Saturday, March 14, 2009
By Professor Jonathan Moyo, MP
THE truism that people learn geology the day after an earthquake best explains why there is a growing list of troubling questions about probable criminal involvement of the American and British governments or their agents in the car accident that tragically claimed the life of the wife of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai last week.
Among the questions that cannot be fully or satisfactorily answered without an independent and competent international probe are the following:
l Who really owns the Nissan diesel truck, with registration number 81TCE128, which caused the tragic accident on March 6, 2009?
l If the registered owner of the truck is not the American Embassy in Harare or the United States Agency for International Development why does the truck have a registration number whose diplomatic configuration is reserved for the United States Embassy?
l If the truck is registered to a foreign organisation, other than the United States Embassy or Usaid, with neither presence nor legal standing in Zimbabwe, when and how was the registration effected, by whom and under what authority?
l Whose money was used to purchase the truck?
l Who employed the driver of the truck, when was he employed, and what is the source of his salary, that is, where is the money that he is paid actually funded from?
l Was there another truck that drove immediately behind the accident truck at the time of the accident? If there was, whose truck was that in terms of both registration and ownership, who drove it and why has there been between little or no mention of that truck and its possible role or about the possible involvement of its driver in the tragic accident?
l Without any prejudice, how did the driver come to be represented by Atherstone and Cook Legal Practitioners? Who instructed these lawyers to represent the driver, when was the instruction made, and who is paying the lawyers for the driver’s legal representation?
l Why did the British Foreign Office in London issue an official statement so soon after accident describing the tragedy as a "genuine accident"? What was genuine about the accident and why was the statement issued with self-evident haste?
l Who are, or what is, Crown Agents? Where is this entity based? What are its connections or relationships with the accident truck and/or its driver? What other activities does this entity do in Zimbabwe, with whom, for what purposes, since when and under what legal auspices?
l Following the tragic accident, why or on what basis did the American-based and owned news network, CNN, run continuous and inflammatory bulletins on the accident claiming that it was a result of foul play by Zanu-PF or by Zimbabwean State organs? Why or on what basis did those bulletins which ran from March 6 to March 10 boldly allege that Prime Minister Tsvangirai had told an unnamed MDC official that "the accident was deliberate"? Which alleged MDC official gave this information to CNN?
l Why did the State Department in Washington or the United States Embassy in Harare or Usaid itself not correct or comment on the CNN bulletins that openly and daringly put the blame for the tragic accident on Zimbabwean State organs or Zanu-PF without basing that blame on any evidence other than a suspicion allegedly based on the history of tragic car accidents in Zimbabwe involving some prominent personalities?
l Is it a mere coincidence, or is there more than what meets the eye about the fact, that a few months ago a Usaid driver was implicated in the attempted assassination of Air Marshal Perrance Shiri and now another Usaid driver is involved in a murky accident that left Prime Minister Tsvangirai with neck and head injuries while claiming the life of his wife?
l Exactly what sort of activities has Usaid been doing or supporting in Zimbabwe and since when? Who else in or outside Zimbabwe has been part of those activities? What has been the purpose of those activities, how have they been financed, what has been their total bill and are American taxpayers aware of those activities and their true cost?
l What joint activities or programs are the American and British governments involved in Zimbabwe whether through Usaid and DfID (the Department for International Development in Britain)
The above 14 questions are by no means exhaustive but they are indicative of some of the dark issues that Zimbabweans and others around the world, especially taxpayers in the United States and Britain, would like to have clarified about the tragic accident that took away the life of the wife of our Prime Minister and nearly plunged our country into the abyss. These issues can only be objectively clarified by a competent international probe that should be set up as soon as possible. Any delays would risk a major international cover-up which might very well be already underway.
It is important for the British and American governments and their local and international media and NGO supporters who never see, hear or speak any evil on matters British or American, to understand that this is not trivia pursuit or rabble-rousing. As a national legislator, I believe this is a fundamental international issue about the peace and security of Zimbabweans and their national leadership as well as about the need to protect the laws of the country within the context of international law.
Based on the facts of this case, and keeping in mind the experiences of countries like Cuba, Chile, Venezuela, Iran or Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana among many others, there is more than enough to suggest that the activities of the British and American governments in Zimbabwe today have become too daring, too entrenched and too dangerous to be left alone.
Following publication of an online story on Monday by NewZimbabwe.com which carried some concerns I expressed about probable criminal involvement of American and British governments or their agents in the tragic accident, I received a telephone call from a senior official in the United States Embassy, Glen Warren, who was apparently too keen to bring to my attention what he said was the fact that the driver of the accident truck was not an employee of Usaid. Furthermore, he told me that the American government was sure that there was no foul play behind the tragic accident based on what the embassy had been told in interviews they had held with a second truck driver whom he said had been driving behind the accident truck and had thus witnessed the accident. Warren also said the embassy had gotten more information from what he said was thorough briefing from the Prime Minister himself.
I then asked Warren why in that case the American government had not followed the example of its British counterparts to issue a statement clearly stating that the accident was genuine. To my surprise, he said the US government would not issue a statement unless and until there was an unequivocal statement from MDC-T indicating that the accident was just that.
This prompted me to ask Warren whether the US government was hiding behind or even fuelling the CNN bulletins that were continuously peddling innuendoes and even claiming outright that an alleged MDC official had told the news network that Prime Minister Tsvangirai believed the accident was deliberate with fingers pointing at Zanu-PF foul play. Warren’s suspicious response which can only be believed by an alien from Mars was that CNN is a private news organisation entitled to its own opinions which have nothing to do with the US government.
Significantly though, Warren did not at any point in our telephone conversation which lasted for about 10 or so minutes deny that the truck belonged to Usaid not least because its registration spoke for itself. I have since found it not just shocking but also totally unacceptable that a day after Warren called me to say the accident truck was theirs but not the driver, the American Embassy issued a statement disowning both the ownership of the truck and the employment of its driver.
In any event, while agents of the American government seem to think that they can keep changing their story about the ownership of the accident truck and the employment of its driver and still remain credible when available facts tell a contrary story, the crucial part of the story in this sad saga which will be difficult if not impossible to change is the money trail.
Whose money was used to buy and register the accident truck? Whose money was used to recruit the accident driver and pay his salary? Whose money contracted Crown Agents? Indeed, whose money is paying the legal costs of the accident driver who is being represented by Atherstone and Cook?
And parenthetically, is there anybody out there including at CNN who really believes that Atherstone and Cook — and Chris Mhike in particular who — would countenance being the defence attorneys of record if the accident truck and accident driver had anything, even remotely, to do with Zanu-PF or organs of the State like the CIO, police or Zimbabwe Defence Forces? Who is fooling who here?
During the unravelling of the Watergate scandal in the 1970s, the legendary FBI agent known as "Deep Throat" famously advised the two Washington Post journalists who investigated the scandal, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, to "follow the money". Since then, following the money has become the stuff of seasoned and competent international investigators.
There’s a clear and present need to follow the money trail behind the tragic accident that claimed the life of Amai Susan Tsvangirai, and which almost shook the foundations of the inclusive Government upon which Zimbabweans across the political divide have pinned their hopes for the country’s economic and political turnaround.
It is common cause that the British and American governments have not supported the inclusive Government and that some in these governments believe Tsvangirai sold out by signing the September 15, 2008 agreement and joining the inclusive Government as Prime Minister.
This clearly means that the American and British governments, or some of their agents dealing with Zimbabwe, have the motive, incentives and means to derail the inclusive Government through foul play. This can only be formally concluded one way or the other through an international commission of enquiry led by Sadc and the African Union, the two bodies that are the guarantors of the inter-party agreement that produced Zimbabwe’s current inclusive Government. The sooner that commission of enquiry is established, the better for everyone concerned.
Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The U.S. Record 2006
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
U.S.-sponsored programs also helped promote the free flow of independent and objective information in Zimbabwe, Chad, Burundi, Mauritania, Liberia, The Gambia, Sierra Leone, and Ethiopia.
Zimbabwe is constitutionally a republic, but the government, dominated by President Robert Mugabe and his Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU PF) since independence, is now authoritarian. The 2002 presidential election and the 2005 parliamentary elections were neither free nor fair, and the government and its supporters intimidated voters, disqualified opposition candidates, constrained campaign activities of the opposition, and distributed food in a partisan manner. During the year the political opposition and civil society continued to operate in an environment of intimidation, violence, and repression. In December President Mugabe and his loyalists in the ruling party proposed extending his term for two years by deferring presidential elections to 2010, rather than holding them in 2008 as scheduled.
The government systematically violated human rights, and official corruption and impunity were widespread. Security forces selectively harassed, beat, and arbitrarily arrested opposition supporters and critics within human rights organizations, the media, and organized labor. The judiciary was subject to executive influence and intimidation. A government campaign of forced evictions, which left 700,000 people homeless during Operation Restore Order in 2005, continued, albeit on a lesser scale. The government regularly used repressive laws to restrict freedom of assembly, speech, and press. In an attack on the independent media, the government jammed broadcasts of the popular Voice of America Studio 7 program, one of the few sources of uncensored news throughout the country, and seized radios belonging to listening groups in rural areas. The economy continued to decline, with skyrocketing prices, widespread shortages, and rapidly deteriorating social services, primarily due to the government's command and control economic policies.
The U.S. strategy for fostering democracy and human rights in the country is three-fold: to maintain pressure on the Mugabe regime; to strengthen democratic forces; and to provide humanitarian aid for those left vulnerable by poor governance. The U.S. Government utilized diplomatic efforts, public outreach, and technical and financial assistance to advance these goals.
To maintain pressure on the regime, the United States emphasized international cooperation and coordination. U.S. officials engaged multilaterally and bilaterally to expand international support of sanctions against government and ruling party officials responsible for human rights violations. A growing number of like-minded donors now agree that fundamental political and economic changes are a prerequisite to reengagement by the international community with the government. U.S. officials regularly communicated to the ruling party the importance of lifting political restrictions and curbing human rights abuses. To encourage greater public debate on restoring good governance in the country, the United States sponsored public events that presented economic and social analyses discrediting the government's excuses for its failed policies.
To further strengthen pro-democracy elements, the U.S. Government continued to support the efforts of the political opposition, the media, and civil society to create and defend democratic space and to support persons who criticized the government. U.S. officials observed parliamentary by-elections and rural district council elections in several towns and cities throughout the country during the year. The observers concluded that the ruling parties' restrictive registration procedures, partisan distribution of government food aid, and inappropriate pressure by traditional leaders served to unduly influence the election results.
The United States promoted freedom of speech and of the media during the year. U.S. officials participated in ceremonies commemorating World Press Freedom Day and delivered remarks on the relationship between freedom of expression and economic prosperity. The U.S. Government sponsored programs and supported organizations that promoted the free flow of independent and objective information, including several township newspapers that disseminated reports and advised residents of their rights.
Voice of America's Studio 7 radio station provided uncensored and balanced news to citizens throughout the country and worked to expand its listener base during the year. Citizens had access to independent information through the U.S.-sponsored American Corners program, which operated libraries throughout the country, and a newsletter that provided information and articles on key U.S. policies and priorities. U.S. programs provided funding to NGOs that collected and circulated information on civil society, human rights, and government actions.
The United States sponsored two Fulbright scholars during the year: one helped improve a leading undergraduate journalism program by facilitating workshops designed to foster freedom of the press, while the other taught conflict resolution and mediation at one of the country's top universities. Two journalists participated in U.S.-sponsored professional exchanges in the United States.
The United States supported the efforts of civil society to create and defend democratic space. The U.S. Government funded international and local NGO programs that promoted a wide variety of causes, including social welfare, democratic processes, human rights, peace-building, women's and youth empowerment, and public advocacy. For example, a recipient organization involved members of all political parties, traditional leaders, and other local leaders in the establishment of peace committees that encouraged open dialogue on local issues by all community members. One grantee hosted a series of community forums in rural areas that provided a platform for discussing women's issues. Another grantee supported workshops to develop youth leadership skills necessary to confront social injustice through nonviolent strategies. The U.S. Government also sponsored an NGO leader on an exchange program to learn about activism by civil society groups in the United States.
The United States continued to promote rule of law in the country. Although the ruling party maintained its monopoly on the executive branch, other institutions--including Parliament, the judiciary, and local government--were at times able to exercise some independence. The United States encouraged the capacity of these entities to govern and, in some cases, directly supported their efforts. For example, a U.S.-sponsored program to strengthen parliamentary committees resulted in increased debate in Parliament--both from opposition and reform-minded ZANU-PF parliamentarians--and encouraged greater transparency through public hearings on legislation.
In an unprecedented development, several bills that contained particularly repressive or ill-defined sections were publicly debated and sent back to committee for redrafting. Support for the portfolio committees also served to provide a greater check on the executive branch, as ministers and other high-ranking officials were held more accountable for their policies through vigorous questioning by committee members.
U.S. funding and support enabled local citizen groups and select local authorities to improve transparency, accountability, and municipal service delivery. For example, local authorities throughout the country received training in financial management skills, including the use of participatory budgeting methods that requires public involvement throughout the entire process.
The U.S. Government was committed to combating human rights abuses during the year. U.S. officials continued to raise the country's human rights record in international fora and bilaterally with other governments. Statements by U.S. officials, including highly critical commentary on human rights abuses, corruption, and gross economic mismanagement, received prominent coverage in the local media; however, government-controlled outlets often distorted the message.
U.S. officials emphasized in all substantive contacts with government and party officials the importance of ending human rights abuses in the country. The U.S. Government widely circulated human rights-related reports among civil society, government, and party officials. The United States supported programs providing critical assistance to human rights defenders and members of civil society who suffered abuse and torture at the hands of the government. One U.S.-sponsored program helped civil society organizations develop a rapid response support network for frontline human rights defenders and enhanced their ability to capture, document, and disseminate information about abuses. A prominent human rights lawyer participated in a U.S.-sponsored international visitor exchange program focused on promoting human rights in government policy.
The United States continued to be among the largest contributors of humanitarian assistance in the country. These programs provided persons who were vulnerable or displaced--including those affected by the government's continuing campaign of forced evictions--with critical resources during the ongoing crisis, regardless of their political affiliation. U.S. Government assistance included support to the UN World Food Program, the International Organization for Migration, and NGOs.
In support of religious freedom, the United States widely disseminated relevant reports on religious rights, and U.S. officials privately and publicly emphasized concern regarding intimidation and harassment of religious leaders who criticized the government. The United States supported efforts by religious leaders to highlight human rights abuses and flawed economic policies and to sustain a dialogue to improve the country's political situation. The U.S. Government hosted an event in which a returning international visitor's program participant gave a speech and moderated a discussion session comparing local religious pluralism with that of the United States.
The U.S. Government continued to encourage the protection of worker rights. In response to the arrest and beating of 15 leaders of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, U.S. officials publicly condemned the government's brutal reaction to the peaceful assembly of its citizens. The United States funded programs on labor issues, including support for an NGO that assisted trade unions in responding to and representing their members' interests and sponsorship of a labor leader's participation in a professional exchange program. The United States encouraged efforts by the government to combat trafficking in persons and supported a local NGO providing assistance to child trafficking victims. U.S. officials met with government representatives to share best practices and promote cooperation in combating trafficking. U.S. officials widely disseminated relevant reports and participated in local and regional meetings on trafficking.
THE ‘nattering nabobs of negativity’’ is a phrase that was coined by William Safire, speechwriter to then US vice president, Spiro Agnew to refer to the media, particularly its inclination to accentuate the negative over the positive.
Despite the warts that saw him fall with the Nixon administration, which probably explains why he was averse to media scrutiny, Agnew captured one failing of the so-called liberal or ‘‘independent’’ media, obsession with negativity.
Agnew may as well have been referring to some sections of the media in Zimbabwe and their Western overlords, who thrived on Mugabe-bashing over the past decade and who appear out on a limb following the consummation of the inclusive Government.
This section of the media, which transformed itself into de facto mouthpieces of everything opposition be it to do with the MDC formations, the so-called civil society or non-governmental individuals like Lovemore Madhuku is still in the trenches of Albion hurling pot-shots at Mugabe but surprising happy to miss Tsvangirai who is now part of the same executive. These are the media that wore the tag ‘‘opposition media,’’ like a badge of honour. And with the MDC formations joining Government, their favourite target, national discourse has been narrowed to a Manichaen contest between Zanu-PF and the other parties to the inclusive Government.
Over the past four weeks the nation has been bombarded by imaginary contests. First it was Gono vs. Biti, and when Gono saved Biti’s hide in an issue I will not name here; came Tomana vs. Tsvangirai. When the two were sworn-in in Parliament on the same day last week putting paid to claims that Tomana faced the sack, the nabobs mooted Chamisa vs. Shamu. Sadly with youthful enthusiasm,the young minister was baited and stormed NetOne building where Shamu was meeting workers.
Misheck Sibanda had to bring that matter to rest, leaving the arena open for the tired ‘contest,’ Tsvangirai vs. Mugabe. I will not go into detail about the powers of the two men apart from reminding the nabobs that Tsvangirai took his oath of office before Mugabe, just like any of the ministers, while Mugabe took his oath before the custodian of the supreme law of the land, the Chief Justice.
If that does not contextualise the balance of power, then I do not know a simpler way of putting it for the nabobs. Anyway, over the past 10 years we have been fed this ‘‘contest’’ that was supposed to have culminated in Mugabe paying obeisance to Tsvangirai or alternatively seeking asylum in some far off land, but as we all know Mugabe is still here. Talk about missing the point.
When the n’anga nabs one’s own
It was against this backdrop of the imaginary contest pitting Mugabe against Tsvangirai that Western media went hysterical in the wake of the fatal crash last week that claimed the life of Tsvangirai’s wife, Susan. With no shred of evidence linking Mugabe or the Government to the accident, BBC, CNN, Sky News and other weapons of mass deception began peddling conspiracies that the accident was an attempt on Tsvangirai’s life. Bad blood, they opined, exists between Mugabe and Tsvangirai. ‘‘Analysts’’ were brought in to document ‘‘Zimbabwe’s history of suspicious accidents.’’
All of a sudden there was talk of evacuating Tsvangirai to Botswana for ‘‘safety’’ not medical reasons. So hysterical was the melodrama that to the un-initiated, Mugabe had been tried and convicted. Some nameless, faceless ‘‘officials’’ in MDC-T did not help matters either by claiming that Tsvangirai suspected foul play.
Though they did not have the courage to put their faces or names to the claims. Then came the shocker that deflated them all. Tsvangirai was travelling in a party vehicle, with a party driver and party bodyguards. Most importantly, a US embassy truck hit his car. As such if there was foul play, it had to be a CIA hit. From there the conspiracy theories against the Government fell flat on their face.
For the BBC and other weapons of mass deception, it was time for damage control. No apology to the readers for selling them a dummy for hours on end was forthcoming. All of a sudden, one after the other the British and American governments released statements saying ‘‘all indications are that it was a genuine accident.’’
Sadly no one in Zanu-PF or the Government saw the irony, or the need to tackle the duplicitous Anglo-Saxons. It was Jonathan Moyo, independent legislator, who raised the alarm. Why were the Americans and the British quick to put the cart before the horse in saying this was a genuine accident, when only hours before their media were raising quite a stink when they believed they could pin it on Zanu-PF? As Moyo said, the Westerners appear to think all Zimbabweans are stupid as to believe that a genuine accident is one that does not implicate Zanu-PF; or that an accident is only genuine if it involves Usaid vehicles or drivers.
Then the cap fitted
AS it turned out the death truck, 81 TCE 128 is registered to the American embassy and it was, ostensibly, on a mission for a project co-funded by the American and British governments when it hit Tsvangirai’s vehicle. The British Foreign Office released a statement to that effect saying they co-owned the vehicle with the Americans; only for McGee – in his wisdom or lack of it but most likely the latter - to turn around and try to deny the undeniable. The vehicle, his office claimed, did not belong to the embassy (though it clearly bore US embassy plates and Usaid insignia) but was bought by Usaid money for an unnamed ‘‘contractor.’’
I do not know what McGee hoped to achieve by this asinine statement apart from adding fuel to the fire. Why is he denying ownership of a truck that he acknowledges was bought by American money and which, according to the Central Vehicle Registry, is registered with the US embassy technical services division? What is he trying to hide? And what is this that we now hear, that there was a second truck identical to the one that hit the Tsvangirais vehicle? Why didn’t the driver stop to assist the injured? Why were the police not told of this second vehicle, again, driven by a Usaid driver? And why did he rush to brief the US and British embassies and not the police, as a responsible witness should have done. I smell a big rat here. Just imagine, dear reader, the hullabaloo if the tables were turned and Tsvangirai’s vehicle had been sideswiped by a Government truck and it was the Government denying ownership of the truck bearing Government number plates, and clearly registered to a Government department. With the Government only saying the truck was bought, by Government money, for a ‘‘private contractor.’’ Imagine the hysteria on BBC and CNN, and the readings ‘‘analysts’’ would be making from the word ‘‘contractor’’ and Government’s unwillingness to name the ‘‘contractor.’’ Contracted to do what? Carry drugs, as we have been told, or take out Tsvangirai for choosing inclusion over regime change?
Let’s not kid ourselves, the white West is angry with Tsvangirai. They bankrolled him for 10 years, 10 years, in the hope that he would depose Mugabe and return land to the erstwhile baases. If there are people who want Tsvangirai dead in this world, it is these people who vehemently opposed the formation of the inclusive Government, and who have made it clear that they will do everything in their power to sabotage it, they have since renewed their ruinous sanctions. These are the people who are miffed by the fact that the MDCs, which were supposed to spearhead the reversal of the land reform programme, upheld its irreversibility by signing the broad-based agreement that laid the framework for the inclusive Government. These are the people who extended the sanctions on the very day Tsvangirai added his voice to the anti-sanctions lobby, though he chose to misrepresent the punitive sanctions as ‘‘restrictive measures.’’
Infact history tells us that the Westerners have a proud history of carrying out hits in various parts of the world on those people they consider threats or acolytes they consider past their sell by date. These people have permanent interests, not permanent friends. Tsvangirai was of use to them, only to the extent they believed he safeguarded their interests.
The gospel according to Pat Robertson
If a society has evangelists who publicly call for the killing of heads of state and government, to what extent can they go, in private, to do in those people they feel threaten the all-conquering foreign policy of the United States? Remember Pat Robertson of the 700 Club and his calls for the assassination of Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic and Hugo Chavez? By endorsing the land reform programme, Tsvangirai is now guilty of Mugabe’s crime, dispossessing white capital, and he makes an attractive target. Every year, the CIA declassifies files that reveal their misdeeds throughout the world. I bet my last dollar, that 25 years from now, we will read about an abortive mission along Masvingo Road. As Alice said after eating a magical cake in Wonderland, ‘‘it gets curiouser and curiouser,’’ and our security agents must get to the bottom of this matter.
Walking on the wrong side of history
The cheek of it! From the stable of nabobs, last week, came a 101 lecture on media ownership and practice. The writer claimed he saw an excellent opportunity for media reform in the wake of the inclusive Government. And the reform, wait for it, was to focus only on the public media to the exclusion of his stable and others of like mind like The Zimbabwean which is printed in London and flown to Zimbabwe for sale.
For the first time, the writer referred to Zimpapers, for what it is, public media, not the ‘‘State-owned’’ or ‘‘State-controlled’’ mantra that had become the stock-in-trade of the private — not independent please — media. Some may wonder what brought this bout of lucidity but the intention was clear. The papers, the writer said, belonged to the public, and the Government should have nothing to do with them. He proposed that an MDC version of the media comprising of the Western-funded MISA, IJAZ, the likes of WOZA, you name it, lead the said reform.
In other words, the self-serving West should take the lead in ‘‘reforming the public media’’ at a time we are collectively telling them hands-off. Talk about being on the wrong side of history. The writer accused the public media of peddling ‘‘distortions, falsehoods and propaganda.’’ One wonders whether stories like ‘‘My ordeal as Mugabe’s prisoner (Basildon Peta)’’, and ‘‘Woman beheaded in front of kids (Lloyd Mudiwa),’’ to mention but a few, appeared on the pages of The Herald or the so-called independent newspapers. If there is a quarter that needs reform, it is the so-called independent media that has become so compromised that even the US State Department has no qualms boasting about its influence in certain stables.
In its report titled ‘‘Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The US Record – 2006,’’ the State Department revealed that it funds and has editorial influence in certain weeklies that peddle anti-Government sentiment. This was a throwback to Kansteiner’s confession that the US uses some sections of the media to undermine Zimbabwe.
It is these papers that are in need of reform, to make them truly Zimbabwean. The writer should state his real intention. Many of the ghosts walking the Internet are crying for a home and, with the coming of the inclusive Government they hoped they would find it at the ‘‘brick and mortar’’ building. You see, the irony is always stark when the devil tries to run away with the gospel.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Fri, 13 Mar 2009 03:48:00 +0000
THE US embassy in Harare yesterday issued a statement entitled, "Clarification of Accident Vehicle Ownership". We published it in full. A close look at the statement leaves more questions than answers.
Many people were looking for a statement that said who exactly owned the accident truck that killed Mrs Susan Tsvangirai, the Prime Minister's wife.
It is certainly not enough, or convincing to say: "It (the truck) was purchased with USAID funds by a contractor and belonged to the contractor" without actually saying who that contractor was. I am sure US embassy officials would know who that contractor is (was) since it was purchased using USAID funds.
Interestingly, the truck's number plate, 81 TCE-128, belongs to the US embassy.
Independent legislator Jonathan Moyo was quoted as saying: “How can an American-registered car, purchased with American money, driven by a driver hired from Britain and paid with American money; be owned by a British agency funded by British money and formed from the ashes of a British colonial institution?”
The connection between USAID and United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DfID) in this case is troubling; given that the shooting of Air Marshall Perence Shiri a few months ago involved a USAID employee. This is a strange coincidence.
The US embassy says: "The contractor was delivering essential HIV and AIDS drugs and medical supplies to health clinics under an effort co-financed by USAID and the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DfID)." Surely if it was co-financed by these two organisations, they should be able to give us more details.
Does the U.S. embassy or DfID care to tell us who the contractor was? Was it DfID? If not, who was it? And why did the UK government quickly issue a statement saying the driver was not "sleeping at the wheel" at the time of the accident? How could they know that a few hours after an accident that occured thousands of miles away, in a remote location in Zimbabwe? How come they were privy to this information when the investigating authorities in Zimbabwe were still investigating the cause of the crash?
The US embassy also says: "The driver of the truck, a Zimbabwean national, was an employee of the contractor, not a USAID employee." The embassy seems to have some insider information that we do not know. Again, who is the contractor?
I was also troubled to hear the UK's DfID declare the accident genuine, just hours after the accident. This is the first time that the UK has commented on a tragic Zimbabwean situation and not connected "President Mugabe's regime" to it. How do they know this, or should I say "How did they know this was a 'genuine' accident?" The UK Government's subsequent lack of interest in that incident is also puzzling, to say the least.
The US embassy in Harare's statement is very cleverly presented and packaged. It starts with condolencies to Prime Minister Tsvangirai's family for the death of his wife Susan. It then ends with the U.S. government's food aid pledge.
The statement read: "The U.S. government remains committed to helping the people of Zimbabwe as it has done for decades. The United States provided over $260 million for emergency programs since October 2007, providing food, health care, safe water, and HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment."
This is very clever packaging. The "clarification of the accident vehicle story" is sandwiched between a condolence statement and a story about the U.S.'s aid program to Zimbabwe -- two importanst stories deserving their own titling.
This clever 'public diplomacy' diverts attention from the main story, as suggested by the title of the statement. Clever indeed, but many of us think this 'explanation' is very skeletal and the US embassy can, and should, give a more detailed explanation. They could start by naming the 'contractor'.
This statement leaves more questions than answers.
Fri, 13 Mar 2009 05:23:00 +0000
THREE United States Agency for International Development (USAID) drivers are linked to the crash that claimed the life of Mrs Susan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe Prime Minister's wife, the Zimbabwe Guardian has learnt.
Mrs Tsvangirai died on Friday last week after a vehicle she was travelling in, together with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, was involved in a collision with a USAID registered truck.
ABC News reported on the day of the crash that the accident truck belonged to a contractor working for the U.S. and British governments.
According to ABC News: "U.S. officials ... said the vehicle was owned by (a) contractor, (and) had a USAID insignia on it. The vehicle was purchased by the contractor with U.S. government money, and the driver was hired and paid by a British development agency" -- the Department for International Development (DfID).
According to sources, another U.S. registered truck was behind the crash truck, driven by Chinoona Mwanda (35), when the accident occured on Friday. Mwanda was a DfID contracted driver "on routine business" according to sources.
Another driver employed by USAID in Zimbabwe is facing trial on charges of attempting to kill Air Marshall Perence Shiri.
Frank Muchirahondo was arrested on January 22 at Forbes Border post in Mutare. The state alleged that he was attempting to run away from the country when he was apprehended.
Air Marshall Shiri was shot in the hand after he was ambushed by gunmen while driving to his farm in December last year.
An unnamed driver was driving another truck resembling the crash truck when the deadly accident occured on Friday. He is also believed to be employed by DfID and the truck is also believed to have a US registered number plate and USAID insignia.
The U.S. has dodged questions on the ownership of the crash truck.
A statement released by the U.S. embassy in Harare on Thursday did not name the owner of the truck. The statement only said the truck "was purchased with USAID funds by a contractor and belonged to the contractor."
When asked about the ownership of the truck on Tuesday, the Acting U.S. Deputy Department Spokesman Gordon Duguid was evasive.
"We obviously send our condolences to the friends and family of Morgan Tsvangirai. This is a real tragedy and – you know, an unspeakable tragedy. And nothing beyond that in terms of discussions," he said.
"From all the reports we’ve seen, and I believe even Mr. Tsvangirai has commented on it, this appears to have been just an unfortunate accident."
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Wed, 11 Mar 2009 21:07:00 +0000
BRITISH Prime Minister Gordon Brown has appealed Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni to intervene in the Zimbabwe situation to end the political and economic crises grappling the country, despite the formation of an inclusive Government last month.
Museveni is the current chairman of the Commonwealth -- a 53-member organization of countries formerly colonized by Britain.
According to a press release from the Ugandan State House on Tuesday, Museveni told Brown that there was need to give time to the inclusive Government in Zimbabwe to try and resolve the current crises.
Museveni was optimistic that the inclusive Government in Zimbabwe will help to address the problems currently bedevilling the country.
BRITAIN TO FUND UGANDAN LAND REFORM
Meanwhile, the British government has finalised modalities through which it will assist Uganda to finance efforts aimed at solving land problems, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has disclosed.
During the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Kampala in 2007, Museveni appealed to the British premier to assist Uganda to solve the land problem.
He said it was created by the British colonial government in 1900 when land in Buganda was divided and large chunks allocated to a few landlords.
Museveni said this resulted into making the majority peasants into serfs on their former land.
In the recent past, the country has been grappling with unresolved land wrangles, some involving encroachment on gazetted forests and game reserves.
Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden
Thursday, March 12, 2009, 17:20
Government says it will not allow Mopani copper mines to place the Mufulira and Nkana plants on care and maintenance.
Mines Minister, Maxwell Mwale, says government has written to Mopani copper mines asking them to surrender the assets and expects an answer from them by Friday.
Mr. Mwale however emphasised that government will not nationalise the two mines but only secure their assets.
He told ZNBC that other investors are interested in taking over the mine and that government can not allow the management to go into care and maintenance while miners suffer.
Mr. Mwale said government will not rescind its directive to Mopani management to surrender the assets of the mines.
Mr. Mwale said due diligence tests carried out on most of the mines indicate that Zambia still has viable mineral resources.
He said there is no excuse for firms to pull out their investments from Zambia because copper prices on the market are economical.
Meanwhile, only about 10 out of more than 500 mining rights in the emerald restricted area on the Copperbelt have been developed.
This came to light at the Emerald and Semi precious Stones Mining Association of Zambia -ESMAZ- Annual General Meeting in Kitwe.
ESMAZ acting president, Dale Litana, said all the developed emerald mines are owned by foreigners.
He said the gemstone sector has seen very little development since the inception of emerald mining in the 1930s.
And Mines Safety department chief inspector of mines, Billy Chewe, assured the gemstone miners of continued government support.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
By Ian Brimacombe
BBC World Service, Lusaka, Zambia
The BBC's Komla Dumor speaks to Francis Grogan, the managing director of Zambeef
Empty plastic sterilised bottles roll down a Zammilk production line about 50 km north of Lusaka. It takes less than three seconds for a machine to spray yoghurt into each bottle.
Further down the line, another machine screws the lids on. The bottles are then whisked off to sell in shops. This factory is not just producing yoghurt, but also fresh milk, cultured milk, and a popular flavoured drink called Zamsip.
Over 25,000 litres of milk products are processed here every day.
The company that runs this processing plant, Zambeef, began as a small butcher shop in the capital, Lusaka in 1991. Agri-business is definitely the future for this country
Can Africa escape recession?
Since then it has grown to become one of the biggest food production businesses in Africa.
Place "Zam" in front of just about any food product, and there is a pretty good chance this company is producing it.
Zambeef slaughters 60,000 cows a year.
At the same time, Zamchick produces and processes 3.5m chickens. Then there is Zamleather, Zamflour, and Zamshu, among others.
"Agri-business is definitely the future for this country," says Zambeef's managing director, Francis Grogan.
"Zambia has got huge masses of land. We've got very fertile soil, fantastic rainfall and a climate perfectly suited to growing crops."
Many would agree.
But so far, Zambeef stands out as a rare Zambian agricultural powerhouse.
CRUNCH TIME FOR AFRICA
World leaders will meet next month in London to discuss measures to tackle the downturn. See our in-depth guide to the G20 summit.
Only one African country will be represented at summit.
This week BBC World News and World Service Radio will be examining how Africa is coping with the crisis, with our blog and reports from the continent
Top tips from African entreprenuers
Turning the countryside into a viable, sustainable industry on a much larger scale is something people here have talked about for ages.
But until now, it has not happened.
That is because it takes more than mother nature's blessing to turn Zambia into an African breadbasket.
"The problem is money," says Mr Grogan.
"It costs $10,000 a hectare to turn bush-land into farmland. That's just getting the electricity and irrigation up and running," he says.
Then there is the fact that banks in Zambia only make loans in US dollars, and the revenues are generated in Kwacha, the local currency.
That carries the potential of exposing farmers to big losses when the dollar appreciates - as it is doing at the moment.
"It's a very risky business," says Mr Grogan.
The other challenge for Zambian farming has been the country's proximity to its much bigger neighbour, South Africa.
"South African exporters have used their export power to destroy farming potential in Zambia," says Ndambo Ndambo, executive director of Zambia's 300,000-strong National Farmer's Union.
So in light of all this, how has Zambeef done it?
Francis Grogan says the company business model of controlling every stage of the food production chain - including retailing - has been the key to its success.
Mr Ndambo agrees.
"Zambeef is providing leadership in farming," he says. "They can compete with South African producers. They have the muscle."
But Zambeef will remain the exception to the rule, says Mr Ndambo, unless the Zambian government begins to make investment in agriculture a top priority.
That, he says, means giving farmers financial breaks, encouraging banks to lend to the sector, and making it more difficult for South African competitors.
With the right incentives agri-business could become Africa's new emerging market
"Now is the time for investment in Zambian agriculture," he says.
These days, the government might just be swayed.
Zambia's Agriculture Minister, Dr Brian Chitu, says the government recognises that the country's farmers need incentives if the industry is to continue to grow.
"We don't really believe that agriculture can take off without credit facilities," he told the BBC World Service.
Dr Chitu says the problem of access to credit, which is particularly critical for small-scale farmers, will be addressed in the next session of parliament.
"I intend to introduce a bill in parliament - the agricultural credit act - this we believe will assist small-scale farmers particularly to access money."
Since the downturn, the price of Zambia's biggest export, copper, has more than halved, and mines in Zambia's copper-belt are beginning to close.
Suddenly, the need for a more diversified economy has taken on a new urgency.
When it comes to farming, Zambia certainly will not be starting from scratch.
The country's share of food and other farm products in total exports has been increasing - from less than 5% in the 1980s to more than 20% today.
Zambia is also better able to feed itself, becoming mostly self-sufficient in staple products like wheat and maize.
Now, the Zambeef success story might just provide enough incentive for Zambian policy makers to place agriculture at the centre of a new economic strategy.
Tue, 10 Mar 2009 10:20:00 +000
THE passing on last Friday of the wife of the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, the Right Honourable Morgan Tsvangirai was as shocking as it was painful. I cried silent tears. I had only ever met Mrs Tsvangirai once, some time in 1998 as they were doing window shopping one Saturday morning in Harare with their children.
PM Tsvangirai was then Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU). However, at the news of her passing on I felt like I had lost my own mother. The reason is this woman is a symbol of what makes us human – humble, warm, loving and caring.
Today I am not going to sing a funeral dirge or an ode to the dear departed. I want to sing a song of celebration to the life of this great woman. The greatest tragedy in life is not death, but life...life that fails to fulfil its purpose.
We celebrate her life, because it’s a life that fulfilled its purpose. Not least the purpose of being a pillar of strength and source of comfort to the PM, and the purpose of making a difference to those she came into contact with.
Susan Nyaradzo Tsvangirai 1958 – 2009 ... It’s all in the dash
“After King David had served his generation according to the will of God, he fell asleep...”- Dr Luke in the Book of Acts
The day we are born is the day we start our special assignment. The day we die is the day we complete that assignment. How we execute our special assignment is summarised in the dash (-) between the date of birth and the date of death.
It’s not how many years you live on earth that makes a difference, but what you do with the number of years you have in this world. Susan Tsvangirai made the most of those 50 years in this world.
The outpouring of sympathies and eulogies from all over the globe for Susan Tsvangirai is a reflection of the size of the dash in her life. Even Hollywood star couple Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were among those to make a call to the PM. Mrs Tsvangirai quietly touched so many lives.
Through her Nyaradzo Trust she helped HIV patients, the poor and at some point her house had been turned into a soup kitchen to feed the hungry.
Legends Never Die
The memory of Susan Tsvangirai will forever be interred in the hearts of the people she touched, not in a physical shrine.
Her legendary humility, warmth and love shall forever be an inspiration and an example of what makes us human. Her legacy of service and quiet hope is the foundation upon which the story of her life will continue to echo for generations to come.
Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Louis Vutton or Prada will all fade over time, but the gift of love creates a lasting legacy. In a world full of celebrity culture, it’s easy to build one’s brand around ostentation, but the fruits which last are those which touch people’s lives.
Touching of people’s lives is the gift Susan Tsvangirai has bequeathed to her generation.
May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, mount guard over the hearts of PM Tsvangirai, the children, family, friends and all those mourning the passing on of Mrs Tsvangirai.
Labels: SUSAN TSVANGIRAI
- TZG/Reuters Reporters
Wed, 11 Mar 2009 03:56:00 +0000
Zimbabwes Prime Minister and main opposition Movement For Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai (L) and his family members attend the church service for his late wife Susan inside the Methodist Church in Harare, March 10, 2009. REUTERS
PRIME MINISTER Morgan Tsvangirai's eldest son has heaped praises on President Robert Mugabe after he delivered a speech at his mother's funeral on Wednesday.
Edwin Tsvangirai delivered a speech at a memorial held for his mother, Mrs Susan Tsvangirai who died in a car accident on Friday.
Addressing thousands of mourners who paid their respects to his mother Tuesday at a Harare stadium, Edwin said “I want to thank his excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe for the kind words that changed my understanding of him."
He also urged his father, Prime Minister Tsvangirai to look ahead to the work of rebuilding Zimbabwe.
"Our path is to grieve and heal, so we can prepare you for taking the nation forward," Edwin said.
President Mugabe told the mourners he was saddened by the death of Mrs Tsvangirai, and that he hoped "Morgan will remain strong".
The president said all Zimbabweans should support prime minister Tsvangirai at this very difficult time.
"“This is a difficult moment for our colleague. He has lost a partner and we must all rally to support him and lessen his burden,” President Mugabe said.
“To our supporters, we want to say violence should stop. That’s what (Mrs) Tsvangirai would have wanted, for us to co-exist peacefully. We have just started a new life after years of fighting each other and insulting each other. We have said let’s give peace and harmony a chance and work together.”
He assured the Tsvangirai family, and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formations, that “we are mourning with you, our hearts are with you”. He went on: “This issue of politics has been affecting our lives and families badly. People don’t know the troubles and dirty wars that we fight.”
Prime Minister Tsvangirai uttered one sentence during the church service: “Let us celebrate her existence as God’s gift to me and us.” Several times during the service, Tsvangirai was unable to restrain his tears.
A Western diplomat was quoted by Reuters news agency saying: “Mugabe’s gesture is remarkable — there really seems to be a sign of genuine sincerity and a willingness to work with the MDC.
Nyasha -- Opinion
Wed, 11 Mar 2009 04:41:00 +0000
DEAR EDITOR -- The world has moved on. Zimbabwe is moving on. Seismic political changes are taking place in Zimbabwe, in the US, the world over. The inclusive Government is taking shape and will soon be working.
I'm sure everyone in Zimbabwe is glad that we are beginning to move forward.
It's sad reading some news and radio reports and some blogs still spreading propaganda and negativity about our country.
I think we are all in agreement the attacks we saw in the last 6 months are wrong, stop living in the past and forget who did what and when, live for the future and stand against the people trying todestroy our country!
This is the change we all craved. It is here and we have to move on. It is not perfect, but where is politics perfect, and is it not a good start?
I was listening to an internet radio broadcast yesterday trying hard to discredit President Mugabe and the inclusive Government. These individuals should be ashamed of themselves. History will judge them harshly.
Some of us find peace and solace in seeing President Mugabe and Prime Minister Tsvangirai acting civilized.
Written by Editor
SIMON Zukas says Rupiah Banda has lost the moral high ground befitting the status of a head of state, Republican president. Simon has gotten it wrong. Rupiah hasn't lost the moral high ground. One can only lose something that one had before. Rupiah had no high moral ground. He didn't enter State House with high moral ground.
Rupiah entered State House as a discredited politician whose whole campaign to power was characterised by tribalism or regionalism, corruption and intolerance. Therefore, one can say that Rupiah entered State House on a very low moral ground. But this is not to say Rupiah should not try to move away from the lower to the higher moral ground. After all, dialectics teaches us that development, progress is always from lower to higher.
However, we agree with Simon, this great and tireless freedom fighter, that Rupiah should try to gain high moral ground if he is to be effective and efficient as the leader of this country.
But we don't think this will be an easy thing for Rupiah to do or to achieve. We say this because Rupiah doesn't seem to realise that he is President of a country whose people are seriously trying to improve the way their affairs are managed by their representatives, a nation that is seriously trying to democratise its political and economic life.
Rupiah wants to run things like he is an emperor. Zambia is not a monarch where the emperor is the father of the nation. To suggest in any slightest way that the presidency of this country is metaphorically equivalent to fatherhood in a family, and that citizens are equivalent to children, is a dangerous form of paternalism fundamentally in conflict with the possibility of democracy in a modern political system. This is a failure to appreciate that the price of modern political order is calculated on the basis of human rights, and not obscure customs of convenience.
It should be very clear to all by now that Rupiah and his government have a lot of problems, and many problems lie ahead for them. They don't seem to know where they are headed, and that is dangerous. Rupiah's great achievement seems to be directionless leadership: he is trying very hard to be seen to be in control and this is why he is even now talking about being seen to be biting and biting deeply. But no one knows where Rupiah is leading to. We have all made many mistakes in what we do. But few people have been consistently wrong on all the great issues that today face our nation, as Rupiah is. Rupiah has no sense of urgency, priority and direction. He has failed to define the purpose of his presidency.
The only thing that is clear about Rupiah is that he is guided by the wish to destroy us and all those who seem to oppose or question his decisions and actions; and by the determination to entrench himself in power and seek re-election in 2011. This is certainly not a recipe for governing well. You cannot run an administration forever on such principles and motivation.
Simon is right when he says the MMD is no longer the same strong party because it has been split. So many things have changed in the MMD. And we are not saying that things should always remain the same. Change is an important part of life, and political parties that do not change die. But people shouldn't change to forget their principles, but to fulfil them and to keep their relevance. For a political party, change is an important part of gaining or regaining the nation's trust, to show the people that politics is not some byzantine game played out over screeds of paper but a real and meaningful part of our lives.
But the MMD of Rupiah doesn't seem to be more than a coalition, a motley assortment of contradictory elements brought about to win power and give themselves jobs and access to state finances and other resources. This is the one common idea or element that Rupiah and his friends in the MMD hold in common. But as we are starting to witness, with the passage of time, that will prove to be insubstantial glue. The signs of division may today be no bigger than a small fish in a jar, but they will grow.
Rupiah and his friends are too bossy, too contemptuous of other citizens, too self-satisfied for their own good or for others. The wheel of fortune turns and that which once appeared fresh and strong, with the passing of time goes to seed. Soon the Zambian people may need a rest from them.
There is need for Rupiah and his friends to start recognising the scale of their problems. They are increasingly becoming associated with the most disagreeable messages, thoughts, decisions and practices. And this must be understood and appreciated as a deeply felt distaste, rather than momentary irritation. And they should not dismiss it as a mere false perception. They are linked to corruption, harshness: thought to be uncaring about unemployment, poverty; and considered to be indifferent to the plight of workers and others losing their jobs every day. They are seen not to care about job losses. Rupiah's stated goal of seeing to it that The Post is closed, without caring what happens to the workers, bears testimony to this. Rupiah and his government are thought to favour greed as exhibited in their defence and embracing of the corrupt as long as they support them politically.
The MMD must in the very near future learn again to display the common purpose that is fundamental to the party's prospects. If they don't, they stand no chance of being re-elected in 2011. They are seen to be very arrogant and insensitive. And much of this is as a result of the personal mannerisms that are grating on the public after over 17 years in office.
Corruption has disgraced them in the eyes of the public, causing them to be seen as unfit for public service. And such distasteful perceptions can endure and do them harm for a long time.
They should face these issues head-on and deal with them. Rupiah's conduct so far has profoundly disappointed, disgusted many people who supported him in last year's elections.
The number of people disappointed with Rupiah is growing by the day. He is every day losing supporters and not gaining any. Rupiah's only discernible preoccupation seems to be the closure of The Post. But his hatred for us in understandable. We understand very well why the genuinely good intentions of The Post editorial work and its decision to invest in Zambian Airways, a company employing over 260 aviation experts of all sorts and in much need of capital, are sneered at by Rupiah, why there appears to be a permanent quest on his part to bring The Post down. Our own and only explanation is that genuine goodness is always threatening to those at the opposite end of the moral spectrum. And Simon is right in demanding for the President of this country to stand on a high moral ground. Rupiah is standing on too low a moral ground for him to meaningfully and progressively govern this country.
The MMD has taken a very big gamble with Rupiah. It is actually a senseless one. Rupiah is part of the people who destroyed, finished off UNIP. It was only after they had totally destroyed UNIP that they started talking of retiring from politics. And these are the type of people the MMD has gone to recruit to come and help destroy itself. There is no building or strengthening of MMD that these assassins of UNIP can bring to MMD. The only thing that we can be sure they will bring to MMD is its destruction.
Those who sponsored Rupiah in MMD used to go round saying they want to use him as a unifying factor, as a transitional leader to get them to 2011. Can they still say the same things today? What unity has Rupiah brought to the MMD? Is he really a transitional leader to 2011? Time will tell!
This is what happens when greed and vanity consume people and their political organisations. This is what happens when the will to sacrifice and struggle for that which is fair, just and humane is traded for vanity, greed and indeed corruption. This is what happens when principles are exchanged for political expediency. This is the poison that results from that combination. But who will drink this poison that they have produced out of the fruits of vanity and greed?
Written by Lambwe Kachali
Wednesday, March 11, 2009 5:10:49 PM
VETERAN politician Simon Zukas has said President Rupiah Banda has lost the moral high ground befitting the status of a Republican president. And Zukas has welcomed the recent conviction of high-profile people, saying it is a plus to the country's fight against corruption.
In an interview, Zukas advised President Banda against running a government dictated by MMD cadres.
Zukas said any President worth his sort would not turn State House into a political platform to deliberately attack institutions like The Post in front of cadres.
He said the Republican Presidency was an important institution and that the one occupying it should retain high moral ground.
"...You can't run a show as dictated by cadres. These marches of cadres to State House are a deliberate move, being organised by MMD officials. It is embarrassing that he [President Banda] allows them. This reduces the status of State House," Zukas said. "I think as a President, any President worth his sort, would not do that and in particular President Banda will reflect that this is a wrong way we are heading as a democracy.
"There was a serious lapse [on MMD], where State House became a political instrument. That is regrettable. I am sure that President Banda will reflect on this and not repeat it. It's regrettable that he made himself to come down to that level, because once you are in State House, you are above your party politics. Addressing cadres the way he did, he lost it and became just a party politician. He lost the moral high ground of speaking for the country as a whole. He is supposed to represent all the political tendencies...represent the people as a whole."
Zukas also said MMD was no longer the same strong party because it had been split.
Zukas, who was one of the founding members of MMD, described the recent expulsion of Jonas Shakafuswa [Katuba member of parliament] and Lameck Chibombamilimo [Mpulungu member of parliament] as a disservice to the party.
"This reflects a split in MMD. To me the firing of these two and threatening others is a sign that there is a split in the party," Zukas said.
Over a week ago, President Banda vowed in front of MMD cadres who marched to State House to express solidarity with him that he would ensure that The Post was closed by the debt that it owes various government institutions.
President Banda also told cadres that he had fired Shakafuswa and Chibombamilimo for issuing negative statements against him and the party. President Banda went on to say that he would take the duo's names to the MMD national executive committee where he would have them removed from the party after which he would follow them to their constituencies and defeat them.
The duo was later expelled from the MMD for alleged indiscipline.
And last Saturday, President Banda told students from institutions of higher learning - who were transported to State House to express their solidarity with him - that The Post owed US$30 million to the Zambian people. President Banda said he would ensure that The Post was investigated thoroughly because no one was above the law.
And Zukas said the magistrates were doing a commendable job and hoped that there would be no interference from the political front in the remaining high profile corruption cases.
"For quite a while, it looked as if magistrates couldn't exercise themselves over higher ranking people. Cases could be span up for years, and that higher ranking [offenders] thought that they could get away with it. So, we welcome the convictions and hope magistrates will continue to do their duty and that on the political side, there will be no interference with their work," he said.
Zukas appealed to the National Pensions Scheme Authority (NAPSA) to help reduce the impact arising from the global economic meltdown.
He said the government should also take drastic measures such as reducing unnecessary expenditure on luxuries if the economy was to recover.
"They [government] should be serious. This is my disappointment. There is no belt tightening at government level," said Zukas.
Prior to the elections, Zukas flanked veteran politician and Lusaka lawyer Dr Roger Chongwe at a press briefing where the latter backed President Banda's candidature in last year's elections.
Written by Patson Chilemba
Wednesday, March 11, 2009 5:09:30 PM
RUPIAH Banda is a shameless old liar, former works and supply minister Ludwig Sondashi has charged. Reacting to President Banda who on Saturday said Sondashi had no business talking about corruption because he was fired for graft by late president Levy Mwanawasa, Sondashi charged that President Banda was using the presidential immunity to scandalise and smear filth on other citizens.
He said he was not fired by president Mwanawasa on account of corruption.
Sondashi said he disagreed with president Mwanawasa on bringing outsiders to occupy senior government and party positions.
"I am asking him to take me to court so that he can prove that I was corrupt. Rupiah Banda knows that he is enjoying presidential immunity and I can't sue him. I deny what he alleged because if Mwanawasa found me to be corrupt, he could not only have fired me. He could have taken me to court as he did with other ministers. In Chiluba's government, I wasn't fired by Mr Chiluba. I resigned together with Mwanawasa on account of corruption," Sondashi said. "What led me to be removed from Mwanawasa's government was because I was complaining of [Victory Ministries founding pastor] Mr Nevers Mumba as [Republican] vice-president and when he brought [MMD spokesperson Benny] Tetamashimba. I even refused to accompany him to North-Western Province to campaign."
Sondashi urged President Banda to be sobre-minded and not react to issues on impulse.
He charged that President Banda was misleading himself because he was reacting to issues before proving the facts.
Sondashi said President Banda should not start manufacturing evidence and concocting stories.
"There was a time Mwanawasa accused me when he was firing [former Republican vice-president Enock] Kavindele. He wrote a letter to Kavindele, which was published in the press. In that letter he accused me and Kavindele that we bought an aeroplane from ZAF corruptly. Later, I challenged Mwanawasa that I didn't know anything about this," Sondashi narrated. "After that he came back to me apologising that he was misled. So Rupiah Banda should be very careful of what he sees regarding people."
Sondashi said his record in government spoke for itself and that he was not corrupt.
He said President Banda had resorted to desperate attempts of telling lies about him.
"He's a shameless old liar," Sondashi said.
He said he had raised several corruption issues committed in President Banda's government but the President had failed to respond to them.
Sondashi said President Banda should listen to people offering constructive criticism over his governance rather than maligning them with lies.
On Saturday, President Banda challenged Sondashi to tell the nation why he was dismissed by late president Mwanawasa.
"I would like to warn Dr Sondashi, I am President now, I have records for everything in this country. You ask Dr Sondashi why he was dropped as Cabinet minister. Let him tell Zambian people the true reasons. And if what I am saying is not true, if I am scandalising Dr Sondashi, I would like to ask him to go and challenge me in court. I will then produce the real reasons why he was sacked as minister. He knows very well that he has no business talking about corruption. If there is anybody in this country whose corruption is blatant, is obvious, this man Dr Sondashi," President Banda told students from institutions of higher learning in Lusaka that were transported to State House to express their solidarity with him. "It's no good results for our party to have a man like him who has no shame, who committed corruption and was caught red- handed. Let him go to court."
And announcing his resignation from the MMD at a press briefing last week, Sondashi charged that if President Banda had failed to improve on late president Mwanawasa's legacy in the four months he had been in office, he would be a disaster if given a longer term in office.
He said while President Mwanawasa raised the bar on the fight against corruption, President Banda had lowered it to very low levels.
Sondashi cited the importation of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) type maize by a company allegedly closely associated with President Banda's son, James, communications and transport minister Dora Siliya's alleged corruption scams and MMD deputy national secretary Jeff Kaande's corruption allegations, which he said had not been handled properly.
Written by Maluba Jere
Wednesday, March 11, 2009 5:07:58 PM
THE Dora Siliya tribunal yesterday heard that some of the witnesses that have been subpoenaed are scared to testify because they have been threatened by the MMD. And one of the lawyers for the petitioners Bonaventure Mutale said President Rupiah Banda's comments on the tribunal sittings are prejudicial and have a potential of undermining the proceedings.
This is in a matter where former communications and transport minister William Harrington and ten civil society organisations have petitioned Chief Justice Ernest Sakala to constitute the tribunal to probe communications and transport minister Dora Siliya for alleged abuse of authority.
Eddie Mwitwa, one of the lawyers representing the petitioners, told the tribunal that the witnesses needed to be assured that they would not be harassed by anyone if they testified.
"My lords, I do not know whether it would be appropriate for me to make this submission now but instructions that we received are that some of the witnesses we subpoenaed are scared of coming because of threats received within the political circles," Mwitwa said. "The petitioners ask for assurance that the witnesses will testify but they will and should not be harassed in any manner by anyone. The instructions we received are that the threats are from a named political party."
Tribunal chairperson judge Dennis Chirwa then asked Mwitwa to disclose the name of the party and in response, the lawyer said he did not have instructions to do so.
But judge Chirwa told Mwitwa that it would be difficult for the tribunal to proceed on the matter if he just made a vacuum statement.
Judge Peter Chitengi also told Mwitwa that it would be difficult for the tribunal to rule on the matter if he just gave a blanket complaint.
Mwitwa then revealed that the party in question was MMD.
"The threats are from the ruling party. We had requested for certain witnesses, in particular from Petauke, to come and shed some light on the petitioners' complaints," he said. "...They were supposed to come from Petauke District Council my lords, that's as far as I can go."
Mwitwa said he would get more details from his clients on who in particular was responsible for the threats.
And Mutale asked the tribunal to request President Banda to refrain from making comments that relate to the tribunal while it is sitting.
"The matter was adjourned to enable the permanent secretary to give evidence but before she takes the stand, I have got a preliminary point I would like the tribunal to take note of," Mutale said. "This relates to certain prejudicial comments made by the Executive, the President in The Post Sunday 8th March seems to suggest, the President...making assertions would...which reads 'Rupiah accuses The Post of pocketing $30 million and claims The Post is trying to disturb the Dora tribunal'. My concern is that the President as chief executive is making comments on this tribunal which may have a potential of undermining what is taking place in this tribunal.
"We are mindful of the tribunal's mandate under the relevant statute. We would earnestly request the tribunal to request the President to refrain from making comments that relate to the tribunal during the time that the tribunal is sitting."
Mutale said it was uncalled for to draw The Post in the proceedings to which the newspaper was not party.
"In our view, drawing The Post in the proceedings is totally uncalled for as they are not a party to the proceedings," he said.
He told the tribunal that the petitioners raised their complaint through the Chief Justice purely on their convictions as citizens of the country and that they did not do so as agents of the newspaper.
Mutale said the complainants were not acting as agents of the newspaper nor were they taking orders from it.
Mutale's concerns come in the wake of President Banda's remarks on Saturday that The Post were trying to disturb the tribunal that is sitting to investigate Siliya.
Siliya's lawyer Eric Silwamba submitted that statements prejudicial to the proceedings should not be encouraged and that it was the respondents' wish that during the proceedings, justice is not only done but be seen to be done.
However, Silwamba said statements which touch on the proceedings should be subjudicial, adding that he did not see how prejudicial any statement made by any citizen not to derail the proceedings could be prejudicial.
"My lords, I do not speak for the Executive, I speak for the respondents," Silwamba said. "The ideal situation is that all parties should refrain from commenting on these proceedings. What is good for the goose should be good for the gander. That my lord would be my submission on concerns raised by learned State Counsel Mr Mutale."
On Mwitwa's submissions, Silwamba told the tribunal that Mwitwa made a global allegation.
"Again my lord, I cannot speak for the ruling party. My client is a respondent and a member of that party and the insinuation is that she may well have a hand in the interference," Silwamba said. "That allegation should not be taken lightly..."
He also said it was not enough for Mwitwa to say the threats were from the MMD and that the people making the threats should be named and compelled to appear before the tribunal to be dealt with accordingly.
"There are provisions in the law that deal with such conduct. It is not enough to blow trumpets and leave the rest to contempt," Silwamba submitted. "Therefore my lord, that allegation must not be ignored. It must be investigated and proved to the appropriate threshold."
Judge Chirwa then asked Mwitwa if he was in a position to tell the tribunal the particulars of those involved to which he said he would endeavour to get the specific details.
Judge Chirwa has reserved ruling on Mutale's submissions, saying the tribunal would study it, while on Mwitwa's submission, he said the tribunal would wait for instructions from Mwitwa's clients.
Meanwhile, the tribunal admitted as part of the evidence two documents tendered by communications and transport permanent secretary Mukuka Zimba.
And procurement and supplies officer in the ministry Isaac Mukupa told the tribunal that the estimated amount for the tender to supply the two radars was K20 billion for each airport.
During examination in chief by Mwitwa, Mukupa testified that the permanent secretary's role was to confirm the availability of funds to the procurement unit, which invites interested suppliers with regard to the supply of radars.
He said the minister has no role to play in procurement as well as in selecting the method to employ when picking a company to supply radars.
Mukupa told the tribunal that the Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA), formerly Zambia National Tender Board (ZNTB), was responsible for preparing bidding documents, which should be cleared by the procurement unit at the ministry.
He said with regard to RP Capital valuating Zamtel's assets, the procurement department at the ministry of transport was not involved in the process.
Mukupa also told the tribunal that he did not recall attending any meeting in relation to RP Capital valuating Zamtel's assets.
And during cross-examination by Silwamba, Mukupa said according to the Public Procurement Act 12 of 2008 the minister has no role in the procurement process but the responsibility lies with the procurement and supplies department.
He also told the tribunal that there were allegations regarding the tender or the supply of radars at the two airports.
Mukupa explained that in a letter by a concerned taxpayer addressed to the Director General, ZNTB, it was stated that one bidder provided a manufacture of authorization certificate which was issued by the firm that was not a manufacturer.
He also explained how the permanent secretary asked him to write a report on the allegations that members of Thales Air Systems were patronising officers from the procurement department.
Mukupa told the tribunal that in his report, he indicated that there was no physical contact with bidders [Thales] adding that the only contact was through the information submitted to ZPPA.
He also testified that no officer from his department travelled to South Africa where they were hosted by Thales Air Systems as alleged by the taxpayer in their letter to ZNTB.
He further told the tribunal that the procurement and supplies department was involved in the preparation of tender documents and the evaluation of bids processes.
Mukupa said according to the records, five bidders bid for the tender but could not give the names of the documents saying they were a bit difficult.
He also explained that in limited selection, you write to the firms that you want to procure consultancy services whereas limited bidding was for goods and non-consultancy services.
Mukupa also told the tribunal that site visits were compulsory for the bidders saying it was the responsibility of the bidders to come up with the right price and take clarifications from the technical team on site.
The sittings were adjourned to Friday.
Written by Ernest Chanda
Wednesday, March 11, 2009 5:05:49 PM
UNIVERSITY of Pretoria Human Rights Law lecturer Professor Michelo Hansungule has asked President Rupiah Banda to leave public office if he does not want to be criticised by the media.
Commenting on President Banda's relentless threats to close The Post newspaper, Prof Hansungule said the President's conduct does not befit a public officer.
"From his remarks, it is quite clear that President Banda wants to be left alone to govern without any criticism from the media. He does not want the media to put him under scrutiny for his inactions and actions as a public official. I would actually agree with him that he and his officials must be left alone but then they must leave public office in order to enjoy their privacy," Prof Hansungule said.
"I personally do not understand why a person who is so sensitive to criticism should leave his or her private domain and venture into public office? President Banda should be aware of the elementary principle of governance that the public are entitled to know how they are governed by those they supposedly put in power and how those in power make their decisions.
"If you think The Post, for instance, has accused you unfairly, you have every right to hurl them before courts and let them prove their allegations. I don't think President Banda is so broke that he cannot afford to drag Fred M'membe to court to ask him to test his allegations. Why has President Banda not gone to court to challenge The Post's allegations, which have been running since the election campaigns? Could it be that there is something in the allegations that he may find difficult to disprove? As long as he will not go to the courts but choose to clear his name through rented cadres, doubts about his credibility will remain."
Prof Hansungule said The Post, like any other media, had a right to inform the public on issues of public interest.
"Fred M'membe and the young people at The Post are just expressing their views about various governance issues in the editorials of their paper. This is democracy. Based on the stories they receive from the general public, they have every right to inform the public and to comment on them as they see them. Since we have a robust system of justice, why not go there to complain on an unfair publication than threaten to close them?" he asked.
"Closing a paper does not close people from talking about the wrongs that are going on. It is just a temporary setback that a critical opinion has been silenced because one cannot close the millions of critical opinions out there, which fed The Post. Since he said it to his party cadres, can I challenge the President to make real his threats and close The Post this coming week?"
He called on the MMD to condemn their leader if they truly believed in press freedom.
"The Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) should unreservedly condemn their acting party president Rupiah Banda for issuing serious threats against press freedom in Zambia during his remarks to MMD party cadres. As the ruling party, the MMD cannot afford to be seen to be condoning acts which run counter to the letter, let alone the spirit of the constitution the party in government is obliged to uphold whatever the cost. Threats against press freedom undermine the fabric of the country's system of governance and raise questions about the fitness of those in government to govern. This is an unfortunate development which a party in government which supposedly cherishes democracy must never even appear to be condoning," said Prof Hansungule.
Written by Continued from yesterday
Wednesday, March 11, 2009 5:04:39 PM
Mwitwa: I was just going to take you back to exhibit P1, particularly the last paragraph. Mr Lubinda...do you see anywhere where the word MoU appears?
Lubinda: Could you just perhaps count them.
Lubinda: My lord, I count four.
Judge Chitengi: Mr Mutale...the MoU was it drafted by lawyers or was home-made?
Kabimba: We do not have an answer.
Silwamba: This particular one...
Judge Chitengi: Was it written by lawyers or was home- made?
Silwamba: This was a document, which my colleagues have brought.
Judge Chitengi: Maybe I lost you. What was your question?
Mwitwa: I was referring the witness of exhibit P19, particularly page three and the very last paragraph. If you could just read the last paragraph of page three.
Lubinda: I wish to inform the House that it was after the advise of the Solicitor General who dealt...
Mwitwa: From the advice that I have referred to you, would you say that advice that was given was adhered to?
Lubinda: It is not up to me to make an opinion on this matter.
Mwitwa: I leave it at that your lordships.
Judget Chirwa: State Counsel Silwamba.
Silwamba: Mr Lubinda, you said that apart from being an elected member of parliament for Kabwata...you are also a member of African Parliamentary Network Against Corruption, in short APNAC.
Lubinda: Yes, my lord.
Silwamba: And also a member of the Global Organisation for Parliamentarians Against Corruption.
Lubinda: Yes, my lord.
Silwamba then asked Lubinda to explain the status of APNAC and its relation to the Zambian Parliament.
Lubinda: My lord, APNAC is a network of African parliamentarians who commit themselves to using their parliamentary positions to contribute to the fight against corruption in their constituencies, in their countries and in their economic and political regions and generally in Africa. Acting on similar lines the Global Organisation of Parliamentarians against Corruption is an association of regional bodies of parliaments such as APNAC...
Silwamba: For our purposes, are all the 158 members of the Zambian parliament members of APNAC?
Lubinda: My lord, APNAC, is a member organisation of parliamentarians who volunteer.
Silwamba: The question is, are all the 158 members of parliament members.
Lubinda: No, your lordship.
Silwamba: Will it be correct to qualify that is a voluntary association. That is a point that we wanted the tribunal to appreciate.
Lubinda: Thank you.
Silwamba: How many members of parliament currently belong to APNAC?
Lubinda: 66, my lord.
Silwamba then asked Lubinda how many parliamentary committees he belonged to.
Silwamba: Now in your evidence this morning, you said that you had read several articles published by The Post newspaper.
Lubinda: I did.
Silwamba: And that you took the initiative, to use your own words, to confront the managing editor Mr Amos Malupenga.
Lubinda: That is correct.
Silwamba: My lord, I might need the exhibit...most of the articles that you read this morning and part of the afternoon refer to a source or a highly placed source. Did you ask Mr Malupenga, who the source or highly placed source was.
Lubinda: I asked Mr Malupenga about the evidence on which they based their story.
Judge Chitengi: If you could answer the question, please.
Judge Chirwa: Did you ask Mr Malupenga about the highly placed source?
Lubinda: My lord, I did ask Mr Malupenga.
Silwamba: Did he volunteer to disclose to you?
Lubinda: No, my lord.
Silwamba: Apart from the Managing Editor of The Post, did you speak with any journalist, as some of the articles you read today had by-lines; one by Amos Malupenga and George Chellah.
Lubinda: No, my lord.
Silwamba: Going back to Parliament, are you aware, I am asking you this question because you are a parliamentarian, of how government ministries and departments are established and by who?
Lubinda: I am my lord.
Silwamba: Please tell their lordships how these are established.
Lubinda: Government ministries and departments and bodies are established either through the Republican Constitution, through an Act of parliament or by the discretion of the head of state.
Silwamba: I would like us to dwell on the...discretion of the head of state. If a president of the republic wants to establish any ministry, does he end there. Is it good enough for him to just say...
Judge Chirwa: He has never worked in the Executive.
Silwamba: He is a member of parliament, they play a role.
Lubinda: On whether it is good enough for the head of state to announce the establishment of a ministry that my lord, is not up to me to qualify.
Silwamba: I will rephrase, my lord.
Have you taken part yourself, in approving...the establishment of a ministry.
Lubinda: I have not taken part in the establishment of any ministry.
Silwamba: You took oath this morning, do you stand by that.
Lubinda: I stand by that.
Silwamba: I will be demonstrating sometime tomorrow, how the Honourable member of parliament for Kabwata did participate. Did you attend the budget speech presentation....
Lubinda: I did my lord.
Silwamba: I take it that you have had occasion to go through that speech...
Lubinda: I have, my lord.
Silwamba: Look at the budget speech in particular paragraph 133 and 134. Mr Lubinda you read to the tribunal paragraphs 133 and 134.
Lubinda read and Silwamba told him from that speech finance minister Dr Situmbeko zero-rated agricultural equipment like hand pumps.
Lubinda: They did, my lord.
Silwamba: So there was VAT payable prior to midnight January 31, 2009. A person in the Republic of Zambia buying a hand pump had to pay Valued Added Tax.
Lubinda: From that statement, yes.
Silwamba: Through parliament, the minister was making hand pumps cheaper by making zero-rated.
Lubinda: VAT was to be zero-rated.
To be continued
Written by Fridah Zinyama
Wednesday, March 11, 2009 5:02:19 PM
BANK of Zambia governor Dr Fundanga has said the weakness of the local currency is a consequence of increased risk aversion to emerging and developing economy financial assets.
According to Dr Fundanga, the supply of foreign exchange by foreign portfolio investors for the purchases of kwacha financial assets such as government securities and domestic company equities has significantly declined, with most non-residents preferring to liquidate their investments and externalising the foreign exchange.
“The consequence to this is the volatility in the exchange rate of the kwacha against other major currencies,” he pointed out.
The kwacha is currently trading at between K5, 625 and K5, 645 per US dollar.
Dr Fundanga explained that the response of the Bank of Zambia has been to significantly increase supply of foreign exchange to the market, in recognition of this supply shock as well as the global uncertainty in the prospects for commodity prices and the mining sector in particular.
“In addition, the financial sector exhibited an additional demand for kwacha liquidity related to the global financial crisis, which was reflected in persistent shortfalls in government securities tenders during the half last year,” he said.
Dr Fundanga said the central bank responded by rebalancing the use of its monetary policy instruments with a greater weight placed on foreign exchange sales.
“Associated with the exchange rate volatility is the pass-through effect of the depreciation of the kwacha against major currencies on domestic inflation,” he said. “A depreciation of the kwacha against major currencies tends to cause inflation to increase.”
Dr Fundanga explained that reflective of this principle, annual inflation increased to 16.6 per cent in December, 2008 from 14.2 per cent in September 2008.
“This outturn was above the 8.9 per cent inflation recorded in December, 2007 and the increase in inflation was in part explained by the pass through effects of the exchange rate of the kwacha against major currencies as the effects of the global financial and economic crises unfolded.
The country's inflation rate has since reduced to 14 per cent but there are fears that the volatile exchange rate might contribute to its increase again as Zambia is a net importer of goods.”