Saturday, November 10, 2012
By Glen Greenwald
Global Research, November 10, 2012
Common Dreams 8 November 2012
CNN Loses Half Its Viewers: Corporate Media Downhill Plunge Continues As Alternative Media Explodes
Barbara Starr, CNN’s Pentagon reporter (more accurately known as: the Pentagon’s reporter at CNN), has an exciting exclusive today. Exclusively relying upon “three senior officials” in the Obama administration (all anonymous, needless to say), she claims that “two Iranian Su-25 fighter jets fired on an unarmed US Air Force Predator drone in the Persian Gulf last week,” while “the drone was in international airspace east of Kuwait . . . engaged in routine maritime surveillance.”
The drone was not hit, but, says CNN, “the incident raises fresh concerns within the Obama administration about Iranian military aggression in crucial Gulf oil shipping lanes.”
First things first: let us pause for a moment to extend our thoughts and prayers to this US drone. Although it was not physically injured, being shot at by the Iranians – while it was doing nothing other than peacefully minding its own business – must have been a very traumatic experience. I think I speak on behalf of everyone, regardless of political views, when I say that we all wish this brave hero a speedy recovery and hope it is back in full health soon, protecting our freedom.
The CNN report on this incident is revealing indeed. Every paragraph – literally – contains nothing but mindless summaries of the claims of US government officials. There is not an iota of skepticism about any of the assertions, including how this incident happened, what the drone was doing at the time, or where it took place. It is pure US government press release – literally; I defy anyone to identify any differences if the US government had issued its own press release directly rather than issuing it masquerading as a leaked CNN report.
Most notably, CNN does not even bother with the pretense of trying to include the claims of the Iranian government about what happened. There is no indication that the self-described news outlet even made an effort to contact Tehran to obtain their rendition of these events or even confirmation that it occurred. It simply regurgitates the accusations of anonymous US officials that Iran, with no provocation, out of the blue decided to shoot at a US drone in international airspace. (Although CNN does not mention it, last December Iran shot down a US drone which, it claims (and the US does not deny) was in Iranian air space).
That CNN’s prime mission is to serve the US government is hardly news. But given the magnitude of these kinds of accusations – their obvious ability, if not intent, to bolster animosity on the part of the US public toward Iran and heighten tensions between the two nations – shouldn’t CNN at least pretend to be a bit more skeptical and even-handed about how it is reporting these claims? Anonymous Bush officials claim Saddam is reconstituting his nuclear program; anonymous Obama officials claim Iran illegally shot at a US drone for no reason.
But nothing can top this sentence from CNN, intended to explain the significance of this alleged event: “Iran has, at times, been confrontational in the region.” Yes, indeed they have – in stark contrast to the peaceful United States, which never is. Or, as Jeremy Scahill today, anticipating how Starr might present her report on-air on CNN later today: “Iran, which has launched airstrikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and [holding earpiece] — wait, what’s that, Wolf? Oh, right. The US, which has…” Scahill was being a bit generous to Wolf Blitzer there, who would be far more likely to add; “yes, that’s right, Barbara: and we should also remind our viewers how Iran, just a few short years ago, attacked its neighbor Iraq, destroyed the country, and then occupied it for almost a decade, showing how aggressive the mullahs are willing to be in this region.”
In case any of you thought the US media would change its future behavior in light of the debacle during the run-up to the Iraq War – and, really, were any of you thinking they would? – this is your answer. The pre-Iraq-War behavior wasn’t an abandonment of their purpose but the supreme affirmation of it: to drape the claims of the US government with independent credibility, dutifully serve its interests, and contrive an appearance of a free press. This is our adversarial, watchdog media in action.
This all reminds me of a debate I did a couple years ago on MSNBC with Arianna Huffington and the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart over Iran and whether it should be viewed as an aggressor and enemy of the US. For most of the debate, MSNBC kept showing scary video footage of a test of a mid-range missile which Iran had just conducted, and then Capehart picked up on that to tell me, in essence: how can you say Iran isn’t aggressive when they’re testing these missiles? Yes, because, clearly, countries of peace (such as the US and Israel) would never do something as belligerent as testing missiles, much like no real Country of Peace would ever want to acquire a nuclear weapon.
Glenn Greenwald is a columnist on civil liberties and US national security issues for the Guardian. A former constitutional lawyer, he was until 2012 a contributing writer at Salon.
By Dr. Ismail Salami
Global Research, November 10, 2012
Region: Middle East & North Africa
In a rare interview with Russia Today TV, President Bashar Assad vigorously clarified his stance on the current Syrian crisis created by the West and some regional states including Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar and warned them of the apocalyptic consequences of any foreign intervention in Syria.
“I do not think the West is going [to intervene], but if they do so, nobody can tell what is next. I think the price of this [foreign] invasion if it happened is going to be more than the whole world can afford,” Assad said in a Thursday interview with Russia Today TV network.
Assad warned that the domino effect of any military attack on the country “will affect the world from the Atlantic to the Pacific and you know the implication on the rest of the world.”
Assad is well aware of what the West and their Arab allies are up to and what kind of scenario they are planning to follow in his country.
Syrian crisis has been dragging on for months now and a large number of people including civilians have been killed. The sabotaging efforts of the West and the financial funding of the insurgents by the regional states have not yet yielded any fruits whatsoever in helping these antagonistic forces to achieve their goals in Syria.
There was an initial assumption that President Assad would soon realize that a propitious escape would be the wisest choice. However, the speculation never transcended a merely idle notion. Thanks to Iran, China and Russia, Syria stood firm and a West-prescribed recipe for the so-called peaceful transition of power never materialized in the country. Quite unexpectedly, the plans of Syrian opposition fell apart on the eve of Doha conference. The initiative so vehemently backed by the West to form a united Syrian opposition practically went to waste on Wednesday night as the key opposition movements from inside the country pulled out. Opposition groups were scheduled to meet in Doha, the capital of Qatar on Thursday in order to appoint a new and strong leadership. However, three dissident bodies suddenly decided not to attend the meeting.
“There are too many people against this initiative for it to work now,” said a western diplomatic source in Doha.
Needless to say, the failure of the plan dealt a humiliating blow to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who was the one to announce it so unexpectedly as well as to Britain which had strongly supported the initiative.
It seems that the West and its regional allies are incapable of building a united front against the government of Bashar Assad.
In addition to the efforts of the West and its allies to take control of Syria, there is yet another danger which gravely threatens the country to an inconceivable degree: the influx of the Salafi-Jihadists into the country. Last February, al-Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, who is reportedly in Jordan, urged his followers in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to rise up and support what he called ‘their brothers in Syria’. Also, Abu Muhammad al-Tahawi, a leading figure in Jordan’s Salafi-Jihadist movement, told the BBC that “jihad in Syria is obligatory for any able Muslim in order to help his brothers there.”
The fact is that the al-Qaeda-affiliated Salafi-Jihadists have already swarmed into the country and are already fighting against Bashar Assad’s government; among the killed, some have been identified to belong to the Salafi cult. The grand plan is to turn Syria into a safe haven for the Salafis who are responsible for beheading Syrian troops and civilians. Ghastly videos have recently circulated on the internet, showing the Salafi-Jihadists beheading Syrian troops and civilians in cold blood.
Parenthetically, beheading is a ritual act rather than a way of killing in war. The act of beheading contains a symbolic meaning: the victim is relegated to the degree of a beast and he should be treated likewise. Further to that, this act of brutality inspires an atmosphere of horror and commotion in the viewer and quenches the bestial thirst within the decapitator.
From an anthropological point of view, many societies used to revere the head as the seat of wisdom and consciousness and believed it must be connected to the body in order for the soul to travel into the hereafter. Without it, the spirit would keep wandering restlessly. Based on this perception, the act of beheading is to be taken to imply that the victim would never regain peace as his/her spirit would wander for all the time to come.
After all, a display of atrocities has manifested itself in grisly different forms on the part of the insurgents in Syria. On Saturday, humanitarian organizations condemned video images of rebels executing captured Syrian soldiers after insurgents overran army checkpoints near the town of Saraqeb on the strategic highway linking Damascus and the port city of Latakia to Aleppo.
“This shocking footage depicts a potential war crime in progress, and demonstrates an utter disregard for international humanitarian law by the armed group in question,” Amnesty International said.
Rupert Colville, spokesman for UN human rights chief Navi Pillay, said this could amount to a “war crime” and that the video footage, showing soldiers pushed to the ground and kicked before being shot, can be presented as evidence.
In any event, a Syria without Assad would mean a country in the hands of the Salafi-Jihadists who will undoubtedly turn the country into a graveyard for the Alawites and the moderate Sunnis and a breeding ground for terrorism and extremism in the region. It goes without saying that the Middle East region is being systematically and consciously devoured by an act of extremism funded and promoted by Washington and some Arab regimes.
Even without envisaging any foreign intervention and the domino effect it will have on the region and on the world as President Bashar Assad predicts, Syria is being eroded from within and without by different forces which have mobilized despite the rift in their ideologies but each with a unique agenda.
The tug of war in Syria has long started and there is an immediate danger of engaging the entire region in this bloody broil.
GR Radio: The Global Research News Hour
By Justin Podur, Ken Freedman, Michael Premo, and Michael Welch
Global Research, November 09, 2012
“Staten Island and Far Rockaway… parts of it… look like a war zone… I say that in all seriousness having seen devastated areas in other places like Katrina as well as in Zimbabwe and Thailand… The city out there is absolutely flattened.”
Haiti, the site of the most successful slave revolt in history, is now the poorest country in the Americas, and among the most foreign dominated. It has survived political violence throughout its history including a mid-twentieth century US occupation and successive dictatorships. Now under the auspices of the UN and aided by multiple NGOs, is this island nation turning the corner?
Hardly, says York University Professor Justin Podur who has recently authored the book Haiti’s New Dictatorship: The Coup, the Earthquake and the UN Occupation. In this interview Podur argues that even with elections and foreign assistance by the UN, EU, Canada and the US, the ruling authority in Haiti can be accurately described as a dictatorship.
Also, we take a look at North-Eastern US states following the carnage wrought by Hurricane Sandy, estimated to be one of the most destructive storms to ever hit the United States. Community broadcaster Ken Freedman of Hoboken, New Jersey and Michael Premo of Brooklyn relate their observances and experiences on the ground in these devastated areas, and how grassroots organizations are successfully rising to the challenge of providing relief to the survivors of the superstorm.
LISTEN TO INTERVIEW:
Click to download audio (MP3 format)
The Global Research News Hour airs on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg Thursdays at 10am CDT. The programme is broadcast weekly by CKUW News, 95.9 FM out of Winnipeg, MB, and on Canadian community radio networks. The weekly programme is available for download on the Global Research website.
From CHIMWEMWE MWALE in Chinsali
PARAMOUNT Chief Mpezeni of the Ngoni has urged opposition leaders to emulate the American model of politics of respect for elected leadership and give President Sata a chance to govern. Chief Mpezeni said political leaders must stop unproductive politicking and instead support the government of the day to develop the country.
The Paramount Chief said this during a meeting with some Bemba chiefs at Senior Chief Chibesakunda’s palace in Chinsali yesterday, ahead of the Isonge traditional ceremony of the Bisa people. The chiefs included Chewe, Mubanga, Nkweto, Kabungo and Chinkamba.
He said President Sata must not be subjected to political wrangling among opposition leaders and advised them to discuss progressive ideas that can help the PF administration to improve living standards.
Chief Mpezeni requested Chief Chibesakunda to urge MMD president Nevers Mumba to tone down on his political tirade against President Sata.
“You must talk to your subject Dr Nevers Mumba and advise him to stop politicking and talking without purpose. Let us all unite and work with the government of the day…. the PF administration. We should not make their work difficult. Give President Sata a chance to govern and develop the country,” Chief Mpezeni said.
He said traditional leaders must unite and regularly inform government about the challenges people are facing.
Chief Mpezeni said the PF administration is working towards empowering traditional leaders, who are now actively participating in governance.
“We are the ones who live with the people and we know their needs, so government has opened up to listen to us so that they can provide what is lacking. We should, therefore, be given the authority to work,” Chief Mpezeni said.
He said government must consider re-introducing the Native Authority Act, which was replaced by the Local Authority Act in the 1960s.
He commended President Sata for his efforts to unite chiefs and improve their welfare through the introduction of the Ministry of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs.
He said chiefs must also endeavour to regularly visit each another.
Chief Mpezeni said chiefs must not allow politicians to engage them in retrogressive politics, as the case was with previous governments.
And Senior Chief Chibesakunda said the restoration of the Native Authority Act would enable chiefs to participate actively in the development of rural areas.
He said chiefs are happy that President Sata is uniting them and that there is need to create village industries which can add value to agricultural products produced by local people.
Chief Chibesakunda said the PF administration has shown political will towards the development of rural areas.
He also urged traditional leaders not to be used by politicians as the authority of chiefs must be respected.
“We are very happy with the leadership of President Sata. We must not allow ourselves to be used…our authority should not be undermined. We must reclaim our position and respect….this is what President Sata is doing,” Chief Chibesakunda said.
He said Chief Mpezeni’s visit is inspiring and a unifying gesture.
Chief Chinkamba said chiefs should not only wait to meet during the House of Chiefs sittings but develop networks and visit each other regularly.
He said some chiefs are not members of the House of Chiefs, hence the need to have regular visits to other chiefdoms and discuss issues affecting subjects.
Chief Chewe said Government needs chiefs to participate in governance to enhance development.
Chief Chewe commended President Sata for recognising the important role traditional leaders play in national development.
Posted in Iran, Media by what's left on November 9, 2012
By Stephen Gowans
“There have been,” write Julian E. Barnes and Jay Solomon in the Wall Street Journal (November 8, 2012), “a series of provocations by Iran in recent years. US officials say Iran has been responsible for a series of cyberattacks this year on US banks. There have also been incidents in the Persian Gulf, where Iranian fast boats have threatened US and British warships.”
Barnes and Solomon make no mention of the more frequent and menacing provocations aimed at Iran by the United States and its Middle East partner in aggression, Israel:
• Washington virtually declaring war on Iran when it designated the country a member of an “axis of evil.”
• Cyberattacks on Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities.
• Assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists.
• Penetration of Iranian airspace by US drones.
• Massing of US and British warships in the Persian Gulf.
• US deployment of anti-missile systems to its Gulf allies (what an aggressor preparing for an attack does to protect its allies from retaliation.)
• Innumerable threats to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities.
• Economic warfare of crippling trade sanctions and financial isolation which is destroying Iran’s economy and its ability to provide medical care to its population.
The United States bases its Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, only 150 miles from Iran. It has an aircraft carrier-led battle group in the Persian Gulf. Its warplanes and thousands of US troops are stationed in Kuwait and Qatar. In terms of provocation, this is roughly equivalent to the Chinese basing a naval fleet in Havana, a battle group in the Caribbean, warplanes in Venezuela and Nicaragua, and troops in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. We needn’t ask whether Washington would denounce China’s massive deployment of military force close to US borders as provocative, doubly so were this accompanied by Beijing branding the United States part of an axis of evil and declaring that in its dealings with Washington all options are on the table.
And this tells only part of the story. China is no match militarily for the United States, but US military capabilities overwhelmingly outclass Iran’s. The hypothetical aggressive deployment of Chinese military force to US borders isn’t a tenth as provocative as Washington’s actual deployment of massive military force to the Persian Gulf.
So it is that no one with a rudimentary grasp of current international relations could possibly conceive of the relationship between the United States and Iran as one of Iran provoking the former, rather than the other way around. Since it’s fair to assume that the journalists Barnes and Solomon are not without a rudimentary grasp of the subject, it can only be concluded that they write propaganda for the US state despite working for a private organization—and that the propaganda is every bit as much chauvinist and congenial to US foreign policy goals as the bilge pumped out of Washington’s official propaganda agency, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
So how does the Journal reporters’ selective-references to provocation aid US foreign policy? In this way: There is a pattern of aggressive powers—from imperial Britain to Nazi Germany to the United States—justifying their military interventions as necessary responses to “provocation.” If cruise missiles are to smash into Iran, it will be helpful to justify Washington’s unleashing of its military force as a response to Iranian provocations, since a legitimate casus belli doesn’t exist. Even a case for war that public relations specialists could falsely invest with the appearance of legitimacy—namely, eliminating an Iranian nuclear weapons program—has become impossible ever since the US intelligence community declared that there is no credible evidence Iran has one. This led George W. Bush to lament in his memoirs, “How could I possibly explain using the military to destroy the nuclear facilities of a country the intelligence community said had no active nuclear weapons?”(1)—a question that doubtlessly troubles his successor. Iranian “provocations,” then, become a useful pretext for the use of military force in the absence of a legitimate case for war.
That Barnes and Solomon should act as imperialist-friendly propagandists is hardly surprising, since any dispassionate analysis of the mass media’s multiple linkages to the state through the corporate ruling class inevitably leads to the conclusion that the mainstream media’s take on foreign affairs will portray US foreign policy as admirable, virtuous and right, while the intended victims of the profit-driven quest to extend US hegemony will be depicted as democracy-hating, terrorist-promoting, economy-mismanaging, human rights-abusing, provocateurs (which, come to think of it, is a fairly apt description of the US government itself.)
(1) David Morrison, “George Bush was ‘angry’ when US intelligence said Iran hadn’t got an active nuclear weapons programme,” http://www.david-morrison.org.uk/iran/iran-bush-on-nie.htm . Morrison has written a number of trenchant and beautifully crafted analyses, available on his website http://www.david-morrison.org.uk/.
Posted in Africa, Libya by what's left on November 9, 2012
By Stephen Gowans
The next time that empire comes calling in the name of human rights, please be found standing idly by
Maximilian C. Forte’s new book Slouching Towards Sirte: NATO’s War on Libya and Africa (released November 20) is a searing indictment of NATO’s 2011 military intervention in Libya, and of the North American and European left that supported it.
He argues that NATO powers, with the help of the Western left who “played a supporting role by making substantial room for the dominant U.S. narrative and its military policies,” marshalled support for their intervention by creating a fiction that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was about to carry out a massacre against a popular, pro-democracy uprising, and that the world could not stand idly by and watch a genocide unfold.
Forte takes this view apart, showing that a massacre was never in the cards, much less genocide. Gaddafi didn’t threaten to hunt down civilians, only those who had taken up armed insurrection—and he offered rebels amnesty if they laid down their arms. What’s more, Gaddafi didn’t have the military firepower to lay siege to Benghazi (site of the initial uprising) and hunt down civilians from house to house. Nor did his forces carry out massacres in the towns they recaptured…something that cannot be said for the rebels.
Citing mainstream media reports that CIA and British SAS operatives were already on the ground “either before or at the very same time as (British prime minister David) Cameron and (then French president Nicolas) Sarkozy began to call for military intervention in Libya”, Forte raises “the possibility that Western powers were at least waiting for the first opportunity to intervene in Libya to commit regime change under the cover of a local uprising.”
And he adds, they were doing so “without any hesitation to ponder what if any real threats to civilians might have been.” Gaddafi, a fierce opponent of fundamentalist Wahhabist/Salafist Islam “faced several armed uprisings and coup attempts before— and in the West there was no public clamor for his head when he crushed them.”
(The same, too, can be said of the numerous uprisings and assassination attempts carried out by the Syrian Muslim Brothers against the Assads, all of which were crushed without raising much of an outcry in the West, until now.)
Rejecting a single factor explanation that NATO intervened to secure access to Libyan oil, Forte presents a multi-factorial account, which invokes elements of the hunt for profits, economic competition with China and Russia, and establishing US hegemony in Africa. Among the gains of the intervention, writes Forte, were:
1) increased access for U.S. corporations to massive Libyan expenditures on infrastructure development (and now reconstruction), from which U.S. corporations had frequently been locked out when Gaddafi was in power;
2) warding off any increased acquisition of Libyan oil contracts by Chinese and Russian firms;
3) ensuring that a friendly regime was in place that was not influenced by ideas of “resource nationalism;”
4) increasing the presence of AFRICOM in African affairs, in an attempt to substitute for the African Union and to entirely displace the Libyan-led Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD);
5) expanding the U.S. hold on key geostrategic locations and resources;
6) promoting U.S. claims to be serious about freedom, democracy, and human rights, and of being on the side of the people of Africa, as a benign benefactor;
7) politically stabilizing the North African region in a way that locked out opponents of the U.S.; and,
8) drafting other nations to undertake the work of defending and advancing U.S. political and economic interests, under the guise of humanitarianism and protecting civilians.
Forte challenges the view that Gaddafi was in bed with the West as a “strange view of romance.” It might be more aptly said, he counters, that the United States was in bed with Libya on the fight against Al Qaeda and Islamic terrorists, since “Libya led by Gaddafi (had) fought against Al Qaeda years before it became public enemy number one in the U.S.” Indeed, years “before Bin Laden became a household name in the West, Libya issued an arrest warrant for his capture.” Gaddafi was happy to enlist Washington’s help in crushing a persistent threat to his secular rule.
Moreover, the bed in which Libya and the United States found themselves was hardly a comfortable one. Gaddafi complained bitterly to US officials that the benefits he was promised for ending Libya’s WMD program and capitulating on the Lockerbie prosecution were not forthcoming. And the US State Department and US corporations, for their part, complained bitterly of Gaddafi’s “resource nationalism” and attempts to “Libyanize” the economy. One of the lessons the NATO intervention has taught is that countries that want to maintain some measure of independence from Washington are well advised not to surrender the threat of self-defense.
Forte, to use his own words, gives the devil his due, noting that:
Gaddafi was a remarkable and unique exception among the whole range of modern Arab leaders, for being doggedly altruistic, for funding development programs in dozens of needy nations, for supporting national liberation struggles that had nothing to do with Islam or the Arab world, for pursuing an ideology that was original and not simply the product of received tradition or mimesis of exogenous sources, and for making Libya a presence on the world stage in a way that was completely out of proportion with its population size.
He points out as well that “Libya had reaped international isolation for the sake of supporting the Irish Republican Army (IRA), the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and the African National Congress (ANC)”, which, once each of these organizations had made their own separate peace, left Libya behind continuing to fight.
Forte invokes Sirte in the title of his book to expose the lie that NATO’s intervention was motivated by humanitarianism and saving lives.
“Sirte, once promoted by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi as a possible capital of a future United States of Africa, and one of the strongest bases of support for the revolution he led, was found to be in near total ruin by visiting journalists who came after the end of the bombing campaign by members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
“This,” observes Forte, “is what ‘protecting civilians’ actually looks like, and it looks like crimes against humanity.” “The only lives the U.S. was interested in saving,” he argues “were those of the insurgents, saving them so they could defeat Gaddafi.” And yet “the slaughter in Sirte…barely raised an eyebrow among the kinds of Western audiences and opinion leaders who just a few months before clamored for ‘humanitarian intervention.’”
Among those who clamored for humanitarian intervention were members of the “North American and European left—reconditioned, accommodating, and fearful—(who) played a supporting role by making substantial room for the dominant U.S. narrative and its military policies.” While Forte doesn’t name names, except for a reference to Noam Chomsky, whom he criticizes for “poor judgment and flawed analyses” for supporting “the no-fly zone intervention and the rebellion as ‘wonderful’ and ‘liberation’”, self-proclaimed Africa expert Patrick Bond may be emblematic of the left Forte excoriates. Soon after the uprising began, Bond wrote on his Z-Space that “Gaddafi may try to hang on, with his small band of loyalists allegedly bolstered by sub-Saharan African mercenaries – potentially including Zimbabweans, according to Harare media – helping Gaddafi for a $16,000 payoff each.” This was a complete fiction, but one Bond fell for eagerly, and then proceeded to propagate with zeal, without regard to the consequences. As Forte notes, “the only massacre to have occurred anywhere near Benghazi was the massacre of innocent black African migrant workers and black Libyans falsely accused of being ‘mercenaries’” by the likes of Bond.
Forte also aims a stinging rebuke at those who treated anti-imperialism as a bad word. “Throughout this debacle, anti-imperialism has been scourged as if it were a threat greater than the West’s global military domination, as if anti-imperialism had given us any of the horrors of war witnessed thus far this century. Anti-imperialism was treated in public debate in North America as the province of political lepers.” This calls to mind opprobrious leftist figures who discovered a fondness for the obloquy “mechanical anti-imperialists” which they hurdled with great gusto at anti-imperialist opponents of the NATO intervention.
“NATO’s intervention did not stop armed conflict in Libya,” observes Forte—it continues to the present. “Massacres were not prevented, they were enabled, and many occurred after NATO intervened and because NATO intervened.” It is for these reasons he urges readers to stand idly by the next time that empire comes calling in the name of human rights.
Slouching Towards Sirte is a penetrating critique, not only of the NATO intervention in Libya, but of the concept of humanitarian intervention and imperialism in our time. It is the definitive treatment of NATO’s war on Libya. It is difficult to imagine it will be surpassed.
Maximilian C. Forte, Slouching Towards Sirte: NATO’s War on Libya and Africa, Baraka Books, Montreal, ISBN 978-1-926824-52-9. Available November 20, 2012. http://www.barakabooks.com/
November 9, 2012
Suspicion grows as Western criticism of Argentina's nationalization and rebuffing of "rules of global finance" sharpens in tandem with street protests.
Western media agencies have begun enthusiastically covering demonstrations in Argentina's capital, Buenos Aires. CNN, AP, and the BBC have all covered the protests in equally vague terms, failing to identify the leaders and opposition groups behind them, while BBC in particular recycled "Arab Spring" rhetoric claiming that, "opposition activists used social networks to mobilise the march, which they said was one of the biggest anti-government protests in a decade."
The Western media claims the protesters are angry over, "rising inflation, high levels of crime and high-profile corruption cases," all the identical, vague grievances brought into the streets by Wall Street-backed opposition groups in Venezuela. Underneath these unsubstantiated claims, lies the International Monetary Fund, and threats of sanctions aimed at Argentina's turning away from the US Dollar and the Wall Street-London dominated international financial order.
And like in Venezuela, a coordinated campaign against the Argentinian government, led by President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchne, has begun in op-eds across the Western media.
The Chicago Tribune in an op-ed titled, "A wrong turn in Buenos Aires: Argentina's populist economic policies court disaster," stated:
What a shame to see a country of such great economic promise swerving off the road to prosperity again.
The latest in a history of unforced errors began in 2007. National elections ushered in populist President Cristina Fernandez, who has led her nation to the brink of disaster by refusing to play by the rules of global finance. She restricted international trade, violated contracts and pumped out phony data to disguise the soaring inflation her policies brought about. All the while she scored cheap political points by blasting the rich countries of the north for their supposed economic imperialism.
Argentina took a grave step in May when it nationalized YPF, its main energy company. The takeover, condemned around the world, forced out Spain's Grupo Repsol, which owned a majority stake in YPF. Repsol was providing the engineering know-how and financial investment to develop Argentina's massive energy reserves—including the huge Vaca Muerta oil-and-gas find.
Negotiations to compensate Repsol for Argentina's asset-grab will end badly for Argentina. The European Union is likely to impose sanctions. Repsol wants $10 billion, and it has sent the message to rival energy companies that it will not permit others to profit from its confiscated assets. Argentina will have a hard time finding partners to help it develop what should be a lucrative resource.
The financial coup against Repsol won strong national support. The approval ratings of Fernandez temporarily shot up. Even opposition parties backed the move. Government officials talked about how they had restored Argentina's dignity by standing up to foreigners exploiting its natural bounty. Meantime, Fernandez kept the once-hot economy going by nationalizing private pension funds, redirecting the money into housing loans, and expanding welfare programs by decree.
Now Argentina has to pay the price.
What is likely to follow will be coordinated attacks including sanctions, isolation, political attacks, currency attacks, and of course US-engineered unrest in the streets, which can range from protesters merely clogging traffic, to escalating violence triggered by the now notorious "mystery gunmen" used in US unconventional warfare to destabilize, divide, and destroy nations.
But also like in Venezuela, if enough awareness can be raised in regards to what the West is doing, and the disingenuous intentions and interests driving opposition groups into the streets, these efforts being used to coerce Argentina back into the Western dominated "world order" articulated by US think-tank policy makers like Robert Kagan as serving "the needs of the United States and its allies, which constructed it," can ultimately be thwarted.
If you are in Argentina, or are familiar with the opposition groups now demonstrating against the Argentinian government, with knowledge of their leaders, demands, ideology, and affiliations, please contact the Land Destroyer Report at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, November 09, 2012
by Staff Reporter
SEVERAL cabinet ministers are facing public exposure and possible prosecution for illegally taking allowances and various other freebies from struggling parastatals and state enterprises under their portfolios.
Most government enterprises remain unprofitable and have long been a drain on the national fiscus with the problems blamed on undercapitalisation and poor management.
But it has emerged that Ministers from both Zanu PF and the MDC formations have also been preying on the companies for allowances and perks such as vehicles, in the process, prejudicing the cash-strapped coalition administration of millions of dollars.
State Enterprises Minister Gorden Moyo said financial statements from the companies have revealed that Ministers were taking allowances from the firms and having their hotel and travel bills paid by the firms in violation of the Public Finance Management Act.
“Ministers get vehicles, fuel and have their mobile phone bills paid by the government but it has emerged that they are also forcing parastatals to provide them with the same perks. This is against the Public Finance Management Act and they are violating the law,” Moyo told VOA.
“We are waiting for an on-going audit to be completed and once that is done the statement would be presented to Parliament and those Ministers who are bleeding the parastatals would be exposed.
“Zimbabweans would know who is short-circuiting the rules of procedure and I hope this will be done before Christmas.”
The Anti-Corruption Commission also revealed recently that several Ministers in the coalition government were under investigation for corruption.
“We are not targeting only the small fish as some people may think,” the Commission’s chair, Denford Chirindo said recently.
“There are no sacred cows and all the reports that we have received, including those of several ministers, senior Government officials and MPs are under investigation.”
In 2009 it was revealed that several Cabinet Ministers had taken thousands of dollars from Ziscosteel in allowances and hotels bills even for trips unrelated to the company which was then struggling to survive and is now virtually collapsed.
The weekly Independent newspaper revealed that the company had paid the Industry and Commerce Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi some US$3,000 in allowances while he attended a meeting of the regional SADC body in Botswana.
Other senior government and Zanu PF officials were also said to have had air tickets for foreign travel paid for by the company in addition to taking thousands of dollars in allowances.
By The Post
Fri 09 Nov. 2012, 12:30 CAT
There are complaints from the top-most leadership of this government about some civil servants trying to frustrate their work, their efforts, their programmes.
But these complaints are not new or peculiar to this government. We used to hear about them in the early 1990s from the government of Frederick Chiluba.
Chiluba and his colleagues used to complain about how civil servants aligned to UNIP were trying to frustrate their work and sabotage their programmes. Many civil servants were retired as a result of this. But the problems continued; the operations of the civil service never meaningfully improved. The Chiluba regime filled the civil service, including the police, with its own party cadres who could not perform. Most of the people they appointed did not even have the requisite qualifications and experience needed for them to efficiently and effectively perform the duties of their jobs.
After Chiluba left office and Levy Mwanawasa took over in 2001, the same complaints resurfaced. Again, some new people, who were believed to be more loyal to the new rulers, were appointed to the civil service. But the performance of the civil service did not improve.
Today, we are hearing the same arguments. Yet, this government has appointed so many people to the civil service. Almost all the permanent secretaries serving today have been appointed by them, they are people they believe are loyal to them. All the key directors in our ministries and government departments have been appointed or promoted by them to such positions. Where is the problem?
If the people they appointed are failing to perform, can this be blamed on the previous regime or on themselves?
Of course, the civil service and the public sector in general is very big and there are many people who are still serving whom they did not appoint. There are many professional civil servants who have been serving in government for many years and under different regimes. Every new regime brings in its own cadres and ignores them in promotions.
There are people in our civil service and public sector in general who have been working there for two or three decades with very high qualifications and experience, but every regime overlooks them in promotions. Political party cadres with relatively little experience and low qualifications have been placed above them by different regimes. These professional civil servants have become frustrated and don't care anymore about what happens. They have lost hope of ever being promoted and are just marking time, waiting for their retirement time to come. They can't be easily fired because they are not political appointees, they are professional civil servants who know their rights and understand very well the civil service processes and procedures.
Clearly, the challenge we face today in the running of our civil service and the public sector in general is a creation of our politicians. It is our politicians who have filled our public sector with inexperienced and unqualified people. Look at the foreign service! Take an audit of who has been sent to the foreign service over the last 21 years! A proper scrutiny will reveal that most of the people who have been sent to our foreign service over the last two decades are either relatives or close family friends of those in power or ruling party cadres. The situation has been the same under every regime since 1991. We cannot authoritatively speak on what pertained before 1991. We plead ignorance.
The foreign service has become the dumping ground of all the relatives, friends, ruling party cadres who are unemployed or are looking for an opportunity to go abroad. An audit of who is who in our foreign service will be very embarrassing to all regimes that have been in charge of our country over the last 21 years, including the current one. There is no regime over the last 21 years that can reasonably and confidently talk about a professional foreign service.
And this practice has even created over-employment in our civil service. We have too many people in our foreign service doing nothing, but earning a salary from the taxpayer. Even countries richer than us do not have such a highly bloated foreign service. We have all sorts of officers in our missions who are doing nothing; whose job is only to meet senior government officials when they happen to pass through or visit those countries. This is not the best way to run government and to use our very limited public resources.
Even here at home, a good number of our civil servants are people who are not fit to occupy the offices they have been appointed to, hence the inefficiency that our politicians are correctly complaining about.
In the past, we mean before 1991, it used to be very difficult to join the civil service because one had to go through a number of examinations before one was employed as a civil servant. Now all one needs is simply the right political or other connections. This may be good for those who are in influential positions because they are able to help their relatives and friends, but it is not good for the performance of the government in general and indeed for their own personal performance. The consequence of this is that top government leaders are not getting the required or right service from civil servants for them to be able to deliver on their promises to the people. And there is nothing which makes people more appreciative of a government than that it should be able to deliver services.
In saying this, we are not in any way saying that those who have relatives in top government or political positions should never be employed in the civil service or the public sector in general. They are Zambians and they should be allowed to occupy any public office for which they have the requisite experience and qualifications. But let that be the basis for their engagement, and not any other considerations that may negatively impact on the performance of government and of the political leadership in government.
Until the political leadership running government addresses these issues, they have no legitimate right to complain about the poor performance of the civil service and the public sector in general because the problem has been created by themselves and it is within their capacity to correct.
By Kombe Chimpinde
Fri 09 Nov. 2012, 14:00 CAT
ZAMBIANS are not interested in wrangles of people jostling for political positions but in the development of the country, says CCZ.
CCZ secretary general said in a pastoral letter issued on Wednesday that Zambians were Reverend Suzanne Matale interested in seeing proper and long-lasting development in the nation as promised before the elections in September last year.
"We continue to see concentration on the well-being of the leaders rather than the led. The leadership wrangles, in full view of the nation, perpetuated by very senior members of government are an indicator of lack of vision, insight and discipline in the government ranks," Rev Matale said.
She appealed to President Michael Sata to bring the perceived wrangles among government officials to an immediate stop so that energies of government officials are expended on developing the country.
Rev Matale said CCZ was however concerned with the direction the government was leading the country.
"...the government has set itself to repeat all the things that the Zambians said they did not appreciate in the previous governments. This trend is a threat to the aspiration of the Zambian people who had hoped to see new dispensations, new ideologies, new work ethics, new values and new focus on the improvement of the lives of the people," she said.
Rev Matale also noted growing tendency by the PF government to use the same language used over the years by MMD to intimidate Zambians during the elections or to frighten the electorate into submission.
This was in reference to remarks by President Sata in Mufumbwe ahead of yesterday's by-election where he stated that the PF would not bring development to the area if their candidate Steven Masumba was not voted for.
"Many people in Zambia contribute to the national resource basket in terms of paying all kinds of taxes and therefore whether they vote for one party or another, they are all entitled to development because they are all Zambians. Governance issues are not the same as party issues," she stated.
She said government's role was to develop the country on behalf of all Zambians and urged politicians to take note that all people had the right to freely elect leaders of their choice as this was their constitutional right.
And CCZ also appealed to the Anti Corruption Commission to appeal the case in which former human resource officer at Ministry of Health, Henry Kapoko, has been acquitted of charges of theft by public servant worth K1.9 billion.
But chief government spokesperson Kennedy Sakeni yesterday said the government had no hand in the decisions of the Judiciary in the dispensation of justice.
In a statement yesterday, Sakeni said that it was unfortunate for the CCZ to doubt government's commitment to the fight against corruption following the acquittal of Kapoko and eight others over corruption charges.
"It is therefore advisable that stakeholders desist from politicising court decisions, but follow the due process of the law in seeking amends where it is deemed necessary," said Sakeni.
By Misheck Wangwe in Mufumbwe
Fri 09 Nov. 2012, 14:00 CAT
OVER 20 MMD cadres at Kyamwina grounds in Mufumbwe on Wednesday attempted to stone a ZAF helicopter that was ferrying election staff and materials within the constituency.
And Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) commissioner Minerva Tembo said it was illogical for anybody to think that the Mufumbwe election would be rigged.
The helicopter could not take off on time as it was surrounded by cadres armed with catapults and knobkerries, threatening to stone it and accusing the ECZ and the PF of trying to rig yesterday's by-election.
North Western Province police commissioner Eugene Sibote, who confirmed the incident in an interview said the police had arrested an MMD cadre identified as Fred Mangisa, 30, who has since been charged with conduct likely to cause the breach of peace.
"A ZAF officer came running at the police station and told us that the irate cadres want to stone the chopper. When our officers rushed there, these cadres started throwing stones at the officers. The one arrested (Mangisa) from chief Chizela areas was using a catapult and one of my officers was hit in the process," Sibote said.
He said the police confronted the cadres that were claiming that the air-lifting of election materials and election staff was one way of rigging the election.
"They were saying they are suspicious about these materials being air-lifted; now to us it was not a very valid concern. This constituency is vast and a chopper has been used so many times during elections. We are not interested in individuals that want to unnecessarily alarm the nation and make false claims of rigging. There are places that are closer to Kaoma and very far from this place and a chopper is used," Sibote said.
And speaking during a stakeholders' meeting yesterday, Tembo said political parties must refrain from telling lies that had potential to disrupt peace.
"What happened over the chopper was regrettable. How can elections be rigged in a chopper when records are there to verify and countercheck the process? If we ask how and where rigging takes place, can you explain? This is the confusion that you are perpetuating and it must be stooped," Tembo said.
MMD leader Nevers Mumba, who went to the police station on Wednesday, vowed that party cadres would do everything possible to defend themselves and the votes because the PF had engaged in malpractices.
Mumba, who was in the company of Gabriel Namulambe, said the party expected the police to take action against PF cadres that had engaged in electoral malpractices.
He alleged that the PF was beating up MMD cadres and they were going round distributing stuffs to people despite the campaign period coming to an end.
"Listening to you commissioner, you mean well but there is a big thing going on. If you don't stop people like Judge Ngoma, the people in the MMD will stop him but stopping him, it may be bad for both the groups which we don't want the police to allow what's happening. We are giving you a tip to save lives. Even if you answer us and give us explanations, it will not change what they are planning to do," Mumba said.
But Sibote said the police would work professionally and according to the law, adding that it was unacceptable for anybody in the MMD to think that the command was biased.
He said officers had been deployed on the ground to monitor the situation and to bring those breaching the law to book.
But PF campaign manager Jean Kapata said it was sad that Mumba had resorted to lies after noticing that the PF was enjoying popularity in Mufumbwe.
Kapata said the PF had not in any way engaged in malpractices in Mufumbwe and it was sad that stories were being fabricated by the MMD to portray a picture that there was violence in Mufumbwe when in fact not.
"It is sad that Nevers Mumba is now a blatant liar. He is a pastor, he must be telling then country the truth. We are not campaigning as PF, it's the MMD camp that is trying to cause confusion and our people have been avoiding them," Kapata said.
Voting started on a slow pace and final results are expected by 10:00 hours today.
By Qfm News
Fri 09 Nov. 2012, 14:00 CAT
DEFENCE minister Geoffrey Mwamba says Lusaka Province PF chairperson Geoffrey Chuumbwe is being used by some selfish party officials to fight him.
Mwanba, who is also Kasama Central member of parliament, said it was very unfortunate that junior PF members were attacking senior party officials through the media.
PF Lusaka Province chairman Geoffrey Chuumbwe said Mwamba has no wisdom to be president of Zambia.
He said Chuumbwe was entitled to his own opinions. Mwamba said it was just unfortunate that Chuumbwe had chosen to be used by some selfish party officials. He, however, said he was better off not mentioning any names.
By Roy Habaalu
Fri 09 Nov. 2012, 14:00 CAT
THE body representing civil servants in Zambia says directors and their deputies are the ones frustrating government efforts and want the PF government to fail.
Civil Servants and Allied Workers Union (CSAWU) general secretary Joy Beene yesterday said directors and their deputies were the same people whose loyalty and allegiance was to the MMD.
"It's unfortunate that it's happening at a high level of director and deputy and probably at permanent secretary levels. Our members who are junior in rank can't frustrate government efforts because they are the same people who woke up early in the morning on September 20, 2011 last year to go and change government. Why should they today frustrate government? It's those that don't merit the jobs," said Beene.
Recently, President Michael Sata said there were civil servants still aligned to the MMD regime who wanted to frustrate his administration.
And Vice-President Guy Scott recently said some 'mambala' civil servants were frustrating government developmental efforts and would soon be removed.
But Beene said those frustrating the government were not appointed on merit.
He said until those aligned to MMD were removed, the frustration would continue because their allegiance was not with the government.
Beene said the biggest challenge was to depoliticise operations of the civil service.
"From time immemorial, the problem is that the civil service has never been free. It has been politicised. We saw it in UNIP under MMD the civil service was heavily politicised. The civil service is politicised in the way of recruitment, appointment and promotion," he said.
Beene said until the public service commission was properly utilised, problems in the civil service would continue.
"We are the technocrats. We are not politicians. Politicians come and go. No civil servant can fail to carry out a directive from Cabinet," said Beene.
By Moses Kuwema
Fri 09 Nov. 2012, 14:00 CAT
FOREIGN affairs minister Given Lubinda has refused to accept an apology from the state-owned Times of Zambia over the stories the newspaper carried, prior to last year's elections, in which the paper alleged that he and President Michael Sata had received money from Afghanistan and Taiwan for the PF's campaigns.
In yesterday's edition, the Times of Zambia carried an apology referring to its editions of July 6, 2011 and July 7, 2011 under the banner headlines respectively, 'PF gets Afghan, Taiwanese cash for Lusaka land' and 'Sata condemned over US$45 million Taiwan funding' and quoting online blogs.
In the stories, the Times of Zambia under MMD's Rupiah Banda and in a bid to vilify President Sata who was opposition leader then, claimed that the PF had received US$45 million from its sympathisers in Taiwan and Afghanistan towards the 2011 presidential and general elections and that US$300,000 was to be spent in each constituency.
Most media organisations under Banda's regime carried a lot of one-sided libelous stories against members of the opposition and some of them are battling with court cases because of their carelessness.
The newspaper further stated that a cross section of people in Lusaka had condemned President Sata's plan to offer land in Lusaka to Taiwanese sympathisers in exchange for US$45 million to be used in the 2011 election campaigns.
However, according to the apology, the Times of Zambia said it was now satisfied that the above statements were wholly unfounded and desired to express regret to the PF and in particular President Sata and Lubinda and to unreservedly apologise to them and any other third parties for any embarrassment and inconvenience which the said articles may have caused.
The newspaper further withdrew the said articles accordingly and the matter is before the courts following Lubinda's action to sue the paper.
But when reached for a comment over the same, Lubinda said he would not accept the apology and the manner in which it had been written.
"Anyone who reads the apology will wonder why my name is being brought into the apology. It does not state how I was personally injured in the first place. All it says is that the Times of Zambia is now satisfied that the above statement was wholly unfounded and desires to express regret to the PF in particular President Michael Sata and Kabwata member of parliament," Lubinda said.
He said the apology did not state how he was part of the story and why the newspaper was apologising to him.
He said the apology fell short of the requirement of any genuine apology and that his lawyers would be responding to the Times of Zambia.
"It is also mischievous in my view for the Times of Zambia to say that they were now satisfied that the above statement were unfounded.
I am sure at the time that they were writing the story, they were convinced. They must state exactly the circumstances that have led to them being satisfied, what has changed? Did they carry out investigations? They must not make it appear as though at the time of writing that story, there was any reason on which to write it," he said.
TIME PUBLISHED - Thursday, November 8, 2012, 2:29 pm
Farmers threatened to disrupt the peace at Mkushi’s government offices complex yesterday afternoon when scores of them besieged the office of the District Commissioner to protest against Stanbic Bank.
Mkushi District Commissioner Christopher Chibuye confirmed to ZANIS that more than 100 farmers had sought his intervention into a matter that involved the pace of Food Reserve Agency (FRA) mode of payments at the Mkushi Stanbic Bank.
Mr Chibuye said that upon investigating the matter, he was disappointed to learn that the bank had so far assigned only one Teller to pay farmers for FRA transactions from the time that FRA money was sent to the Mkushi Stanbic bank last month.He said in the quest for a suitable solution, he immediately liaised with Stanbic Management to have extra pay point Tellers for this exercise.
He said that the slow pace of payment had caused so much anger amongst farmers, adding that several of them had proposed that the FRA should discontinue engaging Stanbic bank for the payment exercise.Mr Chibuye said that management has since responded favourably to his proposal for increased pay points, saying the move would be applied with immediate effect.He expressed hope that the new measures would help to quicken the pace of FRA payments as well as quell the anger of the farmer clients who have been lining up for payments for the past 4 weeks.
And in relation to FRA monies allocated to Mkushi, Mr Chibuye disclosed that the district has been allocated several billions of Kwacha to pay farmers for the 2012 maize transactions.He said that from the amount, K21 billion had been deposited at Mkushi ZANACO Branch, whilst K14,140,000,000 had been deposited at the district’s Stanbic Branch.He noted that the FRA had a K14billion balance to complete the total allocation for paying Mkushi farmers for maize transactions, explaining that the FRA had bought maize worth K49billion in the district.
However, some farmers complained that the payment exercise at Stanbic had led to several of them spending nights along the shop corridors near the bank.
Eliphas Ngoma one of the Ilume agriculture Block farmers complained that he had spent several nights along shop corridors due to the slow pace of payment.Mr Ngoma alleged that the slow pace of payment presented a climate in which farmers were prone to being exploited by Stanbic bank staff who may resort to bribes in order to be served earlier.
He expressed hope that the intervention of the District Commissioner would help to address the challenges being faced by farmers in the district.
However, there were no independent confirmations that farmers were being subjected to corrupt practices in order to be served earlier.
by Thomas Whittle I NZWeek
ZIMBABWE’S nascent diamond sector will come under the spotlight next week at the inaugural international diamond conference to be held next week in the resort town of Victoria Falls.
Organised by the government of Zimbabwe, the conference that seeks to highlight Zimbabwe’s achievements and potential in the diamond sector is set to be attended by over 300 delegates from 20 countries around the globe.
Top leaders from international diamond centers are expected to attend the two-day event running from November 12 to 13.
Minister of Mines and Mining Development Obert Mpofu said he had been overwhelmed by the international support to the conference as evidenced by the many international leaders participating.
“I am proud to see the support of so many international leaders for this initiative. We hope the Zimbabwe Diamond Conference 2012 will give our country the opportunity to show our strength to the international community. The moment has come to explore and unlock Zimbabwe’s diamond potential together,” he was quoted as saying recently.
There are four companies currently mining diamonds in Chiadzwa, a vast diamond field in the eastern part of Zimbabwe that was discovered in 2006.
Three of them, Mbada Diamonds, Anjin and Diamond Mining Corporation, are in joint-venture partnerships with government mining arm, the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), while Marange Resources is wholly owned by the government.
Mining operations in Chiadzwa were initially haphazard but the government moved onto the site in 2007 to control the situation, resulting in formal mining beginning in 2010.
While the KP initially restricted trading of the Chiadzwa diamonds due to human rights violation concerns, it later gave Zimbabwe the greenlight to sell its diamonds after meeting the KP requirements.
However, the ZMDC complaints that general Western sanctions and United States sanctions on two of the mines-Mbada and Marange Resources – has undermined the country’s diamonds sales.
ZMDC chairman Godwills Masimirembwa said this week the country will miss its diamond revenue target for 2012 by a very big margin due to the sanctions. The country had projected to earn 600 million U.S. dollars from diamond sales but only 150 million U.S. dollars will be remitted to treasury.
“The reason why the figures are low is because we have a limited customer base due to the illegal sanctions,” he was quoted as saying in Wednesday’s Herald newspaper.
Thursday, November 08, 2012
By The Post
Thu 08 Nov. 2012, 13:40 CAT
Michael Sata's advice to Stephen Masumba to be humble and have respect for the people if he wants to be a good leader should be heeded by all our leaders and all who aspire to be leaders in any way or at any level.
Truly, "leaders that want to work for the people must have respect for the people at all costs in spite of politics being a provocative business".
Michael's advice to Masumba is very similar to the advice Dr Kenneth Kaunda gave to the leaders of UNIP in 1968: "To be a leader at any level at all and in any scheme of things, you have got to love your fellow human beings, you have got to be ready to sacrifice for their good, you have got to be able to learn to respect the feelings of your fellow men."
Moreover, people respect those who respect them. People treat with respect those who treat them with respect; they are loyal to those who are loyal to them.
And this is why we have consistently stated that the exercise of power, that is leadership, must be the constant practice of self-limitation and modesty.
No individual, whatever aptitudes they may be said to have, will ever be superior to the collective capacity. Therefore, any evidence of pomposity, arrogance, lack of respect for the people must be radically avoided. Being great is not achieved by boasting, by proclaiming oneself to be great; one does not achieve greatness by claiming greatness. The greatness of a leader comes from the respect he enjoys from the people. And this respect can only be earned by a leader equally respecting the people.
There is no need for a leader to be going around boasting about this or that. It is said that a person who boasts is a like a goat that sucks its own milk. There is no need for a leader to be showing off to the people he or she is elected to serve. It is said that if a deity begins to show off, just show it the tree from which it was carved. How can one show off to one's employers without risking being kicked out? If a leader has no respect for the people, they will show him
or her where power really lies at the next elections.
Democracies rest upon the principle that leaders exist to serve the people; the people do not exist to serve the leaders. In other words, the people are citizens of the democratic state, not subjects of the leaders.
While the leaders protect and advance the rights of citizens, in return, the citizens give their leaders their loyalty and respect. Under an authoritarian system, on the other hand, the leaders demand respect, loyalty and service from their people without any reciprocal obligation to do the same.
Persons chosen to represent the masses in positions of authority are, precisely, chosen to serve. The primary motivation for a person seeking a position of authority should be a deep desire to help others, to serve others. Attentiveness to the needs of the persons being served is essential to an understanding and fulfilment of this deep desire to help and serve others. Therefore, those who govern should have respect for the people they are chosen or elected to govern.
The proper role of a leader is to serve the people and he or she does this by creating opportunities that benefit the people he or she is elected to serve. Therefore, citizens should be concerned with the way their leaders behave towards them or treat them.
In a democracy where leaders are chosen by the people and for the people, such leaders should view themselves as being representatives of the people at all levels. These leaders should listen to the people, respect the people and work for the welfare of all the people.
Leaders must be honest, compassionate, hard-working, wise, selfless and have a profound love and respect for the people, especially the poor. Let those who lead do so with respect and care for the people.
There is need for leaders to respect the dignity of the people they are elected to serve or want to serve. This is so because all people are created in the image and likeness of God and this gives every person great dignity.
Therefore, all citizens are equal in dignity and have equal rights. No human person, situation, event or thing can take away this dignity. Leaders who respect human dignity guarantee basic rights to the people they lead and create opportunities for citizens to exercise their responsibilities. A just society can exist only when it respects the dignity of the human person. Leaders must invariably work for the benefit of the human person and the promotion and protection of their dignity.
As we have stated before, a person chosen for political responsibility as a leader must remember that he or she is simply a servant or steward entrusted to offer humble service to others as opposed to owning power or the people he or she is serving.
The owner of authority and people is God. Leaders, therefore, are accountable to the people who chose them; they work for the common good.
You cannot be a leader, and ask other people to respect and follow you, unless you know how to respect and to follow, too. You can't lead anyone else further than you have gone yourself. If you have no respect for others, you can't expect them to have respect for you.
The ear of a leader must ring with the voices of the people. You do not lead by despising people, disrespecting people, by demeaning and denouncing people - that's arrogance, not leadership. Hot heads and cold hearts cannot lead.
There is nothing noble about being pompous, arrogant, boastful, superior to some other man. The true nobility is being superior to your previous self. Greater is he who acts from respect and love than he who acts from fear. Great leaders respect others and motivate large groups of individuals to improve the human condition.
And it is said that he who has great power should use it with respect, should use it lightly. He who has never learnt to respect, to obey the people cannot be a good leader.
It takes tremendous discipline to control the influence, the power you have over other people's lives. But if you keep cool, and you are respecting of others, you will command everyone. The highest proof of virtue is to possess boundless power but still use it with respect for others and without abusing it. Leadership is the ability to do good things for others. And this being so, leadership is action, not possession.
By Moses Kuwema
Thu 08 Nov. 2012, 14:00 CAT
PRESIDENT Michael Sata says the MMD is very lucky that he is now head of state because he could have taught them a lesson in the Mufumbwe by-election. And President Sata says the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has so far exhibited a very independent and mature way of running elections.
President Sata, who approached ECZ chairperson justice Ireen Mambilima after swearing in ECZ commissioners and two permanent secretaries in the ministries of education and agriculture, said opposition political parties were very lucky that he was now in charge of the government.
This was in reaction to the exclusion of 18 polling agents from conducting the Mufumbwe parliamentary by-election after complaints from the MMD that they were politically inclined to the ruling PF.
"They are lucky I am no longer in opposition…you justice Mambilima, you know too well what I am capable of doing," President Sata said as he led justice Mambilima outside for a photo shoot.
And President Sata has urged justice Mambilima to sit down with the newly-appointed ECZ commissioners and ask for more money so that they could hire their own personnel.
He said the tendency by the ECZ to hire 'outsiders' to conduct elections was tarnishing the image of the Commission.
"For example, yesterday Tuesday or two days ago in Mufumbwe, that returning officer who is a council secretary, under the instruction of Nevers Mumba, he excluded 18 teachers, accusing them to say you are PF. Now how do you expect the returning officer to behave that way? So madam, you sit down with your new commissioners…," President Sata said.
"When I was in opposition I said the same thing, the earlier you have your own independent human beings instead of relying on the council employees…it's a big problem. I know the country is very big for you to employ all those people but the elections only come once every five years and on intervals of by-elections."
He said the ECZ has so far exhibited a very independent and mature way of running elections.
"But you still have a few individuals here and there, like the one we saw in Mufumbwe. A council secretary excluding 18 teachers to say they are PF, then what is he himself?" President Sata wondered.
And speaking to journalists later, ECZ director Priscilla Isaacs said the institution has plans under its decentralisation programme to have permanent staff in each district.
Isaacs, however, said the establishment of permanent staff at district level was dependent on funding.
"I think we have made our needs known to the Treasury and once the commission is funded for decentralisation, then of course we will be able to have permanent staff in the district. But for the conduct of elections, given the number, you are well aware that when we have general elections we recruit over 60,000 temporary staff. For elections and by elections, we will still need to recruit temporary staff to man the polling stations," she said.
On the exclusion of 18 polling agents from conducting the Mufumbwe parliamentary by-election, Isaacs said the issue was deliberated upon by the district conflict management committee.
She said the committee felt that in the interest of maintaining public harmony, there was need for the officers to be replaced.
"But the commission is looking at it that in future, when we do have such cases, there must be very concrete evidence that should be considered before we replace any officers. As at now, the replacement was done and officers are being deployed today yesterday," said Isaacs.
The two ECZ commissioners that were sworn in are Justice Christopher Mushabati and Dr Fredrick Ng'andu.
And President Sata has urged newly-appointed education permanent secretary Chishimba Nkosha to ensure that the schools that the MMD government started constructing were completed.
"The outgoing government or the gone government left so many schools which Mr Nkosha and Mr John Phiri you have to complete. There are so many schools where I have travelled which have not been completed and you are duty bound. They started those schools, they did not win the elections but we are supposed to finish them because the innocent children need to stop crowding," he said.
President Sata further urged newly-appointed Ministry of Agriculture permanent secretary Siazongo Siakalenge to ensure all farmers that supplied maize to the Food Reserve Agency were paid because the government had already released the money.
"Then you should look at the storage, we don't have the silos...," said President Sata.
By Moses Kuwema
Thu 08 Nov. 2012, 14:00 CAT
SACCORD says those who aspire for leadership positions should be humble and have respect for the people. Commenting on President Michael Sata's advice to PF candidate in today's parliamentary by-election in Mufumbwe, Stephen Masumba, to be humble and have respect for the people if he wants to be a good leader, Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD) information officer Obby Chibuluma said the advice was timely as it reflected partially on what was going on in the country among leaders.
"I think be it in the opposition or those in government, including actually some people even in church, some of them feel they are too big for the people that they lead and want to assume the position of being worshipped by those that they lead, which we find not to be the correct way of approaching leadership. Leadership must be seen to be some elevation or some recognition that the people give you in order for you to lead them," he said.
Chibuluma said SACCORD would like to see to it that those who are given positions of leadership are humble.
"They must treat that recognition leadership with respect as well as try to lead the people that give them that opportunity with the best of their abilities. They should be sincere, they should be open, they should always be consultative, and always remain mindful that being a leader does not mean that you are the best of all the people in that given place, rather the people have recognised that there can only be one leader at a time and you happen to be one that they happen to entrust their authority with," he said.
Chibuluma said those holding leadership positions in government should always remember that they were not the best but were, rather, the favoured ones by the people at that given time.
"I think we have seen this even among the people that are in government now, some of them are so pompous, too bossy and it is important that they heed the president's advice. Some of them might not hold those positions like the president does, for him at least he was elected and has a mandate, but for some of them they hold those positions because they were appointed so at the end of the day everyone has to remain humble," said Chibuluma.
By Kabanda Chulu
Thu 08 Nov. 2012, 12:58 CAT
EXPANDED Parliamentary Committee on Estimates chairperson Highvie Hamududu says the favourable macroeconomic achievements were not benefiting the majority of Zambians.
Presenting the committee's findings on estimates of revenue and expenditure for the 2013 budget, Hamududu said this was clearly evidenced by the prevailing poverty levels especially in rural areas, high unemployment levels, low life expectancy, poor literacy levels and high malnutrition levels, dilapidated infrastructure and poor social indicators.
"Our expectation in this year's budget is that more attention be directed towards ensuring that benefits from the improvement in macroeconomic fundamentals flow to majority Zambians," Hamududu said.
He also advised government to address the issue of poor mechanism for monitoring mineral production and exports in order to ensure maximum revenue collection.
"Mr Speaker, the witnesses that appeared before your committee expressed concern on the low tax contributions to the budget by the mining sector despite high copper prices, yet the sector constitutes three quarters of the country's exports," Hamududu said. "The low tax contribution by the mines in the midst of high copper prices has kept the call by people to continue advocating for windfall taxes."
Hamududu commended the government for having included employment creation as a macroeconomic objective for the first time.
"This is a positive step in the right direction but we are concerned; strategies to ensure creation of decent and sustainable jobs are not clear," Hamududu said. "Your Committee is concerned that in the past, the jobs that have been created have been mainly lowly paying seasonal and contractual jobs without credible benefits."
He also expressed concern at the lack of accurate and timely employment statistics.
"The Committee therefore, urges government to put in place mechanisms and resources through Central Statistics Office to ensure generation of accurate and timely employment statistics that will assist the duty bearers and stakeholders to make informed decisions," Hamududu said.
In accepting the findings, finance minister Alexander Chikwanda said there was need for more engagement with MPs before the finalisation of the budget.
Labels: HIGHVIE HAMUDUDU
By Ernest Chanda
Thu 08 Nov. 2012, 13:00 CAT
SENGA HILL MMD member of parliament Kapembwa Simbao has proposed that government privatises the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) in order for the institution to gain public confidence in managing elections. Contributing to debate on the Commission's K56.9 billion budget which was later approved, Simbao said the institution had been under serious public criticism whenever it conducted national elections.
"Looking at that, I would suggest that maybe we privatise ECZ. Let it be in private hands so that everyone has its confidence and there is no bias in terms of appointments. We are coming to 2016, what we are discussing now might look small, but soon we shall have problems," Simbao said.
"The Electoral Commission of Zambia is either loved or hated, depending on which side you are. As of last year, they had very big problems from our colleagues who were on this side (opposition).
And this year they have problems from us other than the other side. Maybe the PF government should have fired all ECZ officers upon forming government, so that they put their own people because it showed that they didn't have confidence in the electoral process."
He bemoaned the high number of election petitions that followed last year's general election.
Simbao said it was a sign that the PF did not have confidence in the people managing ECZ.
And Simbao wondered why there was no budgetary allocation towards the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) system which many political parties used last year.
"I would like to look at the PVT but I've not seen any sign of it in the budget. It is important that if it really worked probably we should start making it official; we put it in the budget," said Simbao.
But later in response, Vice-President Guy Scott said PVT was not a government arrangement.
"I'm walking here and you are walking on the other side, checking on me. So, PVT is not a budget issue; it's for you to use for checking on government," said Vice-President Scott.
Earlier, all lawmakers who debated questioned the government failure to allocate funding to the continuous voter registration exercise.
In response, deputy minister in the office of the Vice-President Harry Kalaba said if there would be need for such an allocation, government would come back to the House.
By Roy Habaalu
Thu 08 Nov. 2012, 14:00 CAT
KENNEDY Sakeni says love for money has dented the journalism profession. But Press Association of Zambia (PAZA) president Andrew Sakala says not all journalists are enticed with money. This comes in the wake of Muvi TV cameraperson Lloyd Kapusa who agreed to a K30 million out-of-court settlement after he was assaulted by William Banda.
Receiving a petition from the Media Liaison Committee (MLC) against the continued harassment of media practitioners in Lusaka on Tuesday, Sakeni who is chief government spokesperson said the state cannot act if a complainant withdraws a case.
"This love for money is what causes problems. Our hands as the state are tied. The journalist has the best answer for withdrawing a case. It's your (MLC) members that withdraw cases and there is nothing we can do, so direct your arsenals at your members," Sakeni said.
And the MLC has asked the government to take stern action against political actors who attack journalists with impunity.
Presenting a petition to Sakeni, MLC chairperson Gillies Kasongo demanded that the police be conscious in their ranks about the need for journalists to be protected when on assignments that can turn violent.
He said when journalists are attacked in police presence, the police should introduce a fast-track system of arresting culprits and taking them to court without relying and waiting on journalists to file a complaint.
"The political party should name and suspend their respective cadres found harassing journalists; and they should help take these cadres to police and court as a pledge of ridding their ranks of political violence," said Kasongo.
But Sakeni said parties that were harassing journalist were known because of their frustration.
"The problem is that people commit offences and our law enforcement agencies grow cold feet and that's what becomes a problem," Sakeni said.
And Sakala said the Muvi TV case was not a representation of a dented media profession.
"Just because one journalist withdrew a case does not paint the real picture of journalists. There are many journalists who are willing to let the law take its course. My appeal to journalists is they must not be taken by the love for money; they should resist whoever offers them money because the profession is more valuable than money, it can't be quantified in terms of money," said Sakala.
On the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) Act, Sakeni said it would be ready soon.
By Moses Kuwema
Wed 07 Nov. 2012, 17:00 CAT
MFUWE member of parliament Mwiimba Malama says the camps in the PF have created problems in Parliament. Recently, defence minister Geoffrey Mwamba who featured on Kasama's Mano radio, said there was a clique both in Parliament and Cabinet plotting his downfall.
In an interview, Malama said the PF members of parliament were finding it difficult to freely associate for fear of being labelled as members of a particular camp. He said people that were engineering the camps in the PF were unwise.
"There is a very big problem now whereby we members of parliament don't know where to belong. When you are talking to honourable Davies Mwila, MP for Chipili, then you belong to this camp. And if this person finds you, he will just point at you and say you belong to this camp. It is not good. When you talk about PF structure, I have all the rights to associate with anyone, I should not be pointed a finger at to say 'look now that one belongs to that camp and he is not supporting me'," Malama said.
But when asked if there were camps in Parliament, Malama responded: "I don't think so, except people keep saying there are camps and are saying it out of ignorance. The only camp I would say is there is the PF camp, where we have Mr Sata as president and Dr Guy Scott as vice-president and the cabinet ministers, so these other camps are for people who are not wise," he said.
Malama advised those who were bringing confusion in the party to resign peacefully and allow the PF to deliver on its promises, adding that as a 'true green' he was not worried about the confusion.
"If some people are saying they pumped money into the party for it to win, I never received any assistance from anyone in Mfuwe apart from using the name of the president. I used the name of the president and probably it even gave me a lot of support besides what I did for five years after my first election in 2006. Everyone contributed to the change of government, we must thank people from the media, traditional leaders; they also did something," he said.
Meanwhile, Malama said those who were positioning themselves to take over from President Sata should show the nation what they had achieved in their lives.
And PF Copperbelt provincial youth secretary Kabwe Chanda said those who thought they were more popular than President Sata should resign from PF and form their own parties.
"No one should use President Sata's popularity to destroy the party. We are not going to allow that as youths. If this tendency continues, we are going to be very rough to these people," said Chanda.
By Ndinawe Simpelwe
Wed 07 Nov. 2012, 16:40 CAT
CENTRAL Province police commissioner Joyce Kasosa has been transferred to Lusaka Province in the same capacity to take over from newly promoted Deputy Inspector General of Police Dr Solomon Jere.
And four people have been detained, among them a foreign national, for transporting copper without proper documents. Police public relations officer Elizabeth Kanjela stated that Muchinga Province police commissioner Standwell Lungu will take over from Kasosa in Central Province.
President Sata recently appointed Dr Jere as Deputy Inspector General of police to assist Inspector General Stella Libongani.
Meanwhile, Kanjela stated that police in Lusaka are looking for a maid only known as Elina for robbery.
Kanjela stated that the incident happened on November 5 in Kamwala's Madras area.
She stated that Elina attacked her boss identified as Sashikala Sunaram Grilam aged 40 years with a cricket butt and ran away with K5 million and a passport belonging to the victim's relative.
The victim who sustained head injuries and a cut on the middle finger has been admitted to Coptic Hospital.
In Kabwe, one person died on the spot while 13 others sustained multiple injuries in a road traffic accident on Mukobeko Road. The accident happened when, Binwell Nyimbili, the driver of a Toyota Hiace registration number ACJ 9477 lost control and hit a tree. The deceased has been identified as Greenwell Sibanda, 46, of Shuputa village of chief Chipepo.
Sibanda's body is lying in Kabwe General Hospital mortuary awaiting postmortem while the injured are admitted to the same hospital. Meanwhile, police assistant public relations officer Esther Mwaata Katongo stated that police in Mongu have impounded a truck carrying copper with fake documents.
"In Mongu, we have impounded a Volvo truck registration number AAL 1951 which was carrying copper with fake documents and had no clearance from police. According to the driver, the truck was coming from North Western Province," stated Katongo. "The copper has been sent for tests to ascertain its genuineness."
By Misheck Wangwe in Mufumbwe
Wed 07 Nov. 2012, 16:30 CAT
MMD and PF cadres almost exchanged punches at Mufumbwe Police Station when officers impounded a vehicle belonging to an MMD cadre who was allegedly delivering roofing sheets to voters.
The vehicle, a Mitsubishi Pajero registration number ABT 3739 that was carrying 10 iron sheets, was impounded in a ward called Munyambala by police after a tip-off that the MMD was distributing various items to the voters as a way of enticing them to vote for their candidate, Stafford Mulusa.
The PF officials led by provincial youth information and publicity vice-secretary Jackson Kungo and Brian Hapunda, among others, demanded that police takes action over the alleged breach of the law by the MMD cadres who were campaigning and dishing out gifts to the voters in Muyambala ward and the surrounding areas despite the close of the campaign period that came to an end yesterday at 06:00 hours.
MMD provincial executive committee secretary Emmanuel Chihili and Kikwaba had an altercation with the PF supporters that were with Yobe Banda, the district chairman for the PF in Solwezi, and almost exchanged punches at the police station before they were separated and dispersed by the police.
"Our people on the ground noticed that the MMD was dishing out an assortment of stuff to people and they saw this vehicle that belongs to the MMD carrying iron sheets that were being taken to a community school there in Munyambala. They notified the police and the police took action. The MMD's old tricks of cheating the people are gone and their malpractices will not work," said Kungo.
But MMD national youth secretary Tobias Kafumukache said the party would take legal action against the police over the allegations that the party was distributing iron sheets to voters.
"Police has confirmed that they have got proof, they have got pictures and everything. We hope to meet them in court so that they explain to us who issued the iron sheets and who bought the iron sheets because as MMD we have no clue whatsoever," he claimed.
When asked whether the vehicle belonged to the MMD or not, Kafumukache said the vehicle belonged to the party but the owner of the iron sheets was not known.
"It's very unprofessional for the police and the PF government that has acknowledged defeat in this election to make last-minute attempts to de-campaign our party," said Kafumukache.
North Western Province police commissioner Eugene Sibote confirmed that the 10 iron sheets had been impounded by police to pave way for thorough investigation in the matter.
Sibote appealed to both parties to maintain peace and avoid actions that would trigger violence ahead of tomorrow's by-election as the people of Mufumbwe were enjoying peace.
Meanwhile, a furious MMD cadre identified as Cephas Kikwaba almost hit Zambia Daily Mail photojournalist Angela Mwenda and ZNBC cameraman Kennedy Kanyembo with a walking stick for taking pictures of him and the vehicle that was impounded by the police.
The fuming Kikwaba was only restrained by police officers at the station who told him to respect the work of journalists who were at the station.
Making their mark ... Thousands of new farmers have joined thte sector
by The Guardian
THERE is hustle and bustle on the tobacco trading floors of Zimbabwe these days. After a decade of agricultural turmoil that crashed the economy, this seen as one of the few bright spots.
[Actually, 'agricultural turmoil' didn't crash the economy, that were economic sanctions intended to make land reform fail, implemented from 2002 onwards. ZDERA, the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001. - MrK]
The crop's value has bounced back from £105m in 2008 to more than £330m this year. Moreover, whereas tobacco production was once dominated by a white elite, now tens of thousands of farmers are black.
[An open admission that land reform was not merely a transfer of land from white estate holders to the political and military elite. In fact over 350,000 new families received land under the Willing Buyer, Willing Seller (159,000) and Fast Track (200,000) land reform programmes. - MrK]
Yet this precious gain is under threat, the industry claims, not from renewed political violence or economic turbulence, but from the global anti-smoking lobby.
[Which I don't disagree with. In fact, tobacco should be replaced by cannabis and hemp as an industry. Getting high in cannabis is good for you, destresses, and is good for your heart and veins. Hemp seed has the highest quality protein and is a health food; cannabis itself should be considered a food group (YOUTUBE), because of all the diseases it prevents. Hemp can drain swamps too. Entire industries can spring up turning hemp fiber into clothes and shoes. Replacing plastic bags with hemp paper bags can end the pollution of the oceans, as there are huge rafts of plastic waste blocking parts of the ocean (see the South Pacific Garbage Patch. See more here (YOUTUBE). - MrK]
"In Zimbabwe we are very dependent on tobacco," says Dr Andrew Matibiri, director of the country's Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board.
"It makes up 26% of our foreign currency exports. Any movement towards reduction of the exports will affect our economy, especially poverty alleviation."
Growers in Nigeria, Tanzania and other African countries accuse the World Health Organisation (WHO) of cracking down on struggling farmers and putting millions of jobs and livelihoods at risk.
The WHO insists this is a misrepresentation.
It says it is merely issuing guidelines for governments around the world on how to deal with a projected decline in consumer demand. From this point of view, the tobacco industry has set up a straw man so it can take an unaccustomed position of the moral high ground.
Matibiri, who claims to have the backing of both the president, Robert Mugabe, and prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai, argues that more than 70,000 Zimbabwean farmers would suffer immediately under the WHO proposals.
"We say farmers should be allowed to grow tobacco," he says. "It's not illegal. They grow it very quickly and easily; they have been doing it for over a hundred years so there's a lot of knowhow. So far there have been no alternative crops put on the table."
The WHO says tobacco kills almost 6 million people a year. Matibiri does not deny that smoking is harmful, but adds: "We understand all the issues and we agree with them. There are few beneficial consequences of smoking. But we are appealing to the WHO to understand our peculiar position as tobacco producers."
The issue has flared up because the WHO guidelines, known as articles 17 and 18 of the landmark framework convention on tobacco control, will be discussed next week at the Conference of the Parties in Seoul, South Korea. Potential measures include restricting growing periods and the amount of land used for tobacco while encouraging alternative crops.
In a pre-emptive strike, the Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa (Tisa) commissioned a study of 15 regional economies that shows 4.4 million Africans are employed – and 24 million dependent – on a tobacco value chain worth more than $10bn.
In Zimbabwe, according to the research, the industry employs 1.13 million people with 5.67 million dependents and generates $579m in exports. In Malawi, another country with economic woes, tobacco employs 1.4 million people, generates $428.2m in exports, and represents 15% of GDP.
Francois van der Merwe, chief executive of Tisa, said of the WHO: "Their motivation has been the ongoing failure to decrease the demand for tobacco products that has resulted in an ill-conceived attempt to tackle the most vulnerable people in the supply chain, namely farmers.
“Should this ill-advised and misguided proposal [article 17] come into effect, it will have a dire impact on the livelihoods of farmers and tobacco growing countries more broadly."
Tobacco representatives in various African countries have also expressed opposition. Julius Masongo, chairman of thee Tanzania Tobacco Cooperative Apex, said: "The WHO has consistently refused to listen to tobacco growers in drafting the proposal that directly impacts Tanzania's farmers.
“By doing so, they act like a blind man driving a steamroller without paying any attention to the consequences of their folly. Now is the time for governments to act and oppose these draconian measures."
Tobacco growing countries charge that, in its zeal to curtail an industry it regards as evil, the WHO is failing to appreciate the paradox that tobacco throws a lifeline to those who grow it. Unsurprisingly, the WHO has a different view.
It it not issuing orders to anyone, it says, but seeking to help governments that have signed up to the convention to manage what it sees as tobacco's inevitable decline.
Dr Haik Nikogosian, head of the convention secretariat for the framework convention, says: "The document is called 'policy options and recommendations' for governments, not farmers. It's developed to help governments to help farmers transition to alternative crops. The demand for tobacco will gradually diminish: it is clearly known. People will not be smoking tobacco in 200 years.
"It's not asking farmers to do anything. It doesn't have any deadlines or requirements. It's advice and guidelines, and should be seen in a positive light. The WHO wouldn't involve itself in agricultural business in that negative way. This is about supporting farmers, not restricting them."
Asked about the vitriol being poured on the WHO, Nikogosian says: "I'd be surprised if it only comes from the tobacco growing organisations. There are other organisations and forces that are not to be trusted in giving information. If you look at the value chain and the profits, they are not sitting with the farmers. You can see where the interests are."