Friday, March 12, 2010

(NEWZIMBABWE) Tsvangirai U-turn on indigenisation

Tsvangirai U-turn on indigenisation
12/03/2010 00:00:00

PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has launched a surprise defence of Zimbabwe’s indigenisation laws, just weeks after calling them “null and void”.

Backpedalling from his earlier position on the controversial law which requires foreign-owned firms to cede majority shareholding to locals, Tsvangirai told a symposium in Harare that the policy was “in the best interests of the people of Zimbabwe”.

"I want to assure you that there is no intention on the part of the government to undermine investment, but to promote broad-based indigenisation and empowerment,” Tsvangirai was quoted as saying at a conference on public-private enterprise partnerships on Thursday.

He added: "Sometimes investors get alarmed when a policy is announced without clarification, but I want to assure you that the policy is in the best interests of the people of Zimbabwe.

"The policy intends to enhance local participation and, of course, not the enrichment of a few people.”

Tsvangirai furiously hit out when the government published statutory regulations of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act 2008 last month, saying he had not been consulted.

The regulations, which took effect on March 1, compel foreign-owned firms with assets of over US$500,000 to draw up plans of ceding 51 percent shareholding to “indigenous Zimbabweans” by May.
These companies then have five years to conform with the law.

On February 2, Tsvangirai declared: “I am in charge of all policy formation in the cabinet and neither myself nor the cabinet were shown these regulations before they were gazetted.

“They were published without due process detailed in the constitution and are therefore null and void.”

President Mugabe later vowed there would be no retreat. "This law will enable us to examine every large company in the country and determine whether the ownership principle has been observed," Mugabe said. "If not, then 51 percent must come to our people."

The new law could affect companies including Anglo Platinum, Impala Platinum and Aquarius Platinum, three of the world’s four biggest producers of the metal, which all own mines in the country. Old Mutual, Africa’s biggest insurer, owns properties and an insurance operation in the country. Bank operations include Barclays and Stanbic.

Tsvangirai told the conference in Harare on Thursday that there were negotiations still ongoing in government around how to spread benefits to a broad base of Zimbabweans, but not repealing the law.

He said: “We are negotiating, discussing and not with the intention of getting rid of the Indigenisation Act, but how we can create an environment that allows local participation."

The Prime Minister’s U-turn will create confusion among his supporters, with most of his MDC party’s ministers in the power sharing government with Mugabe’s Zanu PF taking the line that the new measures will drive away potential investors.

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(NEWZIMBABWE) 'We're on our own': Biti on foreign aid

'We're on our own': Biti on foreign aid
by Nelson Banya
11/03/2010 00:00:00

ZIMBABWE will have to rely on its own resources to revive its economy because foreign donors are unlikely to provide nearly enough help, Finance Minister Tendai Biti said on Thursday.

A unity government formed by bitter adversaries President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai last year says it needs at least $10 billion to fix an economy emerging from a decade-long slump. But key Western donors have withheld aid and demanded broad political reforms and assurances that Mugabe is ready to genuinely share power.

Biti, the secretary general of Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said Zimbabwe would have to finance its projected budget deficit of $810 million from its own resources.

"It's very unlikely that donors will fill that $810 million gap, we're on our own," Biti said. "Last year we got $35 million -- $30 million from South Africa and $5 million from China. 2010 is going to be worse, we have to mobilise our own resources."

Although the power-sharing government has managed to stabilise the economy after 10 straight years of decline and inflation which peaked at 500 billion percent, the country is struggling to restore productivity, feed itself and repair its ruined infrastructure.

On Thursday, Biti handed over $100 million -- from a $510 million International Monetary Fund allocation Zimbabwe received last year -- to government ministries and state enterprises for infrastructure projects ranging from water and sanitation to road construction and power generation.

The government used $50 million to purchase seed and fertiliser last year in a bid to rescue an agriculture sector hit by poor funding, planning and inadequate rains.

"The $100 million constitutes a major injection into the economy, a stimulus in our own small way," he said.

The government has also extended $19.5 million in credit lines for private sector firms. - Reuters

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Sata regrets serving in Chiluba’s govt

Sata regrets serving in Chiluba’s govt
By Patson Chilemba
Fri 12 Mar. 2010, 04:20 CAT

IT is even known in heaven that Frederick Chiluba is a thief, Patriotic Front (PF) president Michael Sata charged yesterday. And Sata said former PF secretary generals Edward Mumbi and Charles Chimumbwa are street adults who are being paid to scandalise him.

In an interview, Sata said former president Chiluba would always live with a very big load on his head because of the thief tag he acquired as a result of his thieving activities.

He said instead of pretending to be innocent, Chiluba should just own up by repenting before Zambians the sins he committed against them.

Sata said Chiluba should show more remorse than provoking Zambians through the noise he was making in the country.

"It is even known in heaven that Frederick Chiluba is a thief," Sata said.
And Sata said he was not sure about Chiluba's genuiness in his profession as a Christian.

"I am not sure about that. You must admit your offence first, that is when you can repent. So if the man has not repented, then it becomes very difficult," Sata said.

And featuring on Joy FM's platform programme yesterday, Sata said he was very ashamed to have served in Chiluba's government because it had nothing to show to the people in terms of development.

On asserions that PF-controlled councils had failed to perform, Sata said he understood local government better than Chiluba.

"I have challenged President Rupiah Banda, I don't challenge Frederick Chiluba. Frederick Chiluba just hallucinates and he has nothing, he doesn't know anything. He has to defend his shoes.

I have challenged President Banda and finance minister Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane to give us a list of how much has been released from local government to give our councils in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010," said Sata.

"Let him Chiluba tell Rupiah Banda, he is very close to Rupiah Banda, he should recover quickly. He should not go and hide in South Africa. Let him tell his brother to release the money because it is not Michael Sata or PF which promised money for drainages in Kanyama. It was Levy Mwanawasa."

Sata also said the government had deliberately chosen to abandon the mobile issuance of National Registration Cards (NRCs) in Northern Province.

He said when home affairs minister Lameck Mangani noticed that there was overwhelming response from people to collect NRCs in Chinsali, he abandoned the programme and as a result 17 centres in Chinsali that were supposed to be covered were not covered.

Sata said those attacking him like Mumbi and Chimumbwa were impoversihed adults who were being paid to scandalise him. He described the duo as crooks who did not have facts on most issues they were talking about.

Sata wondered why Southern Africa for Constructive Resolutions (SACCORD) had been deregistered, while Edwin Lifwekelo's Forum for Leadership Search, which he said was a puppet of the MMD had been allowed to continue.

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A neglected lot

A neglected lot
By The Post
Fri 12 Mar. 2010, 04:40 CAT

Today, as we have been doing over the years, we will have march-pasts by our youths to celebrate Youth Day.

Speeches will be rattled in a fashion and style that is not different from campaign slogans. But there is a message from Bishop George Lungu that we think deserves a serious hearing and consideration if we have to harbour any hope for a peaceful and prosperous future: “I feel sorry for our youths because the majority of them are a neglected lot.

Most of them have no hope in life at all, they just exist, they have no vision in life. They cannot aspire to do something, they just exist…and so we end up with a frustrated youth, and so the Youth Day is a very important day for the youths themselves to shout aloud to our churches, to the government about their concerns. We need time to reflect on their plight.

It does not help anybody to have this political statement or a church leader if there is nothing happening on the ground. This is time to act because youths are tired and we are not responding to their plight. One thing that makes me sad about the youth is that corruption has reached certain levels such that there is no hope for the youths.

Others are qualified but are failing to find employment, interviews are being held but at the same time they are held, people who interview others know already who have been employed, who have been engaged but they go public as if there is a possibility for employment for this desperate youth. So I think if we are not very, very careful, we are sitting on a time bomb.

We should take this thing very seriously because youths come to a point where they feel there is nothing to use then they do anything when chance provides and that is why in some countries you have riots, they go looting, they feel that’s the tool to survive in this cruel world.”

This cruelty against our young people will not go on forever unchallenged. And we state this with all the certainty in the world because all over the world, it is young people who are actually involving themselves in the struggle to eliminate injustice.

They are the ones who most quickly identify with the struggle and the necessity to eliminate the conditions that exist.

As Bishop Lungu has correctly observed, most of our young people have no hope in life at all. They don’t have a past, a present or a future to look back to, to look at, or to look forward to. And to borrow from Bishop Lungu, “they just exist”.

But the world is theirs, as well as ours, and in the last analysis, it is theirs. You young people, full of vigour and vitality, are in the bloom of life, like the morning sun. Our hope is placed on you. The world belongs to you. Zambia’s future belongs to you.

The young people are the most active and vital force of our nation. They are the most eager to learn and the least conservative in their thinking. We wish our politicians and their political parties could realise this and go into the question of bringing into full play the energy of our youth.

We are looking forward to a day when our politicians and their political parties will stop abusing our young people and start treating them with care and respect. Today, our young people are their hired thugs, they use them to harass, insult and beat up their political opponents. And all they pay them is packets of Chibuku, sachets of tujilijili and at best some maheu.

We should care for our youths and show concern for the growth of the younger generation. Our young people seek their growth in humanity, through their incorporation and participation in the very conduct of the personalising process.

For this reason, they should not be left out and no group or generation should reserve to itself exclusively the carrying out of political, cultural, economic or even spiritual matters.

Those who posses the power of decision-making must exercise it in communion with the desires and options of the youth. There is need to integrate the youth in all that we do, in the management of the affairs of our country, of their nation.

In order that this integration respond to the nature of our young people, it must incorporate the values that are appropriate to them.

We count upon elements and criteria that are profoundly human, an innate sense of the dignity of all, a predilection to fraternity, a recognition of our young people and their irreplaceable role in society, a wise sense of life.

We consider it irreconcilable with our country’s poverty situation to invest resources in excessive bureaucracy of political party cadres who offer nothing to the administration of the affairs of our country, luxury and ostentation or the deficient administration of the country.

In this transformation, our young people constitute the most numerous group in the population and show themselves to be a new social body with their own ideas and values desiring to create a more just society. But this is constantly being blocked by greed, vanity and corruption.

The youthful presence is a positive contribution that must be incorporated into our politics, into everything that we do.

We need to start using our young people in a positive or progressive manner. We should stop the habit or practice of engaging young people in criminal things, in practices of intolerance and brutality that bring them much closer to animals.

This constitutes a crime against the future of these youths as well as against the interest of the nation. The policies of all our political parties should be not to hire any young person for unproductive work, for criminal things. It should be the task of all our political parties to check the activities of every young person; what he does, where he works, and where he studies.

As for our young people, there is need for them to realise that what they cannot do for themselves, no one in this selfish and corrupt society will do it for them. So they should not run and try to make friends with politicians who are abusing them.

These are your enemies. Fight them, and you will get your justice, your fair deal. Don’t allow yourselves to be cheated. See things for yourself, listen for yourself and think for yourself. Don’t allow ignorance and greed to rule you.

If our young people were properly educated – by properly educated, we mean given a true picture of their situation and what has caused it – we think many young people would be less willing to be abused by unscrupulous, greedy and corrupt politicians.

They would have more respect for themselves and others and as such would refuse to be used in schemes that dehumanise others. In this way, our young people would feel more like human beings. They would function more like human beings, in a society of human beings.

So it takes proper education to eliminate these abuses of our young people. And just because we have colleges and universities doesn’t mean we have education because these can also be used to miseducate.

Therefore, we call on all our young people as they parade and march to celebrate Youth Day to think more about themselves and the lives they are living. They should ask themselves if they like the way they are living. If they don’t like it, they should meditate over what needs to be done to change their lot.

Nothing in this world will be handed to them graciously. If they are looking for a good life they will have to work for it, struggle for it, fight for it. And there is no dignified alternative for this. It is their duty to struggle for the establishment in our country of a more just, fair and humane society.



COMESA, ACTESA sign deal on agricultural programmes

COMESA, ACTESA sign deal on agricultural programmes
By Fridah Zinyama
Fri 12 Mar. 2010, 08:30 CAT

COMESA and Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA) have signed an agreement on the implementation of agricultural programmes in the region. The agreement is meant to map out regional initiatives in agriculture trade and investment.

These include development of regional agricultural policies; promotion of investment in agriculture; promotion of trade in agro-commodity products and development and marketing structures; development of agriculture, livestock, pastoral and fisheries sectors and consultation with the private sector.

During the signing ceremony at Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) secretariat last week, COMESA secretary general Sindiso Ngwenya (above) said ACTESA was a practical agency meant to realise the provisions of the COMESA treaty that had not yet been implemented.

“COMESA is happy that ACTESA is doing all the practical things we have not been able to do and it is a realistic vehicle for the CAADP vision,” he said.

Ngwenya said COMESA had great potential in staple crops and was happy that ACTESA was an entity that would focus on linking small-scale farmers to markets.

“Discussions are also under way to allow ACTESA to be an agency serving tripartite regional economic groupings comprising of Southern African Development Community, COMESA and East African Community (EAC),” Ngwenya said.

And ACTESA chief executive officer Dr Cris Muyunda said ACTESA would focus on helping farmers who had low production levels, participation on markets and incomes.

“As an alliance, we will be innovative and will target results in agricultural outreach, trade increase and productivity increase,” he said.

Dr Muyunda said they would practically implement and scale up successful models in market development, market expansion and food security enhancement.

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PAZA describes deregistration of SACCORD as arbitrary

PAZA describes deregistration of SACCORD as arbitrary
By Masuzyo Chakwe
Fri 12 Mar. 2010, 09:10 CAT

RONNIE Shikapwasha’s deregistration of SACCORD was arbitrary, Press Association of Zambia (PAZA) vice president Amos Chanda has said.

Commenting on the High Court’s decision to uphold the deregistration of Southern African Centre for Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD), Chanda yesterday said the decision by the minister to deregister SACCORD was arbitrary because the reasons given were vague.

Information minister Lieutenant General Shikapwasha in 2004 as home affairs minister deregistered SACCORD on grounds that it engaged in activities that were inimical and a danger to national security but the institution appealed to the High Court.

The High Court last week upheld the decision of the minister to deregister the organisation.
Chanda said there was no clear demonstration that SACCORD threatened national security.

He said it was not justifiable in a democratic society for ministers to arbitrarily use sweeping statements such as national security.

Chanda said this took away the fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals which in this case took away the right to assembly and free expression.

“That is why we are concerned as PAZA because we promote free expression and by deregistering SACCORD, the effect is that freedom of expression has been violated because the reason they associate as an umbrella of SACCORD is for purposes of free expression,” he said.

He said PAZA was alarmed that in a democratic society, such high-handed decisions must be meted out against citizens.

Chanda said while PAZA respected the court decisions, they were saddened that the High Court upheld such a decision.

“Whilst we respect the independence and integrity of the judiciary, we disagree with the decision of the High Court to endorse such an arbitrary action by the Minister of Home Affairs,” said Chanda.

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People have right to defend themselves through the media, says Kunda

People have right to defend themselves through the media, says Kunda
By Ernest Chanda
Fri 12 Mar. 2010, 08:20 CAT

VICE-PRESIDENT George Kunda has said Frederick Chiluba has been a subject of ridicule since 2001.

Supporting the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) amendment bill, which came up for second reading in Parliament, Vice-President Kunda said people had a right to defend themselves through the media once they were attacked.

Vice-President Kunda said it was necessary for those attacking people to know that those they attacked were also bound to react through the same media.
“Some of us in government have been the subject of abuse for a long time. We have been insulted relentlessly, sometimes for three years. Lies everyday, vulgar language or fabrications,” Vice-President Kunda said. “When some of us on this side react, maybe once, you will find people crying continuously.

For example, one of the former presidents has been the subject of abuse since 2001. He just reacted once and people were complaining. You see this is a time we must also react continuously, either through public media or private media. Some of the people crying have used vulgar language before.

Through the state or private media, we are entitled to defend ourselves. We will just say something and everybody will be crying. They have become disoriented just because we've reacted; just a single dose of their own medicine.”

The bill seeks to, among other things, remove the Appointments Committee for ZNBC board, provide for the collection of television levy by various agents such as television receivers and tuner retailers on behalf of ZNBC, and empower the Minister of Information to exempt some persons and organisations from paying television levy.

Vice-President Kunda said it was important to remove unnecessary bureaucracies and restore power to the Minister of Information.

He said the Appointments Committee as contained in the current ZNBC Act was notorious and meant to favour people from NGOs.

“We must remove the Appointments Committee and restore power to the minister to appoint boards. He must enjoy that power to constitute boards. As for those saying the bill has not been operationalised, it is not true because the bill has already been operationalised.

There was an Appointments Committee that was provided. That committee was of one view and notorious,” Vice -President Kunda debated as deputy chairperson of committees Mkhondo Lungu cautioned him against using unparliamentary language. “It was composed of NGO Non-Governmental Organisation leaders with alliances with certain political parties; they were partisan.

And they were about to recommend their friends who had the same view. As a result we went to the courts, the court guided us that it's the minister who should appoint board members. So why create bureaucracies even on the ZNBC board, which has been operating professionally. We want to restore powers of the minister to appoint boards.”

Opposing the bill earlier, chairperson of the parliamentary committee on information and broadcasting, Mwansa Kapeya, said the 2002 ZNBC Act had not been operationalised fully.

“… I would like to indicate from the outset that your committee has a lot of reservations on certain aspects of the bill and do not, therefore, support it in its entirety. As the House must be aware, the Act that this bill is seeking to amend, the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation Amendment Act No. 20 of 2002, has not been operationalised, now almost eight years since its enactment and what we have seen is the lifting of one aspect of the Act, the television licence fees, now to be called a levy, being implemented,” Kapeya said.

“First things should be done first. What the government should have done is to operationalise the law that was meant to make ZNBC a truly public broadcaster before asking the public to support its operations through tax or levy. As it is, out of the whole law, only one aspect of it, the television levy has been operationalised and this is a source of worry for most Zambians.”

Kapeya said the committee further viewed that ZNBC had provided unfair competition to other television stations through its engagement in commercial advertising.

“While agreeing that the national broadcaster should be sustained by funds from the government through taxes, your committee notes that the public broadcaster is also involved in commercial advertising, thereby taking the market from private broadcasters who do not receive any help from government.

Your committee therefore recommend that ZNBC be restricted in its involvement in commercial advertising, as is the practice in countries like the UK where the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) receives huge funding from levies and is, therefore, only allowed to advertise on a limited and specified scale,” said Kapeya.

Roan member of parliament Chishimba Kambwili argued that ZNBC did not provide balanced coverage as a public broadcaster.

“ZNBC is very imbalanced in as far as broadcasting is concerned. Every time you tune to their channel, you can even predict the sequence of people to appear on the news. You can tell that it's President Rupiah Banda, the Vice-President, ministers, and now street adults like Charles Chimumbwa, Mumbi Edward,” Kambwili said as he was cautioned against mentioning people who could not defend themselves. “No body speaking against government will be aired on ZNBC TV.

I have personally gone there to express my views on several national issues and such views have not been aired. Even reporters will tell you that this will not be aired because there is a committee, which sits at 16:00 hours to gauge the news, and it includes people from the Office of the President.

Governments come and go, and tomorrow you will be in the opposition and the same law will visit you.”
Mazabuka Central member of parliament Gary Nkombo complained that ZNBC has been a tool of abuse by the government to attack opposition politicians.

“ZNBC has been a tool of abuse by the government; abused to a point where the paying of K3000 TV licence fee amounts to extortion. One of its functions now is to promote propaganda,” Nkombo said. “In this instance, even Mr George Kunda… can be given space to disparage people. Each time you speak to these ministers individually they speak well. But when they speak collectively, they begin to hallucinate.“

Nkombo said Zambians needed to be told the truth by the government.
“And if they want to use ZNBC to fool people, my message is that 'you can fool some people some time but you can't fool all the people all the time',” Nkombo said.

“They have allowed disparaging remarks from the Vice-President, that man sitted over there. They have gone to the extent of even believing their own lies. This bill would have been welcome in a balanced society where people live at the same frequency, not where you have to concoct something for you to survive in government. You can run but you can't hide, that's the basic principle, ask Dr Katele Kalumba.”

Monze UPND member of parliament Jack Mwiimbu argued that the bill would confer propaganda rights on the MMD.

“During the Iraq war, we had a propaganda chief for the Iraq government called Chemical Ali. And now we have the same scenario in the name of ZNBC. This bill is intended to confer rights of propaganda on the MMD as we approach elections. The Vice-President has called the current law mischievous, but that same law was recommended by the MMD government under Levy Mwanawasa,” Mwiimbu said.

“Unfortunately, that progressive Son of Zambia is no more. ZNBC is not a public broadcaster, as it is now a propaganda wing.”

When deputy chairperson of committees Mkhondo Lungu asked a question as to who supported the bill and who did not, those who supported the bill got it.

This prompted the opposition members to call for a division, which was granted.
And after an electronic voting was conducted, 85 people were in support of the bill, 45 were against, while 2 people abstained.

Lungu announced that the bill had gone through and called for it to be read the third time.
The result attracted shouts of victory from the executive's side as some of them waved their hands in joy, while others were heard shouting “Boma ni Boma!”

Another female MMD parliamentarian was heard shouting “Namu 2011 efyo cikaba! (It will be like this even in 2011).”

And according to results as shown on the plasma screen, among opposition members of parliament who voted with the ruling party were Elizabeth Chitika-Mulobeka for Kawambwa Central, Dr Bernard Chisha for Pambashe, and his Chifunabuli counterpart Ernest Mwansa.

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Fight for online freedom of expression is crucial - Reporters Without Borders

Fight for online freedom of expression is crucial - Reporters Without Borders
By Chibaula Silwamba
Fri 12 Mar. 2010, 08:10 CAT

THE fight for online freedom of expression is more essential than ever, France-based Reporters Without Borders has stated. In a message to mark the World Day Against Cyber Censorship which falls this Friday, Reporters Without Borders head of the new media desk Lucie Morillon stated that “The fight for online freedom of expression is more essential than ever. By creating new spaces for exchanging ideas and information, the Internet is a force for freedom. However, more and more governments have realised this and are reacting by trying to control the Internet,” Morillon stated.

“Reporters Without Borders will mark the occasion by issuing its latest list of ‘Enemies of the Internet.’

This list points the finger at countries such as Iran, China, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia that restrict online access and harass their citizens. A list of countries that have been placed ‘under surveillance’ for displaying a disturbing attitude towards the Internet will also be released.”

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Police summon Mongu town clerk over violence threats

Police summon Mongu town clerk over violence threats
By Mwala Kalaluka
Fri 12 Mar. 2010, 07:40 CAT

POLICE have opened a docket for Mongu town clerk Frank Kalenga after a female MMD councillor complained that he wanted to manhandle her over a petition that seeks to remove him from office. But Kalenga said although councillor Dawn Mumbwe dared him to beat her if he were a man, he told her to get lost because she were already dead.

Sources said Mumbwe complained against Kalenga on grounds that he threatened to beat her up recently. The sources said the issue arose from a petition that had been signed by 15 out of the 33 councillors, urging Mongu Mayor George Simushi to call for a special council meeting that sought to address the management problems at the local authority.

“Our council has a lot of problems and so we have petitioned based on several reasons,” the source said.
The source said one of the issues that needed to be probed was the dubious allocation of plots at the new Kasima area.

“We are in a fix by Kalenga. We want him removed. We have since petitioned the minister of local government, which we also gave the mayor but he says he has not seen it,” the source said. “Kasima land was given by the Litunga. The land was surveyed but what happened is that it was not well surveyed and most of the plots have been allocated dubiously.”

The source said the councillors wanted to know how many plots had been allocated and how much had been realised.

“Money for a play park in Mongu has been mismanaged and council resolutions are not being implemented,” the source said.

The source said the council public toilet project that gobbled K169 million had not only been condemned by the Ministry of Health owing to its location, but had also stalled.

“Houses are being gutted in Mongu and people are dying because the fire tender is a white elephant despite money having been released from the ministry to repair it,” the source said. “There is a total breakdown of systems and tribalism is quite rife and the other thing is that the mayor and the town clerk boycotted International Women’s Day. So the council women did not march.”

The source said Kalenga wanted to beat Mumbwe on suspicion that she orchestrated the petition to remove him from office.

But Kalenga, who confirmed that Mumbwe had reported him to the police, described the action as “Mongu politics that is based on tribalism.”

“That is the same nonsense from the same group that continues. I have no time to beat people because beating people is failing to reason,” Kalenga said. “She came to me and said ‘if you are a man beat me’ but I said she is already dead and I told her to get lost.”

Mayor Simushi said he had not received the councillors’ petition but only heard rumours that Kalenga wanted to beat Mumbwe.

Simushi claimed that Mongu Council was performing very well and the allocation of plots at Kasima area had been conducted in line with procedures.

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Gap between the rich, poor saddens WFP

Gap between the rich, poor saddens WFP
By Abigail Chaponda in Ndola
Fri 12 Mar. 2010, 07:00 CAT

WORLD Food Programme (WFP) country director Pablo Recalde has observed that there is a lot of poverty in Zambia because of the unevenly distribution of wealth between the poor and the rich.

In an interview after the launch of the WFP food voucher programme in Ndola at Mukuba Hotel yesterday, Recalde said WFP hoped to turn the poor in Zambia into an investment power to lead the charge towards long term sustainable growth.

“There is a lot of poverty in Zambia because of a combination of factors. Zambia has got poverty mainly because the poor cannot access wealth. There is a big margin between the poor and the rich, we have very poor people and very rich people. In short there is unevenly distribution of wealth,” Recalde said.

“On top of that, there is no diversification. Zambia depends more on copper that does not produce a lot of employment. Agriculture is important in a country and if there is diversification, poverty levels in the country can reduce. Zambia has got land that can be used for agriculture so that there is food security in the country.”

He said there was need to break the cycle of poverty in Zambia by concentrating on agricultural activities.

Recalde said Zambia’s economy improved last year because a lot of attention was put on agriculture.

“WFP has transitioned from being just a food aid agency to a food assistance agency fighting hunger worldwide, looking for long-term solutions to the hunger problem that affects more than a billion people worldwide.

As WFP we seek to leverage our hunger response to provide sustainable livelihoods and a future to the poor and the hungry, we are hoping to turn the poor into an investment power to lead the charge towards long term sustainable growth,” he said.

Recalde said WFP had introduced a programme that would sustain the livelihoods of people and solutions to hunger called SLASH that aimed at delivering food based solutions such as food vouchers as a social safety net in areas where access to staple food commodities amongst the vulnerable poor was highly affected by poverty, malnutrition and HIV/AIDS.

He said the United Nations through WFP was currently assisting over 3,000 households in Ndola with food through the food voucher programme.

Reclade said WFP’s goal was to ensure that Zambia was food secure.

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Lumwana Mine records $195.7m profit

Lumwana Mine records $195.7m profit
By Mutale Kapekele
Fri 12 Mar. 2010, 08:20 CAT

LUMWANA Mine has recorded a US $195.7 million net profit for the 2009 production year.

Announcing the 2009 production results, via a global conference call on Wednesday, Equinox Minerals - the owners of Lumwana - president and chief executive officer Craig Williams said the mine achieved solid financial performance in its first year of production.

“The company recorded an operating profit for the year of $195.7 million and at year end held cash reserves of US $109.1 million,” Williams said.

“Operating costs for the year averaged US $1.49 per pound of copper. The company is continuing to focus on cost management initiatives as Lumwana ramps up to full production.”

He said the Equinox raised C$184,023,000 through the issuance of 102,235,000 common shares of the company.

“Strong first annual copper production of 109,413 tonnes of copper in concentrate was delivered with Lumwana steadily improving towards nameplate capacity,” Williams said.

“Operating profit achieved was of US $195.7 million. This operating profit is stated for the nine month period ended December 31, 2009 due to commercial production commencing April 1, 2009.”

He said operating profit was subsequently offset by non-cash derivative instrument losses resulting from the rising copper price leading to a net loss position, after tax, of US $183.1 million.

“This is primarily related to the remaining hedge book being marked to market at a copper price that has strengthened throughout the reporting period,” he said.

“Revenue was positively impacted by the same rising copper price. Realised copper price, net of smelter treatment charges, was US $2.61 per pound and 20,402 tonnes of payable copper was provisionally priced at $3.33 per pound US ,356 per tonne and remained subject to final pricing adjustment during the first quarter of 2010.”

He said the mine improved productivity, with total annual ore production of 13.1 million tonnes being achieved.

“The ramp up to full production of the Lumwana Mine will continue through the first half of 2010, with a target of achieving design throughput rate of 20 mt per annum for the mine and mill in second half of the year,” he said.

Williams said the target 2010 production guidance remained at 135,000 tonnes [300 M lbs) of copper in concentrate at a cash cost of $1.35/lb Cu.

Williams also said the Lumwana project achieved an excellent health and safety record.

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(LUSAKATIMES) Zambia risked incurring huge loans-IMF Managing Director

Zambia risked incurring huge loans-IMF Managing Director
Thursday, March 11, 2010, 21:15

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said today that Zambia risked incurring huge loans if the country continues borrowing from other countries.

Speaking at State House today during a meeting with President Rupiah Banda, Mr. Strauss-Kahn advised government to get loans that the country would be able to pay back to avoid huge debt burden.

Speaking at the same function , President Banda hailed the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for undertaking ambitious reforms aimed at enhancing the governance of IMF and economic well being of member states.

President Banda said the reforms, aimed at making the fund’s financial support more flexible and better tailored to the diverse needs of low income countries, were particularly important for countries like Zambia.

Mr. Banda said he was aware that Zambia has benefited from the reforms with resources amounting to US$260 million in 2009 and this year under the extended credit facility.

The president said the IMF and Zambia share a common goal of reducing poverty through macro-economic stability adding that government would continue working closely with the Fund.

The president said however that his government remained committed to addressing the problem of infrastructure and improving the business environment despite the financial limitations. He said the country looked for China for support because it needed financing at concessionary rates to build the necessary infrastructure.
Mr. Banda said his government looked forward to continued collaboration so that more progress could be made for the benefit of the Zambian people.

The president said he acknowledged the role IMF played in reducing the country’s debt burden through the highly indebted poor countries initiative (HIPC).

He said although the debt burden had been reduced and a lot achieved in terms of freeing resources for economic development, there were still a lot of challenges in terms of economic development and poverty reduction.

Among the challenges the country was facing were lack of sufficient infrastructure especially in the road, railways and energy sectors.

Mr. Banda said before the reduction of the debt under HIPC, the country was able to access funding under the international development Association (IDA).

“Now that we have achieved debt sustainability, our access to IDA funding had diminished despite our huge developmental needs. This has limited the extent to which we can implement development projects,” President Banda said.

The president said however that his government remained committed to addressing the problem of infrastructure and improving the business environment despite the financial limitations. He said the country looked for China for support because it needed financing at concessionary rates to build the necessary infrastructure.

Mr. Banda said he was delighted that IMF chief decided to include Zambia among the countries he was visiting because it has consolidated the relationship Zambia has with IMF


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(GLOBALRESEARCH) Africa's Land and Family Farms - Up for Grabs?

Africa's Land and Family Farms - Up for Grabs?
by Joan Baxter
Global Research, February 18, 2010
GRAIN - 2010-01-02

Over the years many Big Ideas have been imposed on Africa from outside. The latest is that the region should sell or lease millions of hectares of land to foreign investors, who will bring resources and up-to-date technology. None of the blueprints has worked, and African farmers have become increasingly impoverished. It is time for Africans to turn to their own histories, knowledge and resources.

In the early 1990s, when I was living in northern Ghana, an elderly woman farmer decided that I needed some education. In a rather long lecture, she detailed the devastating effects that the Green Revolution - the first one, which outside experts and donors launched in Africa in the 1960s and 70s - had had on farmers' crops, soils, trees and lives. She said that the imported seeds, fertilisers, pesticides and tractors, the instructions to plant row after row of imported hybrid maize and cut down precious trees that protected the soils and nourished the people - even the invaluable shea nut trees - had ruined the diverse, productive farming systems that had always sustained her people.

When she finished, she cocked an eye at me and asked, with a cagey grin, "Why do you bring your mistakes here?" By "you" I think she meant the people - foreigners and Africans in their employ - who tramp all over the continent implementing big development ideas. These great schemes are generally concocted even higher up the decision-making chain in distant world financial capitals, often by free-market economists, bankers and billionaire philanthropists who wouldn't know a shea nut from a peanut.

At the time, I had no answer to her question. But now, two decades later, I think I do. It's taken years of patient teaching by African farmers from Zambia to Uganda, from Kenya to Cameroon and Mali. And, most recently, it was all summed up clearly for me by members of COPAGEN, a coalition of African farmer associations, scientists, civil society groups and activists who work to protect Africa's genetic heritage, farmers' rights, and their sovereignty over their land, seeds and food. These knowledgeable people have shown me that the answer is quite straightforward: many of those imported mistakes, disguised as solutions for Africa, are very, very profitable, at least for those who design and make them.

Not, however, for the average African farming family or even the average African whose interests, they would have us believe, are being served by the big plans for progress and development. There have been many such schemes over the years, nearly all of them promoting the unfettered free market and the re-regulation of the private sector; that is, the regulations that curtailed their cowboy capitalism had to be lassoed and put down so that new ones to protect their profitable stampede over the public sector could be put in place.

Hence all those years of structural adjustment programmes in Africa, poverty reduction or alleviation schemes, the first Green Revolution and liberalised trade that cranked open Africa's doors to the dumping on the continent of cheap imports and subsidised foodstuffs, which stifled African industries and undermined African farmers who, the same free-market gurus paradoxically said, should not be subsidised.

Triple whammy

These monetarist schemes have helped to make Africa poorer and ever more dependent on foreign donor and investor capital, and thus more vulnerable to still more of the Big Ideas and never-ending plans to profit from Africa while pretending to develop it. So that now, even as Africans struggle to confront the triple whammy of the global food crisis, the financial crisis and climate change - all offspring of the unfettered free-market financial system - the same big planners are at it again with more of the same mistakes disguised as solutions for Africa.

These days, they're blowing a perfectly awful storm all the way across Africa, this one designed to strike right at the heart of the continent - its farms and the families and communities that work them, who account for 70 per cent of Africa's population. If left to blow itself out, African farmers may find themselves, one day in the not-so-distant future, without land to cultivate, their social structures and communities destroyed. They may find themselves without seed to call their own to share with each other. The crop varieties their forefathers had developed will have been "improved" and then privatised by foreigners who claim exclusive rights over their use. Crucial water catchment areas and vast tracts of woodland needed to combat climate change will have been converted to vast water- and fossil-fuel-guzzling industrial plantations for food and agrofuels, all run by giant agribusinesses and foreign investors, absent landlords and bosses who may never in their lavish lives have soiled their soft hands in a farm field.

The latest Big Idea is for massive "foreign direct investment" (FDI) in Africa, and especially African agriculture, by countries, donors, financial institutions, corporations, everyone who's anyone in the upper echelons of the world's financial architecture, anyone awash with capital on the look-out for high returns.

The spin on FDI is that it offers Africa wondrous "opportunities", a "win-win" situation, the only way to eradicate hunger and poverty. And just to make sure there's absolutely nothing impeding the onslaught of investment, so-called donor nations, working in cahoots with their corporate partners, international financial institutions and development banks, are busy helping African governments to "harmonise" laws across the continent to "improve the legal framework for business", to set up "one-stop shops" for investors, to "secure" landholdings by privatising them, and to open the doors for genetically modified (GM) crops and for the patenting of crop and tree varieties.

Across the continent, presidents are toeing the line, going along with the spin, pleading for still more foreign investment, literally putting their countries up for auction. The Tony Blair Foundation, and indeed the former British prime minister himself, invited rich and powerful investors to a meeting of the special Consultative Group on Sierra Leone in November 2009, at which the impoverished West African nation was, in essence, offering up its resources on a silver platter to foreign investors interested in land, diamonds, bauxite ... whatever the war-ravaged country still has left to sell. Apparently, however, the investors didn't need to come to Sierra Leone to stake out their claims; rather than hold the Great Sierra Leone Sale in Freetown, the Tony Blair Foundation decided to host it in London.

School of neoliberal dogma

As if there were no tomorrow, African leaders, well schooled in the neoliberal dogma of the World Bank and Wall Street, are welcoming the land-grabbing "investors" who are flocking to Africa to acquire vast tracts of land to produce food crops or agrofuels, depending on which would be most profitable at any given moment in the market. Some are just speculators, plain and simple, grabbing chunks of Africa as an investment, the new favourite hedge fund.

It is almost impossible to know just how much of Africa has been sold or leased out in the past two years because the deals are shrouded in secrecy and happening at such a pace that GRAIN works daily to try to keep up with the deals on its farmlandgrab website.1

More than US$100 billion has been mobilised in the past two years for investing in land, the trick being, according to one analyst "not to harvest food but to harvest money".2 There are estimates that in this period, 30 million hectares (an area the size of Senegal and Benin together) have been grabbed, in at least 28 countries in Africa.3 Ethiopia is offering more than a million hectares of what it calls "virgin" land to foreign investors.

Almost a third of Mozambique is, quite literally, up for grabs. It was just such a land investment deal between the South Korean company, Daewoo, and the former president of Madagascar, which would have accorded Daewoo about half of the country's arable land for industrial monoculture - production of food and agrofuels for export to Korea - that contributed to the political turbulence and the overthrow of President Ravalomanana, and the apparent cancellation of that particular deal. There is sure to be more political turbulence and conflict, neither of which Africa needs, as Africans realise what is happening to their land and farms.

Along with the African governments and chiefs who are happily and quietly selling or leasing the land out from under their own people, those running the show at the global level include the World Bank, its International Finance Corporation (IFC), the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and many other powerful nations and institutions. The US Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is busy reforming landownership laws in its member countries and proud to be doing so, as I found out in their Benin office. Such privatisation threatens to destroy traditional communal approaches to land ownership in Africa, but it will make it easier to sell or lease land to foreign investors.

Jacques Diouf, Director General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), originally called the land-grabbing a system of "neo-colonialism",4 but since then the FAO appears to have joined the ranks of the World Bank et al., who support the land-grabbing and are working towards a "framework" that will promote "responsible" investment to make it a "win-win" situation.5 Which means, of course, that there will be lots of fancy rhetoric, lofty promises, high-level meetings and conferences, and business will continue as usual. Africans lose-lose, investors win-win.

Investors never have been, are not, and never will be in the business of helping hungry Africans to feed themselves and to solve the problem of food insecurity, which has been so aggravated by earlier Big Ideas to liberalise trade and revolutionise agriculture. The offshore farming of food or of agrofuels for export, or just as investment, is big business. For profit.

The greenwash factor

GRAIN and COPAGEN say that those grabbing Africa's farmland are as diverse as they are numerous. They note the complicity of African governments and say that some African "barons" are also snapping up land. Some grabbers are countries anxious to secure their own future food supplies, such as China, India, Japan and other Asian countries, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States and Libya. Other land-grabbers are buying and leasing vast tracts of land in Africa as a lucrative investment, or, as one analyst puts it, "an asset like gold, only better".6 Among them are multinational agribusinesses, and investment houses, such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, that cater to the super-rich. Others getting in on the new land rush are energy and mining companies, who greenwash their fuel-guzzling industrial plantation schemes in an attempt to cash in on public goodwill to try to tackle climate change with large-scale production of agrofuels from food crops such as palm oil, sugarcane and maize, or non-food crops such as jatropha. All of these require enormous amounts of water - and fossil fuels that cause climate change - to produce. And this on land that should be in the hands of farming families.

Ah yes, Africa's farm families. Those are the people for whom there is another Very Big Idea going on. It's the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), which claims to be working in smallholder farmers' interests by "catalysing" a green revolution in Africa. Yes, another one. AGRA's Green Revolution Number Two is being bankrolled primarily by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, along with the Rockefeller Foundation, which bankrolled Green Revolution Number One. But it has roped in many major development banks, UN agencies and the CGIAR (among others) for the massive undertaking of revolutionising African agriculture. AGRA is run by several people with close ties to the biotech monster Monsanto, and, just like Green Revolution Number One, it recommends "modern" technological solutions such as imported fertilisers and purchased seeds. While it denies that GM crops are necessarily involved, the Gates Foundation has also offered US$5.4 million to the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, a US institute funded heavily by Monsanto, to expedite the acceptance by African governments of GM crops for field testing.7 One does want to ask the worshippers of modern technology and proponents of industrial models of commercial agriculture and agribusiness why, when these are supposedly so productive, they are so heavily subsidised in Europe and the US. To render African agriculture commercially profitable, as AGRA aims to do, the Gates Foundation admits (not publicly, but in a leaked document) that it may eventually be necessary to promote "land mobility", doublespeak for smallholder farmers being removed from their land.8

AGRA closes the gates

Before it set out to re-invent the African farm, did AGRA revisit liberalised trade policies that have suppressed prices for African produce and hurt Africa's farmers? Did it examine the economic dogma imposed on Africa that destroyed agricultural extension programmes and reduced government spending on agricultural investment, research and infrastructure? Did it do its homework and take stock of the countless studies of the myriad advantages of resilient, holistic, small-scale farms that rely on the sharing of local seed varieties and traditional knowledge and crop/tree diversity and that reduce risks? Did it examine ways to promote and improve these environmentally sustainable systems? Did it pay more than lip service to the landmark study, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), carried out by dozens of scientists over many years and initiated by the World Bank itself, which in April 2009 concluded that agro-ecological agriculture by smallholder farmers was the best solution of all? The answer to all of these questions is: No.

More importantly, did AGRA even engage with Africa's farmers and involve them in its big plans? Not according to Simon Mwamba of the Eastern and Southern Africa Small-Scale Farmers' Forum. Speaking at a dialogue on AGRA organised by Olivier De Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Mwamba quipped, "You come. You buy the land. You make a plan. You build a house. Now you ask me, what colour do I want to paint the kitchen? This is not participation!"9

The experts and billionaires with Big Ideas that are bound to profit multinational agribusinesses, foreign investors, hunger-profiteers and greenwashers - all of whom masquerade as Africa's saviours and mentors - have already drawn budget lines and battle lines in Africa's soils, without bothering to inform Africa's farmers of the intended fate of their land and their livelihoods. By any stretch of the imagination, it's hardly a fair fight. On one side, many of the richest and most powerful people, institutions and nations on earth, working in alliance with African governments that toe the line. On the other, some of the poorest people on earth, African farmers' associations and coalitions such as COPAGEN, and NGOs such as GRAIN, Friends of the Earth in Africa and the African Biosafety Network, who are struggling to inform African governments about the high stakes of these schemes that threaten not just their food and seed sovereignty, but the sovereignty of their land and even African nations themselves. These groups would like African leaders to stop believing that wads of foreign cash and Big Ideas are the solution for the continent, and look instead to their own histories, knowledge and resources to promote family farming systems that offer a range of social, economic and environmental advantages over all those imported notions and plans spawned by free-market dogma and riding tsunamis of foreign capital. Put forward as solutions even though - as I learned all those years ago - they are often just very big and very dangerous mistakes for Africa.

Joan Baxter is a Canadian journalist and writer who has been reporting on Africa for over two decades.




3 Patrick Piro, "La course aux terres ne faiblit pas", Politis, No. 1029, 17 September 2009.

4 Javier Blas, "UN warns of food neo-colonialism", Financial Times, 19 August 2008.

5 Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, "Promoting responsible international investment in agriculture", 29 September 2009:

6 Chris Mayer, "This asset is like gold, only better", DailyWealth, 4 October 2009:,-only-better

7 Friends of the Earth (FOE) Ghana; Togo; Nigeria; Cameroon; Sierra Leone; Tunisia; Swaziland; South Africa; Mauritius, AGRA & Monsanto & Gates, Green Washing and Poor Washing, 6 April 2009:

8 Raj Patel, Eric Holt-Gimenez & Annie Shattuck, "Ending Africa's Hunger", The Nation, 21 September 2009:

9 Ibid.

Global Research Articles by Joan Baxter

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(NEWZIMBABWE) ZINASU fingers MDC over violent attacks

ZINASU fingers MDC over violent attacks
11/03/2010 00:00:00

PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party has been accusing of exhibiting “behaviour typical of, if not worse than Zanu PF” after four student leaders needed hospital treatment following a brutal assault by alleged MDC youths at a rally last Saturday.

The Zimbabwe National Students Union said its president Tafadzwa Mugwadi, secretary general Kurayi Hoyi, its secretary for legal affairs Archieford Mudzengi and treasurer Tafadzwa Kutya were victims of “rampant beating ... by a group of MDC youths who were clearly mobilised by individuals working in the Prime Minister's office, in an apparently rehearsed incident”.

The National Constitutional Assembly also weighed in, condemning what it described as “barbaric and sadistic behaviour especially coming from the MDC, a key ally in the pro-democracy movement”, and claimed the attacks “happened in the full glare of the MDC leadership including its president, Morgan Tsvangirai.”

The NCA and ZINASU said the attacks took place at a public memorial for Tsvangirai’s late wife, Susan, at the Glamis Stadium in Harare. Nelson Chamisa, the MDC’s spokesman, said the party was unaware of the alleged attacks but promised an “urgent enquiry”.

He said: “I can confirm I was there at the stadium, but I did not see anybody being assaulted. There was no contestation of any kind, we were remembering a national heroine, so I don’t see any reason why people will go all the way to beat up anybody which is against the philosophy of the MDC.

“The MDC is a party of doves, we believe in peace. If we are associated with violence, it is only as victims.

"But if it is true, which I doubt, that some among us have turned from victims into perpetrators, that’s not only tragic but unfortunate.”

ZINASU fingered three top officials in Tsvangirai’s office as responsible for the attacks – his chief of staff Ian Makone, his director for public affairs Dennis Murira and top aide Jacob Mafume.

The students’ union said: “If the MDC is declaring war on ZINASU, they should come out clear and ZINASU is ready for the fight to protect the legacy and the broader student fraternity aspirations of Zimbabwe.

“These attacks on student leaders by these hired-misguided MDC thugs have happened in the past and have gone unattended to by the party leadership.

“These and many other deplorable actions by MDC leaders, activists and employees clearly compromise the credentials of the MDC as a real democratic alternative to Zanu PF.”

The students accuse the MDC of fanning divisions in its ranks in order to control the union. ZINASU said selected members of the union were barred from the memorial because of fears that they planned to stage protests.

“The allegations were baseless,” ZINASU added.

In response, Chamisa said security at the event was provided by the police, and wondered when the MDC youths played the “vigilante role” of barring the ZINASU members.

“We don’t have prophets in the MDC who would foretell that certain individuals plan to protest,” said Chamisa, a former president of ZINASU. “The trouble with this whole issue is that ZINASU now has too many faces, it’s like an octopus. We did not author this multi-headed animal called ZINASU.

“The ZINASU we used to know is a ZINASU which was indivisible and focused on issues but now we hear of a ZINSU with too many voices, heads and faces. We don’t even know what we are dealing with here, whether we are responding to a decoy, or hoax.”

The NCA, whose leader Lovemore Madhuku addressed the public memorial, said it was “shocking” that the alleged attacks “happened at a time when we were all remembering the life of a heroine and a proponent of democracy, Amai Tsvangirai.”

“The behaviour by the MDC youths exhibited on Saturday is typical of, if not worse than that of Zanu PF thugs. One wonders if this is the behaviour that the MDC has been taught by their new found partners in the inclusive government,” the NCA said in a statement which also urged the MDC, “especially its leader Morgan Tsvangirai, to openly denounce this violent and unacceptable behaviour.”

It added: “We hope that such barbaric acts will be a thing of the past from today going forward.”

One of the injured officials, Mudzengi, is described as in a “critical” condition at Harare’s Avenues Clinic.

It is not the first time the MDC has been linked with violence. An October 2005 split in the party was partly blamed on Tsvangirai’s apparent refusal to take action against several party activists, including one of his bodyguards, whom he rehired after he had been suspended by the disciplinary committee.

The youths had been accused of turning the party’s Harvest House HQ into a “no-go area” for certain members of the national executive, and launching violent attacks on the party’s own MPs.

In 2006, Zimbabwe’s new ambassador to Senegal, Trudy Stevenson, who broke away from Tsvangirai’s MDC in the 2005 split, narrowly escaped with her life after a panga attack by alleged Tsvangirai supporters whom she identified.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Brazil slaps trade sanctions on US over cotton dispute

Brazil slaps trade sanctions on US over cotton dispute
By BBC News
Tue 09 Mar. 2010, 17:20 CAT

The Brazilian government has announced trade sanctions against a variety of American goods in retaliation for illegal US subsidies to cotton farmers. The World Trade Organization (WTO) approved the sanctions in a rare move. Brazil published a list of 100 US goods that would be subject to import tariffs in 30 days, unless the two governments reached a last-minute accord.

It said it regretted the sanctions, but that eight years of litigation had failed to produce a result.

It said it would raise tariffs on $591m (£393m) worth of US products - from cars, where the tariff will increase from 35% to 50%, to milk powder, which would see a 20% increase in the levy.

US farm subsidies are condemned worldwide. This archaic practice must stop
Carlos Marcio Cozendey Brazil's foreign ministry

Cotton and cotton products would be charged 100% import tariff, the highest on the list.

The Office of the US Trade Representative said it was "disappointed" by Brazil's decision and called for a negotiated settlement.

Critics say the US has given its cotton growers an unfair advantage by paying them billions of dollars each year.

In 2008, the WTO ruled that subsidies to US cotton producers were discriminatory.

"US farm subsidies are condemned worldwide. This archaic practice must stop."

However some analysts say major changes to these subsidies would involve modifying agricultural legislation - a tall order for the US Congress against a difficult economic and political backdrop, says the BBC's Gary Duffy in Sao Paulo.

Our correspondent says the dispute, which began in 2002, is one of the few in which the WTO has allowed cross-retaliation, meaning the wronged party can retaliate against a sector not involved in the case.

He adds that it appears the Brazilian government has deliberately chosen a wide range of products in order to have maximum impact.

Safety net

Cotton producers in the US argue that the system of subsidies has changed since the WTO made its original ruling in 2005.

"The US has made changes in the cotton programme as well as the export guarantee programme," Gary Adams, chief economist at the National Cotton Council told the BBC, adding that US cotton production was now 40% to 45% lower.

Mr Adams said he believed that subsidies were still justified.

"We feel this is a very important financial safety net for producers," he said.

Steven Bipes of the Brazil-US Business Council urged the US to take steps to avoid what he called "damaging" retaliation by Brazil.

"The business community finds it extraordinarily important that countries, including the US, comply with its WTO obligations and otherwise negotiate to find common ground when there are disputes," he told the BBC.

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(LUSAKATIMES) Government calls for modernization of higher education

Government calls for modernization of higher education
Thursday, March 11, 2010, 17:34

“The RUINS“ University of Zambia student residence

Government has called for urgent renewal, revitalization and modernization of high education in the country.

Education Deputy Minister Clement Sinyinda says the failure to address the three issues would make it difficult for higher education and graduates to synchronize with the current national expectations and needs in the country’s economy.

Mr. Sinyinda says the country needs a higher education that will stand up to acceptable international benchmarks in scope and quality.

He was speaking at the launch of the Private Universities Association of Zambia in Chisamba today.

Mr. Sinyinda said there was need for both private and public universities to strive to offer higher education that fits the needs and aspirations of the country.

“Universities must therefore examine carefully the status of programmes they are offering and how or what they hope to contribute in our current social and economic context,” said Mr. Sinyinda.

He appealed to both public and private universities to set clear standards and benchmarks in the degree programmes they offer.

The Deputy Minister emphasised the need for universities to also set standards in course content, performance and examinations against which external reviews would be conducted.

Mr. Sinyinda added: “Today university students need strong academic support to access knowledge, to enable them perform better and achieve higher. Modernized libraries with internet, Wifi; and online access to journals, books, and specialized publications are very essential in today’s academic and student life.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Sinyinda has expressed concern at the quality of hired lecturers and the conditions of employment in some of the private universities.

He said there was need for the Private Universities Association of Zambia to seriously address the qualitative issues inorder to enhance the image of the member universities.

Mr. Sinyinda noted that some individuals and organisations have ignored government regulations on establishing Private Schools and have gone ahead to set up schools illegally.

He said Zambia’s legal provisions on private participation in the provision of education are clear and must be followed by all private players in the education sector.
Speaking earlier, interim president of the Private Universities Association of Zambia, Professor Dickson Mwansa said the launch of the association is of great significance in the country’s higher education and government’s efforts to increase access and inclusion in higher education.

Prof. Mwansa said the nation’s demand for higher education is justified by the urgent need to revitalize the economy for growth and sustainable development.

He said the diverse range of economic activities in the country, requires the development and provision of requisite high level skills and competences to drive the economy.

“As our country’s economy grows and gets more complex, there is need for high-level skills-skills in critical analysis, quality and effective leadership in all sectors, strategic planning and management, policy-making and problem-solving,” noted Prof. Mwansa.

Prof. Mwansa assured that private universities in the country will aim to provide higher education that will respond to the needs and challenges facing the country.

The association will among other things, ensure quality of education in all private universities in the country.


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‘Global economic recovery remains a mirage’

‘Global economic recovery remains a mirage’
By Larry Moonze in Havana, Cuba
Tue 09 Mar. 2010, 09:30 CAT

GLOBAL economic recovery remains a mirage, Association of Economists and Accountants of Cuba president Roberto Verrier has said.

Addressing the 12th conference on globalisation and problems of development here in Havana, Verrier said it still remained hard to imagine how the credit crunch epicenter, the US, would recover given the high level unemployment, public debt and other deficits.

“The economic and financial crisis has constrained the abilities of governments to attend to social programmes,” he said.

“The crisis remains a controversial issue and for others the recovery is still a mirage. Even the vast majority of the industrialised countries call it the greatest tragedy, which has led to the existence of millions of people without jobs and no access to credit. We live in new times, unlike any other in the past.”

He said in its profound dimension the global crisis brought about unemployment, decrease in basic wage and an increase in seasonal work.

Verrier said today people had to fight without wide alternatives to the survival of humanity. He said other than security, food, water and employment, there was climate change to worry over.

Verrier said every day science provided evidence that climate change was unequivocal.
He said industrialised countries showed less commitment to contain greenhouse emissions hence the failure of the Climate Change summit in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Verrier said under those circumstances, a catastrophe occurred in Haiti while elsewhere the big powers were busy indulging in arms race. He said another earthquake hit Chile.

Verrier said Haiti’s suffering was a result of the contradiction of neo-liberal globalisation. He said for two centuries, capitalism had been imposed on the peoples but the only benefit was underdevelopment and poverty.

Verrier said the original sin for Haiti was having produced the first independence of the black race and slaves. He blamed the US intrusion and structural adjustment programmes for underdevelopment and poverty in Haiti.

Verrier said as for the US, it was equally going through the worst economic crisis in 80 years. He said the high level unemployment obtaining in America could not allow real economic recovery to occur.

Verrier said as the US stepped out of the recession, it would have to face a greater public debt. He said so far all the measures that President Barack Obama adopted to contain the economic plunge did not touch the astronomical policies or budget on wars.

“Will Obama get out of the mess without touching the military budget?” Verrier asked.
He said everything happening in the US economically had consequences for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Verrier said Cuba had continued to suffer the cruelty of the US for developing socialism.

He said despite the talk of relaxing certain embargo measures, all that President Obama’s administration had done was altering slightly variations and style of administering the economic aggression.

Verrier said economic development of between 2002 and 2007 for Latin America and the Caribbean was wiped between 2008 and 2009 by the global crisis.

He said the region registered a rise in poverty from 180 to 189 million people in 2009.

Verrier said currencies were being devalued as a consequence and the region recorded reduced remittances.

“Certainly we do not need blind market economic policies,” said Verrier. “We need leaders and policies that prepare our people for the future.”



Low standards of education

Low standards of education
By The Post
Thu 11 Mar. 2010, 04:00 CAT

OUR children’s enjoyment of their right to education would be enhanced if there is an acknowledgement of the problems that beset our education system and if there’s a willingness to solve such problems. The problems should not be swept under the carpet.

The observations made by Dr Choolwe Beyani about our people lacking the skills to develop the nation because the education progression rate is too low and that the standards of education were low deserve serious reflection and meditation.

However, we wish to record how greatly we esteem and applaud every effort that has been made by the government to provide education at all levels.

The work of some churches in this field has also contributed greatly to the advancement of our people. Nevertheless, we feel it is necessary to draw attention to some of the problems which beset our educational institutions at present.

Poor or lack of education is one of the principal causes of poverty and lack of development. It cannot be said that we have succeeded in promoting the creative potential of our citizens while there remains a large-scale problem of poor or lack of education in our society.

It must be recognised that this is a problem which cannot be solved by those in government alone. All stakeholders have to participate in finding solutions to this problem. And we urge all our people to take a keen interest in this problem.

It is more and more widely recognised that the standards of education in our country are not only not rising, but are actually falling. Clearly, there can be little hope of creating an environment favourable to the emotional, intellectual development of pupils when schools are grossly overcrowded and suffer from a serious lack of teachers.

The final solutions to these problems will demand generous increases in the resources made available to education. This will have very practical implications for the way in which our national priorities are established and the budget distributed.

As we seek solutions to these problems, we shouldn’t also forget that a school is part of the larger society and therefore what happens in the society is reflected in the school.

Our children need teachers who are not only good instructors but above all virtuous persons, for no human person can give to others what one does not possess.

The influence of a good teacher is very great. A good teacher is always respected; a good teacher is, like a good doctor, the friend and guide of all. It should be the legitimate ambition of every teacher to earn this respect and confidence.

Education on an increased basis is necessary if our people are to increase their knowledge, to become enlightened citizens, and, in the modern world especially, to be equipped with those skills by means of which they may acquire a reasonable degree of material wealth and at the same time contribute to the good of the community.

The obligation and, consequently, the right to quality education of our children is inviolable. The right to quality education entails equal opportunities to education without discrimination.

Today we cannot say our rural children have the same opportunities as those in the urban areas. Today it is very difficult for a child from Shangombo, Sinazeze, Kaputa, Chadiza, Chavuma to make it to university.

Education is accepted as a prerequisite for modern social life. Thus there should be equal opportunity for all in this country to attain reasonable standards of education regardless of where they are located. Opportunity for higher education should not be on grounds of economic position.

Deep frustration begins with half-education. To make education opportunities readily available to those who live in certain areas of our country, while others are impeded from them in all sorts of ways, leads to serious inequalities in the nation.

The right to education entails the right to integral education, an education that develops all the dimensions of a human person – spiritual, moral, intellectual, emotional, social, cultural, political and economical.

A nation which values its future affords the highest priority to providing quality education for all its young people. As it is commonly put: “Young people are the future of the nation.” A sound education will aim at creating an environment favourable to the physical, emotional, intellectual, relational and spiritual development of pupils; developing in each student a respect for others and recognition of civic responsibilities; promoting the creative potential of students.

The unique and diverse talents of every individual are recognised and encouraged; providing the students with appropriate training and skills which will equip them to make a living in the actual circumstances of our country; seeking excellence, while aiming to provide education for everyone.

Education means developing the faculties of a person’s mind, heart and body in such a way that the person will gradually be prepared to take one’s place in human society as a useful citizen.

All stakeholders, that is the parents, the state and even to some extent the church, should all cooperate in concord to develop the spiritual and physical faculties of a human person, for education embraces the whole person. And all have indispensable parts to play in education, the nature of which depends upon their respective responsibilities and rights.

In any country, there is always a need for an ongoing upliftment of education. New and young generations need it, new situations require it, and new challenges force us to adopt new attitudes and approaches.

Education is an ongoing process in all fields, and no human being can rightly claim that he or she does not need more education.

Education is a major factor for social change. And it is important to recognise and accept the roles of our schools, colleges, universities as active agents of national integration and social justice in our country. We will not have development for all until we have integral education for all.

There should be awakening an awareness that the whole nation benefits from the services of our education centres, and that the whole nation should therefore join in providing the resources they need to carry out their task. These centres should permit capable aspirants to participate at every educational level, without regard to social class or wealth.

The present situation in Zambia calls for some radical changes. First and foremost, we must instil an attitude of service in our students and a genuine concern for marginal groups, for the poor. Our students must participate in the transformation of present-day society and in the work of bettering the human condition.

And we must not forget that the lack of equal educational opportunities lies at the base of the unjust social structures in our country.

True education has to draw out the potential good in each child, to shift from error to truth, from ignorance to knowledge. It must guide children towards the foundation of humanity. We must train our children in the right ways (Prov 22:6).

And in whatever we do to try and improve our education system, we should not forget that teachers have an indispensable role to play in our educational system.

Education is a right that must not be denied to our young people or we throw away their lives. But it must be an empowering education of the whole person. In our country today, too many of our youth don’t have the chance for a good education and this is a great injustice.

There is no future development without well-educated citizens. We must undertake the training of youths from all social backgrounds if we are to produce the kind of men and women so desperately needed by our age.

The education of our youth is a critical challenge facing our nation today and a lot of attention needs to be paid to it.

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Zambia’s education progression rate is too low - Dr Beyani

Zambia’s education progression rate is too low - Dr Beyani
By Henry Sinyangwe
Thu 11 Mar. 2010, 08:10 CAT

UNIVERSITY of Zambia (UNZA) history lecturer Dr Choolwe Beyani has said Zambia lacks skills to develop the nation because education progression rate is too low. In an interview, Dr Beyani said Zambia would not have the skills to develop the nation in time with the vision 2030 because the standards of education were low.

“Over 300,000 pupils enter Grade 1, by Grade 5, half of the pupils drop out. This is due to lack of motivation, long distances to schools and space,” Dr Beyani said. “And the progression rates from grade nine to 10, over 20 per cent of pupils are lost due to finance and lack of space in secondary schools and those who graduate at grade twelve are just a little over 50,000.”

And Dr Beyani said the situation was the same in higher learning institutions where the pass rate was under 50 per cent. He said the quality of education in Zambia was currently too low due to compromising objectives in improving delivery.

“The quality of education in the country is mediocre, total incompetence. We receive some students here UNZA who cannot even read and write due to corruption in the whole system,” Dr Beyani said.

“Therefore, we produce semi literate graduates with a pass rate of less than 50 per cent. Government is spending lots of money on thousands of students who are not mastering the skill, which is a bad sign of the state of affairs.”

Dr Beyani said the government should concentrate on solving the problems faced by the education sector rather than concentrating on campaigning.

And Dr Beyani has asked the Ministry of Education to release the report on the issues that were raised during the Indaba on education that was held in September last year.

“Since Dora Siliya education minister was made MMD spokesperson, she has put all the services to the ministry on hold,” he said.

“There was an Indaba last year in September by the Ministry of Education in which I was a consultant but I have never seen the report. People who participated as citizens expect feedback and updates on the way forward.”

And Dr Beyani urged the government to increase the number of recruitment of teachers because the teacher attrition rate was increasing. He said there was a need to balance the teacher to pupil ratio by recruiting more teachers so as to raise the education standards.

“The recruitment of 3,000 teachers will not solve the problem of shortage of teachers in the country,” Dr Beyani said.

“The number of teachers leaving their schools has been increasing for some time now so there has to be a balance.

According to the education statistical bulletin of 2008, over 11,000 teachers left various government schools due to various issues. Therefore 3,000 are too low.”

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Rupiah’s handlers lack seriousness – Mpombo

Rupiah’s handlers lack seriousness – Mpombo
By George Chellah
Thu 11 Mar. 2010, 04:20 CAT

President Banda toured flood affected compounds in Lusaka two days ago
RUPIAH’s handlers lack seriousness, George Mpombo said yesterday.

Commenting on President Rupiah Banda's tour to compounds in Lusaka that have been affected by the floods on Tuesday, Mpombo described the President's fact-finding tour as too little too late bearing in mind that the disaster occurred way before he even left for China more than two weeks ago.

“I feel sorry for the President because I think he has a big problem even with the cabal surrounding him. The cabal surrounding him is not providing the necessary advice to make him succeed,” Mpombo said.

“I think the cabal surrounding him is determined to see him fail and I think they are succeeding. He has got to look at his cabal.”

Mpombo said President Banda had displayed total inadequate leadership, leadership that is not able to see through the situation.

“I do appreciate that overseas trips are important. But the handlers of the President really are lacking some sort of seriousness. They can't package him to tour in this way,” Mpombo said.

“Two weeks from Addis Ababa, he is away for two weeks. Immediately after that he is away for another two weeks, four weeks a President being out of the country! These are the results you get where a President is constantly on the move,” Mpombo said.

“He is not able to monitor situations like this and he is depending on mere reports. The handlers must know that there is no way we are going to have a President away out of the country for two weeks.

He goes to Addis Ababa, he is away for two weeks. He comes back again he is away for two weeks, it has never happened. So the country is being run through instincts. This is mind-boggling!”

Mpombo said President Banda's visit to the flood victims was a sign of desperation.
“It's too little too late because even before the President left for China, he left that situation where people were displaced and the Vice-President was saying 'no, the situation was a complex one'.

He needed everybody like the opposition and Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to sit down and find a solution.

And the whole thing has exposed the vulnerability of our disaster management. It actually means that we have nothing in terms of disaster management,” Mpombo said.

“This is an issue, which we should have handled. The President's visit is not inspiring. The President should have visited the areas even before he went to China. He knew because he left these floods before he left to China and the Vice-President was gallivanting all over. People expect leadership that is prepared to handle issues of this nature in a very rational manner.”

Mpombo said the MMD government had performed in a very lackadaisical manner.
“The way government handled this one is extremely lackadaisical, below par and totally unacceptable.

The response has been very late. It's like shedding crocodile tears. The President should have initiated bold measures even before he went to China,” Mpombo said.

“There has been a clear absence of leadership, there has been a tragic leadership failure. It's absolutely late, it's very late to arrest the situation in any meaningful way because this is happening in Lusaka where people expect swift government response and the President stays in Lusaka and all the government machinery is in Lusaka.”
Mpombo also criticised the government's response to the recent landslide that occurred in Mpulungu.

“Apart from sending messages of condolences, we would have expected the Vice-President to have flown there and see what is on the ground and assure the people. It is this kind of timid approach to important issues, which is raising a lot of concern,” Mpombo said. “We have fallen short of the requirement of the Zambian people.

My assessment is that there has been tragic leadership failure. He President Banda has not provided the kind of leadership that is expected to move the country forward. He has failed to assert himself on important national issues.”

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Chief Sinazongwe describes floods as worst disaster

Chief Sinazongwe describes floods as worst disaster
By Charles Mangwato in Choma and Ernest Chanda in Lusaka
Thu 11 Mar. 2010, 07:20 CAT

CHIEF Sinazongwe has described the devastating effect of the floods as the worst disaster to have hit the valley district in living memory due to the massive damage to infrastructure and crops. Meanwhile, youths have taken advantage of the collapsed bridge at Sinazeze and are cashing in by carrying people on their backs to cross the flooded stream.

Chief Sinazongwe said he is shocked that despite the massive damaged to infrastructure and crops, there has been no immediate action thereby causing despair and worry among the people in the valley.

He said apart from two bridges being washed away on the Batoka-Maamba Road, several other link roads had been extensively damaged with bridges and culverts being uprooted.

He said the magnitude of human suffering as a result of damaged infrastructure was unbelievable as scarcity of food and high prices had hit the valley district.
“These floods were only witnessed in 1963,” he said.

Chief Sinazongwe said it had not even been easy for him to travel to Choma to attend a ministry of local government and housing meeting as he had to cross the stream using an excavator at the point where the bridge had been washed away.

“It is practically impossible to move. This is the first time I have left my palace since February 15 when we were inundated by floods,” he said.

“I had to use two vehicles to reach Choma, one from my palace to Sinazeze where I crossed the stream using an excavator before jumping onto another specially arranged vehicle from Choma that was waiting for us on the other side.”

He said urgent action is needed to restore normalcy in the valley district where food scarcity is already taking its toll on the people.

Chief Sinazongwe said prices of essential goods like mealie-meal had sky-rocketed with a 25 kilogramme bag hitting between K 70,000 to K 100,000.

And a Sinazongwe resident, Richwell Siamunene called on the government to help communities in that area after 1000 housing units brought down by floods.

Siamunene said several bridges had also been swept away and most roads were left impassable.

Meanwhile, youths at Sinazeze are cashing in by charging K5,000 per person to be ferried across the river on their backs.

Several women were seen on the backs of youths crossing the stream.
The youths are also making brisk business by transporting goods like mealie-meal from Choma across the stream into Sinazongwe.

Meanwhile, Sinazongwe district secretary Oliver Muuka said several commercial fishermen who are stuck with bags of Kapenta due to damaged roads have started using water transport from Sinazongwe to Siavonga.

Muuka said the local authority had lost revenue from fish levy. “Some white fishermen remain without electricity because poles that collapsed cannot be replaced as Zesco personnel cannot access their areas,” he said.

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Met dept projects dry spell over most parts of Zambia

Met dept projects dry spell over most parts of Zambia
By Florence Bupe
Thu 11 Mar. 2010, 07:50 CAT

"Much of the country, including Lusaka, Central and Western Provinces, would continue to experience dry weather patterns" THE Zambia Meteorological Department (ZMD) has projected a dry spell over most parts of the country during the current dekad (10-day period) to March 16, 2010.

In an interview, ZMD acting director Jacob Nkomoki disclosed that an anti- cyclonic flow over Botswana was affecting Zambia’s weather pattern.

“We currently have an anti-cyclonic flow over the Botswana area and that is bringing in dry weather over much of the country, especially Lusaka and the western parts of Zambia,” he said.

Most parts of the country had in the last dekads experienced excessive rainfall, which resulted in destructive floods over some areas.

Sinazongwe district was the worst hit with most infrastructures damaged during the heavy rainfall period.

Nkomoki said much of the country, including Lusaka, Central and Western Provinces, would continue to experience dry weather patterns, while parts of Luapula, Northern and Eastern Provinces would record rains.

“What the current weather pattern implies is that we will have sunny conditions over much of the country, but as we progress we expect the Copperbelt and North Western Provinces to start experiencing rains,” said Nkomoki.

Nkomoki predicted increased temperatures over the areas that will have no rainfall activity, but could not immediately give exact figures.

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‘Destroyed section of Serenje-Mpika road vindicates opposition’

‘Destroyed section of Serenje-Mpika road vindicates opposition’
By Mwila Chansa in Kitwe
Thu 11 Mar. 2010, 04:40 CAT

PATRIOTIC FRONT (PF) Northern Province chairman Frederick Chisanga has observed that the destroyed section of the road between Serenje and Mpika vindicates the opposition’s cry that the MMD is not serious about development.

In an interview from Kasama yesterday, Chisanga advised the MMD to stop maligning the opposition PF controlled councils of having failed to develop roads in their areas because Serenje council was not controlled by the opposition.

He wondered how a serious government could neglect a key road such as the Great North Road that linked Zambia to neighbouring Tanzania as well as to the country’s only port in Mpulungu.

Chisanga said Vice-President George Kunda should be ashamed that while he had been on rampage and going places to discredit the opposition, the dilapidated Serenje-Mpika stretch passed through his constituency.

Chisanga said if MMD was performing better than the opposition, they would not have neglected the portion of the Serenje-Mpika road to deteriorate to the levels that it had.

“And if we are to go by their standards of judging performance, then Vice-President George Kunda has failed and should resign for failing to take development to his constituency,” Chisanga said.

“Serenje is not a PF stronghold. It is an MMD stronghold. Why did they let the road dilapidate to desperate levels?”

And Chisanga said the Road Development Agency (RDA) in Northern Province was always under-funded.

He observed that there was nothing tangible that the RDA could do in terms of road repairs and maintenance because they were operating on a shoestring budget.

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