Saturday, May 09, 2009

(TALKZIMBABWE) Zanu PF should groom next generation leaders

Zanu PF should groom next generation leaders
Lloyd Msipa -- Opinion
Fri, 08 May 2009 04:30:00 +0000

IT was Johann von Goethe who said “We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise we harden. This could not be further from the truth when it comes to the oldest party on the political scene in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic front (Zanu PF). Renewal is central to every organism in order to maintain its perpetuation. Failure to renew will ultimately lead to that organism becoming extinct.

Zanu PF has ruled Zimbabwe since her independence in 1980. At no point in time has its rulership of Zimbabwe been more threatened by opposition political parties than in the last plebiscite. The breakaway of Dr Simba Makoni and Professor Jonathan Moyo and the subsequent failure by Zanu PF to garner the majority vote in the harmonised March 2008 election was a signal that Zanu PF needs to remove the bottleneck that has characterised its existence for a long time.

The political party has failed dismally to renew itself, let alone attract young leaders to understudy the current crop of leaders and subsequently takeover.

The advent of the inclusive Government in February 2009 between Zanu PF and the two MDC formations has introduced a new dimension to Zimbabwean politics to the possible detriment of Zanu PF.

Zanu PF is almost unwittingly grooming the young Turks from the two MDCs by working with them in the inclusive Government.

Their inclusion in that Government gives them the opportunity to learn from the veterans in Zanu PF the skills of running government and country.

Zanu PF on its part has proceeded to recycle the old guard from yester year at the expense of the many young leaders respectfully hanging around in the periphery waiting for an opportunity to serve the party.

The inclusive Government has presented a platform in government for the two MDCs to slowly replace Zanu PF cadres from the platform created by the inclusive Government by first targeting the small number of young Turks that have managed to find their way into the middle hierarchy of the political party.

The likes of the Attorney General fit into this category. The call by the MDC for the Attorney General to step down is a double-edged sword. His removal will leave the judiciary vulnerable to possible manipulation by the opposition. This will definitely become Zanu PF’s Achilles' Heel.

It is not an accident that the Judge President Rita Makarau has recently rebutted the allegations that the judiciary is not independent when a Harare magistrate revoked the bail of MDC activists charged with treason. They are under attack.

Zanu PF needs to match the young MDC Turks in the inclusive Government "man-for-man" by young Zanu PF man and woman.

The reasons for this are threefold.

Firstly, in the event that the inclusive Government arrangement goes south, elections will almost be inevitable. It will definitely go against the spirit of Zanu PF perpetuation if the old guard are to be fielded in that particular election.

Secondly, the inclusive Government will run the course of its natural life, which is, according to the Global Political Agreement, the next 18 months or so.Under Article 6, the GPA provides for Zimbabwe to write a new Constitution.

This Constitution will almost definitely present Zimbabwe’s elections with a new set of rules. A new set of rules requires a new set of players. Any attempt to field the old Zanu PF guard will be self-defeating.

The third and most important reason relates to who lays claim to the recovery of the country at the end of the life of the inclusive Government.

The sudden availability of basic commodities on the supermarket shelves in Zimbabwe has been attributed by many to the MDC joining the inclusive Government. The role of the policies arrived at by both parties is largely overlooked.

The idea of provisionally dropping the Zimbabwe dollar and adopting foreign money and manufacturers who were exporting all their products and are now selling them locally in hard currency explains the sudden availability of basic commodities.

This reasoning will not be bought by the general populace. The question that Zanu PF needs to ask itself is whether the people of Zimbabwe will accept this explanation come election time; especially if that explanation is coming from the old guard who presided during the days of shortages.

The infusion of new blood in Zanu PF will immediately transform the political party to one that is geared to take on the challenges of a new Zimbabwe. The attendant ideological shift will be felt almost immediately across the country taking Zimbabwe forward and at the same time defending the legacies of the founding fathers of Zanu PF and country.

The recent electoral success of the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa under the leadership of Jacob Zuma is enough testimony to the fact that renewal to a vanguard political party can be central to its perpetuation.

The writer Lloyd Msipa writes from the United Kingdom.
He can be contacted at



(TALKZIMBABWE) Reflections on Zimbabwe

Reflections on Zimbabwe
Muchengetwa Bgoni - Opinion
Wed, 06 May 2009 04:32:00 +0000

MUCHENGETWA BGONI (Compassionate Justice's Director for Southern Africa) recently returned from Zimbabwe. He went there to be with his mother in her final days. The following are his reflections on what he observed and experienced while there.

Their eyes speak of no hope. It is as if hope has become a foreign concept and nobody expects any good to happen in Zimbabwe again. It is as if they are all waiting for a chance to die and forget about their problems and burdens. Who can blame them? Life has been hard and each time they think they have hit the rock bottom, things keep getting worse. Yes, this is what is happening to the people of Zimbabwe today.

The majority of the people in Zimbabwe are suffering. Most are dying not because they do not have a chance to get well, but because they cannot pay for a chance to get well. I learned of a 34 year old young woman from my church who passed away after failing to come up with the US$40 that was needed to buy the medication her doctor had prescribed. Another friend of mine and his wife lost their baby just because they did not have the US$800 needed for his expecting wife to be able give birth in a private hospital. The government hospitals that used to be affordable, have all been closed down. Only the private Parirenyatwa Hospital was operating. Most people now use Christian Mission hospitals as they have a few supplies.

My own mother was in a private hospital before she passed away. I was surprised that she was the only patient there for the first 3 days. One would therefore expect things to be different since it was a private hospital. Please don't misunderstand, the hospital service was excellent, but they did not even have basic things like feeding tubes or catheters. I had to drive around town, checking with different pharmacies before I could find a catheter to buy. Gratefully, I had the money I needed to buy the medication and catheter for my mother. What happens to the thousands of other Zimbabweans who are penniless? This was a sad reality for me see and quite a wake up call. I have come to realize, that where you are born determines your life span. The latest statistics say that Zimbabweans have short life spans, most don't live past their mid 30's. From what I heard while there, most are dying because of hunger, lack of medicines and basic sanitation.

The ironic thing is that despite the suffering of many, there are some who are doing quite well. In fact, I learned of a 34 year old man who was said to be building a 101 roomed house. I saw people driving cars that most people in the USA cannot even afford to test drive. Something is very wrong! There are a few corrupt people at the top that are stealing from their own brothers. Drastic change is needed or the few will destroy the many.

What pains me the most, is that a majority of Zimbabweans from my neighborhood are generally intelligent. I know that most of them would have had flourishing careers if they had been born in the Western Hemisphere. Some of them are athletic enough that they could have made it big in the sports world. Take my neighbor Patrick for example, he had a good job with an insurance company the last time I saw him. However this time around I found him selling vegetables by the road side. He told me that he quit his insurance job because he was not making enough money to last him the whole month. Most of the people who are driving nice cars or building huge houses are not the well educated professionals, but the black market dealers who buy and sell things while taking advantage of people in their hour of need.

I grew up being encouraged by mom to study hard. My mothers generation always encouraged my generation to dream of becoming teachers, doctors or nurses. However, these days, those jobs do not pay much at all and so children have no desire to study hard. They see their brothers, who have no education, doing better than the educated doctors.

If nothing is done soon, Zimbabwe will collapse. The education system has already collapsed. The University of Zimbabwe has been closed for about 7 months or so now. Kids hardly went to school last year because most teachers had stopped coming to work. Who can blame the teachers when the salaries they get are not enough to last them a week. The health system has collapsed. The infrastructure that used to make Zimbabwe proud is gone. Pot holes are found everywhere with the exception of the road that lead to the Presidents house. The sewage system that used to be one of the best in the world, has ceased to function. It is no wonder the cholera epidemic killed many, because sewage water is everywhere, especially in the high density areas. I grew up in Highfield, and learned with sadness that most people have ceased using their toilets. Instead they relieve themselves in tins and then dig holes to dispose the human waste. Some portions of Harare have had no running water for seven months and yet they still receive water bills from the city council! Refuse collection ceased long ago.

What then is the answer to Zimbabwe's woes? Some have said Mugabe should go, while others have said the West should lift the sanctions they have put on Zimbabwe. I talked to many of my friends while there. I was encouraged that most of them stated that only God can solve Zimbabwe's problems. Despite, and maybe due to the suffering, the church is going strong. I saw people in church that in the past I would not have dreamed of ever finding there. God has a purpose for Zimbabwe and it is up to the Zimbabweans to seek Gods face for direction. Yes, Zimbabwe has troubles, but the good thing is that most have turned their eyes to God who is their creator. Just like with the children of Israel in the land of Egypt, God will hear the cries of the children of Zimbabwe and answer.

We will see good in Zimbabwe again and its just a matter of time.




(TIMES) ‘Prove NCC critics wrong’

‘Prove NCC critics wrong’
By Beene Moombe

CHIEF Justice Ernest Sakala has implored the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) to produce a document that will not only stand the test of time but prove critics wrong.

Justice Sakala said that being the first time that Zambia was engaging in such a consultative process of Constitution-making, the citizens were anxious about the outcome of the process.

He was happy to note that the conference had so far lived up to expectations of the Zambian people, adding that even those who had doubted the process from the beginning were finding it hard to continue criticising the NCC.

He advised members of the NCC to ensure that they applied the majority rule in all their deliberations for the process to be democratic.

The chief justice said this when he swore in three new members of the NCC at the Supreme Court chambers yesterday morning.

Those sworn in were the newly-appointed acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Housing Coillard Chibbonta, who will serve in the NCC as a senior civil servant.

Others were Nathan Mulonga from the Forum for Democracy and Development and councillor for Mongu District Council Mwenda Akoyawa.

He encouraged the new members to ensure that they apply themselves fully to the process and discharge their duties in accordance with the oath they had taken.

He warned them against going into the conference with prejudiced minds as this would hinder their honest and full participation.
The NCC has 498 members.

And Joseph Banda reports that the NCC yesterday adopted article 309 of the Mung’omba draft Constitution that calls for the National Assembly to approve all supplementary expenditures.

The NCC, which was yesterday considering a report by the public finance sub-committee, agreed that where the amount appropriated under an Appropriation Act was insufficient, a supplementary estimate showing the amount was required and the sources of revenue should be laid before the National Assembly.

It said that no supplementary expenditure would be incurred before the approval of the supplementary estimates by the National Assembly.

The minister responsible for Finance will release the appropriated funds on a timely basis to the institutions and bodies entitled to the appropriations, the NCC agreed.

Under article 307, the conference agreed that the preparation of estimates of revenue and expenditure should be laid before the National Assembly while the president would cause to be laid before Parliament fiscal monetary programmes and plans for economic and social development.

The appropriate committee of the National Assembly should discuss and review the estimates and make appropriate recommendations before the National Assembly considered the estimates of revenue and expenditure.

The conference said in discussing the estimates of revenue and expenditure, the committee should seek public opinion and take it into consideration in its recommendations to the National Assembly.

Although the committee may amend, it could not vary the total estimates of revenue and expenditure and will in any case approve the Budget not later than December 31 of each year.

And debating article 309, Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources Minister Catherine Namugala said the Constitution should not allow Parliament to approve any expenditure because people in Government were responsible and should not have their hands tied.

Justice Deputy Minister Todd Chilembo said Parliament should not be given too much power because that would create inefficiency in Government.

“We should also consider the separation of power, otherwise we will find that Parliament will take away Executive powers,” he said.

Katuba Member of Parliament (MP) Jonas Shakafuswa said Parliament should approve supplementary expenditure, and Lusaka lawyer Nellie Mutti said it was important for Parliament to provide oversights because there were other provisions that catered for emergencies.

Chongwe MP Sylvia Masebo suggested that there should be a provision for special circumstances when the Executive would not be required to take a supplementary budget to Parliament.

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(TIMES) China permits Zambian products

China permits Zambian products
By Business Reporter

China has allowed at least 440 Zambian finished products to enter the Chinese market duty free and quarter free, director of industry at the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, Siazongo Siakalenge has said.

Mr Siakalenge said the Zambian Government has since received a list of duty free and quota free products from the Chinese government which will find their way on that country’s market.

The move follows the Chinese government’s invitation to Zambia to enable the country’s products to be marketed in China.

Mr Siakalenge said this in Lusaka yesterday during a postmortem meeting of the just-ended Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, where a number of Zambian companies participated.

“It is now up to the private sector in Zambia to start addressing the supply side of their operations in order for them to become competitive on the Chinese market,” he said.

Commerce, Trade and Industry Deputy Minister, Richard Taima said the Government was considering to participate in trade fairs in the Sothern African Development Community and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa regions as well as in countries such as Japan and China.

“We would like to participate in as many trade fairs and shows as possible within the region to promote and attract investment and job creation,” Mr Taima said.

He said that 30 Zambian companies participated at the just ended Zimbabwe trade fair hosted in that country’s capital, Harare last week.

Mr Taima said the Zambian Government spent about US$15,000 to prepare for the exhibition in Harare.

The 30 exhibitors were from the mining, manufacturing, clothing and textile, food processing, pharmaceuticals, information, communication, technology and other service provision sectors.

Mr Taima described the Zimbabwe Trade Fair as a great success because many Zambian companies that took part made big business deals.

The deputy minister said it was not the issue of how much the Government had spent in the fair but the level of business deals that were made.

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Hakainde is right about Rupiah’s deals
Written by Editor

Our democracy, our holding of elections in itself guarantees us nothing. It offers us instead an opportunity to succeed as well as the risk of failure. In Thomas Jefferson's ringing but shrewd phrase, the promise of democracy is "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness".

This democracy we are pursuing is then both a promise and a challenge. It is a promise that as free human beings, working together, we can govern ourselves in a manner that will serve our aspirations for personal freedom, economic opportunity and social justice. It is a challenge because the success of our democratic enterprise rests upon our shoulders as citizens of this country and no one else.

And government of and by the people means that we, as citizens of this country, share in its benefits and in its burdens. Josef Brodsky, Russian-born poet and Nobel Prize winner, once wrote, "A free man, when he fails, blames nobody."

It is true as well for us as citizens of this country who, finally, must take responsibility for the fate of the country in which we have chosen to live, to make our homeland. In the end, we get the government we deserve.

And transparency and accountability are indispensable to the type of society - a democracy society - we are trying to build in Zambia. It is impossible to establish an open and democratic society without transparency and accountability. Lack of transparency and accountability leads to increased abuses, violations and corruption.

Where there is no transparency and accountability, leaders become demi-gods. We need to build a political system founded on the deeply held belief that government is best when its potential for abuse, corruption and intolerance is curbed, and when it is held as close to the people as possible.

And whatever the level of their contribution, a healthy democracy depends upon the continuing, informed participation of the broad range of citizens. The essence of democratic action is the active, freely chosen participation of its citizens in the public life of their community and nation. Without this broad, sustaining participation, democracy will begin to wither and become the preserve of a small, select number of people, groups and organisations. But with the active engagement of individuals across the spectrum of society, we can weather the inevitable economic and political storms that sweep over every society, without sacrificing the freedoms and rights we have sworn to uphold.

These important tenets, if applied properly, can improve the way we govern ourselves and consequently bring about the much-needed development in our country.

And democracy, being a government of the people, by the people and for the people, affirms the need to justify decisions made by those in government on behalf of the people. Our politicians have been given power by the people to make decisions, and they have to be answerable for their actions.

Accountability is about responsibility, the responsibility to answer for our actions. Where there is transparency and accountability, there is no room for speculation because all decisions made will be clearly understood. If citizens do not understand or cannot access information easily on how those in government are using the power given to them, the public resources they are managing, speculation arises. And why should people be blamed for speculating in the absence of facts, satisfactory and clear answers to questions raised on various issues pertaining to the management of public resources and affairs?

Rupiah Banda and his friends have been in power for six months now and their agenda as a government is not known at all. They might have campaigned on the basis of continuity - whose agenda most Zambians are familiar with - but they are not seeing that continuity. The last six months have been characterised by dubious dealings involving Rupiah, his sons and friends in various spheres of our country's economy and many honest questions that seek equally honest answers have been raised. We have seen outrageous inconsistencies from Rupiah and his friends even on straightforward issues such that our people have been left with no option but to draw their own conclusions. The recent proposal to procure mobile hospital units at a cost of US$53 million (K301 billion) from China is one issue that can be cited.

When the story broke out that the government wanted to procure mobile hospitals from China, efforts were made to get government's official position on the matter but no one was ready or willing to say anything. But later, after the donors raised queries, Ministry of Health permanent secretary Dr Velepi Mtonga wrote a letter in which she stated that Rupiah had indicated during the official opening of the National Assembly this year that mobile clinics would be procured from a friendly country to complement efforts to construct 15 hospitals in the 19 districts that do not currently have any. Strange enough, when Rupiah was arriving in the country from Zimbabwe, he said the concept to procure mobile hospitals was from the Chinese but "it is a damn good idea". Following Rupiah's statement, the visiting Chinese Ambassador was asked questions on the matter and he said the Chinese government did not play any role in the deal, it was a private deal. This statement by the Chinese also leaves much to be desired since the company, which is to supply these hospitals, China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC), is a large-scale state-owned conglomerate headquartered in Beijing. We should also not forget that Dr Mtonga said a committee from the Ministry of Health sat to look at the idea of mobile hospitals and decided to support it and at the same time Rupiah said experts were still studying the proposal and a decision will be made at a later stage. In the meantime, this same government has already been granted authority by the Zambia Public Procurement Authority to single source on the procurement of mobile hospitals.

In light of all these inconsistencies, lies, contradictions and half-truths on such an important issue, which involves taxpayers’ money being forked from a few Zambians in formal employment, what can prevent people from speculating? What do Rupiah and his friends expect from our people when they feed them on a daily diet of lies and inconsistencies on the way they are presiding over national issues?

It is clear that Rupiah and his friends are taking our people for granted going by the statement from chief government spokesman Lieutenant General Ronnie Shikapwasha's reaction to opposition UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema's statement on Rupiah.

Hichilema on Wednesday described the US$ 53 million mobile hospitals deal as a white-collar crime in which Rupiah and the MMD want to get a commission. Hichilema went further to say that Rupiah speaks highly of things that are meant to benefit him, his party and his family. Who can blame Hichilema for drawing this conclusion on Rupiah in light of the glaring inconsistencies and contradictions on important issues? This government has just provided fertile ground for speculations due to its dubious, secretive and questionable dealings and the sooner the situation is corrected, the better.

Threats will not help because you cannot silence millions of determined people. Rupiah and his friends should just sweep their house clean. Actually, Lt Gen Shikapwasha and defence minister George Mpombo should not even waste time condemning people that are criticising them. Instead, they should advise Rupiah to take a more honest approach to public affairs. Lt Gen Shikapwasha says Hichilema should withdraw or substantiate his remarks which are suggesting that Rupiah had criminal motives in considering the purchase of mobile hospitals while Mpombo says the comments border on defamation of Rupiah and are an assault on him. Have these two people taken time to wonder why Hichilema made those remarks? How many of our people, who might not have a platform to express themselves, are holding the same opinion as Hichilema? If Lt Gen Shikapwasha and Mpombo think that gagging and arresting people that criticise Rupiah and expose and condemn the crimes of his league is the solution to their problem, how many of our people are they going to take on?

Rupiah and his friends should come down to earth and take a look at how they are governing the country before they start unleashing police on people. It is not too long ago that Rupiah and George Kunda defended Dora Siliya on the RP Capital Partners deal. Concerns on this deal were raised by various stakeholders in our country and the letters from Attorney General's chambers were very clear on how Siliya never followed the legal advice when she engaged RP Capital Partners to valuate Zamtel assets before partial privatisation at a cost of US $2 million. Rupiah defended Siliya and that the allegation that she signed RP Capital Partners memorandum of understanding (MoU) illegally was nonsense. Rupiah went on to say that Siliya was smarter than her critics. As if that blunder was not enough, Kunda went on to hold a press briefing, flanked by Siliya, where he defended her, saying she is a layperson and the matter needed to be dealt with by a lawyer like himself. Kunda even went to great lengths of schooling people on the law and maintained that the memorandum of understanding that Siliya signed was approved by the Solicitor General on behalf of the Attorney General. But when the tribunal that was constituted to probe Siliya for breaching the parliamentary and ministerial code of conduct released its report, it turned out that the smart woman had breached an even bigger law - the Constitution. Too much for being smart! Can you blame Zambians and arrest them for drawing conclusions of Rupiah's involvement in the RP Capital Partners deal going by the contradictions? This is a deal in which one of his sons, Henry, is involved and this was also brought out during the tribunal hearing. His other son, James, was also linked to the company that imported Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) maize not too long ago. And when Rupiah was asked about that issue, he told journalists at the airport just before he left for Tanzania in February that it had nothing to do with his sons. Rupiah went on to say, "Regarding my son, as far as I'm concerned I gave you all my sons. Does it mean that anybody who is related to me should cease to participate in whatever is happening in this country?

... If he did get a contract, he got it himself like anyone else. Because we are the same people who are saying that if our children should live, they should leave the countries where they are living to come back and stay in Zambia. So if they come to Zambia, it's just it? They have to participate like everybody else as long as they are not doing something wrong."

So should people be arrested for saying Rupiah speaks highly of things that benefit him, his party and family? Actually, on Siliya, Rupiah still maintains that she was just confused by the Attorney General's chambers as the tribunal established as a matter of fact and that he will reorganise that office. This is a man who has continued to defend a person who was found to have breached the Constitution, which he, as President, swore to uphold and defend. What kind of circus is this?

The concept of mobile hospitals has been opposed by politicians, civil society, the Church and the Zambia Medical Association. They say it does not make economic sense. But Rupiah endorsed it as a damn good idea while his government spokesperson said experts are looking at it. So what are the experts supposed to say when Rupiah has said it is a damn good idea? How can Rupiah say it is a damn good idea when the people who are supposed to use the facilities reject them? And if Rupiah insists and he is accused of having some interests in the deal, why should he complain? These are things which are bringing suspicion. We are aware that technocrats at the finance and health ministries and officials at the tender board opposed this idea.

Why has government continued to tell lies that there is no deal when they have been given permission to single source? Why should people be gagged for making observations on such outrageous and grandiose ideas when they are the ones paying taxes from their hard-earned incomes? All the issues that our people have raised involve taxpayers’ money which is being raised from a number of workers in formal employment and has continued to reduce looking at the job losses in the country. Why should people close their eyes when they are being robbed of their money and freedoms in broad daylight? This is tantamount to pouring water from a cup on one's face and asking them to believe that it is raining. There is nothing that will redeem Rupiah and his friends on these issues apart from honesty, humility, transparency and accountability.

As we have always said, transparency and accountability are two important aspects which ensure efficient functioning of any democratic society, both socially and politically. In a democracy, people transfer their powers to leaders and there has to be some form of assurance that the delegated powers will not be ineffective and abused. Where there is transparency, information is available which can be used to measure the government's performance. In that sense, transparency serves to foster accountability - those in government should be ready to be held accountable for their actions.

The current culture of lies, inconsistencies and contradictions is a recipe for social instability and an environment that is less conducive for economic growth. Rupiah and his friends need to put their house in order. Threats on innocent citizens will not do.

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Hichilema insists Rupiah wanted a cut

Hichilema insists Rupiah wanted a cut
Written by George Chellah
Saturday, May 09, 2009 4:19:07 PM

UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema yesterday challenged the government to arrest him over his statement that President Rupiah Banda (left) wanted a 'cut' from the US$ 53 million mobile hospitals deal.

Reacting to information minister Lieutenant General Ronnie Shikapwasha's statement that Hichilema must withdraw his remarks and that the statement, which borders on libel could not go unchallenged, Hichilema said he was ready for the government.

"I am more than prepared. Nobody would come for me, they must go for 12 million Zambians I am speaking on behalf of. I’m not afraid. You tell Shikapwasha, sometimes he tries to use his big body to threaten people," Hichilema said.

"Before they come for Hakainde they should go and deal with the job losses on the Copperbelt, before they come for Hakainde, they must reduce the mealie-meal prices, before they come for Hakainde they must not feed us with GMO maize. When they have done those things, they will find me waiting for them. If they attempt to come for me, let them do so because the public will be reminded of all this chain of corruption under the MMD and that will help them to be taken out of office quickly."

Hichilema said he would continue to speak on behalf of the public.

"We will not stop and for your own information, Shikapwasha has no capacity to threaten anybody, myself included. We will speak for the people. Shikapwasha must focuss on serving the people and not threatening the people. The reason why children have no jobs it's because of behaviour which is corrupt like Zamtel, behaviour which is corrupt like buying mobile hospitals," Hichilema said.

He maintained that the government was corrupt.

"I put it to the public to judge if someone occupying public office is making decisions against public interests, what should we call that? If you see somebody dishing out mealie-meal and sugar in Katete during a campaign using public resources to advance themselves getting to the presidency, what would you call that?" Hichilema asked.

"You are using public money to advance your personal cause, what do you call that? That is corruption. What we are doing is to save the people of Zambia US$ 53 million. If we don't talk about it, they are going to do it against public interest. I think that is the definition we are putting and I think we are in order to highlight issues."

Hichilema said the RP Capital Partners deal was a good example of corruption.

"Society objected the Zamtel issue and the person who came out to support Dora Siliya who was wrong and the tribunal has proved... that was the President followed by the Vice-President. Now, who are those? They represent MMD, they represent the government. So holistically, it means that you actually have a rotten team out there that is pursuing personal interests against public interests," Hichilema said.

"How will you define a President, a Vice-President who are supporting a minister who was pursuing an agenda which the public did not agree with? Is that not personal agenda? Why should Zambians pay to RP Capital Partners because of the minority interests? That is corruption, that is white-collar crime."

On defence minister George Mpombo's statement that his remarks were an assault on the President's integrity and borders on defamation, Hichilema said Mpombo was blowing hot air.

"He still believes that being a defence minister means that you can flex your muscles to scare people off. What is there to scare somebody off about? Mpombo is talking about caliber of leadership, does Mpombo understand calibre?" Hichilema asked.

"Mpombo is not qualified to talk about calibre of leadership. Mpombo was languishing there in the village so he must not talk about the calibre of leadership. They are trying to threaten people. You know, I don't understand these fellows.

"He tried to talk of privatisation, whose policy was privatisation? Was it Hakainde's? Was that not an MMD policy? Am I an MMD minister myself? The issue of privatisation was an MMD policy. Can you tell these chaps to stop threatening Zambians because we are not afraid of them."

On Wednesday, Hichilema said President Banda and his government should be blamed for the proposed procurement of mobile hospital units from China.

But Mpombo on Thursday said Hichilema's comments bordered on defamation while Lt Gen Shikapwasha advised Hichilema to substantiate or withdraw his statement.

And UPND spokesperson Charles Kakoma said the tribal sentiments made by their member of parliament for Sinazongwe Raphael Muyanda were his personal views.

"We did not even know that he was going to say those things. As a party, whereas we support freedom of speech by every member, we think that freedom is limited within the laws of this country. And our laws currently are that we should not say anything that hurt the tribal feelings of other citizens and therefore, as a party, we do not think that attacking Bembas or attacking the Church is the correct thing to do. It is not necessary. We have obviously counselled the honourable member several times. It's regrettable that he uttered those things. As a party, we would like to distance ourselves from that statement," said Kakoma.

Muyanda on Thursday accused the Catholic Church of dividing the nation, adding that they used Bemba in their English mass in one of the churches in Lusaka at the expense of the majority who did not understand the language.

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China’s NFCA will take over 85% shareholding of LCM – Rupiah

China’s NFCA will take over 85% shareholding of LCM – Rupiah
Written by Mutuna Chanda and Zumani Katasefa in Luanshya
Saturday, May 09, 2009 4:17:25 PM

PRESIDENT Rupiah Banda has announced that China's Non-Ferrous Metals Corporation Africa (NFCA) will take over 85 per cent shareholding in Luanshya Copper Mines (LCM).

And President Banda has attacked Roan Patriotic Front (PF) member of parliament Chishimba Kambwili, describing him as a scrap metal dealer.

But Kambwili has charged that President Banda's corruption will follow him to his grave for selling Luanshya mine through a corrupt method.

Addressing a public rally at Kafubu Stadium in Luanshya yesterday, President Banda said the mine would resume operations at the end of this month when NFCA would take over the majority stake previously held by Enya Holdings.

He explained that a technical committee that selected NFCA would immediately engage the Chinese-run firm in negotiations up to May 22 in readiness for the takeover of the mine on May 30.

The taking over of LCM by NFCA ends the four-month long and anxious wait by the 1,719 miners who were laid off on January 22 this year when the mine was placed under care and maintenance.

"It is now with great pleasure that I announce the sale of the 85 per cent shares of the owners of Luanshya Copper Mines, Enya, to China Non-Ferrous Metals Mining commonly known as NFCA," President Banda announced. "NFCA was chosen over two other bidders, Luanshya Mineral Resources and Vedanta. A bid received from a Luanshya-based company, Exco Management Limited was for the non-core assets of Luanshya. At the conclusion of negotiations with NFCA, a decision will be taken as to whether the sale of non-core assets should be conducted."

President Banda said NFCA would immediately prepare to re-open Baluba Mine and return its pre-closure production levels as well as undertake the development of Muliashi Mine to produce 30,000 metric tonnes of copper cathodes.

"China Non-Ferrous Metal Mining will run the Luanshya Mine Hospital, the trust school and the sports and recreational facilities," President Banda said. "China Non-Ferrous Metal Mining is determined to recapitalise the operations of the mine, turn the mine into one of the most competitive operations in the region. They will support those local enterprises that are capable of supplying material, equipment and services, assist in setting up and implementing local business development plans and provide expert advice and long-term trading business."

President Banda said the Muliashi project would create more jobs for citizens.

He said NFCA had indicated to government that it did not intend to lay off workers and that it would increase its investment and improve the productive efficiencies of Luanshya Mine.

"I want to assure you that this investor knows and understand the business of mining. This investor is not in Zambia just to make quick money and get out at the first sign of stress in the business," he said.

President Banda complained that the global economic downturn had hurt the entire country.

"I want you to know that the drop in metal prices has hit us all hard in Zambia," he complained. "While our people here in Luanshya may be without food, your government has also been robbed of revenues in the form of taxes. But in these trying moments, we have been encouraged by the resilience and commitment of a number of our investors and our partners in this business."

President Banda praised investors who had not cut jobs or reduced mining activities such as Chibuluma, NFCA and Kansanshi mines.

He also urged investors such as Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) and NFCA to create more jobs.

He praised the people of Luanshya for their patience and for not resorting to trouble, which could have scared away investors.

And President Banda took time to discredit Kambwili and branded him a scrap metal dealer who was posing in mining gear to portray as though he was working hard when LCM was under care and maintenance.

"I am also aware that some of the opposition political parties, in particular the Patriotic Front, were bent on conveying messages of anarchy and violence. These people were working to undermine the efforts that your government was making by running commentaries in the press," he said. You may wish to know that these same people were calling me to tell me that the investors that had put the mine under care and maintenance wanted to come back and that government should consider them despite the manner in which they dumped you. I asked them that 'you want these investors to come back but you were in the forefront that they should go, what have they given you to ask that they should come back?'"

But Kambwili charged that President Banda sold the Luanshya mine through a corrupt method.

He described President Banda as a foolish leader for spending much of his time talking about him at the rally.

Kambwili said the sale of the mine to NFCA would bring Luanshya to an end.

"The mine has been given to the Chinese under corrupt methods. Rupiah's corruption will follow him to the grave," said Kambwili in an interview yesterday.

Kambwili said he knew that NFCA would be given the mine.

"I knew that a long time, the Chinese went to Standard Chartered Bank to borrow money to buy the mine. And I got information from State House that the Chinese were going there for discussions regarding the mine," he said. "Rupiah is the worst corrupt person I have ever seen."

Kambwili wondered why President Banda was telling the people of Luanshya that he had called him [President] that the mine should be given back to LCM.

"Corrupt people always want to find faults in straightforward people," he said.

Kambwili said President Banda just showed how foolish he was by spending much of his time talking about him at a rally at the expense of important issues affecting the people of Luanshya.

He said the Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ) and National Union for Miners and Allied Workers (NUMAW) were compromised by the government and that they ended up supporting the sale of the mine to the Chinese.

"He has felt my weight, this confirms that I am a factor. Why is he is scared of me?" he asked. "I am glad that he has felt my weight, and I fought my fight successfully but the only thing I have failed is to change Banda over the investor to buy the mine. Each time he goes to bed, he feels my weight."

He said President Banda had succumbed to his pressure to ensure that the new investor takes over the running of the Luanshya Trust School, the Luanshya hospital and sports facilities, issues that were discussed during the district indaba that was called to look at what the future investor needed to do.

Kambwili complained that MMD cadres harassed him when he went to the directors' lodge where President Banda earlier held a closed door meeting with LCM officials.

Kambwili said the cadres asked him to leave the lodge because he had been insulting the government.

"The whole arrangement to harass me was made by Rupiah Banda himself, because he spent much of his time talking about me at the rally. That is why I am saying he is foolish," he said.

Kambwili, who was at the lodge to meet President Banda, was not given audience and some MMD officials were heard castigating the party's security wing for letting Kambwili enter the premises.

Meanwhile, Luanshya residents jeered Copperbelt MMD chairman Joseph Chilambwe when he attempted to criticize Kambwili for referring to labour deputy minister Simon Kachimba as the only dull Luvale he had ever met at a recent PF rally in Kitwe.

Chilambwe cut short his statement when he was about to allude to Kambwili, forcing him to end by his speech by calling for unity.

This was during the rally that President Banda addressed later.

Mines minister Maxwell Mwale warned investors who did not understand mining to leave it to those who understood it.

Mwale said NFCA had committed US$400 million for the development of the mine in Luanshya.

Mwale said there was no justification for companies such as Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) to continue laying off workers at the current copper prices of over US$4,500 per tonne.

Labour minister Austin Liato complained that MCM had not informed his office prior to the latest job layoffs at the company.

Liato said the labour ministry had no record of Mopani's intention and that he was only informed via a telephone call by a mine official after the news had already hit the press.

Liato said government had asked the investors to communicate with his office whenever there was a significant number of jobs to be lost.

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Mining firms in Zimbabwe challenge ownership law

Mining firms in Zimbabwe challenge ownership law
Written by MacDonald Dzirutwe
Saturday, May 09, 2009 4:13:39 PM

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe should consider scrapping provisions compelling foreign mines to sell majority stakes to locals and instead allow miners to set their own empowerment targets, an industry official said.

Foreign investors are concerned by the government's indeginisation laws, which has led to many companies witholding investment needed to raise mining production after a slump in the past seven years.

The southern African country has enacted a law which forces foreign companies, including mines and banks, to sell 51 percent ownership to local blacks while allowing the government to seize 25 percent of shares in some mines without paying.

Jack Murehwa, past president of the Chamber of Mines said companies should be allowed to draw up a timetable to meet their own targets to sell a stake to local Zimbabweans, and the government should ensure the mining firms meet the targets.

"We don't believe that setting up empowerment limits is the way to go, it serves no purpose at all," Murehwa told a mining conference.

"Let the mining companies set the targets ... and leave foreign investors to talk to potential local partners of their choice in the country," Murehwa said, referring to a clause that allows the government to recommend local partners.

Anglo Platinum (Angloplat), which is developing the Unki platinum mine in central Zimbabwe, has announced it would set aside 20 percent shareholding for workers, communities and locals before enactment of the indeginisation law.

Mining has become the leading source of foreign exchange for the country with gold accounting for a third of exports, but political turmoil has led to several mines closing.

Miners have since 2002 struggled with a political and economic crisis and foreign currency shortages, forcing mines to shut down while skilled labour fled to other countries.

Alex Mhembere, managing director of Zimbabwe Platinum Mines, a unit of South African firm Impala Platinum Holdings (Implats), said 88 registered mines were in operation in the country last year but only 20 were now working and a mere three were operating at full capacity.

Implats, Angloplat and Rio Tinto, are some of the biggest mining companies with interests in Zimbabwe.

Zimplats, which offered to sell 15 percent shareholding to locals but could not find a buyer, has also in the past suggested that the government should consider giving mines credits for development made in local communities.

"We need consistency in terms of government policies, we need clarity on indeginisation and empowerment. The perception out there of Zimbabwe being an investment destination is still very low," Mhembere said.

Mining companies had for the past 10 years shelved any exploration activities because of unfavourable laws.

"Over the last 10 years we have not had exploration so we have this 10 year gap and if we start full mining production we are going to face a slump (in production) not far from now," Mhembere said.

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Kwacha appreciates by 10%

Kwacha appreciates by 10%
Written by Joan Chirwa
Saturday, May 09, 2009 4:11:44 PM

THE local currency on Thursday recorded a significant appreciation of 10 per cent to trade at K5,100 from the week's opening levels of between K5,600 and K5,700. The kwacha's appreciation of 10 per cent within a week has not been achieved in the past two to three years, according to experts.

"This appreciation is on the back of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan to Zambia to boost the country’s foreign exchange reserves," said Miles Sampa, a financial markets expert and former president of the Financial Markets Association of Zambia.

"We saw evidence of offshore investors bringing the money back, looking to invest in government securities. There was indication that some inflow came in. Even people holding foreign exchange in accounts started to convert into kwacha."

Sampa indicated that the next psychological level to look out for was whether the kwacha would break the K5,000 mark.

The IMF has since disbursed US $160 million out of the approved a US $250 million loan to Zambia to boost the country's foreign exchange reserves.

And Citibank Group economist David Cowan's analysis of the sub-Saharan Africa currency stability which looked at Zambia's kwacha, Tanzania and Uganda's shilling and the Ghanaian cedi, indicated that the kwacha would find a new equilibrium level of ZMK5,250 against the US dollar despite the recovery in copper prices seen in the first quarter of this year.

"The Zambian kwacha appreciation will not be significant," Cowan stated. "There has been a sharp weakening in many sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) currencies in fourth quarter of 2008 and first quarter of 2009. Notably the Ghanaian cedi, the Tanzanian and Ugandan shillings and the Zambian kwacha have all fallen to historical lows against the US dollar. This currency adjustment has come after a period of stability and has to some extent created a crisis of confidence in the economic outlook for SSA."

Cowan stated that chances of further withdraw of portfolio investments from Zambia and other countries in the region seem limited.

"We expect that all four currencies will stabilise against the US dollar in second quarter of 2009. However, we think that stabilisation will depend to a considerable extent on the speed with which domestic demand for foreign currency wanes, which in turn will depend on the policy responses of the central banks going forward," stated Cowan.

"Of the four economies [Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana and Zambia], the Zambian current account outlook is the most dependent on the price of one commodity, in this case copper, and the rebound in copper prices in first quarter of 2009 means that the deficit could prove to be much smaller in 2009 than the IMF is currently forecasting. Put another way, the recovery in the copper price may not boost the kwacha, but may place a floor under further falls."

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Mujuda dismisses DBZ suit as a legal joke, nonsense

Mujuda dismisses DBZ suit as a legal joke, nonsense
Written by George Chellah
Saturday, May 09, 2009 4:08:33 PM

POST legal counsel Sam Mujuda yesterday dismissed the Development Bank of Zambia (DBZ) legal suit as a legal joke, a nonsense.

Reacting to a legal suit filed by DBZ in the High Court against JCN Holdings Limited, Post Newspapers and Mutembo Nchito as first, second and third defendants respectively, Mujuda, who is also the deputy editor-in-chief and deputy managing director dismissed the legal suit describing it as a desperate suit, by desperate people.

"Today, DBZ is suing us demanding that we buy back shares that they acquired in Zambian Airways. What shares? Let them show the nation the shares they acquired in Zambian Airways. This is what happens when people mix politics with commercial transactions. DBZ have got their legal matrix wrong," Mujuda said.

"The general framework of their statement of claim shows that this was a commercial transaction. Those who may want to understand the Zambian Airways transaction can read the DBZ statement of claim. To start with this is a desperate suit by desperate people. They have failed to come up with any evidence of criminal wrongdoing on our part."

He said the falsity of their claim that The Post had stolen US$ 30 million from state institutions seemed to be haunting them.

"Now they are resorting to civil claims that have no basis at all, at law and even in common sense or logic. Today, they can claim that they are shareholders of Zambian Airways when all along they were accusing us of trying to get DBZ on board as shareholders and they told Parliament that they had refused to do that," Mujuda said.

He said the case against The Post was very simple.

"Anyway, that is how liars behave, they easily forget what they did or said yesterday. Today, they are suing us to buy back shares, which they told Parliament that they never acquired. It's a very simple case for us, we are very happy that they have taken us to court where we will teach them a lesson that it does not pay to lie, to be dishonest or deceitful," Mujuda said.

"This writ does not disclose the cause of action. They wrote to us through their lawyers, demanding that we buy back shares and we replied to them. It seems this writ has not addressed any of the things that we raised in our letter to them."

According to a letter dated March 23, 2009, which was written to DBZ's lawyers by MNB legal practitioners, who are acting for JCN holdings and Post Newspapers in the matter, its client's position in the matter was that any and all documents signed by them and delivered to DBZ were so signed, as evidenced in writing, subject to negotiations between the two sides.

"These negotiations have never been concluded and that is where the matter ended. We note that contrary to the position now being taken by your client, your client's shareholder (s) and/or their agents or representatives have made unequivocal pronouncements in Parliament that they had rejected the offer to convert the debt facility into equity/shares," read the letter in part.

"Our instructions are therefore, as follows; the issue of conversion from debt to shares never proceeded beyond the negotiations that had commenced between your clients and ours. The parties were never ad idem thereon, as the contemporaneous correspondences passing between them, which you no doubt have in your possession, will show. The document you assert constitutes an enforceable share buy-back undertaking was executed subject to negotiations, which negotiations as noted above, have never concluded.

"In any event, even assuming the document you refer to was binding, and our client's position is that it is not, the undertaking referred to at paragraph two of your letter was contingent upon the consideration of conversion of the debt facility to Zambian Airways Limited into shares. Since this has not occurred, that undertaking is wholly unenforceable for lack of consideration."

They further stated that since no conversion of debt into shares took place, there are no shares to buy back.

"Our clients are still open to an amicable resolution of this matter. Should yours decide to institute suit, as they are well entitled to do, you may assume that we are instructed to receive process," stated the letter.

And according to the statement of claim filed in the High Court, the DBZ is claiming a sum of K14 billion.

The plaintiff is also claiming interest at the contractual rate.

"In the alternative, for an order that Mr Mutembo Nchito executes a guarantee or be deemed to have executed the guarantee under clause 8.6 of the Syndication Loan Agreement," stated DBZ's claim in part.

The DBZ is further demanding that Nchito pay the sum of US$ 3.0 million under the Personal Guarantee.

"Such order as the court may deem just and equitable," stated the claim.

They are also claiming costs of the action.

And the background of the case filed in the High Court states that, desirous of expanding its operations, by inter alia, the acquisition of new equipment, Zambian Airways in or about 2007 approached Investrust to syndicate a loan facility in favour of the company aforesaid in the sum of US$ 5.5 million, [the loan] to be secured against certain assets of the company.

"Investrust then as the lead bank put together a consortium of banks comprising itself, Intermarket and the plaintiff who together as joint lenders ("the lenders") agreed to provide banking facilities up to the said sum to be secured by; a fixed debenture of two Boeing aircraft registration No. 9CJ JCN and 9CJ JOY, subordination of shareholders loans to the lenders, assignment of receivables duly executed, personal guarantee of Mr Mutembo Nchito for the full value of US$ 5,5 million and Key Man Insurance of the key promoter Mr Mutembo Nchito for the period provided for in the various offer letters from the banks party to the transaction," they stated.

They further stated that the plaintiff's portion of the loan was US$ 3.0 million then equivalent to K14 billion, which sum was duly drawn and utilised by the company.

"The full terms and conditions are contained in the syndication loan agreement signed by the company and the lenders, including the plaintiff on the 3rd November 2007. The lenders agreed to share pari passu the securities referred to in paragraph 10 hereof and/or as in the security sharing agreement executed by the lenders and the company. By mid 2008, it was clear that in spite of the injection of US$ 5.5 million into the company, the said company was facing serious liquidity problems and was in arrears in the repayment of both interest and principal on the sum advanced to it by the plaintiff," read the statement in part. "By clause 8.6 of the syndication loan agreement executed by the plaintiff on the 3rd November, 2007, Mr Mutembo Nchito was to give a personal guarantee for the repayment of the loan facility for the full value of US$ 5,5000,000-00. Mr Mutembo Nchito executed the said syndication loan agreement on behalf of the company but he did not and until now has not executed the personal guarantee envisaged under the agreement aforesaid. By reason of Mr Mutembo Nchito's failure to execute the guarantee as hereinbefore pleaded, the plaintiff suffered a dimunition in the security offered by the company for the due repayment of the loan, and the plaintiff is entitled to call upon Mr Mutembo Nchito to execute the guarantee as agreed by the parties."

They also stated that at the request of the company and in light of the company's failure to meet its debt obligations and to avert its liquidation, the plaintiff agreed to participate in the restructuring of the capital of the company, in consideration of the defendants executing an equity buy-back guarantee in favour of the plaintiff.

"The restructuring referred to in the above paragraph was necessary and a condition precedent to the company accessing further loans from Finance Bank to fund working capital for the company. The capital restructuring agreed to included: that the plaintiff converts its portion of the loan to the company into common stock equity in the said company, that the said common stock equity was in the sum of K14 billion redeemable at the plaintiff's discretion in with interest calculated at the current 182 Government of the Republic of Zambia treasury bill rate (at the material time at 16 per cent per annum) plus eight per cent margin or a floor rate of 20 per cent per annum, whichever is higher," they stated. "That the first and second defendants would jointly and/or severally guarantee the repayment to the plaintiff of the sums referred to in paragraph 19.2 in any of the circumstances referred to in the offer letter dated 6th October 2008, that the plaintiff would in consideration of Finance Bank lending the company the sum of US$ 3.0 million relinquish its interest in securities referred to in paragraph 10 hereof in favour of Finance Bank. The plaintiff did relinquish their interest in the securities and Finance Bank did avail the company banking facilities in the sum of US$ 3.0 million, which the company drew and utilised.

"In consideration of and as a condition precedent to the plaintiff converting its loan to the company into common stock equity as aforesaid, and the plaintiff relinquishing its interests in the securities in favour of Finance Bank to enable the said Finance Bank lend US$ 3 million to the company, the first and second defendants executed an irrevocable undertaking to buy back the common stock equity referred to in paragraph 19 hereof."

They stated that: "The equity buy-back guarantee executed or signed severally by the first and second defendants and dated 13th October 2008 provided that the defendants jointly and severally; in consideration of the plaintiff's "Conversion of a debt facility, amounting to K14 billion plus interest calculated at the 182 GRZ treasury bill rate plus eight per cent margin or a floor rate of 20 per cent annum, whichever is higher. Hereby irrevocably undertake to buy back the said equity from the bank as may be determined in accordance with the terms of the shareholders agreement. In the event that the shareholders agreement is not executed the buy back will be determined by the bank. Further undertake to hold this undertaking valid and legally binding on ourselves until the execution of the irrevocable joint and several share buy-back guarantee by all the shareholders of the Zambian Airways. Also undertake to buy-back the equity from the bank on demand upon presentation of reasonable notice from the bank to do so."

They also stated that on or about January 10th 2009, the company and Zambian Airways Limited informed the lenders that their board had resolved to suspend the operations of the company.

"By a letter dated 13th January 2009 the plaintiff, considering the suspension of operations an event of default, made a demand for payment by the defendants in terms of the agreement evidenced by the defendants' letter of the 13th October 2008, referred to in paragraph 18 hereon. The first and second defendants have failed to make payment of the sum demanded or any sum at all," they stated.

"The plaintiff is entitled to and claims payment of the sum of K14 billion plus interest calculated at the 182 GRZ treasury bill rate currently at 16 per cent per annum plus eight per cent margin or a floor rate of 20 per cent per annum whichever is higher from the date of the disbursement of the loan and under the terms of the guarantee."

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Mutharika’s brother dispels rumours of being groomed for presidency

Mutharika’s brother dispels rumours of being groomed for presidency
Written by Chibaula Silwamba
Saturday, May 09, 2009 4:07:25 PM

BINGU wa Mutharika will retain the presidency, the Malawian President's young brother Professor Peter Mutharika has said. And Prof Mutharika said President Wa Mutharika was not grooming him for the presidency contrary to speculations, following his decision to stand as a parliamentary candidate.

In a telephone interview from Thyolo East constituency - about 32 kilometres south of Malawi's commercial capital Blantyre - where he is standing as a parliamentary candidate, Prof Mutharika said President Wa Mutharika had done a lot of developmental projects that would lead to him being re-elected in the May 19 presidential elections.

"I believe so; I really expect him to return to power and I think the campaign is going on very well," Prof Mutharika said.

Asked if the newly-formed coalition between former president Bakili Muluzi and main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) leader John Tembo where Tembo will be a joint presidential candidate posed a threat to President Wa Mutharika and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Prof Mutharika responded: "No! They don't!"

He said no one knows the policies of the coalition because it had not yet published its manifesto.

"John Tembo yesterday [Tuesday] clarified that. He said it's not an alliance, it's a coalition. That is what he says," Prof Mutharika said. "The alliance or coalition, as they call it, so far has not even published its manifesto. They haven't launched their manifesto. So currently, I don't even know what their policies and their goals are for this country. We published ours about a month ago or two months ago."

And Prof Mutharika dismissed assertions that he was standing as a parliamentary candidate because his brother was grooming him to take over the presidency after the head of state completes his second term of office, which he is widely expected to get after the May 19 elections.

"That is not correct. I just want to serve this country. I have a very distinguished professorship at one of the leading American universities but I felt I should help this country and I have been a chief advisor to the President on constitutional, legal and international affairs for years now," explained Prof Mutharika, a lecturer at Washington University in St Louis and a former president of African Law Association in America and the International Third World Legal Studies Association. "So I thought I would serve the country better by going to Parliament and get involved in shaping administration and policies. So that is all. These things that people are saying are just speculations. He is not grooming anyone at all."

Prof Mutharika said it was his personal decision to stand as parliamentary candidate.

"The campaign is going fine. We still have two weeks to go and I think so far, it's quite fine. I am standing in Thyolo East; it is 20 miles [32.19 km] south of Blantyre," Prof Mutharika said. "I certainly plan to live in the constituency; I will soon be building a house there."

Malawi is holding presidential and parliamentary elections on May 19, 2009.

However, Prof Mutharika said members of parliament could not be expected to just live in their constituency.

"If you ought to be a serious legislator, you have to live in the constituency but as you know, I am sure even in Zambia or any other country, as a member of parliament you also have to spend time in the capital city because that is where the National Assembly is. If you want to get development projects for your constituency, you have to be in the capital also because that is where you get funding for projects," said Prof Mutharika.

"Obviously, you have to live in both the constituency and the capital. You have to live in the constituency and listen to the needs of your people."



ZANACO questions overdrawing of Lukulu East CDF account

ZANACO questions overdrawing of Lukulu East CDF account
Written by Mwala Kalaluka
Saturday, May 09, 2009 4:05:48 PM

ZANACO has asked the Lukulu East constituency development committee to explain circumstances leading to the overdrawing of its Constituency Development Fund (CDF) account.

And Lukulu council secretary Mutakela Kabombo has so far declined to appear before the local authority’s Finance Committee to explain his alleged misuse of council funds.

Lukulu East United Liberal Party (ULP) member of parliament Batuke Imenda has disclosed that it has come to his knowledge that the CDF account had been misappropriated without his knowledge.

In a letter addressed to Kabombo and copied to Lukulu district commissioner Edwin Kasempa, local government minister Benny Tetamashimba and the Western Province local government officer, among others, Imenda pledged to officially report the misappropriation to the police for further investigations.

“It has come to my knowledge that the Constituency Development Fund Account has been misappropriated without my knowledge,” Imenda stated. ìInstructions to all signatories were that no withdrawal was going to be made without my approval.”

Imenda indicated that at the committeeís last sitting, the account had a balance of K79 million for contingency purposes.

“Out of that, K12 million was approved to cater for a training programme for cooperators and all councillors. The account was left with a balance of K67 million,” he stated. ìRealising that we needed to use all the funds for financial year 2008, with a view of compiling some returns to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Government and Housing, I asked the CDF committee for approval.”

Imenda further stated that to his utter shock and dismay, he learnt that a K10 million cheque that was allocated to the Lukulu Radio Community Cooperative had bounced.

“Further inquiries pointed to the fact that our account has been overdrawn and that Zanaco wants an explanation from us,” he wrote. “You may all know that our committee is a custodian of hard earned funds, for and on behalf of people of Lukulu. In the light of the aforesaid, I herewith declare the CDF committee dissolved.”

He stated that in conformity with Local Government guidelines, he would institute a new one in the shortest period of time.

And sources have disclosed that Lukulu councillors would be having an emergency council meeting in the next few days to discuss Kabombo’s failure to appear before the Finance Committee to explain financial misappropriations as highlighted in the recent audit report on the councilís book of accounts.

“An audit report in which the council secretary Kabombo Mutakela of Lukulu District Council was alleged to have misused council funds was discussed by the full council meeting on 06.03.09, chaired by Provincial Local Government Officers (PLGO),” the source said.” The meeting noted that the response to the audit queries, which was attributed to the councillors was discovered that all the reactions to the queries were made by the Council Secretary. Councilors were not consulted.”

The source said except for a few allegations, the councillors agreed with the findings of the audit report, which they said were quite damaging on the part of Kabombo.

“After consultations with the PLGO, the full council resolved that all queries be referred to the Finance Committee for scrutiny,” said the source. “The recommendations of the sub-committee should within one month be presented to the full council meeting for a final decision.”

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ZNUT urges extension of teacher recruitment deadline

ZNUT urges extension of teacher recruitment deadline
Written by Masuzyo Chakwe
Saturday, May 09, 2009 4:04:48 PM

THE Zambia National Union of Teachers (ZNUT) has appealed to the Ministry of Education to extend the deadline for the recruitment of teachers to give enough time for would be applicants to receive the information and submit their applications.
Welcoming the announcement by the Ministry of Education on the intention to recruit basic and high school teachers for rural areas, ZNUT director for public relations and international affairs Jose Phiri said this process was supported especially that there were many schools both in rural, remote and urban areas that had inadequate number of teachers when hundreds of teachers were roaming the streets.

Phiri urged the ministry to adequately prepare for the recruitment in terms of settling-in allowances, housing allowances and rural hardship allowances.

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Friday, May 08, 2009

Mapipo urges African insurers to design appropriate products

Mapipo urges African insurers to design appropriate products
Written by Nchima Nchito Jr
Friday, May 08, 2009 5:31:53 PM

AFRICAN insurers and intermediaries have a heavy responsibility of improving the general standard of living of the continent, registrar of Pensions and Insurance Authority (PIA) Chris Mapipo has said.

During the Organisation of Eastern and Southern African Insurers (OESI) training seminar in Lusaka yesterday, Mapipo said this could be done through financial intermediation role and designing appropriate insurance products.

“The fact that the world is experiencing the worst global financial recession means that the demand on the insurance industry for higher coverage across a wide range of risks will most likely increase, yet clients’ capacity remains limited,” he said. “Africa will sooner than later demand much more capacity than its present share globally.”

Mapipo added that there would be increased demand for specialist insurance products within the OESI largely due to increased trade and infrastructure development.

“Building up the talent pool of experienced and highly competent underwriters, claims managers and brokers in these specialised areas is key success factor,” he said.

He said the role of insurance intermediaries had also evolved.

“From the traditional role of matching and placing of insurance risks for their client with insurers and reinsures, insurance intermediaries have moved up the value chain to essentially provide enhanced services in order to remain competitive and relevant,” Mapipo said. “The risks faced by their clients have become much more complex given the expanded business markets beyond traditional boundaries.

Underwriters and the insurer’s intermediaries alike have had to keep up, not only in understanding the developments within their client’s areas of operation but also complex nature of the potential risks exposures that their clients face. Only then can they provide value added risk management and insurance services.”

Mapipo expressed hope that the insurance sector would rise to the current economic challenges.

And OESI chairperson Irene Muyenga said the main challenge faced by the organisation was re-capitalisation and the enhancement of its capacity in order to handle huge risks.

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Lumwana signs 5-year deal with KCM

Lumwana signs 5-year deal with KCM
Written by Kabanda Chulu
Friday, May 08, 2009 5:30:27 PM

LUMWANA Mining Company (LMC), a subsidiary of Equinox Minerals Limited, has signed a five-year off-take agreement with Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) for the processing of Lumwana copper concentrates.

This agreement comes after Mopani Copper Mines at Mufulira smelter refused to treat Lumwana copper concentrates, claiming that it was not within contract specifications.

Announcing the development yesterday, Equinox Minerals president Craig Williams stated that the agreement would entail annual processing of quantities between 70,000 and 80,000 dry metric tonnes of concentrates from the Lumwana copper mine with an option by mutual agreement for additional annual quantities of Lumwana copper concentrates under the same terms as the agreement.

Williams stated that copper treatment and refining charges under the agreement would be determined annually based on Japanese Smelter Benchmark terms.

“This new long-term off-take agreement with KCM supplements the Lumwana’s existing long-term off-take agreement with Chambishi Copper Smelter Limited and together will account for a large majority of Lumwana’s budgeted production,” stated Williams. “Outside of these agreements, LMC continues to make deliveries of concentrates to international metal traders under short-term contracts providing Equinox with concentrate off-take flexibility.”

KCM is majority owned by Vedanta Resources Plc, a London-listed metals and mining company. The mine recently installed and commissioned the new Nchanga modern smelter with output capacity of 300,000 tonnes per annum of copper anode and 1,850 tonnes per day of sulphuric acid.

KCM also operates the Nchanga and Konkola copper mines, the Nkana Refinery and is developing the Konkola Deep copper mine.

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NRFA disburses K186m for Kazungula Bridge

NRFA disburses K186m for Kazungula Bridge
Written by Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Friday, May 08, 2009 5:28:33 PM

NATIONAL Road Fund Agency (NRFA) has announced that it last year disbursed about K186 million towards the Kazungula Bridge project. And works and supply permanent secretary Lt Col Bizwayo Nkunika has said pre-construction works on the project are expected to be completed this year in readiness for actual construction works expected in the first quarter of next year.

According to audited financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2008, NRFA stated that the disbursement to Kazungula Bridge formed part of the projects that directly benefited from its funding portfolio.

And in a recent interview, Lt Col Nkunika said the studies for the bridge to link Zambia with Botswana were advancing according to schedule.

Lt Col Nkunika said the government expected to receive a report from the consultants by the end of last month.

“So far, our projection is that our final feasibility report will be ready September and then the design report will come out in November so what we are doing now is soliciting for financial assistance from our cooperating partners,” Lt Nkunika said. “…then immediately the design is ready, we can call for bidders who can construct it and thereafter we begin construction. It is our aim that we should have the contractor on site by first quarter of next year.”

Lt Col Nkunika also said the government was currently projecting to spend about US $3 million for the feasibility and design of the bridge.

“Then we require another US $500, 000 for the transaction advisor who is going to be paid for by Zambia and Botswana because that is not part of the AfDB money,” he said.

Lt Col Nkunika also reaffirmed that the proposed bridge would be a curve link west-wards and that the distance was projected to increase by about 100 to 200 metres, increasing the initial length of the bridge from an estimated 800 metres to 1,000 metres.

Last year, Zambia and Botswana had abandoned the initial plan of constructing the Kazungula Bridge through Zimbabwe after the Southern African country unsettled some of the would be sponsors of the project owing to its collapsing economy.

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Putting one’s neck under the executioner’s ax

Putting one’s neck under the executioner’s ax
Written by Editor

Many things will have to change before a media council becomes a viable undertaking in Zambia. There are certain prerequisites that have to be met before it can be possible for every journalist and every media institution in this country to congregate under one media council.

For a media council to be viable, it has to be a product of a strategic coming together, and not a happenstance alliance, of all those who practice journalism in this country.

As things stand today, those behind the Media Council of Zambia (MECOZ) have only one institution in sight for disciplining, controlling, caging and humiliating. And that is The Post. All their talk centres around The Post. The anti-Post element is what seems to unite them under MECOZ and it is what has led to them into hiring themselves out to unscrupulous politicians to fix The Post. They are not concerned about the lack of editorial independence at the state-owned and government-controlled Times of Zambia, Zambia Daily Mail and Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation.

Yet it’s a well-known fact that it is not possible for anyone to practice ethical journalism under conditions where one is not capable of taking independent decisions. It requires little intelligence – if a little is all one has – to realise that journalists at these state-owned and government-controlled media institutions are working under a lot of negative pressure from politicians of the ruling MMD and its government. No honest person can deny this fact.

Ethical journalism requires that the journalist acts independently and in an honest manner. This is not possible even for the best of our journalists at the state-owned and government-controlled media institutions. But this doesn’t seem to worry the men and women behind MECOZ and their political backers.

One doesn’t need a microscope to see that the Zambian media is still heavily dominated by the state-owned and government-controlled institutions. Out of the three daily newspapers in the country, only one – The Post, is not under state ownership and government control. The other two – the Times of Zambia and Daily Mail, are owned by the state and controlled by the government. Equally, despite the proliferation of many small radio stations, the electronic media is still predominantly state owned and government controlled.

The impact of The Post actually distorts the numbers. It makes Zambia look as if it has a strong plural media when this is not the case. Imagine Zambia’s media landscape would look like if The Post closed tomorrow! What private or independent media would be there for anyone to talk about?

What issues is the state owned and government-controlled media bringing out? What type of journalism are they practicing? For all the years our good friend and columnist Dr Kenneth Kaunda was in power, the state-owned media never questioned his decisions or actions. For the 10 years Frederick Chiluba was in power, not a single critical story, editorial comment or letter to the editor was ever published by any of these state owned newspapers. The same is true of the seven years Levy Mwanawasa was president. And the story will not change for Rupiah Banda.

All that had to be exposed was left squarely on the shoulders of The Post. Drug traffickers, corrupt elements and criminals of all hues had to be taken on by The Post. This in itself is enough to earn The Post many enemies. All these people going to jail today for corruption are in that position as a result of The Post’s work. And does anyone really expect these people to like The Post? And these were people with influence and connections. They are using everything at their disposal to attack The Post, to have a go at The Post in the hope that one day they will wake up and The Post is no more so that it can pay for what it has done to them.

The Post does not claim, and has never claimed, to have done everything perfectly well. Things don’t turn out perfectly even where one aims at getting things that way. But what can never be taken away from The Post is that it is an institution that carries out its duties with sufficient honesty, honour and integrity. The Post believes that it serves the cause of the people well to the extent to which it works well, to the extent to which it is sincere, to the extent to which it is honest. The Post has a lot of dignity and it is very sure of itself.

And this is a source of discomfort with The Post for many people. What they can never accept is The Post’s independence, integrity and honour. No one controls The Post apart from The Post itself. The Post’s employees make all the decisions concerning the paper’s operations. No decision is made elsewhere and thrust on The Post. As such, The Post takes full responsibility for its mistakes, and blames no one else. Not even the closest of The Post’s friends are able to tell it what to do. And they respect this. If ever they violated this principle, that would mark the end of the friendship. The Post doesn’t take directives to support this or oppose that cause or issue. It has a mission statement and editorial policy adopted in February 1991, five months before the newspaper was launched. And these are the ones that guide its operations. And the mission statement of The Post reads as follows:

“To produce the best quality newspaper in Zambia in order to exploit the gap in the market caused by the inadequacy of coverage of the existing press.

Our audience should embrace all readers, from a business executive to a taxi driver, who desire to be informed honestly and independently of events at home and abroad.

To achieve this and to ensure that we stay ahead of our competitors, we must strive to understand what it is that readers demand of a newspaper through conducting regular market research.

Our political role is to question the policies and actions of the authorities and all those who wield or aspire to wield social, economic and political power over the lives of ordinary people.

We shall aim to protect and promote the newly-emerging democratic political culture, in which the fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals are guaranteed, through campaigning on issues that arise from our own investigations, reporting and analysis.

To strive continually for higher editorial standards by closely monitoring the accuracy, balance, clarity and style of our reporting, whilst also improving on the paper's design and quality of reproduction. This demands freedom from interference, but openness to criticism and a commitment to the continuous training of our staff.

To achieve these goals, most especially the protection of our independence, we must ensure the commercial viability of the newspaper. Our management style must be participative. We must all be fully aware of the competing demands on financial and other resources and the commercial consequences of our actions.”

And The Post’s editorial policy reads as follows:

“We have a duty to maintain the highest professional and ethical standards and to defend at all times the freedom of the Press and other media to collect information and express comment and criticism.

We shall at all times strive for balance in the way we select, write and present news, bearing in mind that there are almost always different views on any issue and on the interpretation of events. We have a duty to expose our readers to different sides of the story.

We must as far as possible be accurate, fair and honest. We must not suppress, distort or censor news, unless by publication we endanger anyone's life and we must avoid the expression of comment and conjecture as established fact.

Confidential sources of information shall be protected.

We will not distort or suppress the truth because of advertising or other considerations, such as the personal interests of our directors or shareholders.

We shall only mention a person's race, colour, creed, illegitimacy, marital status or lack of it, gender or sexual orientation or political affiliation if this information is strictly relevant.

We shall rectify promptly any harmful inaccuracies, ensure that correction and apologies receive due prominence and afford the right of reply to persons criticised when the issue is of sufficient importance.”

These are The Post’s guiding principles from which it derives its distinctive competencies.

Right now, The Post is involved in a big battle to defend its existence from hostile elements who have declared a war on it and have vowed to see to it that it is obliterated. But the battle of The Post is not only a battle for survival. It is not just surviving for the sake of surviving, no. It is a battle to take part in the struggle for a better society, to participate in that struggle along with all our people.

It would be quite an accomplishment for them to defeat The Post, to destroy it, because at every turn The Post is there to expose and challenge the crimes of their league, a small newspaper that has demonstrated how much can be done with so few resources to become the country’s biggest media institution in terms of impact and resources, and its voice is always there. What would they not do to shut off The Post’s voice!

There are many questions to ask them and many things to denounce to help build the awareness we need and that the country needs, to find solutions that will not come about because anyone so wishes but because of our people’s need to survive. It is no longer the survival of The Post, or of a small newspaper. What is at stake is the survival of the nation, the future of the nation.

We think that the idea of the future Zambia is the most important and most noble idea that any citizen can harbour. And progressive citizens have always fought for the future. To fight for the future does not mean to avoid doing every day what must be done for the present. The two ideas must not be confused.

It will be naïve and foolish for The Post to fall into the trap of joining the treacherous MECOZ whose discernible preoccupation is attacking it. The Post will not put its neck under the executioner’s ax being waved by MECOZ; the preservation instinct, the condition of thinking human beings make this impossible.

Some of the things that come from MECOZ are really silly. They talk about the language of The Post. What language? The Post has never invented a language. And for most of the part it borrows its language from the Holy Bible. When The Post calls a thief a thief, this is not strange language. It is offensive because they don’t want to hear it, they are defending thieves, they are in league with Chiluba who we have called a thief and has been found to be a thief by the London High Court and the Zambian government is today seeking the registration of that judgment so that they can effect it in Zambia and recover what Chiluba has stolen. When we called Chiluba a thief in 2001, we were condemned by these same characters who are today masquerading as champions of media ethics when they are nothing but champions, defenders of despots and thieves. What is wrong to use the words that are used in the Bible to describe certain undesirable behaviour? The words foolish, stupid, fox and so on and so forth are not an invention of The Post. They are there in the Bible and even Christ used some of them to describe and denounce the behaviour of the Pharisees, of Herod. What matters is if such words are used in an honest manner. And so far, no one can accuse The Post of dishonesty. Even in our courts of law, there are more libel judgments against the Times of Zambia and Daily Mail than The Post. So, what are they talking about? This is nothing but just an attempt to conceal their hatred for The Post and their criminal schemes against this newspaper.

Until the Zambian media landscape changes and a lot of other things change, it will not be possible for this country to have an all-inclusive media council. It is easy right now for The Post and the media under the Catholic Media Services, and probably the National Mirror to come together and form a media council. This is because there is much more in common among them; they are not subjected to the political control of anyone. They have a reasonable measure of independence to enable them to practice ethical journalism.

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Malupenga petitions Banda over harassment of Post journalists

Malupenga petitions Banda over harassment of Post journalists
Written by George Chellah
Friday, May 08, 2009 5:03:14 PM

POST managing editor Amos Malupenga has petitioned President Rupiah Banda to intervene in the continued harassment of Post journalists by ruling MMD cadres.

In his letter to the President dated May 6, 2009, which was copied to Inspector General of Police Francis Kabonde, MMD national secretary Katele Kalumba, information minister Lieutenant General Ronnie Shikapawsha and the Press Freedom Committee of The Post (PFC), Malupenga complained that the cadres' acts of violence against Post journalists were calculated to silence them.

"On behalf of the editorial management, I write to bring to Your Excellency's attention the continued and unwarranted harassment, by MMD cadres, of our journalists when they are assigned to cover events where Your Excellency is present, particularly at the various airports in the country when Your Excellency is either flying out or flying in. This has been going on for some time now," Malupenga stated.

"Various people, including ourselves, have condemned these calculated acts of violence by Your Excellency's party cadres. In one particular incident in Chipata on February 28, 2009, our photojournalist Thomas Nsama was assaulted by the cadres for reasons best known to themselves. This matter was reported to the police, who up to now have not acted. For the avoidance of doubt, find enclosed photographs of MMD cadres assaulting our photojournalist Thomas Nsama on February 28, 2009, in Chipata.

"Earlier, on February 26, 2009, a group of MMD cadres threatened to beat up our journalists who had gone to cover Your Excellency's address to the cadres at State House. Our Copperbelt-based journalists - Mutuna Chanda, Mwila Chansa and Abigail Chaponda -have been physically and verbally harassed from time to time by MMD cadres for reasons that Your Excellency's party leadership seem to understand better. On Saturday May 2, 2009, our journalists -George Chellah and Eddie Mwanaleza- who were assigned to cover Your Excellency's return from a state visit in Zimbabwe were prevented from carrying out their duties. In fact, George Chellah and Eddie Mwanaleza had to flee Lusaka City Airport to protect their lives. They were hounded by MMD cadres hungry for their blood."

Malupenga stated that this situation was unfortunate and regrettable.

"We do not understand what wrong our journalists have committed. If there is anything wrong we have done, we believe there are several ways available to have these wrongs addressed. Since these ways are being avoided by MMD cadres, we would not be wrong to conclude that their intention is to cow our journalists into submission; they want to stop them from performing their duties diligently and professionally," Malupenga stated. "It must be mentioned that Your Excellency is a national asset and not an MMD property. Therefore, all journalists are supposed to have unhindered access to Your Excellency if they have to inform the public accurately and objectively. These cadres claim that their actions to physically and verbally abuse our journalists are in their quest to defend and protect Your Excellency.

"It is for this reason that we are writing to request Your Excellency to intervene in this matter and advise the cadres, in your capacity as party president, to desist from these acts of violence and use civil ways to resolve differences or problems, if any."

Malupenga reminded President Banda of the public statements he has made in the past condemning violence.

"We recall that from time to time, Your Excellency has made public statements condemning violence from whatever quarters. This being the case, we are fortified to conclude that Your Excellency will condemn any acts of violence regardless of who the perpetrator is," stated Malupenga.

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HH has assaulted Rupiah’s integrity, says Mpombo

HH has assaulted Rupiah’s integrity, says Mpombo
Written by George Chellah
Friday, May 08, 2009 5:00:10 PM

DEFENCE minister George Mpombo yesterday said Hakainde Hichilema's statement that President Rupiah Banda wanted a 'cut' from the US $53 million deal is an assault on the President's integrity and borders on defamation.

Reacting to UPND leader Hichilema's statement that the US $53 million mobile hospital deal was a white-collar crime in which President Banda wanted to get a commission, Mpombo said Hichilema's attacks were demeaning to President Banda.

"They are totally unacceptable. It's unacceptable assault on the President's integrity and Mr Hichilema must have a piece of humanity when dealing with other human beings. You can't just pass those cruel and scurrilous remarks on a colleague without actually getting the facts," Mpombo said.

"This conduct by Hichilema is a serious threat to Zambia's democracy because leaders will just wake up and start yapping. Surely, is the nation going to continue to be fed on a diet of character assassination?"

Mpombo said Hichilema's remarks borders on defamation of the President. "Absolutely, it borders on defamation of the President. It's a cruel remark because he must be sensitive. Even Mr Hichilema knows that he is a human being but surely to stand up and say those offensive words know I think Mr. HH has an injured or a moribund conscience. His conscience is not functioning," he said.

Mpombo further said Hichilema's remarks were highly malicious and irresponsible.

"It's also a vivid manifestation of Mr Hichilema's low calibre leadership. It's saddening that he could make such a sweeping statement because it is totally unfair and totally inhumane to say what he has said on a colleague. How does one say that Mr Banda wants a cut from that?" Mpombo asked.

"It doesn't make sense because these things, he is not right to assume that by virtue of him being President he is behind any transaction in government or he originates those transactions."

Mpombo said Hichilema's remarks were morally and politically unacceptable.

"Furthermore, it is an unacceptable assault on the President's integrity, totally unacceptable. I think it's cheap leadership. Mr Hichilema, I know he got into politics by virtue of being anointed. He didn't come through a normal political process, he was anointed and he came with very little experience but let him check the way democracy works," Mpombo said.

"He must see how these issues are handled in the UK and also in the US in civilised democracies. You don't just make up those injurious remarks about a colleague because those are very, very serious remarks to say he wants to get a cut."

Mpombo questioned Hichilema's integrity.

"The challenge is that he should look in his rear view mirror regarding privatisation and things like that. Let him look at his role in the privatisation exercise before he starts attacking innocent people. He should first remove his 'logjam' in his eyes before he starts talking about other innocent people," said Mpombo.

"He is an inconsequential political figure and he would disappear from the Zambian political scene just like a puff of smoke. He is just puffed up with cheap pride."

On Wednesday, Hichilema urged the nation to squarely put the blame on the Zambian government and President Banda in particular on the government's planned procurement of mobile hospitals from China.

Hichilema's remarks came in the wake of a statement by visiting Chinese government special representative on African Affairs Ambassador Liu that his government did not play any role in the mobile hospital deal.

According to a letter dated April 28, 2009 and addressed to Department for International Development (DFID), health permanent secretary Dr Velepi Mtonga stated that President Banda indicated during the official opening of the National Assembly that the government would procure mobile clinics from a friendly country to complement efforts to construct 15 hospitals in the 19 districts that did not currently have any.

And last Sunday, President Rupiah Banda said the concept of mobile hospitals was a "damn good idea" from the Chinese.

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