Saturday, January 21, 2012
...DEC working under political pressure - Paulsen
by CHARLES MUSONDA
ZAMTEL operations came close to a virtual halt yesterday after the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) took control of all bank accounts belonging to the Libyan owned company on suspicions of money laundering.
But the company made a futile attempt to have the Lusaka High Court reverse the action, charging that the company’s operations will ground to a halt and it will be unable to pay workers, suppliers, and other service providers when payments are due.
Zamtel managing director Hans Paulsen says the DEC seized three accounts at Zanaco and 10 others at Barclays Bank on January 18, 2012.
This is according to the company’s application for leave to apply for judicial review, filed in the Lusaka High Court on Thursday.
“The DEC has no reasonable grounds to believe that all monies in the seized accounts are proceeds of criminal activities. The action by DEC has been precipitated by political pressure that the sale of Zamtel was allegedly fraudulent, an allegation that has not been proven in any court of law.
“Monies have been wrongfully seized, based on a unilateral and unsubstantiated report. The DEC’s decision is wrong and not justifiable in the circumstances. Zamtel has never been heard by DEC after the seizure of the accounts,” Mr Paulsen says in his affidavit verifying facts.
He argues that the seizure is unreasonable and calculated to frustrate Zamtel management and paralyse the company’s operations.
Mr Paulsen says Zamtel believes that the seizure is an indirect way of expropriating its property as it shall become non-operational due to lack of access to its funds.
Zamtel_hq “This is not in public interest as its internet services, fixed phone lines, mobile phones and other services will eventually shut down, due to lack of access to funds to pay for services and operational expenses. Employees shall be greatly affected in that Zamtel will be unable to pay them,” he adds.
Mr Paulsen says the DEC’s action implies that Zamtel is an illegal business notwithstanding that Government, to which DEC belongs, is a shareholder in Zamtel.
“This will have an unprecedented impact on the economy and security of the country.
It is desirable and in the interest of justice that this court grants leave to Zamtel to file a notice of motion for judicial review and that the order of leave to commence judicial review acts as a stay of the DEC’s decision to seize monies in the bank accounts belonging to Zamtel,” he says.
Lusaka High Court judge Evans Hamaundu is scheduled to hear the matter on Monday, January 23, 2012.
Meanwhile, anxiety and uncertainty has gripped many Zamtel top brass who do not know when or where the axe will fall from as the government tightens the noose on the company believed to have been sold after “gross” under valuation according to a study by the Sebastian Zulu-led probe team.
The company was sold for a questionable US$257 million of which only some US$15 million has been received by the government, according to Zulu who was commissioned to study the transaction by President Michael Sata.
Former Cabinet Minister in the MMD government Dora Siliya and former President Rupiah Banda’s son Henry are reported to have put together the transaction which the report says is deeply flawed and marred with gross corruption and was done without the national interest of Zambia.
Stephen Laufer, the Lapgreen representative for Southern Africa via phone yesterday said the company would issue a statement.
(GLOBALRESEARCH) Obamas Secret Letter to Tehran - Is the War against Iran On Hold - The Road to Tehran Goes through DamascusObama's Secret Letter to Tehran: Is the War against Iran On Hold? "The Road to Tehran Goes through Damascus"
by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
Global Research, January 20, 2012
The New York Times announced that the Obama Administration had sent an important letter to the leadership of Iran on January 12, 2012.  On January 15, 2012, the spokesperson of the Iranian Foreign Ministry acknowledged that the letter had been delivered to Tehran by way of three diplomatic channels:
(1) one copy of the letter was handed to the Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations, Mohammed Khazaee, by his U.S. counterpart, Susan Rice, in New York City;
(2) a second copy of the letter was delivered in Tehran by the Swiss Ambassador to Iran, Livia Leu Agosti; and
(3) a third copy went to Iran by way of Jalal Talabani of Iraq. 
In the letter, the White House spelled out the position of the United States, while Iranian officials said it was a sign of things as they really are: the U.S. cannot afford to wage a war against Iran.
Within the letter written by President Barak Hussein Obama was a U.S. request for the start of negotiations between Washington and Tehran to end Iranian-U.S. hostilities.
“In the letter, Obama announced readiness for negotiations and the resolution of mutual disagreements,” Ali Motahari, an Iranian parliamentarian, told the Mehr News Agency.  According to another Iranian parliamentarian, this time the Deputy Chairperson of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, Hussein Ebrahimi (Ibrahimi), the letter went on to ask for Iranian-U.S. cooperation and negotiations based on the mutual interests of both Tehran and Washington. 
Obama’s letter also tried to assure Tehran that the United States would not engage in any hostile action against Iran.  In fact, in the same timeframe, the Pentagon cancelled or delayed major joint drills with Israel. 
To the Iranians, however, the gestures are meaningless, because the Obama Administration’s actions with Iran have always contradicted its words. Moreover, Iran believes that the U.S. has not attacked, because it knows that the costs of a war with an opponent like Iran are too high and its consequences far too risky.
This, however, does not mean that an Iranian-U.S. showdown has been avoided or will not eventually happen. The currents can go either way, so to speak. Nor does this mean that the Obama Administration is not currently waging a war against the Iranians and their allies. In fact, Washington’s bloc and Iran’s bloc have been fighting a shadow war from the digital arena and television airwaves to the valleys of Afghanistan and the bustling streets of Beirut and Baghdad.
The War Against Iran Started Years Ago
The war in Iran did not start in 2012 or even 2011. Newsweek Magazine even stated the following on a cover title in 2010: “Assassinations, cyberattacks, sabotage – has the war against Tehran already begun?” The actual war may have started in 2006.
Instead of attacking Iran directly, the U.S. has started a covert and proxy war. The covert dimensions of the war are being fought by intelligence assets, cyber attacks, computer viruses, secretive military units, spies, assassins, agent provocateurs, and saboteurs. The kidnapping and assassination of Iranian scientists and military commanders, which started several years ago is a part of this covert war. In this shadow war, Iranian diplomats in Iraq have been abducted and Iranians visiting Georgia, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey have been detained or kidnapped. Syrian officials, various Palestinian figures, and Hezbollah’s Imad Fayez Mughniyeh have also all been assassinated in this shadow war.
The proxy wars started in 2006 when Israel attacked Lebanon with the intention of expanding the war against Syria. The road to Damascus goes through Beirut, while Damascus is on the way to Tehran. After their failure in 2006, realizing that Syria was the lynchpin of the Resistance Bloc, which Iran dominated, the U.S. and its allies spent the next five to six years trying to de-link Syria from Iran.
The U.S. is also fighting Iran and its allies on the diplomatic and economic fronts through the manipulation of international bodies and proxy states. In the 2011 to 2012 context, the crisis in Syria on a geo-political level is a front in the war against Iran. Even the Israeli-U.S. drill Austere Challenge 2012 and the U.S. deployment of troops were primarily aimed at Syria as a means of combating Iran.
Syria in the Eye of the Storm
What Washington is doing is exerting psychological pressure on Iran as a means of distancing it from Syria, so that the United States and its cohorts can go for the kill. Up until the start of January 2012, the Israelis have continuously been preparing to launch an invasion of Syria in a rematch of 2006, while U.S. and E.U. officials have continously tried negotiating with Damascus for a deal to de-link from Iran and the Resistance Bloc. The Syrians, however, have always refused.
Foreign Policy, the magazine of the Council on Foreign Relations, published an article in August 2011 stating what was on the Saudi King’s mind about Syria in context of attacking Iran: “The King knows that other than the collapse of the Islamic Republic [of Iran] itself, nothing would weaken Iran more than losing Syria.”  Whether the above statement genuinely came from Abdul Aziz Al-Saud or not, this strategic outlook is representative of the reasons for the targeting of Syria. Obama’s own security advisor has also said the same thing, just a few months after the piece by Foreign Policy was released, in November 2011. National Security Advisor Donilon gave a speech saying that the “end of the Assad regime would constitute Iran’s greatest setback in the region – a strategic blow that will further shift the balance of power in the region against Iran.” 
The Kremlin has also made statements that corroborate that Washington wants to de-link Syria from its Iranian ally. One of Russia’s highest security officials has announced that Syria is being punished, because of its strategic alliance with Iran. The Secretary of the National Security Council of the Russian Federation, Nikolai (Nikolay) Platonovich Patrushev, has publicly stated that Syria is the subject of Washington’s pressure due to geo-political interests tied to cutting Syria’s ties with Iran and not due to any humanitarian concerns. 
Iran has also given signals that should the Syrians be attacked, it will not hesitate to intervene militarily to come to Syria’s aid. Washington does not want this. The Pentagon would much rather swallow Syria first, before turning its full and undivided attention to Iran. The Pentagon’s objectives are to fight its targets piecemeal. Despite the U.S. military doctrine of fighting simultaneous wars in multiple theatres and all the Pentagon literature about it, the U.S. is not ready yet to wage a conventional regional war against both Iran and Syria or risk an expanded war with Iran’s Russian and Chinese allies yet. The march to war, however, is far from over. For now the U.S. government will have to continue the shadow war against Iran and intensify the media, diplomatic, and economic war.
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is a Sociologist and award-winning author. He is a Research Associate at the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal. He Specializes on the Middle East and Central Asia. He Has been a contributor and guest discussing the Broader Middle East on numerous international programs and networks such as Al Jazeera, Press TV and Russia Today. His writings have been published in more than ten languages. He also writes for the Strategic Culture Foundation (SCF), Moscow.
 Elisabeth Bumiller et al., “US sends top Iran leader warning on Hormuz threat,” The New York Times, January 12, 2012.
 Mehr News Agency, “Details of Obama’s letter to Iran released,” January 18, 2012.
 Yakkov Katz, “Israel, US cancel missile defense drill,” Jerusalem Post, January 15, 2012.
 John Hannah, “Responding to Syria: The King’s statement, the President’s hesitation,” Foreign Policy, August 9, 2011.
 Natasha Mozgovaya, “Obama Aide: End of Assad regime will serve severe blow to Iran,” Haaretz, November 22, 2011.
 Ilya Arkhipov and Henry Meyer, “Russia Says NATO, Persian Gulf Nations Plan to Seek No-Fly Zone for Syria,” Bloomberg, January 12, 2012.
TIME PUBLISHED - Saturday, January 21, 2012, 11:38 am
Sources in Lusaka have told the Times of Zambia that authorities have frozen Zamtel accounts pending money laundering investigations as a result of the transaction between the former MMD Government and LAP Green of Libya.
And Information, Broadcasting and Tourism Minister Fackson Shamenda has said that security wings had the right to freeze any bank account in the country.
Mr Shamenda, who is Chief Government spokesperson, said the investigative wings could freeze any bank accounts if it was discovered that there were suspected irregularities.
“Government does not go round freezing bank accounts but if law enforcement officers have suspected an anomally, they have a right to freeze any account,” he said.
He said operations of Zamtel and welfare of employees would not be affected and the Government had done transparently everything pertaining to the sale of Zamtel in the best interest of the nation.
Mr Shamenda urged Zambians to desist from speculation but verify alreports regarding the Zamtel sale following the release of the report
by the commission of inquiry.
“In as far as there is freedom to access and disseminate information strongly feel that people should verify this information with their sources first,” Mr Shamenda said.
And National Union of Communications and Allied Workers of Zambia (NUCAW) president Patrick Kaonga, said it was common knowledge that the Zamtel accounts were frozen because the company’s staff could not deposit any revenue into the accounts.
“Yes, in terms of being aware about the Zamtel accounts, it is common knowledge because when staff go to deposit money at banks, they are told that they can’t make any transactions,” he said.
Mr Kaonga, however, said Zamtel management had not issued any official correspondence regarding the freezing of the company’s accounts by the Government.
Asked for how long Zamtel staff had not been able to make deposit, he said, they learnt about it on Thursday when employees who went to make deposits were told they could not do so.
LAP Green Networks, majority owners of Zamtel, also disclosed that Zambian authorities had frozen all their bank accounts as part of investigations into the alleged irregular sale of the Zambian telecommunications company.
In an e-mail response to a Reuters query yesterday, Lap Green denied any wrongdoing saying: “The authorities have no reasonable grounds whatsoever to believe that the moneys in the seized accounts and any other Zamtel accounts are from the proceeds of criminal activity.”
The response further states that the authorities had seized bank accounts belonging to Zamtel in connection with allegations of money laundering, “which are utterly false”.
LAP Green maintained that Zamtel’s accounts only contained monies that directly related to its activities as a communications service provider in Zambia.
The statement said Zamtel was engaging relevant authorities in an effort to have its accounts unblocked.
“We are also currently working on avenues for the amicable resolution of matters. We have also taken measures to ensure services to Zamtel’s clients are not affected,” the statement further reads.
The response also states that aside from anything else, the Zambian Government remained a shareholder in Zamtel and had representation on the board of directors who had access to and knowledge of the company’s accounts.
LAP Green said Zamtel’s accounts were audited every quarter and the Government was aware and knew the result of the audit reports, which made it clear that there was and had been no wrongdoing.
[Times of Zambia]
Friday, January 20, 2012
Part I: The IMF, the World Bank, and the Global Economy
Following on the heels of the "Battle in Seattle", tens of thousands of activists from all over the world will converge on Washington DC April 8 - 17 in round two of the assault on global capitalism. The target: the semi-annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund. The goal: shut down and otherwise disrupt the IMF and World Bank. There will be protests, rallies, marches, direct action, street theater, student walk-outs, meetings, concerts, teach-ins and networking organized by a diverse group of activists made up of students, trade-unionists, environmentalists, women's groups, and human rights organizations in a festival of resistance against corporate globalization.
The millennium ended with 50,000 people marching in the Battle in Seattle and the new one will open with a massive demonstration against the world's central financial institutions, proving that Seattle was not a simple speed bump on the road to corporate globalization, but instead represents a turning point in the US. A new wave of radicalization is beginning to spread. Deep anger, fueled by over twenty years of falling living standards, has been brewing under the calm surface of America throughout the 1990s.
A new movement against corporate greed and capitalism is being born. January witnessed the largest civil rights rally since the 1970s, with 46,000 demonstrating against the Confederate flag in South Carolina. Tens of thousands rallied in Florida to defend affirmative action in March. New York City has witnessed a series of large and militant protests against police brutality. The anti-sweatshop movement has spread like wildfire across the nations' colleges, creating the largest student movement since the 1991 Gulf War protests. In the upcoming Presidential elections, Ralph Nader will probably receive millions of votes, and in some cities even reach 5-15% of the vote. For the first time in over fifty years, millions of people will vote for an independent, progressive, pro-union, anti-corporate challenger to the two parties of big business.
It is clear that thousands of people are looking to fight back and beginning to organize. The movements against the World Trade Organization (WTO), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank have a clear anti-corporate and even anti-capitalist character. But these movements still have questions to answer. What is the best strategy to challenge corporate greed and global capitalism? How do we take the movement forward after April 17? Is there a viable alternative to global capitalism?
What are the IMF and World Bank?
The IMF, World Bank and WTO are central pillars in the global economy and have been called the "architects of the world economy." The IMF and World Bank were originally established at the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944. They were mainly funded by the United States to re-build the shattered world economy after it broke down during the Great Depression of the 1930s and World War II.
During the Nazi occupation of Europe, the capitalists had either fled Europe or were collaborating with the Nazis. Socialists, in contrast, had been active organizers of resistance groups. By the end of the war, revolutions swept through Europe, and workers and farmers were seizing their factories and farms. The US was forced, in order to prevent revolution, to carry out a massive program of aid and re-development in Europe. It was for this task that the IMF and World Bank were founded. Over the past decades, however, the recipients of their international loans have switched away from Western Europe to the underdeveloped world.
Ever since then, the IMF and World Bank have continued on as an instrument for defending capitalism, maximizing the profits of the big multinationals and maintaining the domination of the US over the world economy. Within this common framework there is a division of labor and functions between the IMF and World Bank (and since 1995 the World Trade Organization) although these have tended increasingly to overlap, and the two organizations work together quite closely.
The World Bank makes long-term loans to governments to finance development projects such as roads, power plants, schools, dams, bridges, ports and other "infrastructure". The IMF decides which countries are eligible for international loans. Currently, the IMF has been focusing on bailing out countries facing economic emergencies, like the "Asian Tigers" that were hammered by an economic meltdown in 1997-98.
The IMF and World Bank will only extend loans if countries agree to accept "structural adjustment programs" (SAPs). SAPs are not democratically decided upon by the people of the debtor countries. They are forced down the throats of the people of the former colonial world. To pay off the loans, the IMF and World Bank demand governments raise money by selling off public assets and companies (privatization) and cutting state expenditure on social services like healthcare, education, childcare, and pensions. SAPs require countries deregulate and open up their economy to "free trade" by cutting subsidies to local industries and slashing trade barriers and tariffs. Countries must open up their economies to foreign business (usually multinationals from Western countries), remove restrictions on foreign investments, and allow corporations access to the workers and natural resources of the country at bargain basement prices. The vast majority of the profits made by the multinationals is taken out of the country and brought home (repatriated) to the West. SAPs encourage export-oriented growth (selling cheap raw materials or commodities on the world market, like cash crops, garments, or computer chips) to generate hard currency. All in all, the IMF and World Bank SAPs turn countries into loan repayment machines, generating easy profits for the world's richest corporations and banks.
IMF policies also both directly and indirectly impact workers in the US and other advanced capitalist countries. Because they are partially funded with public money, the IMF and World Bank redistribute wealth from working people in the US (through their taxes), and funnel it to programs which benefit the multinational corporations based in the US. This redistribution of wealth upwards to the richest Americans is similar to that which accompanies any public subsidization of corporations. Big corporations, though serviced by US government money, are accountable to no "national interest" but only to their own shareholders. The effects of IMF/World Bank programs are to lower wages and working conditions worldwide, which exerts a downward pressure on workers' living standards in the industrialized countries as well. In an example of the same neoliberal logic, the NAFTA-created free-trade zones at the US-Mexico border were an immediate threat to the hard-won gains of US workers. In this case, an injury to one truly is an injury to all. It is for this reason that the unions have felt compelled to endorse the DC protests.
Structural Adjustment: The Bitter Pill that Poisons
"Our dream is a world free of poverty" - sign at the entrance to the World Bank's headquarters in Washington, DC.
The IMF and World Bank claim that neo-liberal reforms, while a bitter pill to swallow, in the end lay the basis for major economic growth and therefore higher living standards. But the evidence proves the opposite. The IMF and World Bank loans have created a huge debt trap. This overwhelming debt has led to the poorest countries in the world allocating enormous portions of their national incomes towards paying interest. The sick logic of capitalism means that money is actually flowing from the world's poorest countries to the richest. The debt is one of the most important weapons with which the big capitalist powers dominate poor countries. The IMF and World Bank use the debt as leverage to pry open new markets and gain access to cheap labor and raw materials. In order to get new credit (to be able to keep up debt repayments) and not default on their loans, former colonial countries must accept the dictates of the IMF and World Bank.
Today the underdeveloped world owes a total of $2.5 trillion in international debt to big banks and the IMF and World Bank. "Developing" nations pay the West nine times more in debt repayment than they receive in "aid" from Western countries. For example, after the recent devastating floods in Mozambique - destroying the homes of more than a million people - Western countries coughed up a bare $40 million in "aid." But Mozambique pays more than $70 million dollars a year in debt repayments to Western banks! While diseases like cholera and malaria are spreading rapidly after the floods, only 1.1% of the GDP is spent on health care-down 75% after nearly a decade of IMF imposed austerity programs.
Mozambique is far from the only country in this destructive situation:
• Between 1982 and 1990 $927 billion was loaned to underdeveloped countries; but in the same time, these debtor countries paid $1345 billion to international banks in debt service. (1)
• Debtor countries began the 1990s 61% more in debt than they were in 1982. Sub-Saharan Africa's debt increased by 113% in this period. (2)
• According to the World Bank, poverty in Africa increased by 50% between 1994 and 2000. Why? One reason is that virtually every nation in sub-Saharan Africa entered into a structural adjustment program in the 1980s. Yet for the entire decade, GNP in the region fell by 2.2% per year, and per-capita income declined to pre-independence levels. All of Sub-Saharan Africa spends $10 billion a year in debt service to banks, more than is spent on health and education combined for the entire region. For example, Zimbabwe between 1990 and 1993 cut its spending on primary health and basic education by 33% under the auspices of an IMF imposed SAP. (3) It is against this background that we can begin to understand the wave of wars and ethnic violence that has swept Africa in the past period.
Former World Bank official, Morris Miller summed this up when he said "Not since the conquistadors plundered Latin America has the world experienced a [financial] flow in the direction we see today." (4)
Latin America owes more than one-third of its total economic output in a year to other countries and banks. In Haiti "the IMF and World Bank blocked the government from raising the minimum wage and then demanded the privatization of profitable public companies which generated revenue for desperately needed services. The IMF insisted that Haiti should cut government services by half, in spite of a national shortage of teachers and health care workers, a life expectancy of 49 years for men and 53 years for women, 45% literacy and infant mortality running at nearly 10%." (5)
Another case is Nicaragua. The IMF and World Bank cut off all loans following the Nicaruaguan revolution in 1979 because it threatened to spark revolutions throughout Central America. The new Sandinista regime, under the pressure of mass mobilizations, was forced to nationalize some corporations, and carry out reforms such as a massive literacy campaign, healthcare and cheap food that were in the interests of the peasants and workers. The US demanded successfully that the IMF and the World Bank raise the interest rates of Nicaragua's existing credits, insist on the immediate payment of the debt owed by the overthrown dictatorship, and refuse any new loans. The US, again through the IMF and World Bank, also arranged for Mexico to end all oil sales to Nicaragua. Besides economically isolating and strangling the new regime, the US attempted to overthrow it by funding and training the "Contra" guerilla army. After 12 years of civil war, a conservative government was elected to power in 1992. Immediately the IMF and World Bank engineered a massive SAP, which totally transformed the Nicaraguan economy. Lands occupied by peasants were given back to their former owners, nationalized industries were privatized, previously free health care and education were partially privatized and state workers were massively fired. Today the country's debt equals six times its GDP. 74% of the population lives in poverty. 60% are unemployed and 30% of children under five are malnourished.
Similarly catastrophic results from an IMF and World Bank engineered program of "shock therapy" can be seen in Russia. Since the fall of the USSR, the Russian economy has gone into free-fall. GDP has plummeted by 60% since 1991 - a collapse of a magnitude historically unprecedented in absence of war or natural disaster. By contrast, the US economy contracted by a mere 25% during the Great Depression. A recent UN report notes "Using a poverty line of $4 a day (in 1990 purchasing power parity dollars), the UNDP [United Nations Development Program] estimates that poverty in Eastern Europe and the CIS countries increased from 4 percent of the population in 1988 to 32 percent in 1994, or from 13.6 million to 119.2 million."
Globalizing trends have led to a grotesque increase in inequality, both internationally and within national states. The wealth of the world's 15 richest people now exceeds the total GDP of sub-Saharan Africa. The 225 biggest fortunes in the world, mostly concentrated in the US, total more than $1 trillion, the equivalent of the annual income of 47% of the poorest of the world's population, or 2.5 billion people. These are obscene inequalities and they are becoming worse every day. The world's 100 biggest companies now control 70% of the world's trade. Any one of them sells more than any of the poorest 120 countries in the world export, while 23 of the most powerful sell more than even semi-developed countries such as India, Brazil, Indonesia or Mexico.
On the basis of globalization, it is true, a tiny elite in the poorer countries has become much richer. The majority of people, however, have become poorer, and much more threatened by calamities such as floods, famines, and especially war, with over 60 separate armed conflicts during the 1990s, claiming hundreds of thousands dead and creating more than 17 million refugees.
We should not forget, moreover, that globalization has also led to a polarization within the advanced capitalist countries, especially within the US, the most powerful. A huge section of the population, especially immigrants and people of color, live and work under Third World conditions. Forty-five million people in the US live below the poverty line, while over 40% have no health insurance.
These destructive effects of neo-liberal globalization are not merely excesses of capitalism, or just a particular, accidental mutation. They reflect the fundamental, essential character of capitalism in this period. Since the end of the long post-war boom in the mid-1970s, the world economy has entered into a period of crisis and stagnation, as the level of economic growth has declined around the world. During the post-war period, the ever-growing economic "pie" created the basis for capitalists to have high profits while allowing workers to receive higher wages and benefits. The crisis in the world economy since the 1970s means that the only way capitalists can maintain their rates of profit has been a redistribution of wealth, through an attack on workers. The fundamental program of neo-liberalism for the entire 1980s and 90s has been busting unions, lowering wages, and dismantling the welfare state. This basic program has been carried out in every country around the world, regardless of which political party has state power. This suggests that neo-liberalism is no mere accident. It is the inevitable, inescapable logic of the world economy in this period. For big business to remain competitive in this period of capitalist crisis, there must be a relentless drive to lower workers wages and living conditions.
But what about the 1990s boom in the US economy? Media pundits glow in adulation at the marvels of the "new economy". The real position of the US economy, however is quite unsound. In fact, the growth of the US economy has not been that spectacular when compared to previous upswings. During the 1961-69 expansion the GDP grew by 52%, while it has only grown by 30% throughout the 1990s. The upturn has been fueled by massive growth in the stock market and by consumer debt. Stock market growth has been based on a speculative frenzy, leading to a massively inflated bubble that is waiting to burst. Consumer spending has been a crucial ingredient in the economy's success, but this has been only financed with massive consumer debt, which reached $1.38 trillion last November, up 79% from 10 years ago. As a result, non-business bankruptcies have increased by 60% between 1991 and 1998.
Despite the boom, real wages have barely grown since 1989. This demonstrates the hollow and parasitic nature of the US upswing, which has been based on increasing exploitation of workers rather than on an organic expansion based on increases in production. Income inequality is at its highest since the 1930s. Serious strategists of big business agree that not all is rosy. Business Week's economics editor Michael Mandel recently warned, "Sooner, rather than later, the New Economy boom is likely to be followed by a New Economy bust-a recession and stock market decline that could be much deeper than most people expect."
The 1997-98 Asian crisis marked the beginning of a major world downturn in the economy, plunging 40% of the world into the worst recession since WW II. So far, the US and Europe have remained immune from the "Asian flu." But it is only a matter of time until the US and European economies sink into a recession. Paradoxically, the Asian crisis temporarily strengthened the US economy. With billions of dollars of speculative capital fleeing Asia, most of it ended up settling in the US stock market, pushing Wall Street up. This only further fueled the US expansion. The entire world economy is now perched in a extremely precarious position - resting completely on the US bubble economy, which in turn rests upon the Wall Street bubble. It is only a matter of time before these bubbles will burst, and the US, Europe, and the rest of the world economy will shoot into a sharp slump and crisis.
The IMF and World Bank are tools of big business, particularly US business. They are not "deviant" or "evil" institutions. Their policy is not formulated independently as if they were in a vacuum. Rather, their policies are a manifestation of the underlying logic of neo-liberalism and the objective trends and tendencies rooted in the current phase of capitalism. It is global capitalism that compels all the world's governments, the IMF, and World Bank to implement the neo-liberal program. The IMF and World Bank are not the problem. They are a bureaucratic metaphor, an expression of the real enemy: capitalism.
Colonialism: Old and New
"Better, sometimes to have multilateral agencies ... prepare the path for direct Western corporate investments than for the U.S. to dictate to foreign governments." -Baltimore Sun, June 18, 1981
After World War Two, mass movements of millions for national independence and self-determination threw the colonial powers out. But imperialism has not disappeared -- it has just changed its spots. The former colonial world has won formal independence, but real political and economic policy is still dictated from the imperialists and big business. As Jesse Jackson said at a conference of African nations: "They used to use the bullet or the rope ... now they use the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund." (6) Today imperialist domination is economic, maintained by control of the world market, the power of the multinationals, international financial institutions and backed up with immense military might. If necessary, imperialism will directly militarily intervene in defense of its markets. Today, socialists would use the term "semi-colonial" countries to express the contradictory character of these nations-formally independent yet economically controlled by imperialism. With fantastic technology, large-scale industry, and enormous financial powers these companies and the main capitalist governments control the fate of the world. They reserve the right to plunge parts of the world into war for the sake of maintaining their power and profits. For example, the USA bombed Iraq "back to the Stone Age" in 1991 for the sake of oil profits. As a senior American official remarked candidly at the time "If Kuwait grew carrots, we wouldn't give a damn." (7)
The big powers use the IMF, World Bank and WTO to reinforce the underlying trends and processes already latent in the world economy, which are the most favorable to the profitable operation of their nation's capitalists. The IMF and World Bank are used as one (extremely effective) tool of imperialism to continue running and controlling the economic and political policy of the semi-colonial world. SAPs are essentially a form of political blackmail with which Washington DC dictates to semi-colonial countries.
Since the multinational companies are based in the West, and since they have already dominated their own national markets, the main thrust of "neo-liberalism" has been to open up markets in the "under-developed" world. Then, the multinational corporations can sell their products at a cheaper rate than can local businesses and take over their economies. Neo-liberal cuts are engineered to destroy all subsidies for the production of domestic goods, aid for domestic farmers, and programs to foster domestic small businesses. Neo-liberalism (free trade) has been an absolute disaster for the peoples of the poorer countries. Under the guise of free trade, corporations have robbed the wealth of these countries and stored it in the vaults of the major banks of the West. This economic super-domination of these countries is merely a less overt version of the directly racist colonialism of the past.
Nominally, the IMF and World Bank are international organizations whose policy is set by all 182 member countries. In reality, they are used as tools to further the interests of the big capitalist powers, with the US having the dominant position. Every head of the World Bank has been a US citizen, chosen by the president of the United States. It is totally impossible that the IMF or World Bank could make any major decision without the consent of Washington. Even the New York Times let slip that the "[IMF] acts as the lap dog of the U.S. Treasury." (8)
The following incident illustrates clearly the real relationship of power between the US and the IMF and World Bank. "[When] South Korea slipped within days of running out of hard currency to pay its debts...it sent a secret envoy, Kim Kihwan, to work out a rescue package. 'I didn't bother going to the IMF,' Mr. Kim recalled recently, 'I called Mr. Summers' office in Washington [of United States Treasury] and went directly there. I knew that was how this would get done.'" (9) The resulting bailout package was, not surprisingly, quite favorable for US businesses. The deal opened up the South Korean economy to be bought out at bargain prices mainly by US investors. The Economist commented that the IMF "has become an adjunct of America's foreign policy" and "the fund's secret purpose is to open the doors for American business". (10)
1 Timothy Gorringe, Fair Shares: Ethics and the Global Economy, (London: Thames and Hudson, 1999), pp. 66-67.
3 Martin Cook and Bill Hopwood, Global Warning: Socialism and the Environment, (London: Militant Publications, 1996), p.91- 92
4 Timothy Gorringe, Fair Shares: Ethics and the Global Economy, pp. 66-67
5 Trim Bissell and Robert Weissman, ed. False Profits: Who Wins, Who Loses When the IMF, World Bank and WTO Come to Town?, (Campaign for Labor Rights: US: Feb. 2000), p.2
6 Global Warning, p. 32
7 Global Warning, p. 33
8 New York Times, October 2, 1998
9 Quoted in McQuillan and Montgomery, The International Monetary Fund, Financial Medic to the World, p. 23.
10 The Economist, December 13, 1997.
(MAILING LIST) Privatisations under probe by the Sata governmentPrivatisations under probe by the Sata government:
ROAN ANTELOPE MINING CORPORATION:
Following relentless pressure from the IMF and World Bank, the Chiluba government (including minister
Sata) agreed to privatise Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM), starting in 1997 with the Luanshya and Baluba Mines (and the Mulyashi green-field project) in Luanshya. The Zambia Privatisation Agency recommended selling the mine to First Quantum Minerals, current owner of Kansanshi Copper-Gold Mine, but Chiluba overrode the agency, instead selling the mine for USD 35 million to Roan Antelope Mining Corporation (RAMCOZ) owned by the Binani Group of India.
RAMCOZ struggled from the beginning, but the government refused to take responsibility for the failed privatisation, which had massive social implications in a town that owes its existence to the mine. The government even intervened on behalf of Binani whenever creditors threatened to discontinue business with the mine.
Eventually, in 2001, ZANACO Bank placed RAMCOZ under receivership with massive debts and leaving thousands of workers jobless. The appointed receiver was Hichilema’s Grant Thornton. In 2004, J&W Investments, a subsidiary of Enya Holdings of Switzerland, took over 85% of the RAMCOZ assets as the Luanshya Copper Mines (LCM) at about USD 7.5 million. ZCCM Investment Holdings acquired a 15% shareholding in the venture. In 2008, in
the face of falling copper prices, Enya placed LCM under care and maintenance, having accrued a USD 20 million debt to third-party creditors such as Zambia Revenue Authority, Copperbelt Energy Corporation and contractors. In 2009, Enya’s stake in LCM was sold to China Nonferrous Metals Mining Group for USD 50 million.
The Chinese expect to increase copper output at LCM to 120,000 tonnes per year, up from 23,750 tonnes in 1999 under RAMCOZ. THE INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL in Livingstone was sold on competitive
tender to Sun international of South Africa for USD 6.5 Million in 1998. The purchase included leasehold rights to Rainbow Lodge. Grant Thornton’s role was not immediately obvious, but Sata has queried why Hichilema chaired the board of Sun International (Zambia) until 2006.
LIMA BANK: In 1987, the two government institutions, the Agricultural Finance Company and the Zambia Agricultural Development Bank were merged to create Lima Bank. Like its predecessors, Lima’s main purpose was to provide small-scale farmers with short-term loans. However, the bank experienced problems from the start. It had inherited a large non-performing loan portfolio and liquidity problems caused by poor loan recoveries, inadequate government funding and political interference. The bank suffered from the borrowing attitudes of small-scale farmers, who saw a loan from the government as a grant – which did not have to be repaid in drought years. LIMA Bank was liquidated by the Chiluba government in February 1997 – with Grant Thornton as appointed
liquidator. KAGEM MINING LIMITED was started in 1984 as a joint venture between an Indian-Israeli cooperative
Hagura Mining (45%) and a Government company, Reserved Minerals Corporation (55%). In 1998, government offered Hagura an option to buy a further 42% of Kagem at USD 1.8 million – but later reversed on its decision to sell. As a result, Hagura took government to court, and the two parties settled the matter out of court:
Hagura agreed to buy 30% of Kagem at USD 3.6 million. Hagura now owns 75% of Kagem and the government 25%. Grant Thornton was involved in the valuation of Kagem. Zambia National Commercial Bank (ZANACO) was formed by the government in 1969. The government had tried to partly privatise ZANACO for years, going back to 2001, when the bank made a net loss of just over K 65 billion (about USD 18 million) due to bad debts. Its initial offer of selling a 35% stake attracted little interest, but in 2007, the Mwanawasa government concluded
the sale of 49% of ZANACO to Rabobank of the Netherlands for USD 8.25 million (criticised for being low by Sata). ZANACO’s net assets as at 31 December 2004 stood at USD 20.5 million.
FINANCE BANK: In December 2010, the Bank of Zambia took over Finance Bank because it violated the Banking and Financial Services Act – although critics said the takeover was orchestrated by the Banda government’s wish to neutralise the bank’s founder Rajan Mahtani. In September 2011, the bank was sold to First National Bank at K 27 billion. In October 2011, President Sata handed the bank back to Mahtani. Critics said the reversal of the sale was inspired by Mahtani’s financial support of Sata. Mahtani is involved in several court cases in relation to Finance Bank, but last week, the State discontinued one case where Mahtani was charged with money laundering and acquiring beneficial interest in voting shares of Finance Bank, and this week, the State entered a nolle prosequi in a matter where Mahatani was charged with obtaining credit by It is official – the government has decided to reverse the sale of Zamtel . At the beginning of the week Justice Minister Sebastian Zulu said a reversal would depend on the outcome of negotiations with LAP GreenN. Later in the week, however, Zulu clarified that “[w]e are taking back the shares, and if there will be any negotiation, it will be to determine whether LAP GreenN deserve any compensation or not”. The Banda government sold 75% of Zamtel to LAP GreenN of Libya for USD 257 million in 2010. After assuming office, President Sata appointed a commission of inquiry to look into the sale. In November 2011, the commission deemed the sale “irregular, illegal and fraudulent” – and this week, Sata ordered that the commission’s report should be made public to “insulate our people against blatant lies”, directing that an express copy should be sent to the Libyans “who have dirty money and dirty hands”.
Main findings of the 112-page report:
RP Capital of Cayman Islands was “arbitrarily” appointed in 2008 to evaluate Zamtel by then Minister of Communications and Transport Dora Siliya – despite the Attorney General recommending a tender. When a tribunal found she had breached the Constitution, Siliya resigned, but the High Court ruled that the tribunal had “acted excessively”, and Siliya was appointed Education Minister. Siliya submitted that RP Capital had been recommended by ministry officials, but the commission said the ministry “contradicts Ms Siliya’s statement”.
It is said that President Banda’s son, Henry, who has gone AWOL in South Africa, introduced Siliya to RP Capital. The Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) team was not independent as required by law showed “gross negligence” (the ZDA has not commented). RP Capital controlled the privatisation process, as the committee uncovered numerous emails from RP
Capital issuing directives to high-ranking government, ZDA and Zamtel officials, including drafting ministerial and even presidential speeches and letters (such as a letter from president Banda to Chinese president Hu Jintao to ask for support in obtaining a loan to acquire the government’s share in Zamtel - see below).
Zamtel was “grossly undervalued” at USD 38 million despite having a book value for fixed assets of USD 81 million and a much greater market value (estimated by RP Capital itself at about USD 5 billion in two years). Regardless, Zamtel was sold for USD 257 million – disregarding that other companies such as Unitel of Angola (rumoured to be lined up by Sata to take over a repossessed Zamtel) had offered double the money and agreed to retain 60% of the staff. LAP GreenN, which failed all three of the mandatory pre-qualification criteria, retained 30% of Zamtel’s workers. Chairman of Vodacom Zambia Enoch Kavindele said Zamtel should have been sold for USD 3 billion, pointing out that Vodafone of the UK in 2008 paid USD 900 million for a 70% stake in Ghana Telecom with slimmer growth prospects than Zamtel.
The MMD government paid USD 334.4 million as “tax shares and subscription” for its 25% stake in Zamtel (which it owned), while LAP GreenN paid USD 257 million for its 75% - of which the government was entitled to USD 42.6 million. To date, the government has only received a cash sum of USD 15 million – while RP Capital has received USD 12.6 million as its 5% fee of the sales price. The transaction was structured in a “deliberately complicated” and “ridiculous manner” to let LAP GreenN take over Zamtel as a debt-free company with USD 64 million in its bank account paid by the Zambian government (equivalent to the privatised company’s capital expenditure for its first year of operation). The contract for the sale of Zamtel between the government and LAP GreenN was prepared before the negotiation process was complete as “it is inconceivable that a contract of this magnitude could have been prepared, approved and executed and copy forwarded from the Zambia Public Procurement (ZPPA) all in the course of one morning”.
Former Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane called Sata’s allegations “un-researched pronouncements”.
He queried the independency of the commission, arguing that it consisted of politicians: Since they are “fully aware” of the president having pronounced that the sale was fraudulent, “it cannot surprise anyone that their report had to follow the same line of thinking or else they would have been sacked from their jobs”.
Musokotwane pointed out that the final price for Zamtel was higher than the value set by RP Capital – and challenged the PF government to refute the findings of a 2011 audit report by Ernest & Young, “which found Zamtel to be insolvent with enormous and unsustainable debt against few obsolete assets”. In 2009, Zamtel made a loss of more than USD 30 million, spending more than 50% of its revenue on salaries, while Airtel and MTN spent less than 25% on the same (analysts cautioned against direct comparisons as Zamtel offered three services: Landline, mobile phone and internet). Musokotwane further alleged that all of the USD 257 million had been received by Zambia and used to pay workers and clear Zamtel’s large debts. In 2010, the MMD government reported that the USD 257 million was broken down into USD 117.7 million to employee benefits and liabilities, USD 64 million directly injected into Zamtel, USD 32.7 million to settle external liabilities and USD 42.6 million to the Zambian treasury. Musokotwane pointed out that the price was the best ever received for a parastatal company in Zambia: According to the MMD, LAP GreenN’s total commitment came to almost USD 400 million including money pledged for network expansion and government guarantees. The gross value raised from the 262 privatisation before Zamtel was USD 433 million.
Initially, LAP GreenN stated it would “do everything possible to retain our stake in Zamtel”. Then it said it would “welcome any opportunity to work with the government to secure a swift and positive outcome that benefits both Zambia and Zamtel”. By the end of the week, it went quiet. It was reported that LAP GreenN chairman Wafik Alshater was due in Zambia to seek an audience with the government, but Justice Minister Zulu said he would not meet Alshater – “not for the time being anyway”.
The commission’s small concession:
The commission did recommend that a “thorough and comprehensive” forensic audit of the sale should be instituted (Daily Nation 13, Post 13-16, Daily Mail 13-17 and Times 15-17).
TIME PUBLISHED - Thursday, January 19, 2012, 8:00 pm
LAP Green Network Chairman Wafik Alshater has described as completely baseless accusations that Zamtel was undervalued at the point of sale. Mr Alshater in an electronic statement released to QFM has also dismissed allegations of wrong-doing by LAP Green during the acquisition of the 75 percent stake in Zamtel.
Mr Alshater claimed that LAP Green followed due, facilitated by a consortium of internationally renowned professional service companies, including Standard Bank, Denton Wilde Sapte and KPMG South Africa.
He said that the open and competitive bid process was overseen by the Zambia Development Agency and included the direct involvement of the Attorney General and international legal advisers, Simmons and Simmons.
Mr Alshater added that the 75% stake sold to LAP Green in June 2010 for $257 million about K1.37 trillion constituted the highest amount ever paid for a privatized company in Zambia and was at the time one of the higher valuations for a telecoms asset in Africa
He said that Zamtel is a successful turnaround story and that LAP Green remains keen to cooperate with the Zambian government to ensure the continued growth and success of the company.
And Mr Alshater has accused the media in Zambia of subjecting LAP Green to a concerted campaign of misinformation.
He said that the willful misrepresentation of LAP Green has forced the company to explore legal options to protect its reputation.
By Mwala Kalaluka
Fri 20 Jan. 2012, 14:00 CAT
FORMER Republican vice-president George Kunda was on Wednesday summoned to appear before a combined investigative team probing the plunder of national resources in Rupiah Banda's regime.
And Kunda appeared before the combined team of investigators from the Drug Enforcement Commission, Anti-Corruption Commission and Zambia Police yesterday afternoon for continued interrogation.
Investigative team spokesperson Charity Munganga Chanda and highly-placed sources also confirmed yesterday that former commerce minister Felix Mutati and Rupiah Banda's former economic advisor, Dr Richard Chembe were also summoned.
"They actually did appear in connection with cases that are under investigation but we will let you know the outcome of our investigations," Chanda said. "Right now we are still investigating."
Chanda said Kunda, the MMD's Muchinga member of parliament, first appeared at the former Task Force on Corruption offices in Lusaka's Woodlands area in the company of his lawyer Sunday Nkonde at 09:30 on Wednesday.
"Honourable Mutati at 14:30 and Dr Chembe today yesterday at 09:00 hours," Chanda said. "They were summoned to come and appear before us to help with investigations. Mutati, who is MMD Lunte MP, and Dr Chembe were accompanied by their lawyers, Lubinda Linyama of Eric Silwamba and Company, and Prof Patrick Mvunga, respectively.
And Chanda later yesterday confirmed that Kunda was back before the combined investigating team for continued questioning.
When asked to explain his summoning and after being questioned for over three hours yesterday, Kunda said: "No, nothing. We were just discussing matters of mutual interest."
Highly-placed sources said several people had been lined up to appear before the investigative team in the coming few days and that there were discussions to review some of the charges slapped on those former government leaders that had already appeared before the team.
Recently, the combined team of investigators summoned former first lady Thandiwe Banda to appear before it on February 3, 2012 in connection with money belonging to the Mpundu Trust and some luxury villas under construction on Lusaka's Leopard Hill road.
So far former education minister, Dora Siliya and former Zambia Revenue Authority ZRA Commissioner General Wisdom Nhekairo have been warned and cautioned over issues under investigation by the team.
By Ernest Chanda
Fri 20 Jan. 2012, 13:59 CAT
LUSAKA lawyer John Sangwa says the Judiciary has failed the people of Zambia. And Sangwa has observed that there is corruption in the Judiciary. Supporting the Law Association of Zambia's call for immediate judicial reforms, Sangwa said the people in charge of the institution could not be expected to carry out any meaningful reforms.
Sangwa in 2010 petitioned the legality of Chief Justice Ernest Sakala and late High Court judge Peter Chitengi's continued stay in office after surpassing their retirement age as stipulated in Article 98 (1) of the Republican Constitution.
After the High Court ruled against him, Sangwa appealed to the Supreme where the matter has stalled ever since.
"…that they have not reformed, that they have not done any changes, it is a failure on the part of the Judiciary. And for that reason the people that are there now in charge cannot preside over any meaningful reforms; because the fact that they have not made any changes it means they're happy with the situation," Sangwa said in an interview yesterday.
"So asking them to reform is like asking them to kill themselves. They can't, how can you kill yourself? Reform will only be carried out when you put new people with clear vision, clear sense of direction, younger in age, more energetic, forward looking. None of the judges there in the Supreme Court possess those qualities. The Judiciary needs a radical transformation."
Sangwa called for serious renewal of leadership in the Judiciary.
He said it would be difficult to carry out reforms with the same people in high offices of the institution.
"There has been renewal of the executive branch of government, there has been renewal of the Legislature, so you also need renewal of the Judiciary. You need new people there, not just for the sake of it; because they're not performing. In any other institution you don't perform, they fire you," he said.
"So the Judiciary has problems: some are institutional, some are genuine, some have been brought about by factors beyond the control of the judicial offices. Some of the problems that they face are self-inflicted; they are caused by them. The reason why there has to be a change is that the Judiciary itself should have taken the initiative to make changes internally."
He said the Judiciary should not have waited for people to call for reforms.
Sangwa said the institution should be conducting constant reforms to avoid reaching low levels of public trust like now.
"The Judiciary does not exist… it's not like you have a picture. If I've a nice picture on the wall, it is there for me to admire, it's there to please my senses. But the Judiciary is not like a picture, it's an institution that is designed to perform certain functions. Therefore as an institution it has to constantly renew itself and ask, are we still relevant?," he asked.
"Are we performing our functions? It doesn't require outsiders to begin to call for changes, no it shouldn't. The fact that outsiders are now calling for changes it means that they've failed; because if everything was fine with the Judiciary, the people would not be calling for change. The Judiciary itself should be able to find a way of renewing itself, and changing and making itself relevant and current and responding to the needs and challenges that the country faces."
He said the question of money should not arise because judicial officers were among the best paid public workers.
Sangwa said there had never been a time when the government had failed to pay judicial officers.
And Sangwa said the Judiciary was insulated from public scrutiny, making the institution none transparent.
He said the public should demand greater accountability from the Judiciary and know conditions surrounding judges' appointments.
"Judges cannot be removed unless the President decides to do so. If he doesn't they'll go on serving until they reach their 65 years. And if they're lucky they‘re given seven more years. So the whole process of appointing the judges is outside the control of the people; the people don't control that process," he said.
"The Chief Justice is appointed by the President alone, the judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the President alone, subject to ratification by the National Assembly. But when you have a National Assembly controlled by the President's party, all the National Assembly does is simply to rubber stamp. So even when a judge misbehaves, unless the President decides to appoint a tribunal to investigate that removal, there's nothing you can do."
Sangwa said if the other two arms of government could be questioned, the Judiciary should also be scruitnised.
He said there should be a system where the public could have a say in the appointment of judges and the Chief Justice.
Sangwa said if the people could remove a president and member of parliament from office after a certain period, they should also be allowed to remove a non-performing judge or Chief Justice.
"To make up for that, the Judiciary on its own must put in measures to ensure that it is transparent and accountable to the people. It shouldn't react only when people scream, no! It should keep its doors open and constantly subject itself to criticism because that's the only way," he said.
"They are completely insulated, but the President, members of the National Assembly they are not insulated. We may have a problem with them, we'll simply say we'll wait, come five years we sort them out. But people don't have control over the Chief Justice and judges of the Supreme Court. So for that reason you need greater accountability and transparency."
Asked for suggestions to judicial reforms, Sangwa said: "First of all the mode of appointment should not be a secret process. The National Assembly should be able to hold public hearings when a judge is about to be appointed, especially when you are appointing a judge of the Supreme Court. There has to be a public hearing, and the members of the general public should be allowed to come forward and testify why a particular person should be Chief Justice or should be a judge of the Supreme Court or should not be a judge of the Supreme Court; that is one way that will help."
Sangwa further called for judicial activism to enhance the reforms.
He said the Judiciary had to be seen to be performing.
"You need judicial activism, the Judiciary should be active. They cannot only move when they're moved, no. They should be able to take certain steps to respond to the needs and challenges that the people are facing," he said
And Sangwa said appointing judges on contract was unconstitutional.
He said it was one of the issues he challenged in the Supreme Court two years ago.
"There's no provision in the Constitution for a judge to serve on contract. And even if there was such a provision the idea of having such a judge on contract is not consistent with the idea of an independent judiciary," he said.
"So if you want an independent Judiciary you cannot have judges on contract, which contract is struck in the backroom between that particular judge and the President. You can't have such an arrangement. So there are two ways in terms of the future: either you allow judges to serve up to 65 and go, or to serve for life in order to secure security of tenure. Allow them to serve up to 65, but of course making sure that by the time they reach 65 their cases will have finished, then they go."
Sangwa said putting judges on contract compromised their independence.
He said the President should not be allowed to put any judges on contract.
"Such practices undermine the independence of the Judiciary, because what happens is that if a judge wants to stay beyond 65 he'll start passing judgments that are favourable to the executive; he's seen as a good boy. So it undermines their independence," Sangwa said.
And Sangwa said the Judiciary could not claim to be free from corruption when the same affected the other two arms of government.
"And there's corruption within the Judiciary; corruption exists. How can you say there's corruption in the Executive, there's corruption in the Legislature, and how can you say that the Judiciary is immune from corruption? It's not; they're all affected," said Sangwa.
"It's like a house, you live in a flat. There are several flats, you think there can be cockroaches in your neighbour's flat and then the cockroaches will skip your flat? Obviously it will be infested. Having said that we still have very good fine judges who are hard working, who have taken their jobs very seriously. But these are very few."
In a letter dated January 11, 2012 to justice minister Sebastian Zulu, LAZ president James Banda called for immediate reforms in the Judiciary.
Banda further called for a new leadership to carry out the reforms properly.
By Maluba Jere and Namatama Mundia
Fri 20 Jan. 2012, 13:58 CAT
A WITNESS yesterday testified that Austin Liato threatened to kill him and two other farm workers because Liato thought they informed police about the K2.1 billion buried at his farm.
And a heavy presence of armed police officers, seemingly fearing a court heist, yesterday brought business at the Magistrates' Court to a standstill when they surrounded the magistrates' complex as the trunks containing the K2.1 billion were hauled to court as exhibit.
Paul Lumano Kayando, a former worker at Liato's Mwembeshi Farm now residing at Lilayi Police College, told principal resident magistrate Aridah Chulu that after a combined team of police officers unearthed money from Liato's farm, the former labour minister accused his workers of being crooks and said that they would die.
He said when Liato threatened to kill him as well as his co-workers, they told him to go and kill President Michael Sata first because he was the one who sent the police officers to unearth money from his farm.
This is in a matter where Liato is charged with possession of property suspected of being proceeds of crime contrary to Section 71(1) of the forfeiture of proceeds of crime Act number 19 of 2010 of the Laws of Zambia.
It is alleged that Liato on November 24, 2011 in Lusaka, possessed and concealed money at his farm number L/Mpamba/44 Mwembeshi amounting to K2.1 billion reasonably suspected of being proceeds of crime.
During examination in chief led by Director of Public Prosecutions Mutembo Nchito, Kayando said he started working at Liato's farm on January 27, 2011 and that there was one big house, another house for the workers, a garage, a bathroom, a toilet and a small house.
He, however, said other structures at the farm were built just after the last general elections but that he could not recall the exact date.
Kayando said he was not at the farm when the structures in question were built as he had travelled to Kaoma for a bereavement.
He said when he returned from Kaoma, he found a new structure, which he said was not opened.
Kayando testified that the chalet in issue was round with big windows and that it had a lock with an alarm system.
"When I asked Liato what the house was for, he told me he wanted to be using it for roasting meat and when I peeped inside I saw nothing," he said.
Kayando narrated that on November 24 around 13:00 hours, police officers went to the farm and ordered the workers to be in one place and not move around.
He said when he and the other workers asked who the men were, they were told that they were police officers who were looking for something at the farm as they had been sent by the President.
"They said they would conduct searches starting with our houses but before searching us, they asked us to search them. They put their phones down and we searched them," Kayando said.
"After we searched them, they also searched us. They told us that among them there was a group from Drug Enforcement Commission and that if they found anyone of us with dagga, they would arrest us."
He added that the police asked the workers if there were any new houses built and whether we were around when the same were built.
Kayando said the police officers told the workers to go and show them the new house and that he and his co-workers told the officers that they knew nothing about the new house.
"They went and checked what was in the garage and then they took us to the chalet where they started taking pictures of the chalet. We phoned Mr. Liato that he should come because police had entered his land and he told us that we should leave them to do whatever they wanted," said Kayando.
"They took pictures of the house outside and one of the police officers went back to their car and got a shovel and a pick."
He said the locks to the chalet had an alarm which would go off when touched saying he and the other workers used to hear the alarm go off most of the time because goats usually go near the house.
"It was a grill door and small goats would go in then the alarm on the door would go off," Kayando said.
"We never discussed this with Liato. He told us the keys were with the younger brother. Things changed when they made a chalet and the garage. Before I went to Kaoma, I am the one who used to keep the keys but when I was going to Kaoma, Liato got the keys. So, when we told the police we did not have the keys to the chalet, the police broke the gate."
He further testified that when police entered the chalet, they started knocking the ground and it sounded like there was a hole in the ground.
Kayando told the court that he was not feeling well so the police asked two of his co-workers to dig the ground inside the chalet.
He said after the ground was dug, police officers called him and his friends and asked them what they were seeing.
"They police peeped inside and I also peeped. I saw two trunks, they got two trunks from the hole, Kayando said.
"They were big black metal trunks and they removed them out of the chalet. They told us they were going to open the trunks so we could all see what was inside. They opened one and found a small safe deposit box.
"They opened the trunk by hitting the locks with an iron bar. The safe looked like it had a remote. The police tried to open it but they failed so they got the iron bars and started hitting the safe on the sides and that is when it opened. They found that there was money inside."
Asked what he did when police asked him and his colleagues when the police discovered the money, Kayando caused laughter not only to the people in the packed court room but Liato himself when he said "vinatibaba kumutima maningi kaili ma salary yamene tenze kutenga yenze yangongo." (It pained us a lot because the salaries we were getting were too meagre.)
He said police opened two safe deposit boxes in two trunks and that the safe deposit boxes contained K50,000 and K20,000 notes.
Kayando added that police then put all the money back in the trunks and asked Liato's workers to carry them to the car.
At that point, Nchito applied to have the matter stood down for a few minutes so that the money in question could be brought for identification purposes.
Heavily armed plain-clothed and uniformed police officers sealed off the area from the magistrates' complex car park and passage leading to Court five with no one allowed to pass as the money was being hauled to the court room.
By Kombe Chimpinde
Fri 20 Jan. 2012, 13:57 CAT
VERNON Mwaanga cannot add any value to the PF government or party because he has a bad reputation, says Wynter Kabimba. Responding to Mwaanga's statement that he was willing to serve in the PF government if called upon, PF secretary general Kabimba said PF would not tolerate the likes of Mwaanga because he had a reputation of a gold digger and came from a party many Zambians had perceived to be corrupt.
Kabimba poured scorn on Mwaanga saying the former MMD chief whip was not what he was claiming to be.
"He does not have a good reputation, he may not be adding value to the PF where the general perception of people is that he has been helping the MMD rig elections," Kabimba said.
"There are people as old as VJ that are certainly better than VJ in advancing the development of this country. What VJ has tried is to feed on each and every government that comes into power because he is incapable of looking after himself as an individual."
Kabimba challenged Mwaanga to demonstrate to Zambians if he was able to survive on private business while in the opposition MMD.
"He has failed, let him see what he can do in private life and I am challenging him that if he is intelligent as he claims , let him go and organise a private business and live in the opposition for 20 years plus like some of us have done," teased Kabimba.
He said the PF would not tolerate manoeuvers for Mwaanga to solicit a job from President Michael Sata.
"There are others that are better than him that can contribute to this nation. We do not want him to start patronising the PF government. We will ask him when we need him. He does not have to scream to the nation about serving in the PF government," Kabimba said.
"Asking for a job is what he has always done in the past. He is indirectly applying for a job through the media now. The fact that he has served in these other governments does not mean since he served all the governments, he is the only person who is better qualified in all ways. What is VJ's academic qualification? He has a certificate in international relations. That is his only qualification so what makes him better than everyone else?
Mwaanga claims to be an election strategist, MMD lost, why did they lose if he is the best organiser. It shows you there are people around now that are better than him in terms of even organising and strategising elections," he said.
On claims that he had a corruption-free record, Kabimba doubted Mwaanga's claims.
"He can't be the only one clean especially if the government he was serving was corrupt. How can he be the only one who is clean in a government of corrupt people? Chiluba was corrupt but he was clean, RB's regime was corrupt but he was clean, it can't be true. He is not talking to small children. The fact that you haven't been caught as a thief does not mean you are clean."
Vernon Mwaanga recently stated that he was willing to work in the PF government if called upon.
Mwaanga who has served in all four past governments said in an interview that he considered national interest above personal ones.
By Kombe Chimpinde, Bright Mukwasa and Joan Chirwa-Ngoma
Fri 20 Jan. 2012, 13:56 CAT
ZAMTEL management has instructed its staff countrywide not to bank the company's daily collections, sources have revealed.
And the Zamtel Commission of Inquiry says LAP GreenN must have been eliminated at the pre-qualification stage as it did not meet both the five-year minimum telecommunications operators requirement and the national telecommunications network licence requirement.
But LAP GreenN says it has been forced to explore legal options to protect its reputation following what it terms "willful misrepresentation" of the company.
The sources disclosed yesterday that Zamtel management circulated a memo over the decision not to bank money because of uncertainties on the future of the company.
"Managers have been meeting since Wednesday and there is a memo that we should not bank the money. We should instead put the money in safes. It's like accounts have been frozen by government," the source said.
According to sources, the government was seriously monitoring the financial accounts for Zamtel which was sold to LAP Green Networks by the MMD government.
Sources said the government was cognisant of manoeuvres by the firm to siphon its investments and externalise profits before government officially moves in.
"The issue of accounts is very sensitive. This is why government has been keeping the matter regarding what procedure it would use to take over the firm confidential. They (government) are avoiding all manoeuvres to siphon money," the sources said.
The source said that there was apprehension by the Libyan authorities since the revelation of the seizure of its 75 per cent stake, prompting government to strictly monitor the accounts of the firm.
"Government is currently busy monitoring all the accounts of the firm and the overall operations to avoid any such incidences," the sources said.
When contacted, Zamtel managing director Hans Poulsen claimed not to know anything.
"I don't know if it is, I don't know. I have no comment. I have confined myself. I don't have a comment right now," said Poulsen.
A report commissioned by President Michael Sata revealed Rupiah Banda's influence in abusing and circumventing set government institutions and procedures and that he aided RP Capital to ensure LAP Green Networks bought Zamtel despite not being fit to run the company.
The report issued by the Sebastian Zulu-led commission of inquiry further reveals that following review of the bid from LAP GreenN, the committee noted serious and critical anomalies in the qualification of LAP GreenN in the preliminary stage which ZDA, their lawyers and their transaction advisors deliberately ignored.
It stated that the public invitation announced on September 15, 2009 for invitation to prequalify for participation in Zamtel privatisation set out three mandatory criteria among them a minimum of five years operations in the industry, a minimum of 300,000 active subscribers in the telecommunications sector and a minimum of US$250 million or more in shareholders' equity.
"It is the considered opinion of this committee that LAP GreenN should have been eliminated at the prequalification stage as it did not meet both the five-year minimum telecommunications operator requirement and the national telecommunications network licence requirement to comply with the first criteria in the mandatory prequalification," stated the report.
"LAP GreenN had no subscribers attributable to itself, its holding company or its parent company. In order to attempt to satisfy this second criteria, LAP GreenN reiled on a percentage of subscribers proportionate to their shareholding in four separate companies in which LAP GreenN had equity interests namely Uganda Telecom of Uganda, Rwandatel of Rwanda, Oricel of Ivory Coast and Sonitel & Sahelcom of Niger."
The report stated that that was an absurd attempt at subscriber numbers engineering as, for example, any shareholder in a public telecommunications company could then lay claim on a number of subscribers proportionate to their shareholding.
The report observed that in any event, even the instructions contained in the prequalification form clearly stated that a lead member must be ‘capable of satisfying criteria one and two on its own'.
The report also revealed that LAP GreenN attempted to satisfy the minimum US$250 million or more in shareholders' equity criterion through its parent company and stated that the capital of the company was US$500 million.
It stated that, however, to satisfy that criterion, the prequalification form required that a sole applicant provides "a copy of the company's most recent, published accounts no older than for the accounting period including June 2008".
The report stated that LAP GreenN clearly had no audited accounts and also failed the third mandatory prequalification criteria.
The report stated that despite LAP GreenN having failed all the three of the mandatory prequalification criteria, they were allowed to proceed to the next stage of the bidding process.
But LAP GreenN chairman Wafik Alshater, in a statement released to The Post, claimed that the company was being subjected to a concerted campaign of misinformation via the Zambian media.
"LAP GreenN categorically rejects any allegations of wrong-doing during the acquisition of its 75 per cent stake in Zamtel. At all times LAP GreenN followed due process, facilitated by a consortium of internationally renowned professional service companies, including Standard Bank, Denton Wilde Sapte and KPMG South Africa.
The open and competitive bid process was overseen by the Zambian Development Agency and included the direct involvement of the Attorney General and international legal advisers, Simmons and Simmons," Alshater stated.
He further stated that accusations that Zamtel was undervalued at the point of sale were "completely baseless".
"The 75 per cent stake sold to LAP GreenN in June 2010 for $257 million (K1.37 trillion) constituted the highest amount ever paid for a privatisation in Zambia and was at the time one of the higher valuations for a telecoms asset in Africa," stated Alshater.
"Zamtel is a successful turnaround story and we remain very keen to cooperate with our partners in Zambia to ensure the continued growth and success of the company."
By Kabanda Chulu
Fri 20 Jan. 2012, 13:50 CAT
ZAMBIAN foreign missions under the MMD government grossly abused and mismanaged public funds and contributed over 80 per cent to the K814 billion excess expenditure cited by the latest report of the Auditor General.
The report stated that there were weaknesses in internal control, wastage in the use of resources, poor management of contracts, failure to follow tender procedures, abuse of imprests, delays in project completion, poor workmanship and non adherence to contract terms, among other irregularities.
The Auditor General's office has, however, not received any response from the foreign missions over the audit queries regarding their over-expenditure.
The excess expenditure for 2010 was too high compared to K87.2 billion in 2009 and K249.9 billion recorded in 2008, states the report.
According to the report of the Auditor General for financial year ended December 31, 2010, excess expenditure amounting to K814.2 billion was unconstitutional and would require approval from Parliament.
It stated that Ministry of Foreign Affairs headquarters was authorized to spend K10.9 billion but actual expenditure amounted to K13.9 billion while the Lubumbashi mission was provided K5 billion but spent K5.6 billion.
The Washington mission was provided K10.6 billion but spent K13 billion while the Lilongwe mission was provided K4.6 billion but spent K5.6 billion, with the Cairo mission getting K5.1 billion but spent K6.1 billion.
The Dar es Salaam mission was authorized to spend K7.4 billion but spent K7.5 billion while the Kinshasa mission got K6.5 billion but spent K7.1 billion. The Moscow mission was authorised to spend K8.4 billion but spent K9.9 billion.
The mission in Addis Ababa was authorized to spend K8.503 billion but spent K8.507 billion while the Gaborone mission spent K6.2 billion instead of K4.9 billion, with the Beijing mission spending K12.9 billion instead of K11.4 billion.
The mission in Stockholm spent K12.7 billion instead of K10.8 billion while in New Delhi K8.5 billion was spent instead of K6.2billion and in Maputo K4.3 billion was authorised but K5.1 billion was spent.
In Brussels, K12.3 billion was spent instead of the authorised K11.2 billion while the Luanda mission spent K6.9 billion instead of K6.4 billion with the Harare mission spending K7.3 billion instead of K5.8 billion.
The mission in Berlin spent K13.9 billion instead of K10.1billion with the Geneva mission spending K12.6 billion instead of the authorised K11.7 billion while the Pretoria mission spent K9.8 billion instead of K8.1 billion.
The Paris mission spent K8.8 billion instead of K8.4 billion while the Rome mission spent K11.1billion instead of K9.8 billion. The Tripoli mission spent K8.8 billion instead of K6.3 billion.
The Brasilia mission was authorised to spend K6.3billion but spent K9.2billion with the Accra mission spending K9.2 billion instead of the authorised K6 billion.
Other government departments that contributed to the excess expenditure include National Assembly which spent K185.5 billion instead of K185.3 billion while Ministry of Finance headquarters was authorised to spend K1.2 trillion but spent K1.5 trillion.
The Teaching Service Commission spent K2.7 billion instead of K2.5 billion.
By Mwala Kalaluka
Fri 20 Jan. 2012, 13:50 CAT
THE Commission of Inquiry probing the controversial procurement of cargo scanners for ZRA says excessive pressure could have been piled on responsible public officers to hastily engage Bradwell International to operate and maintain the border equipment.
The Kingsley Chanda-led Commission of Inquiry stated in its final report submitted to President Michael Sata that there were serious irregularities in the awarding of contracts to Cargo Scan and Bradwell International on the operationilisation of the border scanners.
The Commission recommended that the contracts in question be terminated as they were premised on a faulty Statutory Instrument SI.
"The Commission noted with concern the speed that characterised the engagement of Bradwell International to an extent where the Permanent Secretary - Budget and Economic Affairs, Mr Emmanuel Ngulube was edging the ZRA to implement an observed faulty SI," the report read.
"The Commission noted with great concern the manner in which the contract was signed at unofficial location of Pamodzi Hotel on Sunday the 8th May, 2011. This gives an impression that there could have been some excessive pressure on the officers both at the Ministry of Finance and National Planning and ZRA regarding the Bradwell contract."
The report further stated that at the time, the SI No. 101, signed by former Republican vice-president George Kunda, was put in place when both Parliament and Cabinet had been dissolved.
The Commission stated that it failed to understand as to why the MMD government could not wait for a month and half, after the general elections, to make legitimate decisions involving a full complement of the legislature and the executive.
"The Commission was surprised at the pace at which Bradwell International was contracted to operate and maintain scanners even though only one Nuctech scanner had been installed at Chirundu," the Commission observed.
"The Commission found it extremely unfair to the Zambian Government to get 15 per cent of the revenues from the scanners while Bradwell International who did not even own the scanners were to get 85 per cent. This sharing ratio neither reflected the level of investment nor the effort on the part of Bradwell International. Further, it made the repayment of the loan by the Zambian Government difficult."
The Commission stated that as a result of SI No. 101, the importers and exporters were made to pay K12.3 billion kwacha in 24 days out of which Bradwell International was to receive K10.4 billion while the Zambian Government through ZRA was to receive a paltry K1.9 billion as per sharing ratio.
"The Commission observed that the actual intent of the SI was hidden in its formulation. For instance the SI did not give an inclination that the fees raised would be channeled to Bradwell International, a private company, for the operations and maintenance of scanners. The SI appeared like any other government instrument for raising revenue for the development of the country," the report read in part.
"The Commission failed to understand why the SI No. 101 allowed for collection of an inspection fee even at ports of entry where scanners were not deployed. If this contract was necessary, under normal circumstances, Bradwell International was to be paid for operation and maintenance of scanners based on fees collected from ports with scanners and Bradwell International had its presence."
The Commission further recommended the need to revise all policies and pieces of legislation that deal with awarding of public contracts following what transpired at the Zambia Revenue Authority.
(GLOBALRESEARCH) IRAQ - Tariq Aziz - They Killed our Country - We are all Victims of Britain and AmericaIRAQ: Tariq Aziz: "They Killed our Country. We are all Victims of Britain and America"
by Felicity Arbuthnot
Global Research, January 12, 2012
"In the United States today, the Declaration of Independence hangs on schoolroom walls, but foreign policy follows Machiavelli." (Howard Zinn, 1922-2010.)
On 5th December, the first day of the solemn, predominantly Shi’a Muslim marking of Ashura - the martyrdom of Hussein, the Prophet’s Grand son in 680 AD - in a statement few of the main stream media thought worthy of mention, Saad Al Muttalibi, a Minister, ironically, at the Iraqi Ministry of National Dialogue and Reconciliation, announced another impending murder. Tariq Aziz, Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, under Saddam Hussein, would be executed as soon as the Americans left.
The US troops were due to leave by 31st., December, but remaining troops slunk out under cover of darkness – as did the British four years earlier - on 18th December. Another barbaric act representing the “New Iraq”, may well be imminent.
At a ceremony marking imminent US military retreat, at Baghdad Airport, on 15th December, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta acknowledged that: “We spilled a lot of blood here” ... to achieve … making the country sovereign and independent and able to secure itself.”
The independence of this now US client state, is as much as a myth as the security, since the occasion took place with America’s home-bound heroes cowering behind vast blast walls. Chairs reserved for the Prime Minister, President and others in Iraq’s Quisling government were empty. Perhaps they were too busy planning more celebratory post-departure blood spilling.
Tariq Aziz has to be top of the list. The fiercely patriotic, nationalistic reminder of an illegally overthrown government, which, whatever else, had put Iraq first and poured the country’s oil revenues in to health- care, education, clean water, modern infrastructure, turning a beautiful, but run down “third world” country in to a “near first world” one, to use the West’s patronizing patois.
Last year, Tariq Aziz gave his first interview(i) in his then, over seven years incarceration by the Americans. His insight was as astute as ever, as was his love, and despair, for his country.
"There is nothing here any more. Nothing. For thirty years Saddam built Iraq, and now it is destroyed. There are more sick than before, more hungry. The people don't have services. People are being killed every day in the tens, if not hundreds. We are all victims of America and Britain. They killed our country."
He talked of the Iraq, prior to the invasion, feeling vulnerable to Iran, the US and Britain. It was this feeling of vulnerability which led, for a long time to Iraq not saying categorically it had no weapons of mass destruction. Instead of those that threatened being uncertain if Iraq could retaliate, the country would be seen as the sitting duck they proved to be.
Further: "We are Arabs, we are Arab nationalists. We must be proud."
Aziz, knows the full extent of both Western and Iranian duplicity toward his country.
Prior to the invasion, this canny politician and diplomat opined that: “What the United States wanted, was not ‘regime change’ in Iraq, but rather ‘region change.’“ Recent years prove him chillingly correct.
He summed up the Bush Administration’s reason for war against Iraq tersely as: “Oil and Israel.”
With a Prime Minister and others with deep ties to Israel, Iran, and the largest US Embassy on earth representing many still seeking to cover the tracks of illegalities, lies and duplicity, no wonder whilst the West counted down to Christmas, this indomitable, frail, ill, incarcerated seventy four year old, was alone, trying to count how many days he has left on earth.
The terrible shadow of Saddam Hussein’s sickening death, in the Christmas season, just before the the West’s New Year dawned, also on the eve of the great Muslim Feast of Eid al Awda, must lie as terror across the hours.
A Christian, he is also reminder of the secular nature of the previous regime, in a country now riven with sectarian divides. “Divide and rule” played to murderous perfection. By 2006 half of Iraq’s Christians had fled the country fearing for their lives(ii), thousands more have fled since.
Last year, Aziz reached such a low ebb, he expressed to his lawyer simply a wish that the nightmare of incarceration, isolation, injustice, untreated illness was over with. Even his hope, indeed courage – as all the former regime, he swore he would never abandon Iraq and did not – faltered.(iii) Now he wants to spend his remaining time with the wife and family he has been parted from for nearly eight years. Ominously, this year he was denied a Christmas’phone call with them, for the first time.
In April 2003, he negotiated safe passage for his family with the invading US: “I told the Americans that if they took my family to Amman (in neighbouring Jordan) they could take me to prison. My family left on an American plane. And I went to prison on a Thursday." The weight of pain and guilt on the family can only be imagined.
"My father served his country for more than twenty two years. He delivered himself to the US Army (after the fall of Hussein) because he wasn't afraid. He didn't do anything wrong. He served his country," Aziz's daughter, Zainab Aziz, has said. "He has been wronged."
Forgotten or conveniently buried is that Tareq Aziz’s trials were entirely American affairs. The Judge who tried him and Saddam Hussein was “trained” by a legal team from Notre Dame University at South Bend, Indiana. Ironically, a Catholic University.
Unsurprisingly there were also highly political overtones. The Law Professor who led the training, Jimmy Gurule has served, among other public law enforcement positions, as: “point person in the hunt for financiers of terrorism in the wake of September 11th 2001, terrorist attacks on America”(iv) to which the US was so keen to attempt to link Iraq.
On September11th 2008, Nashville,Tennessee’s Vanderbilt University announced that the Iraqi Judge who convicted Saddam Hussein, Ra’id Juhi, was to join the US lawyers who created the Iraqi Special Tribunal, the kangaroo court responsible for his lynching.(v) “Vanderbilt law Professor Mike Newton played a pivotal role in the creation of the (Tribunal) that tried Saddam. He led the training for its judges and continues to advise the Tribunal today.”
Chicago’s De Paul University: “ … has designed and managed human rights and rule of law projects in Iraq”, since 2003.(vi) Saddam Hussein’s hideous treatment, or Tareq Aziz’s alleged forced appearance in Court, in his pyjamas, both heckled by the Judge, are hardly De Paul’s finest legal zenith, either.
De Paul also devised a “Comprehensive Strategic Plan for the Iraq Judiciary”, assisted with drafting the new Iraqi Constitution and the trials of former Ba’ath party Members and affiliates. So much for Iraq sovereignty and Georg W.Bush’s:”Let freedom reign.”(vii)
Sabah Al Mukhtar, President of the UK-based Arab Lawyers Association, takes a dim view of this Colonial approach: “Under the Geneva and Vienna Conventions, the occupying force has both responsibility and limitations. There is a duty of protection for citizens, children and the environment. The law of the occupied territories cannot be changed.”
Holding the British equally responsible, he argues that the occupiers were part of a leadership with: “Huge responsibility, who set up a system of trials that do not meet the basic international standards”, in accordance with the Vienna and Geneva Conventions.
Further: “Execution is the ultimate abuse of human rights.”
He points out that in the pre-invasion, formerly secular Iraq, where those of all faiths and none, previously shared feasts and celebrations, and where all religious institutions were annually provided maintenance grants by the government equally,Tareq Aziz, a Christian, was in fact charged with undermining Islamic movements.
Referring to a “Kangaroo Court”, Al Mukhtar is emphatic that it is incumbent on the Vatican and the Churches also to demand clemency for the seventy four year old.
Aziz of course, visited the Pope in 2003, to plea for the Vatican to intervene, to avert invasion and save his country and people, who had suffered so terribly from 1991 onwards.
Further, says Al Mukhtar: “The US and the UK still have the duty, and indeed the power, to protect Tareq Aziz. This proposed execution is simply vengeance in its lowest form.”
Tareq Aziz is the man who above all, stands between the lies, the duplicity, who knows the wickedness of the spin, illegalities, duplicity, subterfuge, betrayal, bribery, theft, traitors and big business - prepared to cull every last Iraqi, so long as they could get their hands on the oil - and establish a base in this strategically vital country. The biggest US Embassy in the world looks pretty like “mission accomplished” – for the moment.
Badi Arif, an attorney who used to represent Mr Aziz, said there is a political motive behind the death sentence: "Mr. Aziz used to always tell me, 'They'll find a way to kill me and there is no way for me to escape this’ “, Arif commented.
Nuri Al Maliki made his groveling subservience to Washington clear, when on the 12th December he requested to go to the city’s Arlington Military Cemetery and jointly lay a wreath with President Obama, at the Memorial to the Unknown Soldier, to pay his respects to US service personnel who lost their lives, decimating the country of which he is – for now – Prime Minister.
Thanking the murderous, marauding, illegal, infanticide-addicted, raping and pillaging invader, must be a historic first.
An extensive search has found no record of Maliki visiting Iraq’s lost and bereaved – from Falluja to Basra, Mosul to Mahmudiyah - the latter, where fourteen year old Abeer al Janabi was multiply raped by US troops, then murdered and set fire to, with all her family. Presumably, they were also Obama’s “unbroken line of heroes”, to which he referred, in another defeat ceremony at Fort Bragg.
If legality does not prevail in the case of not alone Tareq Azis and his colleagues, but of all those unaccountably detained, simply for differing political or religious beliefs, facing a terrible demise, in the name of Western “liberation”, all we collectively profess to hold dear, with legality’s Treaties and Conventions, stand condemned.
They include the relevant silent United Nations Organisations, cocooned in their great New York and Geneva Ivory Towers, their apparently speech deprived Secretary General, the great religious bastions, the Vatican, Arch Bishop Rowan Williams Lambeth Palace, Vincent Nicholls, Catholic Arch Bishop of Westminster’s and staff in his great building, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, The State Department, the UK Foreign Office, the European Union’s relevant, increasingly life threatened Organs, and the worlds great bastions of international law. They have been repeatedly approached and remained silent to the point of complicity.
Speaking at the 400th Anniversary of the printing of the King James Bible, on 16th December 2011, Prime Minister Cameron stated of the UK:"We are a Christian country and we should not be afraid to say so . The Bible has helped to give Britain a set of values and morals which make Britain what it is today. Values and morals we should actively stand up and defend. The alternative of moral neutrality should not be an option. “
A start would be displaying Britain’s: “morals and values … standing up and defending” a brave, frail, Christian man from a barbarity imposed by an illegal invasion - a “Crusade”, that Cameron voted for - and demanding of the US, who call Britain the “indispensable ally”, that they ensure Aziz is returned to his family and that 2012 starts with a prisoner amnesty in Iraq.
It shouldn’t be a problem. The US still has 8,000 troops, fourteen war ‘planes, 125 helicopters and 28 drones, largely based in Iraqi Kurdistan. (Their “total withdrawal” apparently nearly as phony as George W. Bush’s photo shoot, presenting the troops with a Thanksgiving turkey, which turned out to be plastic. )
“Moral neutrality”, is indeed not an option, for one who enjoined in killing this former Foreign Minister’s country.