Saturday, November 13, 2010

The electoral Act needs overhaul

The electoral Act needs overhaul
Sat 13 Nov. 2010, 04:00 CAT

In light of the many concerns being raised by key players in our elections, we make a special appeal to the government and the ruling MMD to realise that they have a serious responsibility. As facilitators of the elections, they should ensure that the concerns of all key players are adequately addressed.

Next year’s electoral process will provide all Zambians with a unique opportunity to show their political maturity and their sincere aspiration for peace and harmony anchored in justice. In this spirit, we feel there is need to examine and re-examine the current electoral Act and strengthen our electoral process. The Electoral Commission’s independence needs to be strengthened. The composition of the Electoral Commission should be broadened to include representatives from all registered political parties, the main known political bodies and impartial observers.

The government, the administration, the military and other law enforcement and security agencies should be made to keep a distance from political campaigns and show that they are working not for the good of the party in power, or indeed any party, but for the good of all Zambians.

The electoral Act needs to be amended so that it can guarantee equal opportunities for all parties and persons in the political campaign. The use of Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation, the Times of Zambia and the Daily Mail has to be open to all without restrictions because these do not belong to the ruling party; they are not owned by the MMD and its leaders – they belong to the public.

The police should be made to operate in an impartial manner and stop all violence. Violence must be avoided because the electoral campaign should not be confused with a battlefield where the aim is to destroy the other. Real political victory lies on the ideals proposed, on the ethical values of the candidates, on the respect for the freedom of choice of all citizens, and not on any form of moral pressure or intimidation of political opponents or voters.

The will of the people should be the basis of the authority of government; this should be expressed in genuine elections. We say this because the basic item in a democratic state is that the government governs with the consent of the people. The will of the people should be the basis of the authority of government. And the minimum guarantee that the government rules on the basis of the genuine will of the people is fair elections. This minimum guarantee can be frustrated by activities of an electoral commission that is not independent from the leadership of the ruling party.

The fundamental right to take part in government requires the holding of free and fair elections. And free and fair elections require an efficient, effective and orderly electoral process that ensures all citizens who have attained the age of 18 have the opportunity to register and vote without being threatened into voting for a person or party.

There should also be an efficient procedure for contesting the results of elections in the face of irregularities. The current procedure leaves much to be desired. The current procedure takes too long to conclude an election petition and in most cases, it’s meaningless or useless to challenge election results. We say this because by the time the matter is concluded, one’s term of office will be almost over. And as for the presidential elections, challenging election results is simply an academic exercise because the person being challenged would have taken office and would be in a position to manipulate everything in his favour. This needs to change.

The current electoral Act makes it very easy for those in the ruling party to retain power. It makes it very difficult for the Zambian people to sack a ruling party. We know it may sound negative but we have always thought it positive to say that the important thing about democracy is that we should be able to remove without bloodshed the people who govern us. But that cannot be easy to do with this electoral Act that favours or allows those in power to retain it through manipulation and abuse of incumbency.

If people lose the power to sack their government through the electoral process, one of several things happens. First, people may just withdraw. Apathy could destroy our democracy. When turnout drops drastically because people have lost interest in elections that do not bring out their desires for change, we are in danger. The second thing that can happen is people resorting to anarchy, lawlessness, riots and so on and so forth. Thirdly, regionalism can arise. And this is built on frustration that people feel when they cannot get their way through the ballot box. And with regionalism comes all sorts of negative things.

Unless we can offer our people a peaceful route to the resolution of injustice through free and fair elections – elections that they respect as being representative of their will and whose results they are ready and willing to accept – they will not listen to politicians that have blocked off that route.

As things stand today, our elections are starting to appear more and more as being merely symbolic because they are weighed much more in favour of the ruling party. Elections, to be free and fair, should be genuinely competitive elections in which the chief decision makers in government are elected by citizens. Simply permitting the opposition to access the ballot box is not enough.

Elections in which all the odds are stuck against the opposition cannot be said to be democratic. The party in power may enjoy the advantages of incumbency, but the laws, the rules and conduct of the election contest must be fair. And at the end of the day, the citizens must be confident that the results of such elections are accurate and that the government does, indeed, rest upon their consent.

It is therefore very important that the government finds time and resources to attend to all the matters pertaining to the electoral Act and other laws that affect the holding of free and fair elections. If they have time and resources to take to Parliament the Anti Corruption Commission Act to remove section 37, why can’t they find the same time and resources to deal with even a more important and urgent matter – that of the electoral Act?

We therefore support the call being made by Anti Voter Apathy for the complete overhaul of our electoral Act to ensure free, fair and credible elections next year because the current law has a lot of deficiencies.

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Electoral Act needs overhaul - AVAP

Electoral Act needs overhaul - AVAP
By Chibaula Silwamba
Sat 13 Nov. 2010, 04:01 CAT

BONNIE Tembo yesterday called for the complete overhaul of the electoral Act to ensure free, fair and credible elections next year, saying the current law has a lot of gaps.

In an interview, Tembo, who is executive director for the Anti Voter Apathy Project (AVAP), said the electoral Act of 1996 must be reviewed as opposed to having piecemeal changes.

“The current electoral Act is anchored on the 1996 amended Constitution. Therefore, you cannot dream to have free, fair and credible elections under a defective constitution. So to us as AVAP, we are appealing to government to sit up and we are saying,enough is enough!” Tembo said.

“Zambians want to have proper elections next year and if they still want to use the same constitution, it means they have a hidden agenda. What should happen now is to have a complete overhaul of the entire electoral law, not just the Electoral Code of Conduct because the Electoral Code of Conduct can easily be abused. In fact, they MMD are known to be abusing the Electoral Code of Conduct. Therefore, it is very cosmetic and doesn’t add any value. We want the electoral law itself.”

Tembo said there was need to step up advocacy campaigns to ensure that the government was compelled to give Zambians a new constitution.

He said Zambians could not afford to spend billions of kwacha on a constitution-making process only to have the Constitution after the elections.

“We are appealing to President Rupiah Banda, as much as he is flying around to Namibia and everywhere to find time to ask Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Rwanda, Angola and other countries on how they hold elections? How are the electoral laws put in place so that we speed up our process?” he added. “Our democracy is still under siege and that is the siege we are talking about.”

He said the country did not have direction on the electoral process because the law was inadequate.

“We cannot afford the luxury of having a simple majority president; we want the 50 per cent plus one to be enshrined in the Constitution. We want the independence of the Electoral Commission of Zambia clearly stipulated in the Constitution. We want the chairperson of the ECZ to be the returning officer for presidential elections; not the chief justice who hears the petitions,” said Tembo.

“We would like the playing field to be levelled. There are a number of issues which we want to be reviewed because the current electoral Act has so many gaps.”

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(NEWZIMBABWE) Company director charged over Mugabe rant

Company director charged over Mugabe rant
by Lunga Sibanda
13/11/2010 00:00:00

A BULAWAYO businessman who faces charges of insulting President Robert Mugabe and undermining his authority has appeared in court seeking a variation of his bail conditions.

Gareth David Fury, a director of Fisher Motors, first appeared in court on 14 September and was remanded out of custody on $100 bail. Then state says the alleged insult occurred on September 6 when Fury called a Fisher employee, Nkululeko Griffin Tshuma, to his office.

Fury requested that Tshuma hand over the company vehicle and keys as his services were no longer required.

The two then exchanged harsh words with Tshuma telling Fury that the company had undermined the country’s empowerment laws by hiring him.

The court heard that a furious Fury then insulted Tshuma and President Mugabe.

He allegedly told Tshuma: “To hell with your indigenisation, not in my company. If you need the car you should go and get one from President Mugabe and his indigenisation. He will make indigenization work in his house and not in this country.

“Go tell him to give you his car and bring back my company car. To hell with him and his indigenisation, we are fed up with him.”

Tshuma refused to surrender the keys and left Fury’s office. A report was made to the police leading to Fury’s arrest.

The state argues that Fury was that his statements were false and could engender feelings of “hatred, hostility or ridicule (towards) the President”.

Meanwhile Fury’s lawyers approached a magistrate’s court on Friday seeking the release of his passport in exchange for title deeds to his property.

The lawyers said Fury needed the passport in order to travel to South Africa.

“In view of his (Fury) medical report, I am submitting that the State releases his passport as he is willing to give title deeds for his property if the State is willing to take that as an alternative,” his lawyers told the court.

The magistrate suspended the case to next Friday to give the Attorney General’s office time to respond.

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(NEWZIMBABWE) Tobacco threat unites Mugabe, farmers

Tobacco threat unites Mugabe, farmers
by Farai Mutsaka
13/11/2010 00:00:00

FOR YEARS, President Robert Mugabe and his allies have sought to drive white farmers from their land, and the farmers have fought back through the courts. However, in recent weeks, the World Health Organization has managed to bring the two warring camps together by attacking one of their few shared interests: tobacco.

The WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control seeks to cut global production and demand for a crop that is the lifeblood of Zimbabwe's economy - accounting for 26 percent of gross domestic product in 2009, according to the Ministry of Finance. The 171 countries that are party to the convention will meet in Uruguay next week.

Zimbabwe officials and farmers—white and black—are banding together to explore how to respond to a treaty that could derail the country's fragile recovery after a decade of economic and political tumult.

"We have to set aside our differences to save the country's economy," said Kevin Cooke, president of the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association, the main tobacco farmers' body. "There are no alternative crops that come near tobacco."

Minister of Agriculture Joseph Made, a close ally of President Mugabe, says the government is scrambling to save a dominant cash crop grown by the country's largest and smallest of farmers, of all colors.

"There are no differences between us on this one," he says. "Everyone is working together and certainly we hope this togetherness can last."

Made admits that Zimbabwe alone doesn't have much leverage, and says it is relying on support from other countries that also oppose elements of the treaty.

The show of unity is remarkable in the current political climate.

The shared government of President Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change is nearing an end.

Officials in both parties, including President Mugabe, say they want elections next year to replace the troubled coalition government, but another vote risks a repeat of the 2008 elections, in which hundreds are believed to have died in political violence.

Zimbabwe's white farmers have tended to support Tsvangirai's MDC-T party.

The prime minister has spoken out about the need to resolve land disputes in a legal and transparent manner — a stance that appears to side with international court decisions, including the Southern African Development Community tribunal that in 2008 ruled in favor of the land rights of white farmers.

President Mugabe's government has said it won't abide by that ruling. Still, it isn't clear how long the unlikely alliance can last.

The killing last month of Kobus Joubert, a leading white tobacco farmer and former president of the ZTA, highlights the insecurity faced by the few remaining white farmers.

Joubert's death has been described by police as occurring during a robbery, but farmer representatives say such violence has often been part of the farm evictions supported by President Mugabe.

Today, fewer than 300 whites remain on farms, down from 4,500 when evictions started about a decade ago, according to Deon Theron, president of the Commercial Farmers Union.

"Our members are still being violently evicted even when they have court orders on their side," he said.

But when it comes to tobacco, the fighting has stopped, for now.

Tobacco is Zimbabwe's biggest agricultural employer, providing jobs for 350,000 people; an additional 500,000 work in related industries, such as cigarette manufacturing, according to the government and farmer unions.

In September, Zimbabwe's finance minister raised projections for full-year economic growth to slightly over 8 percent from its July forecast of 4.5 percent, largely because of resurgent tobacco sales.

The industry earns much-needed foreign currency from its overseas sales of Burley tobacco, a product blended into such famous cigarette brands as Altria Group's Marlboro.

But the WHO treaty would hit countries that grow Burley tobacco hard.
The crop requires blending with other ingredients that global health authorities deem harmful.

In the draft guidelines, the WHO urges member governments to examine how to restrict or ban ingredients — such as those blended with Burley — that increase the attractiveness of tobacco products, "as a tool to help limit youth initiation," said a WHO spokesman, in an email response to questions.

The treaty is expected to spearhead a global anti-tobacco campaign to reduce consumption of tobacco products, which the WHO says kills five million people a year, or one person every six seconds. Most of the deaths occur in middle- and low-income countries, according to the WHO.

The International Tobacco Growers' Association has accused the WHO of rushing ahead with regulation without fully understanding the impact on tobacco farmers or directly consulting them.

"If they are pushed to produce something else what are they going to do? You lose millions of jobs," says Antonio Abrunhosa, chief executive of the ITGA, which says it has 30 million members world-wide. "Can you regulate chocolate without talking to chocolate producers?”

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Rupiah is the worst president - Inonge

Rupiah is the worst president - Inonge
By Chibaula Silwamba
Sat 13 Nov. 2010, 04:01 CAT

RUPIAH Banda is the worst President Zambia has ever had, and ghosts will forever haunt him for diluting the fight against corruption, Inonge Wina charged yesterday.

And Wina, who is PF national chairperson, said former president Frederick Chiluba’s cases have tainted President Banda’s name at home and abroad, and that “the Chiluba factor” will cost him votes in 2011 elections.

Reviewing the two-year Banda presidency, Wina said the 73-year-old leader was the worst performer among the four presidents Zambia has had since independence in 1964.

“He is the worst performer because if you detail how much government resources he has spent on trips all over the world, you will find that he has actually cost the country a lot of money. If you rate him on the number of the many good issues that he has reversed to suit his own way of doing things, you will find that he is rated the last of all the four presidents we have had as a country since independence,” Wina said.

“We all had hoped that somehow the man will change his ways but he does not listen to anybody and that again is not the hallmark of a leader. So I would rate him last.”

She said President Banda’s failure to fight corruption would still come out, no matter how much he tried to deceive the nation that he was implementing development projects.

“It’s going to haunt him for the rest of his life,” Wina said. “Currently he doesn’t see it because he is still in a state of power over everybody else in Zambia. But one day, the ghost will raise its head and find that he lives in a place which is haunted; and he should not be surprised.”

However, she admitted that there were some positive economic developments in Zambia but that they would only be appreciated when they improve the lives of ordinary people.

“If you talk about economic development in Kalingalinga township in Lusaka, Chawama Lusaka, Kanyama Lusaka or in a village in Kalabo district in Western Province or in Nabwalya in Mpika district in Northern Province, they will think you are speaking another language because they don’t see that happening in their lives,” Wina observed.

We will only be able to talk about economic development when changes in people’s lives are positive but at the moment the things we read in newspapers and statements we hear from the governor of the Bank of Zambia Dr Caleb Fundanga are not the reality on the ground.

She said the two years of President Banda in office had been undermined by several negative positions that his government had taken.

“Until we see our young people being engaged in meaningful employment; until we see a change in the way people with disabilities live, then we will know that things have changed,” she said.

In some of the areas, the MMD is not even campaigning because they know that at the end of the day they will buy the voters. So they really are depending on the power of the kwacha to win elections; to hoodwink the people that ‘no Chiluba’s problem is not a problem, what you need is money to live on’.”

She said Zambians were being impoverished so that they could be lured to vote for the MMD.

“But in some areas where people are literate, read newspapers, listen to the radio, the ‘Chiluba factor’ may be a very big one in the coming elections,” she said.

“The two years of Mr Rupiah Banda’s reign has seen some changes in the pattern of governance that his predecessors started especially the reign of the late Levy Mwanawasa.”

She said President Banda had not fared well in the fight against corruption, gender equality, balanced development and in addressing unemployment especially among youths.

“The fight against corruption has been diluted,” Wina said. “Freedom of the press; we have seen machinations against the private media, the government attempts to put in place legislation to control the media and stifle freedom of the media.”

Wina said the government was violating people’s freedom of assembly, human rights and MMD cadres had continued to engage in violence without the party leadership reprimanding them or denouncing their actions.

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Explain benefits of Rupiah’s foreign trips, urges Masebo

Explain benefits of Rupiah’s foreign trips, urges Masebo
By Florence Bupe
Sat 13 Nov. 2010, 04:02 CAT

SYLVIA Masebo has urged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to explain to Parliament and the public the benefits of President Rupiah Banda’s international trips. Contributing to the debate on the policy statement for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Masebo, who is Chongwe MMD member of parliament, said there was unhappiness about the trips.

“Currently, there is a lot of unhappiness about presidential travels. The ministry does not seem to bring out the details of the President’s trips,” Masebo said. “The ministry should come and issue ministerial statements on the President’s trips.”

And Pemba UPND member of parliament David Matongo charged that the MMD government had politicised the appointment of diplomats to foreign missions.

Matongo said the ministry had become a dumping ground for failed politicians.
He said there was need to make appointments in the public service, especially in foreign missions, as professional as possible.

“Almost 46 per cent of the diplomatic service is not professional. There is no problem with the President appointing a few of his political cronies but a situation where such a high percentage is unprofessional is unacceptable,” said Matongo.

In concluding the debate, foreign affairs minister Kabinga Pande justified the appointment of diplomats, arguing that all officers appointed in foreign missions underwent training at the diplomatic school.

And UPND Monze member of parliament Jack Mwiimbu has challenged the government to give a clear direction on the national Constitution.

Contributing to a debate on the policy statement for the 2011 budget estimates for the Ministry of Justice, Mwiimbu expressed worry that the government had continued to be silent on the issue of the Constitution.

This followed Vice-President George Kunda’s policy statement delivery for estimates for the 2011 budget and the justice ministry work plan, in which he made no mention of the Constitution.

Various political stakeholders and the public at large have called on the government to ensure that a new constitution is enacted before the 2011 general elections.

“We expected the Vice-President in his programme of work to indicate how government intends to progress with the Constitution. We all know that Zambians are demanding for a new constitution before we proceed with elections next year,” Mwiimbu said.

He reiterated that the constitution-making process was vital in the governance of the country and said it was a serious omission from the Vice-President’s statement to Parliament.
Mwiimbu also said it would not be in the interest of government and ordinary Zambians to conduct next year’s elections under the current electoral regime.

In response, Vice-President Kunda said the government would in the next few days give a clear roadmap on the Constitution.

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Kunda says no regrets taking Chiluba’s cases to London

Kunda says no regrets taking Chiluba’s cases to London
By Florence Bupe
Sat 13 Nov. 2010, 04:02 CAT

VICE-President George Kunda yesterday said he does not regret taking former president Frederick Chiluba’s corruption cases to the London High Court because he was acting on instruction from the Levy Mwanawasa government.

And Speaker of the National Assembly Amusaa Mwanamwambwa has cautioned The Post, former Kitwe mayor Luxon Kazabu, Southern African Centre for Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD) information officer Obby Chibuluma and South Africa-based Professor Michelo Hansungule for what he termed disregard for parliamentary privileges.

Responding to Siavonga UPND member of parliament Douglas Syakalima’s question on whether he regrets having taken Chiluba’s corruption cases to the London High Court, Vice-President Kunda said he had no regrets.

During the Vice-President’s question and answer session in Parliament, Syakalima demanded to know whether Vice-President Kunda had regretted having taken Chiluba’s corruption cases to the London High Court when he was Attorney General and acting justice minister in the Mwanawasa led government.

“When I was Attorney General, I was working on instruction from my client, the government. I had no personal interest in the matter and so there is no need for me to regret,” he said.

Vice-President Kunda said he was acting for the government and took the cases to the London High Court on behalf of the Zambian public.

“I was acting for the government of Zambia, on instruction from the government and on behalf of the people of Zambia,” said Vice-President Kunda.

And Speaker of the National Assembly Amusaa Mwanamwambwa has cautioned The Post, Kazabu, Chibuluma and Professor Hansungule for what her termed disregard for parliamentary privileges.

This was in ruling on a point of order raised by Daniel Munkombwe, the deputy minister in the Office of the Vice-President, regarding a statement attributed to Kazabu in The Post edition of September 24, 2010 under the headline ‘The Speaker is being partisan - Kazabu’.

Mwanamwambwa explained that following Kazabu’s allegations that the Speaker was acting on partisan lines when he suspended Kafulafuta member of parliament George Mpombo from the House and later asked him to apologise for referring to Vice-President Kunda as stupid, subsequent articles were published in The Post, thereby disparaging the integrity of Parliament.

Mwanamwambwa also questioned the knowledge of the authors and commentators regarding practices and rules of procedures of Parliament, and in particular, the Speaker.

“Parliamentary privileges are to be respected not only by members, but also by the public. When any individual or authority disregards or attacks the privileges of the House, it amounts to the offence termed as breach of privileges and is punishable by the House,” he said.

Mwanamwambwa warned that had Parliament wished, the ‘culprits’ would have appeared before the committee on privileges, absences and support services for determination of the matter and necessary sanctions would have been imposed on them.

“The core message of this ruling is that even those who are judgmental should make an effort to understand and respect what we do, how and why we do it. If they do, then we shall respect them,” said Mwanamwambwa.

Meanwhile, members of parliament yesterday opted to stay mute on the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) policy debate.

When asked to debate the policy statement issued by Vice-President Kunda, members of parliament remained seated and the budget estimates for the commission were passed without any debate.

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Garden compound residents riot after man dies in police custody

Garden compound residents riot after man dies in police custody
By Collins Phiri
Sat 13 Nov. 2010, 04:02 CAT

FURIOUS residents in Lusaka's Garden compound yesterday demolished a police post and burnt vehicles in protest against a suspected case of police brutality in which a man died. They went on the rampage after police officers allegedly beat a man to death for “loitering” on Thursday night.

According to a source, the deceased’s family members went to Garden police post to check on their relative who had been picked up the previous night, but could not find him.
The source said police attempted to bribe relatives who demanded to know the whereabouts of the man with K100,000.

The relatives later discovered the body of the deceased at the police post with a deep cut on the head.

Police spokesperson Ndandula Siamano could not give details of the incident but said senior officers had been sent to investigate.

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MMD NEC has no power to expel any member, says Shakafuswa

MMD NEC has no power to expel any member, says Shakafuswa
By Maluba Jere
Sat 13 Nov. 2010, 04:01 CAT

JONAS Shakafuswa yesterday told the Lusaka High Court that the MMD national executive committee (NEC) has no power to expel a member from the party. This is in a matter where Katuba parliamentarian Shakafuswa sued MMD national secretary Katele Kalumba seeking a declaration that his expulsion from the party was illegal.

He is seeking an injunction directing Kalumba, MMD officials, the party's NEC or whosoever to restore his party membership and allow him to perform the functions of member of parliament until determination of the matter.

Shakafuswa is seeking among other reliefs, as an alternative to the injunction in question, another injunction restraining Kalumba through party officials, the NEC, party servants and employees of the National Assembly from interfering with his enjoyment of his party membership pending determination of the matter.

During inter partes hearing before judge Nigel Mutuna, Shakafuswa testified that the MMD had not held any national convention from the date of his purported expulsion. He earlier told the court that he was accused of having been forming parallel party structures.

Shakafuswa, who was led by lawyer Jack Mwiimbu, said under article 19(n) of the MMD constitution as read with article 19(l), there was no provision for expulsion and such powers rested with the national convention.

And PF deputy national youth chairman Geoffrey Chumbwe told the court that he wrote a letter to Kalumba, informing him that he had received news that Shakafuswa was forming parallel structures in Kanyama compound.

“We MMD NEC had some differences with Shakafuswa. So after the complaints, I approached him Shakafuswa at a NEC meeting at State House to find out if it was true he was forming parallel structures in Kanyama and we had a misunderstanding, we fought,” Chumbwe said. “So I wrote a letter to the national secretary, complaining against Shakafuswa’s activities.”

Chumbwe, the former Lusaka Province MMD chairman, told the court that Katele later informed him that the matter relating to Shakafuswa had been resolved and it was closed.

In cross-examination by James Banda, Chumbwe said the deputy national secretary had no power to discipline a party official unless that was done in consultation with NEC.

The petitioners in this matter have closed the case and the MMD told the court that they would call one witness.

The matter comes up on November 26, 2010 for defence.

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Non-performers have weakened MMD - Kavindele

Non-performers have weakened MMD - Kavindele
By Patson Chilemba
Sat 13 Nov. 2010, 04:01 CAT

ENOCH Kavindele yesterday said the ruling MMD has been weakened because of non-performing leaders like works and supply minister Mike Mulongoti. And Kavindele disclosed that three Cabinet ministers and two national executive committee (NEC) members were interested in the MMD vice-presidency.

Reacting to Mulongoti’s assertion that he (Kavindele) should be more honourable by not contesting any further elections because he had been contesting and losing since the UNIP days, Kavindele, who is a vice-presidential aspirant in the MMD, said the MMD was continuously losing by-elections because of non-performing leaders.

“People like Mike Mulongoti have weakened the MMD because instead of doing correct things, he is now advising others that elections should be held after the general elections. I am saying the Copperbelt was 100 per cent MMD, but since Mulongoti became chairperson for elections we have been continuously losing elections,” he said.

Kavindele said because of non-performing leaders like Mulongoti, President Rupiah Banda and the MMD’s popularity was being eroded every day. He said he was not like Mulongoti who had had an easy political life. Kavindele said he had had to fight for the things he desired.

“Mr Mulongoti has had a lucky trick in politics because after the death of MP for Lufwanyama, the late Dawson Lupunga lobbied for Mulongoti to be adopted for the seat because the business he had been running on behalf of Lupunga had collapsed,” he said.

Kavindele said when Mulongoti contested the same seat under the FDD, he was defeated by an MMD member.

He said thereafter, when life became tough for Mulongoti, he sought the help of his ‘uncle’ late president Levy Mwanawasa, who nominated him member of parliament and appointed him minister as well as NEC member.

“That is why I am saying he has had a lucky spell. Some of us do not have uncles who can make life easy for us. I was elected chairman for finance through an election process. I also became MMD vice-president by winning the position at the convention,” he said.

And Kavindele said he had the names of three Cabinet ministers as well as two NEC members who were interested in challenging him for the vice-presidency at the MMD convention.

“They try to intimidate me by using cadres that I should not attend the convention because they are afraid of me, because they know I will defeat whoever stands against me,” said Kavindele.

Mulongoti last Monday asked Kavindele to be more honourable by not contesting any further elections, saying he had been contesting and losing since the UNIP days.

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FODEP urges information on deleted voters

FODEP urges information on deleted voters
By Sandra Lombe in Livingstone
Sat 13 Nov. 2010, 03:59 CAT

FODEP has requested the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to supply information on the deleted voters from the current voters roll.

Forum for Democratic Process (FODEP) however commended ECZ for constantly updating stakeholders on the progress of the registration process by disclosing the total number of newly registered voters and those that had updated their details so far.

“However, we note with concern that the Commission’s update lacked information on the number of voters who have been deleted from the current register as records from updates still reflect the old number of 3.9 million voters.

“In this regard, FODEP would like to request the ECZ to furnish stakeholders on how the exercise of cleaning the current voter’s register of the deceased voters is progressing and how many people have so far been deleted,” stated FODEP information officer McDonald Chipenzi.

“This will help establish the actual number of voters on the provisional register and help stakeholders strategise on how to mount campaigns with relevant institutions and individuals in supplying the necessary information on people who need to be deleted.

“The lack of information on the number of people that have been deleted from the register might be either a sign that the current approach of removing the deceased is not bearing fruits or otherwise.”

Chipenzi stated that FODEP feared that without information and proper handling of the issue of cleaning the register of deceased voters would not resolve the fears among stakeholders that had described the current register as an obsolete one.

He stated that this would also affect the upcoming new register.

“...without paying serious attention to the negative effects that such groups of people may create on the register, it would be impossible for Zambia to have a current and regular register devoid of ghost voters in the 2011 tripartite elections and would be a great departure from the principles of the continuous voter registration system,” he stated.

Chipenzi appealed to the ECZ to strongly reflect on the need to establish effective inter-institutional linkages with other relevant government ministries and institutions such as the Ministry of Health, Prisons, Courts, the Immigration Department in the Ministry of Home Affairs and traditional leaders in establishing the number of people that needed to be removed from current register.

“Having people who are not supposed to be on the register just swells up the number of registered voters but when actual voting comes, such people don’t cast their votes creating an impression that there has been high levels of voter apathy,” stated Chipenzi.

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Ban flavoured tobacco in Zambia – Ililonga

Ban flavoured tobacco in Zambia – Ililonga
By Darious Kapembwa in Kitwe
Sat 13 Nov. 2010, 03:59 CAT

THE Zambia Consumer Association has asked the Zambian government to prohibit cigarettes with flavourings on the Zambian market because they will attract young smokers.

Association executive secretary Muyunda Ililonga, who is also losing UPND candidate in the recent Luena parliamentary by-elections, said at a press briefing in Kitwe yesterday that all must prohibit intentions by the International Tobacco Growers Association to introduce flavoured tobacco because it would encourage teenage smokers.

He said that international tobacco growing companies were exaggerating the economic benefits the tobacco industry presented to countries like Zambia.

“Over the years, evidence has proved that tobacco companies have undertaken, and are still undertaking a great number of activities to impede health action. It has also been proven beyond any doubt that these companies have hidden many facts about hazards of smoking, that they have fought against the imposition of tobacco control laws and that they have attempted to influence decision-makers everywhere in order to oppose tobacco control measures,” said Ililonga.

Ililonga said flavourings were increasingly becoming an important part of tobacco marketing, targeting especially young people.

He said flavourings enhanced enticement, encouraged youth initiation and discouraged cessation.

“In addition to being more attractive to young people, flavoured products make it easier for new smokers to start smoking by masking the unpleasant flavour of tobacco. … Removing these flavoured products from the market is important because it removes an avenue the young people can use to begin regular tobacco use,” said Ililonga.

“These sweet flavour cigarettes or young cigarettes as they are referred to by the industry, include flavours such as Ice cream, cola, chocolate, vanilla, mint, strawberry, cherry, peach and grape. How can it be acceptable for cigarettes to have these properties familiar with children’s tastes? These flavours are made to appeal to the youth. The more attractive tobacco products are, the more poeple will become addicted and ultimately, more will die from tobacco-caused diseases. How can it be accepted to make harmful products look attractive to consume? How can we stand by and watch a rogue industry kill our children?” Ililonga queried.

And Ililonga scoffed at government’s seeming inconsistent policy on tobacco.

“Last time the Minister of Education was saying that tobacco contributed US $98 million to the treasury but what the minister failed to state was how much the country was spending on buying medical equipment to diagnose and cure tobacco-related diseases. Now you see, it is very surprising that we have ratified WHO conventions on health, we are supporting the growth of the tobacco industry (and) at the same time the Ministry of Health is saying tobacco is harmful to health, so where do we stand as a country?” Ililonga wondered.

Meanwhile, the Zambian government will for the first time send a four-man delegation to the World Health Organisation Framework convention on Tobacco Control guidelines for Articles 9 and 10 which talk about product regulation.

Ililonga said the government’s decision to send only one official from the Ministry of Health that criticises tobacco over health concerns and four from the ministry of agriculture, which was supporting tobacco companies was very unfortunate.

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Uganda bemoans lack of proper agric market

Uganda bemoans lack of proper agric market
By Kabanda Chulu in Uganda
Sat 13 Nov. 2010, 03:59 CAT

UGANDA’s agriculture minister Hope Mwesigye has said lack of proper market structures has continued to frustrate agricultural productivity despite huge investments by governments and development partners.

And Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA) chief executive officer Cris Muyunda has said there is need to address the danger of turning into a full-fledged bureaucracy that does not deliver services to target beneficiaries.

Officially opening the 4th ACTESA stakeholders meeting on agriculture commodity trade in Entebbe, Uganda on Wednesday, Mwesigye said ACTESA and its partners had an obligation to define a clear pathway of graduating smallholder farmers into entrepreneurs that would produce sustainably for markets.

She said there was need to ensure that small-scale farmers and traders remained in business and continued producing and marketing enough commodities for their own countries and export markets.

“To enhance agricultural growth and food security by simply increasing
investment is not enough, and governments and development partners have to make fundamental changes in the way we do business,” advised Mwesigye.

“Stand alone and supply-driven commodity interventions are not only unsustainable but they will not succeed. Instead, we should support ACTESA to strengthen existing public private partnerships and business-to-business alliances that facilitate the development of smallholder-supportive value chains.”

And USAID representative Peter Ewell challenged ACTESA to put in place well-defined and measurable indicators when implementing programmes.

And COMESA secretary general Sindiso Ngwenya said the lack of market capacities for the dominant smallholder farmers had ruined the performance of the agriculture sector in Africa.

“Of all the factors constraining agricultural productivity and overall growth of the agriculture sector, access to profitable markets is the most important one,” said Ngwenya in a speech read on his behalf by COMESA director of gender affairs Emiliana Tembo. “Small farmers must become commercialised and consider agriculture a real business enterprise.”

And Dr Muyunda said ACTESA was on track to fulfilling its intended objectives as could be seen by the various programmes being undertaken.

“The bottom line is that ACTESA is not a talking shop; it’s an impact-oriented organisation strongly focusing on the best practices in policy market services and capacity building,” said Dr Muyunda.

“In terms of challenges that we still have to address, we note the following that there is always a danger of turning into a fully-fledged bureaucracy that does not deliver hence the need to do a lot better both as a secretariat and as stakeholders in quickening the delivery of service to our target beneficiaries.”

ACTESA is a specialised agency of COMESA whose main goal is to increase farmer productivity and incomes in the region through trade in strategic agricultural commodities.

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Cross-border traders applaud consignment threshold adjustment

Cross-border traders applaud consignment threshold adjustment
By Sandra Lombe in Livingstone
Sat 13 Nov. 2010, 03:59 CAT

CROSS Border Traders Association (CBTA) says small-scale businesses will quickly graduate into large-scale enterprises following an adjustment in the consignment threshold from US$500 to US$2,000 in next year’s budget.

CBTA chairman general Elliot Kabinda welcomed government’s decision to increase the consignment threshold and projected a further increase in cross-border trade.

“There have been tremendous trade volumes of late, and they keep increasing. We were lobbying for the goods threshold to be increased from US $500 to US $1000 but during the 2011 budget presentation, it was increased to US $2000. Just this makes us smile,” said Kabinda in an interview.

“Our small-scale traders will graduate quickly from small to medium and to large-scale businesspersons. This will also uplift their lives.”

Kabinda said following the launch of the Simplified Trade Regime (STR), there was now an increase in cross-border trade.

“We are doing extremely well even those who were scared of passing through designated places now pass through the immigration. Smuggling has also reduced as before people were scared of the little to pay. Smuggling will be a thing of the past soon,” he said.

And Kabinda said bilateral talks with Zimbabwe on the possible inclusion of other goods on the common list had been scheduled for February next year.

“We will in February next year have bilateral agreements with Zimbabwe to look at the possible inclusion of other goods on the common list which can be traded between Zimbabwe and Zambia,” he said.

Kabinda recently during the Zambia-Zimbabwe STR launch noted that the major concern for traders was the limited number of goods on the common list and appealed to the authorities to review the list to include more goods.

However, Kabinda said there was need for continued sensitisation on the STR so that people did not use ‘shortcuts’ in doing business.

And Kabinda said the completion of works on the Zimba-Livingstone road would enhance business for cross-border traders.

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(TALKZIMBABWE) Sadc summons US envoy over Zim sanctions

Sadc summons US envoy over Zim sanctions
Posted: Thursday, November 11, 2010 10:27 am

NAMIBIA, in its capacity as Sadc chair, recently summoned the American ambassador in Windhoek to explain why her country continued to impose illegal economic sanctions on Zimbabwe, it has emerged.

Speaking to The Herald newspaper at the Harare International Airport yesterday morning, Namibia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Utoni Nujoma, said Windhoek had done this in its capacity as Sadc chair and as a fellow opponent of imperialism.

Minister Nujoma said Windhoek had summoned Ambassador Gail Dennise Mathieu to express their displeasure over the economic embargo.

He said: "From our side as the chair of Sadc, we have called in the ambassador of the United States of America to tell her the Sadc position and that of Namibia that these sanctions must go now."

At the Sadc Summit in Namibia in August, regional leaders mandated Sadc chair President Hifikepunye Pohamba and the Troika chaired by President Rupiah Banda of Zambia to lobby Western powers to remove their ruinous sanctions.

To this end, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma — who is the deputy chair of the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security — has already told the European Union and the United States to lift their sanctions.

Minister Nujoma added that the illegal Western sanctions were affecting the whole region and Sadc leaders should expeditiously lobby the international community for their removal.

He said: "An important decision was made during the Sadc Summit in Namibia in July that these illegal economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe must go because they have a contagion effect on Southern Africa countries.

"Because of these sanctions, the Heads of State and Government decided that the chairman of Sadc (President Pohamba) and chairman of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, President (Rupiah) Banda of Zambia, and his deputy should undertake a trip to the Western countries; to go to the United Kingdom, the European Union and also to the United States of America and tell them that time has come for these sanctions to go."

He said the Organ was responsible for organising the principals’ itinerary.

Minister Nujoma, who was in Zimbabwe at the invitation of his counterpart, Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, as part of efforts to boost bilateral ties, left yesterday.

"I also came here to discuss issues to do with peace and security in the region. We still have problems in Madagascar and we are still trying to solve that issue.

"There are still some pockets of problems in the DRC and we are working with President Joseph Kabila.

"We discussed issues of food security in Zimbabwe and in the region.

"We agreed the only way to solve the problems in Zimbabwe is the removal of the economic sanctions."

Minister Mumbengegwi thanked Namibia for offering Zimbabwe use of a facility at Walvis Bay harbour.

"Namibia has sacrificed a lot for Zimbabwe. During the time of the cholera epidemic, they did a lot for this country.

"Zesa and Nampower entered into a deal where Namibia gave us US$40 million to rehabilitate our systems.

"Not many countries are able to come and assist a sister state when in trouble," he said.

Also at the airport was Media, Information and Publicity Minister Webster Shamu.

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Friday, November 12, 2010

(TALKZIMBABWE) Copac draft: Zim wants strong president, fast land reform

Copac draft: Zim wants strong president, fast land reform
By: Floyd Nkomo
Posted: Friday, November 12, 2010 6:53 am

THE preliminary results of the constitutional reform exercise indicate that Zimbabweans want a strong president and want the land reform exercise to continue at a faster pace, a source told the Zimbabwe Guardian on Thursday. The issue has shocked the MDC-T party which now wants a return to the Kariba Draft which they had originally abandoned in favour of a people-driven constitution.

Now that the people have spoken and indicated that they would like a strong president, empowerment and land reform, the MDC factions "are getting jittery" said our source close to the Copac process.

MDC-M secretary-general Welshman Ncube this week voiced the MDC's concern saying their views on the constitutional were out of sync with those of the people; and the two MDCs might have underestimated the nationalistic sentiment amongst Zimbabweans who want more control of the means of production.

Addressing a civic organisations meeting in Bulawayo last week, Ncube said people wanted a very powerful executive president who makes important decisions and appoints commissions which were state-controlled.

Said Ncube: “We are once again caught up in our visions of what our society is. We thought the people out there, their views would coincide with our views, the elite here and that if we went to ask them they will tell you they want democracy, want a president with limited power, and want commissions which are independent.

“We know that if you were to be faithful to the data which has come out of that outreach you won’t even get the Kariba draft because that data is far worse than the Kariba draft.”

The issues that the MDCs have been advancing - freedom of the press included, have proved less popular with Zimbabweans.

The Zimbabwe Independent newspaper yesterday quoted the MDC-M secretary general saying views gathered during outreach programmes "are far worse than what was being proposed in the controversial Kariba draft supreme law and do not meet expectations of political parties".

Ironically, Ncube wanted a Constitution that met the expectations of the people, not political parties -- a position also supported by the National Constitutional Assembly.

The Law Society of Zimbabwe has rushed to draft an alternative model constitution which they have presented to Copac and to the Minister for Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, Eric Matinenga from the MDC-T.

Ironically, the lawyers' draft proposes to strengthen parliament and to diminish presidential powers. This is direct contrast to what the people want.

Interestingly, the draft submitted by the lawyers was compiled from three existing draft constitutions, including the one that was rejected by Zimbabweans in a referendum 10 years ago and had been written by a the Zanu-PF government.

The second one is the Kariba draft, co-written by Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations; which the MDCs wanted abandoned only a month ago.

The third one was drafted by the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), although they have vehemently spoken against drafts that do not come from the people.

Copac co-chair Douglas Mwonzora from the MDC-T indicated that the views of the lawyers, the NCA and those from the Kariba Draft will be considered by the parliamentary committee.

This is a turnaround from their previous claim that the Kariba Draft was a redundant document and the people's voice had to be respected.

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who has been a staunch advocate of the people-driven constitution, has indicated that his party now prefers a negotiated constitution.

Zanu-PF says the Copac exercise should be respected and the people's voice should take precedence over negotiation.

Before the outreach programme, the parties clashed over the process with Zanu PF campaigning for the Kariba draft to be used as the basis for a new constitution. The Kariba draft, which critics argue favours most of Zanu-PF’s standpoints, was crafted by the three parties before the March 2008 harmonised elections.

Ncube said the rejected 2000 draft document was a better document.

“That 2000 draft constitution had provisions which said the presidential term would be limited to two (terms) ...meaning that President Mugabe would not be eligible to stand after this year to contest to be president,” he said at the Bulawayo meeting.

Our source told us that the MDC-T is worried that their handlers will abandon them as they have failed to guarantee the return of land to white commercial farmers.

"The MDC-T is in a quandary. The only way they could have pushed for return of farmland to whites was through the constitution.

"Now Zimbabweans have indicated overwhelmingly that they need a strong president and their land. The MDC has nothing to tell their funders, so they have to start another series of boycotts to tarnish Zimbabwe's image," added the source.

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(TALKZIMBABWE) Bennett speech-a sign of MDC-T decline

Bennett speech-a sign of MDC-T decline
By: Ralph Mutema
Posted: Friday, November 12, 2010 5:43 am

ROY Bennett's speech in Paris yesterday is an attempt to escalate the so-called "Zimbabwean crisis" inorder to tarnish the upcoming elections; and ultimately have them declared unfree and unfair.

The MDC-T lot has become very predictable and pathetic over the years. Bennett's speech is just a fund-raising strategy for the MDC-T. He could not fathom the idea of being "trapped" in Zimbabwe while elections were on their way. That would have paralysed the MDC-T financially. He is the chief fundraiser and therefore needed to be outside the country, raising money and handling MDC-T's foreign bank accounts.

Let's brace ourselves for the season of "crisis escalation". The commentaries on how elections will be marred by violence will increase. The lot in the MDC-T will also deliberately "create the crisis" inorder to tarnish the electoral process.

Bennett, in his desire to fundraise for the increasing broke MDC-T will go to any extremes to make sure that he gets the electoral support (moral and financial) the MDC-T needs at the forthcoming elections.

That is why he left the country when the threat to his life and limb was non-existent. There was no danger to his life or any impending incarceration, but he did it to present a picture of lawlessness in the country and harassment to MDC-T supporters.

Unfortunately, the new British government, unlike Tony Blair and Gordon Brown's Labour governments, does not believe these MDC-T shenanigans. They sent their own fact-finding team to Zimbabwe to assess the situation on the ground; and reported favourably on the country.

That is why their immigration policy on Zimbabwe is now being brought in line with the general immigration and asylum policy in the United Kingdom. That special dispensation that had been afforded Zimbabweans in the country is no longer sustainable or justifiable.

How can he blatantly lie that Zanu-PF inherited a "Breadbasket of Africa"? Zanu-PF created the "Breadbasket of Southern Africa".

He even gets the phrase wrong. It wasn't the "Breadbasket of Africa".

Communal farmers after independence were supported extensively by the Zanu-PF government and they took grain to the Grain Marketing Board, while white commercial farmers grew cash crops.

Communal farmers helped create the "Breadbasket of Southern Africa" status, not Ian Smith's Rhodesia Front as Bennett would like us to believe.

These are the lies that infuriate the hard-working people of Zimbabwe; and those people who made sacrifices for the black man's dignity to be restored in that country.

Read with a tooth-comb, Bennett's speech is adding to a list of unsubstantiated allegations that have become characteristic of him. There are a lot of defamatory statements in his speech, and the police will need to examine those allegations and possibly bring new charges against him.

Bennett is just an unrepentant Rhodie, putting a cosmetic touch to his litany of criminal cases in Zimbabwe. He is now on a rampage to tarnish what has been a very functional government; a government which Tsvangirai and his team are saying will never leave.

See how they get dumb and mum on the issue of KP certification. While Minister Obert Mpofu, Affirmative Action Group's Supa Mandiwanzira and Tafadzwa Musarara are running around trying to help Zimbabwe get diamond certification to improve the lives of millions, Tsvangirai and his lot remain mum. In fact, they rush to Mabvuku to talk about freedom of speech and how President Mugabe is making unilateral decisions in government.

At the same time Theresa Makone, is telling an online radio station that all decisions are made by Cabinet and her work in the Home Affairs ministry with co-minister Kembo Mohadi is "excellent" and beyond reproach. This is the ridiculousness that characterises this party.

Bennett's lies are getting increasingly ridiculous and not many people in Europe believe his stories anymore. They are too busy mending that own economies and Cameron is concerned about expenditure cuts to worry about a mindless bunch that has nothing to offer but tantrums and boycotts.

The whole MDC-T project is crumbling in our very eyes - with the emberassing snub by the EU and UN over diplomatic reassignments among many snubs. Tsvangirai's trips to Europe have significantly been reduced compared to 2007-8. The MDC was never meant to survive this long anyway. The West wanted it as a stop-gap measure - a proxy against the Fast Track Land Reform programme.

The only way now for that party is down; with no serious overseas structures anymore and an increasingly skeptical electoral base.

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Refusing windfall tax is an injustice - Sardanis

Refusing windfall tax is an injustice - Sardanis
By Joe Kaunda and Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Fri 12 Nov. 2010, 04:00 CAT

Andrew Sardanis has described the government’s refusal to reinstate the windfall tax regime in the mining sector as an injustice to the country. And economic consultant Bob Sichinga has advised opposition political parties to make the issue of restoring windfall tax a campaign issue in next year’s general elections.

In an interview, Sardanis who presided over negotiations during the nationalisation of the mines under the Kenneth Kaunda administration, said he was appalled to learn that government was only getting 2.6 per cent in revenue from the exports of copper that stood at US$2.9 billion despite the huge boom in metal prices.

“…in other words a total tax of only 2.6 per cent of total revenue. When the mines were bought by the current owners, the copper prices stood around US $1,500 per tonne, but the price has shot up to the current over US $8,500,” Sardanis observed.

He described the low revenue from the mining sector to the government a huge anomaly and an injustice to the country especially that the global markets were still predicting a further rise in metal prices on account of an anticipated long term shortage of copper.

“It is an injustice for the government to only collect US$ 77.6 million from copper exports valued at US$2.9 billion. And I do not see that the mines themselves in their heart of hearts would consider it an injustice to pay extra more,” he said.

And further disagreeing with finance minister Situmbeko Musokotwane’s assertions that any changes to the current tax regime in the mining sector would chase away investors, Sardanis maintained that it was time government realised that the country was losing an opportunity to benefit from the remarkably high copper prices.

“Do you honestly think they (mines) are going to close down and leave? The reality is that at the moment there is predicted a long term shortage of supply (of copper) which would mean the price is likely to rise even further. So I do not understand why there are these fears of the investors leaving,” Sardanis stated.

“They (government) ought to realise that copper is a wasting asset, it is not going to grow in the ground again.”

He expressed concern at what would be a missed opportunity for the government to pass on the benefit from the mining sector into the socioeconomic development of the country.

And Sichinga, who has described President Rupiah Banda and Dr Musokotwane as unpatriotic for opposing the reintroduction of windfall tax, has charged that despite increasing pleas for maximising revenue collections from the mining sector, the government has continued to be adamant and irresponsible.

He said it was in this vein that campaigning on the platform of increasing tax collections from the mining sector would determine how serious the opposition political parties were to the governance of this country.

The mining sector which contributes about 70 per cent of the foreign exchange earnings and about 11.2 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product only accounts for just over one per cent of the revenue collections by the Treasury.

“I am suggesting that if political parties were serious, they should make this a campaign issue,” Sichinga said.

“They should say to the people that we are failing to get development because your government is not serious about obtaining the benefits of our God-given endowment to your country. So, if I were in politics, that is exactly what I would be saying. I will be making this a campaign issue that ‘the government is irresponsible, not being patriotic and failing to do what is necessary’. Why tax you and I at 35 per cent and tax the mines almost nothing?”

Sichinga said the re-introduction of the windfall tax should be also debated in Parliament and those members of parliament (MPs) who oppose it should be exposed and de-campaigned. He charged that President Rupiah Banda and Dr Musokotwane were not patriotic to this country.

“Why would any patriotic citizen or leader stop that windfall tax? That issue is so crucial such that the civil society and ordinary citizens will continue to argue they must impose that tax,” Sichinga said.

“I am also urging Parliament to reintroduce this topic and even if they get defeated, they must ask for a division and we must know which people are supporting the government over this failed and imprudent manner of taxing the mines. They should be named during the campaigns that these are the people who refused to have taxes imposed on the mines and let them go to the Copperbelt and campaign on that basis.”

He observed that the current regime favoured getting underhand payments from the foreign mining firms at the expense of the country.

“What justification is there? What is clear is that the government wants to benefit from these mines by them giving them campaign monies and that is why they are not imposing these taxes,” he said.

“There is no other reason. We have written, we have spoken, we have made our case… Dr Musokotwane, the president and their cabinet have not given us any justifiable reason why they mine should not being paying taxes.”

Sichinga also dismissed assertions by the government that windfall tax on the mining sector would scare away investors.

He said evidence has shown that countries that were increasing taxation in the aftermath of the global economic crisis remained stable as no investor had shown any signs of movements.

Sichinga also rejected Dr Musokotwane’s insistence on the application of variable profit tax as not feasible because the government does not understand the cost structure for most mining operations.

“In our country, the mines have different costs of production but the maximum you can expect from even the ones with the lowest ore content is not to go beyond U$ 2, 000 per tonne,” he explains. “That means they are making super profits between the US $2, 000 mark and the US $8, 000.”

He further dismissed the announcement that the government would audit mining firms for tax compliance.

“They are saying they are going to carry out an audit of what has been exported. It means they don't even know what has been exported at the moment,” said Sichinga.

“Otherwise why would they be asking for an audit now? What have they been doing all along? On what basis have they been taxing the mines in terms of the exports? It frightens me that you can have a government saying that they are going to carry out an audit and yet they are arguing that the mining companies would leave Zambia if they were to impose taxes.”

He reminded the government that with windfall tax, nobody would be taxing the mines when they made losses or when the copper price fell below an agreed level.

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Governing by intimidation and threats

Governing by intimidation and threats
By The Post
Fri 12 Nov. 2010, 04:00 CAT

Intolerance seriously undermines our people’s right to freedom of expression. Freedom of expression forms the backbone of democracy.

Democracy will only become a reality when there is a freedom of speech, including the freedom on the part of each individual to criticise the government and political parties; the freedom of each individual to hold a political opinion that is different from that of the ruling party or the opposition; the freedom of each individual to express a political opinion that is different from that of the ruling party or opposition; that is: the freedom to have a different line of political thinking and expression.

And as Fr Mambwe Mpasa has observed, “intimidation and threats against those with divergent views will not help. Freedom is about letting people speak freely. To use threats to try and stop divergent views is not healthy and is not even good to those who are trying to do that”.

Clearly, the enjoyment of freedom of expression would require an acknowledgement of every human being’s desire to be heard and listened to, to take part in the discussions of the issues that affect one’s life, to provide an input to decisions that affect one’s life and to search and find the truth.

When in a family, the father decides, commands and eventually punishes, without listening to the opinions of others, it is a foregone conclusion that the peace of that home will last only as long as fear and infancy lasts. The day will come when the children will reject such parental authority and will rebel or leave the home. Or they will go out into life diminished.

True love for one’s country is, as it were, an extension of love for one’s family; it is a love given to a wider family. And that which holds within the narrow circle of the home also holds in the wider community, which is the nation. Adult people wish to be heard, to take part in discussion and in the decisions which affect their own lives within the national community. People desire to take part. A country is firm and united insofar as its citizens feel that they have a voice in its affairs. This requires that each citizen be allowed one’s own opinion and the right to act with full responsibility and without fear in matters that affect him intimately.

This reminds us of Pope Pius XII’s Christmas message of 1944: “It is among the rights of citizens which found their expression in a democracy to express their points of view concerning the duties and sacrifices which are imposed on them, not to be forced to obey without being heard.”

Let us work to become a single people. We should not follow leaders blindly; we should critically examine their true intentions, and the direction in which they are leading us. Is it to a richer, more satisfying life? Is it to a life in which we are the masters of our own destiny? Or, is it to new forms of oppression, slavery and unfulfilled promises?

We human beings have an inner propensity to search for the truth and to voice out that truth. This is enhanced within a climate of freedom of thought and expression. Moreover, we human beings are honoured – and this honour is due to us – whenever we are allowed to search freely for the truth, to voice our opinions and be heard, to engage in creative service of the community in all liberty within the associations of our own choice. Nobody should ever have to suffer reprisals for honestly expressing and living up to their convictions – intellectual, religious or political. We can only regret, as Fr Mpasa has pointed out, that this is not always the case in our country.

We can be grateful that freedom of worship is respected. The same freedom does not exist when it comes to translating faith into daily life. Freedom to think freely is seriously restricted in all sorts of ways; exposing injustices can be considered as a betrayal; revealing some evils of the society is seen as slandering the country.

The respect of the freedom of opinion and expression requires an acknowledgement by each politician and each political party, as well as each individual and each group in the country, of the fact that no person and no group can hold a monopoly of truth and wisdom. As such, room should be left for an alternative line of political thinking that is wiser and richer than one’s own. It also requires the acknowledgement and respect of each person as an intelligent being, capable of independent thinking and independent opinion. No one person can claim to have a monopoly of truth and wisdom. No individual – or group of individuals – can pretend to have all the resources needed to guarantee the progress of the nation. The contribution of the most humble members is often necessary for the good running of a group.

The people must never be reduced to a mass of subjugated beings vis-à-vis their rulers, but rather be treated as conscious, intelligent and responsible citizens, while those in authority for their part play their role as servants of the people.

The realisation of the respect for the freedom of thought and expression by the government requires that government be open to criticism and be ready to acknowledge and admit its weaknesses and failures.

A first step in the restoration of the climate of confidence may be taken by recognising the true state of the nation.

“The truth shall set you free” (John 8:32). These words of Christ do not have an exclusively religious meaning. They also express a deep human reality. For too long, we have refused to see that despite singing praises of development, our country still suffers from many ills – economic and social progress does not trickle down to the masses of our people; much still needs to be achieved to make adequate education and health services available to all; the HIV/AIDS problem presents an incredible challenge. People will not be scandalised to hear these things: they know them.

They will only be grateful that their true needs are recognised and that efforts are made to answer them. Feeding them with slogans and half-truths or untruths only increases their cynicism and their mistrust of government representatives. Real progress can only be attained when the true problems and the real needs are identified and all resources are channelled towards solving them. Let us add here that people in positions of responsibility have an obligation to know the actual conditions in which their people live and to work tirelessly for their betterment. They should be willing to allow their performance to be judged by the people they serve. Accountability is a quality of any good government. People are entitled to know how their representatives fulfil their duties. No disrespect is shown when citizens ask questions in matters that concern them.

The enjoyment of the freedom of speech would require that the government allows the people who hold a different line of political thinking an open forum to express their views without government interference. We all know that freedom of expression is a fundamental right of every human being. This right is also enshrined in our Constitution. And it is a matter of justice that this right is given to all without discrimination and irrespective of the issues involved.

It would be disastrous if freedom of expression were not the same for all but dependent on the person who is speaking. Participation in the life of one’s country is not only a right; it is also a duty that each citizen should be proud to assume and exercise responsibly.

Clearly, intimidation and threats against those with divergent views must surely rank as one of the worst forms of immorality in human affairs. What is distinctly lacking among our politicians is a culture of tolerance and humility which places the humanity of others before self and accepts that all citizens have a right to participate in the shaping of their destiny directly without fear of reprisal. Things must change if we have to see a reversal of fortunes. Threats and intimidation work against progress.

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Kavindele should not be victimised - Chipili

Kavindele should not be victimised - Chipili
By Patson Chilemba
Fri 12 Nov. 2010, 04:02 CAT

MMD member Webby Chipili yesterday said Enoch Kavindele should not be victimised for aspiring to contest the MMD vice-presidency because no one has the monopoly to any position in the party.

Commenting on works and supply minister Mike Mulongoti’s remarks that Kavindele should not contest the vice-presidency because he had been contesting and losing since the UNIP days, including threats by some MMD cadres to beat him Kavindele up if he dared to go to the convention, Chipili said people must realise that MMD came into being on the premise of democracy.

He said the MMD should in fact be championing democracy.

Chipili, who is still aspiring to re-contest the Kamfinsa seat and served as presidential affairs minister in late president Levy Mwanawasa’s administration, said threatening people from contesting positions was not only barbaric but anti-MMD.

“Those that are doing that are definitely not MMD because there are no personal to holder positions.

All positions will be contested for according to our constitution. And there is no one candidate who has the monopoly. So those who are saying that are only misguided. I am sure that gentleman has even been disciplined, that shi-Mpundu pa nkoloko,” Chipili said.

“Any member, for as long as he is a party member, is free to vie for any position, because that is what our constitution says. He Kavindele should not be victimised at all actually. He is still an MMD member and he is free to contest.”

Chipili said the same Kavindele contested the MMD presidency in 2008.

“If we had allowed him then, I don’t see how we can disown him now,” he said.

Chipili said he would vie for a position at the convention, but that announcing the position now would be like committing political suicide.

He said it would be advisable for the MMD to accommodate all the members, especially the old party members.

“Whether anybody likes it or not, we have the experience. We have propelled this party over the years, since inception. So we know it better. Don’t look at former leaders as being useless because, in fact, being former leaders, they have seen enough,” Chipili said.

“I think now they need us more than ever, and I would suggest that we take stock of our founding members. Those ultimately are the people who understand MMD.”

Chipili said the MMD had lost some parliamentary by-elections because they had not paid attention to how they were running things.

“For instance Chilanga, you can’t say it’s the question of popularity. It is the question of approach, the way we approached the campaign. I am aware that we had two rallies when our fellows UPND did more than 20. So it means coverage was simply not there,” he said.

Asked on the involvement of Lusaka Province MMD chairperson William Banda as deputy campaign manager in Chilanga, Chipili said Banda needed time to learn the operations of MMD.

“William might be an experienced politician, but I don’t think he understands clearly how we run campaigns in the MMD,” Chipili said.

He said today’s politics demanded for people to be persuaded on issues.

“You can’t ask brothers to violently beat other brothers. It doesn’t matter whether it is coming from the MMD or the opposition. That is an old method of doing things. I think what people want now is to be convinced on issues…that is what people listen to. Intimidation will not work,” said Chipili.

Kavindele has come under attack initially from some MMD cadres who have threatened him with violence should he attempt to attend the party convention where he intends to stand as vice-president.

Mulongoti has also dismissed Kavindele’s intentions to run for the second-highest position in the party.

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PF will reinstate abuse of office - Sata

PF will reinstate abuse of office - Sata
By George Chellah
Fri 12 Nov. 2010, 04:01 CAT

Michael Sata yesterday said the offence of abuse of office will be reinstated immediately President Rupiah Banda is voted out of power.

And Sata, opposition PF leader, has said the recent incident where community development minister Michael Kaingu and his permanent secretary Sherry Thole angrily differed over the use of funds at the ministry clearly explains the government’s rush in removing the offence of abuse of office. In an interview, Sata said it would be wasted effort for President Banda to even assent to the bill.

“I know that he has no choice but to assent because he initiated this scandalous bill. But let me emphasise that PF in government will reinstate the offence of abuse of office as soon as Rupiah is voted out of power,” Sata said. “We want to make sure that no public officer abuses their offices to make money on the backs of the suffering majority.”

He said the government’s manoeuvres over the abuse of office clause had exposed the hidden intentions of President Banda’s administration.

“It is wrong for Rupiah and his friends to legitimise theft of public resources by removing the law against abuse of office and acquisition of unexplained wealth by public officers who are supposed to defend and protect public property on behalf of the Zambian people,” Sata said.

“What Rupiah is doing is turning public officers into official plunderers. We want Rupiah, George Kunda and Mike Mulongoti to know that they will not get away with what they are doing. The PF in government will reinstate section 37 of the ACC Act in our laws and ensure that no public officer is allowed to enjoy property that they cannot explain.”

He said every property acquired needed to be accounted for by the owner.

“Rupiah and his friends will definitely be held to this standard. Our people are suffering and we cannot be fighting about public officers keeping money that they steal from the people through corruption and other frauds,” he said.

He condemned professionals that were defending the government’s manoeuvres to remove the abuse of office clause.

“We know poverty is biting even people of high integrity like Professor Patrick Mvunga. Prof Mvunga was Solicitor General in UNIP government when they enacted that and even when Frederick Chiluba’s government in 1996 included section 37, Prof Mvunga was very prominent as a lawyer and Zambian citizen but he never protested,” Sata said.

“Throughout these administrations Prof Mvunga never raised a finger to say that section 37 was unconstitutional. Even in his lectures at the University of Zambia (UNZA), we never heard him telling his students that this section was unconstitutional, so what has changed now? Where has Prof Mvunga been all along for him to come and only spot this anomaly today?

“Anyway, we understand that Prof Mvunga and Abyudi Shonga Attorney General are Rupiah’s lawyers, so probably that’s why they can’t differ with their client in public. But whatever people in this government are stealing or have been stealing in the two years Rupiah has been in office they will account for it once he is gone.”

Sata warned people to take a leaf from what was happening to Chiluba’s conspirators.

“They thought that by scheming on Chiluba’s case, then that would be the end but what has happened? A solicitor in the UK has received a chop due to his dealings with Chiluba. This should be a lesson to all of them,” he said.

And Sata said the incident involving Kaingu and Thole where they differed over funds clearly explains the government’s rush in removing the offence of abuse of office.

“You can see already that Kaingu is differing with his permanent secretary over money. This is the reason why Rupiah and his friends are relentless when it comes to removing abuse of office because they know what they are doing as a government,” Sata said.

“We are aware as PF that an audit query amounting to about K1.2 billion has been raised at the ministry of community development. This is the money they have been dishing out countrywide. But let them not be excited because in a few months' time they will all be required to explain to the Zambian people on these issues.”

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BoZ urges banks to reduce costs

BoZ urges banks to reduce costs
By Mutale Kapekele
Fri 12 Nov. 2010, 04:01 CAT

Fundanga - Inflation is going down, government securities yield rates are down, in the third quarter there were at 4.7 per cent. Why should the lending rate be at 30 per cent?

COMMERCIAL banks have been challenged to enhance deposit mobilisation through innovative products that can provide credit to fuel economic growth.

And Bank of Zambia (BoZ) governor Caleb Fundanga has urged banks to reduce their operational costs for interest rates to go down.

Responding to a press query on finance minister Situmbeko Musokotwane’s challenge that banks should reduce the interest spread between savings accounts and lending rates, Bankers Association of Zambia chairperson Saviour Chibiya called for innovation among commercial banks.

“We agree with the Minister of Finance that enhancing deposit mobilisation, through more attractive pricing and introduction of other innovative products is a key ingredient to ensuring that banks have the necessary liquidity to provide credit to fuel the economic growth of the country,” Chibiya stated.

“As BAZ we are glad to see the diverse pricing structures of banks which are published by the Bank of Zambia every quarter in the newspapers, as well as the increase in products being advertised by banks. Such marketing efforts help with product awareness and gives the consumers knowledge of their options.”

Chibiya stated that BAZ was working with the government, BoZ and other stakeholders in meeting the challenge of increasing savings in the country and reducing the number of people who did not get the benefit of financial services.

And responding to questions from the press after presenting the Bank of Zambia quarterly brief for July to September on Monday, Dr Fundanga said the central bank would not rest until equilibrium was reached on interest rates.

Currently, banks are charging an average of 19 per cent on lending while paying savings accounts holders as little as 0.2 per cent as interest.

Dr Fundanga urged banks to reduce operational costs by reducing the costs of hiring managers through training of locals to take up those positions.

“Banks are saying the cost of hiring managers is very high. This has also contributed to the high interest rates,” Dr Fundanga said.

“The solution to this is to train Zambians. There are so many graduates who are unemployed. In many countries the cost of HR Human Resource is low because their train locals. The Institute of Bankers can partner with the CBU Copperbelt University to offer degree programmes in banking.”

Dr Fundanga further said inflation, which currently stands at 7.7 per cent, was going down and that interest rates should correspond with that development.

“Inflation is going down, government securities yield rates are down, in the third quarter there were at 4.7 per cent. Why should the lending rate be at 30 per cent?”

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ZRA ties high PAYE to easy collection

ZRA ties high PAYE to easy collection
By Florence Bupe
Fri 12 Nov. 2010, 04:00 CAT

THE Federation of Free Trade Unions in Zambia has rebuked the government for suggesting that income tax charged on individuals will continue to be high because it is easier to collect.

Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) Commissioner General Wisdom Nhekaira on Tuesday informed the parliamentary committee on estimates that pay as you earn (PAYE) would remain high because it was easier to collect it at the source than corporate tax.

FFTUZ president Joyce Nonde-Simukoko charged that the government was being lazy by failing to broaden the tax base to relieve the narrow formal sector from paying high taxes charged on their income.

“What has been happening over the years is a sign of leadership failure. Government has failed to come up with ideas to capture income from the informal sector, and they do not realise that they are losing a lot of money in the process,” Nonde-Simukoko said.

“The fact is that the formal sector has continued to shrink and so the few people employed in this sector are over-burdened.”

Nonde-Simukoko said the problem of high PAYE was further aggravated by unattractive salaries in most formal employment sectors, especially the civil service. She expressed disappointment that the government had not bothered to explain to the public sector the challenges they faced in mobilising the informal sector.

Nonde-Simukoko also reiterated the urgent need for the government to revisit the issue of the windfall tax as a means of enhancing the country’s treasury.

“We have differed with government on the subject of the windfall tax and we are still aggrieved that our views have not been taken into consideration. We are not suggesting that taxes on the mining houses should be punitive, but government has to find a way of taxing the mines in a way that will benefit both the country and the investors,” said Nonde-Simukoko.

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MMD youth leader okays verbal assault on Rupiah’s critics

MMD youth leader okays verbal assault on Rupiah’s critics
By Patson Chilemba
Fri 12 Nov. 2010, 04:00 CAT

AN MMD youth leader claims it is not wrong to verbally assault those who attack President Rupiah Banda. Speaking yesterday, Watson Mtonga, Lusaka Province youth vice-chairperson, said the MMD would appeal against the conviction of youth chairperson Chris Chalwe. Mtonga said he was confident the higher court would overturn the judgment.

“He Chalwe is a committed soldier for President Banda. It is true. He is a gallant soldier. He is not a coward and whatever the verdict, we are praying for him to remain strong,” Mtonga said.

Mtonga said Chalwe was not a violent person.

But when reminded that apart from beating journalists, Chalwe and his group threatened to gang-rape FDD president Edith Nawakwi, Mtonga said the threats of violence did not manifest into reality.

“Yes, it was a political threatening assault because Nawakwi also was insulting and demeaning our President,” he said.

When asked if it was right to verbally assault those attacking President Banda, Mtonga responded: “Yes, because they are also injuring the image and the heart of the President. The words they use are also very bad.”

Mtonga said the MMD youths would not back out but defend the interests of the party.

“The key thing is that in MMD, we shall not promote violence,” said Mtonga.

Senior resident magistrate David Simusamba on Tuesday jailed Chalwe one year with hard labour for common assault. Chalwe assaulted Post Newspapers journalist Chibaula Silwamba and Times of Zambia senior reporter Anthony Mulowa on July 29, 2009 in Lusaka.

However, magistrate Simusamba acquitted Chalwe on a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

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Govt doesn’t seem to appreciate our aid - Dutch envoy

Govt doesn’t seem to appreciate our aid - Dutch envoy
By Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Fri 12 Nov. 2010, 04:00 CAT

PRESIDENT Rupiah Banda’s regime doesn’t seem to be too appreciative of donor aid at times, Netherlands Embassy head of mission Ardis Stois-Braken has observed.

Making a contribution during a Citibank-sponsored discussion on the current copper boom and its trickle-down effects on the Zambian economy on Wednesday, Stois-Braken also wondered how ready Zambia was to wean itself from donor support.

Stois-Braken observed that aid from Western donors to Africa had become scarce owing to the recent global economic which weakened liquidity in Western countries.

“Indeed in Europe and the US, aid flows are under pressure. At the same time here in Zambia, at times, the government doesn’t seem to be too appreciative of our aid… the headlines in the newspapers encouraging donors to pack their bags,” said Stois-Braken.

“However, there still seems to be a place for donors for the government to use the money made available…where would you see the most strategic value for donors to put the money and…Zambia is talking about Zambia beyond aid. Would there be a major impact on the outlook of Zambia if donors decided to withdraw sooner than later?”

Last August, President Banda launched scathing attacks on the donors and Zambians demanding an appeal against High Court judge Evans Hamaundu’s decision to throw out the application by the state to register the London judgment against Frederick Chiluba.

President Banda wondered why people could not accept judge Hamaundu’s judgment when the government easily accepted cases that went against it.

“This is not a banana republic. It doesn’t belong to anybody. If somebody is fed up with us, let them just pack their bags and go where they came from. We are an independent state and I think that they should give us the chance to follow the laws which they left behind here,” President Banda said.

“To say we are not fighting against corruption, of course you know we are fighting against corruption. There are a lot of people who are in courts…many of our generals, we have never interfered with that, so why this one case becomes a major issue? And also they know we have an election next year, so they are sticking their noses in our business to try and influence the elections.”

And Citibank Africa director for economic and market analysis, David Cowan advised that African countries like Zambia still need donor support. Cowan, however, said African countries like Zambia still faced a huge challenge of how to prudently manage donor inflows.

“If somebody is offering free cheap money, why turn it down? I would take it. The question is how you spend that money…and of the problems that have hit Africa in terms of its thinking is in the 80s and 1990s, there were all these programmes driven by donor agenda about privatisation in Africa,” Cowan said.

“All I think is that we have hit a brick wall in privatisation in Africa. It’s quite hard to privatise sewerage, water provision industry.”

He noted that while it was okay to privatise water provision in Europe, the argument in Africa was that the operator cannot generate a high rate of return.

He said donors could help with key programmes like public sector reform programme to make it more efficient.

“What we need is to re-invent the parastatals and donors can provide a lot of interest in trying to re-invent the parastatals to become efficient service providers in what I call social infrastructure,” he said.

“Donors can do a lot in a way because they have the skills. Donor history has a long troubled relationship in Africa ‘if somebody is offering you money just like the Chinese are offering you money, Brazil is offering you money. We want that money, how can we use it to our advantage? I certainly would not get rid of the donors anytime soon. If you borrow, know how you are borrowing and why you are borrowing.”

Cowan predicted a Chinese debt crisis as Africa’s debt from China is expected to hit US $300 billion in the next five years.

“Most African countries are borrowing a lot of money from China and it won’t be surprising in the next 10 years if we find that we have a new China debt crisis, China ending up writing off billions of Africa’s debt,” said Cowan.

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Poor grain storage worries ZNFU

Poor grain storage worries ZNFU
By Joseph Mwenda
Fri 12 Nov. 2010, 03:59 CAT

ZNFU says it is extremely worried that poor storage facilities for the record bumper harvest will result in a disaster following the onset of the rains.

In an interview yesterday, Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) president Jervis Zimba said the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) would have avoided the damage of purchased maize if it had considered the caution from the union which projected a record harvest last year by planning in advance.

“As a union, we are extremely worried. We are worried about how our grain is being stored. I think there is need to review FRA marketing, so that excess maize should be sold outside Zambia immediately,” he said.

Zimba said the FRA was notified of this year’s harvest projection but that the advice was not heeded.

“We knew in March last year that there was going to be a bumper harvest this year but as usual, government will never react until the crop forecast,” he said.

Zimba said by July this year, FRA should have had the money ready for maize purchases instead of waiting until the farmers had harvested their crops.

“The matter is very worrying and any further delay as we go into the rainy season, it will be a very sad situation,” Zimba said.

“The rains have started and the next challenge we are so extremely worried about is the transportation of the grain from satellite depots to the holding depots. Some areas rain heavily, so when the rains intensify, they might not be able to reach such areas to transport the grain.”

Zimba further urged the FRA to relax transportation rules and allow even small trucks to help move grain to safe storage facilities.

He also said FRA should honour its promise by paying off all farmers for the crops supplied by November 15.

“They promised that they would finish paying all the farmers by November 15, so we want them to honour their promise so that the farmers are paid on time,” said Zimba.

“We also want to warn the provincial and district agriculture coordinators to ensure that no farmer is discriminated in terms of payment for those who supplied maize to the agency and also in terms of distribution of farming inputs for the next farming season.”

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