Saturday, August 07, 2010
The Republican plan to wreck the economy and then blame the Dems. Will it work?
By Richard Clark
The Republican Party and its powerful allies in the right-wing news media made it clear from the moment Barack Obama took office that they would demonize everything he tried to do, especially with respect to the economy.
Knowing that progressives had no comparable media infrastructure with which to respond and that many Democrats would cower when attacked the Republicans now appear to have convinced many Americans to hand congressional power back to the GOP, a situation that Stephen Crockett addresses in this Consortium News article, a synopsis of which follows here.
Republicans in Congress have decided that sabotaging economic recovery and employment growth is their best tactic for electoral gains in November as long as they can pin the blame for all the joblessness and the bad economy on the Democrats. And this it seems fairly likely they will succeed in doing, given that most Dem voters are essentially asleep at the wheel when it comes to really understanding how our political economic system works. Signs of this Republican plan have been cropping up since the Democratic victories in 2008.
Here are the things you need to understand, to clearly see how this Republican plan will work:
1. Economic recessions and depressions almost always result from insufficient "effective" consumer demand for goods and services produced domestically. In economic terms, merely wanting something does not constitute "effective demand." For a want to become an "effective" demand for goods or services, it must be accompanied by the monetary ability to actually make the purchase.
2. Jobs are not created by just having large pools of investment money available, as most big corporations and banks now do. There must also be the opportunity to invest in a business that will have customers who have the money to buy the goods and services. Then and only then will investment money flow into business opportunities and job creation.
3. Over the last 30 years, the Republican-Right economic theory that economic prosperity and employment automatically "trickle-down from the wealthy" has been proven again and again to be fallacious. Tax cuts for the wealthy create huge investment money pools -- but not jobs.
4. Republicans are seeking to extend the tax cuts for the wealthy by falsely stating that increases in taxes for the upper 2% of income earners would hurt demand and prolong the economic downturn. Experience and history prove otherwise. The large majority of buying is done by the remaining 98% of the population. The top 2% invest much of their income, not spend it on consumer goods. Besides, there are not that many of them.
Implications for the larger economy
Tax cuts at the highest marginal income brackets simply serve to concentrate wealth and political power in the hands of the economic elite. This power of the economic elite then pushes government policy in directions that dramatically cut the percentage of the nation's wealth and income that goes to the large majority of Americans. And this has been happening for at least the last 30 years. Hence the decimation of America's middle class.
The ever reduced incomes and wealth holdings of the middle class cuts into the ability of most Americans to buy goods and services. As a result, the economy falters because most customers do not have enough disposable income to keep the flow of goods and services at a level that is sufficient to generate the number of jobs and the kind of incomes that a vibrant economy and a healthy middle class requires.
That part of the national income that previously (prior to 1975) would have ended up in the hands of America's great middle class, as disposable income, has for more than 30 years been increasingly diverted into the pockets of our economic elite who, because they already had more money than they could possibly spend on goods and services, have used most of this recent "windfall money" to invest in things that turned out to be "bubbles." As a result, sound business enterprises lacked the numbers of middle class customers they had always depended upon. As a result, many such businesses faltered and had to start laying off employees and/or moving their factories or other operations to low-wage countries.
Why middle-class tax cuts are important
Middle-class tax cuts increase the disposable income of those members of society who spend the vast majority of their incomes and have little left over to save. The money changes hands over and over again (instead of either creating some kind of bubble or sitting idle). This is the great multiplier effect that people learn about when they take a course in, or read a basic text on, economics. Extending unemployment benefits has a huge multiplier effect as well. This is because unemployment benefits are so very badly needed by the recipients that virtually every penny of it gets spent on goods and services, immediately.
Excessive concentration of wealth and income in the hands of the financial elite stifles this kind of middle class spending and thus cripples our economy. And even though all the Republican policies for the past 100 years have been designed to concentrate wealth and income in the hands of the very few, and have always had the effect of crippling the economy, the political-economic dogma of the hard right obviously does not die easily. Why not? Because the very rich spend billions every year keeping it alive! For what purpose? For the purpose of multiplying their incomes, through tax breaks won in Congress by the politicians whose campaigns they pay for, and through the huge sums of money they can "earn" by buying stocks cheap after a market crash, and then selling 'dear' after the market recovers.
Some other ways that the bought-and-paid-for politicians of the rich help their masters stay rich
Failure to enforce anti-monopoly laws, thus permitting price gouging. Failure to cap interest rates, thereby further concentrating wealth in the hands of the rich, which thereby reduces consumer spending and in that way drags the economy down, often leading to a collapse in the stock market, which then allows the rich yet another great stock buying opportunity.
Passage of laws that encourage union-busting, which keeps wages and benefits down, thereby maximizing profits. Problem is, once again, it undermines the purchasing power of workers, leading to a recession.
Passage of laws that lead to the privatizing of government services, which makes plenty of money for the rich but costs consumers more in the way of out-of-pocket expenses that were previously covered by government. This reduces disposable income for these consumers, which of course leads to the same kind of business slowdown already described.
Passage of laws that allow employers to reduce benefits and increase co-pays. This increases the cost-of-living for workers. As a result, these workers once again have less disposable income to spend on goods and services, which, as we've seen, slows down the economy.
Every time the rich reach the levels economic concentration that currently exist, we have a serious depression. Economic concentration of wealth and income are currently at levels very similar to those just before the Great Depression in 1929. And the current level of concentration is a direct result of increasingly "Republicanized" governmental policies which the political whores of the rich have been enacting over the past 30 years, just as their counterparts did before the depression of 1929.
The only reason our current situation has not quite deteriorated to that of the last Great Depression is that the Republicans have not (yet?) been successful in undoing all of the protective reforms (like the Glass-Steagall Act which was repealed in 1999 and which had been enacted after the financial collapse in 1929).
Despite repeated attacks by Republicans, the social safety net remains only damaged but not destroyed. Republican attempts to gut Social Security continue. The attempt to "privatize" Social Security (i.e. make all that money available to Wall Street and the stock market) keeps coming back to threaten the stability and viability of this program. However, simply cutting Social Security benefits (instead of increasing them as should be done) seems to be the avenue of Republican attack most likely to succeed. It is an approach that's being pushed by most Republicans and a few corporatist Democrats.
A wiser economic approach to making sure Social Security will never "go broke" would be to simply remove the income ceiling above which Social Security taxes are not paid. Why should almost all workers be taxed at over 13% to fund social security, while those making a million a year are paying closer to 1% and those making 10 million dollars a year are taxed at around 1/10th of 1% on their income?
Social Security surpluses were "borrowed" by the federal government so they could fund annual deficits created by cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans, cutting taxes on corporations by huge margins, and nearly eliminating taxes on imports. Therefore it is only fair that corporations, wealthy Americans and foreign exporters selling in the American market pay higher taxes to compensate for these previous decades of "borrowing," since they reaped the benefits of all that "borrowing."
Conventional economic policy says that government should run surpluses in good economic times and deficits during economic downturns. This helps reduce the severity of economic cycles. Under the Republican presidencies of Reagan and both Bushes, however, we did exactly the opposite, and thereby created both the current downturn and the debt crisis. The vast majority of our total national debt was created under these three conservative Republican presidents.
In the service of their masters
Currently, the Republicans in Congress have fought every measure to increase employment and help small businesses. They have fought all kinds of economic reforms that would curb corporate abuses of consumers, shareholders or workers. They have also loyally fought all attempts to curb excessive corporate political or economic power. They have been against any measure that would increase demand for goods and services or levels of employment. It is therefore not hard not to conclude that the Republicans want to worsen the economic downturn until it reaches Great-Depression levels, and then pin the blame on Obama. They believe that most voters, political sleep walkers that they are, will automatically and thoughtlessly blame whatever administration is in power for a collapsed or failed economy. They understand that most voters simply lack the education and knowledge to realize that this economic downturn was created by "Republicanizing" our economy. And with tons of corporate money to fund their efforts, and a corporate dominated media at their disposal, it might very well work.
By Jacobs Odongo Seaman (email the author)
Posted Saturday, August 7 2010 at 00:00
Former President Godfrey Lukongwa Binaisa’s death on Thursday means Uganda is one of only a handful of democracies without a living ex-president. Former Ugandan leaders General Tito Okello Lutwa, Apollo Milton Obote, Field Marshal Idi Amin Dada and Paulo Muwanga have all perished in the last 24 years.
Unusually, Godfrey Binaisa is the only one of the five on this list to have breathed his last on home soil. He had earlier in the 1980’s exiled himself in New York, US, where he practiced law and only returned to Uganda in the 1990s to become the first and only ex-president to benefit from the provisions of the 1995 Uganda Constitution.
Milton Obote (1925-2005)
With Obote, his surviving wife, Ms Miria Kalule, the party he founded- Uganda People’s Congress and a couple of Pan Africanists like journalist Andrew Mwenda who kept petitioning the government to allow him to return home. He never lived to see Ugandan soil again, and the two-time ex-president was only returned to Uganda in a coffin after he died of kidney failure in South Africa. He was living in Zambia. In August 2005, he announced his intention to step down as leader of the UPC. On October 10, 2005, he died. To the surprise of many, the late Obote was given a state funeral, which was attended by President Museveni.
Paulo Muwanga (1924 - April 1, 1991)
He was the chairman of the governing Military Commission that deposed Godfrey Binaisa on May 12, 1980. He was the de-facto President of Uganda for a few days in May 1980 until the establishment of the Presidential Commission of Uganda. He held the office of President of Uganda between May 22 and December 15, 1980. Among the members of the commission were President Museveni, Oyite Ojok and Tito Okello who had deposed Binaisa in the May 12 1980 coup. From August 1, to August 25, 1980, he served as prime minister. Following the elections on December 10, 1980, Muwanga installed himself as the head of the Electoral Commission and declared Obote’s Uganda People’s Congress the winner.
Gen. Tito Lutwa Okello (1914–1996)
He was a Ugandan military officer and politician. He was the President of Uganda from July 26, 1985 to January 26, 1986. He was one of the commanders in the coalition between the Tanzania People’s Defense Force and the Uganda National Liberation Army, who removed Amin from power in 1979. He was selected to be the commander of the Ugandan National Liberation Army from 1980 to 1985. In July 1985, together with Bazilio Olara-Okello, Tito Okello staged the coup d’état that ousted Obote. He ruled for six months until he was overthrown by the National Resistance Army (NRA) operating under the leadership of President Museveni. He went to exile in Kenya, where he died on June 2, 1996. His remains were repatriated and buried at his ancestral home in Kitgum District. He was 82. In January 2010, Gen. Lutwa was posthumously awarded the Kagera National Medal of Honour for fighting the Idi Amin dictatorship.
Gen. Idi Amin Dada (1925-2003)
On July 20, 2003, one of Amin’s wives, Madina, reported that he was in a coma and near death at King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. She pleaded with Ugandan President Museveni to allow him to return to Uganda for the remainder of his life. President Museveni replied that the former dictator would have to answer for his alleged sins. Amin died in Saudi Arabia on August 16, 2003 and was buried in Ruwais Cemetery in Jeddah.
Prof. Yusuf Lule (1912 - January 21, 1985)
He is the former president known for two things: He ruled for only two months between April 13 and June 20, 1979. Besides this misfortune, he also died just before the NRA, with whom his Uganda Freedom Fighters fought alongside, came to power in 1986. Lule was the leader of the Uganda National Liberation Front and was installed as President after Amin was toppled. In June 1979, following a dispute over the extent of presidential powers, the NCC replaced Lule with Binaisa. Out of office, he led UFF, a resistance group which joined with Yoweri Museveni’s Popular Resistance Army (PRA) in 1981. The two groups combined to form the National Resistance Army (NRA). Lule did not live to witness the victory because he had died in 1985 of kidney failure.
Sir Edward Mutesa II (November 19, 1924 - November 21, 1969)
He was Kabaka of Buganda Buganda from November 22, 1939 until his death. He was the 35th Kabaka of Buganda and the first President of Uganda. Mutesa was exiled by British Governor Sir Andrew Cohen in 1953 after he opposed the unification of British East Africa which composed of Uganda, Kenya and Tanganyika.
After two years in exile, Mutesa was allowed to return to the throne under a negotiated settlement which made him a constitutional monarch and gave the Baganda the right to elect representatives to the kingdom’s parliament, the Lukiiko. Under the country’s new constitution, Buganda was a semi-autonomous part of a federation. The federal Prime Minister was Obote, leader of the Uganda People’s Congress, which was in a governing coalition with the dominant Buganda regional party, Kabaka Yekka. The post of governor general was abolished in 1963 and replaced by a non-executive president, a post that Mutesa held.
The coalition between Mutesa and Obote’s parties collapsed after the 1964 referendum which transferred two counties (Buyaga and Bugangazi) from Buganda to Bunyoro. This ended in a bitter war with Obote raiding the king’s palace and exiling Mutesa. Mutesa died of alcohol poisoning in his London flat in 1969. Mutesa’s body was returned to Uganda in 1971 after the overthrow of Obote. He was given a state funeral at Kasubi Nabulagala.
By Fred Guweddeko (email the author)
Posted Saturday, August 7 2010 at 00:00
We continue with our researched series on the life of late president Godfrey Binaisa. Today, read about his days as a lawyer and his anti-colonial engagements, writes Saturday Monitor's Fred Guweddeko.
In 1956, the power dam had just opened in Uganda but the colonial law barred Africans from using electricity for industrial and commercial purposes. Africans could only use electricity for domestic purposes. The initial cases Binaisa handled were against colonial laws preventing Africans at Katwe in Kampala from manufacturing electricity-welded products, and a one Mr Kayondo from manufacturing shoes, etc. On these suits, Binaisa fell out with his British partner and worked with Grace Ibingira.
The racist language and political approach of the late Binaisa led to the breakdown of the partnership with the British lawyer. Binaisa then went into law partnership with John Kazoora. Incidentally, Mr Kazoora had at the time just adopted a niece, Janat Kataha who was to become the wife of one of the future political adversaries of Binaisa.
The Kazoora and Binaisa legal partnership was short-lived as the two were always sought in major political suits. They separated, as they could not represent different sides of political suits when under one firm.
Binaisa and Kazoora were on opposite sides in major cases such as between Buganda government vs Mataayo Mugwanya, in the landmark suit that hightlighted the Catholics vs Buganda rift and precipitated the founding of the Democratic Party in Uganda.
Binaisa, Kazoora and Ben Kiwanuka were the three leading lawyers contesting the high profile political cases in Uganda from 1957 to 1971. To his credit, Binaisa is so far the most successful lawyer in the political court contests in Uganda history. He won all the major political suits he was involved in between 1957-1971.
Returning to Uganda in July 1956, Binaisa immediately became one of the leaders of the popular opposition to the Buganda Lukiiko policy of sharing among the friends of the Kabaka, 154 square miles of Buganda public land. This land had been returned by the colonial government to the Buganda government under the 1955 Buganda Agreement. The land was eventually shared among the friends of the Kabaka after leaders of the opposition campaign were added to the list of beneficiaries.
In August 1956, Binaisa became one of the leaders of the agitation over the extension of the Governorship of Sir Andrew Cohen in Uganda for another five year term. A popular advocacy which included UNC leader, Ignatius K. Musaazi, wanted another term for Sir Cohen. An equally, popular Mengo sponsored advocacy, with Binaisa as the leader, wanted Sir Cohen out of Uganda. After winning the anti-Sir Cohen drive, Binaisa started another campaign to punish UNC leader, Musaazi, for supporting Sir Cohen.
In September 1956, Binaisa led the supporters of the Katikkiro Michael Kintu-led Mengo government against the Progressive Party led by E.M.K Mulira and the newly-formed Democratic Party under Matayo Mugwanya. The politicians had evidence of corruption and were using it to oust the Mengo government. Binaisa argued that the critical issue was to fight for independence and not corruption.
Binaisa addressed public rallies accusing Mulira and Matayo Mugwanya of working to retain British colonial rule in Uganda.
Fighting for Buganda
At the end of 1956, Binaisa and his partner F S Troughton were involved in Court battles between the Buganda Government and the Katikiro Michael Kintu, and the Progressive Party President E M K Mulira. In this situation Binaisa was actually defending undemocratic and corrupt governance in Buganda Kingdom. Binaisa argued that politicians should fight against the bigger enemy of colonial rule and not against Buganda.
As if it was a kick-back, the Mengo government also assisted Binaisa to hurriedly establish and lead a UNC branch in Mengo Township. Incidentally, Mengo had banned political party branches from Mengo Township. Binaisa immediately used his UNC branch for election to the Buganda region UNC Executive Committee. In Buganda region, Binaisa became the “Congress Week Drive Committee’ chairman. Charged with political rallies, Binaisa worked with Paulo Muwanga to raise intense Buganda region hostility to British rule.
The highly-successful Binaisa and Paulo Muwanga UNC Buganda campaign was based almost on threats and lies about destroying instead of freeing Buganda. It created a suspicious and hostile attitude against British motives for the future of Buganda in independent Uganda. Besides making Buganda entrust its seats in the Legislative Council to the UNC, this complicated subsequent independence politics in which Binaisa and Muwanga were key players.
In July 1957, Binaisa, who was exactly seven months in the UNC, was among the 46 UNC National Council members who opposed, and walked out of the Annual Delegates Conference, upon the re-election of the Musaazi and Joel Kiwanuka leadership. In the UNC executive committee response, Binaisa was among the 16 rebels accused of conspiracy and ambition, and dismissed from the UNC.
Binaisa was eventually among the 23 UNC leaders who formed a breakaway United Congress Party, where he became the secretary general. At the inauguration of the United Congress Party, Binaisa said the UNC was delaying and leading the Uganda independence struggle on the road to ‘nowhere’. Binaisa made stinging personal accusations against UNC founding leaders, Musazi and Kiwanuka, who he had not worked with for more than six months.
Though he was officially only the secretary general, Binaisa was the de-facto leader of the United Congress Party. He declared ‘war’ against the presence of non-Africans in the Uganda Legislative Council and national politics. He declared ‘war’ for immediate independence instead of following the British protracted plans. Binaisa warned that UCP will resort to force to free Uganda from British rule. Binaisa, as leader of the UCP, launched a campaign to show that all the alleged development and welfare plans by the colonial regime were actually geared to delay independence. He announced that UCP was recalling all the African Representatives from the Uganda Legislative Council because of the refusal by Britain to grant independence. Two representatives; Hon. Lubogo and Hon. Dr Muwazi, resigned. Binaisa announced that Africans will henceforth boycott electing their people to Legislative Council.
Under Binaisa, the UCP replaced the Uganda National Congress in the independence struggle in Buganda and Busoga. Binaisa started mobilising for independence with pamphlet messages to the people ‘to prepare for tough times ahead as the struggle for independence was about to take a critical turn’.
Beginning with January 1,1958, Binaisa through the ‘United Front’ which represented five political parties, declared Africans boycott of all colonial government activities if Uganda politics continues to be dominated by Europeans and Indians. He introduced a division between the political parties that were recognising, operating under and cooperating with the colonial regime and those that were not.
The collaborators were; UNC, DP, PP, etc, while the resisters were; UCP, UNP, EU, All-Buganda Party, etc. The collaborating political parties were prevented from operating in Buganda and Busoga. The resisting political parties were allowed and facilitated.
The ‘collaborating’ political parties and the colonial government contacted Binaisa through an astute non-politician called Daudi Ocheng. Through Ocheng, a longtime friend of Kabaka Mutesa of Buganda and Kyabazinga Muloki of Busoga, private personal level negotiations involving all the groups were opened with Binaisa. Without consultation, Binaisa suddenly stopped the ‘United Front’ anti-colonial campaign.
Political parties and individual supporters of the Binaisa generated hard line anti-colonial militant struggle, addressed rallies condemning him as a traitor and vowing to continue. From February 15, 958, Binaisa countered through public rallies, explaining that in politics ‘change of strategy’ is one of the ‘tactics’ that will lead Uganda to independence.
In spite of Binaisa, the Buganda Lukiiko rejected the March 1958 Legislative Council elections. Not to be outdone, Binaisa turned round and publicly praised Buganda for rejecting the Legislative Council elections.
For most of 1958, the UCP engaged in global, Africa and regional (East and Central Africa) self government initiatives and conferences. This was a period for Uganda political party leaders, Binaisa inclusive, to enjoy numerous costs and allowances paid for international trips. The foreign demands were for the numerous small Uganda political parties to merge.
A conference to unite Uganda political parties was sponsored in Kampala by foreign patrons of the independence struggle in November 1958. It had technical advisers and politicians like Julius Nyerere and Tom Mboya to assist. For UCP, Binaisa said he accepted the principle of merging but could not concede to surrendering leadership or winding up. Other parties did not accept any formula of unity in pursuing Uganda independence.
In December 1958, Binaisa led the political parties reaction to the colonial government release of a development plan that offered prospects to Africans. The plan was welcomed by all native kingdoms and local governments except Buganda Kingdom. Binaisa organised political parties to denounce British rule and the right of Britain to develop Uganda. He launched a campaign that only Ugandans should develop Uganda, not Britain, European companies and local minority Indians.
The next campaign Binaisa launched was against the 1959 Education Bill which gave powers to the colonial government minister, Hon Cartland, to license and inspect all non-government schools in Uganda.
Prior, the education sector was open to entry by religious, cultural, native local government and private native entrepreneurs. Binaisa sent messages to all native stakeholders that this Bill was designed was a declaration of war on African Education in Uganda. He organised a national public rally to denounce this Bill and launch the campaign. Before the conclusion of the anti-Education Bill struggle, Binaisa launched the collection of signatures from Uganda Africans petitioning against the 1959 Constitution Committee.
The Committee was soliciting public views to draft a Uganda Constitution based on three races; Africans, Europeans and Indians. Binaisa called on Ugandans to boycott the Committee, arguing that Uganda is only for African Ugandans.
The campaign was also launched with a public rally at Katwe. After the Katwe rally, the colonial government and British companies in Uganda reached a private agreement with Binaisa not to oppose the goodwill visit of the Queen Mother. The British Queen Mother visit was a greater contradiction to Uganda independence struggle but Binaisa usually compromised especially where, as in this case, he negotiated with financial interests.
In February 1959, the governor removed Mr Yusuf Kironde Lule from the post of Minister of Rural Development responsible for improving Africans. Lule had established a Bank for Africans (later Uganda Commercial Bank), African Cooperatives, African shops and ginneries. At a Katwe rally to denounce the removal of Lule, resolutions were drawn to end peaceful intercourse with colonialists and fight for economic rights.
Binaisa was one of the principal speakers at the rally where the mob forced Musaazi to retract his invitation to non-Africans to join the UNC. The final resolution drawn by Binaisa was to create the Uganda National Movement to show by proactive action (boycott) that Ugandans were tired of British rule. Binaisa was chairman of the finance committee and the only member of all other committees. The most powerful committee was one determining the (British) goods, companies, shops and services to boycott. The UNM boycott list was more than a religion to the local public in Buganda, Jinja, Mbale and Tororo.
Any African sighted working, transporting, buying or associating with boycotted goods, services, company, shop or racial group suffered mob violence, burning of the house and slashing the garden.
Binaisa was on the committee which determined the items most associated with colonial rule and exploiting natives. The committee listed and de-listed boycott items.
The late Binaisa was empowered to negotiate with business interests subject to boycott. Within three months the UNM organised boycott had brought to a standstill each of the industries, goods and services under African boycott. Binaisa engaged in private negotiations, on his terms, with companies to overlook their products or de-list them from the boycott.
By Sheila Naturinda & Mercy Nalugo (email the author)
Posted Saturday, August 7 2010 at 00:00
The government has declared five days of mourning fallen former president Godfrey Lukongwa Binaisa, starting today. According to the funeral programme released by the government yesterday, the late Binaisa is to be buried on Wednesday at a yet to be disclosed place.
Minister for Information and National Guidance, Ms Kabakumba Masiko, yesterday announced at the Uganda Media Centre that flags would fly at half mast, as a symbol of national mourning.
Lawyers of Uganda’s fifth president say the former head of state had said he wished to be buried at Kololo ceremonial grounds next to former president Yusuf Lule and independence struggle hero Ignatius Musaazi. However, Ms Kabakumba said the wish for a Kololo burial wasn’t known to the government. “Family members from the UK and the US will arrive in the country on Saturday. Monday at 5pm, the body will leave Mulago for Parliament where a guard of honour will be staged,” Ms Masiko said.
Binaisa is survived by seven children, four of whom live abroad. “There will be an overnight vigil at Parliament and the following day will be the signing of the condolence book and paying of last respects,” she said.
Parliament will in a special session then pay tribute to the late in the afternoon; after which the body will be transported to his home in Makindye for an overnight vigil. The motion to pay respects to Uganda’s first independence Attorney General is to be moved by Prof Apolo Nsibambi and seconded by the leader of Opposition Prof Ogenga Latigo.
There will also be a funeral service at Namirembe Cathedral on Wednesday to be followed by his burial at 1 pm. Binaisa died in his sleep on Thursday morning at his Makindye home and a post-mortem report by Mulago Hospital indicates the 90-year-old died of cardiac arrest.
Opinion leaders speak out
Prof Tarsis Kabwegyere, who was a member of the National Consultative Council that put Binaisa into power, will greatly miss him because of his “intellectual humour and his Oxford English” that earned him the title Queen’s Counsel (QC). Binaisa’s role in the drafting of the infamous 1967 constitution that outlawed the Buganda Kingdom still lingers in his detractors’ minds.
Binaisa’s legacy in the eyes of contemporaries
Mr William Nyakatura, Tooro Kingdom Prime Minister. He was a gentleman, patriotic, in the past he worked under a wrong regime (Obote I) as an Attorney General where an arbitrary constitution was done under him but as a person and president for 11 months, he was a jolly and responsible man.
Prof Ogenga Latigo-Leader of Opposition
Binaisa was a key player in drafting the indigenous Constitution during former President Dr. Apollo Milton Obote’s regime. His role then demonstrated a sign of unity as someone from central Uganda was seen to work diligently with someone from the north. This dispelled the myth that there is nepotism in Uganda. So we will dearly miss him as a man who greatly contributed to the development of this country.
Prof Tarsis Kabwegyere, Disaster Preparedness minister.
He was a scarce person. He was an educated elite who spoke good English. When we elected him chairman of the UNLF, he spoke in Oxford English and everybody was impressed. He was humorous and humane. He assumed the office of the President in a peaceful manner .He excelled as the queen’s Councilor (QC). I will miss his intellectual humour.
Israel Mayengo,a Member of Binaisa’s small Parliament of 30 people
I have known him for so many years. Before he became President up to the time he went into exile. We met in Moshi but he never attended the conference that toppled President Idi Amin.He was stopped at the gate. When I went back to the hotel, I found him smoking a cigarette and he told me that (the late) Kayira had locked him out of the Moshi conference. But I will always remember him for his total devotion to all Ugandans. He never discriminated against any tribe. The Acholis,the Banyankole,the Baganda and people of other tribes all felt they were at home.
Charles Peter Mayega
He is one of the technical people who crafted the 1967 Constitution which abolished kingdoms particularly the kingdom of Buganda. But later in life he identified himself as an ardent subject of the Kabaka. I remember him as the president who was here when the state was volatile at the time of cold blood murders when people were being gunned down. Mengo has since forgiven him and he has always been keen on what has been going on concerning the Kabaka and the kingdom.
Prof Apollo Nsibambi
He took charge when he became president. Uganda had gone through a lot of instability and the military factor was extremely significant. The military commission, however, accepted Binaisa’s decisions although it controlled and had a lot of power. Tanzania had assisted to overthrow Amin and the Tanzanian factor was also crucial. There was no civilian supremacy in his days. May he rest in peace.”
Francis Atugonza, Hoima town council chairman
Binaisa participated in the manipulation of the constitution in 1967. He has been part of the problem of this country. He set a precedent of changing constitutions in this country which has persisted to-date. He challenges us as leaders to leave a legacy behind well knowing we shall be judged by the decisions we take while still in office especially those who manipulate constitutions.
Prof Dan Nabudere
I knew Binaisa when we were organising the Moshi Conference in the US. He did not represent any of the 22 organisations. So, he was not included in the UNLF arrangements. He came into the picture when Lule was removed as president. He was in Nairobi and some factions within the UNLF fronted him to replace Lule. Among them was the faction led by President Museveni. I remember him as a patriotic Ugandan who was among the few Ugandans that fought hard to unite the country. I worked with his government until he was overthrown by Obote. He was Attorney General for a very long time in a turbulent period.
He was a nationalist who lived a political life. As President, he struggled very much to keep the UNLF umbrella government but in the end, he was defeated. I remember him as one who dared control the army by appointing the then army commander, the late Oyite Ojok as high commission, which actually led to his downfall. He was a person of integrity who never used his position of leadership for personal gains. He was a mentor who instilled values of leadership into people. I got interested in him in 1962 when I had just left the university. I also served as minister in his government. He had his shortcomings but who doesn’t?
Prof Edward Rugumayo
I remember Binaisa as a very humane person, intelligent, humorous and highly learned. He was a true patriot who loved his country and the people of Uganda. He harbored no ill intensions to anybody and he is one who forgave very quickly. He was a down-to-earth person who wanted to unite the whole of Uganda. I remember him as a good manager and a unifying force but he never had time to accomplish his mission. We shall miss him dearly and of course his family will.
Eng. Yabeezi Kiiza,the Bunyoro Kitara prime minister
He is remembered in Bunyoro for having drafted the 1967 constitution that abolished kingdoms. After his presidency; he became a friend to our kingdom and would at times attend the Omukama’s coronation anniversary celebrations.
By Emmanuel Gyezaho (email the author)
Posted Thursday, August 5 2010 at 14:45
Former President of Uganda Godfrey Lukongwa Binaisa QC has died. He was 90, he died this morning at his home in Kizungu Zone, Makindye Division, a Kampala suburb.
President Binaisa is said to have died in his sleep. “We are gutted and really depressed,” said Nakalema Binaisa, a daughter to the former President, struggling to hold back tears.
Ms Nakalema told of how her father went to bed last night “smiling” but did not wake-up this morning. “We went to the hospital on Monday and we were told that his blood sugar levels had gone down,” she said. “We went back home and he seemed alright. He was smiling last night when he went to sleep.
I remember he called the nurse to check on him before he went to sleep. This morning he did not wake-up.” The former leader had been reportedly battling diabetes.
His body was taken to Mulago Hospital for a post-mortem. Ms Nakalema said her father’s physicians suspect the former leader could have succumbed after a cardiac arrest.
“His heart just stopped beating,” she told Daily Monitor in an interview.
“He was always with us and we had so many plans. He was a fabulous human being; we are so gutted.”
Arrangements are under way for a state funeral for the former leader. Officials at the Office of the President and the Prime Minister’s Office are coordinating burial arrangements.
Educated at King's College Budo and Makerere College, Binaisa studied at the law school at King's College London and in 1955 was appointed a Queen's Counsel (QC).
Binaisa had joined Uganda People's Congress which in 1962 formed the first post-independent government of Uganda. During this regime, he was appointed Attorney General.
Following the overthrow of Idi Amin in 1979, Binaisa returned to Uganda. He was appointed President of Uganda by the National Consultative Commission, which was then the supreme governing body of the Uganda National Liberation Front (UNLF), a coalition of former Ugandan exiles who had helped remove Idi Amin.
The Presidential Commission ruled Uganda until the December 1980 general elections. Binaisa had joined, and was made vice president of the Uganda Patriotic Movement. The elections were won by Milton Obote's Uganda Peoples Congress.
However, the results were disputed, leading President Museveni to launch a guerilla rebellion, which led him to power in 1986.
By Richard Wanambwa (email the author)
Posted Saturday, August 7 2010 at 00:00
Poor work relations among three diplomats at the Uganda Embassy in Kinshasa, DR Congo have disrupted operations and threatened to soil the country’s image, the ambassador has revealed.
In a letter to the Foreign Affairs permanent secretary, Uganda’s top envoy in DR Congo, Ambassador James Kinobe, said; “As the situation stands today, the Mission cannot deliver effectively.” According to sources, Ambassador Kinobe is on a collision path with Ms Nurh Byarufu, the first secretary /political affairs and Ms Fulgensia Tumwesigye, the second secretary/ commercial affairs.
Maj. Kinobe, a former state minister for Youth, said in his letter that the conflict originates from how the mission finances were handled. He also said that his call for accountability and transparency on how money is spent given that Ms Byarufu, who doubles as the accounting officer, was a single signatory to the account, sparked bad blood.
“The second one has been about my demand for finance committee meetings. I realised that Byarufu was not used to the practice of discussing financial matters transparently in meetings and used to handle them privately with the then Head of Mission,” Maj. Kinobe wrote.
Maj. Kinobe says Ms Tumwesigye is the main impediment to the operations of the Embassy. “I do not have anything personal against her and I honestly do not know the motivation for destructive actions,” he said.
Attempts to reach Ms Tumwesigye failed but Regional corporation minister Isaac Musumba said political heads at the ministry asked Ambassador James Mugume to handle the matter but they hadn’t received feedback. Ambassador Mugume was not answering our calls by press time.
By The Post
Sat 07 Aug. 2010, 04:00 CAT
THIS Thursday’s by-elections may not have been to the level of freeness, fairness and peacefulness that we may all desire. But they have taught us that it is possible to hold free, fair and peaceful elections in our country.
These by-elections have also shown us that if the spirit of the primacy of the common good were to animate all our political parties, we would not witness the violence, intimidation and all the unacceptable practices that have started to characterise our elections and which have left most of our people dismayed and disheartened.
As we have stated before, it is necessary to remind ourselves that politics and the elections that accompany it is for the good of the people and the country, and not for political survival of any individual or political party.
The basic item in a democratic state is that the government governs with the consent of the people – “…the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government” (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, art. 21, page 5). The minimum guarantee that the government rules on the basis of the genuine will of the people is free, fair and peaceful elections.
The fundamental right to take part in government requires the holding of free, fair and peaceful elections. And any elections that are proved not to be free, fair and peaceful should not be tolerated; they should be cancelled or nullified and re-run until these conditions are met. Free, fair and peaceful elections require respect for freedom of opinion, freedom of expression, freedom of association, the right to peaceful assembly and the freedom from fear and intimidation. They also require the right of every citizen of the right age to register and cast a vote in a public election.
This also requires the right not to be threatened into voting for a person or political party out of fear; it requires the basic freedom from intimidation and violence and the right to participate in the electoral campaign for a candidate or the political of one’s choice. And in this regard, the right to conduct public rallies to campaign for one’s political party needs to be respected.
And those conducting elections, including the registration of voters have a duty to ensure that every citizen or voter’s right to information on the electoral procedures is respected. Right now we have a very worrying situation concerning the registration of voters. People don’t simply know what to do or where to go and register.
Whatever the Electoral Commission of Zambia may say to justify what they are doing, there’s need for them to mull over things and consider the feelings of the people on this score. Things are not what they think they are on the ground. The voter registration is certainly not going well and the whole exercise needs revisiting.
And we urge all our people to pay a lot of attention to electoral matters and do everything possible to register as voters. We also urge all our political parties to do everything possible and ensure that all their supporters register as voters. We wish to once again remind them that in democratic elections, the struggle is often not to determine which candidate or political party commands the greatest public support, but who can most effectively motivate his or her supporters to convert their opinions, their support into votes.
There’s need to ensure that every citizen who has attained the age of 18 registers as a voter and actually votes in next year’s elections. We have been reminding all our people, and we will continue to do so without respite, that voting is not only their right, but rather their duty. If they withhold their vote, Zambians run a risk of getting into public offices people who have no national interest at heart and who are going to jeopardise the future of their children.
The neglect of the duty of participating in the choice of leaders at all levels brings catastrophic results to the nation. It is a great mistake to shun this responsibility. All who have reached the age of 18 should register to participate in electing leaders who have the necessary qualities. It should be understood that the neglect of participating in the voting and in the election of good leaders allows unworthy candidates to take leadership positions and brings disharmony in our country. To neglect to vote is to lose a person’s right and the nation’s right.
It is also important to realise that political rights consist in the capacity of private citizens to participate in government. They exist for the public good and they are not strictly rights but rather privileges. And the most important political right or privilege is the vote. Whether a nation will have good or bad laws, an upright or inefficient administration, depends on the voters. A person who qualifies to register as a voter and to vote but never registers or votes is guilty of serious omission. Citizens who do not care for their duty of voting are an easy prey to tyranny.
The right to elect one’s representatives and to influence the political direction of one’s government is democracy’s indispensable political foundation. Without free, fair and peaceful election, there is neither the possibility for citizens to express their will nor the opportunity for citizens to change their leaders, address wrongs, or protest the limitation of their rights. Elections establish the citizenry’s and the individual’s political rights. They are the ongoing representation of the consent of the governed.
Free, fair and peaceful elections mean that elections offer equal opportunities for all competing political parties and candidates. Such equality requires the ability of political parties and candidates to campaign without unreasonable constraints, balanced access to the media for all candidates, the absence of campaign finance abuse and an independent electoral process. It also means that there are no burdensome impediments for one to register as a voter. The ideal is to have maximum participation in elections.
For democracy to work in our country, everyone must agree to accept the results of freely held elections. The people and political parties who have lost elections must be willing to accept defeat. If the loser refuses to accept the winner because of real or perceived malpractices or abuses, the election’s legitimacy is diminished and the political system may be marked by conflict and instability.
The potential for abuse shows that the integrity of democracy is not an inevitable outcome of elections and must be ensured a country’s citizens. Elections are the sine qua non of democracy. Without democracy’s other essential elements – the consent of the governed, constitutional limits, the protection of human rights, accountability and transparency, a multiparty system and the rule of law – elections cannot guarantee that freedom will be achieved.
We have seen that where democratic institutions are weak, elections are easily used by corrupt, violent and undemocratic elements to manipulate the will of the people and seize control of the government and other institutions of the state. During the 1930s in Germany, for instance, Adolf Hitler rose to power in the Weimar government through elections and then assumed complete control through intimidation and thuggery.
We saw how in 1991 Frederick Chiluba rose to power through free, fair and peaceful elections to establish a kleptocracy and a tyrannical regime that continues to corruptly keep itself in power and make elections appear to be a mere formality. They have been carrying out elections that don’t seem in any way to promote or deepen democracy but to undermine it. They have been holding elections which they manipulate and distort to impose fraudulent results that create fictitious consent.
This calls for meaningful participation from all of us so that we can wisely choose people who will take the direction of the affairs of our country. We should be conscious of the crucial role which everyone of us should play in choosing the leaders who will create the Zambia we want to live in.
Lastly, we urge the Electoral Commission of Zambia, all our political parties and all our people to pay maximum attention to the registration of voters and ensure that every Zambian of the voting age is not only given the opportunity to register as a voter but that he or she actually registers to vote in next year’s elections. Everything possible should be done to ensure that this is achieved.
By Patson Chilemba
Sat 07 Aug. 2010, 04:00 CAT
PATRIOTIC Front (PF) president Michael Sata yesterday said the PF’s victory in the Chifubu parliamentary by-election is the people’s verdict against thieves and their allies. Commenting on PF’s victory in Chifubu, Sata said Zambians wanted change because they were fed up with President Rupiah Banda’s playfulness and friendship with thieves.
He said the MMD failed to win the seat despite pumping in billions of kwacha to buy the people. Sata said the MMD’s bribery failed to buy the electorate. He said President Banda and his consultant, former president Frederick Chiluba, campaigned heavily in the area, but to no avail.
“It is a verdict against thieves and their allies. People on the Copperbelt are suffering because of the thieves, because of all the thieves and their allies,” Sata said.
“The people of Copperbelt cannot be cheated by Chiluba. The people of the Copperbelt cannot be cheated by thieves. Chiluba went to camp in Chimwemwe but the people there have rejected him. They have also rejected him in Chifubu. He is a good consultant.”
Sata said it was embarrassing for the ruling MMD to continue losing parliamentary by-elections. He said in the past, ruling parties faced no difficulties winning by-elections.
He said the MMD losses in Chifubu and Luena constituencies showed that the people had lost confidence in the ruling party.
“Even if our Pact partner UPND has not won in Luena, we are consoled that the seat has gone to the opposition,” he said.
Sata boasted that PF had never lost a parliamentary by-election in its strongholds.
“I am celebrating our parliamentary victory. Rupiah Banda has gone to celebrate a ward victory in Kaputa with chief Puta where they bought 105 votes in Mansa, using Elizabeth Mulobeka. Rupiah Banda has gone with the police to cement the conviction of Katele Kalumba,” he said.
Sata said PF had won the elections under very difficult conditions because some people could not vote as their polling stations had been changed.
He said people were still registering as voters during the campaigns and at the time of voting, a thing he said was unheard of in Zambia’s history.
Sata said the MMD was deceived to think that they could use the weaknesses in the Pact to win the elections.
He said as a result of the loss, President Banda had vented his anger on the police by making radical changes in the police command on the Copperbelt.
“The police have realised that they are suffering the same way the other people are suffering. And you see it is unthinkable for Rupiah Banda and Inspector General of Police Francis Kabonde to take Antonnel Mtentwa, the divisional commander Copperbelt to come and be director medical when he is not a doctor,” said Sata.
On the PF’s local government losses in Mansa and Lupososhi to the ruling MMD, Sata said the losses should not raise concern because it was easy for the ruling party to buy voters in one ward.
He said the MMD used the people’s poverty to buy votes.
By Kabanda Chulu and Abigail Chaponda in Ndola and Mwala Kalalu
Sat 07 Aug. 2010, 04:00 CAT
NEWLY elected PF Chifubu member of parliament Susan Kawandami has Zambian women have every opportunity to become leaders in the country. And MMD campaign manager Mwansa Mbulakulima has accused the Patriotic Front (PF) of engaging in corruption and intimidation to secure victory.
Meanwhile, Alliance for Democracy and Development (ADD) leader Charles Milupi yesterday said his retention of the Luena parliamentary seat is a statement to the MMD that people had suffered enough.
Anticipation of excitement swept through the main auditorium at Lowenthal Theatre in Ndola on Thursday night when jubilant PF cadres chanted slogans in praise of their political leadership and denounced the policies of the MMD government.
The PF cadres, who started arriving around 19 hours, stormed the theatre hall carrying vuvuzelas, drums and whistles and started celebrating victory even before the official results were announced by returning officer Roy Kuseka.
Later, Kawandami was declared winner after amassing 6,976 votes against the MMD’s Frank Ngambi’s 4,539 votes, while Bryan Banda of ADD got 412 votes with Poko Mambwe of UNIP receiving 221 votes.
Speaking after Kuseka declared her as duly elected member of parliament for Chifubu, Kawandami advised women not to be scared of men when aspiring for leadership positions.
“When this campaign started, I knew that I was going to win the election and I told Ng’ambi that I was in a winning boat and that he should also come on board to become one of us and I am proud of the people for giving me this support.
As you know I stood among men and have emerged victorious and this is a stepping stone for women and they should come forward to stand because they have every opportunity to be leaders of this nation,” she said.
And PF campaign manager Willie Nsanda said former president Fredrick Chiluba had been taught a lesson and that he should avoid campaigning for the MMD.
“We came to teach the boys of Ndola how politics are conducted, starting with their boss Dr Chiluba who doesn’t know that he is finished in politics and he must now stop because he campaigned in Chimwemwe and Chifubu but we have hit him pants down,” he said.
PF chairman for elections Geoffrey Mwamba said President Rupiah Banda should be ashamed of using Chiluba in trying to bring disunity in the country.
“We are proud of the people of Chifubu for bringing shame on RB, Dr Chiluba and the entire MMD government and it is now clear that Michael Sata is a man of the people and come 2011 he shall rule this country,” said Mwamba.
But Mbulakulima said the difference recorded between PF and MMD was insignificant thus demonstrating that MMD had made in-roads into what is claimed to be the PF stronghold.
“MMD is up and running and in 2011 we shall give them a good run. If you ask me if elections were free and fair, my personal answer is that there was a lot of intimidation from PF. This could have contributed to the apathy we saw yesterday,” he said.
“This hooliganism has continued. Even today as they celebrate, they are burning tyres and deforming billboards in Chifubu. This kind of behaviour should be condemned at all costs.”
When asked if MMD was considering petitioning the outcome of the elections, Mbulakulima failed to give a categorical answer.
“That is up to the government spokesperson to answer but talking as campaign manager, I saw some elements of corruption and our officials reported this matter to Electoral Commission because one PF chairman was seen dishing out K5,000 notes and when confronted he fled,” said Mbulakulima said.
And Ngambi pledged to continue being a servant of the people.
“I will remain open and will be willing to work with you people and will be available for any assistance and if requested will help Kawandami to bring development to Chifubu,” said Ngambi.
And MMD campaign manager in the Luena parliamentary by-election, Prof Geoffrey Lungwangwa, yesterday attributed his party’s loss to the absence of party structures in the constituency for the past 14 years.
And addressing journalists shortly after he was declared winner of Thursday’s Luena by-election by returning officer Chrispine Kalihonga at Mongu Civic Centre yesterday morning, Milupi said his win was a victory for democracy.
Milupi, who was the constituency’s former Independent parliamentarian, polled 3,688 votes, the MMD polled 2,800, UPND polled 1,806, UNIP 115 and the ULP polled 116 out of a total of 8,630 votes cast.
The number of eligible voters in Luena is estimated at over 14,000 and it has a total of 42 polling stations in eight wards.
“I would like to thank the wonderful people of Luena who have withstood so many temptations to come up with a positive result,” Milupi said amidst unrestrained cheers from the crowd of supporters.
“I think this victory is a victory for democracy. The people have been allowed to make their decision based on the issues concerning Luena, concerning Western Province and issues affecting this country, Zambia.”
Milupi said he thanked the people of Luena wholeheartedly for re-electing him, amidst vote buying and grabbing of voters’ cards by some of his competitors.
“By this action we have reset the politics of Zambia,” Milupi said.
“Politics of insults, politics of violence is not what is wanted in this country.”
Milupi said for those politicians that liked engaging in such vices, the people of Luena were telling them that electoral malpractices were not sufficient to win an election.
“If we can do so much for so little, what if we were given the opportunity to control the treasury of the country?” he asked. “What is required is integrity, dedication, hard work and commitment.”
Milupi said it was sad that from a middle-income country at independence, Zambia was now being defined as a least developed country.
“This can no longer be tolerated,” Milupi said. “Enough is enough. We have suffered enough in this country. I advise those who are still on the fence, those who were waiting to see what was going to happen in Luena Constituency that the victory has been achieved.”
After his statement to journalists, Milupi’s motorcade drove around Mongu town before proceeding to Limulunga, which is in Luena Constituency.
And in an interview shortly after Milupi was declared winner, Prof Lungwangwa, who is also communications and transport minister as well Nalikwanda MMD parliamentarian, said that although Milupi had retained the Luena seat the winning margin had been extremely narrow compared to the over 2000 that Milupi beat the MMD with in 2006.
“The results are out, Honourable Milupi, yes he has retained his seat in Parliament but the margin has been extremely narrow,” Prof Lungwangwa said. “MMD as a party is still very popular. First when you compare the performance; our performance in this by-election and the performance of the UPND, UPND are not a factor.
We stand a better chance of doing very well next time around.”
Prof Lungwangwa said the MMD had no structures on the ground in Luena and that they had to put up structures during the campaign period.
“The absence of party structures might have affected our performance,” Prof Lungwangwa said. “We did our best, but of course these are elections…for the last 14 years we never had a presence in Luena Constituency.”
Prof Lungwangwa said come 2011 the MMD was going to win the Luena seat. He also said he was not aware that there was controversy over his appointment as the campaign manager in the Luena elections.
Prof Lungwangwa said the MMD’s victory in Kaoma Central’s Longe Ward by-election indicated that the ruling party was still strong in the province.
However, there was visible discontent and frustration among some MMD youths upon realising that they had lost the by-election, which they said they could have won on a silver plate.
Some of them were heard saying that they were going to stage a protest to press for the immediate resignation of the party's top leadership in the Province.
By Misheck Wangwe and Mwila Chansa in Kitwe
Sat 07 Aug. 2010, 03:59 CAT
CHINGOLA’s Twelve Apostles Nchanga Parish priest Fr Charles Tembo has challenged President Rupiah Banda and the government ministers for once to listen to the voice of the poor over its intentions to bring mobile hospitals in Zambia.
And UPND Copperbelt Province vice-youth chairman Kelly Jibinga has described as foolish the government’s decision to borrow US $53 million from China to procure mobile hospitals.
In an interview on Wednesday, Fr Tembo said it was disappointing that the government wanted to force a foreign concept on the people when it was clear that the mobile hospitals would not suit the Zambian situation.
Fr Tembo said the majority poor in Zambia wanted the government to build permanent infrastructure and work on the already existing but dilapidated hospitals.
He said it would be illogical for the government to introduce mobile hospitals in Zambia when it had failed to work on roads in rural areas.
“It is very disappointing to see how government has remained adamant that it will bring mobile hospitals when the situation can speak for itself that they will just waste taxpayers’ money,” Fr Tembo said.
“The roads are bad, I worked in Lufwanyama for years and the road that leads to that area is in a bad state; many patients have died on the way when they are referred to Kitwe to seek medical attention due to a bad road. Abantu babomfya utushila twatondo people use footpaths to get to St Mary’s hospital.
“Which roads now are these mobile hospitals going to ride on? Government should not take people’s lives for granted. Let them for once do a right thing for the poor please. These people yearn for a hospital that would be theirs forever and not a hospital when they wake up in the morning they find it’s gone,” Fr Tembo said.
He further observed that the mobile hospitals would also be very costly and demanding because they would require a lot of human labour such as the mechanics to accompany the medical personnel in case of a breakdown and many other challenges.
“When I was in Lufwanyama there was a time when a pregnant mother we were referring to Kitwe Central Hospital from St. Mary’s Mission almost gave birth on the way due to the dilapidated road and these incidences have continued. People are suffering, we want government to identify issues that directly affect the people and work towards restoring human dignity because whether poor or rich we are equal in the eyes of God,” Fr Tembo said.
Fr Tembo said the government must look at issues such as the shortage of medical personnel in rural health centres as opposed to concentrating on futile programmes such as the purchase of mobile hospitals.
And Jibinga in a statement said it was disappointing for President Rupiah Banda to tell Zambians that it was none of their business that he signed a US$53 million concession loan to buy mobile hospitals because neither President Banda nor his sons would repay the loan.
Jibinga said it was even more annoying for the youths that President Banda would not be there when they would be made to pay back the loan.
By Ernest Chanda
Sat 07 Aug. 2010, 04:00 CAT
VICE-PRESIDENT George Kunda yesterday justified government’s intention to remove abuse of office offence from the revised Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) Act by stating in parliament that they want to avoid duplication of offences.
And parliament has suspended Kafulafuta MMD parliamentarian George Mpombo for one week over his alleged disparaging remarks against Vice-President George Kunda.
Responding to a question during the Vice-President’s question time from Zambezi West UPND parliamentarian Charles Kakoma who wanted to know if cabinet had decided whether or not to remove abuse of office offense from the revised ACC Act and when the bill would be presented to parliament, Vice-President Kunda said it was the prerogative of government to determine where the offence would be placed.
He said government wants laws that are in accordance with principles of justice.
“I can confirm that we are reforming the law on the fight against corruption. And one of the laws under review is the Anti Corruption Commission Act. We have revised the law on whistle blowers and many others, and now it’s time to move to the ACC Act. As for abuse of office offence it exists even in the Penal Code,” Vice-President Kunda said.
“So, you can see that we want to avoid duplication of offences. But I can assure that abuse of office will continue to be an offence. As for where it will be placed, that is our prerogative as government. We want to update our laws so that they are consistent. We want laws which are in accordance with principles of justice and are acceptable to commonwealth standards.”
And when asked by Roan Patriotic Front parliamentarian Chishimba Kambwili why government had insisted on buying mobile hospitals against professional advise from medical practitioners, Vice President Kunda claimed that Zambians had supported the move.
“The people of Zambia have overwhelmingly supported the procurement of mobile hospitals. And we shall go ahead with the procurement so that we can serve our people well,” he said.
Asked by Nchanga PF parliamentarian Wylbur Simuusa what kind of support President Rupiah Banda rendered to Malawian President Bingu Wamutarika for him to win that country’s Presidential election, Vice-President Kunda said it was nothing more than moral support.
And Mpombo who was absent from the House will only serve a one-week sentence when the next sitting of parliament resumes, instead of the initial two months as recommended by the parliamentary committee on privileges, absences and support services.
According to Chongo’s complaint, Mpombo is alleged to have described Vice-President Kunda as the most stupid Vice-President the country has ever had, in an article published in The Post of July 5, 2010.
Mpombo was commenting on Vice-President Kunda’s threat of imprisonment in parliament on Katuba MMD parliamentarian Jonas Shakafuswa when the latter questioned government’s motive to remove abuse of office offence from the revised ACC Act.
And on July 7, 2010, Mwense ‘rebel’ PF parliamentarian Jacob Chongo
rose on a point of order, wanting to know if Mpombo was in order to use abusive language against the leader of government business in the House.
Delivering judgment, Nalumango further ordered Mpombo to apologise to the House.
“In this regard, the committee resolved that Mr G Mpombo, MP, was guilty of breaching parliamentary privileges etiquette, and was in contempt of the House and, recommended that the Hon member be suspended from service of the House for a period of two (2) months in accordance with the provisions section 28 (1) of the National Assembly (Powers and Privileges) Act, Cap 12 of the Laws of Zambia,” Nalumango ruled.
“The House may however wish to know that due to the fact that parliament shall be prorogued after the House adjourns sine die today, Mr G Mpombo, MP, shall only be suspended for a period of one (1) week. This is inline with the proviso in section 28 of the National Assembly (Powers and Privileges) Act, Chapter 12 of the Laws of Zambia, which places a restriction on the power of the National Assembly to suspend a member from the service of House.”
Parliament has since adjourned sine die.
By Abigail Chaponda in Ndola
Sat 07 Aug. 2010, 04:00 CAT
GEORGE Mpombo yesterday described his conviction as part of President Rupiah Banda's scheme to convict, fix, humiliate politically and otherwise incapacitate him.
Commenting on his conviction, Mpombo said he was ready for anything they want to do to him.
"This conviction does not come to me as a surprise because from the very beginning I knew that I was arrested and was being prosecuted on orders of Rupiah Banda so that I am convicted, fixed, humiliated politically and otherwise incapacitated.
Given Rupiah Banda's interest in this matter there was nothing the police or any judicial officer could do but to obey his wish,” Mpombo said.
“And who doesn't know what they were saying about this case. I haven't forgotten what Mike Mulongoti said about me being convicted in this matter and sent to jail where I will need him. This is what they have done. This is how they operate. This is their criminal scheme but it won't work, they will live to regret their evil actions against me.”
Mpombo said he has come a long way in his life and has lived an honest life.
“I have never abused public office or involved myself in corrupt deeds like they do everyday. And I am not that naive to expect lenience from them. They are out to finish me off. But the Lord and justice is on my side. They will live to regret everything they are doing to me,” Mpombo said.
“They have failed to politically deal with me and had to resort to the abuse of the judicial process. But for how long will they survive through abuse and corruption? I will be back on Monday to hear my sentence.
I expect no lenience from Rupiah because he didn't bring up this case against me to show how lenient he is but to demonstrate how abusive and cruel he can be. I am ready for anything they want to do to me because the Lord and justice are on my side."
The Ndola magistrate’s court yesterday convicted Mpombo on one count of issuing a cheque on an insufficiently funded account.
Mpombo, 55, of number five Katonde Farms, was convicted by Chief Resident Magistrate Kelvin Limbani.
Mpombo was charged with an offence of a dishonoured cheque, contrary to section 33 (1) of the national payment systems Act as read with the Bank of Zambia Act.
Particulars of the offence were that Mpombo on December 18, 2009 with intent to defraud, issued cheque number 00014 worth K10 million to Colwyn Limited of Ndola on an insufficiently funded account, at Standard Chartered Bank, account number 0100260696200 which rendered the cheque dishonoured.
Mpombo’s lawyer Bonaventure Mutale in mitigation asked magistrate Limbani to fine Mpombo instead of giving him a custodial sentence.
“The accused is a first offender and I humbly ask the court to accord maximum leniency. The court should take note that the accused repaid the money at the earliest notice when he was informed that the cheque was dishonoured. The position is that there is no loss that was suffered by the complainant as the money was paid,” Mutale said.
“The circumstances surrounding the case do not show any features of aggravation. I humbly request a fine as opposed to a custodial sentence. I humbly beseech your honour to consider a fine as it is quite clearly that there are no aggravated circumstances.”
But magistrate Limbani reserved sentencing to Monday August 9, 20101 and remanded Mpombo in custody.
“You are a convict and I shall remand you in custody. Sentencing is set for Monday 9th August,” he said.
Mpombo looked so surprised over the conviction.
The mood in court was quiet. Mpombo greeted sympathisers as he was led to the court cell and assured them that “everything is going to be okay".
By Nyasa Times
Published: August 7, 2010
Comium Malawi, also known as C-mobile who are expected to be given the 4th mobile licence fronted Malawians to win the bid as they do not appear anywhere as shareholders, Nyasa Times investigations have revealed. The shareholders of C-Mobile which has links to Lebanon are Nizar Dalloul, Ali Dalloul, Joumana El-Sheikh and Lana Ali Ahmad.
However, they have bluffed Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) and presented infinity investments as owners whose shareholders are Malawian. The documents sourced by shows that they are not.
When asked why they fronted Malawians to win the bid to dial fourth cell when there no local shareholders, C-mobile officials declined to comment.
Government called for a fourth operator to boost competition and improve services on network problems and high costs of airtime tariffs.
Meanwhile, Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) will award the licence to C-Mobile as the fourth mobile operator.
The four companies who submitted their bid e in the race to dial the fourth cell include two Malawian companies Celcom Limited and Smart Telecom Limited.
The other one was Zambezi Africa Holdings from South Africa.
“Currently we have three operators, namely Zain, TNM and GMobile, but we want another operator to help reduce the cost of doing business and improve the quality of telecommunication services,” Macra spokesman Zamuziko Makambo is on record to have said.
GMobile owned by a consortium of Malawian businessmen in partnership with Berry Telecoms of South Africa. It is yet to roll out services since being given a mobile phone operating license last year.
Last year, Macra awarded two licenses to La Cell Private Limited and Expresso Telecom Group Limited, but later suspended the licenses, saying the tenders had not been awarded properly.
GMobile was recently fined by Macra for missing deadline to roll out their network.
Friday, August 06, 2010
By Nyasa Times
Published: August 4, 2010
Malawi has called on all Barley tobacco producers in the Sothern Africa Development Community (SADC) region to jealously defend their tobacco against stiff restrictive regulations by some G20 countries.
Deputy Minister of agriculture Margaret Mauwa said this in Lilongwe when opening a high-profile International Conference on World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control-FCTC.
Mauwa said it is unfortunate that despite the high taxes that already rock the tobacco industry, problems in the industry are worsening due to anti-tobacco laws being advanced by the FCTC protocol.
About 1.5 Million Malawians depend on tobacco for their employment as peasant farmers, service providers and processors according to official figures.
Besides the heavy taxes on tobacco products, the world health organization’s framework convention on tobacco control protocol has several articles that haunt barley tobacco growing countries like Malawi, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia.
Canada has been in forefront in speaking against Burley leaf on its soils.
A Swiss consultant in the industry from Universal leaf Tobacco Barbara Martellini feels that tobacco producers should embrace health regulations while diversifying their economic survival lines.
Tobacco is the number one forex earner for agro-based economies like Malawi, with its tax revenues driving most government operations.
On his return from African Union summit in Kampala, Uganda Malawi President Professor Bingu Wa Mutharika quashed out fears from the west on Malawi’s Burley Tobacco saying alternative markets need to be explored. – Nyasa Times
By By Mwala Kalaluka in Luena
Fri 06 Aug. 2010, 11:00 CAT
Alliance for Democracy and Development (ADD) candidate Charles Milupi has retained the Luena parliamentary seat after recording 3, 688 votes from yesterday’s by-election. Milupi was declared winner of the election at around 10:50 today (August 6, 2010), by returning officer Chrispine Kalihonga.
The official results finally confirmed Milupi as the member of parliament for Luena while MMD candidate Mwangala Maopu trailed with 2, 800 votes. UPND through its candidate Muyunda Ililonga got 1, 806 leaving 116 votes to ULP candidate Kachala Musole and 115 to UNIP’s Mutokela Mutokela.
Mongu residents broke into celebrations chanting ADD party slogans immediately Milupi was announced as the duly elected member of parliament for Luena.
ADD’s Milupi on track to retain Luena seat
By Mwala Kalaluka
Unconfirmed results from all the 42 polling stations in Luena constituency are showing strong indications that the newly formed Alliance for Democracy and Development (ADD) through its candidate Charles Milupi may retain the parliamentary seat following yesterday’s by-election.
At around 03:50, returning officers in Luena counted ballot papers from at least 33 of the 42 polling stations and together with the unconfirmed results compiled by The Post on-line in the remaining 9 polling stations, Milupi now leads the race with 1, 207.
Although the final results are yet to be announced, unconfirmed figures suggest what the Luena outcome might look like.
ADD has 3, 278, MMD 2, 071, UPND 1, 326, UNIP 84 while ULP has managed to get 70 votes only from across the constituency.
MMD closes in on ADD’s Milupi in Luena
By Mwala Kalaluka
THE ruling MMD has closed up on the gap earlier recoded in the election results being counted in Luena following yesterday’s parliamentary by-elections.
The officially announced results from 17 polling stations now put ADD candidate Charles Milupi ahead of MMD’s Mwangala Maopu with only 46 votes.
The total results so far indicate that ADD is ahead with 1, 335, MMD 1, 289, UPND candidate Muyunda Ililonga has 729, UNIP’s Mutokela Mutokela 62 and ULP’s Kachala Musole 55.
In all the 17 polling stations which had their results announced, MMD and ADD candidates shared the first and second place while the rest trailed with a wider margin.
Vote-count underway as PF wins Chimwemwe ward
By Kabanda Chulu, Abigail Chaponda in Chifubu and Mwala Kalaluka in Luena
Patriotic Front (PF) has won the Chimwemwe ward election after its candidate Overtone Nyondo polled 691 against the MMD's Nicolas Nzunda who got 460.
Two other candidates, both independents, polled 146 and 20 respectively.
The Chimwemwe Ward election, however, recorded a low voter turnout with only less than 1,400 having voted out of the registered 4,320.
This ward election saw former president Frederick Chiluba heavily campaign for the MMD candidate.
And voting in today’s parliamentary by-elections has closed and counting of ballot papers has started in Ndola’s Chifubu and Mongu’s Luena constituencies.
Meanwhile an MMD cadre is currently being detained at Chifubu police station pending investigations after he was caught persuading old aged electorates to vote for the ruling MMD candidate Frank Ng’ambi.
Counting of ballot papers has finished at Chiparamba polling station in Chifubu with opposition Patriotic Front (PF) candidate Susan Kawandami getting 139 votes, ruling MMD’s Frank Ng’ambi 101, Alliance for Democracy and Development (ADD)’s Brian Banda got 16 while UNIP candidate Poko Mambwe only managed 4 votes.
At Chikango poling station, PF got 166, MMD 109, ADD, 19 and UNIP again got 4 votes.
Earlier in the day, voting in the Chifubu parliamentary and Chimwemwe local government started at a slow note with very few people casting their ballots by midday.
At about 12:00 there were no long queues at selected polling stations dotted across Chifubu Constituency and election monitors attributed the low turnout to the holding of elections in an urban setting on a working day.
In an interview, Anti-Voter Apathy Project (AVAP) monitor Miyoba Hamusankwa said about one third of total registered voters had turned out to cast their votes.
“This is not a good figure considering the huge turn outs that characterised the public rally campaigns; maybe it is because it is a working day and this is an urban area,” said Hamusankwa.
The battle in the Chifubu by-elections seems to be between the PF and the MMD candidates although ADD and UNIP are also contesting the seat.
Meanwhile, Police in Ndola are holding an MMD supporter who has been identified as Norman Kandel of house number CH3268 in Chifubu for questioning after he was found giving some voters instructions to vote for MMD at the ‘council tents’ polling station.
The incident happened when poling assistants noticed Kandela talking to some electorates outside the poling station and allegedly persuaded them to vote in favour of MMD candidate Nga’mbi, contrary to the electoral code of conduct.
In Luena, the counting of ballot papers is also underway with results from two poling stations already announced.
In Limulunga East, ADD candidate, Charles Milupi got 368 votes, UPND’s Muyunda Ililonga got 137, MMD’s Mwangala Maopu got 101, United Liberal Party (ULP) Kachala Musole got 9 and UNIP’s Mutokela Mutokela got 5.
In Limulunga West where the Lozi traditional leader, the Litunga voted from, ADD got 383, MMD got 154, UPND got 146, UNIP recorded 6 votes while ULP only managed 4.
By The Post
Fri 06 Aug. 2010, 04:00 CAT
IT requires a little intelligence – if a little is all one has – to realise that the administration of justice in this country is under the control and direction of Rupiah Banda. It is clear that Rupiah does not hesitate to exercise the powers of the Inspector General of Police and those of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Rupiah believes that as commander-in-chief, he has all the powers to order the arrest of any person whom he believes has committed a crime. He also thinks as President of the Republic, he has the powers to order the release from police custody of any person who has been arrested.
And we have seen from his conduct following the questionable acquittal of Frederick Chiluba that Rupiah believes he has powers to order the Director of Public Prosecutions not to appeal any decision he so desires. Rupiah made it very clear to the nation that he had stopped the appeal against the acquittal of Chiluba.
And on Tuesday Rupiah displayed his control and direction of the police to the whole nation by directing to release individuals who were arrested and detained for allegedly blocking the motorcade of his Vice-President, George Kunda. This is the way Rupiah is running the country.
This is the way justice is being administered in our country. If Rupiah wants you to be arrested, he simply orders so and you are put behind bars. If Rupiah wants you released from police custody, he simply directs and you are released. And we can add that if Rupiah wants you to be convicted, this will be so.
And if he wants you acquitted you will accordingly not be found guilty. If it is his desire for a nolle prosequi to be extended to you, that will be done. Everything starts and ends with Rupiah – he is the alpha and the omega in everything. Even government contracts or deals, if Rupiah wants them to be done and given to you, they will be done and given to you. If Rupiah wants you to buy Zamtel, it will be sold to you. Everything that Rupiah wants, it is done, there’s no stopping it.
And the idea of an independent judicial process doesn’t exist in Rupiah’s world. Although Rupiah in political rhetoric talks about the notion that justice should be fairly administered, he doesn’t expect anything in any real sense to be independent from him. The administration of justice seems to be his prerogative, which he carries out directly or indirectly through his appointed officials.
As such, not only is there no separation of powers, but those who administer justice are his agents and can only act in accordance with his will as their principal. And we saw this in the case of Chansa Kabwela. Rupiah called a press conference at State House at which he denounced us, accusing us of circulating pornography and ordered that we be arrested.
And in no time Chansa was arrested and prosecuted for distributing pornography. And this was in a matter in which if everything was left to the professional and independent judgment of the police and the Director of Public Prosecutions, the embarrassing comedy of errors that we saw in that case would have been avoided. It seems no one in our judicial process can dare question or defy the orders of the commander-in-chief.
Rupiah is destroying the administration of justice in this country. The police can no longer be seen as an independent and impartial law enforcement agency because Rupiah openly and publicly commands it to arrest or release whoever he wants. And the Director of Public Prosecutions cannot be seen as an independent and autonomous public officer administering justice since Rupiah directs him on who should be prosecuted or not and which acquittals he should appeal or not appeal.
Clearly, Rupiah is the de facto Inspector General of Police and the Director of Public Prosecutions. And as we know, in every society throughout history those who administer the criminal justice system, especially if they are political animals and not independent officers of justice, hold power with the potential for abuse and tyranny. In the name of the state, they arrest and imprison innocent individuals. No democratic society can tolerate this type of behaviour and such abuses.
Every state must have the power to maintain law and order and punish criminal acts, but the rules and procedures by which the state enforces its laws must not be arbitrary or subject to political manipulation by those in power.
Rupiah’s conduct threatens not only the rule of law in this country but also the consolidation of democracy in our nation. The right to equality before the law, or equal protection of the law, is fundamental to any just and democratic society. Whether political ally of Rupiah or opponent – all are entitled to equal protection before the law.
No one is asking Rupiah to guarantee that life treats everyone equally, and he has no responsibility to do so. But under no circumstances should Rupiah impose addition inequalities; he should allow those who administer justice in our country to deal evenly and equally with all our people. No one is above the law. And when the laws are obeyed, both law and democracy are served.
There’s also need for Rupiah to be taught what his powers are under the Constitution. Generally, Rupiah has no powers under our Constitution to order the police to arrest or release people anyhow. And equally, Rupiah has no powers to order the Director of Public Prosecutions to prosecute or not to prosecute anyone. What Rupiah has under the Constitution are powers to pardon people who have been convicted. But even here, there are procedures to be followed – it’s not arbitrary.
So the question is: under which authority did Rupiah order the police to release the Ndola nine, claiming he has pardoned them? And who gave him that authority? Rupiah has simply stolen the powers of the Inspector General of Police and the Director of Public Prosecutions and he is using them for corrupt political purposes.
This is not a recipe for governing well and for entrenching the rule of law in the nation. What we saw on Tuesday must be just a tip of the iceberg in terms of Rupiah’s abuse of our judicial process. There are certainly many cases where Rupiah is ordering law enforcement agencies to arrest and prosecute his political opponents and other people he detests. And equally there must be many cases where he is ordering our law enforcement agencies not to arrest and prosecute his political allies and friends.
And of course, we have all seen how Rupiah has stopped the appeal against the acquittal of his political ally and friend Chiluba. Clearly, there is breakdown in the rule of law in this country. And if Rupiah is not stopped, by the time he leaves office, we will have no judicial process worth talking about – all institutions that administer justice in this country will be reeking with corruption in every pore.
That act of Rupiah in Ndola was meant to make him look benevolent, kind or humane when it is nothing but a criminal act, a gross violation of the supreme law of our country. But everything for Rupiah goes – the means always justifies the end for him.
By Abigail Chaponda in Ndola
Fri 06 Aug. 2010, 14:00 CAT
THE Ndola magistrate court this morning convicted former defence minister George Mpombo on one count of issuing a cheque on an insufficiently funded account. And the magistrate has reserved sentencing in the matter to Monday and has since ordered that Mpombo be remanded in prison pending sentencing as he was a convict.
Mpombo, 55, of number five Katonde farms, was convicted by Chief Resident Magistrate Kelvin Limbani. Mpombo was charged with an offence of a dishonored cheque, contrary to section 33 (1) of the National Payment systems Act as read with the Bank of Zambia Act.
Particulars of the offence were that Mpombo on December 18, 2009 with intent to defraud, issued cheque number 00014 worth K10 million to Colwyn Limited of Ndola on an insufficiently funded account, at Standard Chartered Bank, account number 0100260696200 which rendered the cheque dishonored.
Mpombo’s lawyer Bonaventure Mutale in mitigation asked magistrate Limbani to fine Mpombo instead of giving him a custodial sentence.
“The accused is a first offender and I humbly ask the court to accord maximum leniency, the court should take note that the accused repaid the money at the earliest notice when he was informed that the cheque was dishonored. The position is that there is no loss that was suffered by the complainant as the money was paid,” he said.
“The circumstances surrounding the case does not show any features of aggravation. I humbly request a fine as opposed to a custodial sentence. I humbly beseech your honour to consider a fine as it is quite clearly that there are no aggravated circumstances.”
But magistrate Limbani reserved sentencing to Monday August 9, 20101 and remanded Mpombo.
“You are a convict and I shall remand you in custody. Sentencing is set for Monday 9th August,” he said.
Mpombo looked surprised over conviction while the mood in court was quiet.
Mpombo shook hands with sympathizers as he was led to the court cell and assured them that “everything is going to be okay”.
By Mutale Kapekele
Fri 06 Aug. 2010, 16:20 CAT
COMESA Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya has appealed to American investors to consider investing in Africa’s agricultural market which provides a huge opportunity for growth.
In his address to the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) forum in Washington DC on Thursday, Ngwenya observed that with serious investments in agriculture, Africa had the potential to produce enough food for internal needs and international trade.
“We can produce enough for our needs and for the rest of the world as long as all challenges facing the farmers are dealt with, when farming is considered a business and when farmers get the necessary support from their respective governments and private sector,” Ngwenya said.
Quoting the Mckinsey and Company 2010 report, “Lions on the move”, Ngwenya said in 20 years, Africa’s collective Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would be US$2.6 trillion, its consumer spending US$1.4 trillion, the number of Africans of working age would be 1.1 billion, and 50 percent of the population would be living in cities by 2030, showing the huge potential of the continent.
He said regional integration through the tripartite COMESA, East African Community (EAC) and SADC agreement had created a bigger market which should be exploited.
Ngwenya said COMESA was addressing the challenges to agricultural development like infrastructure, technology and market related constraints through the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP).
He said the way forward was to embrace new innovations and technologies that would efficiently support farming practices for higher and better quality yields, citing the continent’s huge irrigation potential.
And Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA) chief executive officer Cris Muyunda said Africa was richer than the west imagined and offered many opportunities in commodity trade.
Speaking at the Kansas City agribusiness forum which is part AGOA 2010 Summit, Dr Muyunda who quoted from the Barrons’s business and financial weekly and African Investor, stated that it is time to invest in the “final frontier – Africa” and that “Africa is richer than you think.”
He told the forum that key areas ready for investment included agro-processing, warehousing and various commodities including, roots and tubers, oil seeds, livestock and fisheries, forest and natural products, tree and plantation crops and agriculture inputs.