Saturday, January 22, 2011


(LUSAKATIMES) Kambwili maintains pressure on Luanshya mine

Kambwili maintains pressure on Luanshya mine
Saturday, January 22, 2011, 7:43

Luanshya Copper Mines (CLM) management has appealed to its employees not to succumb to Patriotic Front (PF)Roan Member of Parliament Chishimba Kambwili’s call for them to reject 10 per cent salary increment.

CLM Public Relations Officer Sidney Chileya said unlike Mr Kambwili’s assertions that management had offered 10 percent, the negotiations were still going on. Mr Chileya said it was unfortunate that the MP was commenting on matters which were still being discussed adding that the negotiations have not yet be concluded.

He regretted that there were moles in the negotiating team who were leaking information to the MP noting that the Parliamentarian was misleading the public.

He wondered why Mr. Kambwili chose to incite workers when he was not part of the negotiating team adding that he was pre-empting salary negotiation talks.

Mine Workers Union of Zambia (MUZ) General Secretary Oswell Munyenyembe could not comment on the matter as he was waiting to be briefed by press time.

Mr Kambwili was quoted in some sections of the media inciting miners at CLM to reject the 10 percent salary increment.

Yesterday, Labour and Social Security Minister Austin Liato warned the opposition MP against inciting the workers saying he would be held accountable for any industrial unrest that will occur at Luanshya Copper Mine (LCM).

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(PROGRESS) Single trader holds 90% of LME copper, WSJ says

COMMENT - This article claims that at one point 50% of copper futures were held by a single trader, presumed to be JP Morgan Chase. The copper market like all financial markets is subject to speculation and manipulation, especially after 'US' banks were given trillions in the various bank bailouts.

Outsiders re-claim Africa but also stiffen the rules
Single trader holds 90% of LME copper

The gobbling up of Earth by the rich and powerful knows no bounds -- at least not until we finally realize that the worth of Mother Earth belongs to us all to share. We trim, blend, and append three 2010 articles from: (1) MarketWatch, Dec 21, on copper by Alistair Barr; (2) New York Times, Dec 21, on farmland by Neil MacFarquhar; and (3) Associated Press, Dec 15, on rules.

by Alistair Barr, by Neil MacFarquhar, and by AP
Single trader holds 90% of LME copper, WSJ says

A single trader holds up to 90% of the copper in London Metal Exchange warehouses, the Wall Street Journal reported late Tuesday. The news came after copper prices hit a record and other commodities surged.

The 80% to 90% of the copper in London Metal Exchange stockpiles is equal to about half of all the exchange-registered supply of the metal in the world.

The position is worth about $3 billion.

Last month, the LME reported that a single holder owned more than 50% of the exchange’s copper. People familiar with the matter at the time said J.P. Morgan Chase was the holder.

J.P. Morgan Chase is another majority share owned/controlled Rotschild company, like De Beers. NM Rothschild & Sons was also behind the privatisation/handover of the Zambian state monopoly ZCCM, and with it the privatisation of the Zambian mining sector. - MrK

Single traders also own large holdings of other metals. One trader holds as much as 90% of the exchange’s aluminum stocks. In the nickel, zinc, and aluminum alloy markets, single traders own between 50% to 80% of those metals and one firm has 40% to 50% of the LME’s tin stockpiles.

Such positions are often owned by big firms on behalf of several clients.

While the LME does not limit how much metal a single trader may hold, it demands the dominant holder make metal available for short-term periods at very limited profit margins.

JJS: Nevertheless, it is worth it to those who can to be able to squeeze the market. So it they’re winning, are others losing? The rich and powerful not only gobble up natural resources but also surface land.

African Farmers Displaced as Investors Move In
Across Africa and the developing world, a new global land rush is gobbling up large expanses of arable land. Despite their ageless traditions, stunned villagers are discovering that African governments own their land and have been leasing it, often at bargain prices, to private investors and foreign governments for decades to come.

Some condemn the deals as neocolonial land grabs that destroy villages, uproot tens of thousands of farmers without compensation, and create a volatile mass of landless poor who end up encroaching on parkland. Further, much of the food is bound for wealthier nations.

A World Bank study released in September tallied farmland deals covering at least 110 million acres -- the size of California and West Virginia combined -- announced during the first 11 months of 2009 alone. More than 70% of those deals were for land in Africa. People have been pushed off land in Ethiopia, Uganda, the Congo, Liberia, and Zambia.

Before 2008, the global average for such deals was less than 10 million acres per year.

Many investments appear to be pure speculation that leaves land fallow.

Anger and distrust run high. In a rally last month, hundreds of farmers demanded that the Mali government halt such deals until they get a voice. Several said that they had been beaten and jailed by soldiers, but that they were ready to die to keep their land. Ibrahima Coulibaly, the head of the coordinating committee for farmer organizations, said, “If people do not stand up for their rights, they will lose everything!”

JJS: More of us must demand our right to some Earth and Earth in a healthy condition. The good news is government is moving toward curbing the worst abuses by those who expropriate natural values.

SEC proposes new mining, minerals rules
The Securities and Exchange Commission proposed new reporting requirements for public companies that operate mines, pull oil or gas out of the ground, or use certain minerals from Africa in their products. Companies engaged in potentially controversial activities would become more accountable about them to shareholders.

Companies that use so-called "conflict" minerals from Congo and neighboring countries in electronics and other products would face stricter reporting requirements in order to curb the widespread violence in Congo, where minerals are extracted from mines controlled by rebel groups. The goal is to cut off funds to the rebels.

An increasing number of companies have been charged by the SEC and the Justice Department in recent years with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits bribery of foreign government officials or company executives to secure or retain business.

Companies that extract oil, natural gas, or minerals would be required to report all payments related to commercial development that were made to the US or a foreign government, including taxes, royalties, and licensing fees.

Conflict minerals are defined as gold, cassiterite, wolframite, and columbite-tantalite, also called coltan. Cassiterite and coltan are used to make cell phones, computers, and other electronics. Wolframite is used in metal seals and other components.

Public companies that operate mines would be required to reports on health and safety violations as well as any notices from the US Labor Department indicating that a mine has a pattern of violating health or safety standards.

The United Nations has imposed sanctions on armed rebel groups in Congo, who are accused of committing widespread rape, murder, and other violence in the course of their illicit minerals trafficking.

JJS: What’s going to stop these crimes? One thing -- a critical mass coming to understand that the values of nature belong to all humanity. Put into policy, that ethic becomes geonomics, which is when government recovers and shares all the money that society spends for land and resources and forgoes taxing people’s efforts and property. So, do what you can to get this ethic out!


Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.

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(LUSAKATIMES) Lusaka City Council suspended over plots

Lusaka City Council suspended over plots
Saturday, January 22, 2011, 8:54

THE Lusaka City Council (LCC) has been suspended with immediate effect. The council will remain suspended for 90 days and Government has appointed Solomon Finandi Sakala, the Copperbelt Provincial Local Government officer as the administrator.

Minister of Local Government and Housing, Brian Chituwo announced the suspension of the council yesterday following reports that the local authority has been involved in some land allocation scams.

Dr Chituwo said at a media briefing that Government has decided to suspend LCC to pave way for investigations into the alleged illegal land allocation.

The Lusaka City Council has been accused of illegally allocating land to itself without following the law governing the allocation of land.

Out of 102 plots, the councillors got 45 plots, 10 plots were given to the Mayor while the deputy Mayor got five plots and members of the public were only allocated 11 plots.

“In order to understand the matter, my office requested for a written report from the local authority. The report forwarded to my office by the council does not give much detail on who allocated the plots and how the beneficiaries were picked,” Dr Chituwo said.

Dr Chituwo said he would soon appoint a committee to audit the allocation of land in Lilayi.

He said the piece of land in Lilayi that is alleged to have been shared among the Mayor, his deputy and councillors is titled and should have been advertised. Dr Chituwo said the council did not even bother to seek authority from the ministry as stipulated by law.

“Therefore, it has become necessary for the Ministry of Local Government and Housing to suspend the Lusaka City Council in accordance with the Local Government Act, Cap 281 of the laws of Zambia to pave way for investigations into the Lilayi land allocation,” he said.

Dr Chituwo said the council should have realised the importance of seeking authority from his office to allocate plots on the piece of land in question. He said his office should have authorised the council to deal with the piece of land in terms of transfer, disposal or even in the mode of exchange or swapping.

Dr Chituwo said it is the understanding of the Ministry of Local Government and Housing that any proposed allocation of land should be done through the Plans, Works and Development Committee.

“In order to understand the matter, my office requested for a written report from the local authority. The report forwarded to my office by the council does not give much detail on who allocated the plots and how the beneficiaries were picked,” Dr Chituwo said.

He said the council failed to explicitly state how it decided to allocate councilors one plot each.

The Minister wondered whether it has been the trend that the Mayor and his councillors should have a lion’s share of plots each time there was a piece of land earmarked for allocation.

“I as Minister of Local Government and Housing hereby announce the suspension of the council for 90 days through the statutory instrument number 11 of 2011and appoint Mr Solomon Finandi Sakala, who is Copperbelt Provincial Local Government Officer as administrator,” Dr Chituwo said.

“As a council, we presented our report and we maintain that whatever was done, we followed the law. The general public will judge us after the investigations,” Mr Chisenga said.

But Lusaka Mayor Daniel Chisenga has maintained that the allocation of land in Lilayi was done in accordance with the law.

Mr Chisenga said the public will have to judge the council after all the investigations have been done and the report on the investigations released.

He said the council welcomes the investigations as it has encountered investigations in the past and all officers found wanting had been dealt with according to the law.

“As a council, we presented our report and we maintain that whatever was done, we followed the law. The general public will judge us after the investigations,” Mr Chisenga said.

[Zambia Daily Mail]

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(EAST AFRICAN) Inside story of Raila’s no nonsense negotiations with incumbent Gbagbo

Inside story of Raila’s no nonsense negotiations with incumbent Gbagbo
By JAINDI KISERO (email the author)
Posted Monday, January 17 2011 at 00:00

On a recent Saturday morning, I went to interview Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who is now the African Union’s chief mediator in the political crisis in the Cote d’Ivoire at his private residence, an elegant colonial-style mansion in Nairobi’s Karen district.

It has spacious receiving rooms lined with generic African art and vases. Mr Odinga rushed to the room where I was waiting and apologised for keeping me waiting.

He had slept late the night before at a party to celebrate his 66th birthday. He had turned out dressed casually, a freely fitting white linen shirt and blue denim jeans trousers and black open shoes. The subject of the interview was the crisis in the Cote d’Ivoire.

I had wanted details on his recent sojourn as a mediator in Cote d’Ivoire and whether he believed his mission on Cote d’Ivoire had a realistic chance of success.

In the court of public opinion, Odinga’s critics were derisively dismissing him as the mediator with a fixed mind.

Twice, and even before he was appointed as AU’s chief mediator to the crisis in Cote d’Ivoire, he had come out publicly to call for use of force to oust President Laurent Gbagbo, who is clinging onto power after losing the election last month.

Mr Gbagbo has also barricade his rival, president-elect Alassanne Ouattara at a downtown hotel in Abidjan to prevent him from taking power after the United Nation’s declared him the winner in the election.

The first time he called for a military solution to resolve the crisis, was in Cancun, Mexico, when at the conclusion of the climate change conference he jointly addressed a press conference with the French Environment Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet.

Use of force

A week later, on his return from Cancun, he surprised friend and foe when he called for a surprise press conference in his office to repeat his call for military intervention in the crisis in Cote d’Ivoire.

“Can you really play neutral arbiter in this conflict having taken such a rigid position? How can President Gbagbo listen to you after publicly saying that he should be dethroned by military means?” I asked.

His reply was philosophical. “You must understand that in negotiations of this nature, success does not depend on mutual trust or some special chemistry between the mediator and the protagonists.’’

The pronouncements he had made about resorting to military action only made his position clearer, he argued.

“In such negotiations, you have better chance of success as mediator when you are upfront about what you want,” said Raila.

“You must have a bottom line mandate from where there can be no retreat,” he stressed.

Mr Odinga argued that he had called for a military solution as the last option. He would approach the negotiations with flexibility.

Related Stories

* Will Raila’s carrots and stick strategy work?

Mr Odinga insisted that there was no contradiction between his earlier call for forceful removal of Gbagbo from power and his new role as a mediator since the remarks he had made were not different from the position taken by the international community, including Economic Commission for West African States (Ecowas), the African Union and the United Nations Security Council.

In his view, the forthright and candid views he had expressed on the crisis in the Cote d’Ivoire is what made the African Union to call on him to mediate and seek and end to the stalemate in Cote d’Ivoire.

Odinga’s immediate negotiation goals would make sure he fully addressed the immediate fears and insecurities of President Gbagbo, pointing out that he was well aware of the fact that he represented the views and feelings of a very large constituency that voted for him and that violently supports his cause.

“While a degree of flexibility and the spirit of give and take has to be maintained, I must go by the clear mandate given to me by the AU,” he said.

In a nutshell, Mr Odinga interprets his mandate to include the following.

First, to persuade Gbagbo to accept the results of the presidential elections held on November 28, 2010 and relinquish power.

Second, to secure a commitment from president-elect Ouattara to guarantee the freedom, safety, amnesty and security of the out-going president.

Third, to define a new role for Gbagbo after the crisis either within or outside Ivory Coast.

Fourth, secure the personal commitment of President Alassane Ouattara and that of his government to undertake within an agreed time frame and on the basis of UN-sponsored and supervised agreement, the establishment of a truth and reconciliation process to restore national cohesion and unity.

Fourth, secure the personal commitment of Ouattara and Gbagbo and other political leaders for immediate and complete secession of all acts of violence and full restoration of fundamental rights liberties and freedoms.

Fifth, to secure the commitment of president-elect Ouattara to undertake within a given time frame and on the bases of UN sponsored and supervised agreement, a truth and reconciliation process to aid restoration of national cohesion and unity.

Sixth, to secure personal commitment from Ouattara, on the basis of an AU and UN-supervised agreement, that he would reserve at least 25 Cabinet posts and other key government positions to pro-Gbagbo politicians as a way of eliminating the accusations of exclusion.

Finally, a complete disarmament, demobilisation and re-integration of armed combatants in the country.

How did he get involved and who appointed him?

Apparently, Mr Odinga was brought into the picture at the invitation of Dr Jean Ping, the chair of the African Union.

Related Stories

* Will Raila’s carrots and stick strategy work?

Initially, the plans were that the AU would conduct its own mediation process parallel to what Ecowas was doing.

However, with key members of Ecowas, especially Nigeria going into local elections, and key members such as Ghana having responded to the idea of ousting Gbagbo with ambivalence, the leadership of the AU Commission had calculated that the diplomatic initiatives by Ecowas were unlikely to succeed.

Against this backdrop, the AU had concluded the best bet was a mediator from either the Southern or Eastern Africa because most of the West African countries had in the past been too intimately involved with the Cote d’Ivoire crisis and were therefore incapable of seeing the situation with clear eyes.

That is how Odinga’s name came up. Perhaps, the fact that he had himself been involved as a participant in a hotly contested and disputed presidential election of December 2007, worked in his favour.

The Kenyan situation was resolved by former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan under a AU mandated mediation talks that took weeks.

Drama in Abidjan

Mr Odinga left the country accompanied by two aides, his first stop being a meeting with in Abuja with Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan.

From three he joined a joint four-man AU/Ecowas delegation to Abidjan to hold face-to-face meetings with Gbagbo and Ouattara.

In the delegation were presidents Verona Rodrigues Pires of Cape Verde, Boni Yayi of Benin and Ernest Bahi Koroma of Sierra Leone. James Victor Gbeho, the president of Ecowas was also in the party.

Mr Odinga’s first face- to-face engagement with Gbagbo and Ouattara was not without drama.

On arrival at Abidjan International Airport, the party was picked up and escorted to a hotel in down town Abidjan by UN Security officers.

The trip to State House to meet incumbent President Gbagbo had to be handled by security officers from President Gbagbo’s side.

It would not be the first time Mr Odinga was meeting Gbagbo. Many years ago, the two used to interact as members of the fraternity of Socialist International, a network of political parties and associations professing social democracy.

There was a time Odinga and Gbagbo were consulting over creation of an African chapter of Socialist International.

When the meeting started, the first thing Gbagbo said was to point out the claims that he had received reports that France had commenced military exercises in the North of Cote d’Ivoire at a place called Bamweko.

The mission replied that they did not have an answer even though reliable reports had it that France had already informed both the AU and Ecowas about its military moves in the North.

Gbagbo presented three arguments. First, that the Independent Electoral Commission had erred by delaying to announce the results of the elections by three days.

The arguments

Second, that the Electoral Commission had announced the results at a wrong place and third, that the way to end the stalemate is a recount of votes supervised by an international team.

Gbagbo presented to the mission a bundle of legal documents to support his position, arguing that the decision by the Constitutional Council to declare him president had the force of law.

According to a joint communique the mission put out at the conclusion of the visit, was that Gbagbo appeared to be interested in forming a grand coalition government with Ouattara, but with himself at the helm as president. Just like it happened in Kenya.

The mission’s response had three parts. First, that there would be no vote recount.

The mission argued that the two issues he had raised, namely, delay in announcing the election results by the Independent Electoral Commission and the location where the result were announced were in line with the UN Security Council Resolution 1765 in respect of the presidential elections.

Second, the mission informed Gbagbo that power sharing between him and Ouattara would not be on the agenda.

Finally, that the decision by the Constitutional Council on which he had based his arguments could not be relied on as an independent arbiter.

On his part, Mr Odinga made a special pitch to Gbagbo, recounting the experience of the political crisis in Kenya in 2007, pointing out how the crisis had reversed the fortunes of an economy that had been growing at 7 per cent of GDP before the controversial elections.

He said that since President Mwai Kibaki and himself agreed to a peaceful political settlement, the economy of Kenya was back on it’s growth path.

After three and half hours of debate, Gbagbo accepted to negotiates and bargain with Ouattara without conditions.

The mission’s meeting with Ouattara was dominated with heated exchanges especially between the prime minister of the Ouattara faction and influential player in Cote d’Ivoire politics, Guillame Soros and Rodrigues Pires of Cape Verde.

Soros accused the president of Cape Verde of approaching the Cote d’Ivoire crisis with dishonesty, telling him to his face that his foreign minister during recent visits to Angola and Brazil had openly declared support for Gbagbo.

Such was the heat in the room that at one point President Pires threatened to withdraw from the mission, arguing that with his integrity and impartiality in the mediation process having been questioned by the Ouattara group.

It took hours of persuasion and cajoling by Mr Odinga to get President Pires to remain in the mission.

Ouattara’s team complained that it was not fair to ask them to negotiate with Gbagbo considering that they were surrounded by an army blockade and were unable to leave the hotel.

Outtara’s team had not been able to spend Christmas with their families and had been receiving food supplies by helicopter.

At the end of it all, Ouattara stated his terms of engagement as follows: he was prepared to accord Gbagbo a dignified exit provided he accepts the results of the elections as declared by the Independent Electoral Commission and as certified by the United Nations.

Mr Odinga and his team then returned to State House for a second meeting with Gbagbo. During this second meeting, Gbagbo agreed to lift the blockade around Hotel Du Golf, the temporary headquarters of Ouattara.

In the presence of the members of the mission, he picked up his cellphone and ordered that the blockade be dismantled immediately.

It did not happen. Two days later, Gbagbo called members of the commission to explain that his intelligence had revealed that that there were hundreds of militia hiding with Ouattara at the Du Golf Hotel.

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(NYASATIMES) Kenya to learn Malawi’s agriculture production

Kenya to learn Malawi’s agriculture production
By Nyasa Times
Published: January 20, 2011

Kenyan vice president Kalonzo Musyoka says his country would be interested to learn from Malawi on agricultural production best practices which have ensured the southern African nation’s food sufficiency.

Malawi has been achieving surplus maize production through the implementation of radical agricultural policies which include farm input subsidy programme.

Musyoka speaking at State House Lilongwe, during a meeting with Mutharika said their bilateral talks centered on Malawi’s agricultural programme which advocates for home grown solutions that has seen the country achieve food surplus for the last three years.

Musyoka and Mutharika: Held bilateral talks

“The need to emulate Malawi in maize production is even stronger that Kenya has continued to experience erratic weather patterns resulting in bumper harvests sometimes, and serious famines at others, like the case is currently,” Musyoka noted.

Musyoka’s meeting with Mutharika was however primary focused on Kenya’s intention to lobby for a deferral of a case at the International Criminal Court (ICC) against the perpetrators of the post-poll violence and set up a local judicial mechanism.

Kenyan VP also held talks with Malawi’s Speaker of the National Assembly Henry Chimunthu Banda at the new National Assembly buildings.

Musyoka said Kenya was in the process of fast-tracking the implementation of the new Constitution in order to anchor electoral, judicial and other institutional reforms.

After next year’s General election, Musyoka added, Kenya will have a bicameral Parliament that will comprise of a Senate and a National Assembly.

“This will mean that our Speaker and the Parliamentary Service Commission will have to work hard to put in place the necessary facilities for the new set-up, in good time,” the VP added.—(Reporting by Judith Moyo, Nyasa Times)

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A Lozi is a Lozi

A Lozi is a Lozi
By The Post
Sat 22 Jan. 2011, 04:00 CAT

Things must be called by their right names. This does not mean that we are speaking with hate, nor harshly about anyone. We should analyse, censor, criticise seriously all these things.

There is no section of our nation that has all the virtues, neither does any have all the vices. There are problems in the Western Province of our country which no honest person can deny. And the problems that are in Western Province today are deep-rooted and have nothing to do with the way we are reporting on them as a newspaper. We are not the creators of the confusion that has rocked this very important part of our country.

Those who are seized of the responsibility to govern and therefore deal with problems such as the ones in Western Province need to be honest, sincere, upright and men and women of unquestionable integrity. It is not possible to deal with deep-seated and complex problems by employing lies, deceit, character assassination, calumny, cheap propaganda and any other dishonest means that may appear to give those who use them advantage. We say this in the light of the infantile reaction of Ronnie Shikapwasha, Rupiah Banda’s government spokesman, to our coverage of the treason charges levelled at 23 Lozi men. Ronnie accuses us of trying to incite the Lozis into thinking that they are hated by the rest of Zambia by referring to them as Lozis. How Ronnie arrives at this interpretation of the use of the word Lozi is beyond our comprehension. Either this man is very dull or he is irredeemably dishonest. We say this because no sane person can honestly say that by reporting that 23 Lozi men have been charged with treason, we are telling the Lozis that they are hated by the rest of Zambia. Which word in that headline communicates the sense that Ronnie is accusing us of?

A responsible leader will not resort to finding cheap scapegoats to justify their own mistakes. It is clear that Ronnie and his puppeteers, those who are pulling the strings that make his mouth move endlessly, are worried by the crisis that their irresponsibility has created in Western Province. It’s clear that they are creating a Zambia, a nation, a society which even they themselves are starting to get scared of, and are afraid to call what is happening in it, the things they are doing in it by their names. Blaming The Post will not change the complexion of Ronnie’s government’s problems. If they think that by blaming The Post or destroying The Post, they will have removed the source of their problems, they are cheating themselves. The problems in Western Province are much older than The Post. The people in Western Province are raising issues that have nothing to do with The Post. These jokers would be better served if they stopped trying to hide behind the finger that they use to point at The Post and started dealing with real issues.

It is not possible to resolve problems if you are not prepared to be honest about what the problems are. It is like somebody suffering from syphilis or gonorrhoea going to a doctor and telling the doctor that he has a headache. The doctor may examine them, give them panadol and send them away. They may manage to deceive the doctor but that does nothing for their problems. Problems must be admitted, clearly defined and solutions prescribed. The government, rather than engage in cheap politics of character assassination, should deploy the resources at its disposal to understand the mistakes they have made which have allowed the situation in Western Province to get to where it got. Whether we call the 23 men who were arrested Lozis or Zambians will do nothing to solve the problem on the ground in Western Province. In fact, if we ran a headline that said that 23 Zambians had been arrested for treason in relation to the problems in Western Province, we would be guilty of misleading the public. That headline would tend to suggest that the problem of treason in Western Province covers the whole Zambia and all our people from various regions of our country are a party to it. It was more accurate for us to say 23 Lozis were arrested for treason. And moreover, the stationery used to arrest people in our police stations still carries this identity. There is a provision where one has to state his tribe, village and chief. None of the 23 men charged with treason belongs to any other tribal group of Zambia other than that of Lozi. What is wrong with us reporting that which the police recorded from these people? Is calling a Lozi a Lozi today an insult, a crime? Why should reporting that Lozis have been arrested make the Lozis feel hated by the rest of Zambia?

It is clear that Ronnie’s job is that of a spin doctor. To remain relevant, he has to continue saying something even if what he is saying doesn’t make sense.
We are not surprised that we have the kind of problems that are being experienced in Western Province when we have a government that can be so irresponsible as to reduce a complex problem that people have carried for many years to a question of names or tags for tribal groupings. The problem in Western Province has nothing to do with who is called what. It seems to us that the people of Western Province are desirous of a greater say in matters that affect them daily. They want to be a better part of the governance system that is supposed to deliver services to them. These are simple issues in and of themselves. But when they are placed in the historical context of the Western Province, we are made to realise that some complex questions would have to be asked and answered. This is the issue that the government is supposed to be grappling with: trying to understand what the people of Western Province are saying and how that can be addressed in a way that ensures that those people who are raising issues appreciate that their problems are dealt with and the government is able to justify whatever they do as a necessary consequence of their responsibility to govern. Trying to bully people and blame anybody and everyone for problems that they have a responsibility to manage is reckless cowardice that could land this country in a lot of problems. Ronnie must learn to think beyond the politics of keeping his job.

What is distinctly lacking among our leaders in Rupiah’s government 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. They have a reputation for intolerance that is difficult to match.

Since the recent problems in Western Province started over the Barotse Agreement, we have written four editorial comments critical of the way the Barotse Agreement activists were going about their issues and also of the way the government was handling the matter. In these comments, we also offered solutions on how the matter could be approached. Neither the Barotse Agreement activists nor Ronnie’s government paid any attention to our advice. And today Ronnie has the audacity to try and accuse us of the nonsense he is accusing us of. Ronnie needs to have his head examined. We say this because all the comments we have written on this issue are there for any literate person to read. And also all the stories we have published on this issue are in the public domain. And nowhere can any honest person accuse us of being negative, of encouraging confusion. It is only a dishonest person like Ronnie who can have the courage to do so. But this is what happens in a society when standards, values and principles are lost.

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Handle Barotse issue sensibly - Fr Luonde

Handle Barotse issue sensibly - Fr Luonde
By Darious Kapembwa in Kitwe
Sat 22 Jan. 2011, 04:02 CAT

THE country’s law enforcement agencies must handle the issues surrounding the Barotseland Agreement level-headedly, says Fr Richard Luonde.

And Fr Luonde says the dirty marriage between President Rupiah Banda’s MMD and Frederick Chiluba remains a big threat to the dispensation of criminal justice in the country.

Commenting on the recent fracas in Mongu between police and irate residents which left two people dead and several injured, Fr Luonde, an Anglican priest based in Kitwe, said problems surrounding the Barotseland Agreement risked growing to unmanageable levels if the country’s law enforcement agencies did not handle them well.

“It is saddening that an issue that was signed 47 years ago could erupt with such force now. I only appeal to the law enforcement agencies to handle the issue level-headedly. If law enforcement agencies begin to use underhand methods to resolve this issue, I foresee this problem growing to unmanageable levels,” Fr Luonde said in an interview. “Already, lives have been lost. It’s a sign that the worst can happen if the issue continues to be mishandled. This thing will be injurious.”

Fr Luonde said all stakeholders needed to sit and find ways to resolve the problem as opposed to resorting to arresting people indiscriminately.

He said the Barotseland Agreement should not be used to silence selected institutions and individuals.
Fr Luonde said arresting journalists who were informing the nation about the issues in Western Province was not a solution to the Barosteland Agreement crisis.

He demanded that the charges against Post journalist Mwala Kalaluka who was arrested for talking on the phone about the current affairs in Mongu be dropped.

Fr Luonde said journalists were part of the solution in the matter because they provided people with valuable information that could be useful to resolving the crisis.

Kalaluka was arrested on Monday in Kabwe following a phone conversation he had while on a bus to Kabwe and subsequently charged with seditious intention.

On Thursday, chief government spokesperson Lieutenant General Ronnie Shikapwasha condemned what he called suggestions that it was targeting and victimising Lozis in the arrest of people suspected to be involved in calls for secession.

Lt Gen Shikapwasha said The Post's headline of Thursday "23 Lozis face treason" was calculated to incite ethnic hatred.

He said the headline insinuated that other ethnic groups were against Lozis.

Lt Gen Shikapwasha said the people of Western Province like other 72 ethnic groups were citizens of Zambia and it was inappropriate for the newspaper to refer to the 23 people charged as Lozis
He said Zambia had since 1964 enjoyed peace and unity as one nation in line with the ‘One Zambia, One Nation’ motto.

Lt Gen Shikapwasha said only people who were not peace loving would advocate secession through cheap tactics.

"Government wishes to state its unequivocal stand and commitment towards maintaining Zambia as one nation. The territorial integrity of the country is non-negotiable," Lt Gen Shikapwasha said.

He said the government had the duty to protect its citizens and property and would not be distracted from carrying out its duty.

"As for the media the government will continue to respect and protect their role of promoting peace, unity, oneness, stability and development among all the citizens," he said.

Lt Gen Shikapwasha said in performing this duty the media should always be conscious of their responsibilities and the importance of unity.

And reacting to MMD national chairman Michael Mabenga who castigated and described him as a liar for saying President Banda’s alliance with former president Chiluba would destroy the nation, Fr Luonde advised Mabenga not to take people for granted.

“Who is telling a lie between Mabenga and myself? He is the one cheating Zambians by parading people that looted their resources as saints and making them campaign managers, not me. What I am doing is to ensure that people of Zambia know the truth about who is betraying them and who is with them,” Fr Luonde said.

He said Mabenga was the one accused of allegedly stealing Constituency Development Funds and faced the boot in late Levy Mwanawasa’s administration.

“Even if he calls me a liar, I will continue to strongly highlight these issues to prepare people’s minds as they go to cast their votes this year. If it is me telling lies and he is telling the truth, the people of Zambia will speak through the ballot. Let’s wait and see,” Fr he said.

Fr Luonde said Zambians must take stock of what is happening in the country so that they know who to kick out during the coming elections.

During President Banda’s visit to Luapula Province to open the provincial conference, Mabenga castigated Fr Luonde for saying that President Banda’s alliance with Chiluba would destroy Zambia.

“What alliance is he talking about because it is a big lie since both President Banda and Chiluba are MMD and we shall never shun Chiluba,” said Mabenga.

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Our music is not political - Third Eye

Our music is not political - Third Eye
By Darious Kapembwa in Kitwe
Fri 21 Jan. 2011, 18:20 CAT

THE Third Eye’s Zambia Libala, a title track for its debut eight-track album, has been adjudged political and is not receiving airplay on ZNBC, complains bandleader Peter Mwila.

The three-member Rastafarian band is now in a drive to market the album that has not gone down well in certain circles because of the title track and two others, Moneni and Kasalanga.

Zambia Libala was initially produced as a single in 2006 and is also on video.
Among Copperbelt residents, the track came to prominence during Fr Frank Bwalya’s days as Radio Icengelo station manager when he adopted it as a sig-tune for his live phone-in programmes.

Zambia Libala talks about investors coming into the country and exiting after making profits, leaving the locals with nothing to write home about. It also talks about problems of the economy, unemployment, agriculture and brain drain.

“Our music is not political because some people think that we are fighting government. We just want people to bring in genuine investments, not people coming in the country with the same investments using different names and leaving us empty-handed. That is what we are saying, foreign investment is good but should benefit the locals.

We have given out our music to all radio stations but on ZNBC our music has not received favourable airplay, especially the title track Zambia Libala,” says band leader Peter Mwila.

Mwila, 55, a former member of the Family Rock Band of the 70s urged Zambians to first understand the messages in their songs before judging the album.

Kasalanga talks about how prisons are full of young people and proposes various ways of fighting youth delinquency. Moneni is about how many people left their villages and migrated to towns along the line of rail, became employed but things went wrong and they were retrenched without receiving their benefits for years.
Band member Kelvin Nkandu, whose stage name is Naphtali, said the group was making efforts to market the album before starting new projects.

“We have received some response from members of the public but not as desired,” said Nkandu.



Our music is not political - Third Eye

Our music is not political - Third Eye
By Darious Kapembwa in Kitwe
Fri 21 Jan. 2011, 18:20 CAT

THE Third Eye’s Zambia Libala, a title track for its debut eight-track album, has been adjudged political and is not receiving airplay on ZNBC, complains bandleader Peter Mwila.

The three-member Rastafarian band is now in a drive to market the album that has not gone down well in certain circles because of the title track and two others, Moneni and Kasalanga.

Zambia Libala was initially produced as a single in 2006 and is also on video.
Among Copperbelt residents, the track came to prominence during Fr Frank Bwalya’s days as Radio Icengelo station manager when he adopted it as a sig-tune for his live phone-in programmes.

Zambia Libala talks about investors coming into the country and exiting after making profits, leaving the locals with nothing to write home about. It also talks about problems of the economy, unemployment, agriculture and brain drain.

“Our music is not political because some people think that we are fighting government. We just want people to bring in genuine investments, not people coming in the country with the same investments using different names and leaving us empty-handed. That is what we are saying, foreign investment is good but should benefit the locals.

We have given out our music to all radio stations but on ZNBC our music has not received favourable airplay, especially the title track Zambia Libala,” says band leader Peter Mwila.

Mwila, 55, a former member of the Family Rock Band of the 70s urged Zambians to first understand the messages in their songs before judging the album.

Kasalanga talks about how prisons are full of young people and proposes various ways of fighting youth delinquency. Moneni is about how many people left their villages and migrated to towns along the line of rail, became employed but things went wrong and they were retrenched without receiving their benefits for years.
Band member Kelvin Nkandu, whose stage name is Naphtali, said the group was making efforts to market the album before starting new projects.

“We have received some response from members of the public but not as desired,” said Nkandu.



‘Govt should not override the needs of Zambians’

‘Govt should not override the needs of Zambians’
By Kombe Chimpinde in Mazabuka
Sat 22 Jan. 2011, 03:59 CAT

SOME Mazabuka residents say the Mung’omba draft report is the only legitimate document that should be adopted as the constitution of Zambia.

During a meeting convened by Citizens Forum at Mazabuka’s Nchete House, the residents said the current NCC draft constitution did not reflect their wishes that they submitted in the Mung’omba draft report during the review of the Constitution in 2003.

Addressing residents, area development committee chairman Amos Chombege warned that the government would not be allowed to override the needs of Zambians.

They should not take Zambians for granted. You saw what happened in Tunisia. The President and ministers must bear in mind that they are servants of the people. They are there because of our votes and taxpayers money and so they must listen to our demands when we say we want a new constitution that reflects the wishes of Zambia,” he said.

Chombege listed the social, cultural and economic rights, the 50 per cent plus one, appointment of cabinet ministers from outside the party and swearing of a presidential candidate after 90 days as some of the laws recommended in the Mung’omba draft but scrapped off in the NCC draft report.

He said that the government would only be compelled to serious provision of social and economic rights and proper governance of Zambians if they were enshrined in the constitution.

“This government has said that it is not possible to enshrine a law to provide social rights to all Zambians. But look at how money is spent when there are by-elections.

The reason is simple; by-elections are provided for in the constitution and it is mandatory for the government to look for funds to hold an election. So if these social rights are included, government will be mandated to provide social services to all Zambians,” he said.

Chombege called on Zambians to remain steadfast in their demands for a new constitution and not be hoodwinked by the government.

And Citizens Forum Mazabuka chapter coordinator Joseph Mfula said a people-anchored constitution was imperative as it was a guiding principle of any nation.

“When you talk about the governance of the country you need to have proper guidelines enshrined in the constitution. Zambia’s governance system is flawed because there was lack of proper guidelines in the Constitution that suits the wishes of the MMD and not the people who form the government,” said Mfula.

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Liato is a betrayal to the labour movement - Kambwili

Liato is a betrayal to the labour movement - Kambwili
By Ndinawe Simpelwe and Bright Mukwasa
Sat 22 Jan. 2011, 04:01 CAT

AUSTIN Liato is a serious betrayal to the labour movement in Zambia, according to Roan parliamentarian Chishimba Kambwili. Kambwili on Thursday asked labour minister Liato to resign on grounds that he had failed to fight for a better life for the miners in the country.

Kambwili had earlier gone to Liato's office, following the latter's remarks that the former incited workers at Luanshya mine to reject a 10 per cent salary increment offered to them, but he did not find him.

Kambwili was annoyed because Liato allegedly called for his arrest for inciting industrial unrest.
Kambwili then phoned Liato and told him that he understood the problems the miners in Luanshya faced.

The duo argued for some time and Liato cut the line.

Later in an interview, Kambwili said the mines were making a lot of money and could pay the workers decent wages.

"I stay with the miners in Luanshya and I know what kind of suffering they go through. It is not fair for Liato to tell the miners to accept a 10 per cent salary increment," Kambwili said.

"Copper prices have reached a record high on the global market. It's about time that the people who dig out this copper started benefiting for their hard work.

When will they ever pay the miners if not now at high copper prices."

He wondered why Liato forced the miners to accept the increment and yet they were suffering and could not afford to send their children to school.

"He can't say that I will be held responsible for for whatever happens in Luanshya. The situation is sad because sometimes I have to intervene to help miners send their children to school," Kambwili said.

Kambwili said Liato was a former labour leader who should understand the importance of the workers' welfare.

On Wednesday, Liato was quoted on Radio Phoenix as having accused Kambwili of causing industrial unrest. Liato also ordered the police to hold Kambwili accountable for whatever would happen at the mine.

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Statutory regulation is a mockery to journalism Kabwela

Statutory regulation is a mockery to journalism Kabwela
By Moses Kuwema
Sat 22 Jan. 2011, 04:01 CAT

STATUTORY regulation of the media is a mockery to the journalism profession, says Press Freedom Committee of The Post chairperson Chansa Kabwela.

Featuring on Radio Phoenix’s Let The People Talk programme yesterday dubbed Media Freedom, Kabwela said there was need to give greater freedom to journalists in their operation in order for the country’s democracy to grow.

“Media freedom is key, especially when you bring in democracy. It is important because democracy cannot thrive without a free press.

The media regulates itself on a daily basis and we operate within the law,” Kabwela said.

She said the self-regulatory mechanism was meant to allow journalists to operate in a better environment and enhance professionalism.

Kabwela said statutory regulation had never worked to the benefit of the media and ordinary people wherever it was introduced.

However, Kabwela said the media was optimistic that something good would come out of the negotiations on issues of regulation between the government and the Media Liaison Committee.

And Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia chapter chairman Daniel Sikazwe said free flow of information allowed for democracy to be strengthened.

Sikazwe said when people had access to information, they could express themselves freely.

“But when there is no free flow of information, you can't have a good democracy. A free press and democracy are fundamental in a country like Zambia… selfregulation of the media is in line with today’s human civilisation,” he said.

He said democracies in the world that did not over-regulate their institutions were moving forward.

Sikazwe said press freedom was a must because it helped people to discover the truth and was important not only for the media but for the people as well.

Meanwhile, Society for Senior Journalists chairman Ridgeway Liwena said a free press promoted democracy and acted as a watchdog on abuse of power by those in authority.

Liwena said there was need to promote dialogue between the government and media bodies, adding that failure to do so would promote mistrust and in the end, society would suffer.

Liwena also called on journalists to consider delving into specialisation to ensure that people received adequate and well-researched information.

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Opposition needs to unite, insists Sata

Opposition needs to unite, insists Sata
By Masuzyo Chakwe and Florence Bupe
Sat 22 Jan. 2011, 04:01 CAT

MICHEAL Sata has insisted that the opposition needs to unite against President Rupiah Banda and the MMD.

Reacting to FDD leader Edith Nawakwi, who asked the PF leader to first tell Zambians what was happening in the pact before he could appeal to other parties, Sata said it was important for Zambians to unite.

National Revolution Party (NRP) president Cozmo Mumba said the invitation from Sata was welcome and should be embraced by all opposition political parties.

"In 2008, we made a serious mistake by endorsing Rupiah Banda's candidature. I was one of the political party leaders who declared to support him in the 2008 general elections but I have now realised that the endorsement of Rupiah Banda has greatly damaged this nation," he said.
Mumba said a lot of injury had been caused to the country during President Banda's reign, with vices like violence on the rise.

"We have seen a lot of damage to the country's development process. Violence and bad governance are the order of the day," Mumba said. "We need a change of government to redeem this country."
Mumba said there was need to convene an indaba for all political parties to strategise on ways of ousting the MMD from power.

He said factors such as who would lead the opposition were secondary, stressing that the core purpose should be the redemption of Zambia from the grip of the ruling MMD.

"We urgently need to have an indaba to map the way forward for this year's general elections. I will soon be meeting Sata so that we discuss the possibility of working together as an opposition force," said Mumba.

Sata last weekend said there was need for unity among the country's opposition.

But Nawakwi said Sata should state what the agenda was for unity so that people could understand where this was coming from.

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Danish govt withdraws bilateral aid to Zambia

Danish govt withdraws bilateral aid to Zambia
By Masuzyo Chakwe
Sat 22 Jan. 2011, 04:00 CAT

DENMARK has cut bilateral aid to Zambia. According to the Danish Embassy in Lusaka yesterday, a decision had been taken to reduce the number of Danish partner countries from 26 to 15.

The embassy stated that other countries affected include Benin, Bolivia, Cambodia, Nicaragua and Vietnam.

It stated that the phasing out of Danish bilateral aid to Zambia would be undertaken in such a way that all commitments would be honored and good results achieved would not be lost.

“The period of phasing out is foreseen to be concluded by end of 2013 with some activities being completed before as they have been scheduled. The phasing out of individual activities will be done in close cooperation and dialogue with the relevant partner organisations,” the embassy stated.

It stated that there were no plans to close the embassy and diplomatic relations would continue.

According to the embassy, the Danish government had decided to focus the bilateral aid with a view to increasing efficiency and creating space for new priorities in international aid.

The embassy stated that the global financial crisis and consequent pressure on aid funding had added to the need of focusing the resources available, hence the decision to cut bilateral aid to some countries.

The embassy stated that Denmark had cooperated with Zambia for more than 45 years and the volume of bilateral aid had been growing steadily and numerous visible results achieved.

It stated that in sectors like infrastructure, education, justice and environment, it was believed that Danish aid had contributed positively to development.

The embassy stated that Denmark accounted for 3.5 per cent of international aid to Zambia.

According to the embassy, Zambia had undergone very positive economic development over the past two decades and recent economic reports predicted that it would be among the fastest growing economies even beyond Africa.

“Zambian potential for even further growth through exploitation of resources in agriculture, mining, energy is there and its dependence on foreign aid is significantly reduced,” stated the embassy.

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(MnG) Cabinet mulls how to create jobs

Cabinet mulls how to create jobs
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA Jan 17 2011 07:33

The Cabinet on Sunday began its annual January lekgotla (meeting) in Limpopo to discuss government's programme for the coming year with growth and jobs high on the agenda, government spokesperson Themba Maseko said.

The four-day meeting was expected to focus on the international and local economic outlook with a view to creating jobs after President Jacob Zuma told the African National Congress's national executive committee lekgotla last week to come up with a plan of action to create work.

Zuma told ruling party officials to create a blueprint on how the government could achieve the target of creating employment for five million people by 2020, as envisaged in the government's new growth path.

This should include identifying public sectors that could yield more jobs.

Implement now, fine tune later
Zuma urged party leaders to start implementing the growth path, the brainchild of Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel, immediately, saying it should not be debated forever but rather fine-tuned as they went along.

Officials told the media the decisions taken at the ANC meeting, which was also attended by the South African Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Union (Cosatu), would form the basis for government plans to be drawn up at the meeting.

City Press reported on Sunday that the ANC meeting saw a heated debate over economic policy and the growth path, with Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi opposing the plan.

However, his views were rejected by Patel and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

Ministers are also expected to look at the economic implications of South Africa joining the Bric group of nations -- Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Maseko said the meeting would provide the basis for Zuma's State of the Nation address on February 10, and would also focus on government's other main priorities -- health, education, rural development and safety.

Ministers and deputy ministers will attend the meeting and premiers and directors general of departments will take part in discussions on the final two days of the gathering. - Sapa

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Friday, January 21, 2011

(LUSAKATIMES) Taxation Regime for Mining Companies Revisited

Taxation Regime for Mining Companies Revisited
Friday, January 21, 2011, 17:00
By Henry Kyambalesa

I am impressed by the clarity of Dr. Emmanuel Ngulube’s article on the issue relating to the taxation of mining operations in Zambia entitled “The Rationale of the Current Mining Fiscal Regime in Zambia,” which was published recently in the January-March 2011 issue of the ZIPPA Journal. Among other things, Dr. Ngulube, who is currently Permanent Secretary (Budget and Economic Affairs) in the Ministry of Finance and National Planning, has provided the following information:

“The current mining tax regime [in Zambia] gives an effective tax rate of 47 percent and compares very well with other resource-endowed countries, such as Angola (52.7 percent), Mozambique (52.1 percent), Botswana (50.6 percent), Namibia (47.9 percent), Tanzania (45 percent), South Africa (42.9 percent), and Chile (42.6 percent).”

Currently, mining companies operating in Zambia are taxed as follows:

(a) 3% mineral royalty on income (that is, earnings) from copper sales;

(b) 30% corporate profit tax on profits declared after deducting costs and mineral royalties;

(c) 15% variable profit tax on all taxable income (that is, profits) earned that exceed 8% of copper sales;

(d) Deduction of 25% of expenditures on machinery and equipment from taxable income per year once a mining project starts operating;

(e) 15% income tax on foreign companies and expatriate consultants providing services to locally based mining companies; and

(f) Mining companies cannot deduct from taxable income on a profitable mining site its capital expenditure on another mining site.

The on-going contentious debate concerning the taxation regime for mining companies would have been concluded by now if the highlights provided in Dr. Ngulube’s article were widely disseminated through private and public media institutions for open public debate. In fact, the government should have gauged the views of the general public before committing the nation to the terms of the contract.

Anyway, what would one expect from government leaders who apparently believe that Zambians are incapable of comprehending such matters? Expecting the government to solicit for views from the general public is, therefore, an illusion in a country where government leaders’ preoccupation is being on the campaign trail demonizing and castigating their political opponents, preaching about the superiority of their political party, and seeking recognition for their “remarkable accomplishments.”

Meanwhile, Zambians have continued to be hopeful that their government will open up the Zambia Daily Mail, Times of Zambia, Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC), and the Zambia News and Information Services (ZANIS) in order to make it possible for all segments of Zambian society to articulate their needs, demands and expectations through them. Their desire in this regard is eloquently captured by the following excerpt from The Post Online of January 14, 2011 in an article entitled “Why ban phone-in programs on the Barotse Agreement?”:

“Citizens of a democracy live with the conviction that through the open exchange of ideas and opinions, truth will eventually win out over falsehood, the values of others will be better understood, areas of compromise more clearly defined, and the path of progress opened.”

Whither my beloved country?


Winning elections seems to be the ruling party’s primary objective, as evidenced by President Rupiah Banda’s commitment of the country to a US$53 million loan from EX-IM Bank of China to purchase mobile clinics, which have just started arriving in the country. It has now become clear that President Banda is not only stubborn and arrogant; he also lacks good judgment. For how can a leader who has good judgment completely ignore the voices of so many citizens who were against the purchase of the mobile hospitals?

Clearly, the mobile clinics or hospitals are likely to last only a few years, given the poor state of roads in rural areas. Also, there are a lot of rural communities today where there are no motorable roads. Moreover, it is hard to imagine how the mobile clinics will be used – would they be driven around in rural communities on a regular basis in the hope of finding a sick person? Besides, the recurrent costs of maintaining the mobile hospitals will be prohibitive after the expiration of the 2-year contract with the supplier, that is, China National Aero Technology Import and Export Corporation. And how will the government prevent pilferage, and the potential for cohabitation and/or marriage breakdowns among nurses and doctors who will be assigned to work away from their families for lengthy periods of time?

It would have been acceptable if the loan was intended to be used on the following: (a) provision of free healthcare for all Zambians; (b) construction of more permanent healthcare facilities nationwide and housing units for health personnel; (c) provision of adequate medicines, ambulatory services and medical equipment; (d) financing of research designed to find cures for HIV/AIDS, cancer, tuberculosis, and other deadly diseases; and (e) hiring, retention and training of health personnel.

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(TALKZIMBABWE) Botswana diamonds boycott launched

Botswana diamonds boycott launched
By: SI Online
Posted: Wednesday, November 3, 2010 11:47 pm

SURVIVAL International launched its call for a boycott of Botswana diamonds today, over the government’s treatment of the Kalahari Bushmen.

The tribal peoples’ rights organization held a protest outside De Beers’s flagship diamond store in London, and a letter will be handed in at the De Beers San Francisco store later today. De Beers is part-owned by the Botswana government. Survival is also urging the public to boycott tourism to Botswana.

Gillian Anderson, Quentin Blake, Joanna Lumley, Sophie Okonedo, and Mark Rylance are amongst the celebrities who have pledged not to travel to Botswana or wear its diamonds until the Bushmen are allowed to live on their ancestral lands in peace.

Article continues below

Celebrated jeweller, Pippa Small, said, ‘As jewellers we have for years made sure that we do not use blood diamonds. Now we also need to boycott Botswana diamonds until the Bushmen are allowed to live and hunt freely on their land’.

In 2002, the Bushmen were illegally evicted from their ancestral lands to make way for diamond mining.

At the time, the government denied a significant diamond deposit on their land existed. However, eight years later, Gem Diamonds, which bought the concession from De Beers, is in negotiations to construct a $3.3 billion mine at one of the Bushman communities.

While Gem Diamonds, in which jewellers Graff has a stake, pushes forward with its mine, the Bushmen are being starved off their lands.

Despite winning a high-profile legal battle allowing them to return home, the Bushmen have been banned by the Botswana government from using a well which they rely on for water, and are prevented from hunting for food.

At the same time as denying the Bushmen access to their well, the government drilled new ones for wildlife only, with funding from the Tiffany & Co Foundation. It also allowed ‘ethical’ travel company, Wilderness Safaris, to open a luxury tourist lodge on Bushman land, complete with bar and swimming pool.

Survival’s director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘Botswana’s diamond industry is the ‘Siamese twin’ of the government. People should know that far from being an expensive token of eternal love, Botswana diamonds are a symbol of the nasty oppression of southern Africa’s first people’.

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(STICKY) (GLOBALRESEARCH) Failure of the Globalization Model: The Arab Spring of Democracy

Failure of the Globalization Model: The Arab Spring of Democracy
by Abdul Ilah Albayaty and Hana Al Bayaty and Ian Douglas
Global Research, January 17, 2011

The Tunisian phenomenon is not about the ousting of a president; it is about the collapse of the Western-colonial model of globalisation, write Abdul Ilah Albayaty, Hana Al Bayaty and Ian Douglas

The Tunisian uprising is nothing but the natural result of the failure of the globalisation model and the impasse affecting the entire world. Indeed, as soon as an economy opens up to foreign capital and one gives the local economy and services over to market forces, the state’s role is automatically undermined and remains only to protect the model itself. By consequence, whether in Tunisia or elsewhere in the developing world, it resulted in a contradiction between the people’s interests and the class created to protect foreign capital.

In the Arab countries, the model of globalisation consisted of abandoning the Arab-Muslim character of the state, responsible for providing wellbeing to its society. It entailed the cancellation of the notion of the national state that emerged following World War II and the independence movement, and whose legitimacy is based on the notion of progress and of the wellbeing of its citizens. It also entailed the cancellation of the socialist aspirations of the people based on their desire for a welfare state and the provision of public services.

The model of globalisation implemented in the Third World, at times by force, like in Iraq, or by economic pressure, like in Egypt or Indonesia, or by its adoption in rich countries, like the oil producing states, led everywhere to the emergence of a comprador class, submitting to or wilfully participating in the integration of national economies into the global economy, leading to a state whose sole role is policing and protecting comprador regimes and the status quo for the sole interests of foreign and local capitalism. In parallel, everywhere, including in developed economies, this model serves to enrich the rich, impoverish the middle class and marginalise and alienate the poor.

In Tunisia itself, the illusion that this model seemed to be working very well was based on the authoritarian character of the regimes ruling the country since its independence. However, the result, like elsewhere, was an impoverished and marginalised people, both economically and politically, and a governing police state class getting richer, careless of the wellbeing of the local population and severely repressing any dissent in the name of market forces. But in our modern era, society is not an organisation that one can indefinitely repress nor an ideology that one can ban, but rather a living creature. No one can control it but itself.

If in the past the educated classes had the choice to migrate to other countries and participate in their development, the global economic crisis and the stagnation of Western economies and their allies have limited this possibility. The result of this situation is an army of educated and technically skilled unemployed youth in developing countries. Normally, they are the builders of the national economy, the guardians of the wellbeing of their communities, and aspire to their own fulfilment. The current political and economic situation in all Arab countries pushes this youth, which thinks profoundly that it has the right to live like anyone in a similar situation in the world, to revolt and at times despair.

After 1973, building on their victory, Arab governments thought they could open up to the West and that this process would bring peace and prosperity. Sadat’s economic liberalisation and the welcoming of US and Western corporations for investment signalled the end of the welfare state in the Arab world. Since then, the dream of self-development was abandoned and replaced by opening all Arab countries’ markets to foreign interests, although to varying degrees. This policy of liberalisation became a condition for receiving American blessings, first with Reaganism and Thatcherism, followed by world trade negotiations, and World Bank structural adjustment policies.

As Iraq refused, to some extent, to be integrated into this global neoliberal economy, it was obliged by conquest and force, and through the Bremer Laws, to privatise its oil industry and hand Iraq’s future over to foreign corporations. In order to open Iraq’s economy and free it of any obstacle to outside forces, whether economic, political, cultural or military, the occupation resorted to the physical destruction of Iraq’s capacity of self-development, both of its infrastructure and human resources. As proven by the Iraqi experience, foreign capital does not aim at real development of the economy but rather to destroy all existing capacities for self-determined development processes. Under the phase of imperialism’s finance capitalism led by the United States, the Third World is the last to profit from world progress and the first to pay for capitalist crises. Even Dubai’s financial institutions, which were portrayed as an example of what these policies could achieve, faced with the financial crisis were threatened with bankruptcy if other Emiratis didn’t come to their rescue.

All the illusions of progress that animated older generations since 1973 — like socialism, Arab unity and renaissance, Pax Americana in Palestine and integration of Western models, or Islam as the solution — have now proven unfruitful and unachievable, in spite of the determined struggle of Arab political currents for these ideals. The socialist model collapsed and was put on the shelf; Arab unity is no more on the agenda of governments; Islam as the solution brought only division and sectarianism, as in Iraq; the Pax Americana in Palestine did not stop Israel, while the integration and opening of local markets to the capitalist economy didn’t bring investment or solutions for the unemployed and the poor. It didn’t make the people, as they have the legitimate right to, participate freely in the public affairs of their country, nor benefit from the richness of their land and national economy.

Although the Arab youth might not be opposed to the grand dreams of older generations, still defended by various local political currents, and although these currents continue to have their influence, the Arab youth wants immediate change. The new generation is disillusioned. In Tunisia, it took its destiny in its hands and wants change now, and real change. As an Arab country, and living in a state in permanent exchange with its Mediterranean environment, the people of Tunisia realised that the model of globalisation is simple usurpation. No promise of wellbeing and development, liberty or democracy was fulfilled, and the system can be resumed to a generalised oppression, corruption and theft: a comprador governing class, a police state, and submission of the country to imperialist policies and interests.

The collapse of Ben Ali and his government is not only the collapse of an authoritarian regime, but rather of the globalisation model of finance capitalism and imperialism for Third World countries. The situation in other Arab countries, including oil-producing states, does not differ in last analysis. Maybe the situation is influenced by local economic, geographic and demographic composition of this or that country, but all know that integration into neoliberal globalisation did not and will not result in progress and development, but rather the enriching of some and the impoverishment of the majority, and the abandoning of the national interest to the interest of global capitalism.

We are certain that all Arab regimes, which share the same situation although with different ingredients, are now shaking because the same situation will produce the same results. We are also certain that all Arab regimes, all imperialists, all revolutionaries are now studying the causes of the success of the Tunisian experience. They all ask themselves, why did the Tunisians succeed in evicting their government while other similar uprisings failed? It is our point of view that everywhere in the Arab world there is the same situation and the same desire to change and to get rid of this model; the only difference is that the Tunisian revolt was spontaneous and non-ideological. It was not a conflict between one political organisation and another, but rather inspired by the consciousness and spontaneity of its youth realising that the conflict is between a dominant class against the people and the people against this dominant class. It is a revolt for dignity, freedom, democracy and wellbeing against a failed model of development. By experience other countries will arrive to the same situation.

Indeed, the success of the Tunisian phenomenon lies in its unity. Similar revolts, like the uprising for electricity in Iraq in the summer of 2010, did not succeed because of ideological divisions at the political level, mostly encouraged by foreign powers to divert Arabs from their real common interests. Everywhere, the Arab youth aspires to a life in dignity, freedom, democracy and development. The ideological conflicts, like in Iraq, mask the real interests of the people. These ideological and confessional conflicts are used by the governing classes to justify their policies and to hide their real practices. But sooner or later, the reality of the conflicts between the impoverished masses and the enriched governing classes will prevail.

While all Arab governments are shaking, and think tanks are giving advice to their governments on how to suffocate similar movements in their own societies, the Arab people has already declared that the Tunisian revolt represents hope, and saluted it as an example for them. Considering the shared model and influence European countries exercise on one another, it is no wonder that there were successive uprisings throughout Europe in 1848, or in 1968. Likewise, what can one expect in the Arab world when all think they belong to the same nation and live in the same conditions? How can Tunisia not influence other Arab countries, while all these countries belong to one Arab nation, which was originally divided by colonial forces into separated states?

We know that the West tells the Arabs that they are separated and independent countries when this suits its policies best, but it treats the Arabs as a bloc when this accommodates its own interests. Maybe the adverse forces of the Tunisian people, so as to save their interests, will try to contain the movement by changing faces, but the situation will continue to be explosive until there is a reconciliation between the interest of the people and the state in which they live. This is called democracy and independence, where the people and the state are masters of their present and future.

Is this a new era of renewal for the Arab world? Will this uprising succeed in bringing real change? Will, at last, Arabs exercise real democracy and sovereignty? Will other regimes, which share the same reality, foresee their fate and opt to change their structure peacefully, or will they unite to strangle the Tunisian phenomenon and deviate it from its goals? The future will tell us, but changing persons will not change the roots of the revolt. The Arab renewal may have begun in Tunisia.

Abdul Ilah Albayaty is an Iraqi political analyst. Hana Al Bayaty is an author and political activist. Ian Douglas is a lecturer in politics. All are members of the BRussells Tribunal Executive Committee.

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(GLOBALRESEARCH) Dictatorship and Neo-Liberalism: The Tunisian People's Uprising

Dictatorship and Neo-Liberalism: The Tunisian People's Uprising
by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
Global Research, January 19, 2011

December 2010 saw the beginning of a milestone in the Arab World. Protests in Tunisia started because of a lack of freedom, inflation, unemployment, and a decline in wages. They could lead to a new model in the Arab World.

The imposed leaders of the Arab World have taken notice of the Tunisian people's uprising, which hereto is not a full revolution.

The popular uprising in Tunisia has sent cold shivers up the spines of Arab rulers and made them fear for the continuation of their own unpopular reigns. Remnants of the old regime are also working to incorporate themselves into the formation of a new government.

An Arab Uprising Against the Hand-in-Hand Couple of Dictatorship and Neo-Liberalism

The Tunisian people's uprising is in part an answer against the vicious police state in Tunisia run by the dictator Zine Al-Abidine Bin Ali. In part, the Tunisian uprising is also an answer to the hideous neo-liberal model of economic development that was imposed by Bin Ali in Tunisia. In this regard, the U.S. and the E.U. were the primary benefactors of the harsh economic measures imposed in Tunisia by Bin Ali.

Up until 2011, Tunisia has consistently been paraded and touted as an ideal state and as a model of success and development by the U.S., the E.U., the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, amongst others. Never once have the human right violations, the murders, and the repression in Tunisia been criticized by any of these bodies or their officials.

Up until after Bin Ali fled (January 14, 2010), the mainstream media in North America, Western Europe, Australia, and the Arab World have mentioned nothing about the brutal repression in Tunisia. Inversely, the mainstream media has white-washed most of the Bin Ali regime's crimes and instead talked about Tunisia as a success story. The Guardian, after Bin Ali ran away to Saudi Arabia from Tunisia, gave a overview of the type of repression Bin Ali directed against Tunisians:

Confusion reigned. For the first time in the Arab world, a people had forced out a leader by spontaneously and peacefully taking to the street. But although Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali has fled, the diehards of his brutal police force have not. During the day random yellow taxi-loads of militia loyal to the ousted leader had careered through the capital and some suburbs, firing randomly into the air. Armed gangs broke into homes and ransacked them, or fired shots in the street.

In the early morning, after the curfew that shuts down Tunis at night, some residents ventured out for coffee at the few cafes that were open, often in the shadow of tanks positioned on intersections. Later, tension ran high. By lunchtime, one hospital morgue in Tunis had registered 13 dead, including five police officers. "This is being done by Ben Ali's old torturers, they have arms, they want to create chaos," said an activist from one opposition party.

In residential areas across the country, locals formed vigilante groups to defend themselves against the gangs they feared were led by Ben Ali's police. In La Marsa, a middle-class suburb to the north, streets were blockaded by old bits of broken doors, plant pots, water cans, bricks and paving slabs, to stop cars speeding through for drive-by shootings or houses being ransacked. Omar, 18, a well-dressed sixth-former who wanted to go to art college, had been standing guard until 3am as part of a hastily-formed group. "There were 30 of us, including my schoolfriends and my dad. We armed ourselves with sticks and whatever we could find, and wore white armbands so the army knew who we were." As he stood talking outside a smart shopping centre protected by a tank, a soldier warned him to move, as there had been reports of a taxi marauding through the area containing gunmen firing from its windows.

"We'll never forgive Ben Ali for unleashing his militia on the country," said one elderly lady. "More than the corruption of his regime, this is what we will never, ever forgive him for."

Meanwhile, the full horror of repression over four weeks of demonstrations is beginning to emerge. Human rights groups estimate at least 150-200 deaths since 17 December. In random roundups in poor, rural areas youths were shot in the head and dumped far from home so bodies could not be identified. Police also raped women in their houses in poor neighbourhoods in and around Kasserine in the rural interior.

Sihem Bensedrine, head of the National Council for Civil Liberties, said: "These were random, a sort of reprisal against the people. In poor areas, women who had nothing to do with anything, were raped in front of their families. Guns held back the men; the women were raped in front of them." A handful of cases were reported in Kasserine and Thala last Monday. Rape was often used as a torture technique under the regime; opposition women report they were raped in the basement of the interior ministry, as were men, too.

Rights lawyers were also gathering information on those murdered and dumped far from their villages, thrown into cemetery grounds, or offloaded at the side of the road or outside hospitals. These shootings were believed to have taken place in the past ten days. "Lots of these bodies are yet to be identified; they were purposely dumped far from their homes. Families think their young ones have been arrested. They don't know they are never coming back," said Bensedrine, who herself had been beaten and forced into exile before returning in recent days. You have to understand that under Ben Ali, it was a regime of torture, with beating, harassment and intimidation but not necessarily mass killing. The past four weeks has been different; it's a massacre, it's something else."

Ahlem Belhadj, a psychiatrist and women's rights activist, said people felt robbed of the joy of Ben Ali's departure by the chaos that had ensued. She said the spontaneous protest movement – and the unemployed undergraduate who started it by setting himself alight – had showed the desperation of a population who felt repressed, humiliated, with no chance of jobs or prospects after 23 years of despotism.

"We had become a nation of hunger strikers; there was no other political or social means of dissent.

"Then, for people to set themselves alight, was extreme: it showed there was such a fear of the 'other', the regime, that people could only turn the aggression on themselves. It was self-destruction as a way of fighting."

Khelil Ezzaouia, an orthopaedic surgeon and trade union figure tipped for a post in the interim government, hoped the chaos would be brought under control, and that commissions set up into rights abuses, political reform and corruption. He said: "There will be a temporary transition government to show the page of Ben Ali has been closed, and to send out a strong signal to reassure the population."

On national state radio, a tool of regime power until days ago, DJs spoke freely for the first time, but had to regret that the joy of a dictator's departure had been tempered by a fear of the militia attacks.

"Ours is a difficult happiness," sighed one music show presenter, before putting on another 1960s resistance song. [1]

Why the Silence from the U.S., France, the E.U., and the Arab Dictators?

While the U.S. and its allies were also quick to label and tout the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon, the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, the Rose Revolution in Georgia, the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan, the Twitter Revolution in Moldova, and the Green Revolution in Iran, they did not do the same in regards to the protests of the Tunisian people.

When there was election turmoil in Venezuela and in Iran, the U.S. and the E.U. were quick to make declarations about democracy and to criticize Caracas and Tehran. Yet, the same standards were not applied in regards to the 2009 Tunisian elections and the protests that started in December 2010 in Tunisia.

The French, the U.S., the House of Saud, and Israel have all been instrumental in sustaining the Bin Ali dictatorship. Bin Ali in reality served the interests of the U.S. and its allies. American and French "advisors" would call the shots for Tunis, especially in its financial, intelligence, security, and military fields. The U.S., France, and the E.U. also had no problems with the deeply rooted levels of corruption and nepotism in Tunis under Bin Ali.

The American and French governments, as well as Israel, have been complicit in the repression of the Tunisian people and the repression of the Tunisian demands for freedom. This is why there is a groundswell of Tunisian anger towards the U.S., France, and Israel. Protests outside of the American and French embassies are a demonstration of the awareness of the Tunisian people about the U.S. and French role in oppressing their freedom.

The White House and the U.S. State Department only made statements to the benefit of Bin Ali. Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State, told Al-Arabiya News Channel that the U.S. government was "not taking sides" in regards to Bin Ali and his brutal repression of unarmed civilian protesters demanding freedom. The U.S. merely waited until Bin Ali fled to even acknowledge the Tunisian people's rights. Doing quite the opposite over the years, the U.S. government and its officials have continuously made statements of support for Bin Ali, as is customary of their support of any dictators who submit to U.S. economic interests.

The House of Saud, which controls a substantial amount of Arabic media through personal ownership or family ties, would use all its influence to discredit the Tunisian people's protests in an effort to manipulate Arab public opinion in favour of the dictatorial regime of Bin Ali. Later, when it was clear that there was no hope for the continuation of Bin Ali's rule, the House of Saud would invite the Tunisian dictator to Saudi Arabia.

The Old Colonial Master: Paris offers to help Bin Ali Crush the Tunisian People

Before it became obvious that the Bin Ali regime was going to collapse, France wanted to help crush the Tunisian people's demands for freedom. The French Defence Minister, Michèle Alliot-Marie, lied through her teeth about the offer days later.

The Guardian chronicles this:

The French foreign minister, Michèle Alliot-Marie, today defended her controversial offer to help Tunisia's deposed president restore order days before he was ousted.

Alliot-Marie had been summoned to explain her remarks, made last week, to the Assemblée Nationale's foreign affairs commission.

The cabinet minister had offered to share the expertise of French security forces "recognised throughout the world" to help control the uprising.

Since Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali fled Tunisia on Friday, France has attempted to distance itself from the former leader, refusing him exile and ordering a block on his family's property and money held in France.

Today, Alliot-Marie fended off opposition calls for her resignation and told parliamentarians that France, along with other countries, had "not seen events coming".

"Let's face it, we were all of us – politicians, diplomats, researchers, journalists – taken by surprise by the jasmine revolution," Alliot-Marie said.

She said her offer had been "misrepresented" and had been aimed at helping the Tunisian people, not propping up repression.

"I'd spent the night in an aeroplane, and it's possible I did not express myself well," she said. "I began to doubt myself, but afterwards I re-read my proposal to see that it was what actually what I thought and not what was being interpreted by certain people."

She added that she was "scandalised" by how her comments had been distorted.

Earlier, it had appeared that Alliot-Marie was being isolated by the Élysée Palace after an adviser of the president, Nicolas Sarkozy, suggested she was expressing "her own analysis of the situation". [2]

In reality, Paris did secretly send aid to Bin Ali. The U.S. and Israel also sent riot gear and arms.

The Mossad and Israel in Tunisia

In regards to the interests of Tel Aviv, Tunisia has been an open zone for Israeli intelligence work, killings, and data collection against Palestinian and Arab activists. Israel has helped in the repression of democratic dissent in Tunisia to keep Bin Ali in power. It has been a part of Israel's strategic initiative to prevent any democratic states from emerging in the Arab World. The same can be said about the U.S. and the E.U. in regards to preventing the emergence of real Arab democracy. The Tunisian uprising would actually force the Israeli government to make an "emergency rescue" of so-called Israeli "visitors" in Tunisia:

A group of 20 Israelis was rescued Saturday evening from Tunisia, where a violent uprising has succeeded in overturning the government.

The complicated mission was orchestrated by a number of Israeli authorities, including the Foreign Ministry. The tourists were first transferred to a third country, from where are to continue to Israel by plane. [3]

These so-called Israeli "visitors" that the Israeli government would evacuate from Tunisia were Mossad agents.

Tunisia still in the Cross-Hairs

The neo-liberal model has brought poverty and despair to Tunisia. These facts have been ignored by the U.S., France, and those that commended and lauded Tunisian economic measures. Once again, the U.S. and French governments have also exposed their contempt's for genuine democracy. Any talk by Paris and the U.S. about respecting and caring for the Tunisian people is merely two-face bravado.

Calls for democracy and fair elections were only made by the U.S. and France after Bin Ali fled Tunisia. If there were any sincerity in the U.S. and French calls for Arab self-determination then they would extend these calls to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, Egypt, Libya, Jordon, and Yemen. Beyond the Arab World, they would extend these calls to countries like NATO-garrisoned Afghanistan.

The mainstream media is also just starting to pick up on the events in Tunisia, but with a narrow focus that ignores the work of Bin Ali and his cronies as economic hitmen for the E.U. and America. Despite the fact that it has no connection to WikiLeaks and the fact that it is not hereto a full-blown revolution, the revolt in Tunisia has also begun to be dubbed as a "WikiLeaks Revolution."

Tunisia is not free yet. The Tunisian national unity government is dominated and includes many of the same characters from Bin Ali's regime. The uprising has not turned into a revolution yet.

The U.S., France, the E.U., the House of Saud, the Arab dictators, and Israel are all conspiring to ensure that a new Tunisian government that will serve their interests will take the mantle of the old Tunisian regime. The structure that kept Bin Ali in place still exists and the foreign interests that supported his rule still hold influence in Tunis. They may manage to retain power.

America and France have not forfeited their economic interests in Tunisia. Nor has the neo-liberal model been declared null and void in Tunis. In a bid to maintain the continuation of French contracts in Tunisia, the French government did not offer to Bin Ali sanctuary in France, despite the fact that he was a loyal ally of Paris until the end of his reign.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).

[1] Angelique Chrisafis, "Confusion, fear and horror in Tunisia as old regime's militia carries on the fight," The Guardian (U.K.), January 16, 2011.
[2] Kim Willsher, "French minister defends offer of security forces to Tunisia," The Guardian (U.K.), January 18, 2011.
[3] Ronen Medzini, "20 Israelisrescued from Tunisia, " Yedioth Ahronoth, January 15, 2011.

Global Research Articles by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

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(GLOBALRESEARCH)Tunisia and the IMF's Diktats: How Macro-Economic Policy Triggers Worldwide Poverty and Unemployment

Tunisia and the IMF's Diktats: How Macro-Economic Policy Triggers Worldwide Poverty and Unemployment
by Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research, January 20, 2011

General Zine el Abidine Ben Ali , the defunct and deposed president of Tunisia is heralded by the Western media, in chorus, as a dictator. The Tunisian protest movement is casually described as the consequence of an undemocratic and authoritarian regime, which defies the norms of the "international community".

But Ben Ali was not a "dictator". Dictators decide and dictate. Ben Ali was a servant of Western economic interests, a faithful political puppet who obeyed orders, with the active support of the international community.

Foreign interference in Tunisia's domestic affairs is not mentioned in the media reports. The food price hikes were not "dictated" by the Ben Ali government. They were imposed by Wall Street and the IMF.

The role of Ben Ali's government was to enforce the IMF's deadly economic medicine, which over a period of more than twenty years has served to destabilize the national economy and impoverish the Tunisian population.

Ben Ali as head of state did not decide on anything of substance. National sovereignty was foregone. In 1987, at the height of the debt crisis, the left nationalist government of Habib Bourguiba was replaced by a new regime, firmly committed to "free market" reforms.

Macroeconomic management under the helm of the IMF was in the hands of Tunisia's external creditors. Over the last 23 years, economic and social policy in Tunisia has been dictated by the Washington Consensus.

Ben Ali stayed in power because his government obeyed and effectively enforced the diktats of the IMF, while serving the interests of both the US and the European Union.

This pattern has occurred in numerous countries.

Continuity of the IMF's deadly reforms requires "regime replacement". The installation of a political puppet ensures the enforcement of the neoliberal agenda while also creating conditions for the eventual demise of a corrupt and unpopular government which has been draw upon to impoverish an entire population.

The Protest Movement

It is not Wall Street and the Washington based international financial institutions which are the direct target of the protest movement. The social implosion was directed against a government rather than against the interference of foreign powers in the conduct of government policy.

At the outset, the protests were not the result of an organized political movement directed against the imposition of the neoliberal reforms.

Moreover, there are indications that the protest movement was manipulated with a view to creating social chaos as well as ensuring political continuity. There are unconfirmed reports of armed militias conducting acts of repression and intimidation in major urban areas.

The important question is how will the crisis evolve? How will the broader issue of foreign interference be addressed by the Tunisian people?

From the standpoint of both Washington and Brussels, an unpopular authoritarian regime is slated to be replaced by a new puppet government. Elections are envisaged under the supervision of the so-called international community, in which case candidates would be pre-selected and approved.

Were this process of regime change to be carried out on behalf of foreign interests, the new proxy government would no doubt ensure the continuity of the neoliberal policy agenda which has served to impoverish the Tunisian population.

The interim government led by acting president Fouad Mebazza is currently in an impasse, with fierce opposition emanating from the trade union movement (UGTT). Mebazza has promised to "break with past", without however specifying whether this signifies a repeal of the neoliberal economic reforms.

Historical Background

The media in chorus have presented the crisis in Tunisia as an issue of domestic politics, without a historical insight. The presumption is that with the removal of "the dictator" and the instatement of a duly elected government, the social crisis will eventually be resolved.

The first "bread riots" in Tunisia date back to 1984. The January 1984 protest movement was motivated by a 100 percent hike in the price of bread. This hike had been demanded by the IMF under Tunisia's structural adjustment program (SAP). The elimination of food subsidies was a de facto condition of the loan agreement with the IMF.

President Habib Bourguiba, who played a historical role in liberating his country from French colonialism, declared a state of emergency in response to the riots:

While gunfire sounded, police and army troops in Jeeps and armored personnel carriers fanned out through the city to quell the "bread riot." The show of force finally brought an uneasy calm, but only after more than 50 demonstrators and bystanders were killed. Then, in a dramatic five-minute radio and television broadcast, Bourguiba announced that he was reversing the price hike. (Tunisia: Bourguiba Lets Them Eat Bread - TIME, January 1984)

Following president Bourguiba's retraction, the hike in the price of bread was reversed. Bourguiba fired his Minister of the Interior and refused to abide by the demands of the Washington Consensus.

The neoliberal agenda had nonetheless been instated, leading to rampant inflation and mass unemployment. Three years later, Bourguiba and his government were removed in a bloodless coup d'Etat, "on the grounds of incompetence", leading to the instatement of General Zine el Abidine Ben Ali as president in November 1987. This coup was not directed against Bourguiba, it was largely intended to permanently dismantle the nationalist political structure initially established in the mid-1950s, while also privatizing State assets.

The military coup not only marked the demise of post-colonial nationalism which had been led by Bourguiba, it also contributed to weakening the role of France. The Ben Ali government became firmly aligned with Washington rather than Paris.

Barely a few months following Ben Ali's November 1987 instatement as the country's president, a major agreement was signed with the IMF. An agreement had also been reached with Brussels pertaining to the establishment of a free trade regime with the EU. A massive privatization program under the supervision of the IMF-World Bank was also launched. With hourly wages of the order of Euro 0.75 an hour, Tunisia had also become a cheap labor haven for the European Union.

Who is the dictator?

A review of IMF documents suggests that from Ben Ali's inauguration in 1987 to the present, his government had faithfully abided by IMF-World Bank conditionalities, including the firing of public sector workers, the elimination of price controls over essential consumer goods and the implementation of a sweeping privatization program. The lifting of trade barriers ordered by the World Bank was conducive to triggering a wave of bankruptcies.

Following these dislocations of the national economy, cash remittances from Tunisian workers in the European Union became an increasingly important source of the foreign exchange earnings.

There are some 650,000 Tunisians living overseas. Total workers' remittances in 2010 were of the order of US$1.960 billion, an increase of 57 percent in relation to 2003. A large share of these remittances in foreign exchange will be used to service the country's external debt.

The Speculative Hike in World Food Prices

In September 2010, an understanding was reached between Tunis and the IMF, which recommended the removal of remaining subsidies as a means to achieving fiscal balance:

Fiscal prudence remains an overarching priority for the [Tunisian] authorities, who also see the need for maintaining a supportive fiscal policy in 2010 in the current international environment. Efforts in the last decade to bring down the public debt ratio significantly should not be jeopardized by a too lax fiscal policy. The authorities are committed to firmly control current expenditure, including subsidies,... IMF Tunisia: 2010 Article IV Consultation - Staff Report; Public Information Notice on the Executive Board Discussion; and Statement by the Executive Director for Tunisia

It is worth noting that the IMF's insistence on fiscal austerity and the removal of subsidies coincided chronologically with a renewed upsurge in staple food prices on the London, New York and Chicago commodity exchanges. These price hikes are in large part the result of speculative trade by major financial and corporate agribusiness interests.

These hikes in food prices, which are the result of outright manipulation (rather than scarcity) have served to impoverish people Worldwide. The surge in food prices constitutes a new phase of the process of global impoverishment.

"The media has casually misled public opinion on the causes of these price hikes, focusing almost exclusively on issues of costs of production, climate and other factors which result in reduced supply and which might contribute to boosting the price of food staples. While these factors may come into play, they are of limited relevance in explaining the impressive and dramatic surge in commodity prices.

Spiralling food prices are in large part the result of market manipulation. They are largely attributable to speculative trade on the commodity markets. Grain prices are boosted artificially by large scale speculative operations on the New York and Chicago mercantile exchanges. ...

Speculative trade in wheat, rice or corn, can occur without the occurrence of real commodity transactions. The institutions speculating in the grain market are not necessarily involved in the actual selling or delivery of grain.

The transactions may use commodity index funds which are bets on the general upward or downward movement of commodity prices. A "put option" is a bet that the price will go down, a "call option" is a bet that the price will go up. Through concerted manipulation, institutional traders and financial institutions make the price go up and then place their bets on an upward movement in the price of a particular commodity.

Speculation generates market volatility. In turn, the resulting instability encourages further speculative activity.

Profits are made when the price goes up. Conversely, if the speculator is short-selling the market, money will be made when the price collapses.

This recent speculative surge in food prices has been conducive to a Worldwide process of famine formation on an unprecedented scale." (Michel Chossudovsky, Global Famine, Global Research, May 2, 2008,

From 2006 to 2008, there was a dramatic surge in the prices of all major food staples including rice, wheat and corn. The price of rice tripled over a five year period, from approximately 600$ a ton in 2003 to more than 1800$ a ton in May 2008.

(Michel Chossudovsky,, For further details, see Michel Chossudovsky, Chapter 7 Global Poverty and the Economic Crisis in Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall, editors, The Global Economic Crisis, The Great Depression of the XXI Century, Global Research, Montreal 2010, )

The recent surge in the price of grain staples is characterized by a 32 percent jump in the FAO's composite food price index recorded in the second half of 2010.

"Soaring prices of sugar, grain and oilseed drove world food prices to a record in December, surpassing the levels of 2008 when the cost of food sparked riots around the World, and prompting warnings of prices being in "danger territory".

An index compiled monthly by the United Nations surpassed its previous monthly high – June 2008 – in December to reach the highest level since records began in 1990. Published by the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the index tracks the prices of a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar, and has risen for six consecutive months." (Jill Treanor, World food prices enter 'danger territory' to reach record high, The Guardian, January 5, 2011)

Bitter irony: Against a background of rising food prices, the IMF recommends the removal of the subsidies with a view to reaching the goal of fiscal austerity.

Manipulating the Data on Poverty and Unemployment

An atmosphere of social despair prevails, people's lives are destroyed.

While, the protest movement in Tunisia is visibly the direct result of a process mass impoverishment, the World Bank contends that the levels of poverty have been reduced as a result of the free market reforms adopted by the Ben Ali government.

According to the World Bank's country report, the Tunisian government (with the support of the Bretton Woods institutions) was instrumental in reducing the levels of poverty to 7 percent (substantially lower than that recorded in the US and the EU).

Tunisia has made remarkable progress on equitable growth, fighting poverty and achieving good social indicators. It has sustained an average 5 percent growth rate over the past 20 years with a steady increase in per capita income and a corresponding increase in the welfare of its population that is underscored by a poverty level of 7% that is amongst the lowest in the region.

The steady increase in per capita income has been the main engine for poverty reduction. ... Rural roads have been particularly important in helping the rural poor connect to urban markets and services. Housing programs improved the living conditions of the poor and also freed up income and savings to spend on food and non-food items with resulting positive impacts on poverty alleviation. Food subsidies, which have been targeted to the poor, albeit not optimally, have also helped the urban poor. (World Bank Tunisia - Country Brief)

These poverty figures, not to mention the underlying economic and social "analysis", are outright fabrications. They present the free market as the engine of poverty alleviation. The World Bank's analytical framework is used to justify a process of "economic repression", which has been applied Worldwide in more than 150 developing countries.

With a mere 7 percent of the population living in poverty (as suggested by the World Bank "estimate") and 93 percent of the population meeting basic needs in terms of food, housing, health and education, there would be no social crisis in Tunisia.

The World Bank is actively involved in cooking the data and distorting the social plight of the Tunisian population. The official rate of unemployment is 14 percent, the actual level of unemployment is much higher. Recorded youth unemployment is of the order of 30 percent. Social services, including health and education have collapsed under the brunt of the IMF-World Bank economic austerity measures.

Tunisia and the World

What is happening in Tunisia is part of a global economic process which destroys people's lives through the deliberate manipulation of market forces.

More generally, "the harsh economic and social realities underlying IMF intervention are soaring food prices, local-level famines, massive lay-offs of urban workers and civil servants and the destruction of social programs. Internal purchasing power has collapsed, health clinics and schools have been closed down, hundreds of millions of children have been denied the right to primary education." (Michel Chossudovsky, Global Famine, op cit.)

The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order

by Michel Chossudovsky

In this new and expanded edition of Chossudovsky’s international best-seller, the author outlines the contours of a New World Order which feeds on human poverty and the destruction of the environment, generates social apartheid, encourages racism and ethnic strife and undermines the rights of women. The result as his detailed examples from all parts of the world show so convincingly, is a globalization of poverty.

This book is a skilful combination of lucid explanation and cogently argued critique of the fundamental directions in which our world is moving financially and economically.

In this new enlarged edition –which includes ten new chapters and a new introduction-- the author reviews the causes and consequences of famine in Sub-Saharan Africa, the dramatic meltdown of financial markets, the demise of State social programs and the devastation resulting from corporate downsizing and trade liberalisation.

Michel Chossudovsky is Professor of Economics (emeritus) at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), which hosts the critically acclaimed website . He is a contributor to the Encyclopedia Britannica. His writings have been translated into more than 20 languages.

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