Saturday, July 11, 2009
By Reason Wafawarova
The ongoing process of developing a draft constitution for Zimbabwe is supposed to bring to light our post-colonial response to the colonial debasement of our cultural heritage, our identity and our pride — all that was once demeaned as the way of a primitive people.
Generally, we have two discernible contradictory trends that were seen during the 2000 Constitutional Draft process and are apparent in the current efforts.
On the one hand, certain socio-political values with an appeal in Western societies are being vigorously promoted with the undoubted zeal of the tyro – eager to meticulously emulate the splendid model of Western lifestyles.
On the other hand, there are committed efforts to assert the authority our traditional selves, to emphasise the message that we, the people of Zimbabwe, are a sovereign people, an independent people and a self-determined nation.
Zimbabwe is operating on a Lancaster House Constitution whose initial context and spirit was to usher in a compromise legal set-up that did not detrimentally upset the colonial economic set-up in the country.
This document has had 19 amendments in the last 29 years and the politicians of our generation have agreed that it is time to come up with a new constitution.
For some in politics, this new constitution is all about "a free and fair election in the next two years"; for others in civil society it is about "grassroots participation"; and yet for others it is about "limiting Mugabe’s powers".
The Constitution of a country is the supreme law of the land, reflecting the social order and aspirations of a people.
Most importantly, the supreme law of the land must reflect the national identity and ethos of any given nation.
It appears to this writer that there are people in politics and in the civil society of Zimbabwe who have anointed themselves as custodians of the national psyche, mood and feeling.
These people hold illicit workshops in exclusively expensive places — funded dubiously by people who are not Zimbabwean even by the wildest imagination — and all in the name of what we are solemnly meant to believe is the grassroots population.
These people clearly and openly seek the production of a constitution that disappears right into the splendid model of Western constitutions by way of emulating.
The reasoning is very simple. We will have four-year presidential term limits because the United States does. We will have laws legitimising homosexuality because the West does. We will outlaw polygamy in line with the West and we will have property rights in line with Western capitalist views.
In reality, we have people, 29 years after Independence, hankering for a constitution that is closer to the former colonial master than the Lancaster House Constitution is.
It is the same old theme of the post-colonial syndrome — the increasing resemblance of our social behaviour to that of the dethroned colonial master.
One has to look at the taste of our African politicians, well represented even by the politicians of an economically devastated Zimbabwe.
They all want to artificially import the consumer societies of industrialised Western countries, even if that would only be limited to the world of the politician’s family and girlfriends.
They proudly exhibit to us a sophisticated preference for large and costly European automobiles, expensive tastes in Western fashions, and a phenomenal appetite for expensive holidays.
With honest and straight faces, they expect to be admired and congratulated by our long-suffering peasant villagers each time they drive their expensive cars to the rural areas, in their immaculate designer suits.
In 1974, Cde Samora Machel of Mozambique took up this theme and vowed that the state of Mozambique and its people would engage on "an unyielding struggle against the vestiges of colonialism, decadent values, erroneous ideas, the attitude of uncritically imitating foreigners".
The struggle for independence, he argued, had not been fought for the expulsion of the foreign dominators, "but also to reconquer our Mozambican personality, to bring about the resurgence of our culture and create a new mentality, a new society".
Who among those who have anointed themselves as our constitutional representatives is inspired by an unyielding struggle against the vestiges of the colonial effect, decadent values or erroneous ideas?
Who among them is fighting like a wounded buffalo the rampant culture of uncritically imitating foreigners?
Surely those boys from Zimbabwe National Students’ Union must be dead committed to reconquer our Zimbabwean personality, to bring about the resurgence of our long lost culture and to create among our people a new mentality, a new society.
After all, they tell us that they represent the "island of knowledge", never mind that many of them hardly possess any knowledge to inspire anybody.
The terrible reality is that these youngsters are not only dangerously armed with juvenile academic ignorance, but they embrace with the blindness of an earthworm the fabulous idea of limitless freedoms and human rights.
To this end, they will endeavour to achieve by marching and screaming what they cannot articulate by rationality and reason.
These are youngsters who will try to stone and burn into the constitution all that they cannot express by way of explanation.
With no history, no cultural identity, no self-image, no pride other than arrogance, the youngsters claim they are the future of our country.
The National Constitutional Assembly carries a high-sounding name and remarkably pretends to be leading a national process in the making of the Supreme Law of the Republic.
Save for budgetary expenditure and the electing of office bearers, everything else at the NCA is done in the name of the people Zimbabwe.
But what has been the record of the NCA in regard to its relationship with the people?
It would not be an exaggeration to assert that as a general rule what Dr Lovemore Madhuku and his crusaders have been doing over the past 10 years — by way of dealing with the people — amounts to little more than cosmetic tinkerings.
The organisation remains elitist-driven, Western-funded, European-modelled, with focus on upper level procedural rights and a suspicious reticence on subsistence rights like the right to land, food, shelter, education or health.
The NCA high-sounding bells preach bountiful Press freedom, freedom of expression, freedom of association and all sorts of truisms that are derived from the US-led Western alliance’s ambitious campaign to "democratise the uncivilised countries".
The Anglophone democracy that we are told we lack is the underlying foundation upon which Western funding is accessed by such organisations as the NCA and other Western-funded organisations that claim to be the custodians of democracy in Zimbabwe.
Surely Zimbabwe did not get independent so that its first adult generation of born-frees can re-introduce Anglophone control? We cannot relive by funding what we destroyed by fighting. That, children of Zimbabwe, is unacceptable.
We cannot abuse the name of our grassroots population by attaching to their name agendas that are planted and funded by strange foreigners. That plainly is disrespectful.
We cannot by the power of politics or the expediency that comes with political funding and foreign support manipulate the future and heritage of our country by contriving the consent of our people in seeking to produce a constitution fitting into the model and benchmarks provided by foreign peoples.
Already we hear that some in politics have decided to assign the task of constitution-making to a hotch-potch collection of expatriates — individuals who may have the best of intentions but are hopelessly ignorant of local conditions and who must of necessity spend about all the time they will be in the country undergoing familiarisation. We cannot afford to have a repeat of the aftermath of independence.
Then, we had whole operations in defence, education, health, and the civil service — operations that functioned like a shuttle service — as what we called "experts" came and went, some for just a few weeks.
It would be absolutely pathetic for Zimbabwe to adopt another shuttle service approach to the process of constitution-making, a good 29 years after Independence.
What the Western elites would want their NGO community resident in Zimbabwe to achieve is very simple.
They want to create a "pro-democracy local group" that comprises of persons who deny their true self, to constantly strive to emulate the Western way of life, and to be useful intermediary between the neo-colonialists and the less informed masses of our own country.
Such persons do not mind being little black Westerners, the docile instrument of imperialism, whose ambition is to live like a Westerner, in whose image they are created.
In the attainment of these objectives we have seen the NGO community depicting itself as a primary instrument and this is why Zimbabweans must learn to tell NGOs not to overstep their declared intentions.
This writer is not under any illusions and acknowledges that there may be aspects of Western laws or any other laws from elsewhere that we as Zimbabweans may borrow for our own good.
It is when such values are thrust upon us by the incentive of donor funding and by the power of political manipulation that we need to confront the aggressors with no sense of remorse.
Without the campaigning of Western-funded mouthpieces and the articulation of issues through foreign-sponsored workshops and talk-shops, Zimbabwe has the capacity to independently assess any foreign laws and values without undue meddling and interference.
We have a people learned enough to reliably research on these issues without the aid of self-invited foreigners and this is the approach we need to adopt.
Zimbabwe can, without interference, produce a constitution that is a vehicle for wiping out the neo-colonial capitalist mentality and the negative aspects of the traditional mentality.
We can produce a constitution that fights and defeats oppression, superstition, individualism, selfishness, elitism, corruption, poverty, sickness, segregation, hunger and many other ills — all by ourselves.
Most of all, our constitution must truly propagate our national culture, our political, technical and scientific knowledge as a people. The constitution must define us as a people. We cannot afford to have a constitution that makes us disappear into that colonial splendid Western model. There is no pride in such foolishness.
If the real majority people of rural Zimbabwe were to independently and freely express their own opinion on what they want covered in the constitution, plainly almost none of them would be advocating for freedom to march and protest in streets or freedom to read hostile newspapers or any such secondary rights.
They want good shelter, food, land, pastures, educational facilities, health facilities and a sound infrastructure to service economic communication within their communities.
They want an environment that can allow them to produce well agriculturally and to adequately fend for themselves.
Only after these primary rights have been met can they start thinking of which newspaper to read, or freedom to look at the Internet or any such rights that are fronted each time we read about countries like North Korea, Cuba, and Iran.
In this constitution-making process, it is this writer’s wish that Zimbabweans are not going to play party politics on a matter of national interest and that a truly Zimbabwean constitution reflecting our hope and aspiration as a people will be produced.
Our constitution cannot be reduced to an election document or a Presidential Powers document. That is ludicrous.
Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!
l Reason Wafawarova is a political writer and can be contacted on wafawarova *** yahoo.co.uk or reason *** rwafawarova.com or visit www.rwafawarova.com
JOHANNESBURG. About 500 South African miners have taken five supervisors hostage at a mine owned by Canadian mining group Eastern Platinum, demanding the company give them permanent jobs, police said yesterday.
A total of eight supervisors at the Crocodile River Mine in North West province were taken hostage at the chrome and platinum mine on Thursday, but three of them have escaped to the surface, provincial police spokesman Lesego Metsi said.
The hostage-takers "are temporary workers demanding to be employed permanently," Metsi told AFP
"They are demanding that mine managers should come down the shaft and address them. We can’t allow anyone to go down there.
"We don’t know what the situation is like," he said.
"We are trying to reason with them to come up instead but they have switched off a two-way radio sent to them by negotiators," Metsi added.
National Union of Mineworkers spokesman Shane Choshane said the contract workers had independently embarked on "some kind of strike" over the labour dispute.
"They decided among themselves to strike, we are trying to negotiate with them to come so we can resolve the issue," Choshane said.
Crocodile River Mine chief executive Ian Rozie in a statement that the mine was seeking a court order demanding that the workers leave the mine-shaft.
"The workers participating in the illegal "sit-in" have refused to vacate the mine and have detained five supervisory employees of the mining contractors against their will," Rozier said.
Metsi said the two managers that had escaped on Friday morning received medical attention and counselling.
"They were very cold, hungry and depressed when they came up but they did not have any physical injuries.
"We don’t know whether the workers are armed but we believe they are using their equipment as weapons," he said. — AFP.
THE Zimbabwe International Investment Conference that ended yesterday was a success as it attracted more than 400 delegates. This was an indication of the great interest investors have in Zimbabwe.
Investors know the business potential that Zimbabwe has and appear quite keen to come on board. But they have questions about Zimbabwe’s readiness to welcome them and to guarantee that they will have the necessary return on their investments. They got their assurance at the conference.
"Such investment is most welcome, especially when it is tailor-made to work in co-operation with indigenous entrepreneurs. All this is possible under our investment law," President Mugabe assured the potential investors in his speech to open the conference.
The fact that Zimbabwe has gone to the extent of hosting such a conference shows that it is indeed serious about attracting both domestic and international investors.
It has to be noted that the country has suffered a lot of disinformation about its investment and black empowerment laws, as well as the alleged lack of rule of law and good governance.
Most of this negative publicity has emanated from the process of redistributing land to the black majority. This has given rise to the perception that Zimbabwe does not respect property rights and is not ready to do business with the rest of the world.
Yet it is possible to clearly separate the land reform programme from the other policies relating to foreign investment. Zimbabwe did respect property rights as it patiently followed the willing buyer-willing seller system until the Tony Blair government in Britain reneged on the Lancaster House agreement to pay for the land acquired. It is then that the government committed itself to only pay for improvements on the land, a commitment that is provided for in the Constitution.
President Mugabe took time to explain this fact at the investment conference. "The responsibility to compensate farmers rests on the shoulders of the British government and its allies. We pay compensation for improvements. That is our obligation and we have honoured that," the President said.
This is a position which Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai collaborated. "The President is correct.
The Constitution is clear. We pay compensation for improvement. If funds are available we will pay," said the Prime Minister.
Significantly, principals to the Global Political Agreement that gave birth to the inclusive government — President Mugabe, Prime Minister Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara were all at the conference and spoke eloquently about Zimbabwe’s readiness to embrace international investors.
We congratulate them for speaking with one voice on critical issues such as the land question and existing investment laws. We believe this is the signal that any serious investor would be looking for — that the leaders are agreed on the way forward and that there is going to be consistency in terms of the articulated policies.
Of course, there are reservations here and there about some of the legislation in place, which may need changing. But the point is Zimbabwe’s leaders have said they are prepared to listen to the concerns that investors have. After all, the conference has been convened to explain these investment policies and to learn from the experiences of other countries.
For example, investors must be helped to understand why Zimbabwe has such legislation as the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act. President Mugabe explained that these policies are not meant to keep out investors but to encourage them to take along locals in their investments.
The President said: "Such policies as the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act should not be viewed as obstacles to investment promotion. Rather, they should be welcomed as promotive of the greater participation of our people in the economy, indeed as the democratisation of our economic activity that builds up to good business returns for the investor."
We could not agree more. The greater the participation of the indigenous people in the economy, the greater the security of foreign investments. Locals must have a sense that there is economic justice and that they have a share in the wealth of their country. If one wants peace then one must work for justice. Foreign investments cannot be safe where locals feel not only marginalised but also condemned to a life of abject poverty.
We have seen how investors such as Zimplats that have dutifully minded the welfare of locals have found themselves at home in Zimbabwe. Perhaps there is need to include in our laws exemptions for companies that promote the economic and social welfare of locals.
It has also to be pointed out that the liberalisation of the economy has created an environment where any business can thrive. Numerous opportunities exist in key sectors such as tourism, mining, energy and infrastructure development, agro industries, etc.
Research has shown that apart from towns there is investment potential in growth points such as Murehwa where a wide mineral range exists — black granite, kyanite, tantalite and so and so forth. Or they could choose to invest in forest products such as timber, fisheries and wildlife in order to stimulate rural development.
What Zimbabwe now needs is to quickly come up with an efficient one-stop-shop investment agency to attend to investors. There is no need for investors to be frustrated by being moved from one ministry to another.
Saturday, July 11, 2009, 9:14
Bank of Zambia (BOZ) Governor Caleb Fundanga says it is important for commercial banks in the country to operate in a manner that supports growth and development of the country’s economy.
Dr. Fundanga said it was therefore important for commercial banks to lower the cost of banking and offer attractive banking services to the public.
The Central Bank chief said the general cost of banking services in Zambia should be made affordable to the general public.
He was speaking at the foundation laying stone ceremony of the new Stanbic bank offices in the Show grounds in Lusaka.
Dr Fundanga noted that the investment that is being made by Stanbic bank would have a positive impact on the economy due to the evident linkages that infrastructure development has on various sectors of the economy.
He pointed out that the repositioning by the bank is one way of ensuring that there is healthy competition in the banking industry.
Stanbic bank chief executive Ben Kruger said Stanbic is committed to service the people on the African continent.
Mr. Kruger said Stanbic is an African Bank that has a unique understanding of African business.
Written by Masuzyo Chakwe
Saturday, July 11, 2009 3:41:39 PM
ZAMBIA Council for Social Development (ZCSD) executive secretary Reverend Malawo Matyola has said non-governmental organisations must be willing to declare their assets the same way they have been calling on public service officers to do so.
Giving reflections on the NGO bill, Rev Matyola, who said the 2009 NGO bill bore little difference from the 2007 bill the government had withdrawn however appreciated the new provisions where the board shall prescribe rules for the declaration of assets and liabilities of officers of non-governmental organisations.
“This is a new provision from the 2007 bill and on the whole, it is our considered view that this provision in itself is not an impeding one in the work of NGOs especially in view of the principle of accountability and transparency.
And even more so is the fact that most Non Governmental Organisations have been calling upon public service officers to declare their assets and it would therefore follow that personnel within NGOs must be ready and willing to live the virtues that they have been calling upon others to live,” he said.
Rev Matyola said some provisions of the new bill, if enacted, would have implications on the work of non-governmental organisations in Zambia. He said under the 2009 bill, the minister had wide discretionary powers.
Rev Matyola said the definition as provided for in the bill where non-governmental organisations were defined more in terms of compartments was unacceptable on the premise that such could limit the scope and nature of their work and forms a good platform for the arbitrarily de-registration by the authorities on flimsy grounds.
He said the composition of the board was something that needed to be debated.
Rev Matyola said although the bill was silent over the fifty-fifty per centum basis, it had nevertheless provided for equal gender representation to the board.
He said the 2009 bill provided that the board shall among its many functions, register non-governmental organisations in Zambia.
Rev Matyola said it was their view that this was an administrative responsibility that the Office of the Registrar could competently discharge and not the board and thus must be removed.
He said the current bill also provided that the board shall recommend the rules and procedures for audit of the accounting of non-governmental organisations.
Rev Matyola said the current bill provided that the board shall approve the Code of Conduct as prepared by a Council of non-governmental organizations
He said the bill was also not clear on registration of non-governmental organisations after their formation.
Rev Matyola said the section where a non-governmental organisation must specify the areas of operations of its activities sought to restrict their work by requiring them to first state at registration where they would operate from, saying this could also be a ground for refusing to register or for de-registering it.
He also said the bill stated that the non-governmental organisations shall specify the possible sources of their funding to the Registrar, noting that this would become a ground for either registration or otherwise of a non-governmental organisation.
Rev Matyola said the bill provides that the board can reject the application for registration of a non-governmental organisation if it failed to define what public interest it was established for.
Written by Henry Chibulu in Mazabuka
Saturday, July 11, 2009 3:38:48 PM
A private engineer in Mazabuka has petitioned the office of the Vice President to investigate why management at Cotton Development Trust (CDT) approved the construction of a dam, 20 metres away from the Railway Systems of Zambia rail line.
Royal Mucho Enterprise managing director, Joseph Mubanga, yesterday said a disaster was looming because the bursting of the dam could lead to the collapse of the railway bridge and paralyse the transport sector.
He observed that the site for the dam was wrong and should be redesigned to protect people’s lives and the railway infrastructure.
Mubanga said in the event of a storm, the railway bridge risked being swept away by the K900 million dam co-funded by the Zambian government and the World Bank because it had equally been built a kilometre away from another bridge at the confluence of Magoye and Ngwezi rivers.
He charged that it was a serious technical error by the consultants of the project to endorse the construction of the dam, a kilometre apart.
Mubanga warned that such advice should have taken into consideration the environmental implications.
Mazabuka district commissioner, Tyson Hamaamba, confirmed receiving the petition but said management at CDT had also defended its decision.
Hamaamba said consultants had advised that the environmental implications of the project had been taken into consideration before commencing the construction of the dam.
Written by Zumani Katasefa in Kitwe and Patson Chilemba in Lusaka
Saturday, July 11, 2009 3:37:14 PM
FORMER defence minister George Mpombo has described MMD spokesperson Benny Tetamashimba as an empty intellectual shell. And Patriotic Front president Michael Sata asked what he termed as "good for nothing" ministers like Tetamashimba and Mike Mulongoti to leave Mpombo alone.
Reacting to attacks on him by Tetamashimba following his resignation from Cabinet, Mpombo said Tetamashimba was a big disaster on the political scene.
"Mr Tetamashimba is an empty intellectual shell. He is a big disaster on the political scene and he doesn't know what he is talking about, he is a liability to the party," Mpombo said on Radio Icengelo on Thursday.
He described Tetamashimba as a misguided political missile and a blind leader.
"When he left UPND and was adopted to stand on MMD ticket for Solwezi Central, I was the one that was picked as his campaign manager for the by-election. The first thing we did with the late President was to go and apologise to a lot of people, including senior chief Kapijimpanga whom he had aggrieved over his scandalous conduct. We had to plead to people so that they can come back. He is a disaster by nature," he said.
Mpombo said Tetamashimba wanted to be an expert even on things he did not understand.
"If we have such leaders then we know we are heading into problems. He is a very blind leader. He doesn't know what he is doing, it is a pity we have misguided fellows in those positions. He is a misguided political missile," Mpombo said.
He said people should not worry about Tetamashimba because he liked parroting all the time.
Mpombo said it was not true that he failed to organise MMD in Copperbelt Province, saying the MMD had better results in the rural parts of the province.
And well-placed government sources disclosed that the government was planning to launch attacks on Mpombo.
"They are planning to start issuing statements through Forum for Leadership Search (FLS) executive director Edwin Lifwekelo. They want Lifwekelo to start issuing these statements on Mpombo's resignation and alleging that the former minister has left a K100 million phone bill and unretired imprest," the source said.
But Sata said Mpombo was more honourable and responsible.
Featuring on Radio Yatsani's Good Governance programme yesterday, Sata said Tetamashimba and works and supply minister Mulongoti were not Mpombo's spokespersons.
He said Mpombo would blow out at the right time.
"Benny Tetamashimba's job as minister of local government is not to be insulting his friend. His job is to provide water in Bauleni compound. Mulongoti is supposed to come and grade roads in Bauleni, not talking about Mpombo. Mpombo has gone," Sata said. "Leave Mpombo alone, at least he is more honourable and a more responsible person, more principled than these mercenaries we have in the country."
Sata said Mpombo had just resigned from a very powerful job and the best Tetamashimba and Mulongoti could do was to sympathise rather than throwing mud at him.
He said Mpombo was highly principled and resigned without throw mud at his colleagues.
"At the right time, George Mpombo will speak out. But what is most important is there is no tribunal threatening Mpombo, there is no judicial review threatening Mpombo. He has resigned, he resigns without anybody pushing him," Sata said. "After all, the President has not picked Tetamashimba or Mulongoti to replace Mpombo. He has picked a sober person of integrity to replace him, the former Minister of Home Affairs [Dr Kalombo Mwansa]."
Tetamashimba last Thursday said President Banda would have the last laugh over Mpombo's resignation as defence minister because he would soon reveal whether or not there was corruption at the Ministry of Defence under the leadership of Mpombo.
Mulongoti reminded Mpombo that only the truth would set him free.
Meanwhile, Sata said the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) had run out of money.
He said of the more than K50 billion that was allocated to NCC, there was only K4 billion remaining to pay a few individuals.
Sata alleged that several NCC members had gone for almost two months without receiving their allowances.
He said officials from NCC recently met President Banda over the financial difficulties and the President told them that he would seek the assistance of donors.
"But some donors we have talked to have said they will not help especially with what is happening at Ministry of Health," he said.
On the presidency of the PF/UPND pact, Sata said there was still time to decide on the matter, saying even President Banda had nothing to show in terms of performance in the last nine months he had been President.
He said President Banda's government assumed office on false promises of reducing mealie-meal and fuel prices.
"[But] mealie-meal is getting more expensive," he said.
He said the PF and UPND could not reveal the strategy they would use to arrive at adopting a presidential candidate because they did not want to arm the enemy.
Sata said it was not up to him and Hichilema to maintain the pact but the people.
On reports that MMD had engaged some Chinese nationals in its campaigns in Chitambo, Sata said the Chinese behaved as if Zambia were a province of China because they carried on with their business as they pleased.
He said they were distributing MMD chitenge materials because President Banda had promised to give them the Nansanga Farming Bloc.
Sata said even "nashala neka" [one man] parties like UNIP and FDD had resurfaced in Chitambo in order to split the votes.
Written by Patson Chilemba
Saturday, July 11, 2009 3:34:26 PM
MMD presidential aspirant Ng'andu Magande has said nobody including Katele Kalumba will stop him from talking about presidential campaigns in the party.
Reacting to MMD national secretary Katele Kalumba's order for party members to stop talking about presidential campaign politics, Magande said it was too late for Kalumba to stop him and other party members from discussing the MMD presidency. He said people should be allowed to debate the sole candidate the national executive committee (NEC) had endorsed.
"My reaction is that this issue was discussed at the national executive committee meeting. It was raised by somebody and I understand it was seconded, and after that a press statement was issued. When you go to the public with that statement you are supposed to receive comments [from the public]," Magande said on Thursday.
"So, I don't agree with what the national secretary is saying. Why did they in the first place accept the debate in NEC [over the endorsement of President Banda]? Besides it was not on the agenda. The national secretary said Chitambo and a disciplinary issue in Luapula, those are the only issues that were on the agenda. So if somebody ambushed the NEC, why didn't the national secretary advise that this issue is inappropriate?"
Magande said the normal thing was for the public to make comments over President Banda's adoption since the press statement was also made public.
He wondered why Kalumba was stopping others from commenting over the presidency when he had failed to stop President Rupiah Banda, Southern Province minister Daniel Munkombwe, works and supply minister Mike Mulongoti and local government minister Benny Tetamashimba from talking about the matter.
"... Only yesterday [Wednesday] they [ZNBC] were showing us Munkombwe and the President himself talking about the matter. So why is the national secretary stopping others? He is not stopping those who seem to support the idea of President Banda being president? So that is not fair. Let there be general debate, 'is the sole candidate who was elected capable?'" Magande asked.
He advised Kalumba to join in the debate rather than try to stop others from talking about the presidency, saying people were not listening to his orders.
"So why is the man wasting his energy when people are not listening to him?" Magande asked. "On Kalumba's order, it is too late because this matter was brought in a private meeting by the same people. They wanted the public to react, so let the public react."
Kalumba on Tuesday said he had ordered party members to stop discussing the party presidential campaigns. He was reacting to MMD member Willa Mung'omba's statement that the party should obey the constitution by allowing President Banda to be challenged.
Kalumba said Mung'omba was a senior leader and must avoid getting into presidential campaign politics in the party.
On Tetamashimba's statement that the presidency would not be contested at the convention, Magande said Tetamashima had no authority to do that.
On former defence minister George Mpombo's resignation as minister and NEC member, Magande said it was sad for a senior minister to resign when a lot of issues were being said about the government. He said he believed that something seriously wrong might have happened to cause Mpombo's resignation.
However, Magande said he was saddened over Mpombo's resignation.
He said people like Tetamashimba and deputy minister in the office of the Vice-President Guston Sichilima had failed to show comradeship and were destroying unity in the party.
"Sichilima, instead of talking about the business we have sent him for in Europe, he is talking about issues that are happening here. Is this how we are going to run government? They are saying Mpombo failed to run the Copperbelt, no. Mpombo was not responsible for organizing the province. So what did he do wrong to accept the responsibility to campaign for the party there?" Magande asked.
"This is indiscipline we are seeing. Junior people are making comments on issues when the President has said he will comment later. Do they know why George Mpombo resigned for them to be making those comments?"
Magande said the happenings in the MMD were an indication that the party needed reorganisation, saying people like Tetamashimba and Sichilima would regret their actions for asking other MMD members to leave the party.
"If you say that they go, then you will be strengthening another party," said Magande.
Written by Editor
Norwegian Ambassador to Zambia Tore Gjos’ advice to the Zambian government to respect freedom of expression deserves very serious consideration. Ambassador Gjos has made some observations that deserve serious meditation from all our leaders, and indeed all our people.
Ambassador Gjos says democratic rule is not possible without a free and independent press that could spread alternative information and provide a platform where people could express their views. To what extent can we truly say we have such a free and independent press in Zambia?
Ambassador Gjos goes on to say that in most countries, the direct contact between the electorate and politicians is fairly limited, thus the media becomes an important arena where all participants can express themselves freely. Truly, we are no longer living in the days of the Greek agora where all citizens can gather in the city hall and make governance decisions. Moreover, our societies are today much bigger and more complex than those of old Greece. Actually, even that example of democracy is not a very good one. People used to cite Greek democracy as an example, democracy from the classical age of Greece. Athens, which was the prototype of democracy, had 40,000 citizens – men, women and children – and 90,000 slaves. Around 35,000 of the slaves worked in shops and in agriculture, 20,000 were women who were house slaves, 10,000 were children who provided various services and 25,000 worked in mining. For every free man, woman and child in Athens, there were more than two slaves. Even the great historians and philosophers had slaves – we are not criticising them, because they were products of their society. A slave wasn’t anything; they were human beings who could be bought and sold, or even killed. Therefore we can’t say democracy arose in Athens because for democracy to exist, there has to be meaningful participation by all citizens. And meaningful participation should not be limited to just a small privileged group.
It is said that to govern is to communicate. As modern societies grow in size and complexity, the arena for communication and public debate is increasingly dominated by the news media: radio and television, newspapers, magazines, books, even websites.
Clearly, the news media in a democracy have a number of overlapping but distinctive functions. One is to inform and educate. To make intelligent decisions about public policy, people need accurate, timely, unbiased information. And because opinions are diverse, they also need access to a wide range of viewpoints. This role is especially important during election campaigns, when few voters will have the opportunity to see, much less talk with, candidates in person. Instead, they must rely on newspapers, radio and television to explain the issues and characterise the respective positions of candidates and their political parties.
A second function of the media is to serve as a watchdog over government and other powerful institutions in society. By holding to a standard of independence and objectivity, however imperfectly, the news media can expose the truth behind the claims of government and hold public officials accountable for their actions.
If they choose, the media can also take a more active role in public debate. Through editorials or investigative reporting, the media can campaign for specific policies or reforms that they feel should be enacted. They can also serve as a forum for organisations and individuals to express their opinions through letters to the editor and the printing of articles with divergent points of view. It is also possible to point to another increasingly important role of the media: setting the agenda. Since they can’t report everything, the news media must choose which issues to report and which ones to ignore. In short, they decide what is news and what isn’t. These decisions, in turn, influence the public’s perception of what issues are most important. Unlike countries where the news media are government-controlled, however, in a democracy, they can’t simply manipulate or disregard issues at will. Their competitors, after all, as well as the government itself, are free to call attention to their own list of important issues.
Few would argue that the news media always carry out these functions responsibly. They can be sensational, superficial, intrusive, inaccurate and inflammatory. The solution is not to devise laws that set some arbitrary definition of responsibility or to licence journalists, but to broaden the level of public discourse so that citizens can better sift through the chaff of misinformation and rhetoric to find the kernels of truth.
What we should realise is that democracies make several assumptions about human nature. One is that, given the chance, people are generally capable of governing themselves in a manner that is fair and free. Another is that any society comprises a great diversity of interests and individuals who deserve to have their voices heard and their views respected. As a result, one thing is true of all healthy democracies: they are noisy.
The voices of democracy include those of the government, its political supporters and opposition, of course. But they are joined by the voices of the labour movement – trade unions, organised interest groups, community associations, the news media, scholars and critics, religious leaders and writers, small businesses and large corporations, churches and schools.
All these groups should be free to raise their voices and participate in the democratic political process. In this way, democratic politics acts as a filter through which the vocal demands of a diverse populace pass on the way to becoming public policy. As former United States president Jimmy Carter once said, “The experience of democracy is like the experience of life itself – always changing, infinity in its variety, sometimes turbulent and all the more valuable for having been tested by adversity.”
And returning to the issue raised by Ambassador Gjos that “democratic rule is not possible without a free and independent press that could spread alternative information and provide a platform where people could express their views”, to what extent can we honestly say we have such a press in Zambia? There are three daily newspapers in Zambia, and two of them are owned by the state and controlled by the government. Only one of them is under independent private ownership and control. Given this situation, to what extent can we say the press in Zambia is free and independent? No one can deny the fact that in Zambia, the two state-owned and government-controlled newspapers are used, without inhibition, as propaganda tools for those in power and their political party.
There is only one national television station. And that station is owned by the state and controlled by the government; it is the government that sets the agenda or the mandate for that national television station. The same applies to national radio. The appearance of two or so localised television stations has not changed things much because in addition to their limited coverage, they always fear to stray very far from the wishes or agenda of those in power because their licences can easily be withdrawn. And the prospects of them being granted licences to broadcast to the whole country depend on their ‘good behaviour’, on how much they co-operate with those in power. The same applies to the privately-owned and highly localised radio stations.
Given this situation, it is clear that when they talk about regulation of the media, they are primarily talking about one media organisation that they don’t have meaningful control over. And that is The Post. The government doesn’t need any more laws, rules or other controls to ensure that the two state-owned newspapers do what the government and the ruling party wants. These are highly regulated news media organisations. The Minister of Information and his permanent secretary direct what line these newspapers should take. Even State House issues orders, directives or guidance on what these media organisations should do. The only news media organisation they can’t do that to in this country is The Post. And this is the news media organisation they are seeking a media council and other controls for. Given this situation, can this country really have a meaningful media council? It is not possible to have a meaningful media council under these circumstances because its role will be nothing but to police and harass The Post. Until all key media institutions are free of government and ruling party control and manipulation, efforts in this direction will not yield anything of value to our people.
Clearly, Zambia is not a country where a free and independent media is dominant. Sometimes it is difficult to see this because of the great efforts The Post has exerted in carving some space for itself; its ability to take on a myriad of state-owned news media organisations and eclipse them. What we are saying would be very easy to see if tomorrow we woke up and found The Post closed. What free and independent media are we going to remain with and talk about, or try to regulate or set a media council for if The Post is gone? We are not in any way trying to exaggerate the importance or the prominence of The Post. We are merely trying to state a fact that is not difficult to verify.
In trying to respond to the issues raised by Ambassador Gjos, we cannot ignore this fact about Zambia’s media landscape.
From this, it is clear that our government is not serious when it talks about a free and independent press because there is very little of it in our country. This is a country that is dominated by government-controlled media.
A free press is not meant to protect government from critics. That’s why they don’t like it. It is meant to protect the people from government, not government from the people. A free press which is capable of checking the arrogance of government is essential to our democratisation process. Since informed public opinion is the most potent of all restraints upon misgovernment, continued government domination of the press cannot be regarded otherwise than with grave concern.
We agree with Ambassador Gjos that democracy and a free and independent press are inseparable. You cannot have one without the other. No nation ever has, and none will. We believe a free, independent and plural press will help promote full and free discussion in our country. Full and free discussion keeps a society from becoming stagnant and unprepared for the stresses and strains that work to tear all its achievements to pieces. However, for full and free discussion, one needs a vigorous, flourishing, pluralistic press and for this, there is need to regard the press not merely as an extension of the government’s public relations machinery with a mission to educate the ‘uninformed masses’ about development programmes and what their government claims to be doing to help them, but as a vital independent institution.
The free and pluralistic press we are campaigning for is not primarily designed to advance press freedom or our own business interests. It is basically for the protection of the public by making the widest possible flow of information the cornerstone of the governance of their country.
It is often said that a free press – which often forces us to confront that which we may find unsettling – is the price of democracy. We believe a free press is not costly to society, it is, in fact, a reward of democracy. Moreover, we have been told that “every man [or woman] should have an undoubted right to lay what sentiments he [or she] pleases before the public; to forbid this, is to destroy the freedom of the press; but if he [or she] publishes what is improper, mischievous, or illegal, he [or she] must take the consequences of his [or her] own temerity”. Of course, there is need to appreciate the fact that the right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.
Everything we have been saying on this score is consistent with what Ambassador Gjos is saying. If you can’t listen to us, at least try to listen to him.
Written by Kabanda Chulu and Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Saturday, July 11, 2009 3:30:19 PM
NORWEGIAN Ambassador to Zambia Tore Gjos has challenged government to respect freedom of expression since it is enshrined in the Zambian Constitution.
During the launch of the United Nations-Lusaka Press Club (UN-LPC) partnership and signing of the memorandum of understanding aimed at enhancing development journalism as a tool for political and socioeconomic reforms, Ambassador Gjos said democratic rule was not possible without a free and independent press that could spread alternative information and provide a platform where people could express their views.
He said the Zambian media had several times been able to disclose corruption cases thus assisting institutions such as the Task Force on Corruption and the Anti- Corruption Commission (ACC) in their work.
"In most countries, the direct contact between the electorate and politicians is fairly limited, thus the media becomes an important arena where all participants can express themselves freely. In a democracy, this is crucial that people are able to approach and interact with politicians and without such interaction, it becomes difficult for elected leaders to make decisions that are in line with public opinion and that represent the views of the majority," Ambassador Gjos said. "But there have been incidences of violence towards journalists in the recent past, something which is totally unacceptable. It is the responsibility of government to protect citizens and particularly vulnerable groups against any violence or discrimination based on faith, origin, opinions or political views. Freedom of expression is enshrined in the Zambian Constitution and as such, it has to be respected."
He urged the government to learn to use the media as a barometer of public opinion, which could provide valuable guidance for democratic rule.
"For the media to execute its role, it has to be independent and protected by laws. The freedom of information Act needs to be passed as soon as possible, if the media is to perform its role of being a watch dog," Ambassador Gjos said. "There is also a need for the Media Council of Zambia to be made more independent and statutory regulation should not be encouraged, but there might be a need to make clear ethical and professional guidelines for the media to ensure truthful and objective reporting."
He said lack of funds had for years been affecting the Zambian media negatively.
"Lack of finances results not only in a lack of training opportunities, infrastructure and other facilities, but also restricts the media coverage and the current financial situations means that most of the information is being collected in Lusaka or even in the office and if development journalism is to take root, it is pivotal that journalists go out in rural areas and smaller towns to identify challenges and to push the development agenda locally," said Ambassador Gjos.
UN resident coordinator Macleod Nyirongo said the UN was committed to develop capacity and strengthen professional journalism to enhance analytical, objective and accurate news reportage.
"The UN-LPC is planning a range of fora at which public opinion figures and ordinary citizens will be engaged to air views on the development agenda hence promoting transparency and accountability in the country," said Nyirongo.
And information deputy minister Elijah Muchima said government had no intentions of muzzling the media in any way and would this year enact into law all media related reforms.
Muchima said the government would continue to provide a conducive environment in which the media must operate.
"Government is eager to continue with media reforms to ensure there is a proper platform on which the media conducts its business without hindrances," said Muchima.
"Government has no intentions of muzzling the media in any way because that will be a negation of democratic principles that we so much cherish."
Written by George Chellah
Saturday, July 11, 2009 3:28:52 PM
HERITAGE Party (HP) president Brigadier General Godfrey Miyanda yesterday said there is no pornography in the pictures President Rupiah Banda talked about two weeks ago. Brig Gen Miyanda said if those pictures constituted pornography then President Banda must be arrested for being in possession of the same pictures.
Commenting on the warn and caution statement, which was recently recorded by police from Post news editor Chansa Kabwela, Brig Gen Miyanda said his party abhored pornography and any other evils that may tend to corrupt morals in society.
"But we also strongly oppose accusations that are politically motivated or are meant to settle invisible scores. From the repetitious statements by the President it seems he has a particular hatred for somebody at The Post and is using state institutions to settle private scores or to use all means available to remain in State House," Brig Gen Miyanda said. "This is abhorrent and must stop because many innocent people will be injured in the process. If it is true that there is no personal vendetta against somebody at The Post and he is sure of his facts, let him disclose his facts publicly, maybe those of us doubting him may support him. As the President knows or ought to know, the whole matter of the law of defamation is that it's against telling or spreading untruth about other persons. Can he disclose to the people of Zambia who are these queer and morbid persons at The Post whom he hates so much that he keeps regurgitating this statement whenever he has a chance? A leader must not encourage speculation and hatred of others through calculated innuendo. He exploited this when he used so-called pornographic pictures to order the police to arrest. Police must not be ordered to arrest anyone; instead they must themselves investigate and then make a decision either to arrest or not to arrest. An arresting officer must believe that his or her decision to arrest is backed by evidence and the law, not because the Commander-in-Chief had so ordered."
Brig Gen Miyanda said a close scrutiny of President Banda's allegation shows that there was no pornography in the documents that the President referred to.
"If it is pornography then the President, the Vice-President, the Secretary to the Cabinet and the women movement that has compromised itself must all be arrested for being in possession of the same pictures, by their own confession and admission. But that is not the meaning of pornography unless the President wants to force the police to accept his version and interpretation. That is why I strongly urge the President to desist from initiating prosecutions and leave this to the established institutions," Brig Gen Miyanda said. "Remember how the former DPP [Director of Public Prosecution] was hounded out of office; the charges were prepared at State House and even the tribunal that was set up was just a cover-up for State House misconduct. On the basis of the continuous disregard of the Constitution and other laws. I reiterate that the NCC [National Constitution Conference] is a waste of time and money because the most important and strategic person in the land chooses to violate the Constitution and laws of the land."
Brig Gen Miyanda said Kabwela was a sacrificial lamb for a calculated vote-catching escapade by President Banda.
"It is not too late for him to admit publicly that he was emotionally charged when he made the mistake of not answering the issue of our failed health system that led to the family of the mother in question to take that picture. President Banda, I say to you as the supposed Fountain of Justice, withdraw the charges against Ms Kabwela but instead treat the communication from The Post as a petition to you to attend to the serious problems that were exposed by the pictures, which you had in your possession but you have not been arrested," Brig Gen Miyanda said. "I advise the President that if he wants to win any battle against The Post he must be factual in his responses; any other tantrums merely make The Post come back ferociously with more facts to win an argument. Just answer the question, which is still waiting for you: why are mothers giving birth in public and in wheelbarrows? If you can answer this truthfully without thinking about 2011 you will win your battle against The Post."
On the newly-formed Zambia Empowerment for Development (ZED) Party, which is led by former HP senior official Dr Frederick Mutesa, Brig Gen Miyanda advised Dr Mutesa and his new team to stop destabilising the Heritage Party forthwith.
"Since the resignation of Dr Mutesa from the Heritage Party I have refrained from commenting on it, mainly because Dr Mutesa personally requested me to treat the matter discreetly, to use his own words. But I did not realise that this was a ploy to enable him to secretly reach our members and structures and to recruit them. Unfortunately for him, our members have been reporting his activities, even before he announced the formation of his party," Brig Gen Miyanda said. "What has happened to his revelation that he has heard from God that God does not want new wine in old skins? Why is he going after the Heritage Party and its members, presumably the old wineskin? I am aware that he has spent the Heroes and Unity weekend destabilising the Heritage Party, especially on the Copperbelt. He knows that this tactic was used extensively by the MMD to entice our MPs and councillors and other party leaders. But Dr Mutesa should make new wineskins and put his new wine there."
He said he had no quarrel if members chose to go on their own, as the party did not own members.
"But I do not expect our own brethren to use underhand methods that are used by these other parties. If they do this, then there is nothing new that ZED is bringing on the table. I advise Dr Mutesa to prepare his own new vineyard as per the word he has heard from the Lord unless he has realised that he did not hear the correct message or voice or that he has made a mistake. With these tactics how does he hope to form a government that will be different from the ones we are complaining about? I advise him to stop drinking from our old vineyard but instead enjoy his new wine in his new vineyard," he said.
Brig Gen Miyanda said Dr Mutesa was still his brother and that they must avoid stepping on each other's toes deliberately.
"I want him to continue to be my brother even if politically we may hold different views now. But such a relationship may not exist if he actively and aggressively harvests in our vineyard as he is doing with his new team of my brothers," said Brig Gen Miyanda.
"We shall soon issue a statement regarding the Heritage Party but I can confidently dispel the rumour that Heritage Party has given up or stopped; we are in this battle to the end. Those who put their hand to the plough must not look back!"
Written by Mwila Chansa in Kitwe
Saturday, July 11, 2009 3:27:21 PM
HEALTH minister Kapembwa Simbao has pleaded with graduand nurses to stay in Zambia and provide good health services.
And Kitwe Central Hospital (KCH) executive director Dr John Mwewa observed that well trained health personnel were cardinal to responding to challenges that posed a risk to health care provision.
During the 33rd combined graduation ceremony for the Kitwe, Ndola and Mufulira schools of nursing and midwifery at KCH sunken gardens yesterday, Simbao who was represented by Copperbelt minister Mwansa Mbulakulima urged the new nurses to realise that Zambians equally needed their expert knowledge and care.
He said the Ministry of Health was aware of the difficult conditions under which nurses were operating and that the government had continued to work on measures to attract and retain all trained health care providers.
Simbao cited some of the difficulties as inadequate nursing personnel and limited facilities and equipment in most health institutions.
"I wish to reiterate that the government is committed to uplifting the standards of health care delivery in the country. Indeed, this vision can only be achieved if health providers are given quality education and are cared for by providing sustainable conditions of service," Simbao said.
He said the government remained committed to rolling out the health retention scheme to all health workers.
Simbao was delighted that the brain drain rate had reduced and that the government would go a step further and ensure that even those that had left return to Zambia.
But barely two weeks ago, Simbao threatened striking nurses and other health workers with dismissals if they did not report for work adding that their colleagues from neighbouring Zimbabwe were ready to take up their jobs.
And Dr Mwewa noted that new epidemics such as swine flu posed a risk to health care provision thereby underscoring the importance of having well trained staff to respond to such challenges.
Dr Mwewa said the health sector was embedded with chronic illnesses resulting from the impact of HIV and AIDS.
Dr Mwewa urged the government to help KCH expand its theatre and maternity wings, saying as a referral hospital, space in the two departments was limited.
Written by Kingsley Kaswende in Harare, Zimbabwe
Saturday, July 11, 2009 3:26:07 PM
ZIMBABWE will next Monday begin intense stakeholder consultations aimed at drafting a new constitution amid bickering between ZANU-PF and the MDC over the law-writing process.
As agreed in the global political agreement that established the fragile inclusive government, a new constitution is viewed as fundamental to efforts aimed at staging free and fair elections, as well as removing factors responsible for ruining the country's economy.
A constitution conference was scheduled for yesterday but was pushed to Monday, as political infighting between MDC and ZANU-PF intensifies.
The conference was delayed because of the parties' clashes over logistical issues and the use of the Kariba draft constitution in framing the new constitution.
Monday's convention is expected to see the setting up of committees drawn from all the political parties to run outreach programmes to get people's views on the new constitution.
But several civil society groups, like the National Constitutional Assembly, are deeply critical of the process saying politicians should not be leading it.
Their fears were born out of remarks by President Robert Mugabe, who insisted on the Kariba draft constitution as a framework for the new constitution.
The MDC has already said it will oppose this despite appending their signature to the Kariba draft in September 2007.
Experts say that draft entrenches the executive powers of the President and leaves President Mugabe's powers intact.
The Kariba draft was produced and signed by Zanu-PF and the MDC in 2007 during talks under the auspices of former South African president Thabo Mbeki.
About 4,000 delegates representing local organisations from across the country are expected to attend the Monday conference.
The largest number of delegates will come from political parties, which will send 1,600 representatives to the conference.
Religious organisations will be represented by 400 delegates, non-governmental organisation by 320, while freedom fighters and women's bodies will have 240 delegates each.
Other participants are to be drawn from organisations representing youths and students, farmers, the informal sector, the business community, people living with disabilities, traditional leaders, traditional healers, arts and culture, children, media and local authorities.
Academics, representatives of parastatals, residents and ratepayers, government arms, sports, minority groups, professional bodies and the elderly will also send delegations to the convention to be held at the Harare International Conference Centre.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, the co-chairpersons of parliamentary select committee on constitution-making Paul Mangwana (ZANU-PF) and Douglas Mwonzora (MDC) said all logistics for the conference were in place.
"All logistics to deal with transportation, accommodation and reaching out to the people have been completed and as a committee we are satisfied," said Mangwana.
And Mwonzora said he was concerned about the timing of the event.
"We are glad that the timelines that were set through the Global Political Agreement will be met," Mwonzora said. "The delays in identifying the names of groups and organisations to send representatives to the conference were so that we could deal with the possibility of bogus organisations...We had to be thorough. The delay has helped us in making sure there is an equitable participation of stakeholders to ensure Zimbabweans can participate in the constitution-making process."
After the all-stakeholders' conference, various thematic committees will go around the country to collate the public's views on what the new constitution should contain. Thereafter, a document will be written and presented to the electorate in a referendum.
According to the GPA, elections are supposed to be held under a new constitution within 18 months of the formation of the inclusive government.
Written by Florence Bupe
Saturday, July 11, 2009 3:23:54 PM
BANK of Zambia (BoZ) governor Dr Caleb Fundanga has challenged banks to come up with initiatives that support Zambia’s economic growth and development. And Standard Bank Group deputy chief executive officer Ben Kruger said he is impressed with Zambia’s economic resilience.
Officiating at the Stanbic Bank foundation stone laying ceremony for the bank’s headquarters on Addis Ababa Road in Lusaka, Friday, Dr Fundanga said it was imperative for banks to formulate and implement programmes that would support the growth of the economy, considering that the country was going through economic turmoil.
“This investment is being made at a time when the Zambian economy is facing some major challenges arising from the spill over effects of the global economic crisis,” he said.
Dr Fundanga further called for increased competition in the banking sector in order to improve service delivery.
“This investment has come at a time when new banks are entering the Zambian market. It has always been the view of the Bank of Zambia that competition is the major way by which the quality of products and customer services for the banking public and competitive pricing of banking products can be achieved,” said Dr Fundanga.
And Kruger said Zambia was an important country in the operations of Standard Bank Group, which trades as Stanbic Bank in Zambia, because of its economic resilience.
“We have kept a keen eye on it (Zambia) and are impressed by its economic resilience over the years and we hope that the investment we are making is a testimony of our confidence,” said Kruger.
Farmer’s House managing director Robin Miller, who represented the construction company Burnet Investments Limited, disclosed that the project cost was estimated at US $9.5 million, and that construction works started in February this year.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Mhofeti - Opinion
Thu, 09 Jul 2009 18:19:00 +0000
THE following opinion piece by regular contributor, Mhofeti, is a response to President Barack Obama's recent statement that the West and US is not to blame for Zimbabwe's present woes in the last 15-20years. See original article here.
I AM not an expert on international co-operation but for President Barack Obama to try to absolve US and the West is (of causing problems in Zimbabwe) is just playing a game of political correctness.
Here are my reasons:
1. I only remember the US and the West being blamed for what has happened in Zimbabwe for the past decade, not 15-20 years, specifically economic sanctions.
2. If indeed President Obama is a big believer that 'Africans are responsible for Africa', he has a very strange way of showing support for their initiatives to solve own problems considering the implications of his treatment of Tourism Minister Walter Muzembi during the tour headed by our Prime Minister.
3. The representatives of US and the West in Africa were not supportive of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) mediated process regarding the Zimbabwean conflict.
4. That the West were oppressive and racist in their dealings with Africa since the colonial era is a historically acknowledged fact which President Obama cannot water down. I will, however, give him the honour to prescribe how long it takes to get rid of the consequential effect to Africa.
5. Can President Obama explain how US is not to blame for Zimbabwe's woes when.....ZDERA empowers the US to use its voting rights and influence (as the main donor) in multilateral lending agencies, such as the IMF, World Bank, and the African Development Bank to veto any applications by Zimbabwe for finance, credit facilities, loan rescheduling, and international debt cancellation?
Diplomatic, political and developmental engagement with Africa will only yield long lasting solutions if the US and the West do not continue on a condescending attitude of pretending to know what's best for Africa.
Prince Kahari - Opinion
Thu, 09 Jul 2009 18:59:00 +0000
I READ with utter disgust and sadness US President Barack Obama's recent statement that the United States and the West cannot be held responsible for the problems that afflict the African continent today; and especially the problems in Zimbabwe.
The irony of this statement is that it was made at a time when he (Obama) has renewed sanctions against Zimbabwe. The disastrous effects of these sanctions is no longer a subject of discussion.
For many Africans, Obama's statement comes as a huge blow and dashes the hope that many people thought his leadership would bring.
His predecessor George W. Bush is often criticised for his stance on Zimbabwe, but he never made such a reckless statement absolving the West of the consequencies of years of plunder and divide-and-rule on the continent.
President Obama talks of the last 15-20 years as if the problems bedevelling the continent started then. Why the last 15-20 years? Is it because that's when he developed an interest on the continent?
The US system of segregation which started centuries ago is still affecting black people in that country; some of whom live in absolute poverty in a country seen as very rich by the rest of the world.
The Apartheid system in South Africa left a dent which the current Government is still battling with. The land problems in Zimbabwe and elsewhere on the African continent started many years ago, not 15-20 years ago.
The challenges facing leaders in Africa today have a lot to do with Western imperialistic concerns; then and now.
President Obama does not appreciate the divisions that have been caused by the West in Africa and the promotion of subversive activity against those deemed to be threats to US interests abroad.
For a man whose father endured years of second class citizenship during colonial rule in Kenya, this was unexpected and shocking, to say the least. Revising history in such a manner is an inexcusable sin.
President Obama fails to contextualise and appreciate the daily struggles of the common people on the Africa continent. Yes, there is corruption in government; but corruption is endemic in many systems including the US. Corruption cannot be used to justify decades of plunder faced on the African continent starting with the slave trade.
Africa lost many able-bodied people during that epoch and development stagnated, and social structures disintegrated. The continent also endured years of colonial rule where the white race only benefited from the resources that the continent had.
Many of us would love to live in a peaceful world, but would never forget or try to rewrite history.
Wars that have been fought on the continent have, to a large extent, been promoted by the West; the US and UK in particular. All territorial wars fought today on the continent are a consequence of the arbitrary divisions that were drawn by the West.
The Berlin conferences of 1886-87 partitioned, arbitrarily, Africa. The problems we witness in Ethiopia/Eritrea today are a direct consequence of that era. The Rwanda/Burundi war was also encouraged by the West. The guns that are found everywhere on the continent today are manufactured mainly by the US.
I could cite many more examples of the machinations of the West on the continent.
President Obama should let us know when the effects of the slave trade, colonisation and neocolonisation stopped being felt on the continent. He should also let us know how Africa is supposed to develop when the international trading system favors his preferred country, the US.
He should also tell us how the continent is supposed to develop when his country imposes sanctions on any country that does not see the world the way America sees it.
For a man who promised so much during his campaign, and a man whom many people on the African continent thought was a beacon of hope, he has been a total let down. He has even shunned his own country of origin Kenya, whose history is chequered by British imperialism and whose current problems can be directly linked to British and US imperialistic concerns.
Obama's condescending attitude is a blow to may of us Africans who hoped for the best.
It would be interesting to see how the Arabs and Jews in the Middle East would respond if Obama was to say the problems in the Middle East cannot be blamed on the West and US. Such bullying somehow is only reserved for the peace-loving people of Africa.
It would also be interesting to see how the world would react if Obama was to say the West cannot be blamed for the problems that the holocaust brought to the Middle East and elsewhere in the world. Somehow Africa seems to be an easier punch-bag for these leaders.
The people of Africa should rise against such bullying and determine their own destiny.
by MacDonald Dzirutwe
ZIMBABWE will provide $142 million in its next budget to help small scale farmers buy the resources needed to boost food production, Finance Minister Tendai Biti said on Friday.
Millions of Zimbabweans are expected to face food shortages in the coming year and their impoverished country is seen needing substantial food aid from abroad.
"We are going to provide $142 million for the provision of inputs for the 2009 summer crop for small-scale farmers," Biti told an investor conference in Harare.
Biti said the government planned to increase support for subsistence farmers in the hope of reversing years of decline in its farming activities. The sector has been in a downward spiral since 2000, when President Robert Mugabe targeted white-owned commercial farms for seizure to resettle blacks. Farmer groups say output has also been hit by exorbitant costs of inputs such as seed and fertiliser.
Biti also said the government intended to reopen its agricultural commodity market "before the end of the year". The Zimbabwe Agricultural Commodity Exchange was closed several years ago after a law was passed making the Grain Marketing Board the sole purchaser of maize and wheat.
Agriculture minister Joseph Made said in May that Zimbabwe expected to harvest 1.2 million tonnes of the staple maize this season, more than double last year's output but still less than annual consumption of about 2.2 million tonnes.
Made's comments contradicted earlier statements by Biti, who said in March the country needed assistance with around 80 percent of its cereal requirements.
A report by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and World Food Programme last month said about 2.8 million people in Zimbabwe will face food shortages in the coming year and will require some 228,000 tonnes of food assistance, including 190,000 of cereals.
FAO forecast production of winter-season wheat of only about 12,000 tonnes, the lowest ever. That reflected the high cost of fertilisers and quality seeds, farmers' lack of financial liquidity and uncertain electricity supply for irrigation. - Reuters
Fri, 10 Jul 2009 11:05:00 +0000
FINANCE Minister Tendai Biti last week did not tell the country the truth when he said he did not know about a US$5billion loan deal that Zimbabwe signed with China, the Zimbabwe Guardian has learnt.
Last week we reported that Zimbabwe and China had signed a US$5billion loan deal through China Exim Bank (CEB).
We also reported that Finance Minister Biti and Reserve Bank officials on June 8 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with CEB guaranteeing the loan. This story also appeared in The Independent newspaper.
President Mugabe also told reporters in Sirte, Libya on the sidelines of an AU summit that such a deal had indeed been signed, but the US$5 billion promised would come in tranches. He said the deal had been agreed before the formation of the inclusive Government.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai also corroborated this story.
"The government through the Minister of Finance secured credit lines of almost $950 million from China," Tsvangirai said in a news conference after his state visit to the EU and US.
Biti who was not privy to the original deal when he was still in opposition immediately refuted the story, which was also covered by the Independent newspaper.
Speaking to journalists last Friday, Biti said, "There is no foundation at all in the press reports that we have received a loan ... from China.”
Biti attacked the media for reporting on the deal. "That is a story without any foundation, without any credibility, without any legitimacy,” Biti said, “It is sad journalism."
Further details have now emerged proving that Biti knew about the deal and that he lied to the nation that he did not know about the deal.
The weekly Zimbabwe Independent newspaper is reporting that a meeting took place which was attended by Biti himself, his advisor Conrad Nyamurova, and an official in his ministry, Mary Takavarasha, Reserve Bank governor Dr Gideon Gono, his deputy Edward Mashiringwani and Dr Gono's advisor Munyaradzi Kereke.
Minutes of the meeting, which the Zimbabwe Independent saw and held at Biti's office on June 8 show that the minister highlighted he had recently signed an MoU with ECB.
The minutes of the meeting were headlined 'Zimbabwe-China US$5 billion loan', according to the weekly newspaper.
The paper further says that the minutes noted that "The minister (Biti) highlighted that recently he signed a cautioned MoU with Eximbank on condition of clear legal documentation and declaration of obligations of the Chinese.
"Information gleaned from documents to hand show that Biti recently signed a cautioned MoU with China's Eximbank to pave way for work to begin on the mining concession that was mortgaged and thus encumbered after the negotiation of a US$200 million credit facility with Eximbank. The initial deal was structured on a wrong valuation framework of US$10 per ounce."
"Despite Biti's feverish denials, government is engaged with the Chinese over the massive platinum deal and credit facilities, including the US$950 million deal that is currently on the table," says the Zimbabwe Independent.
"The US$950 million negotiated under China's buyers credit facility is almost a done deal although there are a few issues which need to be finalised."
Biti has developed a habit of denying what he would have said and blaming the media.
A few months ago Biti denied that he had an acrimonious relationship with governor Gono; although he was at the same time calling for his ouster. He once accussed him of "economic terrorism". Biti blamed the media for fabricating that story and creating a "matrix of negatives".
Biti was also caught up in another web of misrepresentations when he told Cabinet and Cabinet Committees that Dr Gono had “borrowed US$1 billion without authority”. This allegation proved embarrassing to the Minister when refuted with evidence.
by Lebo Nkatazo
CHIPINGE South MP Meki Makuyana (MDC-T) was jailed for a year on Thursday after being convicted for his part in post-election violence last year.
Makuyana is the fourth MP from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change party to be jailed this year. The party says the charges against Makuyana, along with six others, are “trumped up” and political.
Chipinge magistrate Samuel Zuze suspended six months from the 44-year-old MP’s sentence. Three other MDC activists -- Hardwork Masaiti, a councillor for ward 26 in Chipinge South, Simon Chaya and Wedzerai Gwenzi received similar sentences.
The four men have challenged both conviction and sentence, the MDC said in a statement.
The party said it was “concerned by the continued persecution and harassment of its members and MPs by the State through the Attorney-General’s office in an attempt to decimate its structures and reverse the party’s majority in parliament”.
Mutare West MP Shuah Mudiwa was recently jailed for an effective four years in jail for kidnapping a 12-year-old girl. Three years of the sentence were suspended. Mathias Mlambo (Chipinge East) got 10 months for committing public violence, and Lynette Karenyi of Chimanimani West was found guilty of electoral fraud.
Karenyi, Mudiwa and Mlambo have appealed their convictions.
In elections last year, Tsvangirai’s MDC overturned Zanu PF’s majority in parliament for the first time since independence from white colonial rule in 1980. But the party says its parliamentary numbers are diminishing following the string of convictions.
The party won 100 seats to Zanu PF’s 99. The other MDC formation led by Arthur Mutambara won 10 seats, and the 210th seat in the House of Assembly is occupied by Jonathan Moyo, an independent.
Written by Chibaula Silwamba in Livingstone
Friday, July 10, 2009 4:38:15 PM
MUGABE can never be destroyed and he is one of Africa's strongest politicians, Southern Province minister Daniel Munkombwe has said. Speaking here on Tuesday, Munkombwe said Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was a solid politician who could not be destroyed.
"Your Excellency, you are the real politician, you are the real man, you are the true African, you are solid. You cannot be destroyed. Never! We admire you and I admire you personally," Munkombwe said.
"African politicians, African parties must be aware of camouflagers, people who jump on the bandwagon for which they have no knowledge and experience. African politicians must learn to blend between the old and the new ones because there can be nothing more true than blending with the old."
Munkombwe said he knew Mugabe many years ago when he was a student in Zimbabwe.
"Allow me your Excellency to describe one of Africa's strongest politicians. I knew you from school at Matoko Secondary School in Zimbabwe long time [ago]. While I was at Matoko your Excellency, I was under the armpits of Joshua Nkomo and," Munkombwe said.
"I am a student of those people and I know when you became a teacher in Chalimbana [Lusaka, Zambia] you got so frustrated as to the way the freedom struggle was moving in Zimbabwe. You decided to abandon that job and go into fighting."
He said African politicians should not wrestle for power with older politicians who have experience in politics.
"Rupiah Banda is another product of the political system, he is not a stranger, he is not an alien like the others who jump, within one year they want to be president. And we watch them, we know them, they can never be," said Munkombwe.
President Mugabe was in Livingstone on Tuesday for about six hours, within which he officiated at the Lwiindi lo Kuzyola Mukuni Ng'ombe ceremony of the Toka Leya people of Livingstone and Kazungula districts.
Written by Christopher Miti in Chipata
Friday, July 10, 2009 4:36:07 PM
THE UNIP Revival Forum has urged its members in Chitambo to rally behind the UPND-PF pact candidate Chanda Mutale in next month’s parliamentary by-election.
Forum national vice chairperson Timothy Nyirenda said his team supported PF during last year’s presidential elections and that it would be ideal for its members to support the PF/UPND pact because UNIP’s revival forum had not fielded any candidate.
“In as far as we are concerned, the true UNIP has not fielded any candidate, that candidate that had been fielded there is for Tilyenji Kaunda and his team and not for us. I think the fielding of that candidate is only meant at embezzling funds,” Nyirenda said.
Earlier, Nyirenda said it would be good for the opposition to win the Chitambo seat.
“It will bring a lot of confidence to the UPND-PF pact if they win this election…it will be a good start for them, but as the opposition, we will be very happy if this seat is won by the opposition and not MMD,” said Nyirenda.
Four candidates last Wednesday successfully filed in nomination papers in readiness for the Chitambo by-election. The four candidates are from the UPND-PF pact, UNIP, FDD and MMD.
The Chitambo parliamentary seat fell vacant after the death MMD’s Nassim Hamir early this year.
Written by Editor
There will be no future development for our country without healthy citizens. And one cannot claim to uphold the sanctity of life if there is no provision for minimal health care for all. Every citizen of this country should have the chance to enjoy the well-being necessary for their full human development.
It is very sad to be told by our Minister of Health, Kapembwa Simbao, that the nation is facing a serious crisis because donors have suspended funding to the Ministry of Health. Is Simbao telling us that the healthcare, the welfare of our people was totally left in the hands of donors; it has been donors paying for our people’s health?
Reacting to donors’ suspension of funding to the Ministry of Health, Simbao says: “It is not right, first of all, we are dealing with people’s lives here and you know like you promising me to give me a meal every day and because I make a mistake, you throw your meal when you know I have nowhere else to eat from. It can kill me and basically this is what it is doing.
The people who have decided to withhold their money, if they don’t know, this problem can explode and not just on government but on the country as a whole because people must know that in reality, it is not government that stole the money, it is some unscrupulous people who by their own and selfish means decided to deprive not just government but the people of Zambia of this very important money.
And now they are being punished twice, it is not right. This has brought a lot of untold suffering, we are failing to meet our responsibility, you know like a parent failing to take care of the children, it is very shameful, that’s the situation but the reason is that we knew the money will come, we never thought after somebody promising then one day they will say they can’t give it to us. I don’t think that is right. Then they will know, that look there is no money to expect and this and this must be stopped but not when you had planned for everything. Planning takes into account their promises and then they withdraw their promises, it is not right. I think once the people know where they come from, once the people know what they have done to the Zambian people, I don’t think this will be accepted.”
This is what our Minister of Health is telling us. Do we find this acceptable? The answer is a categorical no. First, it is not right for this government to claim that the abuses of donor funds at the Ministry of Health is simply a case of some unscrupulous and selfish people and the government has got nothing to do with it.
This cannot be true because top leaders of this government participated in the abuse of the resources of the Ministry of Health. From 2001, they have been using the Ministry of Health as a source of finance for their political campaigns. In last year’s elections, Ministry of Health resources were used in Rupiah Banda’s presidential election campaign.
We brought this to the attention of the Zambian people and pictures were published showing Rupiah’s abuse of Ministry of Health resources. And today Simbao wants to tell the nation that government has nothing to do with it and it is equally concerned!
Second, it is not the duty of donors to be totally responsible for the provision of such a vital and important service like healthcare to the Zambian people. It is a responsibility of our leaders and government to provide that service to every Zambian. To leave this vital service to the whims of donors is the most reckless decision or act a leader can make. It simply goes to show the lack of priorities on the part of our leaders.
This government every month collects taxes from the Zambian workers, our business people but have decided not to use that money – but donor money – to provide healthcare for these same people. On what do they use the taxes they collect from the Zambian workers and business people?
They use it to pay themselves high salaries, to buy themselves expensive automobiles, to pay themselves all sorts of gratuities like the midterm gratuity our politicians are about to pay themselves. They use these taxes on Rupiah’s endless but expensive trips abroad. They use this money to pay salaries to their relatives, friends and cadres they have nepotistically employed in government service, in our foreign service.
They use our taxes to provide remuneration for the many unnecessary political jobs they have created to reward friends, relatives and others who patronise them. But when it comes to providing such a critical services, such an important service as healthcare, they don’t have money and the donors should pay for our lives, to keep the Zambian people alive.
If the donors have suspended funding to the Ministry of Health, a sensible and sensitive government that respects the lives of its people would immediately step in and find the money. This money can be found by immediately cutting down on less important expenditure like political gratuities, unnecessary trips that each time cost the taxpayer millions of dollars and other extravagances. The money is there. What is not there is the right priorities.
And as long as health fails to be considered a top priority, a fundamental right of every citizen and the duty of the government; as long as the responsibility of the state in regard to healthcare fails to be recognised; as long as inequalities in the distribution of health resources fail to disappear; as long as poverty, hunger, ignorance and squalor fail to be directly fought against, little will be achieved in improving human health in our country.
Health is an essential right of every citizen of this country and a responsibility of the government.
This would not be considered a very big crisis for our health system if our politicians had set their bearings correctly. We have seen countries with what would appear to be insurmountable economic difficulties continue to provide very high standards of healthcare to their people.
We cannot avoid giving an example of Cuba. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Europe socialist bloc, Cuba lost virtually all its markets for its goods and for the supply of many things. Many started to count days before the collapse of the Cuban Revolution. But during all those difficult years, the Cuban government maintained very high standards of healthcare for their people. There were not even cases of malnutrition because these services received the top priority from the leadership of the Cuban Revolution.
We remember Raul Castro, then Minister of Defence, saying beans were more important than bullets. And that’s the defence minister of a country whose security has been permanently threatened by the world’s most powerful nation – just some 144 kilometres away. The issue here is strictly of priorities.
If the Zambian people were to be asked today to set priorities on how their taxes should be spent, we don’t think they will agree with the priorities set by Rupiah and his friends. They would take their money to the provision of healthcare and suspend political gratuities and other expenditure that is put there to simply salve the egos and ambitions of our politicians.
We cannot continue on this path of letting the most important things in our lives be under the control, direction and funding of donors while we spend our taxes unwisely on things that really don’t matter, things that contribute nothing, or very little, to the welfare of our people. The support of other nations is highly welcome but should not be seen as a permanent basis for our existence, something we cannot do without forever.
And moreover, the donor suspension of funding to the Ministry of Health is justified. We have taken them for a ride for too long. We have actually made fools of them. They give us money for the healthcare of our people, we steal it, we use it to build private lodges and all sorts of personal businesses and we channel some of it to our political election campaigns and expect them to continue funding us. This is asking too much even from the best of friends. This demonstrates serious lack of respect for these friendly nations and peoples that have been helping us over the years.
It is also a sign of serious lack of self-respect on our part. When you listen to Simbao, you feel sorry that he is presenting the Zambian people as a people that seriously lack gratitude. Zambians have a high sense of gratitude towards those who help them. It is their leaders who have a deficiency on this score. And Simbao is cheating himself if he thinks our people will blame this crisis in our health service on the donors. They won’t.
Actually the majority of our people support this suspension of aid because it’s simply creating all sorts of problems in the country. It is a source of corruption and political manipulation. Moreover, it is the Ministry of Health that those who are politically powerful and are well connected were abusing to pay for their medical trips to South Africa even when they got a simple common cold. For medical services that can be provided in Lusaka, they go to Johannesburg at a gigantic cost to the Ministry of Health. And Simbao thinks the Zambian people don’t know all these things and will turn against the donors and sympathise with this corrupt government? Never! The Zambian people are not fools.