done anything wrong, we will be condemned by all. We also ask National Airports Corporation and any other organisation that had any dealings with Zambian Airways to open their doors to these institutions and their representatives to probe our dealings with them to find out what wrongs we have committed.

We also invite all countries with diplomatic missions in our country who are interested in truth and justice to join in this probe. Today it is us, tomorrow it may be their nationals who have invested in our country being subjected to such treatment.

This is not political rhetoric, we mean it. This invitation is definite.

We are not surprised that such manoeuvers can be hatched. In the last few months, Dora Siliya has made it a point to connect our reporting to some scheme or other. Just the other day, we were being accused of exposing the Zamtel scam because she denied us a mobile licence. She went on to insinuate that we, or somebody who applied for this licence had tried to bribe her. This is unfortunate. If they think that blaming us for the discovery of their criminal misdeeds will help them, they are cheating themselves. What they have done is clear for all to see.

We know that they have a programme to try and cripple us and the operations of this newspaper. This can never scare us. It is not the first time that corrupt elements have conspired to destroy us. We will not be surprised, if out of desperation, they contemplate eliminating us physically.

We have said before and we say again that we are normal human beings who like comfort and peace. We hold our profession dear but we are not reckless. We do what we do because we sincerely believe that we have a contribution to make.

As we said yesterday, it is better one rather falls with honour than succeeds by fraud.

We can understand why Rupiah and his friends have to fight us. This is simply because we are a stumbling block – as they themselves are saying – and we are blocking or frustrating their corrupt deals. But it is difficult for us to understand why this should be extended to Mutembo. What has Mutembo done against them?

Anyway, maybe we should not be surprised. We know that Rupiah and his friends are not fully supportive of the fight against corruption. It makes them uncomfortable. We have not forgotten that Frederick Chiluba told the nation that he did not support people who did not promise him anything. Chiluba supported Rupiah in the last election. What was he promised? Does this explain the inclusion of Mutembo in their political schemes against us?

The only thing we can conclude about their harassment of Mutembo is that they want him to stop prosecuting their friends and send them to jail. We say this because there is no sensible reason that can make them think of arresting Mutembo over the financial problems of Zambian Airways.

But whatever silly things they try to do to M’membe and Mutembo, will not help them much. They have to start preparing themselves to come and face the tribunal they have tried to evade.

Now what they did or did not do will be known. If Rupiah still thinks Dora is right and smart, let him come to the tribunal and show why she is right and smart. If George Kunda still thinks Dora has done nothing wrong because her wrongs were sanctioned by the Solicitor General Dominic Sichinga, let him come and say so to the tribunal and show how Sichinga had done it. But they will have to answer some questions as well from those who have taken Dora to this tribunal. Actually, there is nothing wrong with Rupiah and George coming to the tribunal to stand for what they believe is the truth. What is shameful and difficult to do will be for them to go to that tribunal and stand for what they clearly know is not true, is a falsity, a lie, a fraud. We will see where they stand on this score. If they truly stand for the truth, they will have no difficulties going to that tribunal.

As for Dora, her hour of reckoning has come. She wanted to explain or justify what she had done. The opportunity is here for her now. This will be an opportunity for Dora to face her accusers and for her accusers to face her. Smearing others with filth will no longer be necessary for Dora. She will have to face the temerity of her own actions.

And as for Rupiah, he can go ahead with his evil and corrupt scheme to arrest M’membe and Mutembo in total abuse of the judicial process in order to achieve his political goal. But it will not help him much. He will not gain much from it. This will only come to haunt him later in a more vicious and indefensible way. We say this because in the end, righteousness will triumph over evil.

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Rupiah’s govt plots to arrest M’membe, Nchito

Rupiah’s govt plots to arrest M’membe, Nchito
Written by Staff Reporters
Friday, February 20, 2009 7:00:59 PM

A plot by Rupiah Banda’s government to arrest and silence Fred M’membe and Mutembo Nchito using the dealings of Zambian Airways has been exposed.

Intelligence sources have disclosed to The Post that President Banda and his government have been plotting to arrest Post editor M’membe and Zambian Airways chief executive officer Mutembo using the airline’s inability to meet its financial obligations with National Airports Corporation as a pretext.

“Before the end of this weekend, Fred and Mutembo are supposed to be picked up, arrested and charged for theft by agent,” the source said. “This charge will arise from the debt that Zambian Airways owes National Airports Corporation. It is said that Zambian Airways, as an agent for National Airports, collected departure fees from passengers but never passed on the money to National Airports. So Mutembo and Fred will be arrested as directors.”

The source said M’membe, and Mutembo – who is one of the key prosecutors on the Task Force against Corruption - were also being pursued in connection with Zambian Airways dealings with the Development Bank of Zambia (DBZ).

“It is said that Zambian Airways borrowed US $5 million from DBZ and used two planes worth US $1.2 million as collateral. This is said to be an anomaly although it not clear how the charge will be framed. But they are also saying that Zambian Airways did the valuation of the two planes. This is said to be irregular because someone else should have done the valuation.”

However, the source said these arrests were aimed at weakening The Post.

“I want you to know that President Banda and his people believe that their greatest obstacle is The Post. They see The Post as their biggest threat and they are ready to do anything to get rid of it,” said the source.

“They believe that if they can’t get rid of The Post, at least they should neutralise it. And it is expected that M’membe will be neutralised after the arrest and therefore the government will have some breathing space.”

The source also said Mutembo’s arrest would enable President Banda to derail the prosecution of former president Frederick Chiluba. Zambian Airways suspended operations almost two months ago due to financial difficulties.

Last week, communications and transport minister Dora Siliya said she was waiting to hear from the Attorney General’s chambers on when a commission of inquiry would be appointed to establish how Zambian Airways directors spent the money they obtained from DBZ.

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Zambians can afford the US $500,000 MFEZ, says Mutati

COMMENT - Is anyone still in doubt that the MMD is a party of the rich, for the rich? Let's get rid of these neoliberals, and start developing the country for the people, not foreign corporations and the sellout politicians who will take their bribes.

Zambians can afford the US $500,000 MFEZ, says Mutati
Written by Fridah Zinyama
Friday, February 20, 2009 6:57:26 PM

COMMERCE minister Felix Mutati yesterday said most Zambians can afford the US$500,000 requirement to invest in the Multi-facility Economic Zones (MFEZ).

During an MFEZ Stakeholders Consultative Forum hosted by the Economics Association of Zambia (EAZ), Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants (ZICA) and Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA) in Lusaka, Mutati said the government had come up with different initiatives to help Zambians in different categories of business to grow.

“There is no need for Zambians to be concerned about whether they will not be able to invest in the MFEZ because those who cannot afford the amount have other options that are meant to help them grow their businesses,” he said. “I will let you know that there are some Zambians who can afford to bring in 10 Marcopolo buses in Zambia which cost about US$ 500,000.”

Mutati further added that the government had signed different credit facilities that could help the Zambian business community to access credit at affordable rates and with longer repayment periods.

“Just last year, we signed a US$ 32 million credit loan facility with the European Investment Bank that is supposed to help the business community with funds to grow their businesses,” he said.

Mutati said Zambians should acquire correct information that could help them make proper investment decisions.

“Look at the Citizens Economic Empowerment Fund, most people have been complaining that it is complicated to fill in when the application form has five parts which have to be filled in,” he said.

“There is a part where you fill in your personal details, your business idea, what you are going to use as collateral. These are simple procedures which, if people inquired, could easily fill in and access the funds.”

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KCM retrenches 700 workers

COMMENT - For years, the GRZ forfeited the collection of billions of US dollars in tax revenues, allegedly because of mining company threats that 'they would leave' if they had to pay taxes, 'they would leave' if the development agreements were amended, that 'this would lead to joblosses'. The government assured that all was ok, that even though they would not contribute to the Zambian economy through taxes, or reinvestment of profits, or the payment of a minimum wage to workers, 'they are bringing jobs'. Well where are the mining company shills and apologists today? Their bribes have been payed, and now they are quiet. Anyone who will speak up for foreign minign companies is a traitor, betraying the interest of the Zambian people and economy with every word they utter.

KCM retrenches 700 workers
Written by Mutuna Chanda in Kitwe
Friday, February 20, 2009 6:50:16 PM

OVER 700 Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) employees at its Nkana Integrated Business Unit (IBU) have been retrenched owing to the closure of parts of the facility.

And KCM has terminated contracts of suppliers and contractors that were engaged at Nkana IBU. The IBU includes a smelter, acid plant, refinery and an underground mine.

Parts of the facility that have closed include the smelter and acid plant while the refinery is being extended.

In letters notifying workers of their retrenchment, KCM human resources manager Suzanne Ziko stated that the company was restructuring its operations to ensure its future viability.

"Following this restructuring, we regret to inform you that your services with the company are no longer required," stated Ziko. "The company hereby gives you one month's notice and your last shift will be 20th March 2009. Your redundancy package will be calculated as follows: accrued terminal benefits held in trust calculated as follows: basic pay x 28 months plus service; repatriation allowance: benefits of your service with Konkola Copper Mines Plc will be calculated at two months pay for each completed year of service on pro rata basis and added to your benefits in trust.

"If you wish to leave work immediately, you will receive one month's salary in lieu of notice. We also wish to advise that it is a requirement for you to undergo the exit medical examinations at the occupational health centre or the mine clinic. Should you have any queries, please see the SHRO (Senior Human Resources Officer)- industrial relations/welfare. We thank you for your contribution during your employment with this company and wish you the best for the future."

And in an interview, one of the KCM employees who had just received his letter of retrenchment and was leaving the premises after his last shift, Fidelis Mpundu, said he would turn to farming.

Mpundu, whose life working the mines totals 30 years, said he was delighted that he would leave in good health but that he felt pity for young miners who had been recently engaged.

Mpundu said KCM had facilitated an entrepreneurship workshop slated for next week while him and his fellow employees await their benefits.

And another retrenched miner who served 28 years, Chibuye Mwewa, asked the government to allow the miners take over the smelter using the funds that were held by the state in trust after the handover of Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM) units to foreign investors.

About 8,108 mining and mining related jobs have been lost on the Copperbelt Province partly due to low copper prices and other economic factors.

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Dora is wrong - Gen Miyanda

Dora is wrong - Gen Miyanda
Written by George Chellah
Friday, February 20, 2009 6:38:38 PM

COMMUNICATIONS and transport minister Dora Siliya is wrong because she has ignored or disregarded Cabinet guidelines and practices, Heritage Party (HP) president Brigadier General Godfrey Miyanda has charged.

Giving his observations on the Zamtel and RP Capital Partners contract, Brig Gen Miyanda stated that he was shocked and exasperated by the casual and flippant manner in which the Vice-President, who is also Minister of Justice, had attempted to cover up what seems to be a pre-meditated scheme to circumvent Cabinet guidelines.

"There are times when it is advisable for the President to keep quiet; this is not one of those times. In fact where is the President? Has he gone back to Libya? Or is he now on his way to Timbuktu? This wrangle is now beyond Minister Siliya and Vice-President Kunda," Brig Gen Miyanda stated.

"Let the President show that he is the President and not wait for public debates on every national issue. It is the President who must issue the comprehensive statement, which the Vice-President promised but failed to deliver. His Vice has misinterpreted a simple government practice and custom on roles of ministers, deputies and other junior staff."

He stated that remarkably, the RP Capital Partners confusion had been created by the President himself, probably unknowingly.

"When President Banda appointed Mr George Kunda as Vice-President and Minister of Justice, he inadvertently created a two-headed monster which the Vice has taken advantage of and is mesmerising and confusing everybody, including the President. This has resulted in the creation of two centres for giving official legal opinion to the government, that is the Attorney General's and the Vice-President's offices," Brig Gen Miyanda stated.

"The government is supposed to have only one such centre for legal opinion, that is the Attorney General's Chambers. Because Vice-President Kunda is his Vice and a senior lawyer, the President who is but a lay person too, is bound to pay more attention to what his Vice says. It is the Vice-President who misled the President to announce prematurely that minister Siliya was on the right track. Minister Siliya was wrong; but Vice-President Kunda is double wrong because he has advised government wrongly. As to minister Siliya, she is wrong because she has ignored or disregarded Cabinet guidelines and practices. Although as minister she is the overseer of government policy in her ministry, she is not supposed to be involved in the day-to-day management and administration of the ministry as this is the preserve of the permanent secretary, who is the chief executive in the ministry.

"As regards decisions that have financial obligations, the rules provide that where the minister elects to overrule the permanent secretary, he or she must put this in writing, clearly stating that he or she accepts all responsibility for the course of action he or she has directed. This is because ministers are not allowed to commit the government to expenditure or financial obligations. After the Minister's letter to the PS, the PS should then act on the minister's instruction but at the same time report the matter to the Minister of Finance, the Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament."

Brig Gen Miyanda, who is also a former Republican vice-president, stated that the penalty against a minister who ignores such guidelines was a surcharge of the money involved and/or dismissal by the President.

"It will be interesting to know whether such a letter has been written to the PS by minister Siliya assuming all responsibility in the RP Capital deal. But clearly she has been misled by the Vice-President who gave her a legal opinion, which belittled that of the Attorney General and which gave her the courage she has displayed in the National Assembly and outside. As to Vice-President Kunda, his siding with the Solicitor General and abandon the Attorney General is in bad faith. The Attorney General pronounced the Memorandum of Understanding a nullity. This is a very serious position taken by the Attorney General and the Vice-President should not have trashed that opinion. By his statement he has usurped Attorney General Malila's position. The least he should have done was to let the Attorney General make the statement himself," Brig Gen Miyanda stated.

"Further, as Vice-President he is supposed to defend and protect the President; he kept quiet for a very long time while the President was receiving blows left, right and centre. The Vice-President is the real culprit in this confused RP Capital saga, as it is clear now that it is him who wrongly advised the President to say that minister Siliya was on the right track and impliedly that the Solicitor General was right and the Attorney General wrong. He has provided fodder for a running feud between these two senior officials in his ministry!"

He stated that it was fallacious for the Vice-President to suggest that the Solicitor General could do whatever he wanted when the incumbent Attorney General was not available.

"This is not the practice; this is not the convention. It is equally questionable for the Vice-President to declare that the Solicitor General is the deputy to the Attorney General. This suggests ominously that as long as Vice-President Kunda remains Vice-President and Minister of Justice, we shall see Attorney General Malila constantly being sent on long errands to enable [Vice-President] Kunda to direct the Solicitor General to carry out whatever schemes he has. This further suggests that when the President is away, Vice-President Kunda will change matters in the country as he pleases.

This is totally wrong even when said by a learned State Counsel," Brig Gen Miyanda stated. "After the damage has been done, he is now trying to rescue the President, who is also a lay person. If he is so concerned about lay persons doing technical government work, he should not have advised that the [National Constitutional Conference] NCC should proceed the way it is doing, with more than 90 per cent lay persons deliberating and even re-drafting the legal Mung'omba document which has already been drafted by lawyers.

"He and his government were advised to arrange for a constituent assembly, which would essentially be full of lay persons with the mandate to state what the broad principles should be in the constitution. Look at the circus in the NCC now, where at every stage the commissioners are requesting for experts to explain things to them, all because of Vice-President George Kunda's advice to the government when he was Attorney General and Minister of Justice. Now he is busy undermining the incumbent Attorney General. Give Malila a chance to prove his mettle!"

Brig Gen Miyanda stated that Vice-President Kunda's lecture about lay persons was out of place and was certainly not the law.

"I say that even if the Minister of Transport and Communications was a lawyer, he would still be obliged to seek the Attorney General's legal opinion. I would go so far as to state that even transactions emanating from the Vice President's office would require to be vetted by the Attorney General; that is his constitutional mandate. The provision is not an insult nor is it intended to belittle other lawyers but is simply division of labour; it is recognition that too many cooks spoil the soup and the sooner the President realizes this the quicker he should act to rescue the Ministry of Justice and the Cabinet," he stated.

Brig Gen Miyanda stated that the President must move quickly to extinguish the double-headed monster that he created.

"He must make up his mind what he really wants Vice-President George Kunda to be or to do. As regards the alleged offer of free service by Selex, this must be trashed with the contempt it deserves. Where these conmen give you two brooms and three shovels, you can be rest assured that they will receive in return one thousand brooms and shovels plus a tax free incentive," Brig Gen Miyanda stated.

"No business entity exists to conduct free services. This must be stopped; if the current law is not clear then the Minister of Justice must take to Parliament such a law that makes it expressly clear that gifts by business organisations to government will not be entertained and will be prima facie evidence of a plot to defraud or corrupt."

And Federation of Free Trade Unions of Zambia (FFTUZ) president Joyce Nonde backed the decision by the civil society to petition the Chief Justice to probe Siliya.

"They are within their right. We have no objection to that as a federation. If the matter is of public interest it will only be fair that the tribunal is called because if it's not called it will be to the disadvantage of the accused. People must be free to go and give evidence so that this matter is put to rest," said Nonde.

"At the moment we don't know the truth, we don't know who is wrong and correct. There has been a debate on this matter, so if it's taken to the tribunal it will be better so that the truth is known."

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Mambilima to set up tribunal for Dora

Mambilima to set up tribunal for Dora
Written by Agness Changala, Mutale Kapekele and Patson Chilemba
Friday, February 20, 2009 6:37:20 PM

ACTING Chief Justice Ireen Mambilima is to set up a tribunal to investigate communications and transport minister Dora Siliya's alleged abuse of office.

In an interview yesterday, Registrar of the High Court and Director of Court Operations Mwamba Chanda disclosed that justice Mambilima had written to President Rupiah Banda and Speaker of the National Assembly Amusaa Mwanamwambwa over the tribunal to be set up.

"Since we received the petitions and I have also seen in your paper, what I have to say is that the acting Chief Justice Mambilima has written to the President and Speaker to notify them of the same tribunal to be set," she said.

Chanda said everything was being put in place in accordance with the provision of the Act of Section 15 of the parliamentary and Ministerial Code of Conduct.

"The provision of the Act of Section 15 of the Parliamentary and Ministerial Code of Conduct states that any fees and remunerations or expenses payable in respect of tribunal under this Act shall be paid out of money appropriated by that purpose," Chanda said.

She said with this Act in place, they were also consulting Ministry of Finance and National Planning to assist with logistics and other expenses required.

Asked when exactly the tribunal would be set up, Chanda said they would inform the nation as soon as they finalised with the logistics.

"Very soon it will be set up because we have done quite a number of things and I am sure by next week, we will have some information for you," Chanda said.

On Wednesday, ten civil society organisations presented a petition to Justice Mambilima at the Supreme Court to set up a tribunal to probe alleged abuse of office involving Siliya.

The organisations presented their petition over Siliya's engagement of RP Capital Partners of Cayman Island to value Zamtel at a contract sum of US$2 million [about K10.3 billion] with total disregard of advice from the Attorney General's office; the overruling of Zambia National Tender Board and cancelling a duly awarded contract for the supply, delivery, installation and commissioning of a Zambia Air Traffic Management Surveillance Radar System (ZATM-RADAR) at Lusaka and Livingstone international airports and her alleged claim of a K12.5 million refund from Petauke District Council Committee for two hand pumps for two boreholes in one of the wards called Nyika, when in fact the hand pumps were procured at K5 million.

On Monday, former communications minister William Harrington petitioned the Chief Justice to appoint a tribunal to investigate Siliya for allegedly breaching the parliamentary and ministerial code of conduct Act.

And Harrington confirmed receipt of a letter from Justice Mambilima over the petition he presented before her to set up a tribunal to probe Siliya's alleged abuse of office.

Harrington said he was thankful that Justice Mambilima had discharged her duties honourably and with respect to the Constitution of Zambia and the relevant law.

"So with this development it is my sincere hope and prayer that no one will find a need to express himself or themselves at any fora or through any fora or media and they should patiently wait for the appointment of a tribunal by the Honourable Chief Justice to which they should now make their submissions and produce their evidences," Harrington said.

Justice Mambilima in her response to Harrington's letter stated: "I write to acknowledge receipt of your letter of 16th February, 2009. I have written to notify His Excellency the President and the Hon. Mr Speaker, of my intention to appoint a tribunal to probe allegations brought out in your letter of complaint. This will be done as soon as logistics are in place and the members selected."

And Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) executive director Goodwell Lungu welcomed the plans to set up a tribunal, saying the body would help Siliya to clear her name.

Lungu said the tribunal would also accord an opportunity for the country to use its laws.

"This is an opportunity for our Honourable minister [Siliya] to clear her name," he said. "This will also make our leaders to account for their actions."

Lungu also appealed to those who would make submissions to the tribunal to be truthful.

"We don't want wrong things to be promulgated at the tribunal," Lungu said. "We should all stick to the truth and present the facts as they are for justice to prevail."

And Patriotic Front (PF) president Michael Sata said Justice Mambilima had no option but to set up a tribunal to probe corruption allegations involving Siliya.

Sata said no manoeuvres aimed at stopping the establishment of the tribunal by anyone including President Banda and his friends would work.

"Whatever they try to do, the law does not give the Chief Justice any discretion. So whatsoever [Vice-President George] Kunda can do, the law is very clear. Therefore the Chief Justice has no option unless she wants her name to be brought into ridicule," Sata said.

"On my petition case she can have a choice but on this one she has no choice. Whoever is there, whether [Chief Justice Ernest] Sakala or [deputy Chief Justice Irene] Mambilima, that doesn't give them any discretion."ata further said the tribunal, which would be set up should be impartial both in name and deed.

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Trucks with imported non-GMO maize arrive at FRA depot

Trucks with imported non-GMO maize arrive at FRA depot
Written by Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Friday, February 20, 2009 6:36:07 PM

ABOUT five trucks carrying imported white non-genetically modified maize yesterday landed at the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) depot on Mwembeshi Road, according to highly placed sources.

According to the sources, about 18 trucks were expected to arrive from Chirundu border post by the end of the day as part of the current maize importation exercise.

However, the sources did not indicate the company that had imported the maize, but it is strongly believed that the consignment was brought into the country by Mark Daniels.

The maize was being carried in specially designed grain bulk carriers with tarpaulin and a drainage plug at the bottom to decant the grain.

On Monday, FRA board chairman Costain Chilala revealed that Mark Daniels, one of the contracted companies under the current maize importation exercise had started bringing in the maize and that part of the consignment had been cleared and was in the country while the other half was stuck at the border awaiting genetically modified organism (GMO) clearance by Mt Makulu Research Station.

Chilala explained that it was easy for Mt Makulu to inspect the maize brought by Mark Daniels because the commodity was being imported in bulk form of 600 bags per truck.

"The whole truck can simply be opened and you can get samples everywhere," Chilala said.

The importation maize from South Africa has been embroiled in a lot of controversies with one of the contracted companies, GIA International, being forced to return about 81 per cent of the 35,000 metric tonnes of imported maize after the consignment tested positive for the banned GMOs.

FRA has since given GIA International up to March 30 this year to bring in white non-genetically modified maize to replace the consignment that was recently rejected.

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Rupiah turns 72

Rupiah turns 72
Written by Katwishi Bwalya
Friday, February 20, 2009 6:34:49 PM

PRESIDENT Rupiah Banda yesterday celebrated his 72nd birthday at State House where members of staff presented him with birthday cakes and gifts during a brief ceremony in his honour.

According to a statement released by the President's Chief Analyst for Press and Public Relations Dickson Jere, the ceremony was organised by Presidential Affairs minister Gabriel Namulambe and State House staff. President Banda said he was touched by the gesture of State House staff.

"I am extremely touched and humbled. I did not expect this," President Banda said.

President Banda urged the members of staff to be responsible and look after themselves if they were to live long like him.

And Jere stated that several government officials, church leaders, diplomats and members of the public had sent congratulatory messages to President Banda, wishing him many happy returns.

According to Jere, President Banda spent his birthday working in his office apart from attending a private lunch organised by his family.

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Govt has no money to guarantee social, economic rights for citizens, says Mukuma

COMMENT - No money, and apparently no ideas either.

Govt has no money to guarantee social, economic rights for citizens, says Mukuma
Written by Katwishi Bwalya
Friday, February 20, 2009 6:31:38 PM

LANDS minister Ronald Mukuma yesterday told the human rights committee of the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) that the government has no money at all times to guarantee economic and social rights for its citizens.

During the on-going sittings, Mukuma cautioned the members of the committee to first look at government ability to provide before agreeing to some clauses in the bill of rights.

"We are putting a clause which is obvious that the state should provide all these things. Let's not forget that these economic and social rights depend on factors, which are not on control of government. I don't agree with some of these clauses," Mukuma said. "The state, government has no money, resources all the time to provide for these social and economic rights of its citizens. We have little resources that need to be distributed. "

But one of the commissioners, Godfridah Sumaili said Zambia was not bankrupt to fail to provide social and economic rights to its citizens.

"There is so much resources so government should show commitment that these economic and social rights are made available," Sumaili said.

Mazabuka UPND member of parliament Garry Nkombo said the government should allocate money in the budget to provide social and economic rights.

"Any government is capable of showing commitment towards the provision of social and economic rights through budgetary allocation," Nkombo said.

He said it was unacceptable for the government to claim that they had no money.

"It is not acceptable to say that government has no resources. There should be budgetary allocation to ensure the provision of these rights," Nkombo said.

However, the committee decided to adopt the progressive realisation of the economic and social rights.

Tourism minister Catherine Namugala asked members to maintain a clause that would not compel the government to act when there was no money.

The committee adopted a clause that would give government the responsibility to show that they had no resources available for the provision of social and economic rights.

The committee also adopted a clause that would compel the government to take measures, including affirmative action programmes designed to benefit disadvantaged persons or groups.

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(HERALD) Give black farmers a chance

Give black farmers a chance

EDITOR — I hear a lot of people passing all sorts of negative comments about newly-resettled farmers who got land under the land reform programme.

Fine, I understand that some of us might not be on the farms allocated to us by the Government for some reason, but the black farmer must be given a chance to prove him/herself.

I will agree that those farms that are lying idle should be reallocated, but for those who have not been doing well technically, they must be assisted the same way the white former commercial farmers were getting support from commercial banks.

I would like to thank the Government for realising that farmers need to determine their own prices for the crops they produce.

This is laudable because farmers are just like any other businesspeople who should be left to do their own independent accounts of their business.

Since we got land under the land reform programme, we never got any assistance from many of these commercial banks.

Were it not for Government programmes through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, I do not know how else we could have managed.

The Farm Mechanisation Programme was a just, noble and worthy intervention.

The black farmer must not be put under pressure unnecessarily because we have many listed and private companies who actually deliberately switched off machinery and closed shop to abet Western interests bent on sabotaging the Government for daring to give land to indigenous Zimbabweans.

If no pressure is being put on these companies to reopen, then why shove the black farmer to just produce when they are willing but with no one to support them with inputs?

Why would we wait for the central bank to come in through quasi-fiscal assistance when we wanted the black farmer to produce?

Long live black farmers! Long live Zimbabwe!

Cde Jairos Tapfuma.

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(HERALD) Re-open international credit lines: Zimtrade

Re-open international credit lines: Zimtrade
Business Reporter

THERE is an urgent need to re-open international credit lines to revive Zimbabwe’s industry which has been operating at an average 10 percent capacity, Zimtrade chief executive Mr Herbert Chakanyuka has said.

In an interview with the Herald Business this week, Mr Chakanyuka said: "Operational costs are the major drawback that affecting our industry hence there is need to quickly re-open credit lines to capacitate the sector that has been reeling from under funding ".

He said the availability of credit lines and offshore loans, through financial institutions such as the PTA Bank, World Bank and International Monetary Fund would go a long way in boosting production.

"Local manufacturing has been seriously compromised by lack of inputs while skills flight continues unabated. Zimbabwean producers should re-strategise if the country is to regain its regional competitive edge."

He, however, said Zimbabwe was currently facing challenges of loss of industrial capacity while more finished products were being imported. Zimtrade had already started preparing for regional and international trade fairs for this year.

He urged companies to strive to export finished goods, which he said was the only way to earn the much-needed foreign currency.Currently firms are exporting semi-finished goods, which earn less on the international market.

"We need to produce finished goods, which are competitive in the market, thereby reviving the industry."

Zimtrade will soon conduct an export marketing training programme as part of preparations for this year’s Zimbabwe International Trade Fair.

This is meant to equip marketing executives with knowledge to increase companies’ competitiveness on the export markets.

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(HERALD) World Bank okays reforms

World Bank okays reforms

WASHINGTON. The World Bank’s Board of Governors has approved a first phase of reforms to increase the influence of developing countries within the World Bank Group, including adding a seat for Sub-Saharan Africa to allow developing countries a majority of seats on the Executive Board, and expanding voting and capital shares.

"Expanding the developing world’s voice is central to delivering effective aid and promoting shared prosperity and development within a 21st Century economic reality," said World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick.

"Adding another seat for Africa, reaching developing country majority on the Board, expanding developing country shares and laying the groundwork for further reforms represent real change.

I’m pleased our reform process is on track.

I encourage shareholders to take action now on governmental approvals of the voting share changes, and to continue their efforts at further, more ambitious, reforms."

These reforms were initially agreed at the World Bank Group’s Annual Meetings in October 2008, ahead of the Spring 2009 target.

With the Governors’ approval, the amendment to the Bank’s Articles of Agreement to increase basic votes, which benefit smaller shareholders, now moves to the 185 member countries for final approval.

In order to take effect the amendment must be approved by 3/5 of member countries with 85 percent of votes.

Specifically, this package of reforms:

l Creates an additional Chair at the Board for Sub-Saharan Africa, which means that developing countries can have the majority of seats on the Bank’s Board:

l Brings the share of developing countries in Bank voting power to 44 percent, aimed in particular at adding voice for the low income countries.

As a second step, shareholders have agreed that the Bank should undertake a comprehensive and intensive work program to realign bank shareholdings, moving towards an equitable voting power between developed and developing countries.

Such a work program would also include voice reforms at the Bank’s affiliated member organization, the International Finance Corporation (IFC). Work on the second phase is already underway.

Participation of developing countries’ nationals in the staff and management of the World Bank plays an important role in the voice reform.

Already nearly two thirds of Bank staff and 42 percent of all Bank managers are from developing countries.

Since Zoellick became World Bank Group President, seven of his nine senior appointments have been from developing countries. — AFP.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

(TALKZIMBABWE) Desist from wanton price hikes, warns Biti

Desist from wanton price hikes, warns Biti
Our Reporter/Reuters/Xinhua
Wed, 18 Feb 2009 22:03:00 +0000

THE Minister of Finance has urged businesses to desist from wanton price hikes that are not related to economic fundamentals.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Tendai Biti said the price hikes are dealing a huge blow on the consumers who are finding it difficult to access basic goods and services.

He warned the business community against increasing prices saying doing so would be counterproductive to efforts to turn around the economy.

“Now that the country has embraced the use of multiple currencies which are relatively stable, the Government expects all businesses to act responsibly on pricing ... in order to create the necessary confidence in the economy,” Biti told reporters.

Biti announced that Zimbabwe had begun paying Government workers US$100 a month, honouring a commitment made in the Budget presented by then Acting Finance Minister, Senator Patrick Chinamasa.

“We have to get Zimbabwe working again; getting teachers to school is part of efforts to get Zimbabwe to work again, having examination papers being marked is part of having Zimbabwe work again,” Biti said.

Members of the Defence Forces were paid a $US100 tax-free stipend on Tuesday and teachers received their payment on Wednesday. Civil servants in other sectors will be paid today, according to Biti. A total of 130,000 civil servants will have been paid by Friday.

The stipend was paid using the Voucher Payment System (VPS) proposed in the Budget and the vouchers are redeemable at selected local banks.

"With immediate effect, all vouchers issued to civil servants as payment will be redeemable into cash at designated banks," he said.

He said the Government was working with the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe for its members to open parallel Foreign Currency Accounts (FCA) to the already existing savings accounts for all civil servants.

He added that Government expected the FCAs to be operational by March to enable direct payment of March allowances and subsequent cessation of the VPS.

He said that interest rates would be increased on private bank accounts to encourage “a savings culture”, which in turn should help restore confidence in the banking system and ease liquidity problems.

A savings rate of not less than 25 percent Gross Domestic Product is desirable for a sustainable economic growth development, he said.

He also said the government would be making an announcement on payment of pensions within the next two weeks.

Previously, Zimbabweans had been reluctant to keep their money in banks because it lost value quickly, and because limits on daily withdrawals had made it time-consuming to access.

The new Minister of Finance said Government will allow more trade in foreign currency. The change will allow more businesses to legally trade in US dollars and South African rand.

He said Government had to juggle the limited resources it has in order to make those foreign currency payments adding that Government had enough foreign currency to pay the wages for February and March.

Biti dismissed fears that the government did not have the capacity to redeem the vouchers. “As for the source we cannot reveal, we have scrounged around.”

Biti also said new statistics on inflation would be released next month. Private companies would also be required to pay taxes in foreign currency.

Obsolete local credit cards were to be revived in hard currency as the country gradually moved away from cash transactions "to the use of plastic money," Biti said.

-Our Reporter/Reuters/Xinhua

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