Tribalism is a very dangerous cancer
By The Post
Sat 10 Mar. 2012, 13:00 CAT
BEFORE, the tactics of those who used to rule over our destiny consisted of dividing us and of setting one clan, tribe against another. They set one tribe against another. They set the interests of one tribe against the interests of another.
They set every faction of the people against the other factions as part of their strategy to dominate the people and advance their own interests without being challenged, without being fought, without opposition.
They set the various sectors of each nation against each other to serve their privileged interests. They weakened the people by their practice of setting one humble sector against others. They divided people into petty tribal and political groups that brought no guidance to the nation.
They divided the ignorant and misled people into factions supporting unscrupulous and greedy politicians. Thus they weakened the people; they confused the people.
We have continued to see this method being used by political opportunists of all shades and stripes, of all hues in our country today. We have a political leadership that tries to exploit any weakness in the unity of our people. We have politicians whose whole political careers depend on tribalism.
If tribalism was to disappear, their political relevance would also quickly disappear. Today, we see politicians in this country, in every province of our country trying to divide people along tribal lines. In North Western Province, they are busy trying to exploit whatever differences, weaknesses in unity may exist between the Lunda and Luvale-speaking people of that area.
They are busy fanning trouble all the time among these very close people historically and otherwise. This is how they survive politically, this is how they earn a living, this is how they keep their relevance. Similar elements are at work in Western Province, trying to capitalise on the weaknesses that may exist among the Nkoya, Mbunda, Luvale and Lozi-speaking peoples of that province. Again, this is how they survive politically and otherwise.
Similar characters are doing the same in Eastern Province, trying to sow seeds of division, of intolerance, of disunity among the Ngoni, Nsenga, Tumbuka and Chewa-speaking peoples of that area. For what? For hegemony, for personal political survival.
Now we are reading about divisions in Southern Province along the lines of plateau Tonga, inferior valley Tonga, superior Tonga and so on and so forth of this nonsense. What does this nonsense mean? What does it serve? Who does it benefit? We have similar things in the northern part of our country.
Some selfish and greedy people have been busy trying to set the Namwanga, Mambwe and Bemba-speaking people against each other. There are people trying to draw distinctions, trying to redefine the categories of the Bemba-speaking peoples. For what? To weaken them politically and otherwise so that they can reign over them.
There are people who are even trying to divide family members for their own political benefit. Wherever there is a collection of human beings - be it a family, a clan, a tribe, a nation comprising tribes - differences of one sort or another will always emerge, will always be there.
But these should not be exploited by those who aspire to lead people, by those who have been elected to lead people for their own selfish interests. Leaders should always work to unite people and not to divide them. Leaders should always work to strengthen people and not to weaken them by all sorts of divisions. Leaders should put the unity of the people first, and put it ahead of any divisive partisanship.
And in these times, as in times before, it is true that a house divided against itself by the spirit of faction, clan, tribe or region and so on and so forth, is a house that cannot stand. There is a growing tendency towards division in the Zambian house now. There are all sorts of divisive tendencies and political practices among us today.
We should not disregard the peril that this poses to the progress of our people. So, we would ask all Zambians, whatever their personal interests or concern, to guard against divisiveness and all its ugly consequences. United we have made progress.
What we achieved when all our people were united must not now be lost in distrust, suspicion, selfishness and politics of vanity among any of our people. Believing this as we do, we should not permit any office of our government or state to become involved in these tribal divisions that are developing in our country.
In a word, what we are saying is that no councillor, district commissioner, permanent secretary, deputy minister, Cabinet minister, vice-president or indeed the president of our Republic should be allowed to engage in any tribal politics without losing their position.
Tribalism should never be acceptable nationalism because it is a deformation of nationalism. It is the competitive and excessive exaltation of one's own tribe. It seeks to assert its superiority over others. It is not necessary that one's tribe should be superior to others' tribes in anything.
It is enough that it be faithful to its own identity and purpose, that it contributes what it can to the common cause and receive the contributions of others in a mutual collaboration and exchange. All through history, tribalism has been the cause of innumerable conflicts. Among the tribes, as among individuals, dignity is a virtue and pride is a vice.
Tribes, like countries, are not closed groups. They are but a small part of a wider society: that of the human race. It is not by segregating ourselves from those who are different that we shall preserve our own particular achievements.
It is by sharing them that we become richer. Refusing to share our achievements is one form of under-development; refusing to learn from others, is another. We should open our minds and hearts to the human values to be found in the language, customs and culture of the people who are about us.
If one looks at things this way, it would be easier to realise that the claim to the right to self-determination based on tribalistic or ethnic ideology is destructive. A sense of nationalism that is built upon tribal or ethnic intolerance is destructive.
Let us cultivate a loyal spirit of patriotism, but without narrow-mindedness, that is not reduced to fostering the interests of only one section or group of the inhabitants of our country. Let us be on guard against those dangers which weaken national unity. Let us take an interest and pride in our country and weep when it weeps, rejoice when it rejoices and take to heart its advancement and prosperity.
Former Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi was very right when he described tribalism as a cancer because it spreads without end, until it kills. Today, the intolerance, the discrimination can be targeted against members of another tribe, of a certain tribe.
Tomorrow it may be targeted against members of certain clans within the same tribe and thereafter it may be one village of the same tribe against another. Tribalists are sick people, they suffer from a cancer whose treatment may require removal of certain parts, certain tissues.
Let's remove tribalism in a similar way from our politics, from the administration of the affairs of our country before it contaminates everything and destroys our collective future.
Government won't condone strikes, warns Sata
By Mwala Kalaluka
Sat 10 Mar. 2012, 13:00 CAT
PRESIDENT Michael Sata yesterday warned civil servants that his government will not condone strikes. During a swearing-in ceremony at State House yesterday morning, President Sata said the civil service was still full of MMD people that wanted to sabotage the government.
President Sata said those elements trying to frustrate his six-month-old government will not succeed because the PF had been in the governance game for a long time. He warned civil servants against striking, saying they would be met by the government.
Those sworn-in include Emerine Kabanshi as chiefs and traditional affairs minister, Evans Chibiliti as Secretary to the Cabinet, Dr Patrick Nkanza as permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Early Education, and Alexander Museba as chairperson for the Police and Prisons Service Commission.
As Kabanshi, who is PF Bangweulu member of parliament, was taking her oath before him, President Sata was heard saying his government had many women.
"We have to trim some of them," he said lightly.
President Sata said some people that had predicted that he would die within two months in office and that there would be a presidential by-election were not happy that the PF government had clocked six months.
"The six months we have been in office, our friends are not very happy because they predicted that we will not last three months. They predicted that I will die in two months, there will be a by-election," he said.
"Especially you Mr Chibiliti and you Mr Museba, we have seen threats, civil servants union, teachers union, judicial service union, if we don't give them what they want they will strike. Let them strike, we will be waiting for them. They have been working for too long, others would also like to work."
President Sata said in essence, he was urging Chibiliti to move and see what was happening and also prod district commissioners to "start moving as well".
"We don't appoint a district commissioner just to get stuck at one place. Let them move like the colonial district commissioners," President Sata said.
"And you Minister of Chiefs you have to see where the chiefs are, the conditions of the chiefs, the condition of their accommodation and many more other things."
President Sata asked Dr Nkanza to look at the education institutions and see if all the schools had the necessary scientific equipment.
"And I want to see this programme of abolishing basic schools. You can either have a junior secondary school but basic, what is so basic about it? Why should others go to basic schools and others go to a proper school?" President Sata asked.
"So Dr John Phiri started that but you have to assist, because if there was basic, you would not be a doctor today."
President Sata said Museba, being a former policeman, should move and see how the conditions under which the police officers were operating.
"Because for the police to be alert, they must be comfortable. If they are not comfortable they will not be alert," President Sata said. "All the people who are doing, some of them for example in Southern Province, they want to fund the youths to say when they are march-passing on Monday, they want to start demonstrating but they will just be march-passing and I will not be there and we understand unemployment what it can create in people's minds."
President Sata told Museba to get up and train the police officers.
"We will strengthen your board," President Sata said. "And Mr. Chibiliti now you have been ratified by Parliament, we still have lots of MMD cadres who are trying to sabotage this government in each and every ministry and when you find, if you are too slow, you will just be receiving the letters of some of the people ‘I am retiring' and if you don't move, next letter you receive is yours because we want to move. We don't want to be frustrated."
President Sata said there were so many people that wanted to frustrate his government.
"We have seen so many people who are frustrating us left, right and centre but they will not succeed because we have been in this game before, much longer than all of you will be, because we worked in this game when it was tough to be in government under UNIP," he said.
"So Mr Chibiliti, don't be complacent. Now that you have been confirmed, inspire your colleagues, inspire the permanent secretaries, inspire the directors, inspire the assistant directors and start moving."
President Sata said if Chibiliti did not know what to tell the district commissioners, he should consult his superiors and they will tell him what to do.
Labels: MICHAEL SATA
Ngilazi urges enhanced business ties between Zambia, Malawi
By Gift Chanda
Sat 10 Mar. 2012, 13:00 CAT
ZAMBIA'S Deputy High Commissioner to Malawi Henry Ngilazi has urged Zambian and Malawian entrepreneurs to strengthen business linkages through trade and product exhibitions.
According to a statement by first secretary for press at the Zambian High Commission in Malawi, Chansa Kabwela, Ngilazi urged the business community in Zambia to take advantage of the forthcoming 24th Malawi International Trade Fair to exhibit their products and services.
Ngilazi also said the Zambian High Commission had extended an invitation to the business community in Malawi to exhibit at the 48th Zambia International Trade Fair slated for June 27 in Ndola under the theme "Creating Synergies Beyond Borders".
"We are looking at the Zambia International Trade Fair as an opportunity to showcase what we have to offer as a country and also strengthen partnerships and create more linkages with other business entities in the Southern African region and beyond," said Ngilazi.
"As Africa and particularly the Southern African region aspires for greater regional integration, there is need to take advantage of such platforms, international trade fairs, to market the various services and products that our countries have to offer. Such events provide an opportunity for joint venture partnerships apart from helping to attract direct investment and establish local contacts."
The fair in Malawi is scheduled for May 25 to June 3, 2012 dubbed "Realising Our vision - The export way".
The fair which would be held in Blantyre is expected to bring together exhibitors from Africa, Europe, Asia and America and would give companies an opportunity to market their products and services, enhance brand and product visibility thus leading to increased sales.
According to Kabwela, apart from exhibitions of products and services, the Malawian fair would offer activities such as business to business matchmaking meetings, business sessions and cocktails, all aimed at creating and strengthening linkages between local and international exhibitors and introducing new products and services, among other benefits.
Labels: MALAWI, TRADE
Kenya, Zambia agree to deepen trade relations
By Moses Kuwema
Sat 10 Mar. 2012, 12:57 CAT
ZAMBIA and Kenya have emphasised the need to resolve outstanding issues on palm based oil, milk and milk products.
In a joint communiqué issued at the close of the 8th session of the Zambia and Kenya joint permanent commission of cooperation at Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka yesterday, the delegates from both countries observed that the outstanding issues on milk and palm- based oil were affecting the volume of bilateral trade.
The delegates observed that there was need to revive the discussions and development of a Bilateral Trade Agreement.
"At the bilateral level, the two heads of delegation expressed satisfaction on the existing warm and friendly relations between the two countries," read the communiqué.
The delegates further emphasised the importance of implementation and agreed on a follow up mechanism that would improve execution of decisions.
During the same session, the delegates reviewed on-going cooperation between the two countries on a wide range of areas including, trade, industry and investment, customs and excise, transport, information and communication, meteorology, education, science and technology.
Other areas included mining, immigration, agriculture and livesto ckdevelopment, tourism and wildlife, environment and natural resources, labour, justice, health, crime prevention and foreign affairs.
"The two delegations undertook to enhance bilateral and technical cooperation by supporting each other in the above areas through exchange programmes, exchange of information, training and capacity building," read the communiqué.
The communiqué further read that in this regard, Zambia and Kenya signed a Memorandum of Understanding in science, technology and innovation with the objective of enhancing cooperation between the two countries.
The delegates further acknowledged the importance of allocating resources and setting of time frames within which agreed areas of cooperation in the various sectors would be implemented.
The 9th session of the Zambia-Kenya Joint Permanent Commission of cooperation will be held in Nairobi, Kenya in 2014.
And Kenya's Minster of Trade Chirau Ali Mwakwere said his country's cooperation with Zambia in security matters was critical in view of the challenges posed by terrorism.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of session on Thursday, Mwakwere said he was happy to note that the two countries had continued to have a strong partnership in the realisation of mutual goals of peace and security in the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region.
"I am confident that we will further deepen this cooperation through our membership in regional and international organisations," Mwakwere said.
And Mwakwere said in as far as agreements were concerned, the real challenge was not so much in the negotiations but in the implementation of decisions reached.
He hoped that the experts sitting at the meeting would take into account modalities to ensure that tangible results from the agreements and Memoranda of Understanding were concluded.
Mwakwere further said in this regard it was important to establish realistic timeframes for the various activities that the two countries intend to undertake.
And speaking at the same event, acting foreign affairs minister Dr John Phiri urged the two delegations to take the session as an opportunity for the two parties to review and analyse progress, challenges and explore new opportunities of cooperation.
Labels: KENYA, TRADE
Zambia Sugar's defiance on fired workers angers Mazabuka PF
By Henry Chibulu in Mazabuka
Sat 10 Mar. 2012, 12:57 CAT
THE Patriotic Front in Mazabuka district is not happy with Zambia Sugar management for refusing to heed labour deputy minister Rayford Mbulu's directive to immediately reinstate the dismissed general workers.
And Mazabuka member of parliament Garry Nkombo says Zambia Sugar management should not use legality to punish the fired employees because management also erred. Nkombo said the company should reinstate the workers unconditionally in order to promote industrial harmony.
Last week, Mbulu gave company management a 24-hour ultimatum to reinstate the casual workers who were protesting against a decision to reduce daily rate from K63,773 to K31,773.
But Patriotic Front district chairperson Gift Hanziba said the stubbornness of the company management was regrettable and would not be entertained by the ruling party.
Hanziba said the company management should be courageous and accept that it made a mistake instead of being defensive on violation of workers' rights.
He complained that the affected casual workers had been warned not to step foot at the company offices by director of human resources, Doreen Kabunda, despite the government ordering her to ensure they reported back to work.
"We wonder who Zambia Sugar Company is going to listen to since the directive by government has been rejected by management. What the company management should appreciate is that you do not antagonise yourselves with government because it's a key stakeholder as far as policy issues are concerned. In fact, most companies respect government directives because it is only sad that Zambia Sugar does not want to abide by the directives," he said.
Hanziba urged the Ministry of Labour to take necessary action against the company for refusing to respect government directives.
Zambia Sugar Corporate Affairs director Lovemore Sievu refused to comment on the matter.
Labels: GARRY NKOMBO, LABOUR, RAYFORD MBULU, ZAMBIA SUGAR COMPANY
Scott defends DCs appointments
By Roy Habaalu and Bright Mukwasa
Sat 10 Mar. 2012, 12:59 CAT
VICE-President Guy Scott has defended the appointment of district commissioners, saying those appointed are competent and hard working. During the Vice-President's question and answer session in Parliament on Friday, Dr Scott said it was distasteful for opposition members of parliament to make derogatory remarks against people appointed as district commissioners.
This was after UPND Siavonga member of parliament Kennedy Hamudulu said the PF government had gone off-track by employing inexperienced political cadres as district commissioners.
"They (PF) have brought in cadres. Unfortunately sir, some of these have very humble education and no experience at all in administration, let alone in office cleaning. Now these have been given positions in high office. Is it government's position to spend public money on officers who are busy politicking rather than administering these offices?" asked Hamudulu.
But Vice-President Scott said he was shocked to hear an educated legislator make derogatory remarks on others.
"It's cadres who have put me and its cadres who have put the honourable questioner (Hamudulu) where he is and many of them have worked extremely hard and extremely competent. We are trying our best to put people who are serious minded and understand government policies in key positions such as district commissioner," Vice-President Scott said.
On the realignment of districts, Dr Scott said the process would necessitate cheaper administration of government services and resources to the people.
He was responding to MMD Mumbwa Central member of parliament Dr Brian Chituwo who wanted to know whether the relocation of districts was synonymous to decentralisation.
"From all I have heard, and I am a listening Vice-President, I haven't heard anybody defending it on the basis that it's decentralisation. I have heard people defending it on the basis that it's administratively cheaper, convenient and communications are faster," he said.
Meanwhile, Dr Chituwo said President Michael Sata was a listening leader who respected the opposition.
"I wish to first of all congratulate His Excellency the President who has a listening ear. He listened to the opposition's demands for the creation of the Ministry of Gender. I am an MP who stands for the people and I congratulate the President and yet the Executive were defending a defective position," said Dr Chituwo.
Vice-President Guy Scott also said President Sata was justified for refusing to be dragged into tribal politics of Southern Province due to the contradiction obtaining in the area over the realignment of districts.
Vice-President Scott was responding to the Mazabuka Central member of parliament Garry Nkombo who wanted to know if President Sata's comments was not violating the fundamental rights of the people of that area over their suggestions.
Labels: DISTRICT COMMISSIONERS, GUY SCOTT, UPND
Namulambe arrested for theft of bicycles
By Mwala Kalaluka
Sat 10 Mar. 2012, 12:59 CAT
FORMER works and supply minister Gabriel Namulambe has been arrested and charged for theft by public servant involving 20 bicycles.
Namulambe, arrested and charged at Woodlands Police Station yesterday by the joint investigative team probing the plunder of national resources, was accompanied by his lawyer, Bwalya Mubanga, from SBN Legal Practitioners. He was later released on bail and will appear in court next Wednesday.
Detective chief inspector Bwalya of Police Headquarters opened the docket against the Mpongwe MMD member of parliament, who is alleged to have stolen property 20 bicycles of the Republic of Zambia valued at K11 million, which came into his possession by virtue of his employment.
"This occurred on November 21, 2010 in Kitwe in Kitwe District of the Copperbelt of the Republic of Zambia," the docket reads in part.
"D/C/Inspector Bwalya reports having charged and arrested M/ Gabriel Namulambe for one count of theft by public servant contrary to section 277 Cap 87 of the Laws of Zambia and remain in custody. The officer-in-charge reports having received M/ Gabriel Namulambe on police bond to appear in court..."
Mubanga also confirmed Namulambe's arrest on a charge of theft by public servant and that he would appear in court on Wednesday.
"Yes he has been charged he will appear in court on Wednesday. The rest, just come to court and you can hear what happens," said Mubanga.
Former mines minister Maxwell Mwale and his deputy, Boniface Nkhata, are already appearing in court over alleged theft of bicycles meant for small-scale miners.
Labels: CORRUPTION, GABRIEL NAMULAMBE, MMD
Namulambe arrested for alleged theft by Public Servant, relaesed on bail
TIME PUBLISHED - Saturday, March 10, 2012, 7:26 am
Former Works and Supply Minister Gabriel Namulambe has been arrested and charged with theft by public servant. Mr Namulambe who is also MMD Elections Chairman was charged on Friday morning by the joint government investigative team in Lusaka.
The arrest is in connection with the alleged theft of 20 bicycles valued at 11 million kwacha meant for small scale miners in Kitwe. Mr Namulambe is alleged to have diverted the bicycles and used them as campaign materials in Lufwanyama constituency.
Investigative Team spokesperson Charity Chanda told ZNBC news that Mr Namulambe has been given a five million kwacha police bond with two working sureties.
The former Minister was represented by SBN chambers law firm owned by former Solicitor General Sunday Nkonde.
Mr. Namulambe will appear in court on Wednesday, next week.
Labels: CORRUPTION, GABRIEL NAMULAMBE, MMD
Joseph Kony 2012: It's fine to 'Stop Kony' and the LRA. But Learn to Respect Africans.
By Semhar Araia, Guest blogger / March 8, 2012Invisible Children's viral campaign to 'Stop Kony' is a powerful use of social media in activism. But by focusing on what Americans can do, they are undermining the role of Africans.
This week’s biggest Africa news isn’t from Africa. It’s from a massive online and social media campaign launched by the American advocacy group Invisible Children to capture indicted war criminal and Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony.
As with their previous campaigns Displace Me and How it Ends, Invisible Children launched Stop Kony 2012 on Tuesday to mobilize the next generation of young Americans to help end the conflict in northern Uganda – except this time, they called on their mostly white, privileged, and educated youth followers to get involved through web-activism on their Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and YouTube accounts.
It all begins with a remarkable 30-minute video highlighting the instantaneous and hyper-connected world we live in. Founder Jason Russell narrates, stating “there are more people on Facebook than there were in the world 200 years ago” and that “humanity’s greatest desire is to belong and connect.” He may be right. In just two days, it has been viewed 32 million times and quickly grabbed the attention of personalities such as Oprah Winfrey, Van Jones, Sean Combs and Rihanna.
RECOMMENDED: LRA leader Joseph Kony: Why Obama sent US troops to Uganda to get him
It is a powerful example of how social media, art and activism can merge to mobilize privileged people into action and how open-minded Americans want a safer, fairer, and more prosperous world.
I appreciate their role. They are reaching a core constituency -- many of whom have never thought about these issues before -- and getting them to care about Africa. But caring is no longer enough.
Sadly, there are concerns that history may be repeating itself, as seen in responses from emerging African diaspora leaders Solome Lemma and TMS Ruge.
Of course Joseph Kony should be captured. But this approach is flawed. The video shows only a Western audience, without any reference to African partners or leaders. They are disempowering and undermining the role of Africans. They failed to recognize the role of individuals like Betty Bigombe, a long-time Ugandan activist, or seek partnerships with African organizations for the launch, such as Ushahidi or Africans Act for Africa.
Invisible Children and other Africa-focused advocacy organizations should deliver more sophisticated, nuanced, and respectful narratives that recognize capturing Kony is a collective responsibility and that Africans must play the primary role in bringing peace to the region.
Calling for the use of the latest technology, tools, and organizing tactics to attract millions of people who have never heard of Kony before (as they say, 99 percent of the world) into action is exciting. But for Africa’s sake, it is no longer enough.
On its face, it’s eerily reminiscent of previous Africa advocacy movements, such as Save Darfur in its early days: grand public launches, with minimal partnership and little substance. Dangerous. Whether they meant it to or not, whatever the intentions, it ends up looking like yet another Western campaign to help Africans who can’t help themselves. Africa can’t be handled that way anymore.
Besides the most obvious concern of another “white savior” narrative for Africa (complete with a young blonde child learning of Africa’s “good guys” and “bad guys’), there’s an absence of depth and deference to the power of Africans who are standing up for themselves. There’s also a complete failure to recognize the role the Ugandan government has had and should have in protecting its citizens and ending the conflict.
Invisible Children must be careful not to sell a simple narrative, raise unreasonably high expectations of the conflict’s resolution, ignore the power and agency of Africans on the ground or rely too much on Western solutions and audiences. They must do better.
The anti-apartheid movement of the 80s, the debt relief movement of the 90s and the Save Darfur movement just a few years ago all showed us that legislation, peace agreements, foreign aid and International Criminal Court arrest warrants don’t always end suffering. For conflict zones like this, there must be global political will focused on longterm security, peace-building, development, and investment in local leadership and capacity building.
We also now know that young people’s minds are open and hungry. They should be inspired by knowing Africa is empowered, saving itself, and working with partners to remove Kony. That is the real story.
Invisible Children must be willing to take their followers on a journey through the Africa that Africans know. They must be willing to inspire – but also to manage – their followers’ expectations. They must be willing to use their media to amplify African voices, not simply their own.
This isn’t about them.
Lastly, this campaign must be better at representing and working with a more accurate reflection of young America. This includes diverse voices, communities of color and new Americans. African-American organizations, historically black colleges and universities, and African diaspora groups are missing from the video. Additionally, Invisible Children’s own US-based staffing and board of directors lack the requisite diversity and representation where critical decisions are made.
I want Kony captured and I hope everyone uses their power to push our governments to act. But when I say everyone, I mean everyone – including, and most importantly, Africans.
Semhar Araia is founder of the Diaspora African Women’s Network and an Eritrean-American advocate for Africa conflict resolution and stronger US engagement with Africa and its diaspora. A lawyer by training, she previously was Oxfam International's Horn of Africa Regional Policy Advisor, a congressional foreign policy staffer, and an Africa analyst for The Elders, an organization established by Nelson Mandela and eleven other world leaders. She also served as an attorney on the Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission hearings. She was born in New York City to Eritrean immigrant parents and currently resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Follow her on Twitter @Semhar.
Labels: DRC, LORDS RESISTANCE ARMY, UGANDA
Kabimba clarifies his appointment to the Zamtel board of directors
TIME PUBLISHED - Friday, March 9, 2012, 9:42 am
Patriotic Front (PF) secretary general Wynter Kabimba says his membership on the new Zamtel Board will not in any way affect the operations of the company. Last week government appointed a new board of directors for the embattled Zamtel Telecommunication Company (Zamtel), to be led by the ruling party’s secretary general Wynter Kabimba.
Mr. Kabimba says his role on the board will be to ensure that the programme of the party which among other things aims at addressing corruption in the parastatal companies as well as protect the workers from exploitative conditions is implemented.
Mr. Kabimba notes that the PF is committed to ensuring that it delivers according to the expectations of the Zambians in line with the party manifesto.
He has assured that he has principles and will ensure that he does not use his political muscle to compromise the operations of Zamtel.
Mr. Kabimba says he is fully aware that Zamtel has to run as a profitable commercial entity but has vowed to ensure that the interests of the Zambians are protected in its operations.
In addition to Kabimba, Sata has also appointed other party cadres, including former Chimwemwe PF member of parliament Willie Nsanda and Lusaka Province Permanent Secretary Charity Mwansa to serve on the new board of directors, others include Ministry of Finance permanent secretary Dr Abraham Mwenda and a Mr Mwiinga.
In January this year, President Michael Sata dissolved the board of directors for Zamtel and appointed Dr. Mupanga Mwanakatwe as chief executive officer and chairman. The dissolution of the board of directors for Zambia by Sata follows the reversal of the sale of the company to Lap Green Networks of Libya earlier in the same month.
The Zambian government reversed the sale of the company after a Commission of Inquiry appointed by Sata revealed glaring “irregularities and flaws” in the manner in which the company was sold.
The 75% majority shares in Zamtel were sold to Lap Green Networks in 2010 at a total cost of USD275 million after the MMD government claimed it had failed to recapitalise the company, the country’s only total solution service provider.
Lap Green Networks has since taken the matter to court, demanding that the Zambian government give Zamtel back to the Libyans.
Mwanakatwe has meanwhile promised to make Zamtel more viable and profitable despite the competition the company is facing for Airtel Zambia and MTN Zambia.
Labels: WYNTER KABIMBA, ZAMTEL
Malema: Finish and klaar or klaar but not finished?
Posted by: Tinyiko Sam Maluleke
Posted on: March 2, 2012
What now for Malema? Is the latest ANC national disciplinary committee (NDC) verdict plus the revised and harsher sanction the final nail in Malema’s coffin? Is he finish and klaar or is he klaar but not quite finished?
For 12 more days at least, he is still president of the ANCYL. For 12 more days he still has standing and status within the ANC. According to the ANC constitution, “a decision of a disciplinary committee only takes effect once the internal appeal procedures and remedies provided for” have been exhausted.
But the cloud that hangs above Malema’s head will probably be growing bigger by the day so that his authority and integrity may suffer severely during this period. If he chooses to appeal – and why not, he has little more to lose – his 14 days of reprieve will probably be extended especially if the appeal is lodged too late into the fourteen-day period or even on the last hour of the fourteenth day.
Since Malema’s legal team will be going back to the national disciplinary committee of appeals (NDCA) for the second time, their appeal options have been considerably narrowed – they cannot appeal for aspects of the verdict and sanction already upheld by the NDCA in their earlier appearance. Realistically, they can only appeal for the severity of the sanction to be reduced. They will seek to demonstrate, one supposes, that the NDC has failed to recognise the remorse of Malema whom they will present as someone who – together with Magaqa and Shivambu – is willing to subject himself to the structures, standing orders, codes of conduct and the constitution of the ANC.
It is astounding that Malema appealed a five-year suspension sanction but was slapped with expulsion at the end. Some of his supporters might even think that the NDC is punishing Malema for daring to appeal against the NDC. The Malema precedent might cause future “respondents” to think twice before moving from Derek Hanekom (NDC chair) to Cyril Ramaphosa (NDCA chair) and back. In fairness to the NDC, Malema has not exactly covered himself in glory through his utterances and actions in the period between the two sets of appearances before the NDC.
The process that should unfold after the appeal – if Malema chooses to appeal – is unclear. At the heart of the confusion is the matter of the constitutional “separation of powers” between the NDC, the NDCA and the NEC.
According to the ANC constitution the NDC has authority to conduct disciplinary hearings, make findings, pronounce a verdict plus the sanction it deems appropriate (within the confines of the sanction options provided for in the Constitution). The provisos for the NDC decisions are that its report must be submitted to the general secretary of the ANC and to respondents before going public. After that, the respondents can (within 14 days) take the NDC decisions on appeal. The question one can pose here is this: Since the constitution introduces the NDC as a committee established by the NEC (effectively a subcommittee of the NEC), when it submits its report to the NEC (via the general secretary) in terms of fairness of process, should the report submitted to the NEC be for noting or for approval? Best practice in administration seems to indicate that when subcommittees submit reports to the committees which established them, such submissions are for approval and not merely for noting. Yet in the case of the arrangements as contained in the ANC constitution, assuming that one reads it correctly, the NDC subcommittee seems able to finalise matters all by itself, except for the provisos I referred to above. Of course the NEC and the constitution may and can delegate/give the powers to ‘investigate’, ‘prosecute’ and ‘sentence’ to the NDC. The question is whether this is in keeping with best practice. I do not think so.
The other matter relates to the powers and authority of the NDCA in relation to the NEC. According to the constitution the decisions of the NDCA are deemed final but the NEC may, in its discretion, choose to review the decisions of the NDCA. How final are the decisions of the NDCA if the NEC has the prerogative to review them? Should the constitution not stipulate that the decisions of the NDCA shall not take effect until the NEC has exercised or chosen not to exercise its prerogative to review the decisions? Indeed, would that not be a fairer more just way of processing disciplinary decisions?
As well as the organisational and political implications of the current spat between the ANC and its youth wing, the consequences of the expulsion of Julius Malema may require the ANC to do a serious constitutional review. Such a review would deal not only with the few illustrative issues I raise above but also the questions that relate to the constitutional provisions that define the relationship between the youth league and the ANC. At a political and strategic level, while the ANC may have, through the Malema expulsion, sent a strong signal and message to all comrades who lack discipline, there are several urgent matters for the ANC to look at. There is little doubt that in expelling Malema, the ANC seeks to save itself from Malema. Were the sanction less harsh, one might have added that the ANC seeks to help save Malema from Malema. We could certainly say that with the earlier sanction of a five year suspension.
Malema is of course no child. He is an adult who must take full responsibility for his words and his actions. In fact, he celebrates his 31st birthday on March 3, if I am not mistaken.
Yet the other half of that truth is that the scale and brazen nature of the indiscretions of Malema – the kinds that have seen him expelled on February 29 2012 – were played out in public and in the presence of ANC leaders, again and again, over the past four years. It is fine to censure Malema for lack of remorse, but I am dismayed at the lack of remorse by the ANC and its current crop of leaders for having failed to act sooner, for having done nothing about Malema’s indiscretions for a long time, sometimes for having cheered him on, in short, for having failed Malema. Both the NDC and the NDCA are united in an unspoken conspiracy of denial of any wrongdoing by the ANC – a conspiracy that may come back to haunt the ANC.
Denial is a precarious basis for future corrective action. This is as true for the ANC as it is true for Malema. Both parties have to take long and serious looks at themselves in the mirror over this whole sorry saga. Malema has to re-invent his character, revamp his image and consider dumping some of the strategies and tactics that have worked for him so far. Clearly these strategies and tactics are no longer working, hence he finds himself in the cold and lonely space outside of the ANC today.
But the ANC as a party has to do something similar. Only one Julius Malema has been expelled from the party. There are at least three million younger Julius Malemas who are neither at work nor at school – both inside and outside of the ANC. Armed with their empty stomachs and hollow dreams, they have a lot of time ontheir hands and anger is building up in their hearts. Unless the ANC attends to them, the real fall guy in this saga may in the long run be Derek Hanekom and not Julius Malema.
Labels: ANC, ANC YOUTH LEAGUE, JULIUS MALEMA, LAND REFORM
Mbeki’s big blunder: apartheid reparations
By Isaac Mangena
When tabling the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report in Parliament on April 2003, former president Thabo Mbeki lashed out at victims of apartheid brutality who were seeking reparations against multinational companies, most of which are based in the United States.
“We consider it completely unacceptable that matters that are central to the future of our country should be adjudicated in foreign courts which bear no responsibility for the well-being of our country and the observance of the perspective contained in our Constitution of the promotion of national reconciliation,” he said.
Immediately after Mbeki’s reassurances, the rand gained strength against the dollar. Actually, it reached a record high against the dollar in more than two years.
With this, Mbeki had achieved his dream of not chasing away investors from the country by following petty lawsuits in foreign courts. Investors were assured.
It didn’t matter to him that victims of apartheid wanted closure outside of the TRC process, which would include forcing multinational companies like General Motors, Ford, IBM and others major investors in South Africa to pay monetarily for their support of the apartheid regime. The TRC had recommended that $375-million be paid to the victims by government and that these companies pay a wealth tax that would go towards a fund for victims. But Mbeki authorised a “one-time payment” of only about $74-million for “urgent” victims.
And rather than scaring off investors, he went begging to the multinationals to “contribute voluntarily” to the reconstruction and development of the country. Whether they did or didn’t, no one can clearly tell. What we know is that most of the victims of apartheid are still living in poverty, unemployed by the same companies. Reconstruction happened, but at a slow pace. The same victims, and many other poor people today, are now forced to pay more in taxes to fund the current government’s ambitious infrastructure drive as laid out in the R1-trillion budget by Minister Pravin Gordhan.
Either Mbeki was ignorant of the obvious extent of apartheid atrocities on the poor, or he was (as usual) ill-advised by his advisers.
One of his advisers was his trusted lieutenant and former justice minister Penuell Maduna who charged, almost in chorus with Mbeki, that: “The litigation appears to suggest that the government of which I am a member, has done little or nothing about redressing the ravages of the apartheid system.”
At that time, the minister was so adamant to stop the litigation nonsense which was set to embarrass his boss Mbeki among his Western peers that he wrote to New York district court judge John Sprizzo not once but twice, pleading with him to dismiss the litigation “which not only sought to impose liability and damages on corporate South Africa, but which, in effect, sought to set up the claimants as a surrogate government”.
Many were convinced that Mbeki thought his government programmes/social projects such as RDP housing and free water for the poor were his way of paying reparations to the poor. The Khulumani Support Group raised concerns “that the South African government appears to see its significant spending on the general social upliftment of the previously disadvantaged as its form of reparations”.
One can conclude that Mbeki and his honourable minister didn’t see what those who came after them did.
When Jacob Zuma became president, government immediately threw its support behind the class action.
And last week, almost ten years after Mbeki’s blockade, more than twenty victims of apartheid whose families were tortured and/or killed, alongside their representatives from Khulumani, were vindicated when car manufacturing giant General Motors agreed to pay them $1.5-million (R11.2m) worth of shares.
Khulumani took up the case in 2002 for initially 100 plaintiffs against 23 various alleged apartheid collaborators for knowingly helping the apartheid government by selling it weapons and armoured vehicles. The case was heard in New York under the US Allien Tort Claims Act of 1789, the same law that allowed Holocaust survivors to successfully sue Swiss banks, and German and Austrian companies that used slave labour during World War II.
In 2008, the companies were narrowed down to five: General Motors, Ford, Daimler AG, Rhenmetall and IBM (whose assistance to the Nazi regime is extensively chronicled).
This outcome shows how Mbeki let down the poor with some of his pro-Western misjudgments. Maybe this matter would have been wrapped up sooner, before some of the victims died, if Mbeki gave his blessing. Or the settlements would’ve been much bigger if most of these firms were made to pay before they got caught in the throes of economic recession, with the likes of GM now liquidated.
But for what it’s worth, this settlement is a fitting tribute to those who died, including world-renowned political activist and celebrated poet Dennis Brutus who was a leading plaintiff for these victim and was often at loggerheads with Mbeki and Maduna. Brutus died in 2009 at the age of 84 before seeing the outcome of the case.
Whether this minor victory will set a powerful precedent on current and future litigations against multinationals remains to be seen. But it certainly did one thing: it reminded us again about some of Mbeki’s blunders. And hopefully other multinationals will follow GM’s example and do what’s right.
Isaac Mangena is a TV journalist from Limpopo. He previously worked for AFP and Media24. He is a BA graduate from the University of the North (now Limpopo) and is currently the deputy chair of the SADC Media Awards National Adjudication Committee. He writes in his personal capacity and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Labels: APARTHEID, REPARATIONS, THABO MBEKI
COMMENT - Desperation. The MDC is a failed regime change party. This is pure sedition by a foreign funded and direct organisation called the Movement for Democratic Change.
Tsvangirai claims army coup warning
Coup fears ... Morgan Tsvangirai claims military top brass will only accept a Robert Mugabe win
by Gilbert Nyambabvu
SECURITY services chiefs will stage a coup if President Robert Mugabe does not win elections likely to be held this year, MDC-T leader and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has claimed.
Setting his party’s “minimum conditions” for free and fair elections in Harare on Thursday, Tsvangirai said military chiefs had told him that he would not take over from Mugabe even if he wins the next elections.
“We have instead been told by a few individuals at the helm of these sectors that anyone other than President Mugabe, even if they win an election, will not be able to take up their mandate,” the MDC-T leader said.
“They have even gone further to dismiss the significance of an electoral process by saying that they will not tolerate a new regime in Harare ushered in through the ballot because President Mugabe cannot be removed by a ‘mere pen which costs less than five cents’.”
Mugabe is demanding fresh polls this year to replace the coalition government which he formed with MDC rivals, claiming the arrangement was no longer workable.
But Tsvangirai – who won the first round of the Presidential ballot in 2008 beforer pulling out of a run-off citing violent attacks on his supporters – insists reforms agreed under the coalition agreement must be fully implemented to ensure a free and fair poll.
On Thursday, he said the threat by pro-Mugabe service chiefs made implementation of such reforms even more urgent.
“The security of the person (who wins the elections), the security of the vote and the security of the people needs to be guaranteed before we even start to cast our ballots,” he said.
The MDC-T leader said he was encouraged by the tacit SADC backing of his position: “We are heartened that the SADC region continues to restate the importance of key reforms ahead of the conduct of the next polls.”
South Africa President Jacob Zuma is mediating the Zimbabwe crisis on behalf of SADC. On Monday his Foreign Affairs minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane dismissed Mugabe’s threat to call elections without political reforms, drawing fire from Zanu PF officials who accused her of interfering in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs.
Mugabe – who turned 88 this year – accuses his rivals of frustrating constitutional reforms in a bid to delay elections. They fear defeat, he maintains.
But Tsvangirai said he would not take part in an election that was certain to end in “blood-bath”.
“We are not afraid of an election but we will definitely not participate in a war,” he said.
“The way forward for Zimbabwe remains a free and fair election… Anything else would be a circus.
“A circus or a bloodbath masquerading as an election would be a mockery and an insult to South Africa, SADC and the AU who have all been painstakingly working for the past four years to ensure that we hold a credible poll and set the foundation for a prosperous Zimbabwe.”
Labels: MDC, MORGAN TSVANGIRAI, TREASON
Sata refuses to join Tonga tribal fights
By Agness Changala
Fri 09 Mar. 2012, 12:00 CAT
PRESIDENT Michael Sata says some chiefs in Southern Province want him to succumb to Tonga tribal fights. And President Sata has upgraded the Gender Division at Cabinet into a ministry.
Speaking during the commemoration of International Women's Day, whose theme was 'Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures: Mentorship for Success' in Lusaka yesterday, President Sata said there were chiefs who at one time criticised him for removing Chirundu and Itezhi Tezhi from Southern Province but the same chiefs went back to him, asking him to split Southern Province into two provinces.
"They want me to succumb to Tonga tribal fights because there is a super Tonga, a plateau Tonga and an inferior valley Tonga," he said.
And President Sata said he upgraded the Gender Division to a full ministry as a way of thanking women for the unity they had exhibited.
He said men had failed to exhibit the same unity and that others were even too ashamed or proud to attend the function even after an invitation had been extended to them.
President Sata also transferred the PF chairperson Inonge Wina to the new ministry and promoted former deputy minister of Gender Emerine Kabanshi to Minister of Chiefs' Affairs.
He said this year's theme sought to promote the encouragement of girls in all aspects of development and reminded everyone of the responsibility of ensuring that girls are treated with respect and provided with the inspiration to aim at having health and productive adulthood while actualising their potential to the fullest.
President said the day was also a constant reminder not only for the government but all stakeholders that girls and women are equal partners in development and that their rights should be respected.
"This government takes this stance seriously," he said.
President Sata said he did not believe in providing a slot in the constitution to work to the advantage of women because he wanted them to compete with men.
He said women in his party participated in elections under difficult conditions and that opportunities to women would not be given on a silver plate.
President Sata said the government had given opportunities to women and girls to participate in decision-making positions and that most schools were being headed by women.
He said to show the commitment of promoting women in decision-making positions, the government would domesticate the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Girl Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
President said Sata the cause of gender-based violence was idleness by most youths.
He said if the boys could be provided with employment, they would not have time for attacking young girls.
"So we deal with things which are causing our boys to attack girls, because they are lazy and the Bible says lazy hands are always tempted," he said.
President Sata said unemployment had created poverty in the country.
He said if unemployment was tackled, poverty would be easy to handle.
President Sata also directed the ministries of justice, gender and child
development to work with relevant institutions and ensure that appropriate conventions on the right of the child are domesticated.
And Non-Governmental Organisations Coordinating Council (NGOCC) asked President Michael Sata to show the commitment he had shown to the fight against corruption to gender-based violence (GBV).
NGOCC chairperson Beatrice Grillo said the government should also provide adequate resources to implement the GBV Act.
United Nations representative Khan Wignaraja pledged commitment to helping the country address the problem of GBV.
Meanwhile, women braved the rains during the commemoration of International Women's Day.
The march past that started on a good note, experienced some confusion when it started raining, causing participants to scamper in different directions.
Later after the rains subsided, the situation normalised.
And Anglican Diocese of Eastern Zambia Bishop William Mchombo says some of the abuses against women emanate from their lack of economic independence.
In his International Women's Day message, Bishop Mchombo encouraged the government and other stakeholders like NGOs to support programmes that help women become economically independent.
"All forms of abuse eat at the core of our humanity and good neighbourliness.
As a nation, we need to come up with strategies that will combat the root causes of these evil acts. While stiffer penalties may act as deterrents to such despicable acts, we should encourage our lawmakers to expunge from our statutory books that work against the aspirations of women. Aren't we all created equal before God?" Bishop Mchombo asked.
He said in Zambia, the day was being celebrated against the backdrop of despicable acts ranging from spouse battering to defilement and rape mostly perpetrated by men against women.
"We applaud our women for their contribution to the development of this nation in different spheres of their operations notwithstanding the challenges that they have to deal with in a male-dominated society. Listening to the news on radio or TV or reading in newspapers, one is overwhelmed with the sad news that a young girl somewhere has been defiled or raped and later murdered. Sometimes it is women who are well advanced in years who are raped by younger persons. The perpetrators of these heinous crimes are in most cases known by their victims. It could be a relation, a neighbour, a parent, a teacher for school-going girls or worse still a clergyman," Bishop Mchombo said.
He said it was unfortunate that there were no safe places for women and children.
"In most cases, it is a person who is well known and trusted by the victim who betrays the trust. The home, the classroom, the neighbourhood, the workplace is no longer safe for a woman; even sacred places like churches have fallen prey to evil-minded persons masquerading as men of God. Credit goes to all organisations and individuals who have taken it upon themselves to sensitise our girls and women in reporting all forms of abuse to relevant authorities for appropriate action," Bishop Mchombo said.
"The press should go beyond reporting the story and find out why the perpetrators carry out their heinous acts in the first place. This might help the nation to come up with strategies that would help in protecting our women and give them back their freedom."
He endorsed the idea of coming up with quotas to allow as many women as possible to participate in governance and decision-making positions.
"In case of appointments, this should be done meritoriously. The Ministry of Community Development and Social Services should be seen to be active at all times and not only at election time in supporting various women's clubs. We encourage all our womenfolk to stand up for their rights," Bishop Mchombo said.
And Community Development deputy minister Dorothy Kazunga says the International Women's Day was a constant reminder not only for the government but for individual men, women, boys and girls that girls and women were equal partners.
And during the International Women's Day commemoration at Chipata Golf Course, Kazunga said women and girls had the right to be respected.
She said the PF government took the day seriously.
"In order to ensure that we put into practice this commitment in as far as the right of the girl child is concerned, the government will systematically domesticate the provisions of the conventions on the right of the child and the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women as outlined in our party manifesto," Kazunga said.
She said some of the pieces of legislation contained some of the provisions of the two conventions.
And Copperbelt Province permanent secretary Christopher Mutembo said society should not relax in combating the alarming levels of child defilement and gender-based violence.
In a speech read for him by Kitwe district commissioner Mwape Kasanda during the commemorations of International Women's Day, Mutembo said there was need for urgent and intensified interventions to protect the lives of women and young girls.
Mutembo said it was saddening to note that many lives of girls and women had been lost in recent times to due to defilement rape and wife battering and other evil acts perpetrated by men.
He said the commemoration of International Women's Day was a reminder to everyone the responsibility of society to treat girls with respect and inspire them to live and become healthy and productive adults while actualising their potential to the fullest. Mutembo said time had come for both men and women, government and all stakeholders to take stock of their participation in creating an enabling environment conducive for women to thrive.
And Kitwe District International Women's Day Organising Committee chairperson Grace Mikunga said all stakeholders had a responsibility to ensure that cases of defilement and gender-based violence were curbed.
Mikunga said it was distressing that despite government stiffening laws and other measures put in place to end such vices, the country had continued to record a sharp rise in violence against women.
"It is sad that when we went round the schools some of the pupils were able to open up on the abuse they were undergoing and they have failed to share the information openly for fear of reprieve and discrimination," Mikunga said.
She said there was need to operationalise and implement the Anti-GBV Act to end such vices.
Riverside ward councillor Christopher Kang'ombe said councillors had a civic obligation to fight gender-based violence and defilement.
Giving his reflections on the International Women's Day, Kang'ombe observed that the commemoration of the day this year had been overshadowed by the alarming cases of GBV and defilement.
Labels: INONGE WINA, MICHAEL SATA, SOUTHERN PROVINCE
Who of our MPs support corruption?
By The Post
Fri 09 Mar. 2012, 12:00 CAT
ELECTION campaign promises need to be honoured. Not honouring election campaign promises is tantamount to obtaining one's entry into public office by false pretences. However, unlike in obtaining goods by false pretences, there is no law that forces one to honour election campaign promises. Honouring election campaign promises is simply a matter of honour and integrity.
It is therefore always pleasing to see politicians honour their election campaign promises. Michael Sata and the PF promised to bring back the offence of abuse of office in their election campaigns. This is a move that may help increase their standing in the eyes of the Zambian people.
Of course, they still have many challenges with other election promises they had made. For instance, they seem to have difficulties to honour their election campaign promise to restore the Barotse Agreement of 1964.
Of course, not every election campaign promise is fulfilled. But when there is a departure from, when there is inability to deliver election campaign promises, the electorate should be informed and explanations should be made. Circumstances change, many things change every day, sometimes making it impossible for one to do as he had wished the previous day.
The bringing back of the offence of abuse of office will help Michael and his government a lot in the fight against corruption. It will also protect the members of this government from temptations of corruption that emanate from the powers vested in the many offices of government.
It is very easy to abuse power if there are no restrictions on its exercise. The abuse of office offence in our Anti Corruption Commission Act protects office holders from getting carried away with powers vested in the offices they hold.
This law will also help to serve as a reminder to those who hold public office that they are simply servants or stewards entrusted to offer humble service to others as opposed to owning the public resources they are managing.
Every asset, every kwacha that is owned by the government belongs to the people and not to the government office bearers. Those who hold public offices are further reminded that they are accountable to the people who own the resources of government, the ultimate employers of all those who earn a salary from holding public office.
With this law back, it will be much easier to catch those who try to cheat or rape the nation. This law will help us not to allow the desire to serve oneself to bloom once again under the fair mask of the desire to serve the common good.
Our people are poor today not because their country has no resources, but simply because those they have from time to time entrusted with the management of their affairs have not acted with sufficient honour and integrity, they have mismanaged, misused, misapplied, misappropriated public resources.
To move this country forward, and to lift the great majority of our people out of poverty, will require prudent and honest utilisation of our country's resources. Yes, we don't have much, we are a poor country.
But if the little that we have is managed efficiently, effectively and in an orderly manner, the problems of our people will lessen and more and more of our people will be able to meet their daily basic needs necessary for a decent human life, fundamental needs will increasingly become satisfied and each individual will have adequate resources to survive, to develop and thrive.
This law gives the government a greater possibility of ensuring that money meant for the provision of the necessary services to our people will be efficiently utilised. Money meant for hospitals and medicines will not be stolen the way it was being stolen under the previous regime.
More and better quality schools will be built from the money so allocated because it will not end up in private pockets the way it was ending up under the previous regime. With limited possibility for abuse of office, even our road infrastructure will improve. And with these improvements, more jobs will be created. And with more jobs created, there will be more money in the pockets of our people in line with the PF election campaign promises.
We therefore urge the MMD and their opposition allies, the UPND, to subordinate their immediate political expediencies to the interests of the nation and of the great majority of our people and support this Bill that the PF government has tabled before Parliament.
Moreover, not very long ago, the UPND opposed the removal of the offence of abuse of office from our Anti Corruption Commission Act. This was a principled position that they need to maintain. And principles should never be traded on the altar of political expedience.
Political expedience will require them to oppose this Bill if the MMD opposes it. A principled position will require them to oppose their political allies on this issue. For the great majority of the MMD members of parliament, the removal of the abuse of office offence from our Anti Corruption Commission Act was foisted on them by a crooked, corrupt and ruthless clique of Rupiah Banda and George Kunda that had come to dominate their party and had to get its way at all times.
They have more freedom now to think and act freely. There is no good reason for them today to oppose the re-introduction of that law that should have never been removed from our laws in the first place. Even for George himself, it will be prudent to change his position and not oppose the re-introduction of this law.
We all now know very well why George and his friends had removed this law in the first place. It was to protect themselves from being made accountable for the rampant abuses of the public offices they were occupying. They will not be able to achieve this and the only sensible thing left for them is to do something that will win them some public respect.
Protecting corruption and abuses will not win them any public support or sympathy - they will instead just be isolating themselves further from the masses of our people.
We therefore expect no opposition to this Bill from all the representatives of our people.
And it will be very interesting to see where each one of our representatives in that House stands on this issue, and which of our members of parliament support corruption.
Labels: CORRUPTION, MICHAEL SATA, MPs
Nkomeshya urges MPs to back abuse clause
By Kombe Chimpinde and Mwala Kalaluka
Fri 09 Mar. 2012, 12:00 CAT
CHIEFTAINESS Nkomeshya Mukamambo II of the Soli people says members of parliament must accept and subsequently support the abuse of office clause which has been tabled before Parliament through the anti-corruption bill.
In an interview at her palace yesterday, chieftainess Nkomeshya said she was elated by the government's decision to take back the vital clause and that she strongly felt all the wrongs committed during the MMD's time should be corrected.
"It is good because that monitors the behaviour of leaders, she said. We cannot have a country which has no code for leaders to adhere to.''
Chieftainess Nkomeshya said that the re-introduction of the clause was the wish of many Zambians and was long overdue.
When you are put in public office, it's not personal. You are there on behalf of the people. That office or system which employs you, it will also accord you whatever is entitled to you, if it's a salary , or allowance. You must not get what is meant for the majority Zambians, she said.
Chieftainess Nkomeshya said those that would oppose to the clause were culprits in the vice and that such must be exposed.
''They are protecting the wrongs that they did and such people should be exposed. I will have no mercy for such people. I am expecting the entire membership of Parliament, be it in the opposition or government… will accept it," she said.
According to the anti-corruption bill, 2012, a public officer who misuses their position to breach public procurement procedures or guidelines connected to the management of public funds shall be presumed to have corrupt intent.
The bill tabled by justice minister Sebastian Zulu in the House on Friday, apart from resuscitating the abuse of office clause that was deleted by the MMD in the Anti-Corruption Act, 2010, also provides for the forfeiture of unexplained properties found with public officers.
"The presumption of corrupt intent shall, in relation to an offence under this Act, include- (a) misuse of position, office or authority; and (b) breach of procurement procedure or willful failure to comply with applicable procedures or guidelines relating to the management of funds or incurring of public expenditure," the bill reads.
"The Commission may commence proceedings for forfeiture of unexplained property under this section against a person where- (a) after due investigation, the Commission is satisfied that the person has unexplained assets."
The bill provides that unexplained property may be seized where the ACC has afforded a public officer an opportunity to explain the disproportion between the assets concerned and the person's known legitimate sources of income and the Commission is not satisfied that an adequate explanation of that disproportion had been given.
"A person who- knowingly makes, or causes to be made, to the Commission, false testimony or a false report in any material particular or any offence or matter under investigation...destroys anything to prevent the seizure of property or document or securing of the property or documents; commits an offence and is liable, upon conviction, to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years," the bill read in part.
"The provisions of the Forfeiture of Proceeds of Crime Act, 2010, shall apply in relation to the seizure and forfeiture of any proceeds or corruptly acquired by any person and any other related matters."
The bill further seeks to provide that a person who tampers with any property that is seized or forfeited under this Act commits an offence and liable, upon conviction, to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years.
The bill further provides that in any proceedings for an offence under this Act it shall be a valid defence that the gratification offered or accepted was an entertainment or a casual gift.
But the bill states that evidence related to an offence under Part III of the Act that any gratification solicited, accepted or obtained or agreed to be accepted, given, offered or promised to the public was customary in any profession, business, trade, vocation or calling, would not be admissible.
"This Act shall have effect within as well as outside Zambia and notwithstanding where any offence is committed by any person, that person may be dealt with in respect of such offence as if it has been committed within Zambia," the bill read.
"An offence under this Act shall be deemed to be an extraditable offence under the provisions of the Extradition Act."
The bill seeks to enable the ACC to annually publish the names of all persons convicted of corrupt offences or who have admitted guilt under the Act in the Gazette.
It provides that where a public officer corruptly solicits any gratification, it shall not be a defence in any trial that the appointment, nomination or election of such person or any other person as a public officer was invalid or void; "...the public officer or any other public officer did not have the power, authority or opportunity of doing, or of forbearing from doing, the act, favour or disfavour to which the gratification related to," the bill read in part.
"...the public officer did not actually do any act, favour or disfavour to induce the gratification, or never had the intention of doing so."
The bill reads further that any person who in the opinion of the court makes false, frivolous or groundless allegations that somebody committed an offence under Part III of the bill, commits an offence and is liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding three hundred thousand penalty units or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding seven years or to both.
"The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding any obligation as to secrecy or other restriction on the disclosure of information imposed under any written law or otherwise," the bill read further.
"The provision of the Public Interest Disclosure (Protection of Whistleblowers) Act, 2010, shall apply in relation to the protection of whistleblowers and other related matters."
Labels: CHIEFS, CHIEFTIANESS NKOMESHYA
COMMENT - The PF hasn't even started
to clean up the mess left by the MMD. Part of which would be to put Dora Siliya on trial for her corruption in the ZAMTEL saga.
MMD left nothing to be proud of, says Kabimba
By Moses Kuwema
Fri 09 Mar. 2012, 11:59 CAT
WYNTER Kabimba says the cancer of corruption that has been left behind by the MMD is the only impediment that the PF is facing in bringing about development in the country. And Kabimba said the Patriotic Front is not interested in corrupt business people and contractors.
Reacting to MMD spokesperson Dora Siliya's comments that the PF's honeymoon was over and they should stop blaming her party for the problems they encounter, Kabimba said the only blame that the PF was apportioning to the MMD was the seed of corruption, which they planted.
"The MMD planted such deep roots of corruption in this country in all our institutions of governance because that was their way of governing the country. And it is this cancer that we are putting right, right now. There is nothing else that we are blaming the MMD about and we don't even intend to blame them for anything. So there is no record which the MMD can be proud of that PF is apportioning blame to them because there is nothing that they left behind to be proud of," he said.
Kabimba said the PF had developed a programme for the country before they even got into government and they would ensure that its success.
"We need the civil service to drive the programme of the PF but if the civil service is going to remain steeped into this culture of corruption, our people will not get the right service from the civil service. Our people will not get the right programmes in delivering services to our people. We want to deliver good roads to our people. The MMD left a culture behind where they were compromising the quality of this delivery service," he said.
Kabimba said the former ruling party had left behind a culture of paying money to what he termed MMD acolytes and that this had compromised the standards of infrastructure.
"They were paying money to people that they thought were supporting MMD in form of contractors and they were compromising the standards, because they were sharing money the same ministers that were there. They compromised the standards of the roads, infrastructure that is the only problem that we have," he said.
And Kabimba said the PF was going to deal with genuine contractors who would ensure that the quality and standards of service delivery in the country improve.
He said they would not do business with contractors that were steeped into corruption with the MMD.
"They ought to know that this time around we want to deal with decent men and women in delivering services. I want to appeal to the business community and contractors that the PF government would like to work predominantly with Zambian contractors and business people but they must be decent men and women.
The ones that were bent into this culture of corruption with the MMD, we shall not work with them. That message must go to everybody loud and clear. We don't want their money, we just want their good service which they must render to the people of Zambia," Kabimba said.
Kabimba said the PF has never claimed to have been on a ‘honeymoon'.
He said the party started working when it was still in opposition.
"We started working when we were in opposition. We developed a programme, a socio and economic programme which is in our manifesto. There is no honeymoon and we have never claimed to be on a honeymoon," said Kabimba.
Labels: DORA SILIYA, MMD, WYNTER KABIMBA
Sakala urges financial autonomy of judiciary
By Edwin Mbulo in Livingstone
Fri 09 Mar. 2012, 11:59 CAT
JUSTICE dispensation is not cheap anywhere and that is why we need full financial autonomy, says Chief Justice Ernest Sakala. And UNICEF chief child protection officer Amanda Bissex said courts can be powerful tools for shaping children's lives.
Speaking on Wednesday when he commissioned the Livingstone High Court holding cells and magistrates chambers, justice Sakala (left) said despite being fully autonomous, the judicial system was not financially independent as budgetary allocations were erratic.
"Financial autonomy can only be the resolve to attain and enhance the protection of special rights of children in the criminal justice system. We have attained autonomy but we need financial autonomy; that is why I have repeatedly called on the government to make us financially autonomous," justice Sakala said.
He said judicial employees have continued to operate under hard condition but still worked hard.
"The infrastructure is vexing as most of the buildings were built in pre-independence era and some provincial headquarters do not have High Court buildings, there is need to construct more court infrastructure," he said.
Chief Justice Sakala appealed to the judicial members of staff to remain calm as their concerns were being addressed.
He said the judiciary has resolved to positively contribute to the child justice system which gives effect to a child-friendliness in Zambia.
Justice Sakala appealed to other provincial judicial stakeholders to emulate the Livingstone system which enables separate transportation of children facing criminal prosecution.
And Livingstone High Court judge-in charge Ernest Mukulwamutiyo said while the rights of children in conflict with the law may be catered for at the courts, it remained a big challenge for the police to separate children from adults in police custody and when in transit to and from courts.
He said the court building built in the 1920's had a 3x3-meters holding cell which was demolished upon the Chief Justice's approval to construct a modern facility.
"Two magistrates were sharing one chamber which made it extremely difficult for them to effectively and efficiently discharge their adjudicative functions," said judge Mukulwamutiyo.
And Bissex said a child friendly court was an important component of justice for the children.
"I wish to commend the Livingstone Child Justice Forum and the High
Court for this good initiative of constructing these holding cells and waiting rooms for children. Having such facilities reduces stress for children and helps create a conducive atmosphere for mediation," said Bissex.
Labels: ERNEST SAKALA, JUDICIARY
MMD petition to UN is embarrassing - Luonde
By Allan Mulenga
Fri 09 Mar. 2012, 11:59 CAT
FATHER Richard Luonde says the MMD's decision to petition the United Nations over the perceived "harassment" from the Patriotic Front government shows that the former leaders are afraid of their corrupt practices. And Fr Luonde says the MMD leadership has dented the image of the country on the international scene over corruption.
Commenting on the MMD's decision to petition the United Nations over what they have termed "selective prosecution" of its leaders and non-adherence to rule of law by the Patriotic Front government, Fr Luonde, a Kitwe-based Anglican priest, said if MMD leaders were sincere in their dealings, they would not have rushed to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon for protection.
"To me those are the last kicks of a corrupt dying horse. If they are honest in their dealings, if they know that they didn't do anything wrong they should await upon the results of the investigative wings.
Now, when you know that you are guilty you always want to cry so that you are protected," he said.
Fr Luonde said the MMD leaders should be ashamed of their corrupt activities.
"You see they should not do that, if they talk about MMD leaders being persecuted for nothing, there´s something, for example Dora Siliya over Zamtel saga, Maxwell Mwale with the campaign bicycles, then there is Austin Liato…The MMD leaders had powers in their own rights when they were in government, so many people followed them.
The government is just trying to follow the law and find out how they acquired these things," he said.
Fr Luonde said the former ruling party had embarrassed Zambians by its petition to the UN against the Patriotic Front government.
"They the MMD should behave like civilised people who know what they have caused to the Zambian people. They are just embarrassing themselves. If anything they should await the outcome of their cases in the courts of law. They will have the right to complain when they are acquitted, they can either sue the government or those who took them to court," he said.
On former MMD national secretary Dr Katele Kalumba's call for party leaders to apologise to Zambians over corruption, Fr Luonde said the MMD leadership should be apologetic like Dr Kalumba.
"He Dr Kalumba is simply trying to open the Pandora's Box to say what the current government is saying about corruption of the MMD government, it is true and those who are found wanting should come out in the open and apologise. We are human beings; we make mistakes, but we should not take advantage of the poor majority, where you take advantage of the suffering of Zambians just to enrich yourselves. That is deceit and you need to come out and repent," said Fr Luonde.
Labels: MMD, RICHARD LUONDE
Munkombwe backs call to split Southern Province
By Cynthia Phiri in Pemba
Fri 09 Mar. 2012, 11:59 CAT
VETERAN politician Daniel Munkombwe says he is in support of calls for the split of Southern Province into two separate provinces.
Speaking in an interview in Pemba, where he was attending "My Home Town Fellowship", Munkombwe said splitting of the province into two was welcome because that is what the people of Southern Province want and advised them to accept government's offer for consultative meetings on the matter.
"When Government extends an olive branch, people of Southern Province should accept. We don't want to agitate the situation, that's what we have been asking for and we are justified to call for the split in order to obtain another province," Munkombwe said.
He said Southern Province was the second largest in the country in terms of land and population and that it was only wise that the Province be split into two in order to foster development, especially the valley part of the province which was completely ignored.
Traditional leaders in Southern Province have submitted proposals to government that the province be split into two as opposed to realigning Chirundu and Itezhi-Tezhi districts.
The government has since written to the people of Southern Province through the Southern Province Administration to convene a stakeholders meeting to discuss the issue further.
And Munkombwe said he wanted to devote the last years of his life to charity and community work by working with "My Home Town" proprietor James Ndambo, a South Africa-based Zambian businessman who is into charity work.
"I want to devote the last years of my time on earth to community work by working with James Ndambo, especially here in Southern Province," said Munkombwe.
Labels: DANIEL MUNKOMBWE, PROVINCES, SOUTHERN PROVINCE
PAC sends PS away for submitting incomplete report
By Moses Kuwema
Fri 09 Mar. 2012, 11:58 CAT
THE Public Accounts Committee on Wednesday sent back acting permanent secretary in the ministry of local government and housing Kawila Lushinga for giving the committee insufficient responses.
In his submission to the PAC, Lushinga kept giving assurances instead of the action that had been taken on officers involved in the various irregularities that were raised by the Auditor General's report.
Lushinga kept saying efforts were being made to have the records for the various issues that were raised in the audit report, among them issues of missing payment vouchers, stores items without receipt and disposal details, unsupported payment vouchers, unapproved payments vouchers and poor record maintenance.
Before Lushinga could finish his submission, MMD Chembe member of parliament Mwansa Mbulakulima chipped in saying he had never seen a report which was as incomplete as the one the acting permanent secretary was presenting.
"Our colleagues are far from being ready to present their report. All they are telling us is that efforts are being made, what are we sitting here for? Mbulakulima asked.
Chairperson of the committee, Chipangali MMD member of parliament Vincent Mwale then added that the committee was interested in convincing answers like what had happened to the officers involved in the various irregularities cited in the audit report.
"These are public resources and we need proper explanations. I cannot allow this submission. We are not getting responses that we are suppose to get. It will make a lot of sense to yourself and us if you went back to re-do this report. As a committee we are required to submit before the House the right responses and report. We need to give you more time, we will not take this submission," Mwale ruled.
Lushinga then requested that he be given at least a month to re-do the report.
But Mwale said it was difficult for his committee to give all that time because their sitting was going up to the end of March and instead gave Lushinga 10 days.
Lushinga then pleaded that the 10 days was not enough saying the report involved over 70 councils countrywide.
In response, Mwale said: "This report does not include all the councils, it's just a few and I don't think they are beyond 15. We will give you 10 days and we will see how you will go with it. Our schedule is tight."
Labels: AUDITOR GENERAL, PAC, PERMANENT SECRETARIES
FRA's mandate under review
By Kabanda Chulu
Fri 09 Mar. 2012, 11:59 CAT
THE government is in the process of revising operations of the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) so that it reverts to its original mandate of buying strategic food reserves only, says agriculture minister Emmanuel Chenda.
And Parliament unanimously supported and approved the motion moved by Solwezi Central MMD parliamentarian Lucky Mulusa that government urgently develop a broadly shared economic and human development strategy that can translate economic growth into tangible benefits to improve livelihoods.
Parliament also approved President Michael Sata's directive to abolish and establish government ministries and departments.
And justice minister Sebastian Zulu tabled the Anti Corruption Bill that will come up for presentation and reading on March 23, 2012.
Responding to Kalomo member of parliament Request Mutanga's question on what government was doing to address challenges faced in executing the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), Chenda on Wednesday said the process of revising the programme had been done and was waiting Cabinet approval.
"The FISP has been revised in order to promote and market other cash crops apart from maize and we are also in the process of reviewing the operations of the FRA so that it reverts to its original mandate of purchasing food crops for strategic national reserves only," he said.
And Mulusa, when moving the motion, said Zambia needed to implement economic policies that were designed and owned by Zambians in order to address the current situation where inadequate benefits accrue to local people despite positive economic growth.
He said there was need to put measures that would allow Zambians to reap benefits from its mineral wealth, rich soils and tourism potential.
"Zambia is wealthy but where is the wealth of the nation? Where does it go? The method of funding of public goods is in form of loans and grants and very little from taxes and other forms of government income so where does Zambia's wealth go?" asked Mulusa.
Opposition chief whip Felix Mutati said the motion was not controversial and shouldn't be over-debated while finance minister Alexander Chikwanda said the government was all-inclusive and would support the motion without any reservation.
Earlier, Speaker of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini guided the House on the subject of points of order.
He said points of order were frequently being misused and abused, resulting in detracting the House from considering business before it.
"Points of order ought to primarily relate to interpretation or enforcement of the rules of procedure and conduct of business in the House. So members can invite my attention to any instance when a breach of order of any law of the House has been committed," said Matibini.
"But in very exceptional circumstances, if a matter is grave, urgent and of utmost national importance, I may allow a point of order to be raised and members should ensure that facts are accurate before raising any point of order."
Labels: FRA, PAC, PARLIAMENT, PATRICK MATIBINI
MUZ challenges Mopani to end leaching mine Pollution
By Misheck Wangwe in Kitwe and Gift Chanda in Lusaka
Fri 09 Mar. 2012, 11:59 CAT
MUZ has challenged Mopani Copper Mines to end pollution at Mufulira West
Heap Leaching Mine and save jobs instead of disputing the findings of the environmental authority.
And Mopani Copper Mine's shareholders have ordered the company management to urgently meet officials from the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) to address pollution challenges that led to the closure of its treatment plant in Mufulira.
Last Thursday, ZEMA ordered Mopani Copper Mine, a unit of leading swiss global commodity trader Glencore International AG, to suspend operations at its Mufulira West Heap Leaching plant for pollution violations.
In an interview yesterday, Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ) general secretary Nkole Chishimba said the defensive position that Mopani had taken over the closed Heap Leaching mine would not compel ZEMA to reopen the plant as the environmental authority had indicated that that would only happen when measures were taken to end the strong acid mists the plant was producing.
He said Mopani should urgently begin to redesign the plant and invest in equipment that would stop the acid mists from polluting Butondo Township in line with ZEMA's recommendations.
Chishimba said Mopani management must protect the 310 jobs created by the Mufulira West Heap Leaching plant by working towards improving its operations to the satisfaction of both the community and the environmental authority.
"We want that mine to reopen because our people need those jobs so workers should not be laid but they are supposed to put them on recess. There is a provision to put workers on recess like it happened in Luanshya when they were redoing the winders at Baluba Mine. They did not fire workers because they realised that it was not a permanent closure. So they should follow the provisions of the recess," Chishimba said.
He said matters of environmental concerns, particularly the allegations of massive pollution of the acid mists the heap leach plant was producing should have been addressed as Butondo residents had been complaining for a long time.
Chishimba said Mopani had the capacity to end pollution, save jobs and protect its operations at Mufulira West Heap Leaching Mine.
But Mopani Copper Mines chief executive officer Danny Callow said the company was surprised at the action taken by ZEMA and expressed fears for the 310 jobs created by the project.
In a statement, Callow said every day of the suspension was costing the company in the region of K525 million and called into question whether Mopani could continue to support the jobs created by the Heap Leach Project.
"Whilst the imminent closure notice appears to have been a precautionary measure on the part of ZEMA, we are not sure where they are getting their information from... We have always conducted our heap leaching project in a responsible manner and in line with or exceeding the terms of license," Callow said.
And according to sources at the mine, management has requested for an audience with ZEMA officials with a view of lifting the suspension of operations at its Mufulira West Heap Leaching plant.
"It seems instructions came from Switzerland where majority shareholders Glencore AG are based, that management should seek audience with ZEMA instead of issuing press statements that are dismissing the findings of the Agency," said the sources.
Last week, ZEMA suspended operations Mopani's Mufurila West Heap Leaching plant over pollution violations.
ZEMA stated that it had inspected the site and that heap leaching - a process that involves metals being leached from a heap of crushed ore by applying acid to the soil-couldn't be resumed until the company had completed eight recommended measures to reduce its effect on the surrounding area.
However, Mopani refuted the findings saying it was "surprised" by the suspension of a part of its mines, particularly since the ZEMA had renewed its operating license recently.
"Mopani's heap leach project has been operating since 2007. It has been properly and closely monitored by the relevant authorities and has always been given a clean bill of health, meeting or exceeding the terms of its license," stated Callow.
Labels: MCM, MOPANI, MUZ, POLLUTION
The myth of crazy-eyed African witch-hunters
Tuesday 6 March 2012
The horrific murder of Kristy Bamu by unstable individuals has been used to paint all African Pentecostals in Britain as potential nutters. It is a murder that stands out for being so singularly horrific.
In December 2010, 15-year-old Kristy Bamu, alongside his two brothers and two sisters, left his native Paris to spend Christmas in London with his big sister, 29-year-old Magalie Bamu, and her 28-year-old boyfriend, Eric Bikubi. During Kristy’s first night in Bikubi’s east London flat, he awoke and, disoriented by the unfamiliar surroundings, wet himself. Unfortunately Bikubi, a man obsessed with Kindoki, the Congolese for ‘witchcraft’, did not view this as an accident. It was a sign that Kristy was possessed by evil spirits.
Over the following four days, Bikubi, aided and abetted by Magalie, tortured Kristy to death. His mouth was smashed in with a hammer, his ears ripped apart with pliers, and his head repeatedly beaten with bottles. Then, with Kristy, starved of food and water and in immense pain, reportedly begging to die, they drowned him in the bath. Last week, the pair were found guilty of murder, and at the Old Bailey yesterday, they were given life sentences.
As heart-rending as Kristy’s death is, and as horrific as Bikubi and Magalie’s actions were, it is a unique case. Bikubi, by all accounts, was a damaged individual. Exceptionally so. Indeed, literally so. MRI scans carried out while he was imprisoned at Pentonville revealed significant brain damage, most probably caused by a childhood fall. And he himself admitted to suffering from ‘abnormal visions’, such as seeing swarms of rats. All of which merely confirmed in his mind that he was, according to Bikubi himself, ‘the chosen one’. In fact, while growing up in the Democratic Republic of Congo (he moved to east London when he was seven), his behaviour was so disturbing that, as he ambiguously put it, he was kept in ‘isolation’. Magalie, meanwhile, appears to have been little more than a willing accomplice to Bikubi’s twisted will.
Yet what happened to Kristy just over two years ago is not being treated as an exceptional crime committed by a deluded, dangerous individual and his weak but willing girlfriend. It is being treated, much as so-called honour killings are, as a culturally determined crime committed by culturally conditioned individuals. In this case, it is being presented as a manifestation of the darkside of Pentecostal Christianity, an iceberg tip of the witchcraft-obsessed barbarity that lurks just out of sight, but resolutely in our midst. From the police to charities, this jump from a particular murder, with specific morally culpable protagonists, to a general societal trend, with many unthinking agents, has been eagerly made. Little wonder that even the sentencing judge seemed determined to place Kristy’s killing within the context of a broader obsession with witchcraft. So, when Magalie stated, ‘I don’t have any views [on witchcraft] because I don’t believe in it’, Judge Paget refused to believe her, despite there being no reason at that stage for her to lie. ‘[Kristy’s murder] is only explicable if you shared Eric Bikubi’s belief in witchcraft’, he insisted, before feeling the need to remind the public that ‘an explanation’ ‘does not excuse [Kristy’s murder]’.
The police, however, went further than the witchcraft-hunting judge. After the verdict was announced, detective superintendent Terry Sharpe claimed that what happened to Kristy was indeed a large-scale sociocultural problem. ‘Children are being abused and murdered in increasing numbers in Britain because their African relatives think they are “spirit children”’, he claimed. And the reason for this belief? The rise and rise, apparently, of Pentecostal Christianity. This denomination, we are told, not only encourages speaking in tongues, and a belief in the immediate presence of God, but a belief in demonic possession and exorcisms, too – which, to be fair, is hardly anathema to other well-known strains of Christianity. Untroubled by such considerations, the witchcraft-finding generals are now convinced it is the rise of this belief system, particularly among African immigrants, that has led to an assumed increase in child-abusing, infanticidal believers.
UK Charity Africans Unite Against Child Abuse, a group keen to promote the idea that a belief in witchcraft is prevalent, was clearly wary of suggesting that all Pentecostal Christians were child-murderers in the making. ‘This is not a problem with all pastors or all churches’, said an AFUACA spokesperson in the wake of Kristy’s murder. ‘But the branding of children as witches is not abating’, she cautioned, ‘it is a growing problem. There are so many children suffering in silence.’ Joining in the insinuating chorus, Thomas Bikebi, executive director of Congolese Family Centre, reinforced the impression that damning children as possessed is a widespread cultural problem. ‘There are people within the community who will say that this pair did the right thing, they killed a witch’, he said. Little wonder that one broadsheet reported witchcraft-induced abuse as a ‘hidden crime’, or as the Daily Mail put it, ‘Officials suspect grotesque acts continue to thrive behind closed doors, fuelled by a toxic combination of extreme evangelical Christianity and traditional beliefs’.
‘Hidden crime’, ‘behind closed doors’… these are telling phrases. They reveal the curious logic at work in the witchdoctoring frenzy. For it is not based on evidence of wrongdoing, or knowledge of the prevalence of witchcraft practices in certain British communities. It is based, rather, on an absence of evidence, a lack of knowledge. This void, this space of official ignorance, existing ‘behind closed doors’, has been transformed into an opportunity for official speculation, a precondition for fantasising about just how prevalent the kind of abuse meted out to Kristy Bamu really is. Not knowing has been turned into proof positive that there is something unpleasant to know.
It seems incredible, given the past few days of state-stoked hysteria and charity cheerleading, but the groundless speculation as to the prevalence of witchdoctoring remains just that: groundless speculation. Just pause for a moment to consider the facts. In the most recent English Church census of 2005, it was estimated that there were nearly one million practising Pentecostal Christians in the UK. Since 2005, the number of Pentecostal Churches has risen by around 15 per cent to nearly 4,000. So, given that there is now likely to be well over a million Pentecostal Christians practising this religion, complete with its promulgation of demonic possession and exorcism, you might expect there to be a fair few cases of the type of abuse visited upon Kristy.
But that is the thing. Since 2001, there have officially been 83 incidents involving (non-specified) so-called ritual or faith-based abuse of children. Furthermore, there have been just 17 actual prosecutions. It may be a humanly significant figure, but statistically it is of no import. Of course, the reason for such low actual figures could be that it really is a crime ‘hidden behind closed doors’. Or just perhaps, it might be because most Pentecostal Christians are not actually disturbed homicidal maniacs.
Like the brutal killing of eight-year-old Victoria Climbié by her guardians in 2000, the murder of Kristy Bamu shocks because it is the exception, not the norm. It defies our imagination rather than prompts it. Yet, like so-called ‘honour killings’ and British Pakistanis, because this brutal act has been committed by immigrants it is not simply grasped for what it is: a brutal, repugnant act. It is grasped, rather, as a cultural crime, an act sustained by the beliefs and practices of a particular ethnic grouping. Not only does this type of thinking efface the singular responsibility, indeed the criminal responsibility of the perpetrator, it also damns a whole swath of British society. Because, believe it or not, not every Pentecostal Christian routinely abuses ‘possessed’ children.
Tim Black is senior writer at spiked.