Saturday, June 02, 2007
by Danielle Owen
JOHANNESBURG - Patrick Mojapelo (59) has waited five years for the South African government to return 30 farms stolen from his community by previous white governments in the 1930s. On Monday, he told President Thabo Mbeki that he will wait no longer.
"We have been claiming [our land through the government's land restitution programme] since 1995 and so far we haven't even got one farm. We keep meeting with Department of Land Affairs officials and they make so many promises, but still we don't have a single farm," said Mojapelo.
Mojapelo was one of more than 150 people - representing tens of thousands of families claiming land stolen before and during apartheid - who traveled hundreds of kilometers this week to the seat of South Africa's new government to demand action from the highest office in the country.
The peaceful protesters resisted police efforts to remove them from the public lawn of the Union Buildings in Pretoria. They waved banners bearing the names of their landless communities who have grown impatient with post-apartheid promises of land reform.
Five young girls played the drums as the adults told a representative from Mbeki's office that they had had enough.
"The dispossession of black people from the land was a central part of the apartheid regime's systematic subjugation of the black majority, politically, economically, culturally and socially.
"In the absence of any meaningful land reform, the effects of this history of dispossession continue to keep people in poverty today. Despite this there has been no fundamental change in land access and ownership in South Africa since 1994," said Mojapelo, reading a memorandum from the protesters to Mbeki.
When South Africa's first black government took power in 1994, it promised widespread land reform to reverse the apartheid land policy.
Three land reform programmes were introduced, including: land restitution, to restore land to the victims of forced removals between 1913 and 1994; land redistribution which promised to transfer 30 percent of agricultural land to black people by 1999; and tenure reform to address the insecurity of farm workers, labour tenants and people living on state and communal land.
According to the protesters' memorandum, however, "There is virtually no land delivery on Land Restitution. Only two land claims have been settled in the Northern Province, despite thousands having been lodged."
Even government land reform statistics show that less than 5 000 of the 63,500 land restitution claims lodged across the country before 1999 have been settled.
The protesters said even these statistics 'hide the fact that most of the claims settled are urban claims settled through cash compensation'. This means, they say, that even amongst the fortunate few, most have not actually had land restored to them.
The majority have received nothing. And they are beginning to mobilise.
This week's protest was led by the Northern Province Land Rights Coalition, which represents more than 60 000 land claimant families, and the South Cape and Karoo Land Claims Forum, representing more than 3 000 community land claims.
The two groups complained that they had written dozens of letters to Mbeki, and to Agriculture and Land Affairs Minister Thoko Didiza, but to no avail.
One South Cape protester, Henry Rhodes, warned that continued government lethargy could see some communities following the example of Zimbabwean war veterans and invading their land.
It is a warning that has been repeated by several communities in recent months.
The slow pace of land restitution is blamed on the costs of the current land policy, through which the government buys land on a 'willing-seller, willing-buyer' basis, similar to the policy that ruined Zimbabwe's half-hearted land reform efforts.
This has led the government to pay 'market-value' prices for occasional land it purchases from white farmers, many of whom benefited from cheap land and large state farming subsidies during apartheid.
Mojapelo said the lack of money appears to be at the root of his community's despair. "They say there must be willing-seller and willing-buyer. In our area, there are many willing sellers. The government must just give them the money, but so far they have done nothing."
Last week, South Africa's non-governmental land rights network, the National Land Committee (NLC), which supported this week's protest, called on the government to pay 'minimal compensation to current landowners' whose land is purchased for land reform.
The committee also demanded that the government use its powers to expropriate land from landowners who refuse to cooperate.
Speaking at a press conference last week, following a two-day policy summit with the committee's eight affiliate land rights groups, NLC chairperson Wayne Jordaan said six years had passed since the birth of South Africa's new dispensation.
He said President Thabo Mbeki had been in office a full year yet land reform remained 'slow and disappointing'.
The NLC, the Northern Province Land Rights Coalition, and the South Cape and Karoo Land Claims Forum all agree that the slow pace of land restitution is not the only problem.
The protesters' memorandum also complained that: "There is still confusion regarding redistribution projects [following a recent government policy shift] and no direction on tenure reform in communal areas. Even long-term farm dwellers continue to face evictions and insecurity as a low class of tenants on another person's land".
The government's own statistics show that it has failed to deliver its promise to redistribute 30 percent of agricultural land.
So far less than one percent of agricultural land has been delivered to black people in six years, leaving the country's apartheid-era land ownership imbalance - 87 percent of land owned by whites, and 13 percent by blacks - virtually unchanged.
Tenure reform has also failed to end the insecurity and brutality that black farm dwellers suffer at the hands of white landowners, with gross human rights violations continuing unabated on white farms.
And last year the government suspended a draft law intended to improve tenure rights for millions of black people living in communal areas, with no word on whether, or when, this will be revived.
The protesters demanded that Mbeki ensure that "Land Reform must transform the current inequitable pattern of land ownership and give the rural poor secure homes, opportunities to produce for themselves, and lives of dignity."
They warned that for the rural poor, "land rights are the key to secure homes, jobs, food, and a meaningful social and cultural life. There can be no full enjoyment of human rights without land rights".
This article was distributed by the InterPress Third World News Agency (IPS) and the Grassroots Media Network.
Old apartheid policies in South Africa may have ended years ago, but the crazy land tenure system under apartheid has not stopped, and is posing bigger and tougher problems for the entire region.
Political Sins Continue to Scar the Land
by Moyiga Nduru
While South Africa's "homelands" -- areas formerly set aside for blacks -- have been relegated to the dustbin of history for more than a decade, their legacy lives on in the form of land degradation, and even desertification in northern and eastern parts of the country.
Ten homelands were created along ethnic lines under the Promotion of Bantu Self-Government Act of 1959. This was in a bid to strip black South Africans of their national citizenship and make them citizens of homelands that were ultimately intended to become independent. The Bantu Homelands Citizenship Act of 1970 made all blacks citizens of these regions, irrespective of where they resided.
"Apartheid policies ensured that 42 percent of the people lived on 13 percent of the land (the homelands). This overcrowding…resulted in severe erosion. As the land became increasingly degraded and thus less productive, subsistence farmers were forced to further overuse the land," notes the Enviro Facts Project, a think-tank funded by the Southern African Nature Foundation.
With the demise of apartheid, homeland legislation was discarded along with other laws entrenching segregation. But difficulties remain says Klaus Kellner, a professor at the School of Environmental Sciences and Development at North-West University; he points to persistent soil degradation.
"Land tenure is a problem in the former homelands. People don't own the land; the land is owned by the government -- so they think it's a government problem," he told IPS. "I think it is the people's problem. If they don't look after it, the land will not be there for the next generation."
According to 2004/2005 statistics from the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, about 13.6 million people live in the former homelands. Official figures from 2006 indicate that there are 47.4 million people in South Africa.
Disputes about the responsibility for dealing with land degradation notwithstanding, it is clear that the current pattern of subsistence farming cannot continue. "We must create alternative livelihoods for the people, like (through) eco-tourism, so that they don't live off the land," said Kellner.
Ismail Khan, a researcher at the University of South Africa in the capital, Pretoria, agrees; his work focuses on the links between poverty and land degradation.
"Poverty must be addressed for people to earn more money through jobs…If poverty is addressed, it would ease the pressure on land," he told IPS. "The majority of the more than 40 percent unemployed South Africans live in remote rural areas with no decent earnings."
The precise extent of joblessness in South Africa is disputed. Government puts the figure at 25.5 percent, but some believe it is considerably higher.
However, alternatives for income generation will not eliminate the need for initiatives to address the existing problems of land degradation.
"Desertification is more of a challenge to us than ever before. It poses a huge threat to rural communities who depend on natural resources for their livelihoods," Deputy Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi observed in 2006, which was declared the International Year of Deserts and Desertification.
"Millions of people are directly affected by natural resource degradation, and many of them live below the poverty line," she said. "They depend on natural resources for survival. Yet the capacity of our country's land, water and biological resources to sustain its people is eroding. Tonnes of productive land are now lost and many once pristine conservation areas are denuded."
Noted Kellner: "We…need to educate, train and raise awareness of the problems of desertification. This requires research institutions, NGOs (non-governmental organisations) and government to work together to fight desertification."
"But more important, we need people on the ground in the villages in rural areas to feel the benefits, otherwise they will not buy into it. They want to know what's in it for them," he added.
About 20 programmes have been put in place to address desertification; however, Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk has expressed concern about the level of co-ordination between these initiatives, saying it does not match what is needed for land to be managed sustainably.
The situation is of even greater concern if predictions about climate change are taken into account.
"A number of climate change reports say we are going to have less rainfall. This means there will be less vegetation and less water for livestock," said Kellner. "Food, fibre, fodder and fuel are going to get less and less if we don't address desertification."
Already, "Ninety-seven percent of South Africa is arid or semi-arid. We shall be hit hard by desertification."
ONCE again, our farmers have failed to meet the projected 76 000 hectares needed for winter wheat this season. We would like to believe that the projected hectarage was not just plucked from the air but was predicated on the inputs the Government disbursed and the hectarage farmers who accessed the inputs claimed they would manage.
So what went wrong?
Apparently somebody somewhere did not honour his/her end of the bargain, and we urge the Government to get to the bottom of this mess. All farmers who got land did so on the understanding that they would use it productively, and every farmer who got inputs was supposed to invest them in national production. By reneging on this noble contract, the farmers have put the Government and the nation in a difficult situation.
It is regrettable that the Government; that commits scarce resources to empower farmers through bank loans, cheap fuel and subsidised input schemes, ends up taking the flak after some misguided individuals abuse well-meant schemes for self-enrichment not national production.
One does not have to be a genius to visualise what is likely to happen over the next three months; flour shortages will feed into scarcity of bread. And as the laws of supply and demand decree, the bread shortage will trigger price increases with concomitant misery for the already overstretched consumer.
Not only that, the Government may also be forced to divert scarce foreign currency from productive sectors to import flour, which by dint of being acquired at great cost, will also necessitate an increase in the price of bread.
What is regrettable is that almost the same farmers who have let the nation down again and again, are usually the ones who always access inputs that they do not use.
This is why we urge the Government to come down hard on all farmers who acquired inputs on the understanding that they would use them productively but failed to do so. They have to explain why they did not honour their part of the bargain.
Such farmers are no different from the economic saboteurs who are bleeding the economy through illegal dealings that create personal rather national wealth on a daily basis.
We urge the Ministry of Agriculture to use the records at Agribank and various GMB depots countrywide to follow up on all beneficiaries, who must account for what they got from the fiscus.
Unless adequate mechanisms are put in place to ensure that farmers account for what they are given, this vicious cycle will not end.
But that is not all, we have also noted unwarranted shortages of other agricultural products like onions, tomatoes and even carrots simply because we have not structured our post-land reform agriculture to ensure that a variety of crops are grown.
Here again we would like to urge farmers to try as much as possible to go into the mode of agriculture that used to be carried out by previous farm holders.
Admittedly, part of the failure also had to do with ignorance on the part of some newly resettled farmers who opted to pursue types of farming at variance with the agro-ecology of their land, again they have to be guided by what the previous owner was producing.
We hope this is the last time, farmers will get away with it.
Sadc team returns to Zim
SADC Executive Secretary Dr Tomaz Augusto Salamao arrived in Harare last night on a follow-up mission to recent meetings he held with the Government and other stakeholders as part of the regional grouping’s economic turnaround strategy for Zimbabwe. Dr Salamao’s visit is in line with the Sadc Extraordinary Summit held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in March which tasked the Sadc Secretariat to study ways and means through which the regional trading bloc could assist in the economic recovery of the country. His three-man advance team arrived early yesterday.
Dr Salamao, who was last in the country in April, was met at the Harare International Airport by senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He will be here until Sunday. In an interview shortly after his arrival, Dr Salamao said he had come to carry on with his work and to introduce his team to the Government.
"We are here to continue what we have started already — that is doing our assessment and research and come up with a recommendation that we will forward to the relevant authority. By the end of June, we must have a report ready for the relevant authorities,’’ he said.
The Sadc extraordinary summit tasked the executive secretary to study the economic situation and propose measures on how the regional bloc could assist the country to recover economically. During his last visit, Dr Salamao held talks with President Mugabe, Government officials and representatives of multilateral agencies in the country.
At the Dar es Salaam summit, Sadc leaders appealed to Britain and her Western allies to lift sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe and recognise the legitimacy of President Mugabe who was re-elected in the 2002 presidential elections, beating MDC faction leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai.
Speaking to journalists after meeting the President the last time he was in the country, Dr Salamao spoke of the importance of Sadc’s support for Zimbabwe.
He said the meetings were part of the consultations he was undertaking to come up with a programme to rescue Zimbabwe’s economy, which is under siege from Western-imposed illegal sanctions.
Allow me to grow mbanje, says n’anga
A 67-YEAR-OLD self-styled traditional healer yesterday left a Beitbridge court in stitches after making countless appeals to the magistrate for him to allow her to continue growing mbanje. She argued that the practice was meant to appease her ancestral spirits.
Martha Ngwenya of Siyoka area in Beitbridge had been convicted of one count of contravening a section of the Dangerous Drugs Act when she appeared before Mr Tavengwa Sangster. She was slapped with three months’ imprisonment which were wholly suspended for three years. "Your worship, I plead with you to allow me to continue growing the plants since I use them to appease my ancestral spirits for them to protect me and my family from evil spirits," she pleaded.
Charges against Ngwenya arose on March 13 this year after police, acting on a tip-off, descended on her homestead. A search was conducted at her house leading to the discovery of three mbanje plants with an average height of 1,8 metres inside her rondavel. She was subsequently arrested and the plants uprooted for destruction by the State. Mr Nqobani Sithole appeared for the State.
MDC: Is it Africa or Europe?
By Caesar Zvayi
WHEN the master enters the compound, his dogs drop all monkey business and rush to greet him, wagging tails like they are going out of fashion.
Even if they are involved in the usual dogfights, they stop dead to whimper expectantly, just to get an approving pat on the head from the master.
I would never have thought such canine behaviour could find expression among human beings, who are supposed to be blessed with rational thought, but alas, this week the MDC leadership gave new meaning to the phrase "running dogs".
MDC faction leaders, who had become the human forms of the Tom and Jerry animated characters, buried their internecine fight to make a beeline for South Africa to meet a man who has been rejected by his own nation, a man forced into early retirement because of his destructive politics, whose effects can be seen in our economy today.
According to British media, Tony Blair is the most hated prime minister in living memory, boasting of a legacy drenched by the blood of innocent Afghans and Iraqis he helped butcher with the help of Dubya, that Son of a Bush.
The Socialist Equality Party captured his circumstance very well: "Blair leaves office as an unindicted war criminal and the first sitting prime minister in history to be interviewed as part of a police investigation, the ‘cash for honours’ scandal."
This is the man who told the world that former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that could be deployed in 45 minutes to pulverise the world, but up to now nothing of that sort has been found in Iraq.
This is the man who is telling similar lies about Zimbabwe today, a man who, if there was any fairness in this world, deserves to be dragged to The Hague for crimes against humanity in Afghanistan, Iraq and even our own Zimbabwe.
This is why, along with his ally Dubya, he encounters demonstrators wherever he goes, except in Africa, of course, where he can even have the luxury of being made an honorary tribal chief!
But my beef with the MDC leadership does not lie in whom they choose to associate with, after all ours is a democratic country that, like any progressive nation, only draws a line on close encounters of the Tatchell-kind.
The problem comes when Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara embark on their sell-out behaviour under the guise of advancing the interests of Zimbabwe — a Zimbabwe that came only after Blair’s forebears were brought to the knees they claimed they didn’t have by the might of the AK47.
Let me borrow from Ian Smith for emphasis here: Never in a thousand years should we allow them to reverse the gains of independence.
It is regrettable but instructive that the MDC leaders chose to expose their manifest sellout behaviour just two months after Sadc passed a historic and progressive resolution in defence of our national interest and sovereignty.
A resolution Tsvangirai and Mutambara refuse to embrace in its entirety when they have no qualms rushing in the dead of night to embrace a man even Albion spat out like the last dregs of a cheap brew.
A man who Sadc leaders — by calling on him to honour his colonial obligations to Zimbabwe, and the West to lift its illegal sanctions — placed at the core of the problems bedevilling this country.
This is the same Blair who tried to internationalise a purely bilateral dispute roping in the European Union to impose a raft of sanctions on Zimbabwe.
This is the same Blair who prevailed on Bush to come up with the spurious and illegal Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, a sanctions law behind the economic problems we face today.
While all progressive people are revolted by the MDC leaders’ stooge behaviour, at least it has served a purpose, by exposing to all doubting Thomases the true parentage of this creature calling itself Zimbabwean.
The role the Westminster Fund for Democracy, with Blair at the helm in his capacity as the chair, played in giving birth to the MDC is common knowledge, a feat the Westminster website proudly displayed, and only removed upon realising it had handed Zanu-PF much-needed ammunition.
What the MDC leaders have proved is that President Mugabe was spot-on in his characterisation of their party as a counter-revolutionary Trojan horse contrived and nurtured by the very inimical forces that enslaved and oppressed our people yesterday.
After their lap of dishonour in South Africa, Tsvangirai and Mutambara should not be allowed to approach the round table under the auspices of Sadc without declaring where their hearts lie.
The region has to know whether they are with Sadc, and, by extension Africa and Zimbabwe, or they are with Europe.
The test is simple, the MDC must accept the Sadc resolution in its entirety, nothing more, nothing less and this involves:
l Acknowledging that President Mugabe won a free and fair election in 2002;
l That Britain had a role to play in the land reform programme;
l That the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe are illegal and have to be lifted; and
l That they (sanctions) are "not smart" and that Britain has to engage Zimbabwe.
These are the conditions the MDC should meet before sitting down to talk to Zanu-PF, because unless they do that, they approach the table with dirty hands.
They must also remember that the mediator, President Thabo Mbeki, knows exactly what is at stake in this initiative as he is on record saying:
"The fight against Zimbabwe is a fight against us all. Today it is Zimbabwe; tomorrow it will be South Africa, it will be Mozambique, it will be Angola, it will be any other African country. And any government that is perceived to be strong and to be resistant to imperialists (read Bush and Blair) would be made a target and would be undermined. So let us not allow any point of weakness in the solidarity of Sadc, because that weakness will also be transferred to the rest of Africa."
This is why it is in the MDC’s interest to exorcise the Moise Tshombe demon, and pledge solidarity with Africa lest they join Blair in the dustbins of history.
But should they meet Blair and defend Zimbabwe, I apologise.
Views on forex rate warped
EDITOR — The letter by Mr Albert Nhamoyebonde titled "End distortions on forex market" (The Herald, May 15 2007) in which he suggested that we peg the exchange rate to the price of bread, cannot go unchallenged.
Firstly, Mr Nhamoyebonde should be reminded that the staple food in Zimbabwe is not wheat and, by extension, bread, but maize, which means sadza.
Secondly, the price of bread, which he has used as a benchmark for equating our currency against the greenback, is constantly going up. Should we, therefore, continue revising our currency whenever the price of bread goes up or down?
He should also remember that we have different types of bread — white, brown, Swiss, whole wheat, etc — whose sizes and prices vary from shop to shop and from place to place.
So which type or form of bread was he talking about and why did he not talk about other types of bread that are cheaper than the one he chose?
Even if he had talked about maize-meal, his argument, from a layman’s point of view, still lacked clear economic interpretation.
Deciding the value of a currency basing on prices of certain goods prevailing on the market is not the best solution to solve the distortions on the forex market, but to let the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe decide what is best for the nation.
The forex and price distortions that we are faced with nowadays have more to do with subversive politics than anything else.
Saturday June 02, 2007 [04:00]
Whenever good triumphs over evil, there is cause to be happy. This is so because people generally want to live in a good society, in a society free of evil. Corruption is an evil. Stealing public funds is a criminal act in all nations of the world. Even in countries where corruption is the order of the day, stealing public funds is still considered a crime. In a country like ours where corruption was almost institutionalised under the 10 years of Frederick Chiluba’s presidency, dishonesty in public life will not be easy to eradicate. And the Zambian people understand this. It is also a fact that is understood by the international community, by countries that have been providing us with economic assistance.
This may explain why after the London High Court judgment was delivered and it was established that Chiluba defrauded the Republic of Zambia of million of dollars, many Zambians celebrated and the international community took turns to congratulate President Levy Mwanawasa, the government of the Republic of Zambia and the Zambian people for this victory.
The only people who were unhappy were Chiluba, his co-defendants and the vultures they were eating with or those who in one way or another were their employees. This is understandable. When evil is defeated, the righteous. rejoice while the devil mourns.
It is in this light that British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s congratulatory message to our President and our people over the London High Court judgment should be seen and received. This is truly a historic victory for our country and our people. Zambians have every right to judiciously struggle and recover all that was stolen from them by Chiluba and his tandem of thieves. Chiluba is a thief and the evidence has always been there for everyone who is not blinded by greed, vanity or selfishness to see.
The evidence of Chiluba’s corruption was there long before any court proceedings were commenced against him in London or elsewhere. What the London judgment did was merely to confirm that which was there before. There is no lawyer, no law, no politician, no politics that will save Chiluba from being found by any independent tribunal that he actually stole, that he is a thief.
The best, any lawyer, any politician can do in his or her attempt to save Chiluba, is to first accept that the man stole, that he defrauded the Republic of Zambia of millions of dollars, and then seek to mitigate or ask for mercy, for forgiveness from the people whose trust he has betrayed. Any other legal or political gymnastics will not do; will be nothing but exercises in futility. It doesn’t matter how intelligent or eloquent the lawyer or the politician may be, nothing will save Chiluba from his impending doom – which in fact has already arrived; his Armageddon has come, it is here.
Of course, Chiluba doesn’t have the humility that honest people who do wrong things have. This being the case no one should expect Chiluba to apologise to show remorse.
Chiluba’s thefts were not a product of oversight nor was it unconscious; it was deliberate and conscious. The little man, from very humble origins, simply allowed himself to be blinded by ambition, greed, vanity and an unbridled taste for very expensive clothes and women.
He stole to buy clothes and to spend on women. Chiluba felt he had to impress those he came in contact with through expensive clothes. This is a man who never hesitated to buy houses for his married girlfriend. As a result of this, Chiluba created a series of problems for himself and the nation. He introduced a culture of abuse, of stealing public resources with impunity – a culture of Nchekelako. This culture became very entrenched and it is today threatening to cripple public services.
So when a poor country like ours takes upon its shoulders a job like the one we have taken upon our shoulders as a nation to uproot corruption, to stop impunity, that nation deserves the respect, support and admiration of all. The congratulatory messages we have received from Prime Minister Blair and others should spur us into more and more action against corruption; it should make us more and more intolerant of abuse of public resources.
The way we have handled the Chiluba corruption has taught us that if we know what to do and if we conduct ourselves well, it doesn’t matter that we are a poor country, we will achieve a lot and make ourselves respected the world over.
We had no doubt that we would triumph over Chiluba’s evil, his corruption, because victory always goes to those whose cause is right, to those who know how to uphold their rightful cause, and know how to fight for their rightful cause. We can be sure that if we do what we have to do, we will triumph over evil, banditry and plunder. No amount of intimidation legal or otherwise will stop us.
No amount of contempt of court applications against us will stop us from exposing evil and denouncing it. After all Chiluba is in court today, Chiluba has been found to have defrauded the Republic of Zambia of millions of dollars because of our work, our courage and resilience. If we had chicken hearts, we would have been intimidated a long time ago and Chiluba and his friends would today be enjoying their loot undisturbed.
Anyway it doesn’t matter what anyone does to us today. How many times were we denounced and condemned over our criticism of Chiluba and the crimes of his league? Today time has absolved us and we are proud to have helped our country bring Chiluba to account for his corruption. As a result of our work and sacrifice, our country is today increasing its international prestige and receiving congratulatory messages from all sorts of governments and leaders.
This is the spirit the nation needs. As we delve deeper into the issue of the constitution review process we should not forget that corruption is not just about stealing money; it is also abuse of power. No one should be allowed to abuse power. Arrogance and lack of humility by a person holding public office is corruption. And this type of corruption should be fought without respite.
It doesn’t need much explanation to demonstrate that Levy Mwanawasa is behaving in a corrupt manner over the constitution review process.
Levy spent billions of taxpayers money on the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) against the wishes of many Zambians. And when the CRC, after years of touring the whole country and a lot of hard work, handed to him their findings and recommendations as per the terms of reference that he had given them, Levy doesn’t seem to have any interest in their work.
It would seem, according to his conduct and utterances, the expenditure on the CRC was wasted money. Should Levy be allowed to go scot-free over wasting such huge amounts of money? What is the difference between this wastefulness and the stealing or other abuse of public funds?
It is either Levy fully accounts for the money he spent on the CRC and pays it back from his own pocket or he is dealt with in the same manner we deal with all those who abuse public funds. There should be no room for impunity in this country.
By Brighton Phiri
Saturday June 02, 2007 [04:00]
BRITISH Prime Minister Tony Blair has described the London High Court judgment as a historic victory for Zambians. In his congratulatory message to President Mwanawasa, Prime Minister Blair said the London High Court judgment that established that former president Frederick Chiluba defrauded the Republic of Zambia of millions of dollars, showed Zambians’ commitment to bringing those that had stolen from the state to account.
“This is a historic victory for the people of Zambia and shows both their, and your commitment to bringing those who steal from the state to account, whatever their nationality and no matter how powerful they are,” read Prime Minister Blair’s message to President Mwanawasa. “I am glad that the money that was plundered can now be returned to the Zambian people.”
Prime Minister Blair joins some European nations and the United States that had said the money stolen by Chiluba and his co-defendants could now be returned to Zambia to be invested.
In a joint statement by Denmark, Ireland, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, they welcomed the judgment in the High Court in London. The donors stated that the judgment was likely to have an impact on corruption in Africa and globally. Chiluba has since dismissed the London High Court judgment.
The London High Court established that Chiluba and others defrauded Zambia a total of US $41 million through the BK Facility and Zamtrop Account in London. London High Court judge Peter Smith ordered Chiluba and others to pay about 85 per cent of the total sum within 14 days upon service.
The London court upheld the claim by the Attorney General of Zambia and found Chiluba and others liable and ordered that defendants compensate or account for a total amount of approximately US $41 million.
Judge Smith established that Chiluba breached his fiduciary duty owed to the country and gave dishonest assistance in the arms sale (BK Facility) and he was therefore liable to pay US $20.9 million.
The Attorney General, can register the judgment using the provisions contained in foreign judgments reciprocal enforcement Act.
By Laura Mushaukwa
Saturday June 02, 2007 [04:00]
SUSPENDED lands commissioner Frightone Sichone yesterday pleaded not guilty to four counts of abuse of authority of office before magistrate Aridah Chulu. This is a matter where Sichone is charged with abuse of authority of office contrary to section 37 (2) (a) and 41 of the Anti-Corruption Commission Act number 42 of 1996.
Particulars of the offence were that Sichone on January 20, 2006 at Lusaka being a person employed in the public service namely Ministry of Lands as commissioner of lands did abuse his authority of office by allocating property number LUS/35178 Mass Media on title number 75822 to Musenge Mwewa without following procedure thereby directly or indirectly obtaining property or advantage.
On the second count, Sichone on the same day allegedly allocated property number LUS/35185 Mass Media on title number 45036 to Mesinala Namukoko without following procedure.
On the third count, he allegedly allocated property number LUS/35210 Mass Media on title number 49502 dated April 6, 2006 to Mizumbi Farms Limited a company in which he is co-director and majority shareholder without following procedure.
Sichone on the last count allegedly allocated property number LUS/35211 Mass media on title number 50036 dated April 21, 2006 to Mizumbi Farms Limited in which he is co-director and majority shareholder without following procedure thereby directly or indirectly obtaining property or advantage. The matter comes up on June 25,27 and 29 for trial.
By Noel Sichalwe
Saturday June 02, 2007 [04:00]
THE Oasis Forum yesterday refused to be intimidated by President Levy Mwanawasa over their stance on the constitution review process. Speaking after an Oasis Forum meeting, spokesperson Musa Mwenye said President Mwanawasa was trying to frustrate the efforts of people that wanted a new constitution to be adopted through a constituent assembly.
The Oasis Forum’s meeting followed President Mwanawasa’s decision to intimidate Mwenye regarding its stance on the constitution review process. Mwenye confirmed on Thursday that President Mwanawasa phoned him around 12:00 hours and interrogated him on the statements he had issued in the media.
President Mwanawasa confronted Mwenye after he issued a statement published in the Post edition of Wednesday that Oasis Forum would continue fighting for the will and aspirations of the people until a new constitution was enacted.
However, after the meeting yesterday, Mwenye said President Mwanawasa should do what people wanted. “We remain resolute because this is the fight for national good. We will continue to speak for our people,” he said.
Mwenye also confirmed having spoken to President Mwanawasa for the second time on phone around 18:00 hours on Thursday.
He said they spoke for one hour during which he presented evidence of President Mwanawasa’s speech of May 4, 2003 at a meeting with CRC members and other stakeholders.
According to the speech, President Mwanawasa committed himself to uphold the aspirations of the people through their submissions to the CRC.
“In this regard, I pledge and do hereby commit myself and my government, except as impeded by law or by lack of resources, to uphold the will and aspirations of our people through their submission to the Constitution Review Commission and to implement the recommendations of the Constitution Review Commission as representing the broadcast views of our people,” President Mwanawasa had said.
“On my part and indeed on the part of my government, we shall not do anything which obstructs or undermines the work of the Commission or anything which undermines the objective of completely achieving the will and aspirations of our people.”
“Let it not be historically registered that Zambia failed to attain people-desired constitution because Levy Mwanawasa as President and his government subverted the work of the Constitution Review Commission. It is very clear that a great number of our people would prefer that the mode of adoption of the next constitution should be through the constituent assembly. I have said many a time that I too prefer the adoption of the constitution through a Constituent Assembly.”
Mwenye further said the Oasis Forum was challenging information minister Mike Mulongoti to publish the proposal he was referring to that indicated that its members wanted about K500,000 per day for being part of the constituent assembly. He said where there were national issues such as the constituent assembly, funding was provided for from the state coffers.
Mwenye reiterated the position that they would continue fighting for the will and aspirations of the people until the new constitution was in place.
“We can’t trust government over the constitution,” he said. “Historically, government has shown deceitfulness and lack of commitment in enacting a new constitution.“
He urged President Mwanawasa to keep his word on the need for a new constitution and uphold the wishes of people.
“We will fight for a new constitution no matter what maneuvers,” he said. “There has been a suggestion that Oasis Forum does not have members. Just to give you an example, NGOCC has 83 member organisations like Women for Change which has over 300,000 members. The National Council for Catholic Women that is a wing in Zambia Episcopal Conference has one million members.”
Mwenye also said it should be noted that 2,166 submissions to the CRC did not represent people but that they were made by individuals and organisations.
He said the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) made submissions under protest just like the Oasis Forum did.
Mwenye said President Mwanawasa should not confuse people that submitted to the CRC but enforce the will of the people.
“We sympathise with the well-meaning men and women who sat on the CRC and did a good job under the circumstances but now they are betrayed by the appointing authority,” said Mwenye.
By Zumani Katasefa
Saturday June 02, 2007 [04:00]
INFORMATION and broadcasting minister Mike Mulongoti has said having a complete new constitution is a fallacy. Speaking during a public meeting mostly attended by government workers and MMD cadres to discuss the constitution-making process on Thursday at Luanshya council chamber, Mulongoti said he was worried about so much talk on the constitution especially on the mode of adopting it when people had not even seen the document.
“It is a fallacy that you can bring in a complete new constitution. Not every thing is bad in the current constitution,” he said.
Mulongoti said a new constitution would not create jobs for Zambians. He said although rights to education, health and jobs might be enshrined in the national constitution, they were impossible to implement.
“It is not the constitution that will bring jobs, if you are lazy, you are just lazy,” he said.
He said there was need for people to be realistic over issues surrounding the enactment of the Republic constitution.
Mulongoti said there was need to deal with certain clauses in the constitution that could be dealt with instead of embarking on a process that would be costly. He said clauses like the parentage, and the 50 plus-one vote could easily be tackled without holding a referendum. Mulongoti also explained why President Mwanawasa said he would vote against the constituent assembly.
“President Mwanawasa is against the constituent assembly because he wants the constitution to be done soon. We should change things that can be changed. We should not be emotional over these things. If we can go for cheap things, why should we go for most expensive things?” he asked. “President Mwanawasa is not fearing anything, he has already crossed the river, he is just waiting for his pension,” he said.
Mulongoti added that reducing on the presidential powers would make the presidency ineffective. And a Luanshya resident Ronald Chibopya said government had no political will in the enactment of the constitution-making processs.
Friday, June 01, 2007
By Concerned citizen
Friday June 01, 2007 [04:00]
Does it take an economist to see that the state of the Zambian economy is in shambles? The buying power of the majority of Zambians has been dwindling at an alarming rate. Those with dealings with government departments are quite familiar with the song of there being no funds.
There seems to be something seriouly wrong with Zambia's liquidity situation.
The impression one gets is that there is just no money in general circulation. If this is not the case then whatever money might be there seems to be circulating in very few privileged pockets, as opposed to circulating in the economy.
There must be an empirical way of assessing how the economy is doing.
The regular pronouncements from the Bank of Zambia that the economic indicators are good sound like statements made by a bank that operates in a different economy from that experienced by most people.
At the rate we are going, the new deal government is likely to come out as the worst manager of the Zambian economy that this country has ever experienced.
Search for leadership
By Concerned citizen
Friday June 01, 2007 [04:00]
It is encouraging to note that we have realised the need for us Zambians to have a hand in the search for leaders to lead the MMD and Zambia.
With due respect to the opinions of the other readers who wrote on this subject, I feel leadership is a solemn and heavy responsibility which should only be entrusted to people with the calibre and credibility.
We need a leader who is eloquent and confident in speech, who is credible, somebody who has a national character and not closely linked to an ethnic grouping, and above all somebody who has a clear manifesto of what he wants to do, whether that person is young or old.
We do not want a leader who would spend thirty minutes of an hour's speech defending himself, that he is not tribal leader or somebody who after becoming president would not believe that he is president.
In 2011 we need substance. There is no way we can continue admiring politicians like Obama, Sarkozy and others from other countries.
Having said all this, my wish list for Zambia's potential leaders whom MMD should also consider is as follows, Willa Mungo'mba, Patrick D Chisanga, Emily Sikazwe, Rev Japhet Ndhlovu and Sakwiba Sikota.
Any fair-minded person has seen the contributions of these men and women. To you The Post we wish to request you to take an active role in identitfying our potential leader.
Keeping Lusaka Clean
Friday June 01, 2007 [04:00]
I think that the Minister of Local Government and Housing Sylvia Masebo deserves to be commended for the good job she is doing in trying to bring sanity to the city of Lusaka. She seems to be an action-oriented woman who takes tough decisions, some of which hinge on risking her life.
She should not rest until those ugly, illegal buildings instigated in the corrupt Chiluba regime are razed to earth.
I can only ask her to ignore the retrogressive criticisms coming from certain quarters. Mwanawasa should not shift Masebo from this ministry until she finishes her job.
New constitution, a must
Thursday May 31, 2007 [04:01]
We have been fighting for the adoption of a new constitution for a very long time now. In my view, this fight is not for the opposition, the churches, the NGOs, LAZ, and other institutions alone. The fight is an issue for all of us as individual Zambians to get involved in a practical way. I am sure there is no country in the world where people have wasted so much precious time and resources just talking about one and the same thing in vain.
The Zambian people have talked about the need for a new constitution for so long that any well-meaning president would have responded to their demands. Unfortunately, Mwanawasa has arrogantly dismissed these calls because it is in his interest to continue abusing this country and its people.
To do this, Mwanawasa is using the same excessive powers the new constitution seeks to reduce.
In case some people did not know, these are the same powers with which the master dribbler, Chiluba, got intoxicated until he dribbled himself into the fire.
It is with these powers that Chiluba managed to turn this country upside down and even destroy the lives of many imaginary enemies. From Chiluba’s conduct, it might not be far-fetched to think that he may have suffered from a very serious inferiority complex. I guess it is not so easy to be president of a country and at the same time be semi-literate, not so tall, possess a cloudy or contentious origin, etc.
So, when the Zambians ask for a new constitution, it is not for fun. It is because they do not want a repeat of Chiluba’s insanity. They want progress that benefits all and not only one man and his family tree. From what we have seen so far, no amount of talking will make Mwanawasa respond to the demands of the people. Only action from all Zambians will put a stop to this arrogance and dictatorship.
No one will do this for the Zambians but the Zambians themselves. The action that is required is for every Zambian to get out on the streets and march peacefully. All over the world, this is the only way oppressed people have obtained their freedom from dictators.
It has never happened by talking or pleading with tyrants. Like Mugabe, Mwanawasa is a dictator and cannot listen to anyone. Slavery, apartheid and other forms of oppression were shown the way out by force – not negotiation.
If we Zambians do not take Mwanawasa on, we will remain oppressed for a very long time to come – and we will have only ourselves to blame.
Is it not shameful that today, many of our folk who are non-Zambian, appear to be even more concerned about our plight than we are? Without mentioning names, there are many of these people who are publicly fighting more vigorously than we indigenous Zambians. Now, what kind of timidity is this which is only to our own detriment?
I call upon everyone to unite and fight this evil. We all need to get out on the streets as that is the only way our demands will be met. Without this force, peaceful force, we can forget about the new constitution. Of course, this is not what we want. Let us demand the enactment of a new constitution. Let us begin the peaceful demos now.
By Times Reporter
THE Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has arrested suspended commissioner of Lands, Frightone Sichone, for alleged abuse of authority of office. And the Task Force on Corruption has recorded a warn and caution statement from former economic advisor to second Republican President, Frederick Chiluba, Donald Chanda. The joint investigation team on the ministry of Lands inquiry arrested Mr Sichone yesterday in Lusaka for abuse of office of authority and charged him with four counts contrary to Section 37 (2) of the ACC Act number 42 of 1996.
Details of the first count are that on April 6, 2006 in Lusaka, Mr Sichone allegedly abused the authority of his office by allocating property number LUS/35210 Mass Media, on title number 49502, to Mizumbi Farms Limited, a company in which he was the co-director and majority shareholder without following procedure, thereby obtaining advantage.
On the second count, Mr Sichone allegedly abused the authority of his office on April 21, 2006 in Lusaka by allocating property number LUS/35211 Mass Media, on title number 50036, to the same company.
Particulars of the third count are that on January 20, 2006 at Lusaka, Mr Sichone allegedly abused the authority of his office by allocating himself property number LUS/35178 Mass Media on title number 75822 without following procedure.
On the fourth count, Mr Sichone on January 20,2006 allegedly abused the authority of his office by allocating himself property number 35185 Mass Media on title number 45036 without following procedure. Mr Sichone was released on police bond and will appear in court today.
Meanwhile, investigations into other cases involving Mr Sichone and officials at the ministry of Lands have reached an advanced stage and more arrests may be effected soon. The commission has so far restricted 114 properties and the process of ascertaining their value and how they were acquired was still continuing.
The commission will like to urge the public with any information in the malpractices at the ministry of Lands to report to ACC as such will assist the team conclude investigations promptly.
In the matter involving Mr Chanda, Task Force acting public relations officer, Victor Makai, said the former economic aide to Dr Chiluba was warned and cautioned on five counts of abuse of authority of office concerning the Carlington maize deal.
He was alleged to have arbitrarily authorised the diversion of $1 million to a lobby contract between January 1 and December 1, 1998. Mr Makai said Mr Chanda was also warned and cautioned for allegedly receiving $9,999 cash and £580 from Carlington as an inducement or reward.
He was further alleged to have abused authority of his office by entering into a consultancy contract with Carlington, a matter that was prejudicial to the interest of the Government of the republic of Zambia.
Following the warn and caution statement recorded, Mr Makai said the matter had now been referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions for further instructions.
Friday June 01, 2007 [04:00]
Speaking on May 3, 2003 at a meeting with individuals he had appointed to sit on the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) and other stakeholders at State House, President Levy Mwanawasa said he was holding an office which had lost the very necessary confidence required to administer the nation effectively. “Sometimes, I am embarrassed and ashamed to find myself as President, in an office which no longer inspires the confidence of our people,” President Mwanawasa said. “We are constantly judged by the behaviour and indiscipline of others. Society no longer trusts us. This is very sad and an extremely dangerous way of managing a country.”
President Mwanawasa went on to say that recent attempts at constitution reforms had demonstrated that political survival considerations had been the sole and paramount motivation for the reforms. He said the deceit, greed and appetite for power had polarised attempts on constitution reforms and that Zambians had every right to be cynical about the constitution reforms.
“The Zambian people, and indeed the international community, have come to believe that all other attempts to come at constitution reforms, including this one, are driven and inspired by politicians in power to either entrench themselves or engage in deceit or as a method of creating a political campaign platform for themselves,” President Mwanawasa said. “Indeed, all of us have every right and reason to feel cynical and cheated, to the point where perhaps we have lost faith in even producing a people-inspired constitution.”
Mwanawasa said it was unfortunate that he too was deemed to behave like the “other men” who cheated society and enacted bad laws.
“It is essentially on this very sad historical background that we find ourselves disagreeing, even on a matter which all of us ought to be agreeing,” President Mwanawasa said. “But even when we agree on essentially all the fundamentals, we have still chosen to disagree because we do not trust each other.”
President Mwanawasa said his government had decided to go ahead with constitution reforms because they recognised that the current Constitution was not only defective, inadequate and oppressive in many ways, but it had become suffocating and a source of conflict and confrontation in the country.
And on May 4, 2003, President Mwanawasa said he would introduce the required bills in Parliament to pave way for a constituent assembly.
“If there are laws in the present constitution that impede what people want a constituent assembly, I will pass a bill over to Parliament to amend such laws. If the bill to amend such laws fails, you will know who the enemy is the opposition,” he said.
And on May 8, 2003, the state-owned and government-controlled Times of Zambia newspaper carried a story in which President Mwanawasa was quoted telling members of the Oasis Forum he was meeting at State House: “The contentious issue is the constituent assembly which I also want but I would love this to come from the people.”
President Mwanawasa told members of the Oasis Forum that there were other unresolved issues like the appointment of the constituent assembly which he felt should be left to the CRC so that people did not say he had manipulated the process.
On January 19, 2005, The Post covered a meeting in Tokyo, Japan of President Mwanawasa with Zambians living in that country. President Mwanawasa, who went through a detailed schedule of expected processes in the CRC to the stage of adoption as preferred by civil society and the opposition, said the process was laborious although he would be happy if a successful constituent assembly was held to adopt the constitution, as costly as the process would be.
A fortnight ago President Mwanawasa before departing for a Comesa summit in Nairobi, said he would vote against the constituent assembly.
These are not our words; they are the words or views and ideas of the President of the Republic of Zambia, Mr Levy Patrick Mwanawasa, SC, on Zambia’s constitution review process.
It should be clear now to everyone, including President Mwanawasa himself, why the Zambian people do not trust any politician over the constitution review process. President Mwanawasa analysed it very correctly for everyone making any further disquisition on this issue unnecessary.
It is very clear that President Mwanawasa wants to write, adopt and enact a constitution for the Zambian people. This is not what the Zambian people want. What the people of Zambia want is to give themselves a constitution and not to be given or left one by President Mwanawasa. In our view this is where the current disagreements really emanate from. What the people want is to give themselves a constitution. This is because people shall be truly free when their constitution is people driven and reflects their wishes and aspirations.
There cannot be peace or a reduction in conflict in this country if there is no proper agreement on the constitution review process. We say this because the constitution is at the heart of the nation-building process. And if peace is to be ensured in our country, the primary requisite is to eradicate the cause of dissention between people. But to achieve this, capable or competent political leadership is required.
A constitution is primarily a political document; a result or product of a political process and not necessarily a consequence of a legal process. This point needs to be understood very clearly by President Mwanawasa and his legal advisors. Yes, there are some legal issues concerning the constitution review process, like it happens with every aspect of our national life, but this is much more of a political issue requiring political judgment and skill to manage. This seems to be seriously lacking in President Mwanawasa and his advisors.
If they are not careful with the way they manage this process, they will end up doing a lot of damage to the nation and to themselves, endangering whatever little progress has been made in other areas of our national life. This can be avoided if those tasked with managing the affairs of our country start to look at themselves as servants of the people and not their masters.
There are many people who have spoken on this issue, including very senior citizens with immense political and administrative experience and whose patriotism is beyond question. John Mwanakatwe has offered advice to this government and we have no doubt he is available to offer more if more is needed.
Grey Zulu has also spoken and his advice was very simple. He simply told the government to listen to the people. He did not tell them to listen to legal experts and other people with sophisticated political theories – he simply advised them to listen to the people.
But what do we see instead: unbridled arrogance and lack of humility from the President and his ministers, intimidating and calling innocent citizens all sorts of names. Is it a crime for any citizen to speak up or speak out on important national issues? Where is this arrogance coming from where people in government seem to think they are more intelligent, more clever, more patriotic than the rest of their 11 million fellow citizens?
It would seem our President has no time to consult and listen to the views held by other citizens who do not share his position, but he has more time to pick up the phone and harangue those he thinks are critical of his position on the Constitution. And he does so at a frightening speed. With no patience at all, he jumps up so quickly like someone sitting on drawing pins, to throttle them. This is certainly not a good quality in a political leader, especially one who is President of the Republic.
The quality of a political leader is often measured by his ability to meet, listen and peacefully and respectfully discourse with those who are totally opposed to him and his views or ideas. This is one quality that made Nelson Mandela stand out above many of our leaders on this continent.
Proverbs 20: 3 tells us that: “Any fool can start arguments; the honourable thing is to stay out of them.” And continues in verse 18 to advise us that: “Get good advice and you will succeed; don’t go charging into battle without a plan.”
President Mwanawasa’s confrontational phone call to Oasis Forum spokesperson Musa Mwenye was unnecessary and totally uncalled for. But this is not to say our President shouldn’t phone and dialogue with people like Musa. There is need for the President to talk to more and more of our people, especially those holding different views from his and not under his employment. This is necessary because this country knows no single genius – there can only be a collective genius.
The views being propounded by Musa and the Oasis Forum on the constitution review process are shared by many people in our country. And President Mwanawasa shouldn’t forget that his support base in this country is very narrow, as at the last elections it was less than one third of those who voted. We have no doubt if a referendum on any question concerning the constitution, especially on the constituent assembly was held, President Mwanawasa’s side would lose. Where as in the last elections he was competing primarily with Michael Sata, in a referendum he will have to face the might of all of us.
And this confrontation with ordinary citizens will leave President Mwanawasa badly bruised. He shouldn’t think he is an emperor who is above every subject; the President of this country is one of us and if he behaves stupidly towards a fellow citizen, he can be fixed, told off and humiliated by that citizen. Respect of the citizen is necessary.
We urge President Mwanawasa and his government to come down, cool down and be level headed and meet people on their terms.
This constitution is not for the governors, it is for the governed to give to the governors for them to govern the country accordingly. Let’s exercise humility. Let’s avoid a fight, which will leave one of us battered and humiliated. And the loser in a fight over the constitution review process will not be difficult to foresee – it will be unquestionably President Mwanawasa and his government. He will not succeed to have it his way and the sooner he realises this, the better it will be for him and for our country.
By Noel Sichalwe and Chibaula Silwamba
Friday June 01, 2007 [04:00]
PRESIDENT Levy Mwana-wasa yesterday called Oasis Forum spokesperson Musa Mwenye to intimidate him on the constitution review process. Mwenye confirmed yesterday that President Mwanawasa phoned him around 12:00 hours and started interrogating him on the statements he had been issuing in the media. Mwenye on Wednesday said Oasis Forum would continue fighting for the will and aspirations of people until a new constitution was enacted.
“I can confirm that the President did in fact call me and that is with respect to recent press releases on the constitution review process,” Mwenye said. “That was the context of our conversation. I therefore, informed members of Oasis Forum and Law Association of Zambia, the organizations which I represent.”
According to sources in the Oasis Forum, President Mwanawasa asked Mwenye to give details of how he would fight him during the constitution review process.
“The President said, ‘I have read your article in The Post and before I react to it, can you tell me how you are going to fight me?’” the sources said. “That is when Mr. Mwenye told the President that he will fight in the context of the article published by fighting for the views and aspirations of people. President Mwanawasa then asked Mr. Mwenye which people he represented? Mr. Mwenye told him that those that submitted to the Constitution Review Commission who said that they wanted the constitution to be adopted through a constituent assembly.”
“President Mwanawasa then asked whether he was representing the 12,000 people that did not call for the constituent assembly or the 2,166 that called for the constituent assembly? Mr Mwenye said he was representing the 2,166.”
The sources said President Mwanawasa also asked Mwenye whether the 2,166 people that demanded a constituent assembly were the majority and he responded that he represented the people whom he promised that he will abide by their wishes and aspirations.
“This is when the President challenged Mr. Mwenye to tell him when he stated that he will abide by the will of these people. At this time, Mr. Mwenye told him that he was driving and promised to remind him of the promises in the afternoon. But he waited to receive a call from State House in the afternoon and there was nothing. “
In an interview afterwards, Mwenye said President Mwanawasa’s stance on the constitution was retrogressive in the fight for a new constitution. Mwenye said President Mwanawasa was in a better position to enact the new constitution.
He said when President Mwanawasa met the members of the CRC and stakeholders on May 4, 2003 he promised to adopt the new constitution through a constituent assembly. Mwenye further said President Mwanawasa also promised to abide by the wishes of people over the mode of adopting a new constitution.
And opposition UPND president Hakainde Hichilema has said no one should stand in the way of Zambians in the constitution making process. Commenting on President Mwanawasa’s statement that he would vote against the constituent assembly, Hichilema yesterday said Zambians had already agreed on the mode of adopting the new constitution hence no one should stand in their way.
“We have been amending the constitution for many years and now Zambians want a new constitution,” said Hichilema. “No one should stand in their way.”
Hichilema said there was need for Zambians to pull their efforts, souls and bodies together and develop the country.
“The country has collapsed and we don’t need Jesus to come down from heaven to tell us that the country has dilapidated,” he said. “We have to give hope to people. So we have to get Charles Banda to win the elections. The court proved that he did not lose the previous elections.”
Hichilema called for improvement in the administration of the election.
“We need an independent electoral commission so that we give hope to the people,” he said.
Hichilema also said politicians should remain relevant to the country. “For me, I don’t have time for petty issues but to focus on real issues that will improve people’s lives,” Hichilema said. “Those who retire from politics should fall out. Politics is not a retiring job. We should remain relevant to the people of Zambia.”
Hichilema said the MMD’s 16 years in government had degraded the country. “I challenge the people of Zambia to elect us and they will see development within five years,” said Hichilema who is in Kapoche campaigning for FDD’s Banda.
By Laura Mushaukwa
Friday June 01, 2007 [04:00]
ACTING deputy registrar of the High Court Jones Chinyama, sitting as a magistrate, has ordered that the trial of second Republican president Frederick Chiluba and two others should proceed in August.
And Magistrate Chinyama has rejected an application by defence lawyers Robert Simeza and John Sangwa to have the matter referred to the High Court to raise some constitutional issues in the matter.
Earlier, state prosecutor Mutembo Nchito informed the court that Chiluba was examined and it was found that his condition, although not the best it could be, had improved from the last time he was examined by the doctors.
Nchito told the court that Chiluba’s condition was somewhat unpredictable and it was the doctors’ opinion that he could only stand trial if certain exogenous factors were induced.
He explained that trial could only proceed in private where the accused person was not exposed to crowds, and was in a comfortable environment where the length of the proceedings was monitored and where Chiluba was not required to stand.
Nchito told the court that the state would endeavour to provide the facilities so that Chiluba could participate in the proceedings.
But defence lawyer John Sangwa argued that the medical report was not very helpful.
“I have looked at the report and some of the things said are not in this court. The report is clear about the unpredictable nature of his cardiovascular problem and he is not fit to stand trial. If trial has to take place it has to be in private, it is our submission that the report is not very helpful,” he said.
He argued that from the report Chiluba was not fit to stand trial.
“Trial which is envisaged is where A1 is present before court, following the proceedings himself. My reading of this report is that he is not fit to stand trial,” Sangwa said.
To corroborate Sangwa’s argument, defence lawyer Robert Simeza argued that trying Chiluba in private surroundings was not consistent with Article 18 (2) of the constitution.
“Article 18 (2) clearly provides that unless with his own consent, trial shall not take place in his absence. The only time trial can take place in the absence of the accused is where he conducts himself in a manner that renders a continuation of the proceedings impracticable,” Simeza said.
“A simple question that was put to the doctors was simply whether A1 was fit to stand trial. There answer rests on the findings after examining the patient. They went beyond the scope of the directive to suggest an alternative which to my understanding of the report, if it is imperative that under no circumstances he has to stand trial then it should be done in private surroundings, your honour this is where the problem begins.”
He further argued that although this was happening in other parts of the world, the constitution had not moved with the times.
“It would require to amend Article 18, for trial to be carried out in that fashion. This hinges on the fundamental rights of the accused person; the right to protection of the law,” Simeza noted. “It is a very serious issue which we cannot afford to gloss over or look at in a simple way.”
In reply Nchito said the doctors had given an option that if certain things were done such as having a trial in private, the matter could proceed and that the document from UTH was made to assist the court and not replace the court.
“It has been suggested by the defence that somehow there is a fundamental constitutional issue coming into play in the circumstance of this case. We submit that there is no constitutional issue,” Nchito said. “Article 18 being referred to provides that an accused person shall be afforded the facilities to participate in the criminal proceedings in which he is part of.”
He contended that the issue had pended for a long time and it was in the interest of both parties to conclude the matter.
“We submit, your honour, that a private or controlled trial can be provided by video link,” Nchito said.
After listening to the pleadings, Magistrate Chinyama established that both the defence and the state agreed that Chiluba was not at his best physically.
He also took into account the fact that the matter had been pending for a long time and that two other accused persons in the case who were eager to see it concluded.
Magistrate Chinyama ruled that there were no constitutional issues in the matter and that trial should continue whether by video link or in the comfort of Chiluba’s home.
He adjourned the case to June 29 and July 27 for mention while trial would run from August 14 to 17 and 27 to 31.
Magistrate Chinyama also rebuked The Post for making news items out of matters that were before the courts.
This was after defence lawyers Robert Simeza and John Sangwa complained that the report was published in the Post Newspaper before they or Chiluba himself saw it.
“We would like to know, and the court should be interested to know, how this report found itself in the hands of the media contrary to the directive which the court made. The doctors who examined Dr. Chiluba, who are in this court room, should shade light on the movement of the report, someone somewhere has absolutely no regard for this court,” Simeza said.
Simeza told Magistrate Chinyama that it was an issue of grave concern upon which he wanted to seek the courts’ guidance.
“There is an issue of grave concern upon which we seek the courts guidance. At the last sitting on May 18, you did issue a directive that the committee of doctors of the UTH attending to A1 do examine him and render a report on the findings to this court,” Simeza said.
“We did comply with that directive by availing our client to a committee of doctors, after they examined him they advised him that he would know about their findings when the matter comes up for ruling today. Yesterday one of the daily newspapers, The Post, carried this report with an editorial comment and essentially manipulating the report. The same report is again appearing in today’s Post. This is before this report is tendered to you and in the mean time the primary object in the report has not had sight of this report and neither did we.”
Sangwa said the integrity of the court was in jeopardy and it was up to the court to decide.
“Ordinarily, the press is supposed to report what transpires in court and not vice versa. We believe that this is a serious matter and the way things are going, this trial is likely to turn into a huge circus and we therefore call upon this court to restore the integrity of this court,” he said. “Your honour, as the record will show, this is not the first time that we have made a complaint of this nature. We seek your guidance before we comment on the actual report. The integrity of this court is in jeopardy and it is up to this court to decide.”
Magistrate Chinyama said he had not seen the articles complained of in the paper as he was out of town.
“If what the defence has said is true, it’s likely that there are grounds of contempt. The press is not allowed to make comments on matters before the courts, “he said.
Magistrate Chinyama explained that there were two types of contempt namely contempt in the face of the court and contempt outside the court.
He said the conduct complained of was contempt outside court. “I would like to rebuke The Post, The Post should guard against making of news items before the court. Action can be taken against the newspaper in the manner explained,” he said.
On the trial before the court, Simeza lamented that Chiluba had suffered real injustice with the publications of the London High Court judgment and the various comments which have been made on it.
“It is our clients’ position that they have suffered real injustice, our clients feel they have suffered prejudice in the proceedings before you,” he said.
He produced copies of the Daily Mail with a headline ‘Chiluba found guilty’ and FTJ ruling cheers donors’ and The Post Newspaper headlined ‘Chiluba is a thief rules judge Smith’, ‘Chiluba should be remorseful for stealing from Zambians-KK and ‘Hichilema likens Chiluba to a monkey in a maize field’, where he complained about headlines and comments suggesting that his client was a thief.
“He has even been likened to a monkey, it will be our submission that this kind of polluted atmosphere does not guarantee the accused persons a free and fair trial. The presumption of innocence has totally been dismissed and rendered worthless,” Simeza complained.
Sangwa in addition said it was better to have the matter referred to the High Court to raise some constitutional issues and that the evidence submitted before the court was the same evidence before the London Court.
“We have another issue we need to raise, reference of the High Court in terms of Article 18 (2) whether this trial should go ahead. Proceedings started way back in 2002, but in 2004 the Attorney General commenced civil proceedings on the same facts. This judgment has been given the widest circulation in the press. All the daily newspapers serialised this judgment.
There have been commentaries made on these findings, people who have commented are the usual politicians, President Mwanawasa and representatives of western countries,” he said. “The evidence that has been submitted before this court is the same evidence before the London Court and the same witnesses appeared in the UK. The claim in the UK is conspiracy to defraud in the sum of US$ 25 million. Judge Smith found A1,A2 and A3 liable for these wrongs and a number of unpalatable statements have been made.
Given this publicity and comment on the London Judgment, it is not possible to have a free and fair trial. May I state something which I consider to be a problem, one of the problems is that judgment has been delivered and people have read. There are constitutional issues which should be raised before the High Court. They have been convicted in the eyes of the public. When one looks at the publications, the London Judgment will have more effect on the trial.
There is no way one can guarantee these people a fair trial. Because of the act of the state and publication, the court has been put under pressure to conclude the proceedings and this goes against Article 18. If the matter is referred to the High Court we want the proceedings to be stayed forever because we would be submitting that there is a mistrial (a trial that is invalid because a mistake such as an error in procedure has been made or a trial that does not come to a proper conclusion, for example, because the jury cannot agree on a verdict). The matter should be referred to High Court so that such issues can be raised.
But Magistrate Chinyama assured the defence lawyers that whatever decision he would arrive at would be based on the evidence before him and that the London Judgment had no bearing on the criminal matter before him.
“My conclusion is that I do not see sufficient reasons to refer this matter to the High Court on the basis of the judgment that has been passed. My judgment will be based on what has been given to me. It is not my concern what the public is going to say, my concern is that the prosecution brings the evidence,” said Magistrate Chinyama.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
By Joan Chirwa
Thursday May 31, 2007 [04:00]
DUNAVANT Zambia Limited has launched a competition for farmers who have been pre-financed by the company for last season’s crop. The competition is aimed at attracting farmers back into cotton production after most of them had pulled out due to low prices offered during the previous marketing season. A kilogramme of seed cotton was sold in the range of K830 to K850 during the 2005/2006 marketing season.
However, there has been a remarkable improvement in cotton prices this season, with major buyers pegging a kilogramme of seed cotton at between K1,070 to K1,200. Dunavant Zambia managing director Nigel Seabrook said farmers from nine regions of the country have a chance to win a total of 90 prizes per region, subject to certain conditions such as; delivering a minimum of 600 kilogrammes of seed cotton per bag of planting seed accessed as a loan from the financing company.
“There will be a total of 90 prizes per region, comprising a pair of oxen, a scotch-cart, roofing sheets, bicycles, cell-phones, food security packs, cotton inputs and bags of cotton planting seed,” Seabrook said. “All farmers who registered as Dunavant growers for the 2006/2007 growing season and who purchased one bag or more of planting seed will be entered in the competition draw provided they deliver a minimum of 600 kilograms of seed cotton per bag of planting seed taken.”
The competition was earlier announced by Dunavant chairman Richard Laurin late last year when he visited Zambia. And Dunavant Zambia Limited has made a commitment towards the future of the Zambian cotton grower through its YIELD (Yield Improvement through Empowerment, Learning and Discipline) programme to achieve sustainability in cotton production.
By Kabanda Chulu
Thursday May 31, 2007 [04:00]
LLOYDS Financial Services director professor Lloyd Ching'ambo has urged local entrepreneurs to formulate ways of packaging project proposal information for them to access funding from financial institutions. And Prof Ching'ambo said his institution was looking at possibilities of setting up venture capital funds as a way of mobilising funds to cater for the informal sector.
Featuring on MUVI Television programme titled Zambian Business-way of life on Tuesday, Prof Ching'ambo said it was not easy to access funding in Zambia because it was a growing market.
"But more often we do not know how to package ourselves when looking for funds to borrow and finance the projects. Despite having good ideas, we still do not know how to access the funds, others just want money without putting anything in place," Prof Ching'ambo said.
"Also our local entrepreneurs should understand that registering a company is one thing and getting to work is another because some people can get the loans but do not really understand the kind of business they want to get involved in hence failing to progress."
He also urged Zambian entrepreneurs to consider joint partnerships when embarking on business ventures. Prof. Ching'ambo said his company was looking at establishing venture capital funds specifically for the informal sector.
"To develop any economy we need to groom and develop the informal sector so that they grow and succeed in whatever they are doing, so we are looking at possibilities of mobilising resources and funds that will be spread among the key players in this sector," Prof Ching'ambo said.
By Fridah Zinyama
Thursday May 31, 2007 [04:01]
THE World Bank has revealed that Zambia is one of the African countries expected to launch sovereign bond issues on the international market by the end of this year. A sovereign bond issue involves government borrowing from the international capital markets at lower interests over a long period of time by issuing sovereign bonds.
In its annual Global Development Finance report, the World Bank stated that Zambia, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria were among the African countries that had expressed an interest in launching the sovereign bonds.
The bank indicated that in the recent years, the number of countries borrowing from the international capital markets by issuing sovereign bonds had increased substantially.
The report stated that for these countries, capital market access meant ready acknowledgement of their policy successes and improvements in their creditworthiness. The Bank indicated that the developing countries' improved creditworthiness had enabled them to graduate from the group of official recipients into a more advanced group of emerging market economies.
And the World Bank said global economic growth had increased risks for developing countries. The bank said higher interest rates and emerging capacity constraints would slow the rapid growth of developing countries, with global growth falling to around 3.5 per cent in 2009 from 4 percent in 2006.
In developing countries, growth is likely to moderate gradually to about six per cent in 2009 from 7.3 per cent in 2006, the report read.
The World Bank believes that the transition to slower growth would be relatively smooth, but cautioned that this realignment could also tamper some of the positive global financial conditions that have prevailed in many developing countries over the past four years.
The report said net private capital flows to developing countries reached a record US $647 billion in 2006, although their rate of growth slowed to 17 per cent from 34 per cent in 2005.
"Looking ahead, the key challenge facing developing countries is to manage the transition by taking preemptive measures aimed at lessening the risk of a sharp, unexpected reversal in capital flows," it added.
Economic Association of Zambia general secretary Chibamba Kanyama described as a positive move Zambia's readiness to issue sovereign bonds on the international capital markets.
He said the move showed increased investors confidence in Zambia's creditworthiness.
Kanyama said Zambia's attainment of the Highly Indebted Poor Country status and its other fiscal policies had qualified Zambia to be a favorable investment destination.
"Zambia is now ready to launch the sovereign policy as government has been deliberating over this issue for a long time now," Kanyama said.
He however added that it was possible to attract investors for the sovereign bond but at very high interest rates depending on the country's rating.
"At the moment Zambia has no sovereign bond rating and as such, there will be a premium above the current Treasury Bill rate of about 10 per cent," he noted. "It would be important to remember that the Treasury Bill is medium term but sovereign date is long term for even up to 50 years."
By Pride Bwalya and Florence Bupe
Thursday May 31, 2007 [04:02]
THE Communications Authority of Zambia (CAZ) has admitted that the telecommunications Act in its current form is not strong enough to protect consumers from exploitation by service providers. During a consumer awareness public forum in Monze, CAZ consumer affairs manager Katwamba Mwansa said the telecommunications Act was not effective enough to shield consumers from poor services and high tariffs from some telecommunication service providers.
"The telecommunications Act as it is does not provide CAZ with powers to effectively regulate tariffs and secure the interests of consumers," Mwansa said. "We are in the process of revising the Act, which is expected to be replaced by an ICT (Information, Communication and Technology) Act."
He said the revised Act would address issues of protecting consumer interests without disadvantaging service providers.
He charged that some service providers had been offering high tariffs but did not offer quality services.
"There are some service providers, especially in the mobile telecommunication sector, who are known to charge high tariffs without addressing the poor quality of services. With the new ICT Act, we will strive to see to it that such issues are addressed," he said. Mwansa further said CAZ was working in collaboration with the Ministry of Communications and Transport to ensure that rural communities were sensitised on ICT issues.
"We are working with the communications ministry to make sure that ICT development reaches every corner of the country, including rural communities. This will be facilitated through the universal access policy, which CAZ will use to provide funding for investment in ICTs," he said.
Mwansa also said CAZ was in the process of extending ICT support to learning and health institutions. And CAZ public relations officer Ngabo Nankonde has explained that the ICT Act would provide more powers to CAZ to be involved in tariff regulation.
By Noel Sichalwe
Thursday May 31, 2007 [15:21]
I AM ready for the judgment, Chilanga MMD member of parliament Ng'andu Magande has said. In an interview this morning after Lusaka High Court judge Marvin Mwanamwambwa adjourned the Chilanga election petition case, Magande, who is finance minister said he was expecting anything from the courts. "All I can say is that I am ready for the judgment," Magande said. Asked whether he was ready to lose his seat, Magande said he was ready for whatever the judge would decide. Magande said he could only discuss more about the case after the judgment.
And addressing 'sponsored' cadres that gathered at the High Court roundabout in the pre-judgment celebratory euphoria, Magande said the judgment was adjourned and that the MMD would continue to be in existence. He urged the cadres who came from Livingstone, Ndola, Monze and other places to go back and start organising the party so that it could be stronger for them to win the 2011 general elections. "This is what I had to announce from the judge. This is the highest court where we have come and we want to listen to what the judge will say. Those who came yesterday, I think you know where you came from, we will arrange that you get back and those who came this morning will arrange that you get back to your homes," Magande said.
The courtroom where judgment was expected to be delivered was packed with some people even sitting on the bench placed in the accused box. There was tight security at the High Court by armed police officers who were stationed at various entrances. Earlier in court judge Mwanamwambwa adjourned the judgment to July 30.
This is a matter where United Democratic Alliance (UDA) losing candidate Captain Cosmas Moono and Patriotic Front losing candidate Pricilla Kamanga petitioned the election of Magande. The duo has alleged malpractices with about 62 allegations against Magande and Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ). They are seeking the nullification of Magande's election. Justifying his decision to adjourn, judge Mwanamwambwa said he had started working on the judgment but that it was not completely ready.
He said he was aware that the parties were anxious to hear the outcome of the petition and that was why he wanted to deal with it properly. Judge Mwanamwambwa said he had decided to suspend criminal sessions in his court for him to deal with the election petition but that the delay in completing it was caused after he ordered a recount. He said after the order for the recount was made, the petitioners applied for the review of his earlier order and that this move took away some valuable time in which to complete the hearing.
Judge Mwanamwambwa said the petition affected the other matters he was handling. He also said the bulky submissions had taken time for him to read. "I can say the case is quite big because there are 62 allegations. It is the biggest here," judge Mwanamwambwa said. "Each of the allegations must be determined on the basis of evidence and the law." He said he would need to analyse the evidence and establish who was telling the truth in the matter.
He said after establishing which party was telling the truth, he would side with them and establish the legal consequence of the decision he would make. Judge Mwanamwambwa said he had been referred to the presidential election petition of late UPND president Anderson Mazoka and others against President Mwanawasa where he had to read over 350 pages of the judgment. He said when writing the judgment, he would need to come up with a number of drafts and later conduct the editing process that consumed time.
Judge Mwanamwambwa said the other interaction was that he would be traveling to conduct High Court sessions in Mongu from tomorrow to June 23. He said he could only conclude writing the judgment by July 30, a date which was agreed by both parties.
He said he would continue working on weekends and nights until the judgment was ready. Judge Mwanamwambwa also showed the people in court three files of the case record which he had to analyse before coming up with a conclusion in the matter. He said he did not want to adjourn the case in chambers so that all interested parties could hear his reasons for the decision to adjourn the delivery of the judgment.
By Caesar Zvayi
MDC faction leaders Professor Arthur Mutambara and Mr Morgan Tsvangirai stole out of Zimbabwe on Tuesday night for a rendezvous with outgoing British Prime Minister Mr Tony Blair, who winds up his farewell tour of Africa in South Africa this week. Sources said Mr Blair — whose itinerary covers Libya, Sierra Leone and South Africa — will meet the MDC leadership in Pretoria though the exact date is not known as Downing Street kept a lid on it for security reasons. Mr Tsvangirai’s spokesman Mr William Bango confirmed that his boss was in Pretoria but denied that he was there to meet Mr Blair, saying he was attending a church gathering.
"He (Mr Tsvangirai) is attending a conference and he was to present a paper at the conference organised by the church in Pretoria. It is the church, in partnership with IDASA (Institute for Democracy in South Africa), that organised the conference that is to be officially opened by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Mutambara is also attending that conference, which was organised many moons ago," Mr Bango said. He claimed that he was not even aware that Mr Blair was visiting South Africa.
Though efforts to get comments from IDASA were fruitless, a visit to the IDASA website showed that there was no such event coming up.
Of late, the MDC leadership across the divide has used the Church as a smokescreen for some of their activities, and over the past two months have tried to get around the ban on political rallies by passing them off as prayer gatherings.
A high-ranking MDC official, miffed that his bosses could be summoned like little children, said they should be condemned for their behaviour.
"Imagine that right now we are busy trying to divest ourselves of the sell-out image, yet these guys fly out of Zimbabwe at the drop of a hat to meet a man who has been rejected by his own nation for his destructive politics. What do they hope to get from Blair who is in the twilight of his politics? Munoziva mukoma zvinorwadza so (It’s really sad).
"Honestly, I do not know why they don’t seem to learn," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
The source said contrary to Mr Bango’s assertions, Mr Tsvangirai and Prof Mutambara were summoned by Mr Blair. who wants their help to press South Africa to adopt a hard-line stance towards Harare.
Mr Blair, who is expected to hold talks with President Thabo Mbeki, was quoted in the British media as saying he would discuss Zimbabwe on his tour and hoped South Africa would drop its policy of quiet diplomacy.
The South African government has, however, indicated that it will not be pressured into sabotaging Zimbabwe with Foreign Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma telling the combative South African opposition, on Tuesday, that South Africa was not there to push Zimbabwe to collapse but to prevent it from collapsing.
On June 14 2004, Mr Blair revealed his intimate relationship with the MDC’s politics of regime change during a question and answer session in the House of Commons where he said:
‘‘We work closely with the MDC on the measures we should take in respect of Zimbabwe although, I am afraid, these measures and sanctions, although we have them in place, are of limited effect on the Mugabe regime.
"We must be realistic about that. It is still important that we give every chance to, and make every effort to, try and help those in South Africa, the southern part of Africa to put pressure for change on the Mugabe regime . . .’’
Sources in the MDC also said Mr Blair was expected to urge the feuding factions to patch up their differences to engage Zanu-PF as a united front, after which he would reveal the financial package for the MDC campaign for next year’s elections.
"Blair was dissilusioned that after pouring money into the Zimbabwe Institute (the MDC think tank in South Africa), it had not made any headway towards uniting the factions. That too will feature prominently in his talks with the faction leaders which is why he summoned both of them. He really wants them to get together,’’ said the sources.