Tuesday, May 21, 2013

'Do not relax in fighting corruption'
By Editor
Mon 20 May 2013, 14:00 CAT

Reverend Richard M'bao has advised the Patriotic Front and its government not to relax in fighting corruption. Rev M'bao says the Patriotic Front and its government has an obligation to seek justice on behalf of Zambians over the plundered economy.

Truly, the pursuit of justice must the fundamental norm of this government. And corruption is an evil that should be erased from every part of our public life, from every level of our government. Corruption has to be consistently fought. And fighting corruption is not a matter of hating individuals but of hating an iniquitous practice that is depriving our people the chance to see a reversal of economic and social fortunes.

What Rev M'bao is preaching is repudiation, rejection and hatred of injustice. Corruption is an injustice that no just, fair and humane society can tolerate.

There is no better love for a corrupt person than to stop him from being corrupt. We were taught that there was a constant struggle between good and evil, and evil had to be punished. We were also taught that those who committed crimes and were responsible for injustice, evil, would be punished in hell. Could that be interpreted as an expression of hatred?

What really causes hatred is social injustice, marginalisation and exploitation of others. That, objectively, is what causes hatred - not punishing those who have stolen from their people, those who have abused public trust to enrich themselves, families and friends. It is a question not of preaching hatred but of explaining a social reality, something that has occurred in our country.

We agree with Rev M'bao that a sitting government has every moral and constitutional obligation to seek justice on behalf of the people whenever issues of corruption and misappropriation of public funds arise, and that it's high time we stopped entertaining crooks. But today we have all sorts of politicians, and even some clergymen, supporting crooks and unscrupulous politicians who have stolen from the people. How can one explain this? How can UPND and MMD justify their support for and defence of the corrupt? How can they label as persecution or political victimisation efforts to bring those who have stolen from the people to account for their crimes?

We all know that unless we remove corruption from our public life, we will not see much development in our country. No matter how much resources we are given, if corruption persists and is not punished and stopped, our people will not see much development. And as Rev M'bao observes, the country will only see development if those entrusted with public offices embrace values of serving people with undoubted commitment and sacrifice.

But we also know that fighting for justice opens one to assaults from the forces of evil. Corruption always fights back and targets those who are in the forefront of attacking it. Wasn't Levy Mwanawasa a target of corrupt elements? They only started praising him after he was dead. Some of them could not even attend his funeral. Levy was a hated man by the criminals. Those who were sent to jail under the efforts Levy exerted to fight corruption are still fighting those who joined forces with him, those who fought on his side against corrupt elements. The fight against Levy by corrupt elements still continues. Even jailbirds, people who have been convicted for corruption at almost all levels of our Judiciary, still cry to have been victims of Levy's political persecution.

With Levy gone, the fight has turned on Michael Sata who is doing almost the same things Levy did, albeit at a different time and in a different way.

Clearly, there is something seriously wrong if a political leader, a political party is supported and defended by corrupt elements, former jailbirds of corruption. And our opposition should be very ashamed of itself for being the darling of corrupt elements. Why are corrupt elements today rallying behind the opposition MMD and UPND?

Of course, people never run out of excuses for supporting wrong causes, wrong things. Some are saying they are not against the fight against corruption but they are opposed to the selective way this fight is being waged. This is not a new argument. We have heard this argument before. It was there during the time of Levy and it was used by similar elements to fight Levy and his fight against corruption. There is no way a mistake in the fight against corruption should drive an honest person to defend the corrupt and corruption.

There is no way a mistake by Michael Sata and his government should drive an honest opposition politician to start defending the corruption he used to expose, the corrupt elements he used to denounce not very long ago. Can hatred for Michael and opposition to his government really justify the embracing of corruption and corrupt elements that we are seeing from our opposition today?

In a big fight like this one, mistakes are going to be made, there may even be collateral damage here and there. But can that justify the total abandonment of such a genuine and legitimate fight by anyone? Again, this is a classical case of those who stand for nothing falling for nothing. It's clear that they were exposing and denouncing that corruption simply because the people who were involved were political opponents or enemies at that time. Now they are their friends and the equation has automatically changed.

They are not against corruption; they are simply against individuals. It's not very long ago that Hakainde Hichilema was calling all these elements he is today defending corrupt and was exposing their corruption. At that time, they were political opponents of his.

Today they are his political allies and they are no longer corrupt; he has cleared them of corruption; they are today victims of Michael's so-called intolerance! What hypocrisy is this? How unprincipled can one be?

There is need to tell the people the truth. And what they should tell the people is that 'yes, these guys stole but they are our friends and we will defend them. Yes, we called them corrupt but that was then because they were not our friends, but now they are our friends'. This is what Hakainde and his friends should be telling the Zambian people, not the lies they are telling them.

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Sata calls for sacrifice

By Allan Mulenga
Mon 20 May 2013, 14:01 CAT

PRESIDENT Michael Sata has called for sacrifice among Zambians. And President Sata says Dr Kenneth Kaunda and Grey Zulu were disciplinarians.

During the inter-denominational thanksgiving service to commemorate the Africa Freedom Day and 50th anniversary of the African Union, President Sata wondered why some people did not want him to remove fuel and maize consumption subsidies when the majority of Zambians were suffering.

"What we are trying to do is that if you are a student or a politician, you need to explain to the people why poor people should continue suffering, people in the village. Some of you have never been to the village. They are suffering; they have no water, and you want subsidies," he said.

"You want me to be buying fuel for Mr Mwanambale. Mr Mwanambale bought a vehicle and you want me to be subsidising for his fuel. These diplomats, when they come here, they start laughing at us."

And President Sata said Dr Kaunda and Zulu, whom he invited to stand next to him when he was called upon to deliver his speech, were disciplinarians, who did not tolerate nonsense.

"These two young men were very vicious but at the same time they were very fair in their discipline…when I was governor, this man was my secretary general. He Zulu was a very notorious disciplinarian, but I never appeared before him because I committed no offence," he said.
President Sata urged Zambians to respect Dr Kaunda and Zulu for liberating the nation.

"These two people fought for Independence. Some of them were detained in Kabompo; some were detained in Mpika. We looked after them in Mpika. That is why he still looks very strong, the man we kept in Mpika before they sent him to Kawambwa," he said.

"We should pay homage to these people. We should say thank you to these people, who have made it possible. If you have these two people, even if the church was empty, then you have the whole Zambia."

President Sata said Dr Kaunda and Zulu sacrificed for all Zambians.
"For all of you who have come; all the diplomats who are here, you are not the best in your country to be picked to come here; to come and enjoy this lovely weather here. You should thank God and I am glad you have all come. And all of us who are here, we need to say thank you," he said.

"Look at these two people the way they sacrificed. That is why Mr Blue Grey Zulu has even forgotten how to put on a tie. They sacrificed. They said to hell with a tie. Dr Kaunda said I will only eat meat when everybody eats meat; I will only put on a tie when everybody has a tie."

And scores of slogan-chanting cadres, who wanted to catch a glimpse of President Sata, mobbed him as he was coming out of the Cathedral.

The cadres burst into laughter and raised the PF symbol as President Sata forced Zulu to raise his fist while the two held each other before departure.



Zambia needs youth mentorship programme, says Nawakwi
By Ernest Chanda
Mon 20 May 2013, 14:01 CAT

EDITH Nawakwi says Zambia needs a serious mentorship programme where the youth can be empowered with knowledge and survival skills. And Nawakwi on Friday announced the death of her mother.

Nawakwi, the opposition Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) leader, has been on a countrywide mentorship programme for the youth. Her party has come up with a programme called Neighbour's Friend, through which she is training the youth in entrepreneurship.

And on Tuesday last week, Nawakwi mentored five Copperbelt University forestry graduates.

"Given an opportunity to be in office, our idea is to create income at household level. It's through starting a project like this that the youth can create income for the future because tree planting is one of the few lucrative agriculture jobs. So, mentorship is part of the FDD's empowerment programmes," she said in an interview.

"So what we have managed to do through the party is to organise for them to go for actual practical work. They'll go with their own seedlings and they'll be assisted on doing that because they'll find someone who is a practitioner. So, in about six months' time, they will be delivering the seed to the customer. We are importing the seedlings from Vietnam. These are graduates in one field, forestry; it's not a single job for them anywhere."

She appealed for government support to the programme so that more youths could be empowered.

"At least I know that this programme can grow. And when you as government say 'let us work together with political parties', this is one programme where the government can come to this secretariat and say 'we have money for youth enterprise, how much does the FDD want? How many people are benefiting?' We are not saying they should bring money to the secretariat, no, but to the association," said Nawakwi.

"They have now gotten to a position where they have an order for 50,000 plants through us here worth K120 million (KR120,000). The curriculum at the university as usual is white collar; they have nowhere to get practical experience. We've done the talking, we need someone to incubate them and then release them."

Meanwhile, on Friday, Nawakwi wrote on her facebook page: "Friends, it is with a heavy heart and deep sorrow that I announce the passing away of my dear mother. Kindly remember us in your prayers during this tragic time."

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Benefits of voting for Sata visible - Nkomeshya
By Roy Habaalu
Mon 20 May 2013, 14:01 CAT

SENIOR Chieftainess Nkomeshya Mukamambo II of the Soli people says Zambia is seeing the benefits of voting for President Michael Sata.

And chieftainess Nkomeshya says she will address concerns from the Bemba Royal Establishment once President Sata gives her a go-ahead.

During a function to celebrate her election as House of Chiefs chairperson organised by her subjects on Saturday,
chieftainess Nkomeshya said President Sata needed to be supported in his resolve and commitment to developing the country.

"If these problems are coming to you, what should stop us from saying thank you to the government of the day? For us, we are beneficiaries. They (PF) are fulfilling their campaign promises. We are seeing the fulfillment. I am only praising the government of the day for what they are doing. When I say this, I am not doing politics. When the government of the day is doing well, we will praise them. When they are doing bad, we will condemn them on behalf of the people," said chieftainess Nkomeshya.

"We need to pray for the government because they need our support when they go out sourcing resources to develop Zambia. For you in Lusaka Province, you need to pray for the government. For us in Lusaka, we are seeing the benefits of the government of the day," she said.

Chieftainess Nkomeshya said the construction of the Leopards Hill Road connecting Chiawa, construction of Palabana and Chalimbana universities and the construction of Chalimbana Road were sign of government's commitment to developing the country.

She said: "Is this not what we were crying for? We cried for that."
On Bemba counsellors' insistence that Henry Sosala was still Senior Chief Mwamba after President Michael Sata degazetted him, chieftainess Nkomeshya, who is House of Chiefs chairperson, said she had followed keenly what was happening in the Bemba kingdom.

"I have heard the hot issues in Northern Province. I am quiet and listening to what is being said. I am waiting for the President to officially open the House of Chiefs. When that's done, I will join the battle. As chairperson, I want to know what's happening. For now it's patience; I am waiting. Very soon, God will show me the way. Don't accuse me of abandoning you. I will be required to be out in all provinces," said chieftainess Nkomeshya.

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Forthcoming by-elections a litmus test for UPND - Mweetwa
By Allan Mulenga
Mon 20 May 2013, 14:01 CAT

UPND deputy spokesperson Cornelius Mweetwa says the forthcoming by-elections will be a litmus test for the party ahead of 2016 elections.

And Chipata businessman Hanif Badat says no amount of propaganda will stop him from contesting the Chipata Central seat. And prominent businessman Moses Mawere says he is the preferred candidate for the Chipata Central seat.

The Electoral Commission of Zambia has set July 25, as the date for Solwezi-East, Kafulafuta, Mkushi North and Chipata Central parliamentary by-elections

In an interview yesterday, Mweetwa said UPND's popularity in the country would be put to a test in the four by-elections.
He said UPND had already started identifying candidates for the four by-elections.

"This is an opportunity for the party to gauge its popularity. It is a test on us as a party ahead of 2016 elections as regards to our presence on the ground," he said. "While the PF is being measured, we are also being measured as to our level of popularity on the ground. We are on the same barometer test like the PF, the only thing is that they are a ruling party. Where they don't fare well, it is a vote of no confidence in the PF administration."

Mweetwa, who is also Choma Central UPND member of parliament, claimed that UPND was closing up the gap in terms of PF's popularity.

"Even if we don't win the particular constituency, but if we are able to perform better and close up the gap between them, it shows that we are going to do better in the general elections where government machinery will be split," he said. "It gives us a feel of what is yet to come, especially as we approach 2016. We are naturally expected to take over where the PF was a stronghold in urban areas because in these areas, people do not stick to the ruling party if they are failing to deliver."

Mweetwa said Zambians were dissatisfied with the PF for failingto fulfil its campaign promises.

"People are angry with the removal of fuel and maize consumption subsidies. While it is regrettable to have these by-elections, it is going to give the PF a good barometer on what the people think about their governance system."

And Badat, said despite being a Zambian of Asian origin, the locals had accepted him in the area.

"The people of Chipata know my background. They have accepted me as part of them. I have worked with the grassroots for a long time," he said.

Badat said he was confident that he would be adopted to contest the Chipata Central seat on the PF ticket.

"There are seven of us but I cannot take things for granted; I am working hard with the grassroots. I am going into campaigns normally trying to sensitise them. They know who I am and what I can do for them. I feel they have showed a lot of confident in me that I will deliver," he said.

"Democratically, competition is healthy and I will still feel that I will carry the day if adopted by the party. They have accepted me with one heart. I have even gone for the PF ward by-elections. I have helped in way or two. I have overwhelming support at the grassroots."
Badat said he had already applied to the party secretariat to be considered for adoption.

"I am very confident that I will scoop the Chipata Central seat because the grassroots have clearly stated that they can vote for me.
They have got confidence in me. I feel things are okay. I have written all letters, I have filed in one at the party secretariat in Lusaka and as soon as I go to Chipata I will give the other ones to other party organs namely constituency, district and province after paying K100,000 each on all those party organs," said Badat.

And Mawere, who has since applied to contest the seat on the PF ticket, said the race was between him and Chipata residents.

"I need to be adopted. I am confident that I will be adopted once adopted I will scoop the seat. The race is between me and the people of Chipata," he said.

Mawere said he would respect the party's decision on the candidate for the Chipata Central by-election.

"As the PF, we believe in the people and the people have to make decisions, and Chipata residents will make the decision on who they want to represent them. If they feel I am the right candidate, they will adopt me," said Mawere.


Solwezi farmers supported by Kansanshi mining double yields
By Vincent Chilikima in Solwezi
Mon 20 May 2013, 14:00 CAT

KANSANSHI agricultural manager Mike Corken says his organisation's dream of improving small-scale farmers' productivity and production has started becoming a reality.

Speaking during a field day held at Solwezi Trades Training Institute, Corken said Solwezi farmers under the support of Kansanshi Conservation Farming Programme had more than doubled their maize yields.

He explained that prior to the intervention of Kansanshi Foundation in 2010, small-scale farmers were producing an average maize yield of 1.2 metric tonnes per hectare but on their first attempt on conservation farming during the 2010/2011 agriculture season, managed to increase their yields up to 2.6 tonnes.

Corken had projected that farmers would, during the current 2012/2013 season increase their maize yield up to four tonnes per hectare, describing the crop stand as good due to the farmers' increased experience and competence in conservation farming.

He said that with time, farmers were expected to increase their maize yield up to seven tonnes per hectare, adding that those who may be willing to step up their fertiliser and lime regime to commercial level may reach up to 14 tonnes per hectare.

Corken explained that Kansanshi Foundation, a Kansanshi Mining department in charge of corporate social responsibility, identified the support to local small-scale sustainable agriculture as a valuable undertaking because farming existed before and shall exist long after the mining activities.

"We had humble beginnings of seven beneficiaries in 2010, increased to 288 in 2011 and to 600 in the current 2012/2013 season. We intend to support 1,500 farmers in the next 2013/2014 agriculture season and continue thereafter increasing the number in every succeeding season," revealed Corken.
He disclosed that each farmer beneficiary receives inputs for an area within a range of 0.5 to one hectare adding that farmers after harvesting and selling their produce return only 30 per cent of the total cost of the inputs.

Corken further disclosed that the conservation farming programme had embraced and subsidised the production of soybeans, groundnuts, sugar-beans and vegetables in addition to maize, providing farmers with inputs that included seed, fertiliser and agriculture lime.

And officiating at the same function, North Western acting provincial agricultural coordinator Derrick Simukanzye described conservation farming as the farmers' 'magic' to success and implored farmers to engage in sustainable practices that would benefit both the current and future generations.

He also commended First Quantum Minerals' Kansanshi Mining Plc for supporting small-scale farmers by establishing a corporate social responsibility programme in the agricultural sector which he said was supplementing the programmes of the Ministry of Agriculture in Solwezi.

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(SUNDAY MAIL ZW) President Mugabe reassures farmers
Sunday, 19 May 2013 00:00
Emilia Zindi Agriculture Editor

Government will continue to support farmers to enable them to increase agricultural productivity and ensure they fully utilise land allocated under the land reform programme, President Mugabe has said.

Speaking at the launch of the Food and Nutrition Security Policy in Harare on Friday, the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces said the country’s traditional high yields continue to be affected by factors such as recurrent droughts.

He said the Western-imposed economic sanctions on the country also hamper maximum production by starving farmers of finance to purchase inputs, farm implements, maintain infrastructure and establish new irrigation systems.

He added that agricultural input packages must be designed to have an immediate impact on farm production.

“Taking cognisance of the critical importance of food and nutrition security, Government took a variety of measures aimed at promoting agriculture in order to increase food production output on the farms.

“These measures included agricultural subsidies, establishment of schemes to assist farmers with inputs, and the development and promotion of irrigation agriculture.’’

The President said the envisaged Irrigation Development Policy would help farmers access cheap finance to rehabilitate and set up irrigation facilities to mitigate drought.

He said the land reform programme had become the cornerstone of food and nutrition security as the majority of Zimbabweans now have access to agricultural land.

“Government will continue to take measures that empower our farmers, especially small-holder farmers and women, so that they access cheap finance, knowledge on climate change and the environment, smart farming systems, infrastructure and farm machinery,’’ he said.

“As a nation we need to be self-sufficient and self-reliant.

“A nation that cannot feed itself is highly compromised and vulnerable.”

He said Zimbabwe’s focus on a food and nutrition security policy had its roots in the 1992-93 drought which was the worst in the country’s living memory.

The lessons learnt from the campaign to mitigate the effects of that drought pointed to the need for a permanent mechanism for responding to food and nutrition challenges facing the country, both in drought and non-drought years.

He said it was noted that the country needed a policy framework that facilitated the implementation of co-ordinated and multi-sectoral interventions to the country’s food and nutrition situation.

It was in this regard that the Government established the Inter-Sectoral Taskforce on Food and Nutrition in 1995, with the late Vice-President Simon Muzenda as chairman.

The taskforce then recommended the creation of a Food and Nutrition Council, a body which was subsequently set up through the Research Act in 2000.

“We pay tribute to Cde Muzenda for having established this technical body that is set to play a critical role in the implementation of the Food and Nutrition Security Policy,’’ said President Mugabe.

He highlighted that the goal of the Food and Nutrition Security Policy was to promote and ensure adequate food and nutrition security for all people at all times in Zimbabwe.

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(STICKY) (SUNDAY MAIL ZW) MDC-T’s hatchet job
Sunday, 19 May 2013 00:00
Sunday Mail Reporter

The MDC-T is doing a hatchet job for the British government by calling for the security sector reforms as the former colonial master has since the attainment of independence been trying to protect white interests in the country through military action, it has emerged.

In an interview with The Sunday Mail last week, the Minister of Defence Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa put the calls by the MDC-T for security sector reforms into perspective by revealing for the first time that the British government almost engineered a coup in Zimbabwe just before the results for the 1980 elections were announced.

Since this failed coup, the British government has never been comfortable with a strong defence system in Zimbabwe and has been using Zimbabwean professionals, academics, civic organizations and sponsoring the MDC-T to call for the security sector reforms.

The revelations by Minister Mnangagwa were confirmed in a letter that until recently was classified as Top Secret that was written to the then British Prime Minister Magaret Thatcher by the head of the defence forces under the Ian Smith regime, General Peter Walls asking for permission to stage a coup in the country when it became clear that President Mugabe was heading for a resounding victory.

Minister Mnangagwa revealed that the coup failed to take place after President Mugabe who was the then Prime Minister-designate offered Peter Walls and his lieutenants jobs in the new government.

“We were aware of the plans to stage a coup by Walls because we had infiltrated their system through blacks who were serving them tea. These blacks would pretend that they were serving them tea while listening to the coup plans. They would then give me the information as I was the head of security at that time,” said the Minister.

He revealed that at one point matters came to a head after the Rhodesians dispatched their armored vehicles into the grounds of the University of Rhodesia where Cde Mugabe and other ZANU leaders were staying.

President Mugabe had to be secretly evacuated. “Rex (Cde Solomon Mujuru) was ready for a pre-emptive strike but we discouraged him because this would create the impression that we were the aggressors.

ZANU had sneaked in enough cadres to engage the Rhodesians in the city and besides, there was a standby force of about 5 000 fighters under the leadership of Cde Zvinavashe that was waiting in Mozambique,” said Minister Mnangagwa adding that he then informed Cde Mugabe about the planned coup.

He said a plan was hatched not to neutralize the coup militarily but through the temptation of office.

The decision to offer Walls and his lieutenants jobs was kept a secret and even the late Vice President Muzenda was not informed. The PM-designate then asked Cde Mnangagwa to reach out to the Rhodesian command element and call for a secret meeting at a safe house in Quorn Avenue in Mt Pleasant.

“I contacted Ian Smith’s son, Alec who was with the moral rearmament unit. Alec referred me to Stannard a senior operative with the then central intelligence who gave me numbers of the Rhodesian command. I rang Peter Walls to convey Cde Mugabe’s wish for a meeting at 9pm of March 2 1980.

“But i also insisted that Cde Mugabe was expecting only the top four lieutenants that is Peter Walls, Peter Alum (police), Air Marshal Wessels (air force) and Ken Flower (intelligence). All of them had to come in one car. In the meantime, I planted fully armed Zanla combatants in the hedge. “As an afterthought, Cde Mugabe indicated that he wanted to meet Ian Smith before meeting the commanders. I reached Ian Smith via his son and I told him that the PM-designate wanted to meet him. I told him that the PM-designate had said he should come with one person.

Smith then said ‘what about my security?’ to which I said ‘I have never known Smith to be afraid.” Smith then indicated that he would come with David Smith,” said Minister Mnangagwa. He said the meeting was slotted for 9pm and so the meeting with the commanders was moved to 10pm.

During his meeting with Ian Smith, Cde Mugabe announced that his party had won, upon which Smith quipped “I helped you win.” President Mugabe asked how, to which Smith said “As Ian Smith I stand for the defence of white interests and I did that consistently. I, however, worked with Chirau who deserted his people, wooed with Muzorewa, worked with Ndiweni, worked with Sithole and you Mugabe you are the only one whose hands I didn’t soil. So it was easy for your people to know who really represented their interests. That’s how I helped you.”

Minister Mnangagwa said the PM-designate then told Smith that he intended to make his address and announce a policy of reconciliation.

“Cde Mugabe said it would be desirable if Smith as leader of the whites would issue a statement to calm the nerves of whites. Smith agreed and later he issued the statement.

“After the departure of Smith, the commanders came and Cde Mugabe did not wast time. He addressed Walls first indicating that on the Patriotic Front there was Rex Nhongo, Dumiso Dabengwa and Cde Lookout Masuku who, whilst accomplished guerillas, had no experience leading a conventional force. He asked Walls if he would accept an offer of overall command of the national army of the new order.

“In utter surprise, Walls looked at his fellow commanders. Without saying a word, he stood up, donned his military cap, stood at attention and saluted the PM-designate accompanied by the words ‘I accept.” After this, the PM-designate turned to Wessels and offered him the command of the Air Force and, just like Walls, he agreed and did exactly what Walls had done. Next was Alum, who also agreed.

Lastly, the PM-designate turned to Ken Flower and said ‘Ken, this is Emmerson Mnangagwa, your counterpart. As my security chief, he tells me you have been sending me many bombs, some of which are still to explode in order to kill me. This is the man who frustrated your efforts and the man you will work with if you accept to serve under me. Ken accepted the offer and we drank tea and the commanders left. The strategy worked.

“A war had been avoided, thanks to Cde Mugabe’s preference for a non-military formula,” explained Minister Mnangagwa. In his letter dated March 1 1980 to Margaret Thatcher, Walls confirmed that indeed he wanted to engineer a coup by asking the British government to declare the 1980 elections null and void if Cde Mugabe won.

He further asked for permission to “provide, if necessary, the military conditions for an orderly and safe withdrawal of those people of all races who wish to take refuge in South Africa.”

In military terms, creating military conditions means creating conditions for a coup. Since the failure of this coup, the British government has over the years tried to destabilise the country’s defence forces and in recent years efforts to weaken the forces have been doubled. A few years ago, the British government even mooted efforts to invade Zimbabwe as the land reform exercise gathered momentum.

The Blair administration sought to establish bases for the invasion in countries such as Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Mozambique and all but one country agreed to co-operate with the British. In recents months, the British administration has been using Zimbabwean professionals such as Knox Chitiyo to compile policy documents calling for the reform of the security sector. The MDC-T then adopts these documents.

“The MDC-T is trying to finish what Peter Walls started and failed to do in 1980. Unlike the commanders from the Smith regime era, our defence forces are disciplined, they are professionals and they are patriotic. The puppets won’t succeed where the master has failed since 1980,” said a military expert from the University of Zimbabwe.

Next week, we will publish details how Peter Walls later hurriedly left the country, how a whole squadron of fighter jets was destroyed by Rhodesians opposed to integration and Margaret Thatcher’s response to Peter Walls’ request to stage a coup

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(NEWZIMBABWE) Zimbabwean ‘shot dead' by SA employer
19/05/2013 00:00:00
by Sunday World

THE murder of a Zimbabwean man in South Africa’s Muldersdrift area - allegedly by his boss - has sparked an outcry, with local activists calling on the police to act against the gardener's employer.

Police, however, claim the suspect appeared in court a week ago in connection with the murder. But in what appears to be a cover-up, there is no record of the employer's appearance in court.

Police spokesperson Katlego Mogale said the suspect went to the Krugersdorp Magistrate's Court but "didn't appear in front of a magistrate".

"He had discussions with the DPP (director of public prosecutions) and the investigating officer, who found holes in his story of self-defence. His firearm was confiscated. He has not been arrested as police are still investigating.

"It is alleged that the deceased was in the (open) field praying and some people complained of noise. Then in circumstances that are being investigated, he was shot by the suspect.
"The case was taken to court and postponed for further investigation," Mogale said.

The SACP in Muldersdrift in the West Rand area of Gauteng province and the community are up in arms and calling for the arrest of the man who has admitted shooting dead Sizo Moyo, 36.
SACP spokesman Paseka Mafereka said they were told Moyo was dragged from his room and killed.

"This man treats his staff badly. They are paid peanuts and he only employs foreigners and there aren't even toilets here," he said.

Friends said he had been employed by the suspect for the past 10 years and described him as a devout member of the Zion Christian Church.

Moyo stayed across the road from his employer in one of the dilapidated houses surrounded by long reeds and infested with flies.
His pastor, Thomas Mthombothi, said he was informed of Moyo's murder a day after he was killed.

"His room was badly vandalised. I was told he was found in the field where he used to pray. He was wearing his church uniform. The only thing found with him was his Bible and an empty drum.

"I can't understand how this was self-defence. Moyo was such a gentle soul, who would never hurt a fly," said Mthombothi.

Neighbours said the employer, accompanied by his son-in-law, had assaulted Moyo before shooting him.

Mthombothi said when he approached Muldersdrift police he was told the self-defence story.

"How can it be self-defence if Moyo had no weapon and it happened where he stayed?" he asked.
Moyo's mother, Deliwe, said she heard about his death from Mthombothi.

"I last spoke to him three months ago. He never complained about being unhappy. He worked to support his daughter back in Zimbabwe. I'm very sad.

"His employer didn't even have the decency to call me. This shows he doesn't care," says Deliwe.

Family spokesman Ndodana Mathe says they are struggling to raise funds to bury Moyo.

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(NEWZIMBABWE, BLOOMBERG) Miners reject State marketing of minerals

19/05/2013 00:00:00
by Bloomberg

[COMMENT - I'm sure Alex Mhembere would 'reject' the plan to only sell minerals through the state. De Beers for a decade was smuggling diamonds out of Zimbabwe. De Beers is a criminal organisation, and it does not want transparancy or oversight. - MrK]

THE Chamber of Mines has rejected a proposal by the Mines Ministry for the State to control mineral production and prices, a draft response from the industry organisation has revealed.

Earlier this month, the ministry proposed the auctioning of mineral deposits, restricting production of commodities deemed strategic and that the state sell the output from all mines.

The ministry is seeking comment from mining companies before taking the proposed policy to parliament to have it passed into law. Zimbabwe has the world’s second-biggest platinum and chrome reserves.

The proposal is “gritty and confrontational,” the Chamber said in a draft copy of its response, which may be given to the government later this month. “Ideologically the policy seems to be at variance with the market-based national policy that the country has adopted.”

Companies such as Impala and Rio Tinto Group are currently free to sell their own minerals. The policy proposals come after the leading mining companies agreed to comply with an existing law to cede 51 percent stakes in their local assets to black Zimbabweans or the government.

“We will contribute effectively to the on-going development of a new mining policy,” Alex Mhembere, Chamber of Mines president, told the body’s Annual General Meeting, held last week at the fly-fishing resort of Troutbeck in northeastern Zimbabwe.

No Trust

“We do not regard our role as opposition to government but partners seeking the same national goal and aspiration.”
In addition to platinum and chrome Zimbabwe has deposits of coal, gold, copper, diamonds and iron ore.

If implemented, the marketing policy will be a reversal of an earlier liberalization of mineral sales, which formerly had been undertaken by the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe and, in the case of gold, a unit of the central bank.

Under the proposal, gold and platinum group metals will be sold by a dealer authorized by the Ministry of Finance and all other minerals will be sold by the MMCZ.

“This policy on minerals marketing is premised on the notion that the private sector cannot be trusted,” the Chamber of Mines said. “The world over producers have the right to market their own minerals based on an approved marketing contract.”

In addition to the changes to the marketing of minerals the ministry proposed auctions of deposits as well as imposing new taxes, the policy showed. It suggested a resource rent tax, defined as a tax on profits in excess of an average national return on investment, and the regulation of mineral prices.
‘Socialist Thinking’

“Having gone through the lost decade, where the country had a fatal flirtation with price controls, this should be avoided at all costs,” the Chamber said.

Zimbabwe’s economy entered a recession around 2000 after a disputed election and the imposition of a land reform policy that involved the takeover of white-owned commercial farms.

Over the next decade the government controlled prices and imports. Inflation rose to 500 billion percent, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the economy contracted by 40 percent between 2000 and 2007.

The country exited recession in 2009 and ended a political stalemate after President Robert Mugabe and rival, Morgan Tsvangirai formed a coalition government following the intervention of the 15-nation SADC grouping.

The proposals “will effectively close the country to private exploration,” the Chamber said. The government document “is based on socialist thinking, where the State has a strong hand over the affairs of mineral extraction. Zimbabwe has largely been a market-based economy.”

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(NEWZIMBABE) Tsvangirai vows to reverse indigenisation
19/05/2013 00:00:00
by Agencies

PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai wrapped up his party's post-election plan meeting Sunday vowing to overturn President Robert Mugabe's indigenisation drive if he wins upcoming general elections.

He wound up the meeting with a rally attended by thousands of supporters of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) at a sports ground in Harare's Highfield suburb.

"We will reverse indigenisation laws and create empowerment laws for the majority of the people of Zimbabwe," said Tsvangirai.

"We cannot all share a small cake. We can't share the existing wealth so we will have to create a bigger cake."

Mugabe introduced the indigenisation law in 2010 which forces foreign-owned companies - including mines, banks and retailers - to cede 51 percent ownership to black Zimbabwean investors.
The Zanu PF leader has threatened to take over firms that fail to comply.

Tsvangirai is uneasy with the law which he says has driven away desperately needed foreign investment just as the country is recovering from a decade-long economic collapse.

He bemoaned "lack of transparency in the distribution of wealth in Zimbabwe".

"Every Zimbabwean must be able to point out that they benefitted under this or that programme," he said.

The MDC-T leader also said his party will end years of bias and abuse by the police, military and intelligence services and will make sure the services uphold the country’s new constitution which demands impartiality in their duties.

An MDC-T government would also manage the police and military so that Zimbabweans “will not fear their soldiers and policemen” any longer.

Tsvangirai said thousands of political activists have been victims of police brutality since 1999 when he formed the trade union-based party, the first real challenge to Mugabe’s Zanu PF party since independence from colonial-era rule in 1980.

“We will need justice in this country as well as national healing,” he said.

Tsvangirai showed supporters a 247-page document outlining his party’s plans for governing the country if it wins the upcoming polls.

The report calls for cuts in spending on the armed forces, saying that current payments are excessive considering Zimbabwe is at peace and faces no military threats.

“The goal of security under Zanu PF was to perpetuate their rule against domestic resistance ... and seek to undermine the freedom of political choice,” the report states.

It proposes the formation of a new Defense Service Commission to monitor the promotion of senior officers and stress what it calls “the primacy of civilian rule.”

The report makes no mention of firing military and intelligence commanders who have repeatedly vowed allegiance to Mugabe and have refused to salute Tsvangirai since he became prime minister in the coalition agreement brokered by regional leaders in 2009.

Tsvangirai said that if his party wins the elections “there will be no retribution, those who committed crimes must tell the truth and the truth will set them free.”

The rally marked the end of a conference by MDC officials which unveiled an outline of its programme and projects if it wins elections.

Zimbabwe will hold elections later this year to choose a successor to the shaky power-sharing government formed four years ago by Tsvangirai and Mugabe.

No election date has been set yet, but Mugabe, who is 89, is pressing for them to go ahead as soon as possible.

Tsvangirai, who is confident of winning the vote, said elections would be held before October 30.

"There are things that need to be done...reforms we need to have before elections," he said.

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Monday, May 20, 2013

Worries about politics are growing in one of Africa’s zippiest economies
May 18th 2013 | LUSAKA |From the print edition

A VISITOR led blindfold to the Levy Junction Mall in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital, might think he had pitched up in a middle-class suburb in Johannesburg. The pristine shopping centre is filled with South African retailers from Pick n Pay, a grocery chain, to Mugg & Bean, a coffee shop. The traders on Mwumba Road, a short drive away, serve a broader class of shoppers but are no less busy. If you need a part for a uranium-enrichment plant you might find it here, jokes one local businessman.

Lusaka’s bustle is a reflection of Zambia’s thriving economy. GDP has risen at an average rate of almost 6% a year in the past decade, while inflation has dropped from more than 20% to below 7%. Until quite recently Lusaka had no shopping malls. It now has ten and more are planned. The potential is enormous. Zambia is rich in arable land, water, gemstones, as well as copper, its main export, which China wants in abundance.

A flaw is that this new-found prosperity has not been widely shared, which helped a populist veteran politician, Michael Sata, to an election victory in 2011. Zambia’s tax take from mining is poor. Its biggest export market is not China but low-tax Switzerland, where copper trades are booked. Prosperous Lusaka pulls in rural migrants but copper-belt towns are less of a draw because mining uses more machines than manpower; 61% of the population remain in the poorer countryside. President Sata presents himself as their champion. But his imperious style has lately left business folk nervous and others dismayed.

One concern is that the liberal policy on foreign investment is under threat. The finance minister, Alexander Chikwanda, recently signed a law giving the central bank power to monitor cross-border capital. Proceeds from exports worth $10,000 or more must be remitted to a bank in Zambia within 60 days of shipment. Capital that flows out of Zambia in dividends or offshore savings will be similarly tracked. The use of foreign currency in domestic transactions was banned by an earlier statute.

Mr Chikwanda says the goal is to know precisely how much money is flowing in and out of Zambia, so he can verify that the right amount of tax is being paid. It is not, he insists, a disguised attempt to impose capital controls. “It is controls that lead to capital flight,” he says. “When you know you can take the money out, you don’t worry.” Locals can still hold dollars in Zambian bank accounts even if they can no longer use them in shops. Their widespread use, say officials, had undermined the central bank’s hold on the economy.

Foreign investors would be less anxious about this were it not for the bullying manner of the president. Mr Sata dominates his government, rarely delegates, is impatient with dissident ministers and is inclined to throw his weight around. He is no diplomat. He told off George W. Bush, the former American president, for tardiness. Mr Sata’s predecessor, Rupiah Banda, whom he defeated in the election of 2011, was stripped of immunity from prosecution in March and is now on trial for corruption. Interpol has cancelled a request for the arrest of Mr Banda’s son for lack of evidence. Opposition leaders have been detained for public-order offences. A coalition of Mr Sata’s opponents filed a 26-page charge-sheet to the Commonwealth in January. It claimed that the president wants to impose a one-party state.

Mr Sata is scarcely a model democrat. He supported Frederick Chiluba’s thwarted bid in 2001 to alter the constitution so he could serve a third term as president. But it is not yet clear that Mr Sata’s rule marks a step-change in Zambian politics. For sure, he uses the Public Order Act, a dismal piece of colonial-era law, to harass opponents and disrupt rallies. But so did his predecessors. Mr Sata was himself detained when in opposition. And his threats and bullying have not had great success. In general, charges are quietly dropped or fail to stick for lack of evidence.

Nor are his opponents much cowed. Hakainde Hichilema, leader of the United Party for National Development, recently called Mr Sata’s outspoken vice-president, Guy Scott, the “most stupid white man” he had ever seen. “If it was really a one-party state he would be locked up for that”, says Mr Scott, perhaps forgetting that Mr Hichilema is no stranger to the police station.

A few well-heeled Lusakans think the choice is between Sata-style populism now and something worse later, if inequality goes unchecked. There are signs of more measured decision-making. An original draft of legislation required the central bank to regulate as well as monitor capital flows. The word “regulate” was removed after lobbying from financiers. Mr Chikwanda says he has resisted pressure for a windfall mining tax. Taxes on the low-paid have been reduced. Fuel subsidies have just been removed, a risk rarely taken by populist governments.

Such fiscal rectitude is all the more surprising as bond investors are throwing cheap money at African governments. In September Zambia raised $750m in dollar bonds to spend on improving road and rail links, after receiving orders of $12 billion. Investors seem inclined to give Zambia the benefit of the doubt.

From the print edition: Middle East and Africa

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Civil servants and corruption
By Editor
Sun 19 May 2013, 14:00 CAT

Albert Muyembe, general secretary of the Professional Teachers Union of Zambia, says meaningful development will only be achieved if civil servants and those entrusted with public offices desist from sowing seeds of corruption.

It would be very difficult for politicians to engage in corruption if civil servants and other public workers were not corrupt and refuse to be used in corrupt schemes.

It is very difficult under our system of government for politicians to initiate transactions on behalf of government and complete them without the involvement of civil servants or other public workers. Politicians work through civil servants and seldom are they able to by-pass them.
The controlling officers of all public resources are not politicians but civil servants. Of course, some of the civil servants we have today are not different from the politicians they serve because they themselves are politicians who have been appointed to the civil service as permanent secretaries or district commissioners. There is a problem in this. But the law is very clear on what their roles are.

There is no doubt that the starting point in cleaning up government is the civil service. A clean civil service, a civil service with upright men and women, will make it very difficult for a politician at any level to steal public funds and abuse public resources. When Remmy Mushota attempted to steal K210 million without the support and assistance of civil servants, he was exposed and caught and his whole deal failed. If some civil servants were involved in that transaction, it would have gone through and the public would have lost money.

The corrupt activities of Frederick Chiluba were exposed by civil servants who were against corruption. But it is also interesting to note that the most corrupt elements in Chiluba's government, those who were convicted for corruption, were civil servants. They are the ones who went to jail, they are the ones who are not in jail of bail pending appeal. There are very few politicians in Chiluba's government who were charged with corruption and were convicted. It's only Katele Kalumba. Most of them were civil servants. This goes to show that if the civil service is rotten, corruption becomes the order of the day.

Muyembe is therefore right when he says "meaningful development will only be achieved if civil servants and those entrusted with public offices desist from sowing seeds of corruption".

And we should not close our eyes to the reality that we have a corrupt public service. Of course, the nature of corrupt activities our civil servants are engaging in differ. There are some corrupt practices that are no longer seen as being corrupt in the civil service. We have civil servants who do very little to earn the salaries they earn. We have civil servants who are simply collectors of all sorts of sitting and travel allowances while contributing nothing to the operations of the civil service. They are just employees in name and not in deed. Receiving money you have not worked for is corruption - this is in truth unearned income.

We have many civil servants who cheat on expenses, faking receipts. This is corruption. But it seems, to some extent, to be accepted in our civil service as normal practice - 'as long as you bring receipts it's ok'.

We have civil servants who are abusing government motor vehicles and fuel. This is corruption. But most of our civil servants don't see this as corruption. It has become some acceptable 'initiative'.
We also have civil servants who every day report for work late and leave very early. They don't work the hours required of them. But they get paid as if they worked all the hours and days required of them. This is corruption.

We also have corruption from very low civil servants and other public workers. The cleaners of government offices who steal cleaning materials and take home. We also have those who make tea and steal sugar, teabags and coffee to take home. That's corruption. But all this seems to be acceptable. Few see it as corruption any more.

If one is engaging in any of these forms of corruption, they will have difficulties opposing what we may see as grand corruption. They will tolerate it and sometimes even seek ways to get their small cut.

Actually, put on the scale, civil servants may come out more corrupt than politicians. And there is need for us as a nation to realise this and cleanse our country of this vice. If we do this on all levels, it will help strengthen us, it will make our country more powerful, it will make the people's faith in the institutions of the state and in the political leadership of our country firmer. It will make the faith of all who want to do business with our country in us greater. Why? This is because the fact that we know how to make corrections, how to cleanse ourselves of iniquities, of evil practices will give our country and ourselves prestige. It will give our country all the strength which nations have when they know how to purify themselves of evils!

By doing this, we will be able to deliver our people from the abject poverty in which they are today wallowing. By doing this, there will be no problem or challenge that we will not be able to overcome because by so doing, we would have overcome our own obstacles. There should be no corruption that we accept as tolerable and we should not oppose or denounce.

We agree with Muyembe that "corruption is the biggest detriment to our country's economy and its quest to attain good governance". There can be no good governance in a country where corruption reigns supreme. Good governance requires honesty in the discharge of public duties. Corrupt elements cannot be expected to be honest in their discharge of public functions.

Lastly, we welcome the Professional Teachers Union of Zambia's decision to partner with the PF and its government in eradicating corruption in the education and all other sectors of governance. This is a very important declaration because without this partnership on a broader scale, Michael Sata and his government are not going to accomplish much in the fight against corruption and in their efforts to give our people a better and deserved life. The challenge, however, is to move from rhetoric to action, and action at an unprecedented intensity and scale. Those who are ready to join hands can overcome the greatest challenges.

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Subsidies costly, says Chigunta

By Gift Chanda
Sun 19 May 2013, 14:00 CAT

DR Francis Chigunta says it is important for the government to show Zambians alternative social protection measures being put in place after removing subsidies on fuel and maize consumption.

And Dr Chigunta, who was former president Rupiah Banda's political advisor, says there must be a strong basis for the government to maintain consumption subsidies because they tend to be very costly anywhere in the world.

Commenting on the government's decision to scrap the miller-consumer subsidy on maize barely a month after the fuel subsidy that had kept fuel pump prices stable for over a year was removed, Dr Chigunta, a Development Studies lecturer at UNZA, said a lot of money would be saved.

He said consumption subsidies anywhere in the world tend to be costly.

"However, it is important to take into account the plight of the poor. The majority of Zambians are poor, therefore, as government removes this subsidy, it also needs to show the public the alternative measures that they have come up with in order to cushion the impact of this removal of the consumer-miller subsidy," Dr Chigunta said in an interview.

"We are appreciate and understand the government's position that the consumer subsidy is costly. Indeed it is costly and in the long term it will be beneficial to the Zambian treasury because it is a move that will help save money and that money will be used for other productive activities."

He explained that people may experience the negative impact of removing the subsidy and this was why it was important for the government to show the people what alternative social protection measures they were putting in place.

Dr Chigunta explained that the negativity around the removal of the miller-consumer subsidy was because the decision was made when people had not completely adjusted to earlier policy change on fuel and the proposed electricity tariff hikes.

"When you combine all these, the impact on the poor will be quite adverse. So government must engage in an exercise that will cushion this impact," said Dr Chigunta.

"But subsidies anywhere in the world tend to be costly and there must be a good reason for maintaining them. As a country, we need to look more on subsidies that promote production and not consumption because that is where we can have a competitive advantage as a country. Countries that have succeeded elsewhere in the world have tended to subsidise production and not consumption."

And Evelyn Hone College Students Union president general Inambao Sitwala said the removal of consumption subsidy on maize would create a sense of responsibility.

He said the move was welcome and would enable the government speed up infrastructure development in all parts of the country that had been neglected for many years.

"Statistically speaking, the country has been losing about K300 billion on subsidies and its removal means the money will be used to other important areas and this will help reduce the gap between the poor and the rich as the money will be used to uplift the living standards of our people as there will be a trickledown effect," said Sitwala.

Meanwhile, Zambia Youth Networks secretary general Mathew Mushikiti said those opposing the removal of the maize subsidy were going through an orientation process.

He said maintaining subsidies would not help the country develop economically.

"Subsidies kill the spirit of innovation, saving and sense of innovation and service and as long as government maintains this we should forget about economic development," said Mushikiti.

And UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema said the removal of the fuel subsidies was a wrong decision.

And NAREP president Elias Chipimo said Zambia needed a political consensus that was built on values and a compelling vision for development that placed people at its very centre.

He said the decision to remove the subsidies would hurt many poor Zambians.

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Put measures in place to win credibility, Mutesa urges govt
By Fridah Nkonde and Kabanda Chulu
Sun 19 May 2013, 14:00 CAT

GOVERNMENT should urgently put in place measures to win credibility and avoid the chaos which the removal of subsidies is expected to unleash, says ZED president Fred Mutesa.

Commenting on the removal of subsidies on fuel and maize sold to millers, Dr Mutesa said every major policy reform was bound to produce winners and losers.

"It will always be a delicate balancing act. It is to be expected that losers will resist unpalatable measures while those who stand to gain from such measures will celebrate. The PF government has removed fuel subsidies and announced intentions to do the same with maize subsidies. These measures will face fierce resistance from the ordinary people who anticipate their already depleted pockets to be hit hard," he said.

"At the same time, government will strain to justify that these moves are necessary if resources are to be made available to other needy areas.

Those who lived in the 80s and 90s will recognise that we are essentially back to the times of structural adjustment and the austerity which goes with it. It takes astute political acumen to manage this process. When the IMF tried to impose these measures in Africa in the 1980s, the continent was rocked by social upheavals that saw a number of governments tumble. That is not the way we want to go. The PF is caught between the rock and hard place."

Dr Mutesa, Zambians for Empowerment and Development president, said there were things which the government could do to win credibility and avoid the chaos which its austerity measures threatened to unleash.
"The first thing is to sequence these difficult policy measures in a way that reduces the social cost on the vulnerable groups. The shock therapy that government is trying to administer is unlikely to leave many Zambians standing. If anything, government will just build up social resentment against itself," said Dr Mutesa.

"Secondly, government should be seen to be in the forefront of belt tightening. Citizens will be hard to convince that government has no money if at the same time the President keeps appointing defecting opposition politicians as deputy ministers resulting in unnecessary expenses since they have to be maintained at a great cost."

And NAREP national secretary Jevan Kamanga has urged the government to make people understand the new developments because 'good' policies can cause destruction if not properly implemented.

He said it was saddening that the government had continued to make decisions without regard to the impact they would have on the people.

"These changes may be necessary but the rate at which they are being implemented is simply unbearable for the majority of Zambians. We cannot understand why the PF administration has decided to inflict more suffering on its citizens who are already struggling to make ends meet. It is worrying to see a government that is willing to donate two million litres of fuel to another country yet refuse to better manage the removal of subsidies in order to cushion the impact on its own citizens," said Kamanga.

"The PF administration claims that it is spending too much on subsidizing citizens yet it is prepared to spend colossal amounts on 'engineered' by-elections and a bloated cabinet. We advise government to concentrate on policies that will better the lives of people and not bow down to pressure from international institutions which have no heart for the poor. Even a good policy can cause destruction if not properly implemented. Government must engage the people and help them understand and transform before making decisions that have a negative impact on their well being."



Chama-Matumbo road works excite Chanda
By Jonathan Mukuka and Mirriam Kumwenda in Chama
Sun 19 May 2013, 14:01 CAT

CONSTRUCTION works for the KR371 million, 84 kilometre stretch of the Chama-Matumbo Road linking Northern, Muchinga and Eastern provinces are progressing well.

The works, under lot 2 of the Chama-Matumbo road project stretching from Muyombe junction passing through the boma to Luangwa Bridge, are part of the Link Zambia 8,000 Project under the Road Development Agency (RDA) being undertaken by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation.

China Jiangxi Limited has been engaged to do lot 1 of the project at a cost of over KR399 million, from Matumbo junction to Luangwa River, covering a total distance of 115 km.

The scope of the works for the two projects include upgrading of the road from gravel to bituminous.

Muchinga Province minister Colonel Gerry Chanda inspected the works last week during his familiarisation tour of Chama district.

Col Chanda said he was happy that the works were taking shape adding that with the rain season now coming to an end, the government expected more progress on the road construction.

Col Chanda who was accompanied by Chama district commissioner Josephat Lombe, council secretary Yaphet Sinkamba and other district heads of departments said the government was committed to ensuring that the road project was completed on time.

He also appealed to the contractor to ensure that a good job was done, adding that both the government and members of the public expected a good product from the contractor.

Col Chanda further said he was happy that the contractor with a total of 120 workers was meeting the required minimum wage.

He was however, disappointed that it was taking long for RDA to engage a contractor to work on the bridge across Luangwa River.

"We need a bridge across Luangwa River. In fact, we should have started with a bridge so that as the road construction works progresses, motorists should have been using this route to go to Chinsali and from Chinsali to Chama, "said Col. Chanda.

But Michael Banda, resident engineer for East Consult, the consultant for the lot 2 of the Chama-Matumbo Road project, said plans to engage a contractor to erect a bridge across Luangwa River, had advanced.
Banda said the contractor would soon be moving on-site to commence the works and was set to finish the project in record time and hand it over to the government.

He said that a lot of works had been done from the time the rains stopped in the area adding that very little works were done during the rainy season.

Meanwhile, Chama district in Muchinga Province has procured two sets of earth-moving machines at a cost of KR10,000 using the Constituency Development Fund (CDF).

Lombe disclosed this yesterday when Col Chanda paid a courtsey call on him at his office.

Lombe said a part payment of KR7,540 had been paid, adding that the balance of KR2,460 would be paid once the machinery arrives in the district.

He said the equipment had already been loaded on the ship from the United Kingdom and was expected to arrive in the district by the end of this month.

Lombe said the machinery which would be used for the construction of feeder roads in the district would be shared between the two constituencies- Chama North and Chama South.

He said another set of earth-moving machines would be procured using the 2013/2014 CDF funds for the two constituencies as soon as the last payment is paid.

Lombe said that most of the feeder roads in the district, particularly in Chama North Constituency, were in bad state and the procurement of the earth-moving machines would go a long way in making most roads passable and ease the transportation of farm inputs and farm produce.

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We can learn from Zim’s flourishing farms

April 30 2013 at 09:22am
By Max du Preez

File image - A woman gathers maize grain she harvested in Epworth, on the outskirts of Harare.

It is something many South Africans do not want to hear and would probably find hard to believe: Zimbabwe’s radical land redistribution has worked and agricultural production is on levels comparable to the time before the process started.

What is more meaningful is that the production levels were achieved by 245 000 black farmers on the land previously worked by some 6 000 white farmers.

I got this information from a new book, Zimbabwe Takes Back its Land by Joseph Hanlon, Jeanette Manjengwa and Teresa Smart.

Hanlon is a senior fellow at the London School of Economics and had written many books on southern Africa, especially Mozambique. Manjengwa is the deputy director of the London School of Economics and Smart is a visiting fellow at London University. The book’s findings came as a surprise to me. I was under the impression that most of the farms taken from white farmers were occupied by squatters or cronies of president Robert Mugabe and were largely lying fallow.

Not so, say the authors.

Mugabe cronies own less than 10 percent of the land. Many of the small farms (a few hectares) make a profit of about R90 000 a year while some of the more commercial-sized farms have turnovers of more than R1 million.

The authors also state that it is widely estimated that new farmers take a generation to reach full production, so the new farmers can be expected to raise their production significantly in the next decade.

All this information is relevant to us in South Africa. Land reform is just as emotive an issue and important to development here as it was in Zimbabwe.

But land redistribution has been painfully slow here, partly because of budgetary constraints and partly because of bureaucratic incompetence and corruption.

It would be a huge mistake to argue that, if forced, land redistribution without compensation has worked in Zimbabwe it should also be done here in South Africa.

Zimbabwe’s land processes seriously undermined stability and the economy for more than a decade. Millions of Zimbabweans fled the country and sought refuge in South Africa and other neighbouring states.

A similar undermining of our economy and stability could have a more serious impact on South Africa and could lead to great suffering and conflict, indeed to a fatal blow to our far more modern and sophisticated economy.

A radical disturbance of the equilibrium in South African commercial agriculture would have dire consequences for food security and could lead to dangerous social upheaval, even a low-level civil war.

There is another crucial difference. With few exceptions, white farmers were only established in Zimbabwe from the early 20th century onwards, most of them British and most of them arriving after the end of World War II. The man who led the white Rhodesian government after the Unilateral Declaration of Independence, Ian Smith, farmed land given to him by the colonial authorities after evicting the indigenous owners.

Most white South African farmers are Afrikaners whose forebears arrived in the coutry from France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany between 1652 and the early 1700s.

They lost all loyalty to a foreign “motherland” within a few generations and eventually came to regard themselves as indigenous people.

Many Afrikaner families even had a slave woman from the late 17th or early 18th century as materfamilias. In the Western Cape, it is not uncommon to find a family on the same farm their ancestors had occupied 300 years ago, and elsewhere in the country a century or more ago.

Most dispossessed white Zimbabweans emigrated to South Africa or the UK. That is not an option open to more than a handful of white South African farmers.

Another difference is that, unlike Zimbabwe, we have a constitution protecting private property ownership and the rule of law. Even if the government appropriates land, it still has to pay some compensation.

But this doesn’t mean we can’t learn lessons from the Zimbabwean experience.

The first is that most new black farmers can actually farm successfully and commercially if given enough time and help. There are far too many South Africans who believe the opposite.

The second is that an ambitious land redistribution programme can play a large role in alleviating poverty and providing employment and dignity to large numbers of marginalised people.

The conventional wisdom among most academics, economists and political analysts in South Africa is that urbanisation is the answer to poverty alleviation and the successful provision of education and skills training.

Too many leaders in agriculture agree with this view and declare that smallholder farmers simply undermine the potential of available agricultural land.

Zimbabwe and the experience of Ethiopia and other countries in the last two decades are proof that they’re dead wrong.

We urgently need to throw old, conventional thinking overboard and tackle our problem with more vigour.

The Mercury

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(GUARDIAN UK) Robert Mugabe's land reform comes under fresh scrutiny
Debate rages over whether redistribution of farmland under Zimbabwe president has some positive spinoffs
* David Smith in Harare
* guardian.co.uk, Friday 10 May 2013 14.06 BST

Zimbabwe land reform

Farm buildings ablaze, war veterans on the rampage and white farmers emerging bloodied and bruised are among the defining images of the case against the Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe.

In 2000, self-styled war veterans launched a fast-track land redistribution programme, billed as an attempt to correct the colonialist legacy that left vast tracts of land in the hands of a complacent white minority. Many saw it as a crude attempt to sideline the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, which commanded support among white farmers and black farm workers.

Both groups were killed, beaten or chased away and the properties taken over by Zanu-PF cronies or citizens who often lacked the skills or capital to farm. Food production nosedived and one of Africa's strongest economies shrank to half the size it had been in 1980.

But a 2010 study by Prof Ian Scoones of Sussex University contended that, while no excuse could be made for the methods used, the painful process had bequeathed a positive spinoff in the form of thousands of small-scale black farmers. It has been followed this year by a book, Zimbabwe Takes Back its Land, which concludes: "In the biggest land reform in Africa, 6,000 white farmers have been replaced by 245,000 Zimbabwean farmers. These are primarily ordinary poor people who have become more productive farmers." Agricultural production is returning to its 1990s level, they argue.

The reappraisal is hotly disputed. Critics say that Mugabe loyalists remain the main beneficiaries, new farmers are still easily outnumbered by the farm workers who lost their jobs and the country still depends on aid and South African imports. But the mere fact that land reform's consequences have moved from conventional wisdom to a debate worthy of airtime is another step towards making Mugabe's legacy less unpalatable.

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(GUARDIAN UK, ZIMBABWELAND) Zimbabwe: how the tide is turning

Analysis After a torturous transition, there are (tentative) signs of a new consensus both inside and outside Zimbabwe

* Ian Scoones for African Arguments, part of the Guardian Africa Network
* guardian.co.uk, Friday 10 May 2013 16.02 BST

Recently, the Friends of Zimbabwe group of western donors met in London, together with representatives of all of country's main political parties. The Friends group – formerly known as the Fishmongers after an expensive restaurant in Harare – discusses international donor policy, including sanctions. While all the western donors are represented, its positions are firmly influenced by the EU and the US, and perhaps especially by the UK. London was therefore a fitting destination for the latest meeting.

The final communiqué was the usual non-committal diplomatic statement, indicating continuing commitment to Zimbabwe and recording the actually substantial aid flows that are being offered. But the departure for this meeting was the presence of senior Zanu-PF officials whose travel bans had been removed following the successful Constitutional referendum.

The justice minister, Patrick Chinamasa, was among the delegation, and he got a roasting on BBC's Hard Talkwhen he tried to defend the government position on a variety of policies. However, there were also other more civil exchanges, including one at Chatham House when senior officials from all parties, commented on the current situation with a clear tone of compromise and conciliation.

The political context in Zimbabwe remains highly uncertain, but there are unexpected shifts – partly as a result of the relative success of the "unity" government, and partly as a result of failures in the opposition, both to offer a convincing alternative and to develop a clear set of alliances.

Simukai Tinhu offered a useful overview in a recent African Arguments piece. Phillan Zamchiya in a very detailed Crisis in Zimbabwe report, reckons Zanu-PF is gearing up to win the election by stealth, stealing votes and fixing the results through a number of tactics. These are well-worn tricks of course, but there may be wider political shifts underway too. Simply blaming a poor result for the MDC on foul play may not be enough. Many see another coalition as an inevitable result, with the big questions being who will occupy the presidency and what the balance of power will be in parliament.

The finance minister, Tendai Biti, was also in London recently on his way back from negotiations with the IMF in Washington, and again spoke at Chatham House. Analysis by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum was revealing:

"Judging by the minister's tone and the way he addressed some of the key issues, it is our opinion that the gap between Zanu-PF and the MDC(T) on key issues appears to be narrowing. Similarly, the minister was quite diplomatic in trying to demystify the idea that the MDC and pro-democracy civil society organisations are synonymous and are working together towards the so-called regime change agenda. He obviously did not want to alienate pro-democracy civil society organisations which traditionally helped the MDC in its formative years.

However, by expanding the definition of civil society organisations beyond the usual narrow definition and stating that there is an operational civil society in Zimbabwe, the minister sought, in our view, to keep a healthy distance between the MDC as a political party and other pro-democracy groups. This, it appears, was his counterpoint against the Zanu-PF argument that all pro-democracy forces are bent on a western-sponsored regime change agenda.

The view that points to a political convergence is supported by the plea the minister had made to the USA and the IMF that Zimbabwe ought to be treated equally according to the same measure that has been used on countries with troubled pasts such as Burma. By saying this, he echoed his strong views for the lifting of sanctions by the European Union in July 2013.

On the issue of indigenisation, the minister again struck a note which doesn´t quite resonate with some of the sentiments from the Western countries.

It would appear that behind closed doors, both the MDC and moderate Zanu-PF ministers agree on key issues that they disagree on in public.

That's how politics work. The current widely held view that Robert Mugabe hasn't softened on his legacy ignores anecdotal evidence that indicates that lately he has been softening his clenched fist, so to speak. An example is his calls for peace, which have widely been dismissed as rhetoric which doesn't match what is happening on the ground. However anecdotal evidence from various sources, including Zimbabwean equivalent of Wikileaks, appear to suggest that the president´s attempts to soften are negated by some within his party who fear what might happen if Zanu-PF softens on its legacy inspired by its liberation war credentials.

Although the minister spoke about the current issues of concern, he was very measured in his approach. He exhibited every sign of a principled man, who, despite having undergone the vagaries of his difficult job and an incarceration in 2008, has matured, forgiven his persecutors and might even have undergone a paradigm shift. This shift, which is also reflected in the entire MDC, has seen it move from its widely perceived eurocentric roots to the moderate pan-African approach. It also appears that there are some within Zanu-PF who have softened on their legacy by moving to the centreground although there are still some still on the far right. Those on the far right are in our view, the ones the minister referred to when he said there are Ministers within the government who make irrational political statements that affect the economy".

In light of other pieces of evidence we have gathered, particularly the likelihood that the US is to announce policy shift on Zimbabwe, there is every indication of a national and political consensus on key issues, which might see an unexpected political landscape after the elections."

The consensus may be surprising to some who have been viewing Zimbabwe's tortured process of transition from afar. There may be much more consensus on thorny issues of land reform, national ownership of key businesses and the role of civil society than is commonly understood.

Clearly the consensus is not universal and the more progressive elements across all the parties may be out-manoeuvred by those with other agendas, whether the military elite, fearing post-election reprisals, or white capital, seeking a reassertion of power. As Biti, a clear presidential contender in the (maybe not so far off) future, tentatively repositions the MDC, it may not just be the traditional western "friends" of Zimbabwe, but others including China, Brazil and South Africa, who become the important brokers into the future.

This post originally appeared on Zimbabweland

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(GLOBALRESEARCH) Syria : One Year After the Houla Massacre. New Report on Official vs. Real Truth
By Adam Larson
Global Research, May 18, 2013

A week from now it will be one year since the world first heard about the horrors of a place in Syria called “Houla.” On the afternoon and evening of Friday, May 25, 2012, a reported 108 civilians were massacred there. They were executed inside their homes, with guns and “sharp tools,” and maybe a little bit from shelling as well. As the reader might recall, most of the victims were entire families, included some 49 younger children and even babies.

Anyone who had to watch the video results might recall having the bottom drop from their stomach with dread, and the lingering depression after. Many people, naturally, wanted revenge for that.

According to activists, all of the victim families were Sunni Muslim. It was of course blamed on the Syrian Arab Army – the only ones with artillery, if blades aren’t so clear - and their allied “Shabiha,” militias from surrounding villages, of the same Alawite faith of president Assad. None of these features was completely new, but this was by many measures the worst, most massive, most unambiguous massacres of innocents to date.

Western and Gulf Arab states took the events in Houla as clarifying the urgency of toppling the perpetrators; they expelled Damascus’ diplomats and otherwise moved to isolate Syria in the kill box. U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice said it had become clear that the “wheels were coming off” of Kofi Annan’s peace plan. The same point was made more aggressively by rebels shaking dead babies on video – no compromise was possible after this. Military aid to the rebels and talk of increasing it increased.

The opposition wanted a no-fly zone and a swift enforced victory, Libya-style. But the war has continued for a year after that “turning point,” stumbling along with no decisive aid yet delivered, and the widely-supported government seems to be winning. There will now be anniversary lamentations about how this massacre failed to move the world adequately. And quite possibly “the regime” will surprise us with a similar slaughter to remind the world how evil they remain. It might be wise, therefore, to brush up on what happened in Taldou last year, to get a clearer idea of how to best approach whatever its anniversary brings.

While official Western and U.N. investigations easily decided to blame Damascus, a more independent, de-centralized, citizen-led investigation (of sorts) was underway from the start. This has by and large reached much different conclusions, with public work that can be verified. Some of the sharper findings from that have been compiled into a report released on Wednesday by the Citizen’s Investigation into War Crimes in Libya (since mid-2012, they have turned their attention to Syria, but without a name change). Official Truth, Real Truth, and Impunity for the Syrian Houla Massacre of May 2012 (PDF, 79 pages – CIWCL download page) compiles seven previously published essays by four authors in three countries, edited, updated, and in two cases translated for the first time to English. Together, they cast unusually harsh light across the murky details of this pivotal event.

As usual, both sides initially blamed each other for the killings in Houla. More precisely, they happened in and around the southern half of Taldou, the southernmost town of the Al-Houla area, which was otherwise under rebel control by mid-2012. Damascus accused “terrorists,” their usual phrase for people who would slaughter little kids just to blame someone else. In the version lodged by the Syrian government (and and at least a dozen local witnesses on record), rebels moved on May 25 to secure total control. In a pre-planned, multi-front attack, 600-800 armed fighters from the region and overseas hit all five security posts around Taldou. They came in waves with mid-heavy weapons, pinning the soldiers down in defensive mode or completely overrunning their posts. Over the afternoon and early evening, many Syrians say, the rebels took over the town.

Some evidence in the report suggests this is just what happened. The damage to buildings given as from distant regime artillery shelling, seems instead to be from RPGs and heavy machine guns, on Taldou’s main street itself. Instead of holes in roofs, we see primarily walls holed and peppered with horizontal fire. Among the most heavily “shelled” places are all the government security posts along main street. The U.N.’s investigators acknowledged that the northernmost “one or two” posts were overrun by rebels in what might have been a “premeditated attack.” (p. 55) However, they somehow managed to play this down as irrelevant.

In this version with at least some evidence behind it, the opposition simply lied about the victims of the ensuing massacre. Rather than neutral-to-anti-government Sunnis, they were Shi’ites, perhaps Alawites, and Sunnis who rejected the rebellion and remained loyal to the “Alawite regime.” One of the Sunni families was said to be related to the new speaker of the Syrian parliament, the People’s Assembly – selected the day before the massacre of his kin. (see p. 25)

A compromised UN “investigation” (Commission of Inquiry, CoI) arrived at their blame target by listening carefully to some alleged witnesses and experts (usually via Skype) and scoffing at others behind their backs. Led by Karen Koning AbuZayd, an American Middle East think tank director, the CoI established with its reports the closest thing there is to the world’s official truth. The mainstream media delivered the context for receptive audiences, world leaders led, groups for good things concurred, and little surprise, the world public and the public record came out blaming the rogue regime that needed to be changed like a dirty diaper.

In case it matters, deeper investigation shows that the alleged witnesses this mythology is based on are grossly unreliable, or reliable at delivering lies. An essay by Alfredo Embid explores the disparate voices and the psychology of speaking up in post-massacre Taldou. (see p. 29) For whom is telling the truth going to mean “certain death”? Certainly not for rebel fighters, who were a prime source of evidence used to exonerate the rebels. One of these is FSA Farouk Brigade commander Abdul Razzaq Tlass of nearby ar-Rastan; he’s been seen leading U.N./Arab League monitors around by the hand (p. 34) and, Embid argues convincingly, probably informed them on the Houla events. On the other hand, Tlass was reported as himself leading a large unit of fighters involved in the massacre, or at least the connected battle of Taldou (p. 31).

An essay by myself scrutinizes the 11-(or 8?)-year-old boy survivor Ali al-Sayed. (p. 20) He has striking consistency in blaming the Shabiha with “Alawite accents” for killing his family, and in demanding foreign intervention, compared to his bizarre confusion over everything else between different accounts. For example, Ali is not sure whether the men were killed right away, or only after they were found hiding, without a peep, while everyone else (except Ali) was killed. Also, the names of these men shift all over in a strange manner. The alleged father of this family is Aref Mohammed al-Sayed, but Ali says his dad is named Ali Adel or Shaoqi. It’s his brother, Ali says, that’s named Aref – or Shaoqi – while his uncle is Aref, Abu Haider, or Oqba. It’s worth noting that the family he refers to so inconsistently is the one said to be related to the People’s Assembly secretary, although Ali insists the relation is too distant to matter.

The U.N.’s CoI spoke to Ali via Skype and found, without comparing accounts like I have, that all child witnesses “remained consistent … despite the fact that [interviews] were conducted over an extended period of time” and with “different investigators.” This is just plain false.

The other alleged witnesses, saying they faced a death sentence for doing so, spoke up and blamed the rebels. In contrast to Ali and those with similar stories, these were simply ignored by most media reports, and unfairly minimized and sidelined by the U.N.’s CoI. This decided there were only two such witnesses on record, both aired by Syrian state broadcaster SANA. In fact, there are somewhere over a dozen, from a variety of sources. (p. 37) They identified a few possible “inconsistencies” and, citing a lack of direct access to Syria, said “those inconsistencies could not be further explored.” Why it couldn’t be done remotely by Skype, like with the witnesses they wanted to hear from, is not explained. They dismissed the two witnesses, standing in for all of them, as “unreliable.”

In another essay (p. 44), Ronda Hauben explains how other witnesses of this class also spoke to monitors with UNSMIS (U.N. Special Mission in Syria), and so should have been on file. Unlike the CoI, UNSMIS had people on the ground, led by Major-General Robert Mood. Cryptically, he told the press on June 15 that UNSMIS had been to Houla and interviewed locals, some of whom “told one story” and some of whom told “another story.” Comparing them, he said, it “still remains unclear to us” which was truthful. He offered to support a deeper investigation, but instead, the mission was shut down at the end of July. The UNSMIS report with conflicting accounts, Mood said, was handed to headquarters in New York. It’s acknowledged as existing but has never had its contents mentioned, referenced, or seen anywhere.

In the absence of U.N. info they would cite, the two SANA witnesses alone were easy for the CoI to dismiss. As Marinella Correggia rightly points out (p.17)

“This interference that fuels violence is justified – by governments and the mainstream media – by the need to “help the armed opposition groups to stop the massacres by the regime and to protect civilians.” […] For this story to hold, it’s required to systematically deny the international right to speak and bear witness to a large portion of the population, that would launch different or contrary accusations. And so it is discriminated against by the media, NGOs and UN experts.”

Even if their process was distorted, it’s possible the CoI happened to slant things towards the truer witnesses. This doesn’t appear to be the case, however.

The available video evidence offers a few opportunities to actually test the two witness sets for consistency with the more reliable “digital witnesses.” The final essay summarizes a detailed analysis which managed to place numerous videos of May 25, all gleaned from opposition sources, in specific locations around Taldou, and to give each a rough time stamp. Seven aspects of the alleged rebel attack are then explained with their video supports, with select stills and a detailed reference map helps the reader visualize along. For example, where a witness cited rebels shooting at the central security post from the northwest at about 1:30 PM, two rebel videos show … exactly that (p. 57).

Even where video is absent – the main six hours of the attack and the massacres – is a clue of something afoot on the side practicing video silence that ended precisely just before sunset. Collectively, this is a surprisingly consistent picture of deceit from the hard-to-deny realm of direct video evidence. There is nothing in it to support the rebel version of flight from shelling (nor any footage of the attackers, from any distance). In its place there is something unsettlingly close to visual proof that they stuck around though their own barrage and were thus best placed to be behind the killings after all.

U.S. ambassador Robert Ford, who knows a few things about death squads and such, said a few days after the massacre that it was “the most unambiguous indictment of the regime to date,” based on the alleged use of heavy artillery, which the rebels did not have. In fact, even before the detailed exposition began, it was never a particularly clear event. It was, however, the “big one” they really wanted to make very sure was perceived a regime crime. After more analysis, this desire seems ill-founded, and Mr. Ford’s statement sounds incredibly sad. Houla has been shown beyond a doubt to be extremely ambiguous at best, and at worst a fairly obvious crime of the U.S.-supported Syrian Contras.

The best evidence says rebels clobbered Taldou before the slaughter, but they were able to whitewash right over that victory, with nothing but alleged witnesses talking on the phone and on Yotube. And so after their homicidal rampage through Shi’ite bedrooms, Syria’s Sunni rebel extremists garnered an outpouring of support. That works by no magic of their own; it’s all on loan. It’s their golden shovel. Any corpse that rebels bury with it carries just the lessons they attribute to it.

In recent months, moral confusion has grown with increasing awareness of extremely heinous rebel actions. The more massive crimes of total cruelty, like the Houla massacre, ensure that at best people will perceive two sides no better than each other. How much less confusing it would be if it became clear Houla, if not other crimes like it, were also from the rebel side. Houla is far from the only such incident,” some might protest. “It’s unfair to pick on just one example.” But of course worthwhile answers can never appear until one gets this specific, and with this example, many thinkers have picked the fairest one. It was, after all, pre-highlighted by the blame-Assad crowd. The research done quietly to date arguably takes this high ground, and inverts the example it sets. Consider the other huge and shocking massacres vying for the notoriety of Houla – Qubeir, Daraya, Aqrab, Jdeidat al-Fadl, al-Bayda and Baniyas, etc. – most of them, like Houla, coming just before U.N. security Council meetings on Syria and the like. It’s worth asking honestly which of those happened as reported by the opposition, and which was, instead, more like the famous Houla massacre they apparently lied to us about?

As one portion of the report explains (p. 73-75), many of these others feature rebel battle deaths passed off as innocents, to massively pad the numbers into the triple digits. But at least one shocking December, 2012 event without such ambiguity seems to be Houla rebels getting one-sided revenge on neighboring “Shabiha” – and their families – in Aqrab. At least 125 Alawite men, women, and children, gone missing and apparently snuffed out, were passed off by rebels as more victims of “Shabiha” and the Army. This was done with nowhere near the success they had back in May, thanks to on-site report by Alex Thomson for UK Channel 4. (p. 74) But neither was anyone punished or called out for it, nor were the missing Alawites – or answers – asked after. The story of what happened in Aqrab got “murky” and then really quiet as soon as it looked like a rebel crime. That it was by some of the same criminals credibly blamed for the battle and massacre that gave them Taldou, is worth pondering on.

Those who believe in the golden shovel, and those under the sway of powerful people who do, are apparently bound to recognize what its holder says. However, as this report again reaffirms, that’s magic doesn’t work on everyone. The leadership of a majority of the world’s people were never convinced about what happened at Houla (see pages 11-12) Besides China and Russia, for example, India’s Ambassador to the UN, Hardeep Singh Puri, asked that atrocities, “including the recent incident in El Houleh, are fully investigated and their perpetrators brought to justice.” This is nothing unusual, but he didn’t blame the government and, for context, as Ronda Hauben points out,

“[Puri] noted that the attacks against civilians and security forces in Syria “have intensified over the last few weeks and have taken a significant toll.” Also he drew attention to the sharp increase in the number of terrorist attacks in different parts of the country.” He “condemned all violence, irrespective of who the perpetrators are,” and called for the “cessation of all outside support for armed groups and serious action against the terrorist groups in Syria.”

The questions recognized as standing on May 26, 2012 can and should be revisited a year later, because a year later is now, and it seems that the questions weren’t answered right the first time. This report will hopefully add to the effort to end the magic spell that’s spilled so much blood, and let truth finally get its chance to be the basis upon which the world acts.

Official Truth, Real Truth, and Impunity for the Syrian Houla Massacre of May 2012 Authors : Marinella Correggia, Alfredo Embid, Ronda Hauben, Adam Larson

(PDF, 79 pages – CIWCL download page)

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