Friday, August 05, 2011

Rupiah should not override his powers - Harrington

Rupiah should not override his powers - Harrington
By Gift Chanda
Fri 05 Aug. 2011, 14:00 CAT

PRESIDENT Rupiah Banda’s desperation to win this year’s elections should not make him override his powers, says William Harrington.

Commenting on President Banda’s decision to officiate at a ground-breaking ceremony for Dangote cement plant which is yet to be approved by the Zambia Environmental Management Authority (ZEMA), Harrington said President Banda was overriding his authority and rendering relevant institutions useless by “endorsing” projects which are yet to be approved.

“The disregard of the environmental laws by the President is the most unfortunate thing because he is setting a very bad precedent,” Harrington said.

“Rupiah is overriding his powers and making these relevant institutions useless.”

Harrington, who is former transport and communications minister, said it would not matter even if ZEMA decides to approve or disapprove the project because it already has the full blessing from the head of state.

He said there was no point in having institutions like ZEMA when they cannot be allowed to operate independently.

Harrington said what President Banda did amounts to government interference in key institutions.

“The environmental laws are very clear: no activity can proceed without approval of an EIA by ZEMA,” he said. “But Rupiah does not want to let this project owners follow this path. And for me this is very bad precedent for the head of state to leave behind.”

Harrington urged President Banda to set a good precedent on environmental management.

Last week, President Banda officiated at a ground-breaking ceremony for a new cement manufacturing plant which will be built by Dangote, Nigeria's largest cement maker, at a cost of US $400 million.

The new cement manufacturing plant, Dangote Industries Zambia Limited, which will be situated in Ndola Rural near Masaiti, is expected to create about 1,000 direct jobs once completed.

The plant, one of Zambia's largest investments outside mining, is expected to produce 1.5 million tonnes of cement a year when it reaches full capacity by 2013.

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