Saturday, April 04, 2009

HH challenges Rupiah to provide education, jobs

HH challenges Rupiah to provide education, jobs
Written by Zumani Katasefa and Mutuna Chanda in Kitwe
Saturday, April 04, 2009 4:15:32 PM

UPND president Hakainde Hichilema has urged President Rupiah Banda's government to provide decent education and jobs to Zambians.

And the government has invited Copperbelt University Students Union (COBUSU) president Kasonde Mwenda who is walking to State House over the plight of his fellow students to attend the national indaba in Lusaka.

In a press statement released yesterday, Hichilema also demanded that the government provides bursaries to over 500 students out of the over 1,400 first year students admitted to the university.

"Further we understand that several students from remote parts of Zambia have not been able to have their applications for admission into Copperbelt University processed. This amounts to discrimination of the highest order. The Ministry of Education should allow such students an opportunity for further education by processing their applications," he stated.

Hichilema said without free education for those that could not afford to pay, Zambia would not meet the target of universal education by 2015 in line with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which the country had committed itself to.

Nkana Patriotic Front member of parliament Mwenya Musenge condemned the government for its failure to provide bursaries to over 500 CBU deserving students.

Musenge said failure to provide bursaries to the students clearly demonstrated that the the government did not attach great importance to education in the country.

Musenge said it was sad that the government was not pro-active to sensitive issues going on in the country such as education.

He said with massive job loses that had rocked the country, very few parents had the capacity to pay for their childrens' education and it was imperative for the government to help children from vulnerable families attain higher education.

"I support Mwenda's [Copperbelt University Student Union president] protest; it is a very peaceful one. And I urge the government not to keep silent over this matter, the government should not wait for Mwenda to reach Lusaka to respond to his demands," Musenge said.

UPND provincial chairman Elisha Mutambo supported Mwenda's protest and urged government to respond urgently.

He said Mwenda's protest was not based on selfish motives and appealed to all patriotic Zambians to support the student.

"Bursaries are meant for vulnerable people, but it is surprising that only children from well-to-do families and connected to the government are the only ones benefiting from the bursaries. This is sad, that is why we have been appealing to Zambians to give us a chance to rule this country. Because our president Hakainde Hichilema understands the importance of education better," Matambo said.

And on Thursday, Mwenda said he had reached Kapiri Mposhi when he received a phone call from CBU Dean of Students Emmanuel Chunda informing him of the invitation to the indaba.

"The Dean of Students just called me informing me that a letter has come to school from the Office of The President that I had been invited to the indaba and that I need to register tomorrow," he said. "The dean also told me that the permanent secretary communicated that she was waiting for a letter from me over the bursaries."

He said he decided to call off the walk to State House at Kapiri Mposhi because the government had shown willingness to talk.

However, Mwenda said if the talks did not yield the desired results of making the government rescind its decision over reducing the number of students on bursary, COBUSU would determine the next course of action.

"We have a cause and until that is achieved we will determine the next course of action," Mwenda said. "My going to the indaba is beyond the indaba. We want to achieve something."

He also complained of being highly fatigued and that his legs were swollen from the two days walk up to Kapiri Mposhi.

Earlier on Wednesday, Mwenda also revealed that some motorists had been sympathetic and were stopping to offer him lifts but he had continued to walk.

Mwenda spent Wednesday night in a grass thatched store between Kafulafuta and Nyenyezi.

Mwenda said he would not relent over the cause that he had embarked on.

Over 500 first year students have not been awarded government sponsorship leading to the student leader's protest walk to State House which started with a hunger strike on Monday.

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Caritas Zambia calls for multi sectoral approach in fight against poverty

Caritas Zambia calls for multi sectoral approach in fight against poverty
Written by Kabanda Chulu in Petauke
Saturday, April 04, 2009 4:12:26 PM

CARITAS Zambia, through its Justice and Solidarity Poverty Reduction Fund (JSPRF) project, has challenged Zambians to take a multi sectoral approach in the fight against poverty.

And Petauke District commissioner David Tembo has said there is need to provide equity of access to quality health care for all Zambians.

Officially handing over Chaka Health Post to the Zambian government at Kandongwa village in Kapoche constituency on Thursday, JSPRF project coordinator Patrick Mucheleka said JSPRF had commissioned 46 projects amounting to K3.1 billion around Petauke that were aimed at improving the livelihood of rural communities.

“We work with representatives of local communities in carrying out various empowerment projects because we believe that a multi-sectoral approach in all aspects of development is the only way to fight poverty and in this regard, we are involved in micro financing, distribution of animal draught-power, development of rural infrastructure such as feeder roads, bridges and dam construction,” said Mucheleka.

“But we realised that not all people are farmers hence we embarked on construction and rehabilitation of schools and health centres through partnership with local communities whereby JSPRF will fund the project and the people mobilise materials like molding bricks and other necessities.”

And Tembo said the government could not afford to do everything and commended people in the area for establishing partnership with JSPRF to construct the clinic.

“This development has shortened distances to Manyale, Mumbi and Minga health centres and we urge other communities to emulate what the people of this area have done since government cannot do everything at once,” said Tembo.

“But despite the challenges, we are committed to provide equity of access to quality health care for all Zambians as can be shown in this development whereby people will now access services within the villages.”

And Chaka Health Centre sister-in-charge Doreen Mtonga said the clinic records 85 to 100 out-patients on average per day and less than 10 deliveries [of babies] per month.

She said the clinic did not offer anti-retroviral therapy but only prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) since it was a requirement.

“For serious illnesses, we refer patients to the nearby Manyale Heath Centre or Petauke General Hospital and with HIV and AIDS programme, we only offer services to expectant mothers and after delivery, we refer them to other health centres where they continue receiving treatment,” said Mtonga.

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Headed for a disastrous end

Headed for a disastrous end
Written by Editor

It is easy for an ordinary man or woman in Kaputa, Shangombo, Chadiza, Sinazeze or Chavuma to lie and get away with it. But it is not easy for Rupiah Banda to lie and get away with it. With such a large audience, it should be so much harder
for Rupiah to tell lies and get away with it.

His words and actions are subject to intense scrutiny by many commentators and observers, all supposedly acting to serve the general public’s desire to know what there is to know about their President.

And yet, despite all this scrutiny and commentary, and the large audience, Rupiah lies, and lies persistently. Why?

It is said that a real leader faces the music, even if he doesn’t like the tune. And the ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people. Honesty towards yourself. Looking into your mirror, any time all the time will guide you.

Rupiah has a serious problem when it comes to honesty, when it comes to telling lies. He is a liar. We don’t enjoy calling anyone a liar. But things have to be called by their names. Rupiah has lied about us, he has told so many lies about us. Why should we fail to call him a liar? Anyone who tells lies is a liar, especially if they do so persistently.

And today we are not the only ones calling Rupiah a liar. Father Augustine Mwewa, the treasurer general of the Catholic Diocese of Ndola, is calling Rupiah a liar: “President Banda is a liar. I am not speaking from without. Look at the lies that he has levelled against Zambian Airways and The Post newspaper editor Fred M’membe.” Fr Mwewa says all the lies that Rupiah has told about The Post and Zambian Airways were slowly manifesting and that he will soon be ashamed.

Truly, Rupiah’s lies are starting to be clear for all to see. But what we don’t know is if Rupiah has any shame in him that will lead to embarrassment when all his lies about us are laid bare for all to see. And does Rupiah in any way consider our characters and reputations as of no moment? Is it no imputation to be arraigned and to have our names transmitted to posterity with disgrace and infamy? We will not conceal our sentiments, that to be falsely, maliciously and recklessly accused by the President of this country of stealing US $30 million from state institutions is to us a matter of great concern. But we have the satisfaction, at the same time, to reflect, that the impression to be made depends upon the consistency, reasonableness, truthfulness of the charge and the motives of Rupiah, of our persecutors.

Had the charge been reasonable, even if not true, we should have felt ourselves called upon for a specific defence. But as it has been our good fortune, the Zambian people know us very well; we have served them in an honest and truthful manner for almost 18 years. And our defence must rest on our own conduct. The consciousness of innocence is also a sufficient support against our present persecutors. Had we been guilty of great enormities, they want neither zeal and inclination to bring them forward, nor ability to place them in the most prominent point of view. But as we are conscious of no crime, our own experience convinces us that none can be justly imputed.

But while we unequivocally deny any wrongdoing in the conduct of the affairs of Zambian Airways, yet we will not shrink from the responsibility which attaches to all that we have done; and should any one step taken by us be proved to be either corrupt or theft, we are ready to hold ourselves accountable. As we have repeatedly said, we believe that wrongdoing should not be condoned from anyone, including ourselves. We are not above the law. If we commit crimes, we should be made to pay the penance for it. And for us who understand very well the evils of corruption, of theft deserve to be punished more than those who don’t. But when this is done, it should be a product of honest accusations and arraignment. It shouldn’t be a product of lies, falsehoods and malice from Rupiah.

It is clear now that everyone in the nation knows that Rupiah is a liar; he has lied about us. And this is why Rupiah is today being challenged by a Catholic priest to take him to court for accusing him of being a liar. It’s impossible for Rupiah to take anyone to court for calling him a liar and succeed. The defence will be very simple because Rupiah’s lies are a matter of fact and they can be catalogued. So today, any Zambian can call Rupiah a liar without a meaningful and legally justifiable response from him.

It is not too late for Rupiah to change this situation. All he needs to do is to admit and confess his lies and seek forgiveness. After that, start a new life of honesty and truth.

It is not a healthy situation for our President to be called a liar every day and night and wherever he goes. But this is the situation his lies have foisted on himself and the nation.

It will be folly for Rupiah to ignore these charges of being liar. They will be repeated by many Zambians. And wisdom calls upon Rupiah to address this issue, to do something positive about it. He shouldn’t in any way try to attack those who call him a liar because what they are saying is true and they can back it with evidence. Moreover, no one should be victimised for telling the truth. Calling Rupiah a liar is telling the truth and this is why he is today being challenged by Fr Mwewa to take him to court for calling him a liar. And you do not lead by hitting people over the head when they tell you the truth – that’s assault, not leadership.

It’s not acceptable for this country to be led on the basis of lies and by a liar. Rupiah has to change and start to embrace the truth and abandon lies. He has to lead by example. It is said that example is not the main thing in leading others, it is the only thing.

Rupiah may be telling lies to keep his hold on power. But this is not the sure way of keeping power because power in the long term is best kept with truth and not with lies. Those who wish to tell lies, always find a lie to tell. Those who wish to lead a life without lies, always find the truth to tell.

It’s very clear that Rupiah is a disgraced man. His lies have made him lose the respect and trust of many people. Even those who earn a living through his appointments don’t trust him – they fear him, but they don’t respect him. And this is happening so early in his presidency – just after five months of taking office. How is he going to govern the country with this low standing in the eyes of so many self-respecting Zambians and citizens of goodwill up to mid-2011?

It is time Rupiah realised things are not alright and chart a new course, adopt new ways of managing the affairs of the country. If he continues on this path and does not want to change his ways, as Fr Mwewa has correctly observed, Rupiah is headed for a disastrous end.

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Rupiah is a liar - Fr Mwewa

Rupiah is a liar - Fr Mwewa
Written by Abigail Chaponda in Ndola
Saturday, April 04, 2009 4:07:53 PM

PRESIDENT Rupiah Banda is a liar and has totally failed to manage the affairs of this country because of his lies, Catholic Diocese of Ndola treasurer general Fr Augustine Mwewa has charged.

And Fr Mwewa has said President Banda is the worst President Zambia has ever had because he lacks vision on how to rule the country. In an interview yesterday, Fr Mwewa said he was not afraid to tell President Banda that he was a lair and taking Zambians for a ride. He said he was ready to go to court for telling the truth about President Banda's failures.

"President Banda is a liar. I am not speaking from without. Look at the lies that he has levelled against Zambian Airways and The Post Newspapers editor Fred M'membe. We can clearly see that President Banda and his government has a grudge against M'membe and The Post because they criticise him and are not afraid of them," Fr Mwewa said.

"We are not going to tolerate President Banda and his government intimidating us. I am not going to keep quiet about the current MMD government and their failures; they are taking us for a ride."

Fr Mwewa said all the lies that President Banda had told about The Post and Zambian Airways were slowly manifesting and that he [President Banda] would soon be ashamed.

"When campaigning President Banda said he was going to rule Zambia for three years only so that he can continue with the legacy of the late president [Levy] Mwanawasa but from the look of things, he wants to stand in 2011. This shows that he lied to the Zambian people," he said.

"I think there is no point of voting in 2011 because President Banda and his government are going to use state machinery to rig the elections."

He wondered why Zambians had allowed President Banda to feed them with lies when it was evident that he had failed to run the country.

"I am wondering why we have continued to be governed by a lair. I am ready to go to court for telling the President the truth. I am non-partisan and he is not going to fire or suspend me from MMD for telling him the truth," he said.

Fr Mwewa said President Banda had a duty to rule the country as opposed to fighting and attacking institutions like The Post and individuals such as M'membe who were criticising him positively.

"We refuse the one party state that President Banda is trying to bring back. Wisdom is not the monopoly of the MMD government. This is not UNIP, UNIP politics are gone, we should cultivate and nurture democracy," he said.

And Fr Mwewa revealed that people from the Office of the President (OP) were trailing him and were questioning members of his parish on his activities.

"The MMD government is panicking, that's why they are sending people from OP to spy on me. They are also scared of [Radio Icengelo station manager] Fr Frank Bwalya because he is a threat to them, they can't allow him to have a press conference," he said. "People of Zambia, should anything happen to me, the government has sent people from OP on me. They have been asking people about me, what I am doing and if I am selling Fr Bwalya's t-shirts. But this is a sign of a panicking, scared and failing government."

Fr Mwewa challenged President Banda to change the way he was ruling the country because he was headed for a disastrous end.

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‘Kunda should apologise for fooling people of W/Province’

‘Kunda should apologise for fooling people of W/Province’
Written by Edwin Mbulo in Livingstone
Saturday, April 04, 2009 4:05:26 PM

A LIVINGSTONE veteran politician George Akufuna has asked Vice-President George Kunda to apologise to the people of Western Province for fooling them.

In an interview, Akufuna said Vice-President Kunda's statement in Mongu on Wednesday that the people of Western Province were special because they saved the MMD from Patriotic Front (PF) leader Michael Sata's wrath in the last elections was made on fools' day and uncalled for.

“The MMD has been fooling the people of the Western Province for two terms now. It is not true that Kunda went to thank the people of the province for having voted for the MMD during the Presidential by-elections following the death of president Levy Mwanawasa. He just went there to try and kill UPND president Hakainde Hichilema's visit to the area recently,” he said.

Akufuna, who is former Livingstone UPND district chairman and founder member of the MMD in the tourist capital, said history had shown that the province despite propelling the MMD into office had not been fully rewarded.

“It is an insult to the people of the Western Province and I want him to answer me on this. Since 2001 people believed that Mwanawasa won due to the influence of Luapula and Northern provinces hence the removal of Enock Kavindele as [then] Vice-President to allow Nevers Mumba in as a reward for the votes,” Akufuna said. “In 2006 we all know that Michael Sata could have been President had it not been the Western Province which retained Mwanawasa and also during the last by-elections Sata nearly won again until we changed the outcome. But we have not been rewarded by the MMD for the post of Vice-President. Now Kunda goes there to fool us.”

Last Wednesday, Vice-President Kunda said the Western Province was a special place because its people helped the MMD survive Sata's wrath during the last presidential elections.

“The votes we got from here were key to ensure that we survive the last Presidential elections…When we were neck to neck with one of the opposition candidates Mr Sata, we were frightened but when the results from here came we were saved,” Vice-President Kunda said in Mongu when he paid a courtesy call on the Litunga.

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Gemfields announces reduction in mining scale at Kagem emerald mine

Gemfields announces reduction in mining scale at Kagem emerald mine
Written by Nchima Nchito Jr
Saturday, April 04, 2009 4:01:01 PM

GEMFIELDS has announced the reduction of the scale of mining at its Kagem Emerald Mine and the writing down of the mines value to Zero.

Gemfields is a London listed company which is part of the Pallinghurst Resources and considered to be one of the world’s largest emerald mines, with 25 per cent owned by the Zambian government. The Kagem emerald mine, where the Zambian government holds a 25 per cent stake, is Gemfields’ principal source of emeralds for its downstream business.

According to mining weekly, the company stated that it had chosen to minimise all nonessential capital, project development, and exploration expenditure until the market prospects for recovery in the gemstone market became clearer.

“The ongoing uncertainty in the global economy, the loss-making performance during the period and the lack of reliable emerald prices make it difficult to justify forecasts showing a positive cash flow with reasonable certainty. This in turn complicates valuing the mine,” it stated.

Gemfields stated that it had opted to take a conservative approach in estimating the emerald prices achievable for the reminder of 2009.

“The company’s performance has been, and would likely continue, to be significantly lower than projected at the time of its listing on the AIM, and would result in operating loss for the financial year ended June 2009,” Gemfields stated.

During the six months ended December 2008, Gemfields reported a loss of US $186.5 million.

Meanwhile, Gemfields stated that it would actively pursue its strategy for integrating the supply chain and improving the marketing of coloured gemstones during the coming year. It is hoped that the efforts would increase the demand for the company’s products, thereby supporting an increase in prices and achievable margins.

“We remain optimistic, however, that our current focus on reducing operating costs and improving mining efficiencies and our efforts to support brand awareness will ensure that Gemfields is well placed to reap the benefits when global conditions improve,” stated company chairperson Graham Mascall.

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S/Africa prosecutors to unveil Zuma decision Monday

S/Africa prosecutors to unveil Zuma decision Monday
Written by JOHANNESBURG (Reuters)
Saturday, April 04, 2009 3:59:01 PM

South African prosecutors will announce on Monday a decision on whether to drop corruption charges against ruling ANC leader Jacob Zuma, a spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said on Friday.

"We are going to announce the decision on Monday." NPA spokesman Tlali Tlali said. The NPA said last month it was considering whether to drop charges against Zuma after he lodged a legal request.

The African National Congress (ANC) is widely expected to win South Africa's April 22 election with Zuma becoming president of Africa's biggest economy.

A decision to drop the charges would end a long legal battle that had raised doubts over Zuma's ability to govern. He denies wrongdoing and says he is the victim of a political conspiracy.

The NPA charged Zuma with corruption, fraud, money laundering and racketeering on December 28, 2007, eight days after he won the ANC leadership by defeating then President Thabo Mbeki.

A High Court judge dismissed the corruption charges but the decision was overturned by the appeals court in January.

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Miyanda unhappy with indaba invitations

Miyanda unhappy with indaba invitations
Written by Speedwell Mupuchi
Saturday, April 04, 2009 3:55:14 PM

HERITAGE Party president Brigadier General Godfrey Miyanda yesterday described as nonsensical government's policy to only invite to the national Indaba, parties with their representatives in Parliament.

And Brig Gen Miyanda said the government's warning to delegates to the indaba not to discuss politics confirms that the idea is political

In a statement on Thursday, Brig Gen Miyanda stated that he took issue with the criteria for participation in the indaba, and politics.

"The policy of inviting only political parties, and their representatives in Parliament is not only naive but is nonsensical. It seems the government has now entrenched this idea as part of government policy," he stated.

"We reject the idea of exclusion of political players on the grounds that they have no members of parliament. Does it mean that parties with representatives in Parliament have the monopoly of ideas or wisdom? Does it mean that these are the ones who feel the pinch of the economic mismanagement of our country?"

Brig Gen Miyanda stated that the Heritage Party had participated in all the major elections since 2001 and that he saw a contradiction where at the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) there were parties which did not even know what a campaign rally was because they had never troubled to engage politically in campaign battle fields.

"We say it would be totally wrong for the government to handpick delegates and to impose and entrench as a national policy the criteria that is clearly flawed," he stated.

And Brig Gen Miyanda stated that he considered it a fallacy the warning by the government that those attending the indaba must not come to discuss politics but only talk about the economy.

He noted that the interpretation of economics revealed a narrow understanding of what politics and economics were.

"On the contrary it is this view that confirms that the indaba is political and whoever dares to deviate even slightly will be told to shut up because they are talking politics," he stated. "I have previously said that there is a thin line between politics and economics. In fact I say that politics make and unmakes economies and conversely economics makes and unmakes politics. Politics and economics are like inseparable Siamese twins. That is why for instance there is always a difference between a regime that believes in capitalism and one that professes socialism or communism. The political ideology determines what type of economic system, structure and programme to effect and carry out, so we condemn these prior warnings to intimidate delegates so that they are not free to express their views on whatever the agenda will be."

Brig Gen Miyanda stated that it was his view that in calling for the indaba, the government had a short-term and cheap motive to legitimise what they had already agreed with their partners abroad who were already in possession of the programme and agenda which Zambians did not have and to justify the continued plundering of public resources.

He said the government should have invited all parties and leave it to them to decide whether or not to attend.

Brig Gen Miyanda said his party had not been invited to the indaba.

Asked to confirm reports that he had been invited to the indaba, Brig Gen Miyanda responded: "I am surprised to learn through radio and television that I have been invited, this statement is not true; I have not been invited and nobody from the Heritage Party has been invited."

However, Brig Gen Miyanda reluctantly said he had received a letter from President Rupiah Banda late Thursday inviting him as an individual to attend the opening ceremony of the indaba.

He said he had responded to President Banda's letter.

He said he had declined the invitation to just go and watch people dance and thereafter leave.

"The letter from the President is merely asking me to attend the opening ceremony; that's not being invited [to the indaba] because it means that after he [President Banda] speaks, then I leave," Brig Gen Miyanda said. "I don't want to be paraded and the record to show that Miyanda and Heritage attended when we are not."

Brig Gen Miyanda commended United Party for National Development (UPND) and Patriotic Front (PF) leaders Hakainde Hichilema and Michael Sata respectively for boycotting the indaba.

"... Though I do not know the full reasons; but I am commending them because clearly the way the programme was set up it's like it is predetermined. People will bring the papers they have arranged and the rest of the 500 [delegates] will be behaving exactly the way they are behaving at the NCC," he said.

Brig Gen Miyanda promised to make an elaborate statement on the Indaba later.

The national indaba opens today and various stakeholders have been invited to discuss proposals and submissions aimed at resolving the economic impact of the global financial meltdown.

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ZNUT urges DEBSs to stop issuing threats against teachers in Eastern Province

ZNUT urges DEBSs to stop issuing threats against teachers in Eastern Province
Written by Christopher Miti in Chipata
Saturday, April 04, 2009 3:53:23 PM

ZNUT in Eastern Province has urged District Education Board Secretaries (DEBSs) to stop issuing threats against teachers who have been on go slow since February, demanding payment of their rural hardship allowances.

Zambia National Union of Teachers (ZNUT) provincial chairperson Charles Manda said threats would not solve the problems being faced by teachers in the province.

“We would like to appeal to management that threats will not solve the problem. Let them not use the method of threatening like calling for names of teachers that those who are on sit in or strike as they call it. Threats will not solve any problem but dialogue can help in finding a solution to the issue at hand,” Manda said.

He said teachers had been patient enough over the rural hardship allowances.

“Let those in management (DEBS) tell the people what they have done concerning the problem which is there than threatening the teachers because if they are threatening them, it shows they have not done anything. We have received reports that there are some DEBS that have issued circulars to say they should submit names of teachers who are on strike. We are challenging them to tell us what they have done as a district that teachers will appreciate…that ‘no they have done this’ so what we are doing is not helpful to the government other than threatening them,” said Manda.

And provincial ZNUT vice secretary Simon Banda said teachers in areas that did not receive rural hardship allowances last month end had continued with their protest.

“The sit in has continued from the month end of February up to now except for Lundazi where the teachers called off the sit in and have given government up to the month end of April but for these other areas, the problem still stands. Teachers were not paid their rural hardship and from what we have tried to find out on the ground, teachers are not working in districts like Chadiza, Chipata, Katete and Chama…they continued with their sit in waiting to be paid,” he said.

Banda further commended the Mambwe district education office for ensuring that issues of rural hardship allowances were addressed.

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Soros calls G20 deal "a turning point"

COMMENT - Now even the 'donors' need a bailout.

Soros calls G20 deal "a turning point"
Written by Reuters
Saturday, April 04, 2009 3:49:28 PM

(Reuters) - Billionaire investor George Soros on Thursday said G20 leaders had taken decisive action to combat the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s was a success.

"This could well be a turning point because the authorities got together and they have taken the steps," Soros said in an interview on BBC television.

The investor, who said last week that the G20 meeting in London would be a "make or break event" for global markets, added: "I think it has definitely made it."

World leaders clinched a $1.1 trillion deal to boost the global economy and said financial rules would be tightened to prevent a repeat of the crisis.

Hungarian-born Soros said the leaders had "anticipated there is a very serious problem facing the developing world".

"If it hadn't been addressed today, we would have another very serious deterioration in what I call the periphery countries, including Eastern Europe. They have definitely prevented it by the measures they have taken," he said.

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Friday, April 03, 2009

(CENTER FOR RESEARCH ON GLOBALISATION) Economic Meltdown: The "Dollar Glut" is What Finances America's Global Military Build-up

Economic Meltdown: The "Dollar Glut" is What Finances America's Global Military Build-up
by Prof. Michael Hudson
Global Research, March 29, 2009

I am traveling in Europe for three weeks to discuss the global financial crisis with government officials, politicians and labor leaders. What is most remarkable is how differently the financial problem is perceived over here. It's like being in another economic universe, not just another continent.

The U.S. media are silent about the most important topic policy makers are discussing here (and I suspect in Asia too): how to protect their countries from three inter-related dynamics: (1) the surplus dollars pouring into the rest of the world for yet further financial speculation and corporate takeovers; (2) the fact that central banks are obliged to recycle these dollar inflows to buy U.S. Treasury bonds to finance the federal U.S. budget deficit; and most important (but most suppressed in the U.S. media, (3) the military character of the U.S. payments deficit and the domestic federal budget deficit.

Strange as it may seem­ and irrational as it would be in a more logical system of world diplomacy ­ the "dollar glut" is what finances America's global military build-up. It forces foreign central banks to bear the costs of America's expanding military empire ­ effective "taxation without representation." Keeping international reserves in "dollars" means recycling their dollar inflows to buy U.S. Treasury bills ­ U.S. government debt issued largely to finance the military.

To date, countries have been as powerless to defend themselves against the fact that this compulsory financing of U.S. military spending is built into the global financial system. Neoliberal economists applaud this as "equilibrium," as if it is part of economic nature and "free markets" rather than bare-knuckle diplomacy wielded with increasing aggressiveness by U.S. officials. The mass media chime in, pretending that recycling the dollar glut to finance U.S. military spending is "showing their faith in U.S. economic strength" by sending "their" dollars here to "invest." It is as if a choice is involved, not financial and diplomatic compulsion to choose merely between "Yes" (from China, reluctantly), "Yes, please" (from Japan and the European Union) and "Yes, thank you" (Britain, Georgia and Australia).

It is not "foreign faith in the U.S. economy" that leads foreigners to "put their money here." This is a silly anthropomorphic picture of a more sinister dynamic. The "foreigners" in question are not consumers buying U.S. exports, nor are they private-sector "investors" buying U.S. stocks and bonds. The largest and most important foreign entities putting "their money" here are central banks, and it is not "their money" at all. They are sending back the dollars that foreign exporters and other recipients turn over to their central banks for domestic currency.

When the U.S. payments deficit pumps dollars into foreign economies, these banks are being given little option except to buy U.S. Treasury bills and bonds ­ which the Treasury spends on financing an enormous, hostile military build-up to encircle the major dollar-recyclers ­ China, Japan and Arab OPEC oil producers. Yet these governments are forced to recycle dollar inflows in a way that funds U.S. military policies in which they have no say in formulating, and which threaten them more and more belligerently. That is why China and Russia took the lead in forming the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) a few years ago.

Here in Europe there is a clear awareness that the U.S. payments deficit is much larger than just the trade deficit. One need merely look at Table 5 of the U.S. balance-of-payments data compiled by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and published by the Dept. of Commerce in its Survey of Current Business to see that the deficit does not stem merely from consumers buying more imports than the United States exports as the financial sector de-industrializes its economy. U.S. imports are now plunging as the economy shrinks and consumers are now finding themselves obliged to pay down the debts they have taken on.

Congress has told foreign investors in the largest dollar holder, China, not to buy anything except perhaps used-car dealerships and maybe more packaged mortgages and Fannie Mae stock ­ the equivalent of Japanese investors being steered into spending $1 billion for Rockefeller Center, on which they subsequently took a 100% loss, and Saudi investment in Citigroup. That's the kind of "international equilibrium" that U.S. officials love to see. "CNOOK go home" is the motto when it comes to serious attempts by foreign governments and their sovereign wealth funds (central bank departments trying to figure out what to do with their dollar glut) to make direct investments in American industry.

So we are left with the extent to which the U.S. payments deficit stems from military spending. The problem is not only the war in Iraq, now being extended to Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is the expensive build-up of U.S. military bases in Asian, European, post-Soviet and Third World countries. The Obama administration has promised to make the actual amount of this military spending more transparent. That presumably means publishing a revised set of balance of payments figures as well as domestic federal budget statistics.

The military overhead is much like a debt overhead, extracting revenue from the economy. In this case it is to pay the military-industrial complex, not merely Wall Street banks and other financial institutions. The domestic federal budget deficit does not stem only from "priming the pump" to give away enormous sums to create a new financial oligarchy. It contains an enormous and rapidly growing military component.

So Europeans and Asians see U.S. companies pumping more and more dollars into their economies, not only to buy their exports in excess of providing them with goods and services in return, and not only to buy their companies and "commanding heights" of privatized public enterprises without giving them reciprocal rights to buy important U.S. companies (remember the U.S. turn-down of China's attempt to buy into the U.S. oil distribution business), and not only to buy foreign stocks, bonds and real estate. The U.S. media somehow neglect to mention that the U.S. Government is spending hundreds of billions of dollars abroad ­ not only in the Near East for direct combat, but to build enormous military bases to encircle the rest of the world, to install radar systems, guided missile systems and other forms of military coercion, including the "color revolutions" that have been funded ­ and are still being funded ­ all around the former Soviet Union. Pallets of shrink-wrapped $100 bills adding up to tens of millions of the dollars at a time have become familiar "visuals" on some TV broadcasts, but the link is not made with U.S. military and diplomatic spending and foreign central-bank dollar holdings, which are reported simply as "wonderful faith in the U.S. economic recovery" and presumably the "monetary magic" being worked by Wall Street's Tim Geithner at Treasury and Helicopter Ben Bernanke at the Federal Reserve.

Here's the problem: The Coca Cola company recently tried to buy China's largest fruit-juice producer and distributor. China already holds nearly $2 trillion in U.S. securities ­ way more than it needs or can use, inasmuch as the United States Government refuses to let it buy meaningful U.S. companies. If the U.S. buyout would have been permitted to go through, this would have confronted China with a dilemma: Choice #1 would be to let the sale go through and accept payment in dollars, reinvesting them in what the U.S. Treasury tells it to do ­U.S. Treasury bonds yielding about 1%. China would take a capital loss on these when U.S. interest rates rise or when the dollar declines as the United States alone is pursuing expansionary Keynesian policies in an attempt to enable the U.S. economy to carry its debt overhead.

Choice #2 is not to recycle the dollar inflows. This would lead the renminbi to rise against the dollar, thereby eroding China's export competitiveness in world markets. So China chose a third way, which brought U.S. protests. It turned the sale of its tangible company for merely "paper" U.S. dollars ­ which went with the "choice" to fund further U.S. military encirclement of the S.C.O. The only people who seem not to be drawing this connection are the American mass media, and hence public. I can assure you from personal experience, it is being drawn here in Europe. (Here's a good diplomatic question to discuss: Which will be the first European country besides Russia to join the S.C.O.?)

Academic textbooks have nothing to say about how "equilibrium" in foreign capital movements ­ speculative as well as for direct investment ­ is infinite as far as the U.S. economy is concerned. The U.S. economy can create dollars freely, now that they no longer are convertible into gold or even into purchases of U.S. companies, inasmuch as America remains the world's most protected economy. It alone is permitted to protect its agriculture by import quotas, having "grandfathered" these into world trade rules half a century ago. Congress refuses to let "sovereign wealth" funds invest in important U.S. sectors.

So we are confronted with the fact that the U.S. Treasury prefers foreign central banks to keep on funding its domestic budget deficit, which means financing the cost of America's war in the Near East and encirclement of foreign countries with rings of military bases. The more "capital outflows" U.S. investors spend to buy up foreign economies ­the most profitable sectors, where the new U.S. owners can extract the highest monopoly rents ­ the more funds end up in foreign central banks to support America's global military build-up. No textbook on political theory or international relations has suggested axioms to explain how nations act in a way so adverse to their own political, military and economic interests. Yet this is just what has been happening for the past generation.

So the ultimate question turns out to be what countries can do to counter this financial attack. A Basque labor union asked me whether I thought that controlling speculative capital movements would ensure that the financial system would act in the public interest. Or is outright nationalization necessary to better develop the real economy?

It is not simply a problem of "regulation" or "control of speculative capital movements." The question is how nations can act as real nations, in their own interest rather than being roped into serving whatever U.S. diplomats decide is in America's interest.

Any country trying to do what the United States has done for the past 150 years is accused of being "socialist" ­ and this from the most anti-socialist economy in the world, except when it calls bailouts for its banks "socialism for the rich," a.k.a. financial oligarchy. This rhetorical inflation almost leaves no alternative but outright nationalization of credit as a basic public utility.

Of course, the word "nationalization" has become a synonym for bailing out the largest and most reckless banks from their bad loans, and bailing out hedge funds and non-bank counterparties for losses on "casino capitalism," gambling on derivatives that AIG and other insurers or players on the losing side of these gambles are unable to pay. Such bailouts are not nationalization in the traditional sense of the term ­ bringing credit creation and other basic financial functions back into the public domain. It is the opposite. It prints new government bonds to turn over ­ along with self-regulatory power ­ to the financial sector, blocking the citizenry from taking back these functions.

Framing the issue as a choice between democracy and oligarchy turns the question into one of who will control the government doing the regulation and "nationalizing." If it is done by a government whose central bank and major congressional committees dealing with finance are run by Wall Street, this will not help steer credit into productive uses. It will merely continue the Greenspan-Paulson-Geithner era of more and larger free lunches for their financial constituencies.

The financial oligarchy's idea of "regulation" is to make sure that deregulators are installed in the key positions and given only a minimal skeleton staff and little funding. Despite Mr. Greenspan's announcement that he has come to see the light and realizes that self-regulation doesn't work, the Treasury is still run by a Wall Street official and the Fed is run by a lobbyist for Wall Street. To lobbyists the real concern isn't ideology as such ­ it's naked self-interest for their clients. They may seek out well-meaning fools, especially prestigious figures from academia. But these are only front men, headed as they are by the followers of Milton Friedman at the University of Chicago. Such individuals are put in place as "gate-keepers" of the major academic journals to keep out ideas that do not well serve the financial lobbyists.

This pretence for excluding government from meaningful regulation is that finance is so technical that only someone from the financial "industry" is capable of regulating it. To add insult to injury, the additional counter-intuitive claim is made that a hallmark of democracy is to make the central bank "independent" of elected government. In reality, of course, that is just the opposite of democracy. Finance is the crux of the economic system. If it is not regulated democratically in the public interest, then it is "free" to be captured by special interests. So this becomes the oligarchic definition of "market freedom."

The danger is that governments will let the financial sector determine how "regulation" will be applied. Special interests seek to make money from the economy, and the financial sector does this in an extractive way. That is its marketing plan. Finance today is acting in a way that de-industrializes economies, not builds them up. The "plan" is austerity for labor, industry and all sectors outside of finance, as in the IMF programs imposed on hapless Third World debtor countries. The experience of Iceland, Latvia and other "financialized" economies should be examined as object lessons, if only because they top the World Bank's ranking of countries in terms of the "ease of doing business."

The only meaningful regulation can come from outside the financial sector. Otherwise, countries will suffer what the Japanese call "descent from heaven": regulators are selected from the ranks of bankers and their "useful idiots." Upon retiring from government they return to the financial sector to receive lucrative jobs, "speaking engagements" and kindred paybacks. Knowing this, they regulate in favor of financial special interests, not that of the public at large.

The problem of speculative capital movements goes beyond drawing up a set of specific regulations. It concerns the scope of national government power. The International Monetary Fund's Articles of Agreement prevent countries from restoring the "dual exchange rate" systems that many retained down through the 1950s and even into the Œ60s. It was widespread practice for countries to have one exchange rate for goods and services (sometimes various exchange rates for different import and export categories) and another for "capital movements." Under American pressure, the IMF enforced the pretence that there is an "equilibrium" rate that just happens to be the same for goods and services as it is for capital movements. Governments that did not buy into this ideology were excluded from membership in the IMF and World Bank ­ or were overthrown.

The implication today is that the only way a nation can block capital movements is to withdraw from the IMF, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization (WTO). For the first time since the 1950s this looks like a real possibility, thanks to worldwide awareness of how the U.S. economy is glutting the global economy with surplus "paper" dollars ­ and U.S. intransigence at stopping its free ride. From the U.S. vantage point, this is nothing less than an attempt to curtail its international military program.

Michael Hudson is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Michael Hudson



(HERALD ) Lift sanctions on Zimbabwe now!

Lift sanctions on Zimbabwe now!

EDITOR -- As anti-war, community, political, youth, trade union activists and Pan Africanists along with other people of good conscience of all nationalities inside the United States and worldwide, we are declaring our full solidarity with the heroic struggle in Zimbabwe to defend the right to full independence and sovereignty.

At the heart of this struggle is the ongoing fight for the control of African land, illegally and brutally stolen beginning in the late 19th century by racist British colonisers led by Cecil Rhodes.

The Lancaster House Agreement -- signed by the representatives of the Zanu-Zapu guerilla movements and the British government in 1979 -- promised to legally transfer ownership of the millions of acres of arable land from a handful of very privileged white farmers back to the Zimbabwean people.

The British government reneged on this promise while the people of Zimbabwe patiently waited for reparations in the form of land reform to happen.

When their patience ran out after waiting 20 years for legal justice, the people had no other recourse but to expropriate the land themselves by any means necessary.

As a result of taking back what is rightfully their birthright, the land, the people of Zimbabwe have had to bear the full brunt of unmitigated ire and disdain on the part of the US and British governments and, more recently, the European Union governments.

This disdain is reflected in the political demonising of Government leaders, notably President Mugabe, who has defended the Zimbabwean people’s right to the land. Defending the people’s right to the land, the fruits of their labour and the country’s resources means recognising the right to self-determination and sovereignty without any imperialist interference.

This is President Mugabe’s "crime" in the eyes of the imperialist governments and their media.

Behind this demonising of President Mugabe lies the real crime -- the economic sanctions imposed by the US, Britain and other Western countries that have resulted in the collective punishment of the Zimbabwean people. These cruel sanctions for almost a decade have caused massive unemployment, malnourishment, hyperinflation, deeper poverty, lack of health care and fuel, the deterioration of the infrastructure and much more.

The recent cholera epidemic that has claimed the lives of thousands could have been prevented if water purification chemicals had not been banned under the sanctions. These genocidal attacks on the human rights of the people of Zimbabwe are very reminiscent of the sanctions imposed on the Palestinian population in Gaza by the US-backed Zionist state of Israel.

Let’s be clear -- President Mugabe is not to blame for the economic crisis in Zimbabwe; it is the sanctions. These economic sanctions, along with other austerity measures imposed by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, are acts of aggression against the people of Zimbabwe with a goal of igniting political instability and regime change.

We unequivocally denounce these sanctions as war crimes and the officials who initiated them as war criminals.

Even as an inclusive Government has been implemented, the sanctions remain in place. The people of Zimbabwe, like the people of Gaza, Iraq, Somalia and elsewhere, are inspiring examples of resisting all forms of imperialist war and occupation

Millions of people around the world are facing an unprecedented economic crisis, including the US, where foreclosures, evictions, layoffs, utility shut-offs, lack of health care, tuition fees and much more are skyrocketing at an alarming rate. We face the same enemies at home as do the people of Zimbabwe -- the worldwide clique of bankers and bosses who put their greed for profits before meeting people’s needs.

Our solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe is not just moral in character, but also material in character.

Their victory is also our victory. It is in this spirit of international solidarity that we will continue to work hand in hand with our sisters and brothers in Zimbabwe to demand from the US, British and other imperialist governments: End the economic sanctions now! Full land reform for the indigenous Zimbabweans! Respect the democratically elected leadership! Stop the demonising! Hands off Zimbabwe!

(This is a letter that has been circulating the globe calling for the lifting of the sanctions on Zimbabwe. Among the organisations that have appended their names to it are Africans Helping Africans, the December 12th Movement, Fight Imperialism, Stand Together (FIST), Friends of Zimbabwe, the International Action Centre, All-People’s Congress, the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party and many others, including several distinguished individuals.)



(HERALD) Prisons mirror impact of sanctions

Prisons mirror impact of sanctions

THE Government this week acknowledged the appalling conditions faced by prisoners and rightly situated them in the rubric of the illegal economic sanctions that have constrained Government’s capacity to provide basic social services.

Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Senator Patrick Chinamasa told Parliament about the acute shortage of food and uniforms, and disease outbreaks in the prisons.

The picture the minister painted clearly depicted the debilitating effects of the sanctions the West refuses to scrap to this day.

Lack of food aggravates already poor hygiene conditions in prisons as malnutrition makes prisoners highly vulnerable to infectious diseases such as tuberculosis.

The law governing our prisons says that all inmates are entitled to a prescribed diet, and prisons should have a budget per prisoner per day.

And the daily ration for prisoners must generally comprise three meals — breakfast, lunch and supper.

But this has not been achieved owing to the harsh economic environment spawned by the economic warfare we have been subjected to over the past decade. The effects of the sanctions are what we are now seeing — malnutrition and escalation of preventable diseases.

Under such circumstances, the risk of death is quite high.

Another frightening thing is the confirmation by Minister Chinamasa that cholera cases had been recorded at Harare Remand, Harare Central, Beitbridge and Masvingo prisons.

The consequences of a cholera outbreak in a prison are too ghastly to contemplate.

And we need to take note of the fact that it is not only prisoners who are at risk under these conditions, as prison staff will not be spared.

Working in such dire conditions exposes prison warders to diseases and other deadly hazards because they are in regular contact with sick inmates.

To address these issues, there should be a holistic approach in the areas of finance, infrastructure, health, agriculture and water, all of which have a bearing on the operations of the prisons service.

In the past, prisoners would grow their own food — maize and vegetables, and also practise animal husbandry.

What has happened to the prison farms? We believe that the idea of prison farms and gardens should be revisited and prisons should benefit from input schemes where fertiliszrs and seed are distributed.

There are also prisoners who have spent many years awaiting trial. We believe such prisoners should have their cases reviewed depending on the nature of the crime for immediate release.

Murderers and rapists would not expect to receive consideration in these circumstances.

Also eligible should be the elderly, the terminally ill, as well as people locked up for longer than the prospective sentence for their crime.

Among those who have languished in prisons for years are some who were picked up by mistake or for very minor infractions and simply could not pay a fine.

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West doesn’t want Govt to succeed

West doesn’t want Govt to succeed
By Alexander Kanengoni

SINCE the signing of the broad-based agreement in September last year and the formation of the inclusive Government in February this year, our politics has entered a dramatic phase.

For the first time in over a decade, Zimbabweans have rallied together thereby exposing the fundamental contradiction with the West — the land issue.

In the past, the West took convenient cover behind allegations of human rights abuses against the opposition and thus imposed sanctions on the country.

This writer remembers the difficulty we had trying to convince others among us that our fight with the West was not over alleged human rights violations but over land.

The inclusive Government has vindicated us.

The West still refuses to lift sanctions even if the opposition, on whose behalf it claimed it had imposed them, says there is no reason to continue with them.

The refusal is increasingly becoming blatant and shameless.

But however, it should serve as a strong indication of the extent to which the West is prepared to go where its interests are concerned; where it perceives its interests are threatened.

It is evident that the West did not want the political agreement and the subsequent inclusive Government it gave birth to, to happen the way it has happened.

Obviously, it wanted a political dispensation that would revisit and probably reverse the Land Reform Programme.

If the opposition had not promised it would deliver back the land, it is clear, as South African Minister of Finance Trevor Manuel said recently, the West would manipulate it to do it.

That is why the West is angry with the opposition, very angry.

It is within this context that the accident that claimed the life of the wife of the Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, might be viewed; that Mrs Tsvangirai became an unfortunate victim of an accident whose intended target was the Prime Minister.

It is clear that the West does not want the inclusive Government to succeed.

There is already strong talk they are busy looking for gullible Zimbabweans to bankroll to throw spanners into its wheels.

Where their interests are concerned, they can do anything. That is the reality we should live with.

That is why this writer was disappointed with the case of the poor new farmer outside Chegutu who was left to himself to explain to the media his battle with a former commercial farmer refusing to vacate a farm acquired by Government several years ago.

What disappointed this writer was the general failure to appreciate the political magnitude of the farmer’s case; the fact that it represented the fundamental reason why we are at war with the West.

To make matters worse, it was precisely the battle of that poor man that was being aired on CNN and BBC as an example of a new wave of farm invasions that had gripped the country.

And we left it entirely to the poor man to explain himself out of a case with such huge political implications!

Where were the politicians?

Confronted by the media with the allegation of a new wave of farm invasions, Prime Minister Tsvangirai could only promise he would task the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee to investigate.

The same issue of the invasions popped up again in Mbabane at the Sadc Heads of State meeting to help Zimbabwe out of the economic crisis and Minister of Industry and Commerce Welshman Ncube tried to explain there was nothing new about what was happening, that they were cases of farms that had been acquired a long time ago but you could see he did not have all the details.

Where was the Ministry of Lands when everyone elsewhere was struggling and groping for explanations?

Our strongest weapon to fight the West regarding the land is to tell the truth.

Our country has been ostracised and turned into a pariah State because of the land. But the West does not want to admit that truth.

Instead they keep repeating, through their powerful media, exaggerated claims of human rights violations until people begin to believe it as the truth.

That is why the Minister of Lands should have been at the forefront of the case of the Chegutu farmer, shielding him from the hounds baying for the country’s blood.

We should do that publicly and loudly because it is our strongest and only defence — a genuine defence.

Perhaps it was proper that the issue was left to Prime Minister Tsvangirai and Minister Ncube to explain.

As people coming into the inclusive Government from the other side of the Zimbabwean political divide, they would be the most appropriate to talk about the burning issue.

The angry West wants to know where they exactly stand on the issue.

Those who benefited from the Land Reform Programme also want to know their public position regarding the issue.

It is not that we do not trust Morgan Tsvangirai or Welshman Ncube.

It is because so many things have been said about the land, most of it emanating from London and Washington that you ended up not knowing what to believe.

Everyone wants know their position on the issue, straight from the horse’s mouth as it were.

In my opinion, it is the free movement of people across the political divide that separated Zanu-PF and the opposition that helps the general public and the world at large to understand the meaning of the inclusive Government and to judge whether it is working or not.

The exchange of party wrap-overs between Vice President Joice Mujuru and Deputy Premier Thokozani Khupe at the City Sports Centre on International Women’s Day might have been spontaneous and sub-conscious, done in the heat of the moment.

It was its profound effect on the minds of the people that reverberated to the corners of the country.

Two weeks ago, this writer met some people in Rushinga with no access to television or newspapers who asked me whether it was true that the two women had exchanged party dresses at a political rally in Harare.

When this writer said it was true, they jumped around like little children saying that was how it should be.

Let us not be mistaken, people know what they want. Most times, it’s the politicians who spoil it!

It is against this background that the front page picture of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai talking to Swedish Ambassador, Sten Rylander in last Sunday’s Standard does not leave a lasting and endearing impression on people’s minds as the one in The Herald where President Mugabe was talking to the Norwegian Environment and International Development Minister, Erik Solheim, a few days before.

In the picture in The Standard, no bridge was being crossed because the two leaders have always belonged to same side of the political divide.

Sweden has been an ally of the MDC since the latter’s inception.

Therefore it was a picture that could have been retrieved from the paper’s archives. The fact that Sweden had just given the Prime Minister US$10 million as aid somehow seemed like something he had always been doing.

On a superficial level, there was nothing new about the picture because there was no bridge that was being crossed.

It was the picture of president Mugabe talking to the Norwegian Minister that made a more profound impression on people’s psyches because here, bridges were being crossed. Here, people who did not see eye-to-eye a few months ago were speaking to each other; the once political divide had been scaled.

The same applies to Minister Herbert Murerwa talking to the Danish Minister of International Development.

Here again, a bridge had been crossed.

The principle doesn’t only apply to international relations; it also applies to national affairs.

The Mujuru/Khupe moment at the City Sports Centre was a national affair.

As a follow up to his Short-Term Emergency Recovery Programme, Tendai Biti could go out and meet some of the wheat farmers about his projected 100 million-ton yield for the forthcoming season.

He would obviously use the same opportunity to familiarise himself with the problems the new farmers are facing.

Such a visit would help to allay suspicion and misconceptions and reverberate to the corners of the country.

It was touching to hear Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s son, at the funeral of his mother, confess that he had not known President Mugabe was such an understanding and humane man.

His words and the moment would be engraved on people’s minds for a long time because it represented the crossing of bridges.

It would be remiss not to mention Sadc and the sterling effort they are making to help the country out of the quagmire.

The Zimbabwe case is a classic example of wits and intellect; where people are selling each other dummies whilst keeping the real motives hidden behind their backs but Sadc rose to the occasion and is explaining eloquently the case not only to the African Union, but also to a sometimes un-listening world.

It is difficult to imagine all what was going on in the mind of the poor new farmer near Chegutu as he waved his offer letter to the media to justify his presence.

But this writer thinks he felt abandoned. He shouldn’t have been doing that in the first place. It’s the responsibility of those who put him there to speak on his behalf and defend him.

There was a Lancaster House Conference in 1979 that ended our war for Independence. Now that all the pretences are gone, the British seem to want another Lancaster House conference before they can lift sanctions!

America invaded Iraq for the oil; Obama was bold and honest enough to admit it. Why don’t the British throw away the pretences and make a similar public admission they have placed us under siege because of the land?

Something is worrying me; those elements within both Zanu-PF and the MDC opposed to the inclusive Government.

Driven by greed, selfishness and short-sightedness, these people might ultimately prove to be the inclusive Government’s Achilles heel.

It is from this disaffected cesspool that the West might string together elements to sponsor.

But as Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said, the inclusive Government is the only option that this country has; we cannot afford to have it fail.

The struggle continues.

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All my actions above board: Gono

All my actions above board: Gono
Business Editor Victoria Ruzvidzo

RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr Gideon Gono has dismissed reports that he has been running a parallel Government, stressing that everything he did was legitimate and within the confines of the Reserve Bank Act.

Addressing Members of Parliament in Harare yesterday, Dr Gono said it was unfortunate that those bent on criticising him had not researched on the functions of the central bank as laid out in the Act.

"I have been amused to read in the media that the central bank has been working as a parallel Government between 1 December 2003 and 31 March 2009. If indeed we were running a parallel Government, how come 75 percent of our advice was not implemented?

"If it had been implemented, we would not be in the situation that we are in now.

"Also, if 25 percent of what we did had not been done, we would not be where we are today . . . it would have been worse," he said.

He took parliamentarians through some sections of the RBZ Act, particularly Section 6 (g), which says the functions of the central bank shall be to act as a banker and financial adviser to, and a fiscal agent of the State; and 6 (l), which empowers the Reserve Bank to exercise any functions conferred or imposed upon it in terms of the enactment.

Dr Gono said he was also guided by Section 8 (2) which states that "nothing in this section shall prevent the State from carrying on transactions in such manner as the State may require and, if so requested by the State, the Bank shall make the necessary arrangements to this end".

"People forget what they legislated. You (MPs through the RBZ Act) said to me ita zvese zvese as long as takuti ita. So that is what I have been doing. You don’t shoot the messenger," said Dr Gono.

He said in discharging his duties, he took instructions from his principals, which instructions were made and implemented in terms of the relevant laws and the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

The central bank and Dr Gono in his personal capacity have come under fire for engaging in quasi-fiscal operations, money-printing and other interventions that were said to have fuelled inflation and worsened the economic situation.

Criticism has centred on such interventions as the Agricultural Sector Productivity Enhancement Facility, Basic Commodities Supply Side Intervention (Bacossi) and Farm Mechanisation Programme as areas outside the central bank’s jurisdiction.

Dr Gono yesterday said every parastatal, local authority, ministry, the media, the judiciary, law enforcement agencies, civil society and all sectors of the economy had benefited from the quasi-fiscal operations.

Some of the interventions, particularly in agriculture, were adopted from recommendations in the Utete Land Audit Report, "which we saw fit to pick out and implement".

"All that we did, however, was authorised, transparently reported upon at different platforms and appreciated by all beneficiaries, including by those who today hold different views in public," he said.

These were done within the confines of the central bank having been appointed by Government as the "point institution" to lead the fight against socio-economic challenges the country faced.

This meant that the scope and platform of the central bank operations would become less defined, less confined and "less understood by the generality of the stakeholders".

It operated under a strategic umbrella of "necessary ambiguity with constructive intent".

"Keeping in mind that parallel lines never meet, setting up and running a parallel Government, as alleged in some propaganda circles favoured by certain sections of the media, would have meant turning the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe into a sovereign superstructure in opposition to and in competition with the State and Government headed by His Excellency President Robert Mugabe.

"The records will show that nothing of the sort ever happened or could happen, not least because the real fact that is obviously conveniently ignored in the various debates on the role of the Reserve Bank in the formulation and implementation of monetary policy under my watch is that for the first time in the history of our country, the bank was singled out and selected by the State and Government of the day to be the ‘point institution’ to address and ameliorate the extraordinary circumstances which engulfed the country."

Zimbabwe was going through an economic war and "when you are at war, you cannot ask for transparency in some instances".

He said he had been working in the trenches from 1998, well before he was made central bank governor, as he sought to ameliorate the challenges that beset the economy.

Some of his missions included sourcing

All my actions were above board: Gono

From Page 1

fuel, maize, wheat, lines of credit and other critical national requirements.

As governor, Dr Gono said, he had had to undertake non-traditional roles of a central bank as he faced a myriad of challenges such as declining capital flows, droughts, declining capacity utilisation, limited fiscal resources, political polarisation and sanctions which needed a bit of "gymnastics".

Every governor, since 1956 when the central bank was established, had had to face challenges peculiar to their respective era and since 2003, when he took over the reins from Dr Leonard Tsumba, he had had to deal with an abnormal situation that demanded that he employed extraordinary measures to circumvent disaster.

He had had to work with no balance of payments support, loans or other traditional sources of funding which previous governors had enjoyed.

The meeting with parliamentarians was meant to enlighten the legislators on the role played by the central bank over the past five years.

Dr Gono challenged Zimbabweans to rise above "trivialities" of the blame game and work towards rebuilding the economy.

The central bank was committed to ensuring the success of the Short-Term Emergency Recovery Programme launched by Government recently. Implementation would be key to its success.

"Our greatest weakness as a country is that we have done so many studies and launched so many documents but we lack in implementation. As legislators you should make sure that Sterp is implemented because if we don’t implement, we will be back to square one," said Dr Gono.

He reiterated that with distortions having been removed from the economy and the inclusive Government now dealing with most of the issues, the central bank was now in a position to refocus on its core activities of supervising the financial sector, managing the national payment system and playing an economic advisory role to Government, among other functions.



(HERALD) Give Obama some time: Chavez

Give Obama some time: Chavez
RIA Novosti.

TEHERAN. While the US president took the limelight in London in the buildup to the G20 summit, two of his country’s most outspoken critics — the presidents of Iran and Venezuela — met in Teheran for talks.

Hugo Chavez, after arriving on Wednesday in the Iranian capital on a two-day visit to meet with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and top officials, told reporters: "Arriving in Teheran for us is like arriving at our own home." When asked about recent signals from President Barack Obama that the US is willing to improve ties with Iran, Chavez said it was too early for optimism.

"I don’t have much hope, because there is an empire behind him. He’s the president of an empire."

However, he said: "I think it’s fair to give him some time," and that he hoped Obama would become the first leader of a "truly democratic" United States.

Chavez flew to Teheran from Qatar, where he attended a summit of Latin American and Arab countries.

Venezuelan newspaper El Universal reported that Chavez had met with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Darfur, and invited him to visit Caracas.

However, Chavez has yet to comment on the international media storm created on Wednesday by a blog post from Venezuela’s Dayana Mendoza, the reigning Miss Universe.

In her post on the pageant’s website, Mendoza recounted in glowing terms her recent trip to the notorious US military base at Guantanamo Bay, which her president considers to be an illegal entity that must be returned to Cuba.

Mendoza described how she "visited the Detainees camps" and "saw the jails, where they shower, how they recreate themselves with movies, classes of art, books. It was very interesting." She goes on to say her tour was "a loooot of fun!" and that "I didn’t want to leave, it was such a relaxing place, so calm and beautiful." — (RIA Novosti.

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Arrest and prosecute us!

Arrest and prosecute us!
Written by Editor

Lies are very easy to tell. But they are very difficult to sustain. It was very easy for Rupiah Banda and his friends to falsely accuse us that we have stolen US $30 million from state institutions but it is now proving very difficult for them to sustain their lies. Their options now are very few. They have exhausted their propaganda on us. What people now want to see is a solid case of our alleged theft.

People now want to see where and how we had stolen US $30 million from state institutions. And since Rupiah had promised that he will make sure that this money is recovered from us, they also want to witness that recovery.

It is clear now to every honest person that contrary to their claims, we have not stolen any money. And those they had tasked to validate their claims against us have found nothing wrong in the way the affairs of Zambian Airways were conducted.

As we have indicated before, we will be the first ones to admit that not every decision that was made at Zambian Airways was the best or turned out perfect. Mistakes were made, but none of those mistakes can be said to be fraud or to have been motivated by anyone’s desire to cheat, to steal.

So many lies have been told. Now is the time for the truth to come out. We don’t think Rupiah today can have the courage to repeat his accusations that we have stolen US $30 million from state institutions. We say this because it is now clear to everybody that he lied about us. And he now knows that the Zambian people know that he lied. Rupiah’s lie is no longer sustainable and any attempt to sustain it will only lead to more humiliation. They started an investigation whose findings they today have difficulties to face and accept: that there is nothing wrong we did at Zambian Airways. It is increasingly becoming too costly for them politically and otherwise to sustain this lie. And this leaves them with only two options: to admit that they falsely accused us of theft and apologise, or to take us to court on any charge no matter how ridiculous it may be, hoping miracles can happen there.

In our view, there is only one sensible option for them and that it is to admit that they were wrong. Of course if they admit that they were wrong, their political opponents, and even ourselves, will go for them. They will be harangued. But there will be a limit to how much political capital one will be able to extract out of it because their lie would have disappeared, it would have been replaced by an honest statement. But if this lie continues, then there will be no end to their being pounded. In the end, those who refuse to accept their mistakes, their errors, are going to be forced to self-correct, but in another way; they are going to be smeared with their own offal.

The option of taking us to court on the accusations of having stolen over US $1.7 million from National Airports Corporation may buy them a few more days, weeks but it won’t be long before they face their Armageddon. They will be seriously humiliated in court because they don’t have any case against us. Courts don’t deal with propaganda, they deal with evidence. They will have to show the court, with evidence, that we stole and how we had stolen. It will not be like the propaganda they have been peddling at State House rallies and in the state-owned and government-controlled ZNBC television and radio and the Times of Zambia and Daily Mail and Dickson Jere’s Executive Issues and the myriad of anonymous circulars they have been circulating on the internet. Actually, for us, what we would love most, at this stage, is for the matter to go to court. This is the only place where the truth will be fully disclosed to all our people. If this matter is not taken to court, our people will not have the opportunity to know the extent of Rupiah’s lies and what motivated them. It is for this reason that we are begging them to effect arrests so that we proceed to court. If there was a way to arrest ourselves and take ourselves to court, we would have done so a long time. It’s only them who control the law enforcement agencies and administer the judicial process who can do so.

They have really put themselves in an awkward position and they don’t have humble people around them who can find a dignified exit for them. Their lies have come back to haunt them; nobody is believing their propaganda anymore – and even that propaganda has now dried out and they are contradicting themselves every day.

However, there is a danger to the law enforcement agencies that they have engaged in their criminal schemes against us. It takes many years to build public trust and confidence in institutions like the Drug Enforcement Commission and the Anti-Corruption Commission. But it doesn’t take that long to destroy their integrity. Engaging these institutions in the political battles of Rupiah is corruption and recklessness of the highest order. If they don’t exit now, and in a dignified manner, their credibility will be badly dented. These are institutions that survive and prosper on the basis of public trust and support. And if that trust and support is lost, then they become useless.

This is what happens in a nation when political leaders become blinded by hatred, vengeance, malice and all sorts of vices. As a result of this, Rupiah and his friends started to believe their own lies and propaganda. We think they may still have problems accepting reports from the officers they have engaged that absolve us of any wrongdoing. But there is no other way. This is a matter of fact: it’s either we have stolen something or we haven’t. They have to live with this reality.

And this is the difference between us and them. They have tried so much to convince our people that whatever we have written about their wrongdoings is not true, it’s malice, lies. But at every turn, we have been able to prove every story or article about their wrongdoing that we have published. Whatever accusation we have made against Rupiah, we have evidence to back it. When we accused Rupiah of tribalism, we had a recording of his speech in Chipata. And when we accused him of electoral corruption in Petauke, we had pictures and a recording of his speech. When we accused him of bribing James Lukuku and his friends, we were able to produce a 1991 Times of Zambia story showing him doing the same thing. There is no accusation that we have made against Rupiah that we have failed to prove. Even recently, everything that we had published about Dora Siliya’s dealings with Selex and RP Capital, we were able to provide the complainant with documentary evidence to back our stories. We don’t just accuse people without evidence, without proof and out of malice or hatred. Unlike them, we put our names or identity to every accusation we make against anyone. For them, its innuendos. They can’t say so-and-so has done this easily and take responsibility for their accusations. This is why even George Kunda can go to Parliament and make false accusations in the form of innuendos. This is what malicious people do. This is how liars conduct their affairs.

It’s easy for them to tell lies and publicise them because they have got the entire ZNBC, Times of Zambia and Daily Mail and Dickson’s Executive Issues at their disposal. But having a media to use for lies is one thing, proving one’s claim with facts, with evidence is another. Eventually, their lies catch up with them, they become unsustainable like is becoming the case now.

Whatever we have done against them has never been motivated by malice, hatred, vengeance or any other negative trait in a human being. Vengeance, hatred, malice can find no place in our hearts. You can fight with all the determination and strength of will in the world, but you can’t sustain it for long, for 18 years out of hate, vengeance or malice. We made our minds a long time ago that in this battle against vices, there will be no quarter given anyone, we are going to call a spade a spade, and we are going to appeal to the honour of every citizen of goodwill. And one thing we are sure of: In every human being, there is a high sense of shame. And every good citizen’s first duty is to be extremely harsh with himself. We only hope Rupiah and his friends will have the courage to accept their mistakes, their errors and take corrective action. Lies are not sustainable.

All said, we again beg them to arrest us so that we go and settle this matter once and for all in court. For us to be accused of theft is not a small thing, it’s not something that we can simply ignore, especially if such accusations are coming from the President of our country. Rupiah accused us of theft, let him show us the proof of that; let him back his charge with evidence.

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Miners warn of countrywide strike

Miners warn of countrywide strike
Written by Mwila Chansa in Kitwe
Friday, April 03, 2009 7:04:50 PM

THE Mine Workers Union of Zambia (MUZ) has threatened a general countrywide strike in the industry should Mopani and Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) go ahead in further retrenching a total of 2751 workers respectively. Mopani and KCM are soon expected to lay off 1400 and 1351 workers respectively.

And MUZ president Rayford Mbulu has observed that the government has not shown relevance in coming up with pragmatic steps to restrain mining companies from indiscriminately sending workers to the streets.

Briefing the press at Katilungu House in Kitwe on Thursday, Mbulu said peaceful means had failed the union and that they would have no choice but to show solidarity to their colleagues that had already been sent to the streets by going on a general strike.

He said miners wanted to show the nation that without them the countryÕs economy would be paralysed and that they were tired of only being recognized in statistics of their contribution to the countryÕs Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

ÒWe shall now take the law into our own hands. We have to react with the kind of force that will prevent further job losses because a poor manÕs liberty lies in the use of a sword and to every liberty there is shedding of blood,Ó Mbulu warned.

He further warned that Mopani would not be allowed to selectively hand over assets to the government adding that they had information that the company was going ahead in putting Mufulira mine on permanent closure.

ÒMopani wants to keep the smelter and refinery in Mufulira and hand over the concentrator and shaft to government but we are saying no to this because this is equal to handing over liabilities to government. Let them come out in the open and say they have failed,Ó he added.

ÒWe have credible information suggesting that Mopani are willing to continue running operations at Nkana mine on condition that they are allowed to retrench a total of 1400 workers. We say no to this and we will not tolerate such kind of action by Mopani to hand over assets selectively. If they go ahead, they will be met with the kind of physical resistance that they have never seen before.Ó

Mbulu further said the union had reliable information that Mopani had been stripping assets and taking them to neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo where they had vested interests.

He said the union had told the government through the line ministries of labour and mines to impose a ban on internal or external movement of mining equipment unless such equipment was coming from outside Zambia.

Mbulu said it would be difficult for other willing and credible buyers to take over a mine that had its assets stripped.

And Mbulu expressed disappointment at State House authorities for refusing to grant an appointment for members of his union to meet President Rupiah Banda.

ÒThere is a time when we can interact with ministers but there is a time when we need to meet the head of State. We have written four consecutive letters to meet the President but the response has been negative. At a stroke of a pen, party cadres can see the President,Ó amidst shouts of shame, by MUZ branch officials.

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Mozambique inks $25m farm deal with Standard Bank

Mozambique inks $25m farm deal with Standard Bank
Written by Reuters
Friday, April 03, 2009 7:00:58 PM

MAPUTO (Reuters) - Mozambique has signed a $25 million farm loans deal with Standard Bank, Africa's biggest bank by assets, to buy seeds and fertilizer and boost agricultural output, a cabinet minister said on Thursday.

Minister of Agriculture, Soares Nhaca, told Reuters the money would be available in August this year.

Standard Bank said in March it will provide $100 million over three years for loans to small farms and agricultural businesses in four African countries - Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda.

Nhaca said part of the money would be loaned to farmers.

"We have signed the $25 million loan deal with Standard Bank and are working on how to operationalize the funds," Nhaca said.

"We hope to get the money in our hands in August and we are going to fund the purchase of quality seeds, fertilizer and plant the land and loan some it to the producers," he said.

Traditionally, banks have been unwilling to lend to small farmers on the basis that they lack adequate collateral, and, as a consequence, farmers are unable to afford the fertilisers, seeds and irrigation equipment that could help raise output.

"We will give them part of the money in the form of soft loans because it is difficult for them to secure bank loans, and they must buy different types of seeds such as maize, wheat and rice and fertilizer to boost agricultural output," Nhaca said.

Mozambique plans to increase its grain harvest by 13 percent in 2009/2010 from 2.6 million tonnes in 2008/09 and cut reliance on food imports.

The agriculture sector has been allocated 10 percent of the country's $4 billion 2009 state budget to help purchase and improve the quality of seeds, as well as to introduce irrigated and mechanized farming.

Agriculture is the backbone of the economy, providing employment for over 75 percent of the workforce.

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G20 to bulk up IMF in response to crisis

G20 to bulk up IMF in response to crisis
Written by David Ljunggren and Lesley Wroughton
Friday, April 03, 2009 6:59:33 PM

LONDON (Reuters) - World leaders will triple the war chest of the IMF to fight the worst economic crisis since the 1930s and impose new curbs on financial markets, monetary sources at the G20 summit said. The communique drafted for the meeting, obtained by Reuters, said leaders would submit large hedge funds to supervision for the first time and enhance regulation through a new agency and a beefed-up International Monetary Fund.

Stocks, battered by the crisis, rose on hopes a strong agreement would add to some signs that the downturn may bottom out. The index of top European shares was up 3.3 percent after Japan's Nikkei gained 4.4 percent.

Monetary and developing country sources said the latest draft summit communique provided for a $500 billion boost to the IMF's resources, raising to $750 billion the funds it can make available to countries worst hit by the global crisis.

"I think we are going to have some pretty impressive figures," British foreign minister and G20 envoy Mark Malloch-Brown told BBC Radio.

The IMF would also be able to borrow money on international markets if needed, the sources said. Another British minister said leaders would discuss possible sales of IMF gold reserves, which could raise yet more cash, although he did not expect an immediate decision on Thursday.

The G20 were also close to agreeing a trade finance package worth $250 billion to support global trade flows, a source at the summit in London told Reuters. Brown had been targeting at least $100 billion to help reverse the decline in trade following the credit crunch.

"This is a positive step to jump start global trade flows. It is a significant contribution toward solving the problem," said Eoin O'Malley, senior adviser on international trade at BusinessEurope, Europe's top business group.

"But the key now is implementation. G20 governments must act quickly to provide this finance to companies that need it urgently," he told Reuters.

The world economy will shrink this year for the first time since World War Two and tens of millions of people are expected to lose their jobs.

G20 leaders agreed that blacklists of tax havens should be published in the near future, a European diplomat said.

"The G20 has agreed that it will be the OECD which will publish the tax haven list imminently," said the diplomat, who is attending the summit in London.

But it was unclear whether the vague timing would satisfy France and Germany, which have led demands for a crackdown on tax havens they blame for allowing the wealthy to avoid paying their fair share at a time of growing economic hardship.

Paris said on the eve of the summit it would refuse to sign any concluding document that failed to satisfy its demands.

The draft communique included a pledge to deliver "the scale of sustained effort necessary to restore growth," but without making any commitments beyond the trillions already being spent to stabilize banks, shore up demand and limit job losses.

Analysts said Thursday's stock market gains would vanish if the summit does not deliver.

"A good rally is coming through, particularly from Asian markets overnight on hopes for a decent stimulus package from the G20 to lift confidence, especially with regards to emerging economies and a boost to the International Monetary Fund," said Henk Potts, strategist at Barclays Wealth.

Keen to secure a confidence-boosting message as the world succumbs to recession, U.S. President Barack Obama has said there are no substantive differences with Europe, despite the hardball stance taken by France and Germany over regulation.

"The most important issue is that we agree ... on the principle that no financial market product, no financial market participant and no financial market can remain without regulation and without supervision," German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck told Deutschlandfunk radio.

The global economy is expected to contract in 2009 by between 0.5 and 1.0 percent, according to the IMF, whose head, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, is calling it a "Great Recession."

"They are not yet moving quickly enough in doing the cleaning up of the financial system," the Financial Times quoted Strauss-Kahn as saying.

The draft communique contained a pledge by the G20 nations to allow "candid, even-handed and independent" surveillance of their economies and financial sectors by the IMF, which will take an increasingly central role in global oversight.

It also unveiled a new Financial Stability Board to work with the IMF to identify economic and financial risks and measures needed to address them, revamping an existing body called the Financial Stability Forum.

Some 400 protesters gathered outside the summit, but were kept well away by police.

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Thandiwe calls for equal attention to health issues

Thandiwe calls for equal attention to health issues
Written by Patson Chilemba
Friday, April 03, 2009 6:57:17 PM

FIRST lady Thandiwe Banda on Wednesday stressed the need to devise a system that will look at all health issues equally. During a donation to the Epilepsy Association of Zambia by Divson Pharmaceuticals at State House, Thandiwe, who is patron of the association, said in the past there had been little attention to common neurological disorders such as epilepsy and other non-communicable diseases, concentrating instead on the major communicable diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS among others.

She said this situation had put other physical health challenges and conditions at a disadvantage.

"We must devise a system that will look at all health issues equally. One way of doing this is by ensuring that we support initiatives of care groups which are trying to address neglected conditions such as epilepsy," Thandiwe said.

She said it was sad that most people with epilepsy failed to freely interact with other members of society because of the beliefs that people held about the condition.

Thandiwe said this stigma and discrimination against such people had led them to live lonely lives.

She thanked Divson Pharmaceuticals for the donation of pens and writing pads to be used by the delegates during the Epilepsy and Stigma Conference which is expected to run from April 13 to 17, 2009 at Mulungushi International Conference Centre.

Thandiwe said the association had many challenges and only depended on support from well-wishers.

And association president Dr Anthony Zimba said the estimated budget for the conference was above K900 million.

"So far we have not even reached a quarter of it," he said.

Dr Zimba said epilepsy was not a mental illness but a neurological disorder.

Divson Pharmaceuticals chief executive officer Gajender Arora made the donation on behalf of his organisation. The company also donated conference bags.