Thursday, September 03, 2015

(LUSAKATIMES) Current Economic Challenges facing Zambia are not unusual-Chikwanda

COMMENT - This is how they're softening up the economy for HIPC II. They should be in jail for fraud. And then there are the eurobonds, and the SI89 tax rebate to the mines. External factors - only if the Minister is talking about the IMF/World Bank. Fluctuation in copper prices can be protected against. However this is a government that is trying to paper over state mishandling of resources and corruption, with Eurobond debt loans. This is onerous debt and must not be repaid. Without massive legal and government reform, especially financially, Eurobonds are just more sources for corruption. - MrK

(LUSAKATIMES) Current Economic Challenges facing Zambia are not unusual-Chikwanda
September 3, 2015

Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda says the current economic challenges facing Zambia are not unusual. Mr Chikwanda said this is not the first time that Zambia is undergoing economic challenges caused purely by external forces. Mr Chikwanda said the dip in the economy is a normal cycle in any economic which should not be over dramatised.

He said the slowdown in the Chinese economy is mainly responsible for the weakening of the Kwacha as copper receipts have drastically reduced.

The Finance Minister was speaking in Lusaka on Thursday when he delivered a key note address at the 2015 Zambia Finance and Investment Conference organised by Euromoney Conferences at the Taj Pamodzi Hotel.

Mr Chikwanda said although some people want to portray a picture as if the government is solely to blame for the current economic woes, every genuine economist knew that there will come a time when the Chinese economy will begin to slowdown.

“Surely nobody expected China to continue growing at the same level, there was going to be a time when they would finish constructing their roads, office buildings and any other infrastructure and reduce their appetite for our copper and maybe that time has now come,” Mr Chikwanda said.

He said the Zambian economy is resilient enough to withstand the current economic storm.

Mr Chikwanda said government has taken a raft of measures to stabilise the macroeconomic environment which is necessary for sustainable growth.

He said government is focused on reducing the budget deficit to manageable levels as a free of freeing up capital for private sector lending.

“We are going to rein in on public expenditure this year and going forward as a way of managing our cash flow position, but most of these measures have to be taken before cabinet first, i normally do not like to pre-empt these tins before we debate them as cabinet but we are formulating something,” he said.

On the foreign exchange position, Mr Chikwanda said the Kwacha depreciation has been compounded by the speculators who are trying to cash in on the situation.

“The Bank of Zambia has been carrying out open market operations which have somewhat helped but they can only do so much and their activities have been restricted because of dwindling foreign exchange reserves, we are probably sitting around two and half months of import cover which is not a desirable situation.”

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Monday, August 31, 2015

(SF Bay View) South Sudan: African Union commission says oil resources must benefit the people for lasting peace

COMMENT - The problem is the private ownership of the oil companies and the biggest banks, who are now so powerful that they can tell governments what to do. The entire breakup of Sudan was to benefit the neocolonial elite that owns these corporations. There has to be international agreement with real consequences for violation of the law, that puts the ownership of natural resources permanently into the hands of the people of the country collectively, so they cannot be sold for cents on the dollar by a neoliberal politician looking for a bribe, by a finance minister who is eyeing a job at the World Bank, IMF or similar institutions, and by transnational corporations which will even overthrow governments to get a better deal, and have. Public resources must permanently, right to the point of sale, rest in the hands of the people of country. Which would also eliminate 99% of all 'wars' on the continent.

(SF Bay View) South Sudan: African Union commission says oil resources must benefit the people for lasting peace
August 30, 2015
by Ann Garrison

KPFA Weekend News broadcast Aug. 22, 2015
Audio Player

Professor Horace Campbell says the recommendations of the African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan, which include using the country’s oil wealth to benefit its people, must be implemented if there is to be any hope of lasting peace.
South Sudan children, web

KPFA Evening News Anchor Sharon Sobotta: The warring parties in South Sudan’s 20-month civil war signed a peace agreement in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, earlier this week. The civil war which began in December of 2013 has cost more lives than anyone can precisely estimate now and uprooted over 2 million South Sudanese people.

However, seven previous ceasefire agreements have already failed. Dr. Horace Campbell is a Syracuse University Professor of African American Studies who spoke with KPFA’s Ann Garrison.

South Sudan mapKPFA/Ann Garrison: When President Obama sat down to talk about bringing peace to South Sudan with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Ugandan President Yoweri Museven, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour and … Nkosazana …

Horace Campbell: Dlamini-Zuma.

KPFA: OK, thank you. … chairwoman of the African Union, you said, on Democracy Now, that everyone at the table, except Mrs. Zuma, was compromised. Can you elaborate on what you meant by that?

Horace Campbell: What I meant by that is that the looting of South Sudan has gone on since independence, in the past four years. When the economy of South Sudan was part of the Sudan, the oil revenues were about $50-100 billion per year.

The reporting we have from South Sudan is that the economy is now based on $5 billion. That $5 billion from the oil – and 90 percent of the economy is based on petroleum resources – is not being used in South Sudan for the health, welfare, water supply and education of the people.

It is being looted in collaboration with the regional leaders of Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and members of the Sudanese elite. Ethiopia is heavily invested in hotels, Uganda in food, Kenya in banking and telecommunications.

And so the situation in South Sudan is one where the leaders have no accountability to the people of the South Sudan and they have money and property in Uganda, in Nairobi and in Addis Ababa. And the resources for the South Sudan should be used for the people of South Sudan so that they can have a better quality of life.
The African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan says that oil resources must benefit the people.

The African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan says that oil resources must benefit the people.

KPFA: This is what I’ve noticed from the very beginning. When I first started reporting on this in December 2013, I tried to figure out what was going on and I spoke to Mabior Garang de Mabior, the son of John Garang, and he said that the conflict had turned attention to the suffering of South Sudanese, but that they had been suffering like refugees before the conflict, because the oil revenues were not reaching them.

Horace Campbell: And it will not reach them now, because the institutions in the South Sudan are not organized for the well-being of the people. South Sudan is run by the military; it is run by international NGOs and a Parliament that does not have real power.

And that is why I am in agreement with the recommendations of the African Union, which recommended a transitional period with three distinctive features:

a high level oversight panel to guide the period of transition,
a transitional government that excludes those politically accountable for the crisis, and
a transitional government that addresses the questions of justice in different forms.

And one of the key areas they spoke about in terms of justice in different forms was that oversight of the resources from the African Development Bank, so that the infrastructure, the health and the well-being of the people of South Sudan is taken care of.

KPFA: That was Syracuse University Professor Horace Campbell, the author of many books and articles on Africa, most recently “Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya: Lessons for Africa in the Forging of African Unity.”

With regard to the international NGOs running South Sudan in a way that deprives the South Sudanese people, Campbell cited, in particular, the ENOUGH Project to “End Mass Atrocities and Crimes Against Humanity” founded by security state professional John Prendergast and USAID chair nominee Gayle Smith.

In Berkeley, for Pacifica, KPFA and AfrobeatRadio, I’m Ann Garrison.

Oakland writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Black Agenda Report, Black Star News, Counterpunch and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, KPFA Evening News, KPFA Flashpoints and for her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at In March 2014 she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for promoting peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa through her reporting.

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

(GUARDIAN UK) Blair urges Labour not to wrap itself in a Jeremy Corbyn comfort blanket

COMMENT - The real elitist face of New Labour, the face of The City.

(GUARDIAN UK) Blair urges Labour not to wrap itself in a Jeremy Corbyn comfort blanket
Patrick Wintour and Frances Perraudin
Wednesday 22 July 2015 12.11 BST
Last modified on Wednesday 12 August 2015 18.55 BST

Former party leader and prime minister says there is no logic in party moving back to tax-and-spend policies of 1980s

Tony Blair has issued his most impassioned appeal for Labour not to repeat the mistakes of the 1980s by adopting a traditional leftist platform, saying the party could suffer four successive election defeats if it does so.

In his first intervention in the Labour leadership election, the former prime minister said a shift to the left after the party’s crushing general election defeat would be to treat voters as if they were stupid.

Blair urged Labour members not to wrap themselves in a Jeremy Corbyn comfort blanket, saying that people whose heart was with the leftwing candidate should “get a transplant”.

He added: “We lost in 2010 because we stepped somewhat from that modernising platform. We lost in 2015 with an election out of the playback from the 1980s, from the period of Star Trek, when we stepped even further away from it and lost even worse. I don’t understand the logic of stepping entirely away from it.”

His comments, to the centre-left Progress thinktank, came as the first public opinion poll in the Labour leadership contest suggested Corbyn was on course for a shock victory. Polls of political party electorates are known to be hard to gather a reliable sample size.

Blair described the veteran backbencher as the “Tory preference” and said the party could not regain power if it was simply a “platform for protest” against cuts.

Corbyn dismissed claims that he would split the party and hit back at Blair’s suggestion that he was the Tory preference.

“I would have thought he could manage something more serious than those very silly remarks,” he said. “Surely we should be talking about the situation facing Britain today, the situation facing many of the poorest people in this country today, and maybe think if our policies are relevant.”

He added Blair had a problem until the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war is published. Corbyn believes the war was illegal.

In a keynote speech setting out his economic policy, Corbyn said austerity was a “political choice not an economic necessity”. He said he wanted to see quantitive easing – a form of printing money to create bonds to fund infrastructure projects. He also called or a return to progressive taxation and a clampdown on business tax evasion.

Blair warned the party could not win on an “old- fashioned leftist platform”. He compared the situation Labour found itself in following its 7 May election defeat with the position it faced in the 1980s, when the party swung to the left under Michael Foot, paving the way for 18 years of Conservative rule.

“After the 1979 election the Labour party persuaded itself of something absolutely extraordinary,” Blair said. “Jim Callaghan had been prime minister and the Labour party was put out of power by Margaret Thatcher and the Labour party persuaded itself that the reason why the country had voted for Margaret Thatcher was because they wanted a really leftwing Labour party.

“This is what I call the theory that the electorate is stupid, that somehow they haven’t noticed that Margaret Thatcher was somewhat to the right of Jim Callaghan.”

Blair said he would not be endorsing any candidate in the race as he had not done so in 2010. He also said he doubted if his endorsement would help.

Tony Blair leaves the Institute of Chartered Accountants in the City of London, where he spoke at a Progress event about the Labour leadership contest.

A poll by YouGov for The Times found Corbyn was the first preference for 43% of party supporters – way ahead of bookies’ favourite Andy Burnham on 26%. The shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, was on 20% and Liz Kendall on 11%.

The poll said that when Kendall and Cooper were eliminated and their second preferences redistributed under the preferential vote system, Corbyn would beat Burnham by 53% to 47% in the final round.

Corbyn’s success led Margaret Beckett, one of the senior MPs that put Corbyn on the ballot paper, to admit she had made a mistake.

“I was concerned that people would feel that they had been deprived of the opportunity for that point of view to be aired,” she said. “I am beginning to wish that I hadn’t.”

The shadow education secretary, Tristram Hunt, warned that Labour could be reduced to a “pressure group” that would not have “broad reach into all parts of the United Kingdom”.

Lord Hattersley, the former Labour deputy leader, dismissed the poll as a 24-hour sensation and said Corbyn had no chance of winning the leadership.

John McTernan, a former special adviser to Blair in Downing Street, said those Labour MPs who had “lent” their nominations to Corbyn to broaden the debate, had behaved like “morons”.

Blair also called for the party to take up a tougher stance combating Scottish nationalism. “You have to take the ideology of nationalism head on,” he said. “Nationalism is not a phenomenon when they talk about a new politics, it is the oldest politics in the world. It is the politics of the first caveman council where the caveman came out from the council where there had been difficult decisions and pointed with his club across the forest and said: ‘There, over there. they are the problem.’ It’s blame someone else. However you dress it up it is a reactionary political philosophy.”

He added: “I personally don’t think we will win by saying we are more Scottish or by engaging in this ridiculous thing where a lot of power in Brussels is fine but power in London is absolutely terrible.”

He continued: “The SNP have achieved this remarkable feat, they are a government that is allowed to behave like an opposition.”

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