Saturday, October 31, 2009

Protracted intra-MMD strife

Protracted intra-MMD strife
By Editor
Sat 31 Oct. 2009, 04:00 CAT

There are serious problems, contradictions and conflicts within the ruling MMD. And if these matters are not addressed, the MMD risks losing power and going into political oblivion in 2011. There is need for the MMD leadership and general membership to begin by recognising the scale of their loss of popularity and of their problem.

The MMD is increasingly becoming associated with the most disagreeable messages and thoughts. They may say much of that linkage is not true, it’s merely propaganda and lies by their political enemies, but since it is what people think, it must be appreciated as a deeply felt distaste, rather than a momentary irritation caused by unceasing enemy propaganda. They cannot dismiss it as mere false perception.

The MMD is today linked to intolerance, tyranny, undemocratic practices, corruption, intrigue and all sorts of abuse. They are thought to be uncaring about the plight of the poor. They are thought to be interested only about staying in power, retaining power at all costs.

Their defence and accommodation of corrupt elements like Frederick Chiluba has earned them a reputation of not caring about justice but caring more about their hold on power. They are thought to favour greed and the unqualified pursuit of power, with a devil-take-the-hindmost attitude.

And the intra-party squabbles or in-fighting makes them appear to have almost completely abandoned the qualities of loyalty and the bonds of party without which party effectiveness ceases to exist. Passions about power have led them to attack and despise each other.

If they are to survive politically, they need to rediscover the old instincts that won them public support in the first place. The impact of disunity upon them is clear to see. The party must, in the very near future, learn to display a sense of common purpose that is fundamental to a party’s prospects. If they don’t do so, they stand no chance of being re-elected in 2011 unless they massively rig the elections.

The MMD leadership is also thought to be arrogant and out of touch. And much of it may be no more than personal mannerisms that are grating on the public after many years in office. Some of it is insensitivity.

Corruption and abuse of office have disgraced the MMD in the eyes of the public. A good example of this is their decision to let Chiluba go scot-free of his corruption charges. In the eyes of our people, Chiluba’s acquittal was something they procured from the courts and this is supported by their decision not to appeal that clearly defective judgment and to instead defend it and protect him. The perception of the public is that of corruption and unfitness for public service. Such distasteful perceptions can endure and do them damage for a long time.

They should face these issues head-on and deal with them. They have profoundly disappointed their supporters and disgusted many others. Rupiah Banda, and those in his Cabinet and members of the MMD national executive committee, bear a particular responsibility.

Clearly, people need a rest from them, and they need time to reflect and listen and come to understand one another better than they have of late. They certainly need to do a lot about themselves. They need better and different organisation.

They need to spread their appeal and attract different sorts of people than the mercenaries they have today. They need to take a fresh look in the new circumstances they today find themselves in. Their party needs to renew itself. The wheel of fortune turns and that which once appeared fresh, with the passing of time goes to seed.

The MMD needs to confront head-on the danger of inner-party factionalism that is being caused by the undemocratic practices the party is increasingly resorting to. This danger is being caused by several factors: the rough-handling marginalisation and even demotion that those who are opposed to Rupiah’s leadership are experiencing at his hands. This is producing and leaving behind a very strong legacy of bitterness and resentment – the walking wounded.

This has cultivated tendencies towards excessive defensivism and also to habits of counter-factionalism in some cases, with party cadres running the danger of falling excessively into the politics of palace manoeuvres. There are also some signs of the dangers of disciplinary measures being used to settle political differences. These dangers are fed by and feed, the rear-guard action of small pockets of persisting reformism within the party.

And clearly, the principle cause of factionalism within the MMD is careerism, patronage and ambitions for jobs and business.

However, the factionalist danger within the MMD has emerged most strongly in the recent period around two issues: the adoption of Rupiah as the party’s presidential candidate in 2011 without a vote or say from the general membership or giving others who aspire for the same chance to contest. The other is the issue of holding the party convention to elect a new leadership.

In regard to these issues, there is need to develop a principled and unifying position. All party members should have a say on these issues and participate actively in this process as loyal MMD members, and according to their own views and perspectives. And party structures and resources should not be used to promote a particular candidate.

There is need to advance perspectives on the kind of leadership collectively that party members believe is required to take the MMD forward and ensuring that there is no abuse of state or organisational resources designed to undermine other members of the party who are aspiring to lead it. And when such abuse occurs, all should be committed to exposing and condemning it. These positions in regard to these matters are principled and their consistent application will lay the basis for consolidating party unity in the current conjecture.

However, there have been currents within the MMD that have sought to factionalise everything around either support for or opposition to Rupiah’s sole party candidature for 2011. Both currents are variants of opportunism. They must vigilantly foster unity of their party around its principled perspectives and tasks. Failure to do this will be a major blow to the MMD and to its electoral prospects in 2011.

We say all this because experience has repeatedly shown that a party divided into hostile groups loses its militancy. Protracted inner-party strife inevitably results in party members’ concentration on discords. The party becomes distracted from political struggle and day-to-day work among the masses and loses its influence.

It is within this specific political context that we believe the MMD must situate its leadership debate. And they should not conduct this debate as an academic exercise or in power vacuum. In particular, as they conduct this debate, they need to guard against these dangers: they must not allow this entirely legitimate debate to be ruled “taboo” or out of order.

Indeed, whatever the merits or otherwise, the very fact that there is a debate means that complacency and routinism has been shaken up. The debate must continue. But they must be extremely vigilant not to allow the debate to become factionally divisive within the party.

There is need for all the members and cadres of the MMD to give the fullest expression to their initiative, which alone can ensure the party’s reversal of political fortunes.

This initiative must be demonstrated concretely in the ability of the party’s leadership, members and cadres to work creatively, in their readiness to assume responsibility and in their courage and ability to raise questions, voice opinions and criticise defects.

But the exercise of such initiative depends on the spread of democracy in party life. It cannot be brought into play if there is not enough democracy in party life. Only in an atmosphere of democracy can large numbers of able people be brought forward.

Anyone should be allowed to speak out, whoever he or she may be. Party leaders at all levels should have a duty to listen to others. Two principles must be observed: say all you know and say it without reserve; don’t blame the speaker but take his words as a warning.

There is also need to realise that inner-party democracy is meant to strengthen, discipline and increase organisational and political effectiveness, not to weaken them.

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Task Force was a high level political commitment – Nkole

Task Force was a high level political commitment – Nkole
By Mwala Kalaluka
Sat 31 Oct. 2009, 04:01 CAT [

FORMER Task Force on Corruption chairman Maxwell Nkole yesterday said the disbanded anti-grant institution will be remembered as a very high level political commitment to clean up the abuse of public funds.

And Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) president Reuben Lifuka said National Assembly Speaker Amusaa Mwanamwambwa should not have allowed Vice-President George Kunda to issue false statements against TIZ in the House.

Commenting on the government's decision to fuse the Task Force on Corruption into the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) as announced by Vice-President George Kunda on Thursday, Nkole said the fusion was long awaited.

“These plans have been on paper for the last two years,” Nkole said. “What we can remember about the Task Force is that it was a very high level political commitment to clean up our society of abuses especially at high level and I think that in future the role of the Task Force will be remembered as having built a deterrent in the way public resources are managed.”

Nkole said it was that deterrent that the people would like to see continue in the country's efforts to fight corruption and ensure that there was complete accountability in the public and private sectors.

“What is left to be seen is how the new set-up they have put in place…how the fight will be enhanced rather than cause the loss of momentum,” Nkole said. “Government insists that the Anti-Corruption Commission should be the lead institution (in the fight against corruption), whatever that means?”

Nkole said since 1984, the ACC has been the lead institution in the fight against corruption and that no other institution had claimed leadership. He said it was wrong for the government to continue insisting on the fact that the ACC should now be the lead body in the anti-corruption campaign, when that had been the status quo all along.

Nkole also maintained that his removal from the Task Force on Corruption had nothing to do with indiscipline as alleged by President Rupiah Banda, because he had to date not been accorded an opportunity to be heard.

“The question of me being indisciplined is what I refuse,” he said. “It may be fair to say 'contract lapsed I do not want to renew it'.”

Asked to state his position on assertions that the Task Force was a money-gobbling institution, Nkole said the institution was mainly funded by the donors and the government was just funding the administrative part.
He said the Task Force required more money to carry out its activities outside the country and he hoped that donor support towards the fight against corruption would continue.

And Lifuka said TIZ wanted to get Vice-President Kunda's transcript on his statement on the fate of the Task Force on Corruption before it could comment.

But Lifuka said they wanted to deal with Vice-President Kunda's statement that TIZ was using the fight against corruption in a systematic manner and that the legal team was working around the issue.

“The Speaker should not have gone ahead to allow the leader of government to speak about an institution that can't defend itself. It is not right that the Vice-President would hide under parliamentary privilege to make such a statement,” Lifuka said.

Lifuka also said Vice-President Kunda should have laid evidence of his allegations on the table.

“We have a problem with the Speaker having allowed that debate to go on. Honourable Kunda should not have just gone to Parliament to make an allegation, which was untrue,” Lifuka said. “If he really believes in what he says, why doesn't he speak about it outside Parliament?”

After delivering his ministerial statement on the fusion of the Task Force on Corruption into the ACC, Vice-President Kunda said organisations like TIZ use the fight against corruption to get money from cooperating partners.

He said with TIZ and other people it was difficult to distinguish between a political agenda and the fight against corruption.

On Thursday, Vice-President Kunda announced in Parliament that the government had fused the Task Force on Corruption into the ACC.

Vice-President Kunda said Task Force prosecutor Mutembo Nchito would continue handling his cases while the ACC would take over all the investigations of the pending cases.

In follow-up question session after he had delivered a ministerial statement on the fate of the Task Force on Corruption, Vice-President Kunda said the responsibility to fight corruption was not for the donors but for every Zambian.

He was responding to concerns from some opposition parliamentarians that wanted to know why donors had stopped funding the Task Force on Corruption.

“Donors have their own reasons for stopping but with us we will not stop funding the fight against corruption,” Vice-President Kunda said. “The responsibility to fight corruption is not for the donors it is for all of us.”

Earlier, Vice-President Kunda accused organisations such as Transparency International Zambia of using the fight against corruption to for monetary gain.

Vice-President Kunda was initially hesitant to mention the organisations and individuals that he had referred to as the ones that were using the fight against corruption to make money.

“I do not want to mention them,” said Vice-President Kunda as parliamentarians from PF and UPND pressed him to. “Their agenda when they are fighting corruption is to get money from cooperating partners and foreign organisations.”

However, the PF and UPND parliamentarians insisted that he mentioned the organisations and people he was referring to.

“There are organizations such as Transparency International Zambia, they get money from outside…They earn a living through the fight against corruption,” Vice-President Kunda said.

“You can also set up a newspaper to just fight corruption. All you just need to do is to make allegations.”

But Katuba MMD member of parliament Jonas Shakafuswa asked Vice-President Kunda to explain if it was not true that organisations like TIZ had done a good job in fighting cases of corruption.

“Yes, they make statements. They are not constructive. The way NGOs should be working is to engage government,” Vice-President Kunda said amid heckles and boos from some opposition parliamentarians.

“The problem with Transparency International and some organisations, it is because it is very difficult for us…to differentiate between a political agenda and the fight against corruption.”

And Kabwata PF member of parliament Given Lubinda said the opposition would continue to heap blame on President Rupiah Banda if he continued to shield impropriety in his government.

Debating the 2010 budget estimate on State House, Lubinda said while President Banda deserved to be shielded from the misdemeanours of the people close to him, he should not shield wrongdoing.

“If he is going to shield impropriety we are going to blame him out rightly,” he said. “Whatever they do and is not punished we are going to say it is kwasha mukwenu, which means ‘help yours’.”

Lubinda said the presidency deserves respect but that a parent who respects his children would be respected and that one who does not respect his children was setting a trap for himself.

“My colleagues on the right should be the last to be provocative,” he said.

Lubinda said the opposition would respond with their entire wrath if those in the ruling party continued to be provocative. He said there was no way that a President could refer to a citizen as a bag of mealie-meal.

Lubinda said since presidents made mistakes, they required constant counsel from the citizenry.

Bangweulu PF 'rebel' member of parliament Joseph Kasongo advised the Rupiah Banda administration not to listen to prophets of doom within the opposition.

Contributing to the same debate, Kasongo said there was need for the public relations wing at State House to be strengthened so that it could counter some of the allegations leveled against the President by certain individuals.

“Otherwise, some of these allegations may be damaging to the President,” Kasongo said. “State House must be seen to evaluate the performances of all political appointees, especially managers.”

Kasongo urged State House to take action against the Accountant General for holding on to funds disbursed by the Ministry of Finance to the districts and provinces until the list of contractors to undertake the projects is availed to the office.

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ACC arrests Kapoko on fresh charges

ACC arrests Kapoko on fresh charges
By Maluba Jere
Sat 31 Oct. 2009, 04:01 CAT

FORMER human resource manager in the Ministry of Health Henry Kapoko and nine others were on Thursday arrested by the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) on fresh charges of theft by public servant, theft and money laundering amounting to over K4 billion.

Kapoko and others appeared in court yesterday for allocation before chief resident magistrate Charles Kafunda.

Magistrate Kafunda told the accused persons that their case had been allocated to principal resident magistrate Sharon Kaunda Newa before whom they would take plea on Monday.

The 10 accused persons then appeared for mention before magistrate Alice Walusiku.

Apart from Kapoko, the others expected to take plea in the matter are Nobert Peleti, Zukas Kaoma, Valenta Miyoba Chizyuka Nkhata, Abigail Nzala, Nkhata Kapinda and Enala Matutu Phiri.

The rest are Vincent Luhana, Evaristo Musaba, Dr Chrispin Sichone and Christopher Bwalya.

One of the lawyers representing the accused persons Mutinta Syulikwa said in an interview that all 10 accused persons were re-arrested on Thursday and fresh charges were slapped on them.

Kapoko and some of the accused persons in this case are facing similar charges and are appearing before another magistrate.

The matter comes up for plea on Monday.

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Kunda admits govt’s manoeuvres on Zesco’s optical fibre network

Kunda admits govt’s manoeuvres on Zesco’s optical fibre network
By George Chellah
Sat 31 Oct. 2009, 04:01 CAT

VICE-PRESIDENT George Kunda yesterday admitted in Parliament that the government is handling issues of the optical fibre network through the privatisation of Zamtel.

But the Power Generation and Allied Workers Union of Zambia (POGAWUZ) has demanded that Zesco must run the fibre optic independently and compete in the telecommunication market according to its license.

Responding to a question from Kantanshi PF member of parliament Yamfwa Mukanga, who wanted to know why Zamtel laid its optic fibre on the ground instead of using the Zesco pylons, which is cheaper, Vice-President Kunda said the Zamtel board made the decision.

“Zamtel is an independent entity and a decision was made by the board of Zamtel. This is one of the issues we are trying to address through the privatisation of Zamtel so that we don't have duplication of infrastructure, duplication of technology,” he said.

And communications and transport deputy minister Mubika Mubika told parliament that the government did not award a US $2 million contract to RP Capital.

“The contract between the Ministry of Communications and Transport and RP Capital to valuate the Zambia Telecommunications Company (Zamtel) has added value to the potential sale of Zamtel by providing information on the actual value of Zamtel's assets and liabilities that is required by government and investors interested in buying shares in the company,” Mubika said.

“RP Capital was paid US $161,029.00 (K837, 347,888.00) for re-imbursables they incurred in the valuation of Zamtel assets. These funds were paid under head 51/01/9/11 (Valuation of government enterprises) in estimate of revenue and expenditure, 2009 (Yellow Book) of 2009.”

Asked by Luena member of parliament Charles Milupi if the government was concerned about the revelations on the internet about RP Capital, communications minister Geoffrey Lungwangwa said there were so many things on the internet.

“I don't think it's prudent for us to go by whatever is on the internet,” he said.

And POGAWUZ president Thomas Nyendwa yesterday stated that Zesco workers were deeply concerned on issues that tend to affect the state of the organisation physically, structurally or morale wise.

“Zesco is going through a period of 'acting managements' and the talk of privatisation, lease or sale of Zesco or any of its assets could not have come at a worse time. We call upon the Zesco board to exercise its duty and appoint or confirm a chief executive for Zesco without further delay.

Then and only then is it possible for us to assure our members that we have a partner, a management, that we can engage with and discuss not only short-term issues but long-term issues. It will then be possible for us or any interested person to know who to praise or blame for any happenings in Zesco,” he stated.

Nyendwa gave the union's position on the optic fibre network.

“It's our duty as workers' representatives to state that it will not be in the interest of Zesco and, by domino effect, its workers and the Zambian people to sell the Zesco fibre in any form to anyone,” Nyendwa stated.

“It is not in dispute that the Zesco optical fibre as implemented through the Optical Ground Wire (OPGW) is an integral part of the power transmission network. This wire shunts to ground excess and fault currents to protect transformers, generators and attached equipment. This adds to the supply of quality and reliable power and efficient service delivery.”

He stated that what the nation should apply itself to was how best Zesco could benefit from the unique position it finds itself in.

“It is the first on the market, it has the longest network (1700 Km plus), it can roll out fibre across the country faster and cheaper than any competitor and there is no competitor on the horizon (Zamtel fiber project has done more digging than laying fibre to the best of our knowledge),” Nyendwa stated.

“Commercialisation demands that Zesco runs as a profit-making organisation and optic fibre was one of the initiatives taken to improve among others the resource base of the company.

“The questions basically being asked are as follows: (1) should Zesco lease out the dark fibre, recoup the costs with a markup profit and focus on the energy business? (2) should Zesco be a carrier of carriers providing SDH, PDH, Ethernet, etc, services to organisations and service providers? (3) should Zesco partner with established telecommunication companies? These questions have long been answered.”

He stated that Zesco's intention was to be a Carrier of Carriers.

“This is evidenced by the acquisition of the carrier of carrier licence and a transmission capacity of STM16 (2.5G/s) upgradable to STM64 (lOG/s). Zamtel who could have been a potential partner refused the offer time and again and opted to go it out alone. It is not good business to continue discussions with Zamtel especially that it is about to be privatised,” Nyendwa stated.

“Our advise is let us wait for Zamtel to put its house in order then we can discuss and negotiate, as equals, with whoever takes control of Zamtel. This is how win-win relationships are built. It is only a strong Zamtel that can bring synergy to any partnership with Zesco, CEC or any, other optical fibre operator. Otherwise the sum of the whole will be less than the value of any of the parts.”

He stated that Zesco and Zambia needs every income it could get from its resources.

“Income from Zesco fibre is expected to grow the current K30 billion per annum to K200 billion per annum by the year 2020. This is at minimal extra overheads to the current wage bill and operational costs. This is money that Zesco can well use to expand its network without overburdening the taxpayer. This is money that can motivate the workers and bring industrial harmony,” Nyendwa stated.

“This is money that could cushion our customers from sharp tariff increases. This is money that we badly need!

As POGAWUZ our position is to let Zesco run the fibre optic independently and compete in the telecommunication market according to our licence. The proposed sale won't be in the best interest of the company and the nation at large as we'll live to regret and blame ourselves in future.”

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Govt should listen to criticism, says Milupi

Govt should listen to criticism, says Milupi
By Kabanda Chulu
Sat 31 Oct. 2009,

LUENA independent member of parliament Charles Milupi has said criticism is a component of democracy and the government should learn to listen to diverse views in the country.

But Vice-President George Kunda said the culture of insults and disrespect for those holding government positions should not be allowed to take root in the country.

During debates for the 2010 budget estimates of expenditure of the office of the President - State House and office of the Vice-President on Thursday, Milupi said the government should not get annoyed when people get concerned about the President’s frequent foreign trips.

“Government should not just listen to one side especially those people praising it but government should also tolerate diverse views since criticism is part of democracy and this should not annoy government,” said Milupi.

Sinazongwe member of parliament Raphael Muyanda said respect was important and government leaders should respect others if they wanted to be respected.

“If you ask for something and it is not done and you don’t keep quiet that does not amount to disrespect, this government just wants to be defensive. That clearly shows that it has failed to deliver.

For example, if Maamba Coal Mines’ workers demand for their wages, is that insulting or disrespecting the government leadership because what is happening in Maamba is a disaster,” said Muyanda.

However, Vice-President Kunda said statements of criticism should be based on facts.

“For instance, those presidential trips being criticised are worthwhile and let us make statements based on facts and this culture of insulting government leaders should not be allowed to take root in the country,” Vice-President Kunda said.

Luapula parliamentarian Peter Machungwa said he had failed to understand why someone could just be wrong all the time to attract criticism while Bahati parliamentarian Besa Chimbaka said it was disheartening to see even members of parliament disrespecting offices they aspire for.

Local government deputy minister Lwipa Puma urged the Ministry of Justice to pursue legal means of handling those disrespecting the government leaders.

“They should be taken to court because they will think that it is normal to be disrespectful,” said Dr Puma.

Chongwe member of parliament Sylvia Masebo asked why allocations for wildlife maintenance were not changed since some monkeys were removed from State House and the funding would still cater for the removed animals but Vice-President Kunda responded that the funds were meant for animals at State House.

The parliamentarians unanimously approved K 23.5 billion for State House and K20.3 billion for the Vice-President’s office.

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Lumwana Mining replaces MD

Lumwana Mining replaces MD
By Kabanda Chulu in Lusaka and Creavat Chituta in Solwezi
Sat 31 Oct. 2009, 04:00 CAT

LUMWANA Mining Company (LMC) has appointed Adam Wright as its new managing director replacing Harry Michael who is leaving the company next month after developing it from a greenfield project to become Zambia’s single largest investment and Africa’s biggest copper producer.

Announcing the appointment yesterday, Lumwana’s holding company, Equinox Minerals president Craig Williams stated that the company was looking forward to working with Wright in the operational phase at Lumwana in order to drive the mine towards realising its full potential.

“We are very excited that Adam Wright has joined the Equinox team. Adam is a well regarded and highly experienced mining professional with expertise that will provide great benefit to the operational ramp up of the Lumwana copper mine,” stated Williams.

“Harry Michael has played a key role in building Lumwana over the last five years during a very challenging period for the company through the transition from developer to producer. I thank Harry for his outstanding contribution. We look forward to working with Adam in the operational phase at Lumwana in driving the mine towards realising its full potential.”

And Michael has urged newly-graduated multi-skills vocation trainees to utilise their skills acquired from the training to set up business and support their families.

Speaking in Solwezi during the graduation ceremony of 174 LCM-sponsored local community multi-skills vocation graduands who received their certificates after undergoing a sustainability training programme held at Lumwana estate, Michael said trainees should not only hang their certificates in homes, but apply skills acquired to improve their livelihood and become employers in future.

He advised graduands to take advantage of the opportunity to increase their production and improve their standard of living through baking; poultry farming and meat inspection, maize milling, handcrafts and others.

Meanwhile, Solwezi mayor Peter Kikatula commended LCM for its outstanding commitment to the development of the local community in the district.

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CEEC’s failure to fund projects will make govt unpopular - Mwinilunga DC

CEEC’s failure to fund projects will make govt unpopular - Mwinilunga DC
By Agness Changala
Sat 31 Oct. 2009, 04:00 CAT

MWINILUNGA district commissioner Webster Samakesa has said that failure by the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) to fund projects in rural areas will make the government unpopular.

In an interview on Wednesday, Samakesa expressed disappointment that despite North-Western Province having 30 projects, CEEC only approved and funded one in March this year.

"I am disappointed that projects in rural areas are not receiving serious attention. Mwakasambila, a honey processing project in my district is the only one that was funded in March this year," he said.

"For others, up to now they have not been funded and efforts to get them funded have proved futile because whenever we get in touch with those charged with such responsibilities, we are told that they are in meetings or out of office."

Samakesa said he was hurt when he learnt that Lusaka Province had 22 projects approved by CEEC as at September 4, 2009.

He said it was unfair that the commission only funded projects along the line of rail because it was not helping people in rural areas.

Samakesa said he had been in constant touch with the two members of parliament in Mwinilunga; Elijah Muchima and Stephen Katuka to try and compel CEEC to fund projects but to no avail.

He said this would encourage rural urban drift as people would want to go where the bread and butter was.

Samakesa further expressed disappointment with CEEC officers who did not visit the area to carry out field appraisals.

He appealed to the commission to consider funding projects in rural areas so that jobs could be crated.
"In rural areas, we don't have much activities, this will be able to bring about job opportunities," he said.

And Samakesa urged the ministry of agriculture to expedite the process of distributing inputs to farmers, saying the current process was fragile.

He said rains in the province had started and that most of the roads were still in a deplorable state.
"When we begin distributing fertiliser during the rainy season, it will be difficult and this may affect production," he said.

Samakesa said at the moment, no modalities had been put in place to try and make the distribution of farming inputs effectively.

He said officers from the ministry were frustrating the government's efforts by causing unnecessary delays even on important programmes like fertilizer support input that meant well for Zambians.

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UPND-PF pact complain about Police conduct

UPND-PF pact complain about Police conduct
By Zumani Katasefa in Solwezi and Mutuna Chanda in Kitwe
Sat 31 Oct. 2009, 04:01 CAT

UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema on Thursday lodged complaints over the conduct of police during the filing of nomination papers for the November 19 Solwezi Central parliamentary by-election.

And Anti-Voter Apathy Project (AVAP) executive director Bonnie Tembo has branded the ruling MMD's violence in Solwezi as an act of desperation.

Hichilema, who was accompanied by UPND senior party officials, complained to North-Western Province commanding officer Fabian Katiba that police failed to offer him and other PF-UPND pact members protection when they were attacked by MMD cadres at Kyawama market.

He complained that instead of dealing with the MMD cadres who started violence, the police threw teargas canisters at the peaceful PF-UPND members.

"The teargases were aimed at me and my vice-presidents and our members," Hichilema complained.
He said everyone, including himself who was at the scene, was chocked by the teargas.

"The fighting was started by the MMD, the MMD was mingled with the police who started firing teargas at us," complained Hichilema.

"We need protection from the police as much as the police need it, I am registering my displeasure. The people of Zambia will deliver change in 2011," he said.

Hichilema demanded an explanation from the police command as to why officers conducted themselves in such a manner.
"It is unfortunate that the police are acting like an arm of the MMD. We are disappointed with what happened," he said.

Hichilema also wondered whether police would have behaved in the same manner if MMD were the ones attacked.

"Were they going to fire teargas at Kabinga Pande? But because it was us, they decided to fire teargas at us," he said. "Kabinga Pande came asking for (UPND vice-president Richard) Kapita, why is he asking for Kapita? If we go out and organise ourselves like that, you will not handle us," warned Hichilema.

Hichilema said Pande was in Solwezi to ensure that people were beaten by the MMD cadres.
"Kabinga Pande was there to ensure that people are beaten," he said.

Hichilema said he was looking forward to meet Pande over the remarks against UPND leaders and the pact he had been making of late.

"I am requesting for a meeting with Kabinga Pande, I would like to meet him. He has been saying a lot of nonsense, even in Parliament. If I met him when he was saying such nonsense, I was going to nail him myself," he said.

Hichilema demanded that police take action against MMD cadres who were perpetrating violence in Solwezi.

And Hichilema said the re-enforcement of more police officers in Solwezi was meant to beat the UPND-PF pact down.

And Kapita wondered why Pande was looking for him, and vowed that he would present himself to Pande.

He warned that the UPND-PF pact would not allow the abuse of government resources by the MMD to conduct their campaigns in Solwezi.

"We are going to effect citizens arrest on anyone who is going to abuse government vehicles in this by-election," warned Kapita.

He said the PF-UPND pact would not be intimidated by the MMD in Solwezi.
And UPND Copperbelt Province chairman Elisha Matambo also complained against police's 'always siding with the MMD.

"We saw some police officers moving with Taima (deputy commerce minister Richard Taima) and one of the police officers even pointed a gun at us, but no action has been taken against that officer," he complained.

He said police should offer equal protection to all political leaders.
Matambo demanded an apology from the police command over the behaviour of their officers who teargased PF -UPND members.

And Katiba said police fired teargas to control the situation.
He said police were not working under instruction from MMD.

"Sir, we did that to control the situation. If the fighting had to go for 30 minutes, this time we would have been explaining about death. The next thing we did was to disperse the crowd," said Katiba.
"We will never be instructed, there is no instruction from the MMD," he said.

Katiba said they would institute investigations and open a docket against the culprits who damaged a vehicle and injured the two PF-UPND pact members.

He said violence started when the MMD changed their venue from showgrounds to Kyawama market, which was for the PF-UPND.

Katiba tried in vain to convince the UPND-PF leaders that he was not siding with MMD. He also complained that the MMD were accusing police of being sympathisers of the opposition parties.

Katiba said the additional reinforcement of police officers was meant to offer adequate protection and enforcement of law and order during the by-election campaigns.

Condemning the MMD's violence against UPND-PF pact in Solwezi, Tembo warned that the ruling party's desperation posed a threat to Zambia's democratic process.

"These are people who are ruling us and they must lead by example," Tembo said. "They must show that they are willing to abide by the law and the electoral code of conduct."

He said the violence exhibited by MMD cadres when they camped on the territory that was earmarked for a PF-UPND pact rally was clearly in violation of the law and electoral code of conduct.

"For them to trespass at the venue of a legally granted venue for a PF-UPND meeting then there is a problem," he said. "Police became spectators; Zambia Police is not police for the MMD, they are police for all Zambians and where PF-UPND cadres had to become police protecting HH, then there is a problem."

He encouraged police officers to read the Zambian Constitution to be able to understand their role.

He also called on the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to embrace the spirit of the Electoral Code of Conduct by condemning the MMD violence.

He said the Electoral Code of Conduct needed to be fully observed in the campaigns for the Solwezi Central by-election.

Meanwhile, Tembo wondered whether the MMD had formed a pact with the Zambia National Marketeers Association.

And Zambia Institute of Business Studies and Industrial Practice (ZIBSIP) students union president Innocent Mulenga called for issue-based politics in the Solwezi Central by-election campaigns and condemned violence.

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Friday, October 30, 2009

(NEWZIMBABWE) Khama: born to be controversial?

Khama: born to be controversial?
by Alfred Mulenga
30/10/2009 00:00:00

If you asked why President Ian Khama is controversial I would answer in three words: Marriage of inconvenience.

When we returned to London from Oxford, I went to the Trafalgar Square and bought a copy of the Daily Telegraph. It was probably the only British newspaper that morning which carried a two-paragraph story from Africa with a three-word headline: Seretse Khama dies. That was on July 1, 1980.

I was among 10 senior journalists from 10 Commonwealth countries of Ghana, Zambia, Zimbabwe (Africa), India, Jamaica, Gibraltar, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and Canada - sent to Oxford University for workshops and seminars on the origins of the Zimbabwean problems as part of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Commonwealth Press Union (CPU) fellowship programme.

The death of Sir Seretse Khama interested me most because he had just pioneered the Southern African Development Coordination Conference, which later became the Southern African Development Community (SADC) with its headquarters in Gaborone. I mentioned this fact to my 'comrade' Vijay Kumar from the Deccan Herald in Bangalore, India.

Vijay later in the evening bought - if my memory serves me right - a copy of the Guardian, which had a longer story on Khama, making reference to his "Marriage of Inconvenience" to Ruth Williams, which the Boers in South Africa would not entertain. So Looking at the circumstances under which he was born, Ian, like his father and mother, has to be controversial.

His father defied tribesmen in Serowe who would not allow him to marry a white woman and 'soil' royalty while his mother defied her family and whites who thought she was crazy to even think of marrying a black man. So when the Gomolemo Motswaledi saga reached its climax and the "three wisemen" at Lobatse High Court ruled in his favour, I went back to the Daily Telegraph morgue in a bid to establish the origins of Khama's "problems" - and found an obituary on the late Lady Ruth Khama, which should show you, dear reader, why Ian Khama, the first 'coloured' head of state in Southern Africa, is probably controversial. It reads:

Lady Khama, who has died aged 79, was the London secretary whose marriage to Seretse Khama, heir to the chieftainship of the Bamangwato tribe in the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, caused a storm in 1948.

As a result, Britain's Labour Government refused to recognise Seretse Khama, a former undergraduate at Balliol College, Oxford, and sent him into exile.

The Colonial Secretary, Patrick Gordon Walker, assured the (House) Commons that there was no outside pressure but, in reality, the government was keen to avoid upsetting South Africa's new National Government, to the south of Botswana.

Bent on introducing apartheid, South Africa was horrified by the prospect of a mixed marriage. What was more, it had the power to withhold supplies of uranium that were vital for Britain's nuclear industry.

Dr Daniel Malan, prime minister of the new National government in South Africa, pronounced the marriage "nauseating". Even Trevor Huddlestone, later the archbishop of the Indian Ocean and a sainted opponent of apartheid, advised Sir Evelyn Baring, the High Commissioner to South Africa as well as Bechuanaland, against recognising Khama as chief of the Bamangwato; though he later regretted it.

The exasperated Prime Minister Clement Attlee complained privately: "We are invited to go contrary to the desires of the great majority of the Banangwato tribe, solely because of the attitude of the Union of South Africa and Southern Rhodesia. It's as if we had been obliged to agree to Edward VIII's abdication so as not to annoy the Irish Free State and the USA."

Lady Khama was born Ruth Williams at Blackheath, south east London, on December 9 1923, the daughter of a former captain in the Indian Army who worked in the tea trade.

She was in the family home when it was bombed during the Blitz, and left Eltham High School to join the Women's Auxiliary Air Force. She drove ambulances at the airfields of No 11 Fighter Group and served at the emergency landing station near Beachy Head.

After the return of peace, she became a confidential clerk in the claims department at Cuthbert Heath, the Lloyds underwriters. She rode, ice-skated and went ballroom dancing in her spare time, meeting her future husband, a law student living in a hostel near Marble Arch, through their mutual interest in jazz.

Although their initial meeting, when they were introduced by her sister, was not a success, the friendship matured through their enthusiasm for the Inkspots.

The sight of a black man with a white woman was then a rarity in London, and there were some unpleasant incidents in which she was branded a cheap slut by strangers.

After Seretse proposed and she accepted, the couple assumed they would return to Bechuanaland. But problems quickly developed. Her father said she could stay in the family home, then ordered her out; her boss offered a transfer to New York or the sack; she left at the end of the week.

When Seretse wrote to his uncle Tshekedi, the Regent in Bechuanaland, the London Mission Society was pressed to try to prevent the wedding. Sir Evelyn sent warning telegrams from Cape Town to the Commonwealth Office.

Three members of the Mission Society turned up at St George's, Campden Hill, and threatened to object during the ceremony. When Seretse and Ruth complained, the vacillating vicar referred them to the Bishop of London, Dr William Wand, who was conducting an ordination ceremony nearby at St Mary Abbot's in Kensington.

The young couple sat through this ceremony, but were then told by him that a marriage could not take place until the British Government agreed. In the end they were married, after some difficulty, in a register office.

The couple then went to Bechuanaland, where Seretse told a tribal rally: "Stand up those who will not accept my wife"; he counted them and shouted, "40". He then asked: "Stand up those who want me and my wife"; 6,000 stood up and applauded for 10 minutes.

But as the couple awaited the birth of their first child, Gordon Walker told Khama that he was being exiled from Bechuanaland for five years, which Winston Churchill, leader of the Opposition, described as "a very disreputable transaction". But when the Tories returned to power "not less than five years" of exile was changed to "indefinitely".

The Khamas returned to England in 1950, where Seretse continued his legal studies and Ruth kept house at Addiscombe, Croydon. Although she didn't really believe it, she used to tell him she had a telepathic feeling they would be allowed to return.

Anthony Wedgewood Benn steered a motion through a Labour party conference calling for their return. Not to be outdone, the Conservative government offered Khama a diplomatic post in Jamaica, though in reply he asked why, if he was not considered good enough to rule his own people, he should be allowed to play an administrative role in the West Indies.

One happy result of the exile was that Seretse and Ruth's father became reconciled.
Then, in 1956, he heard he was being allowed back after his people had cabled the Queen. "The Bamangwato are sad. Over our land there is a great shadow blotting out the sun. Please put an end to our troubles. Send us our real Chief - the man born our Chief - Seretse".

Before the government could change its mind, Seretse hurried to London airport, leaving Ruth to sell their house and car and then follow three weeks later.

They settled down in Serowe, where Seretse consolidated his cattle farm and formed the Botswana Democratic Party; although he disclaimed a desire for the chieftainship, he gradually took over from the Regent. As such he was knighted, became first prime minister of Bechuanaland, and then president of the republic of Botswana, which remained in the Commonwealth.

Lady Khama never spoke any local languages, and remained a keen reader of Reader's Digest and National Geographic. But she was kept busy bringing up their four children and playing a leading role in charity work. One of her particular delights lay in attending Commonwealth conferences.

After her husband's death in 1980, there was some speculation that Lady Khama might settle in London, but she had no intention of leaving.

She was president of the Red Cross of Botswana and the Botswana Council of Women while running the Lady Khama Christmas Charity Fund; she also played a key role in the Queen's visit in 1979. Lady Khama was known as Mohumagadi Mma Kgosi (Mother of the Chief) since her eldest son is chief, but also, colloquially, as "the Queen Mother".

Ironically, there was a ripple of surprise in 1990 when her son Tony, named in honour of Tony Benn, announced that he wanted to marry a South African white girl from the rural Afrikaner stronghold of Rustenberg across the border.

Lady Khama warned that there might be some trouble with conservative tribal elders, though once again fear of South African hostility played a part in it.

Lady Khama is survived by her daughter and three sons, of whom the eldest, Lieutenant General Ian Khama.

So Khama may be a victim of circumstances, but the rest of the world will be watching whether like Barak Obama in the United States, Ian Khama is the breath of fresh air that SADC and Africa in general needs. What will his legacy be?

This article was oiriginally published by Botswana's Mmegi newspaper

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(NEWZIMBABWE, REUTERS) Zim mining chamber proposes softer laws

Zim mining chamber proposes softer laws
by McDonald Dzirutwe
28/10/2009 00:00:00

ZIMBABWE'S Chamber of Mines has made proposals for the country’s mining bill that seek to strike a balance between attracting investors and indigenisation, to reassure foreign investors worried by talk of nationalisation.

An initial bill, which sought to force foreign mining firms to sell 51% shares to locals and gave 25% equity without paying in some companies, raised concerns among investors, but lapsed before it was passed.

That proposed bill led to the withholding of badly needed investment in Zimbabwe, which is struggling to recover from economic collapse under a unity government between President Robert Mugabe and old rival Morgan Tsvangirai.

Following the collapse of commercial agriculture [massively aided by Western economic sanctions such as ZDERA - MrK], mining has become the top foreign currency earner, with gold alone bringing in a third of total export earnings to a country that says it is unlikely to receive bilateral assistance soon.

As part of its proposals, seen by Reuters on Wednesday, the chamber of mines has asked the government to set mining firms a target of 25% local ownership within 10 years and use a scorecard system to measure empowerment levels in the sector.

The government will decide whether to include the proposals in a long-awaited mining amendment bill that is expected to be debated in parliament before the end of the year.

The mining chamber’s proposals, which have already been presented to the country’s mining ministry, require mining companies to set aside a minimum 10% equity for acquisition by locals within 10 years.

The chamber of mines said social and infrastructure spending, assistance to small-scale miners and release of mineral rights to government by miners would all contribute to the empowerment scorecard.

The chamber also proposes that miners be compelled to attain an empowerment score of 7% after three years, 18% after six years and 25% after 10 years.

“The empowerment score shall comprise the direct and indirect Zimbabwean equity ownership in the company plus the equity equivalent of other qualifying empowerment benefits provided by the company,” the chamber of mines said.

The chamber’s proposals are in line with a similar drive in South Africa, which has adopted the black economic empowerment (BEE) to include blacks in the mainstream economy after years of exclusion under apartheid.

South Africa, the biggest producer of precious metals, adopted BEE legislation four years ago compelling mining companies to sell 15% of their assets to black investors by 2009 and 26% by 2014.

Some of the key players in Zimbabwe include Impala Platinum Holdings (Implats), the world’s second largest producer of the metal, which has the biggest mining investments in Zimbabwe. Its bigger rival Anglo Platinum and Rio Tinto also have mining interests in the country.

Zimbabwe has the world’s second-biggest platinum reserves and large deposits of diamonds, coal and nickel.- Reuters

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(ZAMBIAN ECONOMIST BLOG) Reflections on corruption (1)

Reflections on corruption (1)

In the last three years of the Zambian Economist we have touched on a number of important areas. It occurred to me that for some of the more contentious issues, certain areas remain unexplored (or recorded). As such I thought it might be useful to review some of these topics on a monthly basis and see if we can plug some of the remaining gaps. This month we’ll focus on the unrecorded gaps on corruption – existing posts and previous exchanges on corruption, including our “corruption wars” series, can be found here.

A key feature that stands out in many discussions of corruption, especially in the mainstream Zambian media, is the tendency to treat corruption as homogeneous (or uniform). Very little distinction is often made between different forms of corruption, with commentators unconsciously veering from one typology to the next without much clarity. It is common to find commentator say “corruption is on the increase”, with full expectation that all readers fully grasp what is meant. It is true that in some instances, particularly on this website, attempts are made to distinguish between outcomes of corruption e.g. distinguishing between corruption that is hurtful to society in general and that which hits the poor most. However, in nearly all discussions on this site, the variety of corruption has not received much focus.

The failure to distinguish between forms naturally impact on the quality of the debates and the effectiveness of proposed solutions. Until we have a full view of the many forms of corruption and their associated impacts on society, we are not going to be clear in our retelling of history or indeed where the focus of policy interventions should be. It remains my fundamental belief that part of the reason why the fight against corruption has been ineffective is poor understanding in both government and the public on the nature of corruption, and therefore how best to tackle it.

The Laws of Zambia (ACC Act No 42 of 1996) defines corruption as “the soliciting, accepting, giving or offering of a gratification by way of a bribe or other personal temptation or inducement, or the misuse of abuse of a public office for private advantage or benefit”. This is a wide ranging definition, which suggests several vices that could feasibly qualify as corruption.

The most obvious form of corruption in Zambia is bribery. Bribes are usually offered to allow a smooth transaction to take place. Politicians are often derided for suggesting that tackling corruption must start with each and every Zambian. What they usually mean is that in many sphere of life most Zambians pay one bribe after the other. If Zambians could start saying NO to paying or accepting bribes that would eliminate bribe. Not a very helpful approach because it turns the issue of bribe into a moral question whose answers go beyond conventional policy tools. It is true though that one cannot get anything done in Zambia rapidly without some form of underhand payment. Private bribes are always difficult to gauge, and indeed there’s much debate over whether they matter at all. However, there’s a lot of statistics on bribing public officials. In the 2007 World Bank Enterprise Surveys, nearly 15% businesses expected to make informal payments to public officials, while 28% expected to make gifts to secure government contracts.

The natural question of course is whether bribes are damaging to our economy. The empirical evidence is somewhat mixed. What we can say with some confidence is that the idea that bribery is beneficial is misguided. While bribes in a very narrow sense can be seen as a lubricator that may speed things up and help entrepreneurs get on with wealth creation in specific instances, in a broader sense, these must be considered as an obstacle to development. This is mainly because the cumbersome procedures that bribes are supposed to help overcome are usually created and maintained precisely because of their corruption potential and substantial real resources may be devoted to contesting the associated rents. This leads to pure waste and misallocation of scarce resources.

The implication appears to be that the best way to tackle the culture of bribery is remove the “opportunity” to bribe. At the practical level it means that if we want to stop our police officers to be less corrupt, we must move rapidly to eliminate the many pointless road blocks that permeate our society. Similarly, we must remove excessive legislation that provides opportunities for businesses to bribe. A lot of empirical evidence demonstrates a strong relationship between graft and various measures of excessive regulation e.g. the number of days to open a business. It’s well known of course that one of the things that encourages informality and keeps small firms from developing is excessive legislation. The only way for them to keep doing business is through illegal activities because the route to formality is peddled with higher taxes and other excessive requirements.

A key challenge of tackling bribery of course is detection. The same cannot be said for the other evil of corruption – public theft. The general public may not know which official has greasy fingers until they are caught, but they can sense when public money has been stolen. The most popular form of this vice is the so called “grand corruption”. The Task Force on Corruption was predicated to investigate the alleged grand theft committed by the Chiluba Administration. The “grand” in the end has not quite fitted the original billing as the main suspect Second Republican President Frederick Chiluba was subsequently been acquitted of more serious criminal charges. What remains on the table is a civil case involving $40m, which is also under challenge. Many ordinary Zambians appear to have “believed”, rightly or wrongly, that billions of dollars had been stolen but thus far nothing has been proven. It is left to the historians to assess what truly transpired. In recent months the theft charges have shifted to “administrative robbery”. The recent Ministry of Health “Kapoka scandal”, ZAWA, RDA, Legal Aid Board and many other cases have highlighted significant levels of administrative theft perpetuated by supposedly loyal civil servants.

These public theft cases have been met by significant uproar from ordinary members of the public, much more so than the “systematic bribery” which perhaps occurs at a much larger scale on a daily basis. As we have noted this may be due to poor detection, but it might also be attributed to issues of injustice. Zambians may be willing to accept / pay bribes because it is embedded in our culture, but public theft appears to run counter to the principle of natural justice. It explicitly violates access to things which are inherently our right. By stealing, the official is robbing money away from the poor in a most explicit way than bribery does. It is this feature that causes much consternation within our society.

It should be noted of course that at the surface there appears little correlation between public theft and economic development. Therefore, we must dig deeper and focus on those elements of public theft which are most damaging. This is likely to be capital flight. Where money has been stolen and siphoned out of the country, we have significant cause to worry. Donors also have significant cause for worry because much of the money shipped abroad appears to directly correlate with higher aid payments. The upshot of all this is that in addition to measures that government can take to improve governance, a concerted approach requires deeper engagement by donors and foreign partners in helping recover lost funds.

Sometimes of course money stolen from public funds is not simply whisked abroad, it is used to ferment other forms of corruption – a good example of this is political corruption. Since the dawn of multi-party politics Zambia has witnessed an unprecedented rise in political corruption. Increased electoral competition has given many social actors especially chiefs unparalleled opportunities to emerge as "kingmakers". Securing support from such “kingmakers” does not come cheap. It often involves paying significant sums of money, investment in chiefs’ places, new vehicles and other things designed to capture their support.

During the 2008 presidential bye-elections, Chief Mwene Kahare of the Nkoya people was rounded up with other chiefs, and found himself in a not so expensive lodge, he was quick to express utter disappointment at the then MMD presidential aspirant Rupiah Banda: "Those who are always flying, the MMD, had to dump us in those lodges in Kaoma and we were even starving....In the morning, it was just an order from the District Commissioner's office that 'you take them back'. I feel that was very disappointing". It appears the price of political support was not cheap, and not just for chiefs. Mr Banda achieved fame in Katete not co-opting chiefs but for alleged “food based corruption”. The then Vice President found himself under severe condemnation when pictures surfaced showing him distributing food to recipients under an effective "cash based programme", during his campaign trail.

The Katete incident is probably the high point of exposing alleged political corruption. In general, buying the electorate either through chiefs or directly has not achieved the same prominence of disgust as other corrupt vices. This may be attributed to several reasons. First, the seasonal aspect of political corruption means that it is not continuous but occurs when an election is called. Secondly, the shackled state of the Government media means that we don’t hear as much coverage as we would like. Thirdly, there’s a poor understanding of the extent and scope of political corruption. Fourthly, the lack of enforcement mechanisms to bring it to bear makes for a rather despondent subject. Finally, related to the first and fourth points is that political corruption may not necessary lead to rampant “economic” negatives. If one considers “food based corruption”, it’s quite obvious that in the short term the voter gains food. Indeed the optimal solution might be to allow all parties to dish out food as they please! In the long term of course this would clearly undermine governance either through an “arms race effect” (race to the most corrupt deviation) or through hoarding of supplies by the party in government in order to give it away at a latter stage. The real problem of course is that in so far as this form of corruption distorts individual voting patterns, it undermines electoral institutions and ensures that poor leaders remain in power.

A key determinant of successful electioneering is campaign finance which is usually sourced from multinational companies that lobby policy changes. In its purest form lobbying is perfectly legal as it simply seeks influence legislators to see the merit of a given policy proposal. To some extent we all lobby politicians all the time. The problem is the specific form of lobbying which allows people with particular interests who represent a minority to gain special access to government, and through monetary contributions and favors, develop controversial relationships with government. This constitutes a form of back door corruption, which unfortunately in Zambia is very prevalent.

One of the interesting questions we face as a nation as we chart our way forward is the extent to which the supposed reduction in public theft during the Mwanawasa years (not fully supported by real evidence beyond a few high profile cases and public utterances), has simply been substituted by more lobbying from foreign dominated firms. There's certainly influence peddling going on in our country by many multinational firms, as recently presented in a new paper, which has shown that lobbying has affected industrial competition and ultimately productivity. Add to that the fiasco of the government failure to effectively implement a fiscal regime for the mining industry, in face of very strong arm twisting (and subsequent abolition of the windfall tax). Mining has always been a sphere of much lobbying at much expense to our poor people. The report For Whom The Windfalls? catalogues the clouds that hangs over the now abolished Development Agreements (DAs), which to date has not been lifted through a credible public inquiry.

DAs sympathisers would of course say that the problem was not lobbying, but poor mismanagement on the part of government. The argument is that often public officials suffer from significant asymmetric information which puts them at a disadvantage when negotiating a deal. I am reminded of Edith Nawakwi’s plea of such ignorance in justifying the sale of mines at giveaway prices “We were told by advisers, who included the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, that not in my lifetime would the price of copper change. They put production models on the table and told us that there was no copper in Nchanga mine, Mufulira was supposed to have five years life left and all the production models that could be employed were showing that, for the next 20 years, Zambian copper would not make a profit. [Conversely, if we privatised] we would be able to access debt relief, and this was a huge carrot in front of us - like waving medicine in front of a dying woman. We had no option [but to go ahead]”. No one seriously believes Ms Nawakwi’s poor attempt to shift the blame on the IMF / World Bank, but it does illustrate that often workers are only too ready to plead incompetence rather than the more serious charges of conniving with foreign forces to defraud Zambia.

In recent months, similar challenges have emerged for external observers or law enforcement agencies in being able to distinguish between corruption and pure mismanagement. Earlier this year the Auditor General “revealed that the Zambian mission in Brussels [in 2007] spent over K1 billion on school fees, but the payments were not supported by invoices and receipts”. This clearly is a case of not following proper management practices, but it may also be the case that such practices are deliberate in order to justify theft of public funds.

A more celebrated case relates the famous purchase of hearses, which were allegedly bought at an inflated price of $29,000 per hearse when the actual price was only a third of the amount quoted. The late Minister Benny Temashimba after much pressure from political opponents declared : "I believe that there were irregularities in the transaction and if it is proved that the price of the hearses was not inflated and that the terms of conditions were adhered to, I will resign as minister on principle". The case has gone quiet and the public still awaits to understand whether this is a simple oversight / ignorance by Local Government civil servants or a more elaborate plan to defraud the State of Zambia,

Financial reward is not the only motivation for corrupt activities, other considerations usually come into play. One such vice is nepotism, the favouritism granted to relatives or friends, without regard to their merit (“tribalism” probably falls within the scope).

Town clerks are not headline makers, but Livingstone Town’s George Kalenga hit news headlines in 2007 when in a letter to all heads of departments at the council, warned : “I have observed for quite sometime now that the phenomenon of employing relations in this council, especially those falling in the category of ‘casual’ is on the increase….This sort of scenario is to a greater extent contributing to the poor performance by the said category of employees who are supposed to carry out specific duties because of our personal attachment to them”. What followed was an intense debate on the scourge of nepotism.

However, until recent times “nepotism” was rarely discussed in the press. Everyone of course knew it was there but it was not a factor of political dialogue.This is perhaps surprising because it is arguably the most prevalent form of corruption in our society. A fact which is unsurprising given the traditional nature of our society where family relations often dictate economic and social arrangements in our villages. One perhaps can go even further to say that the prevalent nature of nepotism may well be a function of undeveloped impersonal forms of exchange. The market has not fully taken hold at every level of our society and thus instead of competing on merit in every sphere, we are tied to relying on family members, etc.

In the broader scheme of things, Mr Kalenga’s sentiments appears to coincide with a growing realisation in the Third Republic that the destruction of the “One Zambia, One Nation” motto under the Chiluba Administration, was giving way to an undercurrent of growing regionalism which appears to have culminated in the emergence of the so called “family tree” under President Mwanawasa. The late President achieved some positive things during his tenure, but undoubtedly many will also remember his legacy, rightly or wrongly, as nepotistic. Interestingly, when quizzed publicly over his nepotistic tendencies, President Mwanawasa’s rehearsed rhetorical response was: “do you guys expect me to appoint or help my enemies?” No, Mr President, but we do expect you to appoint people on merit. Since his death Mwanawasa’s allies, such as George Mpombo and Amos Mapulenga, have moved swiftly to “clarify” this image.

Whatever the truth behind Mwanawasa’s appointments, it is clear that nepotism is prevalent in our society. In many ways it may be worse than other forms of corruption because it substantially weakens lines of authority and promotes incompetent people over those who are better qualified, inevitably turning the institutions of government into personal toys. More worryingly, it does not just misallocate resources but it also inevitably discriminates against capable individuals, in favour of less competent family or tribal relations. Unfortunately, its ‘quiet’ nature also makes it much more challenging to tackle. This must change if we are to make substantial headway.

So what are we to conclude? I think as one reflects between the many vices of corruption, it becomes readily clear that as a nation we face significant challenges in eliminating corruption. We should be upfront that corruption will always be here. Nepotism will always exist, so will public theft and other banes. The question is one of scale. In our reading of history and the quest to develop mechanisms for combating this social evil it is vital that we deepen our understanding of the complex issues involved. Blanket assessment of corruption makes headlines, but it does not help move the country forward.

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(NEWZIMBABWE, REUTERS) Tsvangirai faces SADC pressure to end boycott

Tsvangirai faces SADC pressure to end boycott
by Cris Chinaka
30/10/2009 00:00:00

A SOUTHERN African delegation is pressing Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC to end a cabinet boycott in an effort to resolve rifts threatening Zimbabwe's power-sharing government, a regional official said on Friday.

Tsvangirai joined arch-rival President Robert Mugabe nine months ago in a coalition to try to end a decade-long political and economic crisis, but his MDC announced a fortnight ago that it was "disengaging" from the government over a dispute with Mugabe on the implementation of the power-sharing agreement.

"We are listening to the issues and the views being raised by the two parties, and we are counselling all of them ... that it is important that they should remain engaged in the interest of the people of Zimbabwe," said an official with a Southern African Development Community (SADC) delegation which is on a two-day visit to Harare.

The MDC's decision to boycott cabinet meetings and interaction with Mugabe's Zanu PF party, illustrated the difficulties of the power-sharing deal and has further delayed efforts to rebuild Zimbabwe's shattered economy.

The SADC official, who declined to be named, said Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change should fight its cause from within the government.

"SADC is ready to help the Zimbabwe parties to reach an understanding on those matters where they have differences," he added, but declined to discuss specifics.

A three-man SADC ministerial mission, accompanied by several senior officials, met representatives of Tsvangirai's main Movement for Democratic Change, Mugabe's Zanu PF and those from a small faction of the MDC led by Arthur Mutambara, also part of the unity government.

The team is due to meet Mugabe and Tsvangirai separately later on Friday before winding up their two-day review trip.

Neither the MDC nor Zanu PF have disclosed details of their discussions with the SADC delagation. But official sources said they both presented complaints against each other.

Besides refusing to swear-in some of its members into government, the MDC accuses Zanu PF -- which it calls an "arrogant and unreliable partner" of persecuting its officials and delaying media and constitutional reforms that will be key to holding free and fair elections in about two years.

Mugabe says he has met obligations under the power-sharing deal and maintains the MDC needs to campaign for the lifting of Western sanctions against his Zanu PF, including travel restrictions and a freeze on general financial aid to Zimbabwe.

Zanu PF also says the MDC must end a propaganda campaign by its supporters abroad, and should ask its Western backers to shut down what it calls "pirate radio stations" broadcasting into Zimbabwe from Britain and the United States.

"We are owed more than we are in debt because the issues the MDC are raising are not in the global political agreement that we signed, and some of them are meant for propaganda purposes," Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa told Zimbabwe state radio. - Reuters

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(NEWZIMBABWE BLOG) ‘Constitutional crisis’ a myth

‘Constitutional crisis’ a myth
Posted By Jonathan Moyo on 29 Oct, 2009 at 1:21 pm

WILL Zimbabwe hold fresh presidential elections should the MDC-T’s so-called “partial pullout” from the coalition government become a “full pullout”?

Although there are some naive and excitable people out there who are beginning to run away with their infertile electoral imaginations at the behest of some American and European merchants of regime change, the unequivocal constitutional and legal position based on the GPA is that there is no chance in heaven that the MDC-T’s disengagement from the coalition government on the account of some weird solidarity with Roy Bennett who made his brutal fame in the murderous Rhodesian infantry will lead to a fresh presidential poll.

Not even the MDC-T’s parallel government will make that happen!

The time has come for the MDC-T and its foreign and Rhodie handlers to understand that their talk of a fresh presidential poll is only their dream which might end up as a costly nightmare for them not least because they are in conspicuous and very serious breach of Articles IV and XIX of the GPA while Zanu PF has fulfilled all its formal GPA obligations.

Parenthetically, it is useful to recall the roots of the MDC-T mindset behind its breach of the GPA that has given rise to its ill-fated expectations of a fresh presidential election.

If there is one thing that can be said with certainty about the MDC-T, it is that whenever it finds itself facing the dustbin of history, as it now does following its self-defeating decision to disengage from the coalition government, the foreigners and Rhodies who run, fund and control it routinely use their media connections to engineer political tension and to deploy their saboteurs to instigate political violence in the country which they blame on Zanu PF.

A case in point is a dangerous propaganda line which started running in the MDC-T-affiliated media last week to the effect that if this week’s meeting of GPA principals fails to accommodate the party’s demands, it would be up to the visiting SADC ministerial Troika on Politics, Defence and Security to save the situation and if that does not work, the task will fall into the hands of the presidents of Mozambique, Angola and Zambia who constitute the full SADC Troika and if they too fail to please it, the MDC-T will demand a full SADC summit and if it ends like the Troika, then the MDC-T will make its disengagement permanent by calling for fresh presidential elections run by SADC and the African Union under the supervision of the United Nations.

To give drama to this propaganda line, MDC-T spokesperson Nelson Chamisa was made to convene a widely-covered press conference on Tuesday against his better judgment where he made preposterous claims that there were growing reports of incidents of political violence and kidnappings of MDC-T activists across the country and he singled out Chiweshe in Mashonaland province as the most affected.

Chamisa further claimed, to the delight of the Rhodie media elements in attendance, that invasions of white-owned farms by “Zanu PF thugs” were now rampant.

For anyone to believe this garbage, for example that there are still white farms out there to be invaded, which is now typical of the MDC-T whenever it is cornered or whenever it loses its grip on the political situation in the country, they would have to be either from Mars or to be totally insane.

Ever since it was formed, the MDC-T has proven beyond any doubt that it succeeds only and only when Zimbabweans are suffering, when there is political violence and when the country is under the spell of political tension and instability.

No wonder then, that the only thing that the MDC-T can do successfully is to unleash negative propaganda to the point of using Rhodesian Selous Scouts tactics of deploying its saboteurs disguised as Zanu PF elements to instigate violence.

The years of hyperinflation and illegal economic sanctions were the best for the MDC-T simply because the party lacks capable and competent leaders who can address policy issues under conditions of peace and stability. Over the last eight months, the MDC-T has failed to perform or to show its leadership competence in the multi-currency economic environment.

In fact, if Zanu PF has deadwood preoccupied with policies for the people, the MDC-T has deader wood, which worries only and always about selfish posts and never about policies.

While in the vain hope of a fresh presidential election the MDC-T is now determined to subvert all national and SADC initiatives to stabilise the coalition government, and while the party likes making all sorts of noises about alleged outstanding GPA issues, its leaders and their foreign handlers along with their media hacks continue to show profound ignorance of the GPA and its constitutional and legal implications.
Even children who have read the GPA and Constitutional Amendment (No. 19) know that President Mugabe’s constitutional and legal position as Head of State, Head of Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces was not created by the GPA.

More specifically, Constitutional Amendment (No. 19), which gave legal effect to the GPA, did not create the position of the President. Instead, and this is very important for the MDC-T and its foreign handlers and media hacks to understand, both the GPA and Constitutional Amendment (No. 19) recognise President Mugabe’s position as a prior and therefore continuing fact.

Section 20.1.6(1) of the GPA, which is also captured under “Schedule 8″ of Constitutional Amendment (No. 19) clearly states that “there shall be a President, which office shall continue to be occupied by President Robert Mugabe”. The use of the word “continue” is to make it abundantly clear, for the avoidance of any doubt, that President Mugabe was legally, constitutionally and legitimately in office before the GPA was signed and before Constitutional Amendment (No. 19) was enacted.

This wording is in sharp contrast to the wording of Section 20.1.6(3) of the GPA, which is also part of “Schedule 8″ of Constitutional Amendment (No. 19), whose provision is that “there shall be a Prime Minister, which office shall be occupied by Mr Morgan Tsvangirai”.

Equivalent wording is used in both the GPA and “Schedule 8″ of Constitutional Amendment (No. 19) with reference to the two deputy prime ministers, ministers and deputy ministers who, unlike Tsvangirai, are not even named as individuals.

What this clearly means is that, whereas the coalition government’s Prime Minister, the two deputy prime ministers, who were sworn in on February 11, 2009, the ministers and deputy ministers, who were sworn in on February 13, 2009, are specific and temporary or transitional creations of the GPA and can only hold office only if the GPA holds, the same does not apply to President Mugabe, who holds office as a result of his election on June 27, 2008, and his having been sworn in on June 29, 2008, and whose term of office expires together with that of Parliament in March 2013.

While the Prime Minister, his deputies and ministers and their deputies “started” office on February 11 and 13, 2009, respectively, President Mugabe “continued” being in office and indeed administered the oath of office to those who joined him last February.

It should also be recalled and emphasised that the election of President Mugabe on June 27, 2008, and his swearing in on June 29, 2008, has never been legally challenged by anyone in any court of law or set aside by any court of law nor has it been subject of any negotiation.

As such, it is wishful thinking that a so-called “full pullout” by the MDC-T from the coalition government would mean or require a fresh presidential election ahead of March 2013.

The collapse of the GPA would mean that Tsvangirai and his cronies cease to be members of the Government and that “Schedule 8″ ceases to be part of the Constitution and that all parliamentary by-elections would be contested and that the configuration of Parliament would change.

But President Mugabe would continue as Head of State, Head of Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces with the constitutional and legal power to form and run government.

Furthermore, when the MDC-T says it will call for elections if its demands for a post for a former Rhodesian infantryman called Roy Bennett are not met, it is being childish because everyone knows that only the President can call for elections in terms of the Constitution and that elections in Zimbabwe are now harmonised such that the next elections that are due by March 2013 would have to involve presidential, parliamentary and local government polls.

In the same vein, it is idle and treacherous talk for the MDC-T to imagine that the next elections in Zimbabwe will be run by SADC and the African Union under the supervision of the United Nations. Never!

That idea alone proves that the MDC-T is a dangerous external project for regime change.

We cannot and we will not have foreign run elections simply because the MDC-T says we must have them against the law.

Section 11 of Constitutional Amendment (No. 19) Act adopted with the full support of the MDC-T establishes a new Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to organise and run all elections and referendums in Zimbabwe.

There is no room there for SADC, the African Union or the United Nations except perhaps as observers at the invitation and under the authority of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

For these reasons, it is in the interest of the MDC T and its foreign handlers and media hacks to get real or risk oblivion faster than they can say “disengagement”.

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(TALKZIMBABWE) UN Special Rapporteur's partiality questionable

UN Special Rapporteur's partiality questionable
Comment by the editor and *Mhofeti
Thu, 29 Oct 2009 23:30:00 +0000

THE diplomatic farce that was created by the visit of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture could have been avoided had he heeded the call to reschedule his visit to Zimbabwe.

It was, afterall the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs Minister, who had invited him to the country in the first place.

Mr Manfred Nowak got some communication from the Zimbabwean Government that the date that had been proposed was no longer convenient as the Sadc Troika; the Organ on Politics, Defense and Security, was coming to the country to assess the progress made by the inclusive Government.

On Tuesday, it was public knowledge that Mr Nowak was in South Africa and that he was adamant he would be visiting Zimbabwe; despite the cancellation by the Government.

Given the fact that the MDC-T party had "disengaged" from the inclusive Government, it was important that the Troika meet urgently, so that sticking issues could be resolved.

Mr Nowak was informed in time by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the cancellation of his visit; but he decided to circumvent that communication by accepting an invitation from the Prime Minister; who has "disengaged" from the inclusive Government.

In what capacity was the Special Rapporteur coming then if the Justice and Legal Affairs Ministry that had initially invited him was too busy to meet him?

Why was the Special Rapporteur dealing with a "disengaged" party rather than a "member State"?

Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa would have been busy with the Troika. He is one of the negotiators from Zanu PF. He also sits on the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee that was meeting with the Sadc Troika at the same time the Special Rapporteur was proposing to be in the country.

Mr Nowak told the BBC that Zanu PF was trying to cover-up allegations of torture by not allowing him leave to enter. This is ill-advised coming from a top envoy of an organisation that is supposed to take an impartial diplomatic approach to member state issues.

Mr Nowak should appreciate that the relationship between the UN and member states thrives on mutual respect. It is not only for Zimbabwe to respect the UN, but the reverse is also true.

By-passing the Government to accept an invitation from a member of that inclusive Government, who a few weeks before, had "disengaged" from that Government, smacks of partiality, and mischief in the worst case scenario.

The UN, of all organisations, must be the last to be caught up in incidents that unnecessarily add fuel to a simmering conflict in a member state. Needless to say that on our part, it is a diplomatic mess that we can do without especially at this critical moment.

Understandably, Mr Nowak was disappointed by the cancellation, but his handling of the conflicting signals from Zimbabwe leaves a lot to be desired.

The UN failed get into the Zimbabwean conflict as an impartial, disinterested party.

Whether the UN can be trusted to mediate between the warring parties in Zimbabwe is now a matter of debate given Mr Nowak's obvious bias towards one of them.

Mr Nowak's shocking expectation that, in spite of all the challenges currently bedevelling the inclusive Goernment, judgments be made on the basis of PM Tsvangirai’s standards, leaves the UN complicit in employing divisive tactics on a member state.

Supposing Tsvangirai successfully overrode the other party, does Mr Nowak care what kind of relations he would have left amongst the political partners of this inclusive Government?

Whilst Zimbabwe is the biggest loser in all this, the UN's reputation will also take its share of blame in this diplomatic circus.

*A Zimbabwe Guardian reader, Mhofeti, contributed to this commentary. Our thanks go to him. Please send all feedback to:

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(TALKZIMBABWE) Envoy's visit was provocative: Mumbengegwi

Envoy's visit was provocative: Mumbengegwi
Ralph Mutema
Fri, 30 Oct 2009 13:47:00 +0000

FOREIGN Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi has defended the deportation this week of the UN's Special Rapporteur on torture by the government of Zimbabwe, saying his visit was an "unwarranted, provocative act" and that the subsequent invitation by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was “a nullity”.

"This was a provocation of the highest order and a calculated move to create a diplomatic incident," Mr. Mumbengegwi said of Nowak's visit at a news conference in Harare.

"What he did is unprecedented in the history of UN protocol by forcing himself on a country.

"The government however still stands by the decision to invite professor Nowak to Zimbabwe at a mutually agreed time in spite of this unwarranted, provocative act by the special rapporteur."

Two days before Mr. Nowak's arrival, the government of Zimbabwe had rescinded the invitation to him, because of a visit by the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defense and Security (the Troika) to assess the progress made by the inclusive Government.

Mr. Nowak was formally invited by Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa on Oct. 1 to investigate torture allegations— before Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s MDC-T party “disengaged” from the Cabinet.

He would have been in the country from October 28 to November 4, 2009.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry had written to the UN in Geneva and in Harare postponing the visit to a later date. The two offices confirmed the postponement.

But Prime Minister Tsvangirai circumvented the postponement and invited Mr. Nowak to meet with him in Harare anyway, despite the fact that the original invitation was not extended by him.

Minister Mumbengegwi said he was not aware of the invitation by Prime Minister Tsvangirai, but insisted the envoy should have followed diplomatic protocol and postponed his visit until it was mutually possible to do so.

"In spite of the government's advice, the special rapporteur decided to visit Zimbabwe without an invitation from the government. This was an unprecedented deliberate violation of well-known (diplomatic) procedures," he said.

Mr. Mumbengegwi dismissed Prime Minister Tsvangirai's invitation as meaningless.

"The invitation by the Prime Minister was a nullity," he said.

Mr. Nowak spent the night at Harare international airport before being sent back to South Africa.

On Thursday, he called his treatment a "serious diplomatic incident" echoing Minister Mumbengegwi’s assertion that the trip, and Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s invitation, was meant to create “a diplomatic incident”.

Joey Bimha, the foreign ministry permanent secretary, said Mr. Nowak had been told he could not come because officials were engaged with Prime Minister Tsvangirai's temporary withdrawal from the Cabinet.

The Troika is holding talks with both Zanu PF and the two formations of the MDC Thursday and Friday to assess the progress of the Global Political Agreement, the basis for the formation of the inclusive Government.

"We had no option but to send (Mr. Nowak) back because we had informed him that his services were no longer needed here," Mr. Bimha said in a statement on Friday.

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(NEWZIMBABWE) MDC needs to reconnect with values

MDC needs to reconnect with values
by Courage Shumba
26/10/2009 00:00:00

IT MUST be stated with clarity that the failure of the MDC to concentrate on key policy issues continues to expose the hypocrisy and underlying greed behind the party’s many political manoeuvres.

The latest decision by the MDC leadership to boycott cabinet meetings yet vowing to remain in the inclusive government calls to question the character, integrity and motivation of the MDC. It further exposes the MDC’s inability to deal with key political and economic issues outside the search for luxury and privilege whilst masquerading as a revolutionary movement.

To my knowledge, the key issues at the heart of our country’s survival are still anchored on job creation, quality health care, education, law and order and building a lasting economic situation that favours sustainable growth. None of these issues have been put forward as the major reason for the decision to review the MDC’s cooperation with Zanu PF in the inclusive government.

The MDC is obsessed with the issue of governors and other high office positions and that is the reason behind this latest move and the subsequent globetrotting.

The availability of drugs, hospital staff, doctors, equipment, waiting times and medical after-care services are still a very major issue and a critical one in our health care system.

Schools are still very poorly equipped with inadequate staff and no morale, no text books, no computers, and lack of a 21st century syllabus, teaching and learning infrastructure. There are not even enough classrooms or even enough chairs for our children to sit on. There are still thousands of children of school-going age still unable to be in school because of poverty.

Our children are still roaming the streets after secondary school without any prospect of ever landing a job in the near future. What is their future and the future of children born to this generation of our troubled country, people whose worries are compounded by two parties that risk our entire future in a battle for high office and luxury? What will the change of an attorney general or a governor of a central bank that does not even manage its own currency do for them?

It is even more worrying to realise that the MDC’s fight for a fair share of governors’ positions – an unnecessary liability on the taxpayer -- is not tied to any new purpose against other pressing demands for resources. What is the role of these governors anyway? What is their new portfolio in the scope of MDC policy?

By arguing for a share of these governors’ positions, the MDC is accepting that these posts are necessary. On the contrary, it would be in the best interests of our country to abolish these posts.

It can be observed that Mugabe’s legacy for obscene luxury in a time of crisis has been inherited by the MDC. Unless a business case can be made for the honorary office of governor, I believe the MDC should avoid considering putting a fight let alone magnifying the importance of these parasitic posts without making a case and providing evidence of how the public benefits directly from having a governor. That is what we can expect from people who promised us accountable government.

The sad thing we are learning from this experience is that there are worrying shared identities and similarities between the two main political rivals in our country. None of these parties has demonstrated that they are driven selflessly to go beyond personal ambition and luxury.

It is difficult to make sense of the inconsistencies in Tsvangirai’s message about where we are and what we should expect. In London, he called on Zimbabweans to return home yet his own high ranking officials where locked up and being persecuted. Today, the same leader who wanted people back home is walking out on the same government he said was working, a government he wanted diasporas to bank their faith with.

The inconsistencies bring into question the quality of Tsvangirai’s judgement and his suitability for the post of president. What would have been the future of all the diasporas if they had acted on the wisdom of Tsvangirai and his delegation?

What is depressing from all this confusion and lack of purpose within the MDC is that again we have to choose between a dictatorship and a hopeless lot of brainwashed reactionaries who believe that being in power is an end in itself. Why is the MDC not building on key issues where there already is consensus with Zanu PF, like calling for an end to sanctions, drafting a new constitution, reforming media legislation and establishing a professional body to run elections? From transport to prisons, there is work to be done by this government.

It is a fair conclusion that the MDC was born out of the people’s frustration and desperation with Zanu PF and also that it owes much of its support to that disillusionment. If the MDC cannot prove itself as a cure to the desperation Zanu PF created, then we have a crisis. A political party that is born out of a movement to curb excesses cannot defy the principle that lies in abolishing (not fighting for) offices that are fundamentally unnecessary, created for political expediency and there to waste resources.

The task before Tsvangirai is to work with Mugabe to resolve the majority of the issues that have made it not possible for our people to live decent lives. From law enforcement, corruption, education, health, social care and dealing with the aftermath of several years of bad management and falling standards, Tsvangirai needs a fresh team of people whose brains are free from trying to outmanoeuvre and succeed him. He needs people who are not infected by a desire to be Zanu PF look-alikes within the MDC.

Tsvangirai’s party, like Zanu PF, is plagued with dishonest people who pay only lip service to the vision for a new political, economic and social order whilst emulating the crooks and vulgar lifestyles of their opponents. Such people have the rather negative energy to do to Tsvangirai what fat cats within Zanu PF did to Robert Mugabe. The result of it all is an elderly man whose contribution in his earlier years as a revolutionary is quite tragically overshadowed by his later years as a dictator.

Tsvangirai is a brave man who has fought against dictatorship with honour. His lack of education and oratory is of no consequence if those around him were able to take advantage of his bravery and the support that has been attracted to his special appeal. He will not make the best president on his own. He needs to find people who share his vision for Zimbabwe, not just a vision for MDC in power.

Politics needs continuity, fresh ideas and fresh people which is why the refusal to acknowledge this by Mugabe has pushed him into a fighting corner against an ever increasing new generation of Zimbabweans whose heroes will no longer stand out from those who tell tales, but from astute leaders who will deal with today’s pressing issues with direction and courage. The MDC needs to open its arms to new people and ideas, and not protect itself and little positions from inevitable change.

Lastly, a point must be made that this pull-out from cooperation in the cabinet is nothing radical. It is a weak, inconsequential move that only heightens tension and achieves nothing. If Tsvangirai wants to be relevant, he should deal with the real issues and do less of this tragic-comic politics of rhetoric, threats and boycotts.

For a change, many Zimbabweans would have wanted to see both the MDC and Zanu PF working flat out to ensure that this planting season is given the heart and soul of what a government can do to promote food production and self sufficiency.

For a change, I would have wanted to hear that the government of Zimbabwe is engaging the diaspora community to investment in the energy sector, or to play a role in charitable causes such as building a school or buying equipment for a hospital to save lives.

For a change, I would have wanted to hear that the government of Zimbabwe is finalising the details for a new constitution, and working together with all key partners to make headway to have it endorsed through a referendum.

I have no doubt that Tsvangirai means well. What I don’t know is if those around him share his honesty and sincerity to our cause. I can’t help but believe that Ari Ben Menashe was not the last in what Tsvangirai is going to see by way outright betrayal.

Everyone seems to believe Tsvangirai needs to bring to us a Zimbabwe served in a tray with all the courtesies of an English butler. How does everyone else fare on this national question, except blowing the whistle when Tsvangirai fouls or misses the target?

We are all in this together -- you, me, Zanu PF and even Robert Mugabe. We need to reconnect and forgive if we are to build our country to what it is capable of being.

Courage Shumba is a human rights advocate and civic activist

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