Saturday, November 06, 2010

(NEWZIMBABWE) AAG meets Israel’s chief rabbi

AAG meets Israel’s chief rabbi
Welcome ... Tafadzwa Musarara with the Chief Rabbi
by Staff Reporter
06/11/2010 00:00:00

THE Affirmative Action Group (AAG) has met the Israel chief rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar in Jerusalem as it steps up its diplomatic offensive to get Zimbabwe’s right to deal freely with its diamond resources re-asserted.

AAG President Supa Mandiwanzira and secretary general Tafadzwa Musarara met the Israel chief rabbi at his private residence in the holy city of Jerusalem. The chief rabbi is to the Jewish people what the pope is to the Roman Catholics. He is the supreme halakhic and spiritual authority for the Jewish people in Israel.

The AAG leaders refused to disclose how they arranged such a high level meeting.

“I can confirm that we met the chief rabbi late Thursday night in Jerusalem and the meeting was special. He is a man revered by the Jewish people across the world but has exceptional humility,” said AAG president Supa Mandiwanzira in a telephone interview from Tel Aviv, Israel.

He said the AAG asked the Chief Rabbi to use his influence and religious authority by talking to countries like the United States to stop standing in the way of Zimbabwe trying to exploit its natural resources for the benefit of its people.

At the just ended Kimberley Process plenary meetings in Jerusalem, the US with the support of Canada and Australia desperately tried to frustrate Zimbabwe’s right to unconditionally sell its diamonds from Marange to the chagrin of African, South American and Asian countries that make up Kimberley Process.

“I told the Chief Rabbi that Zimbabwe was a peaceful country that seeks only friendship and economic cooperation with all countries of the world including the United States, Canada, Australia and members of the European Union.

“I asked him to please assist in talking to some of these countries to stop being fixated with our country and work harmoniously with our government,” Mandiwanzira said.

Secretary General Tafadzwa Musarara told the Chief Rabbi that the AAG would be most grateful if he visited the country to see for himself.

He told the Chief Rabbi that a small but very active Jewish community in Zimbabwe was doing a lot of charitable work and this work could be lessened if Zimbabwe dealt with its resources freely for the benefit of its people.

The chief rabbi promised the AAG leadership that he would discuss Zimbabwe’s issue with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu so that the country can be supported in selling its diamonds without hindrances.

“He told us that as the Chief Rabbi – he fell directly into the office of the Israeli Prime Minister and he would engage the Israeli government to support Zimbabwe as a starting point,” Said Mandiwanzira.

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(NEWZIMBABWE) Zim gardner sues Cadbury heiress

Zim gardner sues Cadbury heiress
Accused ... Felicity Loudon with her dogs outside Pusey House estate
by Daily Mail
06/11/2010 00:00:00

ZIMBABWEAN Leonard Rwodzi, 41, is suing the heiress to the Cadbury chocolate empire, Felicity Loudon, for alleged abuse at her £27million country estate in Oxfordshire. The great-great-granddaughter of company founder John Cadbury is faces an accusation of unfair dismissal from her former gardener who claims she made his life a misery.

Rwodzi, 41, who worked for Loudon for eight years, alleges that she:

Racially discriminated against him by shouting: ‘Don’t you look at me with your dark, evil, African eyes.’

Told him his wife Annah, 30, was ‘too fat and lazy’.

Tried to make his wife become her maid when she did not have a work permit.
Hired ex-Army security guards to watch his every move after allegedly dismissing him unfairly.

A friend of Rwodzi said: “His tribunal case could be for more than £100,000, but it’s justice he wants.”

Other former workers have claimed up to eight gardeners were sacked by Loudon, 61, in a single fortnight – and they allege numerous butlers and maids have received the same treatment.

The security firm hired to monitor Rwodzi is also taking legal action against Loudon, claiming she failed to pay bills totalling £7,500.

The saga began in 2001 when Rwodzi, a former horticulturist for the Harare city council, fled increasing violence under President Robert Mugabe’s regime.

He came alone to Britain to claim asylum and soon became a £26,000-a-year head gardener at Pusey House – a 14-bed, Grade II listed mansion, set in 650 acres near Faringdon, Oxfordshire, and presided over by Loudon and her second husband John Loudon, 74.

The heiress, who favours only white flowers in her gardens, was initially so delighted with Rwodzi that she allowed his wife to join him in his free two-bed cottage on the estate in 2003, and a son was born to the couple the next year.

Then, in 2008, Loudon her husband provided the Rwodzis with £8,000 to fund the escape of their elder children, a girl and boy, now 12 and 11, from Zimbabwe, where they had stayed with relatives.

But the problems began soon after.

A former employee at the estate said: “Loudon can have terrible moods. With Leonard, she wrongly told people he was an illegal immigrant, and he didn’t feel he could refuse when she got him, a non-smoker, to puff a cigar and dressed his son as a girl for adverts for her luxury design firm. He just put up with it. But she did not like him spending time with his family.

“She said his wife was too fat and lazy. Last October Loudon told Leonard she wanted his wife to work as her maid. She said her work would pay off the £8,000 the Loudons had “lent” Leonard to bring his children to Britain.

“Leonard refused, saying he thought the money was a gift, and that his wife did not then have the correct immigration status to work. Loudon could not forgive him.”

Matters came to a head in April. The former colleague said: “He just looked at her, and she suddenly said “Don’t you look at me with your dark, evil, African eyes”.

“Soon after that, Leonard was told to resign. He refused, but was told to leave his cottage within the month. Loudon hired a security firm and moved them into the cottage next to his until he left.”

Rwodzi refused to comment at his new home in Farringdon, London. But Loudon told a friend that, after she helped move the Rwodzi children from Zimbabwe, the garden “started to suffer”.

She added: “Leonard’s mood turned ugly and threatening. The once sad asylum seeker, so grateful for a plate of food and a chance to live and work in one of England’s most beautiful gardens, shows his real colours.”

A lawyer speaking for the heiress said: “The allegations are strenuously denied.”

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Letters - Chinese Investment In Zambia And The Shooting At Collum Mine

Call for closure of Collum Coal Mine
By Mubanga Luchembe
Thu 04 Nov. 2010, 03:59 CAT


I cannot help responding in support of the National Union of Commercial and Industrial Workers (NUCIW) deputy general secretary in charge of finance and administration Adams Chipeta for having demanded the closure of Collum Coal Mine pending resolution of all unresolved safety, health, financial, legal and compensation concerns.

Locals who were not shocked by the shooting of about 11 Zambians working for this Chinese-owned mine in Sinazongwe, perhaps, do not understand Chinese investment in Zambia at all. China, contrary to MMD’s official claims, does attach conditions to its investments. For instance, the profits are externalised, leaving the locals poorer and empty-handed. The working conditions are also terrible. Unlike the MMD ruling elite who enjoy all the deal outcomes, the rest of ordinary Zambians languish in abject poverty.

Albeit the close ties between Zambia and China go back decades, today Zambia is not only the destination for an ever-increasing number of Chinese goods, but also its nationals – doctors, farmers, engineers, shop owners and market traders among others.
Not only are the Chinese seen as killing local businesses, but their commitment to health and safety regulations is questionable.

Medicines are labelled in Mandarin in breach of Zambian health legislation. These are immoral and harmful things which ordinary Zambians must all stand up against.
Let us be clear, Chinese do not treat locals as human beings. To the Chinese, locals do not deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

So what is to be done? Calls for closure of Collum Coal Mine are justified and must be heed. But structural change is also needed and educating the Chinese managers in local labour, health and safety regulations - with great emphasis that Zambian workers deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

Yes, Zambian workers should be taught that Chinese migration can also be a positive force for economic growth. After all, Zambia’s relative success can, in part, be attributed to the arrival of skilled, entrepreneurial labour from China.

Still, without saying much, the response to Chipeta’s demand must come quickly and decisively from the MMD leadership.

Failure to do so could mean that union and government leaders will be fire-fighting Chinese-related labour disputes at Collum Coal Mine and other Chinese-owned businesses for some time to come.

Mubanga Luchembe,


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(NEWZIMBABWE) Empowerment rules out in a month: Kasukuwere

Empowerment rules out in a month: Kasukuwere
by Reuters
05/11/2010 00:00:00

THE government will publish guidelines this month on local ownership of various types of companies, ending months of uncertainty that has weighed on the stock market, a cabinet minister has said.

Zimbabwe introduced a law early this year saying 51 percent of firms worth over $500 000 should be owned by locals but accepted that most sectors, especially the capital-intensive mining industry, will take time to get there.

Fourteen committees set up to determine minimum initial local ownership thresholds for various sectors had now finished their work, Saviour Kasukuwere, Minister of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment said.

"We will review them and publish them before the end of the month," he told Reuters on the sidelines of an investment conference in South Africa's commercial capital.

"We are moving. We need to bring about certainty. We can't keep people hanging there."

This year, the country’s stock market has failed to build on the strong gains it posted immediately after the government scrapped the worthless Zimbabwean dollar in favour of US dollars in February 2009.

The lacklustre performance - in contrast to other frontier African equity markets - has been widely blamed on concerns the indigenisation act was an attempt by cronies of President Robert Muagbe to get their hands on foreign-owned assets.

The uncertainty has also deterred the billions of dollars of foreign investment required to rebuild the economy after a decade of disastrous mismanagement under Mugabe's ZANU-PF administration.

Mugabe told Reuters in an interview in September that he would press ahead with plans to transfer control of foreign firms - including mines and banks - to local blacks.

Kasukuwere sought to allay those external fears, saying the bill was simply addressing the unresolved economic imbalances left by decades of white minority rule, and would ultimately create a stable and fair economy and society.

"This is not about nationalisation or expropriation of businesses. This act is to bring our people on board the economy," he said.

"We accept foreign direct investment is critical in getting our economy to work. But it is necessary to balance foreign interests and the aspirations of our people."

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(NEWZIMBABWE) Countries back Zim on Marange diamonds

Countries back Zim on Marange diamonds
by Staff Reporter
06/11/2010 00:00:00

CHINA, Russian, India and South Africa are among the countries backing Zimbabwe’s decision to go ahead with the massive export of rough diamonds mined from Marange despite the stand-off at the Kimberly Process plenary meetings held in Israel.

Despite four days of meetings in Jerusalem, the 75-nation Kimberley Process was unable to reach agreement on whether to allow exports of Zimbabwe’s diamonds, which could represent up to 25 per cent of the world’s diamond exports within the next two years.

The United States, Canada, Australia along with European representatives opposed Zimbabwe’s bid to export its diamonds freely on world markets and since the system requires a unanimous agreement, no deal was possible.

However, Mines Minister Obert Mpofu, who led Zimbabwe’s delegation, declared that exports would resume immediately nonetheless.

“Like I have said before and I would like to say it again — Zimbabwe is going to proceed with the exports of its diamonds immediately because it has met the KP minimum requirements as confirmed by the review mission and the KP monitor.

“I have consulted my superiors in Harare and this is our position and it’s not going to change,” he said.

Sources at the meeting told The Herald that the announcement received applause from the audience and was immediately endorsed by South Africa, Namibia and Brazil which all said they supported Zimbabwe’s exports as the country had met KP minimum requirements.

The country also has the backing of India, China, Russia and most African countries.

Meanwhile Mpofu slammed the politicization of the Kimberly Process and what he described as US attempts to bully Zimbabwe at the plenary.

“We have been treated very unfairly by Kimberly process … as if we don’t matter in this organisation. In a civilised world that we live in, surely countries must recuse themselves on issues where they are conflicted.

“The United States has imposed sanctions and at the same time, it wants to come in here and dictate what Kimberley should do about Zimbabwe. Colleagues, this is not fair,” said an emotionally charged Minister Mpofu.

He said the arrogance of powers like the United States was a threat to the Kimberly Process.

The Marange diamonds are one of the richest discoveries in decades, and Zimbabwe could become the world’s biggest diamond producer.

But human rights organisations claim that hundreds of people have been killed or beaten by Zimbabwe’s military and police as they seized control of the diamonds.

The Zimbabwe government dismisses the allegations and local analysts say the West is concerned that open trade of the diamonds might render irrelevant sanctions imposed on the country.

The government says it needs the revenue from the diamonds to fund the country’s recovery from decades of economic decline which President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party blames on the sanctions.

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Friday, November 05, 2010

(NEWS24, SAPA) Cosatu, ANC rift deepens

Cosatu, ANC rift deepens
2010-11-02 18:59

Johannesburg - A civil society gathering hosted by Cosatu last week had taken an "oppositionist" stance toward the ANC-led government, party secretary general Gwede Mantashe said on Tuesday.

"We noted that the ANC, the (SA Communist Party) and (SA National Civics Organisation) were not invited, positioning the conference as an alternative block to the alliance," Mantashe told reporters at Luthuli House in Johannesburg.

"We call it oppositionist because there is a difference between political criticism of an ally or an organisation you are party member of and you position yourself opposite to that party.

"It's not an opposition party, but the stance is oppositionist. And we think it's a dangerous populist approach to disagreements and it is intending to create a crisis where there is no crisis."

He was speaking after a meeting of the ANC's national working committee on Monday. The conference last week was hosted by ANC ally, Cosatu, and included civil society formations.

At the two-day gathering, a labour breakaway from the ANC was mooted, but shut down.

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi also denied suggestions the conference was testing the waters for a new political party.

Mantashe said the ruling party did not believe the majority of Cosatu's leaders intended to effect regime change in the country.

"... but we nonetheless caution that an action like the one of leading a charge for the formation... of a mass civic movement outside the alliance and the ANC might indeed be interpreted as initial steps for regime change in South Africa."

Vavi's attacks on "black political parties" and the "notable omission" of the Democratic Alliance further reinforced the conference being interpreted as a move toward a breakaway.

Mantashe said despite assertions the conference was not "anti-government or anti-ANC", Cosatu's failure to invite the ANC and to allow the government to respond to criticism levelled at it, pointed to the opposite.

Despite this, Mantashe said the ANC's relationship with Cosatu remained "working" and "workable".

There were disagreements, but in the end, the ruling party and its labour ally would talk to each other, he said.

Mantashe acknowledged there were problems, saying perhaps these could be attributed to an "ideological shift" within Cosatu.

"Many of these issues... old debates that were defeated in the 80s and in the 90s, and if they re-emerge now and they have the resonance in the federation, it may point to the ideological shift in the federation itself and the shifting of the balance of forces to the extreme.

"If that happens within the federation, it will also create difficulties in the working of the alliance."

No disciplinary action

A temporary cease-fire between the ANC and Cosatu emerged after the ANC's national general council (NGC) in September after months of tension over the country's economic trajectory and the ANC's perceived soft stance against corruption.

The fall-out prompted the ANC to mull disciplining Vavi, but the idea was eventually canned. Vavi remained vocal and critical over what he termed the "predatory elite" and "political hyenas" in the ranks of the ruling party.

ANC Youth League president Julius Malema urged the ANC to discipline Vavi over his "political hyena" comments, saying this went against an NGC resolution to avoid public spats.

Mantashe on Tuesday said the NWC was "appalled" over Vavi's "predatory elite" remark. He added that public spats were directed at a particular person, while Vavi's comments were "generalised".

"... when you generalise and say there's a smell of predatory elite here, you are not attacking a person... we can't go out and say 'listen you are attacking comrade so and so... therefore there is a public spat... therefore we must punish you'."

He however added that generalising was more harmful than being specific.

"... those generalised statements cause more harm than being specific... because when you throw generalised statements... actually you are casting aspersions and innuendoes that cause more damage then specific cases."

No disciplinary action could be taken against Cosatu as it was an "independent" body in an alliance with other independent parties, the ANC and the SACP.

"They are not a labour desk of the ANC, they are the trade union federation independent of the ANC, but in an alliance with the ANC."

The ANC would convene an urgent meeting with Cosatu to discuss its qualms.


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(MnG) Egg and poultry cartels in the wings

Egg and poultry cartels in the wings
LLOYD GEDYE - Nov 05 2010 12:13

Never mind the bread cartel, wheat cartel and flour cartel, while we're at it let's throw in an egg cartel and a poultry cartel for good measure.

Pioneer Foods's whopping R1-billion fine for anti-competitive practices may have grabbed the headlines, but the real story was hidden in the detail -- Pioneer Foods has not only been involved in bread, flour and wheat cartels, but also in poultry and egg cartels.

The Competition Commission's statement on the settlement reached between it and Pioneer, detailed for the first time investigations into the poultry and egg markets.

The statement made it clear that the fine imposed on Pioneer was also aimed at settling these matters, which are under investigation, and that Pioneer would rat on alleged colluders in the egg and poultry cartels.

The commission's investigation into the poultry market was initiated in April last year and its statement claims that Rainbow Chickens, Astral Foods, Country Birds Holdings, Afgri, the South African Poultry Association and the Animal Feed Manufacturers' Association played a part in the cartel.

Paying too much

They are alleged to have divided up markets and shared information and the statement suggests that South Africans could be paying 25% too much for chicken as a result.

The egg cartel investigation was launched in May this year and 20 egg producers are being investigated -- Nulaid, Hy-line South Africa, Avichick, Eggbert, Top Lay, Fair Acres, Heidel Eggs, Lund Eggs, Waterglen Pluimvee, Paardeberg Flinkwink, Golden Yolk ND Lay Well, Rodendal, Nantes Eggs, Eikenhof, Elkana, Windmeul Eggs, Morningside, Sunrise Eggs, Eden Rock and Cocorico.

Pioneer has applied for corporate leniency for the involvement of its subsidiary, Nulaid, in collusion in the egg market and so it will help the commission prosecute the other members of the cartel.

Pioneer's involvement in these alleged cartels has highlighted the fact that, while the agreed settlement of more than R1-billion is the largest settlement in South African history, Pioneer still got off fairly lightly.

According to current legislation, the commission could ask for a maximum fine of 10% of the Pioneer Foods Group's annual turnover for each individual case it chose to prosecute involving Pioneer Foods.

'Pioneer could have faced a maximum fine'

So, with a turnover for the 2009 financial year of R16,3-billion and anti-competitive practices flagged in the bread, wheat milling, flour milling, egg and poultry markets, Pioneer could have faced a maximum fine in the region of R8-billion, which is 80% of the company's market capitalisation.

The Black Sash took umbrage over the fine this week, arguing that it was not high enough.

"Not only did Pioneer Foods fix the price of bread, a staple food, but it inflated and profited illegally from the sale of other basic goods, including wheat, maize, poultry and eggs," said the Black Sash in a statement.

Pioneer Foods have been locked in negotiations with the commission for months, trying to bring to an end its reputation-damaging involvement in the bread and milling cartels.

In May 2008 the commission referred its case against bakers Sasko and Duens (Pioneer Foods), Albany (Tiger Brands), Blue Ribbon (Premier Foods) and Sunbake Bakeries (Foodcorp) to the Competition Tribunal, alleging that they had colluded in a bread cartel.

Later three of them admitted guilt and settled with the commission, but Pioneer decided to take the commission on, claiming it was not part of a bread cartel.

Determined to clear their name
If Pioneer had agreed to settle with the commission its fines would probably have been calculated on the R3,4-billion turnover of its baking and milling division from the 2007 financial year -- an effective fine of R340-million if the full 10% had been sought, which would have been unlikely. But the company's managing director, André Hanekom, was adamant that it had a strong case and that it was determined to clear its name.

In the end Pioneer's defence came unstuck, with Sasko general manager Andries Goosen admitting to perjuring himself before the tribunal.

The commission was looking into laying perjury charges against Goosen, which could result in jail time, but it is unclear how the current settlement will affect those charges.

KK Combi, the Premier chairperson, refused to comment on Goosen, saying Goosen was facing action from the National Prosecuting Authority.

In February this year the tribunal announced its ruling, fining Pioneer R195-million. But the commission was not impressed with the fine and took the matter on appeal to the Competition Appeal Court to get it increased, which sparked the round of negotiations that resulted in the settlement.

Tribunal hearing
Pioneer also had a tribunal hearing into its milling business hanging over its head after the commission referred charges against it to the tribunal in March this year.

As agreed in the settlement, which has to be approved by the tribunal, Pioneer will pay a R250-million fine to the National Revenue Fund and R250-million to a new agro-processing competitiveness fund, which will be administered by the Industrial Development Corporation to promote competitiveness, employment and growth in food value chains.

Pioneer has also agreed to adjust its flour and bread prices over a defined period, which will cost it about R160-million.

Ebrahim Patel, the minister of economic development, told Parliament this week that it was anticipated that this would "stimulate price competition in the bread and wheat market".

"I take this opportunity, subject to confirmation by the Competition Tribunal of the settlement, to call on bakeries, supermarkets and the retail trade to pass the price reduction on to consumers," said Patel.

Capital expenditure to be increased

Pioneer has also agreed to increase its capital expenditure by R150-million over a two-year period, to R1,35-billion.

Patel said this commitment was intended to support efforts to improve the company's competitiveness through innovation and the upgrading of equipment and expansion of operations, instead of relying on price-fixing and collusion with competitors.

This was on top of the R195-million fine that was handed down by the tribunal in February, taking the total to just over R1-billion.

Commissioner Shan Ramburuth said the settlement with Pioneer went beyond just a penalty and included price adjustment for the benefit of consumers and a fund to promote competition in the agro-processing industry.

"The commission welcomes Pioneer's approach, as evidenced in this agreement, to resolving the matters and agreeing to undertakings aimed at a more competitive and dynamic economy in these crucial sectors," said Ramburuth.

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(MnG) ANCYL: 'Our relevance is determined by the needs of the people'

ANCYL: 'Our relevance is determined by the needs of the people'

"Sixteen years into democracy, our people are still suffering. Therefore we need to ensure that this period sees the full translation of who becomes owners of our mineral assets and economy. Our task is to ensure this happens under this generation," ANC Youth League (ANCYL) spokesperson Magdalene Moonsamy told the Mail & Guardian on Tuesday.

The ANCYL, which celebrated its 66th anniversary in Stellenbosch on Saturday, says it will remain relevant as long as young people are exposed to injustice, something it predicts will happen for "the rest of the existence of humanity".

"As long as young people are exposed to injustice there will always be a need for a voice. Our relevance is determined by the needs of the people," Moonsamy told the M&G.

Formation of the youth league

When the ANCYL was formed in 1944, youth leaders declared that they were "laying their services at the disposal of the African National Congress, in the belief, knowledge and conviction that the cause of Africa must and will triumph".

President Jacob Zuma reminded audience members in Stellenbosch, in the words of the first league president, Anton Lembede , in 1944: "The formation of the African National Congress Youth League is an answer and assurance to the critics of the national movement that the African youth will not allow the struggles and sacrifices of their fathers to have been in vain. Our fathers fought so that we, better equipped when our time came, should start and continue from where they stopped."

During the league's existence, its young leaders have included the likes of Nelson Mandela, Anton Lembede, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, Jordan Ngubane and Robert Sobukwe.

During the president's address, he said the ANC Youth League had never disappointed the ANC, "even during the most trying times during the struggle for liberation. The league was always there, providing ideas and initiating activities for the ANC in all phases of the struggle."

First president

According to South African History Online, Anton Muziwakhe Lembede, a former teacher, swapped professions in 1943 to become a lawyer. He moved to Johannesburg to serve articles under Dr Pixley ka-Isaka Seme, co-founder of the South African Native National Congress, which was later renamed the African National Congress (ANC).

Lembede was instrumental in the formation of the ANC Youth League, and was a member of the national provisional committee that was formed in 1944 to oversee the process of the formation of the ANCYL. The youth league was officially formed on September 10 1944, and Lembede became the youth league's general president. He contributed to the drafting of the ANC Youth League ManifestoYouth League Manifesto before serving in various ANC positions. Two years later Lembede was seconded to the ANC national executive committee and national working committee under the leadership of Dr Alfred Bitini Xuma, a former ANC president in the 1940s.

Lembede is also regarded as the architect of the 1949 Programme of Action. According to Zuma, the Programme of Action "outlined the campaigns to be undertaken by the ANC, which contained many important elements which changed the character of the ANC".

New struggle for the youth

Now that a new democratic order has been achieved, what struggles face the youth of today?

According to Moonsamy, the new struggle is very diverse, as challenges change daily.

"Today, young people are writing exams but they are exposed to drugs, alcohol and violence. Outside of HIV/Aids and other sexually transmitted diseases, there are numerous health challenges, unemployment and the challenge of poverty."

During the celebrations in Stellenbosch, Zuma urged the youth not to lose the militancy, bravery and radicalism that characterised the youth league, especially during the struggle for freedom.

"We have attained freedom and democracy but the struggle continues on another realm, one that requires the same commitment and impetus that was demonstrated by the youth of 1944 -- the struggle of attaining a better life for all," Zuma said.

However, young South African Ayanda Ngidi said she believed there was a disconnect today between the youth league and the young people of South Africa.

"It doesn't speak to me in anyway. I am not even aware of any projects it is tackling to assist the youth in South Africa. All I've heard from it is complaints and firing up the youth, but not doing anything after that," she said.

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(NEWZIMBABWE) Fighting talk from Zimbabwe as KP stalemates

Fighting talk from Zimbabwe as KP stalemates
by Staff Reporter
05/11/2010 00:00:00

ZIMBABWE sent out a defiant message on Thursday after the Kimberley Process broke off talks about the certification of Marange diamonds in Israel without an agreement. Mines Minister Obert Mpofu said the country would not be held hostage by Canada, the United States and Australia – the fiercest opponents of Zimbabwe’s push to be allowed to freely sell Marange diamonds.

“These are our God-given resources and we will do with them what we feel is best for our people,” Mpofu said. Zimbabwe says it has met all the certification standards set by the KP, a 75-nation global body responsible for ending the trade of “blood” diamonds which are often used to fund wars across Africa.

Kimberley Process chairman, Boaz Hirsch, head of foreign trade division at Israel’s Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labour, ended the four-day meeting in Jerusalem after delegates failed to reach consensus to allow the exports from Zimbabwe.

“It’s an agreement that comes to portray the complex reality that was displayed in the review mission report,” Hirsch said. “There are a small number of countries that are still in consultation with their capitals. We had deadlines and the plenary has ended, but we do hope to reach a consensus in the coming days.”

Hirsch declined to disclose details of the agreement being considered but explained that the negotiations have focused on presenting an agreement that reflects the findings of a KP review mission.

The review mission was in Zimbabwe in August, but disputes among participants delayed publication of the final report until Friday last week, just before the plenary. Zimbabwe has 30 days to reply to the recommendations.

The report recommended that Zimbabwe’s planned sale of existing rough stockpile should depend upon progress made in the implementation of the joint working plan.

Critically, the review mission was of the opinion that the KP should favourably consider the sale. The compliance report reiterated though that the Kimberley Process monitor to Zimbabwe should inspect Marange diamonds before a legal sale can take place.

One Kimberley Process participant, who requested anonymity, noted that while the plenary failed to reach consensus, there were also no clear objections -- indicating that Zimbabwe could find a technical loophole to make the exports.

Hirsch stressed that this is not the case though, and that the country is still under obligations set out by the Swakopmund agreement, signed in November 2009, whereby Marange diamonds would still be subject to the signature of the monitor for Marange, Abbey Chikane.

Hirsch noted that it was up to individual member countries to uphold the Kimberley Process principles should Zimbabwe begin exports before an agreement is reached.

Eli Izhakoff, president of the World Diamond Council (WDC), which represents the diamond industry at the Kimberley Process, said the organisation’s position has always been “an inclusive one” rather than advocating expulsion or the possibility of allowing diamonds to penetrate the market outside the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.

He declined to speculate what action the WDC would take if Zimbabwe exports begin before a decision is made.

Hirsch dismissed the possibility of another mini-summit taking place to resolve the issues, as was the case following a June stalemate on Zimbabwe out of Tel Aviv. Subsequently, a min-summit, led by Izhakoff, achieved consensus at a meeting in St Petersburg to allow two KP-monitored auctions.

“We will begin on Friday to aggressively work with those members who have not come to a decision and we remain confident that a final decision will be made soon,” Hirsch said.

But the promise of a resolution to the stand-off soon failed to tamper Zimbabwe’s anger at what it sees as political calculations by the US.

It has emerged that the legal advisor to the Mines Minister, Farai Mutamangira, was shuttling between Mpofu and the American delegation led by the Assistant Secretary of State for Africa affairs, Susan Page, following America's invitation to directly engage with the Zimbabwean delegation.

For a greater part of Thursday, Brad Rusin Brooks, an attorney with the U.S. State Department, was in closed door discussions with Mutamangira.

Attorney General Johannes Tomana, who was in Jerusalem, accused two western-funded NGOs – Global Witness and Partnership Canada – of writing “desk reports meant to please their handlers” after they claimed there was violence on a large scale in Marange.

Tomana said: “The KP review mission report presented to the plenary has certified that the Marange diamond mining operations are compliant with the minimum KPCS requirements.

“It follows, therefore, by logical inference, that our full diamond export diamond status must be restored.”

And Minister Mpofu said Zimbabwe would not be waiting for a green-light from anyone.

He told reporters: “Our compliance must entitle Zimbabwe to immediately and unconditionally export (diamonds).

“It is now clear that the Joint Working Plan is no longer serving the best interest of Zimbabwe. It is now evidently clear that it is being used as a tool to regulate improperly the flow of exports out of Zimbabwe.”

The Democratic Republic of the Congo assumes the role of chairmanship from Israel on January 1, 2011. America is campaigning for the vice presidency.

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(NEWZIMBABWE) Burley tobacco ban could hurt Zim farmers

Burley tobacco ban could hurt Zim farmers
by Business Reporter
04/11/2010 00:00:00

AN international push to ban burley tobacco, a key ingredient in Marlboro and Lucky Strike cigarettes, could threaten the livelihoods of millions of tobacco workers in Zimbabwe and other countries in the region, an industry body said on Thursday.

The 170 countries and the European Union that have signed up to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) are to debate the “guidelines” to ban burley at a meeting in Uruguay later this month.

If approved, states will have to decide for themselves whether to outlaw the variety, which goes into the “American blend” cigarette tobacco preferred by smokers in most Western markets.

However, farmers’ groups say it will have an immediate and huge impact on demand for a crop that is vital to many poor southern African countries.

“For southern Africa, this would be a catastrophe,” said Antonio Abrunhosa, chief executive of the International Tobacco Growers Association (ITGA). “The biggest chunk of burley production comes from Africa,” he said.

At a summit in Swaziland in September, the 19-country Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), voiced its opposition to the mooted burley ban and said the WHO’s thinking about alternative crops was based on “wrong assumptions.”

Canada and Norway are leading the push for a burley ban as part of a plan to make cigarettes taste less smooth, thereby hoping to dent their attractiveness and help reduce the enormous public health costs of smoking.

While smoking rates are falling in US, Japan and western Europe, they are still rising in much of the developing world and health officials say this will cause a wave of cancer and other chronic illnesses in coming decades that health systems in poorer countries are ill-equipped to deal with.

According to the WHO and the World Lung Foundation, smoking currently kills around 5 million people a year worldwide and is expected to kill a billion people this century if trends hold.

“The idea is to look into ingredients and to look at restricting or inhibiting those which increase the attractiveness of tobacco products,” said Tarik Jasarevic, a spokesman for the WHO’s FCTC. “Countries are working hard in the best interests of public health.”

Growers argue a burley ban would be likely to make a difference only in rich countries that like “American blends.”

The WHO says it has noted the concerns of burley farmers, and says the Uruguay meeting will also discuss ideas for economically sustainable alternatives to growing tobacco.

But the ITGA cites a study by South African consultancy NKC Independent Economists that suggests a worst-case scenario of 3.6 million tobacco-related jobs being lost in nine African countries.

In Malawi, a country of 13 million people, the independent study says 700,000 farmers could go to the wall and the economy could contract by 20 percent next year if burley demand disappeared. Mozambique would lose 100,000 farmers, Uganda 77,000 and Zimbabwe 55,000, it added.

Abrunhosa said few of these farmers would have the means to switch to growing other more capital-intensive tobaccos than burley, and he argues there are no good substitute crops.

“The WHO lives on a different planet. It is not taking into account the huge impact it will have on developing countries’ economies, especially in Africa,” he said.

Marlboro cigarettes are made by Philip Morris International and Lucky Strike by British American Tobacco. Abrunhosa said the ITGA had received “some support” from the tobacco industry for its campaign against the burley ban.

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(LUSAKATIMES) ZCC bans ‘no return, no refund’ displays

ZCC bans ‘no return, no refund’ displays
Friday, November 5, 2010, 8:38

THE Zambia Competition Commission (ZCC) has said the new Competition and Consumer Protection Act (CCPC) makes it a punishable offence to display disclaimers such as ‘No Return, No Refund’ in trading places. The CCPC Act No .24 of 2010, which is yet to be operational, prohibits such disclaimers which consumers have complained about.

“Zambia is one of the countries that have a lot of defective products on its market and it has been unfair for traders to deny consumers refunds or exchange even for defective products,” she said.ZCC public relations officer, Vaida Bunda said Section 48 (1) of the Act states that “an owner or occupier of a shop or other trading premises shall not cause to be displayed any sign or notice that purports to disclaim any liability or deny any right that a consumer has under the Act or any other written law.”

In a statement in Lusaka yesterday, Ms Bunda said the commission had within the mandate of the current Act been unable to prevent traders from displaying such disclaimers even where the goods sold were of questionable quality as the law was reactive.

“Zambia is one of the countries that have a lot of defective products on its market and it has been unfair for traders to deny consumers refunds or exchange even for defective products,” she said.

The new law, she said, was more proactive and would make it easier for the commission to handle cases of defective products because traders would be expressly prohibited to display the disclaimers.

The CCPA also makes it a punishable offence to display such disclaimers. The Act states that the person who or an enterprise which contravenes subsection (1) was liable to pay the commission a fine not exceeding 10 per cent of that person’s or enterprise’s annual turnover.

[Times of Zambia]

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(LUSAKATIMES) Sata is 2011 PACT candidate – PF

Sata is 2011 PACT candidate – PF
Friday, November 5, 2010, 10:53

THE Patriotic Front (PF) in Lusaka has declared that its president Michael Sata will stand as presidential candidate on the PF-UPND pact ticket in next year’s general elections.

But UPND spokesperson Charles Kakoma said anybody within the pact is free to make choices of who they deem fit to stand as pact presidential candidate in next year’s elections.

PF Lusaka Province chairperson Paul Moonga said in an interview yesterday in Lusaka that the decision is non-negotiable, and that those who feel that Mr Sata is a wrong person to lead the pact are free to go their own way.

“We expected UPND to campaign for us in Mpulungu as we vigorously campaigned for them in Chilanga. Mr Sata told me personally that I had to ensure that UPND wins that seat, which they did,” he said.Mr Moonga accused UPND of being insincere, and said even after winning the Chilanga parliamentary by-election, it has not gone back to PF to thank its partner for helping it scoop the seat.

He said PF campaigned alone in Mpulungu, and there was no sign of the pact as the UPND concentrated on campaigning in Chilanga where they had fielded a candidate.

“We expected UPND to campaign for us in Mpulungu as we vigorously campaigned for them in Chilanga. Mr Sata told me personally that I had to ensure that UPND wins that seat, which they did,” he said.

Mr Moonga said all the wards in Chilanga are his party’s strongholds and that there is no way UPND would have won the seat without the help of PF.

He said it is wrong for UPND members to continue claiming popularity when it is obvious that PF has far more members than UPND, and can win the general elections on its own.

‘Our president, Mr Hichilema, held a briefing a day after the results where he thanked both PF and UPND for the job well-done. The statement by Mr Moonga, therefore, that we have not shown gratitude for their help is baseless,” he said.

Mr Kakoma, however, denied that his party did not show gratitude to PF for the efforts it put into ensuring a victory for UPND

He said shortly after the Chilanga victory, UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema held a press briefing where he thanked everyone who had made it possible for the UPND candidate Cosmas Moono to win the seat.

‘Our president, Mr Hichilema, held a briefing a day after the results where he thanked both PF and UPND for the job well-done. The statement by Mr Moonga, therefore, that we have not shown gratitude for their help is baseless,” he said.

[Zambia Daily Mail]

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Has Mvunga joined the liars?

Has Mvunga joined the liars?
By The Post
Fri 05 Nov. 2010, 04:00 CAT

It is sad that those behind the removal of the abuse of office offence from the Anti Corruption Commission Act are trying to justify what they are doing with lies, half-truths and all sorts of distortions. But no lies should be allowed to be told to the masses of our people. And whenever lies are told, they must be exposed.

Professor Patrick Mvunga, a very close friend of Rupiah Banda who the President sometimes invites to accompany him on state-sponsored trips, has joined the band of those who are trying to defend this government’s acts of desperation by removing the offence of abuse of office from the Anti Corruption Commission Act.

In yesterday’s edition of the state-owned and government-controlled Times of Zambia, Prof Mvunga was quoted saying that “the current Anti Corruption Commission Act should be amended because it contravenes the Constitution and was outlawed in 1984 by the High Court”.

This is a lie. It is not true that the Anti Corruption Commission Act contravenes the Constitution. We know that George Kunda and his friends have been trying to convince our people that the Act forces people who are accused of corruption to talk. They also lie that the Act presumes people guilty of corruption in contravention of the Constitution.

There is nowhere in the Anti Corruption Commission Act where anyone is forced to give up their right against self-incrimination. The basic building block of this right is an accused person’s entitlement to remain quiet and not help his accusers to find him guilty of the offence that they allege against him. This is not a right that is peculiar to the Anti Corruption Commission Act offences. This is true of every offence that is tried in our courts of law.

An accused person has got the right to say something in his own defence or to keep quiet. But as we have said before, no one who is tried for an offence should expect that silence will save them when the evidence against them is overwhelming. In the same way that an accused person is free to keep quiet, our courts are also free to draw the necessary inferences that have to be drawn from the evidence before them.

In matters of corruption and abuse of office in section 37, what the current Anti Corruption Commission Act requires is that the prosecution have to show that the accused person has assets, for instance , that he or she cannot justify from their legitimate earnings. The prosecution has to demonstrate that fact. Once that is done, it is up to the accused person to show that in fact they are wrong. But no accused person is forced or required to open their mouth, whether on oath or otherwise.

If they can discredit the case of the prosecution through cross-examination, for instance, they are entitled to be acquitted. This is the law as it stands today. There is also the presumption of corrupt intent when a public officer is found to have received or acquired wealth in circumstances that are consistent with corruption. In such a case, it is up to the prosecution to show that the acquisition of wealth is consistent with corruption or abuse of office. Once they prove that, the court must put the accused on his defence.

At that stage, the accused can do three things: first, he can opt to keep quiet; second, he can give evidence on oath and be opened to cross-examination; third, he can opt to make an unsworn statement - as Frederick Chiluba did - in which case he is not open to cross-examination. This is the law as we know it.
We do not know why a well-educated man such as Prof Mvunga would choose to take a public platform and make a misleading analysis to defend what is indefensible, to justify what is unjustifiable.

But we are not surprised because this is not the first time highly educated Africans have tried to defend what is indefensible and to justify what is unjustifiable. We saw how intellectuals made Bokassa an emperor and defended and justified that nonsense. Idi Amin was defended in his madness by intellectuals. Closer to home, Chiluba’s thefts were helped and facilitated by great intellectuals - doctors and professors.

Who can argue that Katele Kalumba is not an intellectual? Prof Mvunga’s client in the recently ended corruption trial Prof Benjamin Mweene is another great intellectual who facilitated Chiluba’s thefts.

Prof Mvunga says that “the Act was thrown out in 1984 when judge Phillip Chirwa ruled that it contravened the Constitution”. And Prof Mvunga adds that “in the case of Mumba vs The People case of 1984, Mr Justice Chirwa ruled that the Act was irregular because it was against the Constitution after it was referred to the High Court from the magistrate”.

Prof Mvunga noted that “the provision had existed illegally since November 1984 when it was successfully challenged and the state did not appeal while the Supreme Court had never reversed its effect because it was against the ideal justice system”. Prof Mvunga also said that “the Penal Code has retained the abuse of office clause except that it presumes the accused person innocent until proven guilty…”

It is not true that section 37 of the Anti Corruption Commission Act was thrown out by justice Phillip Chirwa in 1984 and that it now existed illegally. This is a lie. There was no Anti Corruption Commission Act in 1984. Further, there was no section 37 of the Anti Corruption Commission Act in 1984 that was thrown out by justice Chirwa. There is no way justice Chirwa could have thrown out a provision in 1984 of an Act which was not in existence. We say this because the Anti Corruption Commission Act was only enacted in 1996, that is 12 years after the date when Prof Mvunga claims section 37 was thrown out.

Prof Mvunga also claims that section 37 or its equivalent was outlawed in the case of Mumba vs The People in 1984. This is also a lie. Mumba vs The People did not deal with abuse of office. That case dealt with issues that are very different from what section 37 deals with.

In summary, Section 37 tries to regulate the illicit enrichment of public officers through corruption and abuse of office. In other words, it prohibits public officers from maintaining a lifestyle or acquiring assets that are not consistent with their lawful earnings. The reasoning for this type of prohibition is very clear.

Many public officers, by virtue of the functions that they perform, exercise authority over vast national resources that are meant to be used for the common good. It is easy, as we have seen in the cases of Chiluba and his tandem of thieves, for criminally minded public officers to turn their public offices into an occasion for corruption and personal enrichment at the expense of the public services that the resources they superintend are supposed to provide. This is why those who wrote this law, quite rightly, provided that public officers should not be allowed to stealthily, without the possibility of detection of the crimes that they are committing, acquire wealth at the expense of the public that they are meant to serve. There can never be anything unconstitutional about protecting public resources and interests from the sticky fingers of criminals who occupy public offices.

There was nothing in the Mumba case that allows public officers to acquire property, wealth or other advantage illicitly without being required to account. The Mumba case dealt with a very different issue. It did not even deal with the Anti Corruption Commission Act as is being suggested by Prof Mvunga. That case dealt with the old corrupt practices Act. Specifically, it dealt with section 53(1) of that Act. Section 53 (1) of the corrupt practices Act required an accused person, who having been found with a case to answer and decided to give evidence, to do so under oath.

The implication of this requirement was that if an accused decided to talk in court, he was denied the opportunity to talk without being cross-examined. This is because once an accused person takes an oath, his evidence is subject to cross examination. This was the issue in the Mumba case. The court found that this requirement contravened the accused person’s right to elect not to talk or when he talks to be able to give an unsworn statement which would protect him from cross-examination. There was nothing with that case that came anywhere near what Prof Mvunga is claiming.

It is good that we have learnt some law and can now argue with people like Prof Mvunga who want to twist the law to suit the requirements of their friends.
It is clear that Rupiah and his friends are running scared of this law because they cannot explain the wealth that they are generating for themselves and their families. A public officer who occupies his position with an undivided intention to serve the people would have no problem with being called upon to account for their actions and in this case for wealth that they may have acquired whilst occupying public office.

Why should anyone want to occupy public office and at the same time be so determined to become wealthy by doing all sorts of businesses? What time are they going to use to run those businesses, if not public time?

Everybody knows that if you allow public officers to run wild and do as they please, conflicts of interest will result in our people not receiving proper services, and when they do, they will only receive shoddy services.

The Auditor General’s reports and the cases that have been before our courts are there to demonstrate what we are talking about. We all know that there are far too many briefcase companies belonging to ministers, permanent secretaries and other public officers that are doing corrupt business with the government at the expense of our people.

It is this abuse of public office that Rupiah is defending. He knows that he cannot use the truth to defend such abuses. It is no wonder they are resorting to lies, half-truths and all sorts of distortions. Is it possible that Prof Mvunga has hired himself out to this band of liars?

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UK solicitor loses licence over Chiluba’s corruption

UK solicitor loses licence over Chiluba’s corruption
By George Chellah
Fri 05 Nov. 2010, 04:02 CAT

FREDERICK Chiluba's UK lawyer Bimal Thaker's practising licence has been revoked because of his conduct with the former president, which has been described as 'spectacularly stupid'. This is according to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal findings and decision dated July 15, 2010, filed with the Law Society in the UK.

The allegations, which have since been proven, and action taken, were that Thaker abused his integrity through dealings involving the payments of money belonging to the Zambian treasury to Chiluba, and his children, former Zambia Security Intelligence Services director general Xavier Chungu’s children and Ireen Kabwe, wife of former Access Financial Services Limited’s Faustin Kabwe, among other transactions.

Thaker met Chiluba in London and had been asked by him for a cash payment of 30,000 pounds.
It was further observed that Thaker’s involvement in the payments “had clearly not been in any way connected with any legal work but had been consistent with the provision of banking facilities in transactions that bore the hallmarks of money laundering.”

David Barton, who was acting on behalf of the Solicitors Regulation Authority, was the applicant and Bimal Bhupendra Thaker of Cave Malik was the respondent in the matter.

The allegations against the respondent were that he had withdrawn sums from client account in circumstances other than those permitted by Rule 22 of the Solicitors' Accounts Rules 1998 (SAR) and thereby had created a cash shortage.

He was also alleged to have failed to remedy the breaches promptly upon discovery contrary to Rule 7 of the SAR and that he had contrary to the provisions of Rule 1 of the Solicitors' Practice Rules 1990 (SPR) compromised or impaired, or had been likely so to do, either or both of (i) his independence or integrity and (ii) his good repute or that of the solicitors' profession.

“The particulars of allegation 3 were that he had;

3.1 permitted money to pass into and out of his client account when there had been no underlying legal transaction or the provision of legal services and where he had been acting merely as a conduit to receive and pass on or return monies to clients or to third parties. In so doing it was alleged that he had been grossly reckless.

3.2 failed to be alert to the very substantial sums of money passing through client account and to the circumstances relating to their receipt and disbursement, which should have put him on inquiry as to their authenticity or legitimacy. In so doing it was alleged that he had been grossly reckless.

3.3 failed to investigate or to adequately consider the possibility that his firm had been utilised to facilitate money-laundering or other illegal activity. In so doing it was alleged that he had been grossly reckless," they stated.

“3.4 failed to have any or any proper regard to the warnings issued to the solicitors' profession by the Law Society on money-laundering, in particular the 'Blue Card' warning first issued to the profession in April 1994 and revised in February 1999. Those had been circulated to all solicitors holding practicing certificates in February 1995 and again on 26th/27th July 2000. In so doing it was alleged that he had been grossly reckless.

3.5 on the 13th November 2001, paid to Dr Chiluba, who had not been a client, cash in the sum of 30,000 pounds that he had withdrawn from his client account. That money had represented part of a payment sent to him from the Office of the President of Zambia and had been Zambian money. The respondent had withdrawn it and paid it on the instructions of Faustin Kabwe of Access Financial Services Limited (AFSL/ACCESS). In so doing it was alleged that the respondent had been dishonest but if not dishonest that he had been grossly reckless.

3.6 after about 5th June 2002, when he had known of the 'Matrix of Plunder' allegations in the Zambian press, he had disbursed money to Irene Kabwe, to the children of Dr Chiluba and to the children of Xavier Franklin Chungu that had belonged to the Zambian Treasury. In so doing it was alleged that the respondent had been dishonest but if not dishonest that he had been grossly reckless.”

It was further alleged that contrary to note (ix) to Rule 15 of the SAR, the respondent failed to exercise caution when he had been asked to provide banking facilities through his client account.

But in its findings as to fact and law, the Tribunal stated that the applicant submitted that the respondent had severely damaged the reputation of the solicitors' profession by his involvement in financial transactions that had borne the hallmarks of money laundering and that the situation had received widespread publicity and widespread condemnation, particularly in Zambia.

The Tribunal stated that in his submissions the applicant said that the respondent had seriously compromised his independence and his integrity when dealing with AFSL and with others.

“The Tribunal was also satisfied that the respondent had been aware, from at least August 2001, that Dr Chiluba had been implicated in allegations of theft and from at least June 2002, following the 'Matrix of Plunder' article in the Zambian press that extensive and serious allegations had been made against AFSL and various individuals connected with it. Despite this knowledge, the respondent had continued to disburse monies, as instructed, with no regard whatsoever to the money laundering warning and requirements," they stated.

"In these circumstances, the Tribunal found that the respondent had been grossly reckless. In clarification, the Tribunal was not making any findings as to the sources of the money passing through the respondent's client account. It was aware of the tracing evidence in the agreed expert's report. However, the Tribunal found that after June 2002, at the very latest, the respondent could not have been sure that, as a solicitor, discharging his responsibilities properly, he knew the source and provenance of the monies coming into his client account. The Tribunal found as a fact that the respondent had been grossly reckless because he had carried on accepting monies and making payments, as instructed by his clients, regardless of the allegations and in continuing contravention of all the safe-guards of the money laundering requirements.”

The Tribunal stated that they did not find the respondent a convincing witness in that many of his answers had been evasive and his evidence often inconsistent.

“Having considered all the evidence and the submissions of the parties, the Tribunal found the matters in relation to the payment to Dr Chiluba proved to the higher standard. At the very least the Tribunal was satisfied that the respondent had been grossly reckless, but in addition the Tribunal was satisfied that in making a payment of 30,000 pounds in cash to Dr Chiluba, without any regard to the requirements of the Law Society's guidance on the avoidance of money laundering or without making any enquiries so as to ensure that he had a full understanding of the nature of the payment, such as to satisfy himself that the payment was in fact lawful, the respondent was both dishonest by the standards of reasonable and honest people and further that he himself had realised that by those standards his conduct had been dishonest,” they stated.

“Turning to the payments to Irene Kabwe, the Chiluba children and the Chungu children as identified in the Forensic Investigation Report; payments of credit card bills, travel expenses, payments in connection with educational establishments and motor vehicles, the applicant had submitted that not only had the respondent been, in his own submission, 'spectacularly stupid' in making such payments, but that they had been made when the respondent had been on notice of the allegations in Zambia. Moreover, he had submitted that such payments had clearly not been in any way connected with any legal work but had been consistent with the provision of banking facilities.”

The Tribunal stated that having considered all evidence and the submissions of the parties, they found the matters in relation to the payments of money to Irene Kabwe, to the children of Chiluba and to the children of Chungu that had belonged to the Zambian Treasury, proved to the higher standard.

In mitigation, the counsel for the respondent stressed that his client had been a relatively young solicitor with no previous disciplinary issues when the events in question had taken place.

But the Tribunal ruled that it had found all of the allegations proved on the evidence presented to it.

“It stressed that allegations 3 and 4 were of an extremely serious nature. The Tribunal was extremely concerned about the damage to the reputation of the profession caused by the actions of the respondent in failing to comply with money laundering guidance, particularly given the consequences of that failure. The respondent, as a solicitor, had been involved in widespread publicity and condemnation,” they stated.

“He had compromised his independence and integrity. The Tribunal took into account the basic propositions in relation to the conduct of solicitors set out in Bolton v The Law Society 1194 1WLR 512. Most particularly, the Tribunal noted that maintaining the profession's reputation involved its members being able to be 'trusted to the ends of the earth.' The Tribunal concluded that the respondent had severely damaged the reputation of the profession and his own reputation and in all the circumstances should not be allowed to practice. Accordingly he would be struck off the Roll of Solicitors.

“The Tribunal ordered that the respondent Bimal Bhupendra Thaker of Suite 11, St Loyes House, 20 St Loyes Street, Bedford, MK40 1ZL, solicitor, be STRUCK OFF the Roll of Solicitors and they further ordered that he do pay 90 per cent of all costs of and incidental to this application and enquiry including the reserved costs to be subject to a detailed assessment unless agreed between the parties to include the costs of the Investigation Accountant of the Law Society. An interim payment of 20,000 pounds to be made within 28 days of today's date.”

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Govt risks selling NCZ at a loss, says Soko

Govt risks selling NCZ at a loss, says Soko
By Florence Bupe
Thu 04 Nov. 2010, 04:01 CAT

THE government has been advised to recapitalise NCZ before privatising the fertiliser manufacturing plant. In an interview, Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ) chief executive officer Richard Soko said the government risked selling the manufacturing plant at a loss if it decides to go ahead with the privatisation of the firm in its current state.

“The problem with privatising NCZ in its current state is that government will give it away for a song. It will not be prudent to sell the plant without first of all recapitalising it,” Soko said. “Government needs to recapitalise the plant to get the real value of its assets.”

Last month, an Egyptian firm expressed interest to procure and invest in the defunct NCZ, following an assessment of the plant.

But the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) indicated that it was still waiting for more submissions from other potential investors. Soko said it would be more beneficial for the government to sell the plant to a local investor as opposed to a foreign entity.

The government had earlier engaged Grant Thornton to carry out a due diligence study of the fertiliser manufacturing plant before a way forward is drafted for the ailing institution.

And appearing before the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Soko insisted that NCZ was still viable and all that was needed was recapitalisation for the plant to resume full capacity operations.

He told the committee that a strategic plan had been drawn and that the plant needed approximately K240 billion for rehabilitation and working capital.

“What we have discovered is that NCZ is viable and we have made recommendations to the board for scrutiny,” he said.

He further said NCZ was overstaffed, with the current staff levels standing at 520, but the company had no money to pay retrenched workers if it decides to take that route.

Soko disclosed that NCZ would need about K45 billion to retrench excess workers.
And committee chairperson Emmanuel Hachipuka stressed the need to invest in fertiliser production locally if the country’s efforts of sustaining the agriculture sector were to be fruitful.

“Our efforts to diversify our economy to include the agriculture sector can only be realised if we invest in areas such as local fertiliser production and we should resolve the issue of NCZ urgently. Let government decide whether to close NCZ and invest in a modern manufacturing plant, or recapitalise the existing plant to make it more viable,” advised Hachipuka.

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Rupiah has betrayed Levy - Kabimba

Rupiah has betrayed Levy - Kabimba
By Chibaula Silwamba and Ernest Chanda
Fri 05 Nov. 2010, 04:01 CAT

PRESIDENT Rupiah Banda, Vice-President George Kunda and their lieutenants have betrayed Levy Mwanawasa by removing the abuse of office clause from the ACC Act, PF secretary general Wynter Kabimba charged yesterday.

And Transparency International Zambia has urged President Banda to rescind his support for the removal of the abuse of office clause because the action would entail legalisation of corruption.

Commenting on the decision by MMD parliamentarians’ endorsement of the removal of abuse of office offence clause from the amended Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) Act during the committee stage in Parliament on Wednesday, Kabimba charged that President Banda, Vice-President Kunda, MMD parliamentarians and pro-government leaders had certified corruption and abuse of office by public servants through their action to remove the clause.

Kabimba said it was shameful that people that worked closely with late president Mwanawasa, masquerading that they believed in his cause, had now abandoned him.

“Today, Levy is no more, and because now they are on the payroll of somebody else they have completely betrayed Levy Mwanawasa that they could go to Parliament and betray his cause,” Kabimba said. “They gave the impression to the people of Zambia that they believed in the man so much. The lesson for the people of Zambia to learn from such leaders is that these are leaders who are self-serving. These are leaders that at anytime would betray the cause of the people in order to serve interests of him who appoints them to those positions.”

He named President Banda a betrayer.

“Rupiah Banda was a Vice-President to the late Levy Mwanawasa, appointed by Mwanawasa in the belief that he shared the same values as himself. In the hope that as a man that served in a UNIP government under Dr Kenneth Kaunda which government was the first to introduce the corrupt practices Act, to deal with the cancer of corruption in our society, would be the champion of that cause,” Kabimba said. “To our dismay and consternation, RB’s legacy after 2011 will not be about a President that stood to eradicate corruption in our society. There will be nothing for him to show that indeed he believed in the cause of Levy Mwanawasa whom he served as Vice-President.”

He said the clearest signal that President Banda had sent to Zambians over his stance on corruption was the removal of the abuse of office clause from the ACC Act.

“Nobody today can justify the removal of that clause. We hope the people of Zambia and donors are marking the words of the President when he tries to justify the removal of that clause,” he said.
“President Rupiah Banda, Vice-President George Kunda and their lieutenants are certifying corruption and legalising abuse of office.”

He said the abuse of office clause was in the ACC Act to prevent corruption in public office, and President Banda’s team should not have removed it.

“The removal of the clause can only mean that they are supporting abuse of office. Otherwise of all the clauses in the ACC Act, why pick on the abuse of office?” asked Kabimba. “I read some of the debating in Parliament, saying that ‘why are you discriminating against those serving in public sector?’ Of course we have to discriminate because they are at the service of the people. So they can’t go out conducting themselves like anybody else on the streets because they are entrusted with the confidence of the people to serve Zambians. That is the difference.”

And TIZ executive director Goodwell Lungu said civil society members were disappointed with the debate and decision of Parliament.

He said it was not true that the clause was retrogressive as proponents for its removal claimed.
“This will have a negative effect on the fight against corruption; we will not lose hope. We will embark on a campaign to collect signatures to petition the President not to assent the bill,” Lungu said.

He said despite President Banda justifying the removal of the clause, TIZ and the civil society organisations were hopeful that he could change his mind.

“It’s not too late for the President to make a U-turn and we will commend him for that,” said Lungu.
During deliberation in Parliament on Wednesday, opposition Alliance for Democracy and Development Luena member of parliament Charles Milupi raised a point of order on why the Minister of Home Affairs had mounted a garrison of police officers at the Parliament gates to monitor unarmed opposition members who were picketing.

Milupi also questioned the minister's double standards by trying to frustrate the picketing when only about two weeks ago another group of people was allowed to picket against one member of parliament.

Making a ruling, National Assembly Speaker Amusaa Mwanamwambwa said the question of people who were allowed to picket over two weeks ago was a dead issue.

On the police officers’ presence, Speaker Mwanamwambwa ruled that the home affairs minister was in order to keep law and order anywhere including the precincts of Parliament.

And later when the Anti Corruption bill came up for committee stage there was a show of supremacy from the MMD parliamentarians who, through Vice-President George Kunda rejected every amendment the opposition tried to push in.

Vice-President Kunda who often smiled mockingly whenever opposition members read out their amendments dictated the mood for the ruling party as everyone seemingly looked up to him for direction.

Despite the opposition members' hard push for the reinstatement of the abuse of office offence, they could not change the status quo as they were outnumbered by the MMD who had teamed up with some 'rebel' Patriotic Front parliamentarians to out vote them when the matter came to a vote.

Whatever amendment was proposed by the opposition at every stage of the bill was rejected first by Vice-President George Kunda and then the other MMD parliamentarians followed suit.

And later justifying the government's removal of the abuse of office offence after Itezhi-tezhi UPND parliamentarian Goddfrey Beene moved an amendment to have the clause re-instated, Vice-President Kunda argued that the law was targeting civil servants who were also voters.

“This particular clause Section 37 of the ACC Act was debated. And we have argued that this law is outdated, it's archaic and it's backward because it's targeted at civil servants. Why are we targeting civil servants? Why are we targeting such voters?” asked Vice-President Kunda. “We should encourage people to earn extra income. And if we keep that law we could be encouraging a police state where people will be pursued even for allowances that they have worked for.”

But Kabwata PF parliamentarian Given Lubinda cautioned Vice-President Kunda against thinking that he is the only Zambian who has studied law.

“I'm very surprised by people who think that they are the only ones who went to school to study law. They are not the only ones who have studied law,” debated Lubinda as deputy National Assembly Speaker Mutale Nalumango cautioned him against debating individuals.

Zambezi West UPND parliamentarian Charles Kakoma argued that police had no capacity to fight corruption as could be proved from history.

Roan PF parliamentarian Chishimba Kambwili reminded the MMD that posterity would judge them harshly for abolishing a good law.

The number of opposition members defending Section 37 of the ACC Act was too few, hence the bill went through committee stage and will only come up for report stage before going for Presidential assent.

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Banda has clearly exhibited his stubbornness - Magande

Banda has clearly exhibited his stubbornness - Magande
By Patson Chilemba
Fri 05 Nov. 2010, 04:01 CAT

RUPIAH Banda has clearly exhibited his stubbornness in dealing with public issues, Ng’andu Magande charged yesterday. And Magande has said Zambia’s current economic gains are as a result of the sound policies that had been initiated by late president Levy Mwanawasa.

Analysing President Banda’s two years in office, Magande, who is former finance
minister and the immediate past member of parliament for Chilanga, said the President had managed to ignore public opinion on the most important issues affecting the country.

Magande cited the case of the controversial engagement of RP Capital Partners to evaluate Zamtel assets, demands to appeal against former president Frederick Chiluba’s questionable acquittals, removal of abuse of office from the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Act and procurement of mobile hospitals as among the key issues on which President Banda had ignored the public’s voice.

“RB Rupiah Banda has clearly exhibited his stubbornness in dealing with public issues. And he said it at the ZAF base in Livingstone, telling military people with guns that ‘I am stubborn’. And really he has turned out to show to us that he is stubborn,” Magande said.

“But the question is when you are dealing with the public institution of President of a country, should you actually show your stubbornness?”
Magande said he initially thought President Banda’s proclamation of stubbornness was theory, but it had now become practical.

He said it was unfair for President Banda to attack the Anglican Church and Zambians that those who opposed the removal of abuse of office did not understand what the government was trying to do.

“So really we have now come to believe what President Banda said. He said; ‘I am very stubborn and I can ignore everybody.’ He wants to run the country by ignoring citizens,” Magande observed.

He said President Banda had failed to be consultative, and as a result he had failed to show compassion to the citizens.

Magande said President Banda had not explained to Zambians what he wanted to do for them and added that it has been under his rule that the nation had experienced political violence never seen before.

And on the economic front, Magande said he attended a meeting of the World Bank and the IMF in 2008 and announced that the country would not be affected by the global crisis.

He said the sound economic policies that had been initiated by late president Levy Mwanawasa had resulted in economic gains.

Magande said at that time the country had very high foreign reserves, government deficit was low, foreign debt had fallen, inflation was hovering around the single digit and the kwacha had appreciated to K3,200 against the United States dollar.

He said Zambia could even have used the reserves to help some mines not to close, adding that only K100 billion was needed to save the 14,000 jobs in the mining sector during the global crunch.

Magande said the country was riding on the benefits which were in place before President Banda came into office.

He said even the implementation of the Livingstone-Zimba road which would be commissioned soon by President Banda was started way before he became President.

Magande said the economy had consistently posted positive growth in the last six years, but the nation should be told how the country would move from an average growth of six per cent to something like 10 per cent.

He said people expected that President Banda would ride on the efforts of president Mwanawasa on the fight against corruption, but it was now difficult to understand which way the country was going in the graft fight.

Magande said abuse of office was needed to control the excesses of people who had a lot of powers such as public officials.

He asked government to give a proper explanation as to why they had resolved to remove abuse of office.

“They should have postponed the Bill until we understand what they are trying to do,” said Magande.

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MoH paid Kapoko for workshop which didn’t take place - witness

MoH paid Kapoko for workshop which didn’t take place - witness
By Namatama Mundia
Fri 05 Nov. 2010, 04:01 CAT

A WITNESS yesterday told the Lusaka Magistrate Court that the Ministry of Health paid its former human resources officer Henry Kapoko over K200 million for a workshop which did not take place.

In this case, Kapoko and nine others are charged with theft by public servant, theft and money laundering amounting to over K4 billion.

Apart from Kapoko, others charged in the offence involving monies paid to Royal College of Business and Management Studies for training workshops include Nobert Peleti, Zukas Kaoma, Valenta Miyoba Chizhyuka Nkhata, Abigail Nzala, Nkhata Kapinda and Enala Matutu Phiri.

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

When the matter came up for continued trial, Ministry of Health cashier Danstan Mwansa, 43, told the court that he was last year summoned by the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) where he was shown two documents.

He said one of the documents was a voucher which was in connection with a payment which was made to Royal Secretarial College.

“I recall that the voucher was brought to my office by Mr Kapoko and he was alone when he gave me the document, the payee on the voucher was Royal Secretarial College and the amount is over K700 million,” he said.

Mwansa said the voucher was checked by George Zulu and it was passed by the former.

He said he gave the voucher back to Kapoko after he signed it.

Mwansa said ACC also showed him a backing sheet which had five payments.

He said the backing sheet had a payment for Royal Secretarial in the amount over K700 million while the imprest for the workshop was over K200 million.

Mwansa however, told the court that he did not see the voucher for the imprest which was in his name and that he just received a call from the principle accountant, a Mr Kaoma A 2, that there was a payment coming.

“Mr Kaoma told me there was imprest in my name and that cheque was brought to me in town by Mr Kapoko and that time the backing sheet had already gone to the bank,” he said. “I took the cheque to the bank and we cashed the money.”

Mwansa said he received another phone call from Kaoma instructing him not to give the money to Kapoko who brought the cheque but that he takes it to his office.

He said the officers who were supposed to attend the workshop were supposed to get K1,250,000 for 15 days.

Mwansa said he gave Kapoko, the coordinator for the programme, about K46 million to pay those who were not from the Ministry of Health.

He said he has not seen the acquittal sheet since last November.

Mwansa said he did not attend the workshop because they were not called by the coordinators.

During cross examination, Mwansa said he signed on the voucher because it was part of the process for completing a voucher.

He said there was nothing sinister about him signing the voucher.

Mwansa said he had not refunded the K1,250,000 he received for a workshop which has not yet taken off up to now.

He said he passed the payment because everything was okay.

In re-examination, Mwansa said Kapoko was transferred at the time he brought the cheque to him.
The matter has been adjourned to November 18 for continued trial.

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S/Korean firms seek investment opportunities in Zim

S/Korean firms seek investment opportunities in Zim
By Kingsley Kaswende in Harare, Zimbabwe
Fri 05 Nov. 2010, 04:00 CAT

SOUTH Korean industrial giants Samsung, Daewoo and Hyundai are in Zimbabwe looking investment opportunities. Their representatives have met Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to express their interest in investing in Zimbabwe.

Tsvangirai said the companies were seeking information on Zimbabwe’s investment climate and other relevant material for them to make informed decisions and some of them would sign Memoranda of Understanding with Zimbabwean companies before they leave for South Korea.

“We have been discussing potential areas of interest in business. Some of the key Korean companies such as Hyundai, Samsung, Daewoo are part of this delegation. We had very productive exchanges,” said Tsvangirai after meeting a delegation of Korean businesspeople.

He said the South Koreans expressed interest in mining, construction and technological fields.

Technology giant, Samsung’s business activities span advanced technology, semiconductors, skyscraper and plant construction, petrochemicals, fashion, medicine, finance, hotels, among many other investments.

Samsung electronics is the company’s flagship and is involved in high-tech electronics manufacturing and digital media.

Also represented at the meeting was another technology company, Daewoo, which is involved in the manufacture of a range of domestic appliances including refrigeration, laundry, microwaves and floorcare, the options are vast. Daewoo is also involved in the manufacture of motor vehicles.

Tsvangirai said he told the investors that Zimbabwe was ripe for investment.
Tsvangirai said Zimbabwe was hunting for investors and was establishing a one-stop-shop investment centre for ease.


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Voter registration worries SACCORD

Voter registration worries SACCORD ...political parties should have been working with the ECZ - Habasonda
By Agness Changala
Fri 05 Nov. 2010, 04:00 CAT [31 Reads, 0 Comment(s)]

SACCORD has blamed political parties for the low turnout in the voter registration exercise. Executive director Lee Habasonda said the voter registration exercise had not been well supported by key stakeholders such as political parties.

He said political parties should have been working side by side with the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) and non-governmental organisations in mobilising citizens to go and register as voters.

“The process has this far been left to the ECZ and NGOs to publicise while some media houses have continued to carry stories on the exercise,” Habasonda said. ”We believe that there is need for strong partnership being created among all the stakeholders so that the process can be undertaken with full interest from citizens and ensure that the reservations that people have about the electoral process are cleared.”

Habasonda also said ECZ should have had strategic partnerships with various interest groups as well as electoral stakeholders where proper planning should have taken place to ensure that all Zambians support the process and fully understand it.

He implored stakeholders to ensure that the bad perceptions which were held by some citizens of the electoral process were rectified so that Zambians see elections as a process that seek to reflect the will of the majority of voters after an election.

“It’s important to remember that apathy in whatever we do undermines our own democracy and families must take it upon themselves to encourage their members to register,” Habasonda said.

He said the exercise should have seen more Zambians getting interested in the electoral process.

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Financial irregularities at Judiciary worry PAC

Financial irregularities at Judiciary worry PAC
By Florence Bupe
Fri 05 Nov. 2010, 03:59 CAT

THE parliamentary public accounts committee (PAC) has expressed concern at the failure by the Judiciary to adhere to financial regulations.

Speaking when the Judiciary appeared before the committee to respond to queries highlighted in the Auditor General’s report on Wednesday, PAC member Highvie Hamududu said it was worrying that the custodians of the law were failing to observe it.

“It is disappointing that the Judiciary has continued to appear before this committee to respond to the same queries year after year. We are always talking about issues of unretired imprest, failure to prepare financial statements and other such important requirements of the law,” he said.

Hamududu warned that the Judiciary’s inability to observe financial laws would have a negative spiral effect on the governance of other institutions.

Hamududu observed that officials in the Judiciary were mandated to lead by example by adhering to various aspects of the law but said this was not the case obtaining on the ground.

And PAC chairperson Emmanuel Hachipuka expressed surprise at Judiciary chief accountant Godwin Sakwimba’s explanation on the anomaly of 78 missing payment vouchers.

Sakwimba explained that of the 78 vouchers discovered to be missing, one had been found and the rest were in the custody of courts of law and the police.
However, the members wondered how the Judiciary could allow the police to ‘forcefully’ obtain the payment vouchers, which were the property of the Judiciary without signing for them.

“How can you allow the police to come and intimidate you when you’re the custodians of the law? If that’s what they did then they are breaking the law by getting vouchers without allowing you to keep copies for your own protection,” said Hachipuka.

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Thursday, November 04, 2010

(MnG) Unions put a gun to Swapo's head

Unions put a gun to Swapo's head
JOHN GROBLER - Nov 01 2010 12:16

With only weeks to go before regional and local elections, Namibia's ruling Swapo Party is coming under tremendous pressure from the civil servants who plan to march on the government unless the entire management of the state pension fund is dismissed and millions of Namibian dollars in unpaid empowerment loans are recovered.

This came on top of a stream of bad news -- unemployment is at a record high of 51,2% and Swapo has suffered a setback in the supreme court, which ruled that the high court had erred in rejecting an opposition party application to have last year's national and presidential elections set aside.

Judge President Petrus Damaseb and his colleague, Collins Parker, have now asked the opposing legal teams for suggestions on how to "adjudicate" the election case, a source close to the matter said.

Critics slammed this as a "face-saving manoeuvre" by Damaseb to avoid having to rule that last year's election results should be nullified.

Swapo's highly unpopular plan to impose regional governors -- they will now to be appointed by the president rather than elected -- has also drawn criticism from its own supporters, who see it as evidence of an increasingly autocratic trend in the party's leadership.

Threats by supporters
Dissatisfaction with Swapo's habit of imposing hand-picked representatives on its rank and file has also led to threats by supporters to start their own ratepayers' associations to contest upcoming elections.

At issue is a litany of mismanagement in many smaller municipalities by Swapo representatives, whose avarice and self-serving habits have seen services all but collapse.

The drawn-out scandal at the Government Institutions Pension Fund has, however, become the focal point of the elections after the umbrella National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) rejected a forensic audit commissioned by the government as a case of too little, too late.

In a stormy meeting with civil servants NUNW's secretary general, Evilastus Kaarondo, was careful not to paint Swapo as complicit in the looting, but the political connections are hard to miss.

During former president Sam Nujoma's last term in office, between 1999 and 2004, about R660-million was dished out to companies linked to a small group of individuals, including Nujoma's brother-in-law, Aaron Mushimba, son-in-law David Imbili and other close political associates.


By 2005 it was clear that most of the loans had never been repaid, as the owners simply collapsed their companies and walked away -- without any effort to recover the money.

Galvanised by media reports, the state in 2005 instituted an audit and set about recovering what it could. In most cases those responsible got off scot-free with the bling they had bought with the civil servants' ­pensions.

The pension fund and Prime Minister Nahas Angula admitted that "mistakes were made" and succeeded in keeping a lid on the probe.

But just how egregious the mismanagement was became clear as copies of the original audit report were leaked, showing that many black employment equity businessmen used the fund as an ATM, creating new companies to obtain new loans.

For civil servants struggling to make ends meet, this was the straw that broke the camel's back. They want to see action taken against those who abused positions of power to enrich themselves.

Demands by the union

The union made it clear that, unless immediate action was taken, they intended marching on the government until their demands were met -- those who embezzled their pensions had to repay it immediately, they demanded at the meeting.

In an earlier interview, Angula admitted that the government did not want to take action on the pension fund in 2005 for fear that this could be seen as a witch-hunt against Nujoma. Many of the loans were reportedly issued under pressure from Nujoma's office.

For Swapo, this posed an insoluble political conundrum -- openly to criticise the "Founding Father" amounts to political heresy, especially when the party habitually runs self-laudatory praise based on its past record.

The unions' emergence as an opposition force is significant. Until now, they have been a docile political doormat for the ruling party.

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(MnG) Vosloorus police deny homophobia

Vosloorus police deny homophobia

Twelve lesbian women were arrested by Vosloorus police last month, in what local activists say is the latest of a series of homophobic attacks by police in the area. The M&G pinned down the Vosloorus police station commander for his response. Watch the video.

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(MnG) Soaring prices feed social unrest

COMMENT - Also read Matt Taibbi on food price manipulation (following the manipulation of the price of oil and other commodities): Taibbi’s Takedown of ‘Vampire Squid’ Goldman Sachs
From tech stocks to high gas prices, Goldman Sachs has engineered every major market manipulation since the Great Depression — and they're about to do it again
By Matt Taibbi
Apr 05, 2010 3:58 PM EDT

Soaring prices feed social unrest
JOHN VIDAL - Nov 01 2010 15:18

An impending food crisis could result in escalating prices and shortages in many countries as the cost of staple foods and vegetables reached their highest level in two years, with scientists predicting widespread drought and floods.

Though food stocks are generally good after a year in which harvests were wiped out in Pakistan and Russia, sugar and rice are at their highest price levels.

Five staple foods hit by the crisis

And global wheat and maize prices recently jumped nearly 30% in a few weeks. Global meat prices are at 20-year highs and in recent weeks, the United States predicted that global wheat harvests would be 30-million tonnes lower than last year.

Meanwhile, the price of tomatoes in Egypt, garlic in China and bread in Pakistan are at near-record levels.

"The situation has deteriorated since September," said Abdolreza Abbassian of the United Nations food and agriculture organisation.

Repeat of 2008

"In the past few weeks there have been signs we are heading the same way as in 2008.

"We may not get to the prices of 2008, but this time they could stay high much longer." But opinions are sharply divided over whether these prices signal a world food crisis like the one in 2008 that resulted in riots in 25 countries, or simply reflect volatility in global commodity markets as countries claw their way through the recession.

"A food crisis on the scale of two or three years ago is not imminent, but the underlying causes are still there," said Chris Leather, Oxfam's food policy adviser.

"Prices are volatile and there is a lot of nervousness in the market. There are big differences between now and 2008. Harvests are generally better, global food stocks are better." But others point to food riots in Mozambique that killed 12 people in September, and say prices could spiral and lead to political turmoil.

They say this would be possible particularly if the price of oil jumps, if there are further climatic shocks -- like the floods in Pakistan or the heatwave in Russia -- or if ­speculators buy deeper into global food markets.


"There is growing concern among countries about continuing volatility and uncertainty in food markets," said World Bank president Robert Zoellick. "These concerns have been compounded by recent increases in grain prices.

"World food-price volatility remains significant and in some countries the volatility is adding to already higher local food prices."

Recently the bank said food-price volatility would last another five years and asked governments to contribute to a crisis fund after requests for more than $1-billion from developing countries were made.

"The food riots in Mozambique can be repeated anywhere in the coming years," said Devinder Sharma, a ­leading Indian food analyst.

"Unless the world encourages developing countries to become self-sufficient in food grains, the threat of impending food riots will remain hanging over nations.

"The UN has expressed concern, but there is no effort to remove the imbalances in the food management system that is responsible for the crisis."

Food price inflation

Mounting anger has greeted food price inflation of 21% in Egypt in the past year, with 17% rises in India and similar amounts in many other countries. Prices in the United Kingdom have risen 22% in three years.

Last month, the governments of Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Indonesia and the Philippines have all warned of possible food shortages next year, citing floods and droughts in 2010, expected extreme weather next year and speculation by traders who are buying up food stocks to release when prices rise.

Recently the United States government predicted the global wheat harvest would be 5,5% lower than last year.

Food prices worldwide are not yet at the same level as 2008, but the UN's food price index rose 5% in September and now stands at its highest level in two years.

World wheat and maize prices have risen 57%, rice 45% and sugar 55% in the past six months and soybeans are at their highest price in 16 months.

According to the key Reuters-Jefferies commodity price indicator, meat prices are at a 20-year high.


UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier de Schutter, said a combination of environmental degradation, urbanisation and large-scale land acquisitions by foreign investors for biofuels is putting pressure on land suitable for agriculture.

"Worldwide, five million to 10-million hectares of agricultural land are being lost annually due to severe degradation and another 19,5-million hectares are lost for industrial uses and urbanisation," he said in a new report.

"But the pressure on land resulting from these factors has been boosted in recent years by policies favouring large-scale industrial plantations.

"According to the World Bank, more than a third of large-scale land acquisitions are intended to produce agrofuels."

But the World Development Movement (WDM) in London warned that speculation in food by hedge funds, pension funds and investment banks was likely to lead to further inflation.

According to the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission, speculators on the trading floor of the Chicago Exchange bought future contracts for about 40-million tonnes of maize and six million tonnes of wheat in the summer.

Price increase of consumable commodities

Longtime hedge fund manager Mike Masters, who has worked with WDM, said: "Because there is already much more capital available in the world than hard commodities, speculators can increase the price of consumable commodities, like foodstuffs or energy, much higher than traditional consumers and producers can react.

"When derivative markets are linked to commodity markets, this nearly unlimited capital from the financial sector can cause excessive price volatility."

US government reports of much cooler than normal water temperatures in the Pacific, which traditionally lead to extreme weather around the world, last week added to future food-price uncertainties. -- Guardian News & Media

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