Saturday, September 29, 2007
By Annie Sampa
WITH land in increasingly short supply due to poor soil, organic agriculture offers good prospects for intensifying production and boosting farmer’s income. It is accepted in Zambia today that soil fertility and crop yields are declining in the areas of the country where farming is concentrated, although the speed at which this is taking place is not always fully recognised.
In order to increase yields and profitability, as well as to save and regenerate soils, the farming sector from small-scale holders to commercial farmers need to find ways of reducing costs of their inputs, increase the value of their outputs and to practice sustainable methods of production. And organic agriculture offers a viable opportunity to address these issues.
Organic farming has become one of the fastest growing segments in the world one of which is the US agriculture. US producers are turning to certified organic farming system as a potential way to lower input costs, decrease reliance on non-renewable resources, capture high-value markets and premium prices and boost farm income.
One of the reasons why producers are pursuing this technology system is because it relies on ecologically based practices such as cultural and biological pest management and virtually excludes the use of synthetic chemicals in crop production, and prohibits the use of antibiotics and hormones in livestock production.
Many producers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers specialise in growing, processing and marketing an ever widening array of organic food and fiber products.
One organic specialist Morgan Reggs based in the US says organic product is not simply the avoidance of conventional chemical inputs nor is it the substitution of natural inputs for synthetic ones.
Organic farmers apply techniques used thousands of years ago such as crop rotation and the use of compost animal manure and green manure in ways that are economically sustainable in today’s world.
After working in this field for 10 years now, he feels in organic production, overall system health is emphasised and the interaction of management practices is the primary concern adding that the producers only implement a wide range of strategies to develop and maintain biological diversity and replenish soil fertility.
Subsequently, Reggs states that the key characteristics of organic farming is to produce food of high nutritional quality in sufficient quantity, to maintain and increase lon g term fertility of soils, and to give livestock all life conditions which allow them to perform the basic aspects of their intimate behavior.
Accordingly, consumers are demanding organic foods because in organic farming; weeds, diseases and pest control rely primarily on crop rotations, natural predators, organic manuring, resistant and limited thermal, biological and chemical intervention that put human health at risk.
Therefore, careful attention to the impact of the farming system on the wider environment and the conservation of wildlife and natural habitats are preserved.
For instance, in June, the European Union agriculture ministers reached political agreement on a new regulation on organic production and labeling which will be simpler for both farmers and consumers.
The new rules set out a complete set of objectives, principles and basic rules for organic production including a new permanent import regime and more consistent control regime.
The use of the EU organic logo will be mandatory but it can be accompanied by national or private logos. The place where the products were farmed has to be also indicated to inform consumers and food will only be able to carry an organic logo if at least 95 per cent of the ingredients are organic.
This is so because ‘organic’ is the fastest growing food and beverage market in the West. All the major supermarkets now stock processed and packaged organic goods as well as fresh produce and 63 per cent of shoppers interviewed in a recent pole, had at some time purchased organic products and 32 per cent on a regular basis.
Germany has the largest market of organic products, closely followed by Switzerland , Denmark and the Netherlands .
Despite this, consumption of organic products, the markets in Europe remain greatly under supplied.
The organic market is now flourishing worldwide. This market is not only centered in the West, in Japan 820 retail outlets were recorded as selling organic food in Tokyo in 1997 (International Agricultural Development Journal) which an estimated 4 million people eating organic food.
Some schools and restaurants have resorted to organic food and at least one brewery claims to use only organic rice in its premium brands.
According to United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation, EU organic farming is set to grow rapidly across Europe in the coming years amid demand for food produced with a minimum of pesticides and synthetic fertilisers.
Additionally, retail sales from organic farming in the EU have climbed from US$4.7 billion in 1997 to approximately $23 to 28 billion in 2005; this indicates it will climb increasingly in few years to come if growth rates and profitability remains at the current levels.
At an overall persistent growth rate in the EU of around 25 per cent per year for the past 10 years, organic agriculture is one of the fastest growing sectors of agricultural production, more so, there is a growing demand for organic foods driven primarily by consumer’s perceptions of the quality and safety of these foods.
A report released by the Organic Centre two years ago concludes that organic farming practices can also lessen the risk of dangerous mycotoxin contamination in foods, especially grain based products.
Mycotoxin that is secondary metabolites produced by fungi in response to certain environment conditions are most commonly found in grains and grain based products such as whole wheat breads as well as in nuts, spices, milk and apple juice. When present in food supply can pose mild to severe human health risk.
In Zambia, an organisation calling itself Organic Producers and Processors Associations of Zambia (OPPAZ) is promoting and expanding the opportunities of organic agricultural.
OPPAZ has developed network of organic buyers and traders and as a priority activity, offers the facility of a coordinated marketing role for producers and processors within Zambia to stimulate and support the increase in the volume of export products.
Most members of the association are already producer-exporter and are mainly engaged in the production and export of fresh produce to supermarkets in the UK and honey, wax and mushroom to Europe .
It is anticipated that the expansion of organic pulses, seed products and seed oils, honey, coffee, herb and spice production and value added items will develop in response to the growing demand from international organic buyers.
In undertaking the practice of organic agriculture, farmer-producers will benefit if only they improve the quality and fertility of their land holding and, when entering the certified organic market place, they should gain greater profit from their enterprises.
This emerging organic industry is in its infancy in Zambia . In order for Zambia to gain from these opportunities and to establish her name on the global market as a supplier of organic produce, organic farming requires the dynamic input and commitment of the farming sector, trade organisations, donor communities and the Government. Zambia will then realise the full potential of this emerging agro-business-PALISAH.
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By Joan Chirwa
Friday September 28, 2007 [04:00]
THE reduction in the next season's farming inputs to small-scale farmers will have terrible effects on agriculture production, Kazungula District Agricultural Committee chairman Aggrey Kanchele has observed. Reacting to this year's allocation of 1,000 packs of fertilizer and seed provided under the Fertiliser Support Programme (FSP) for the 2007/2008 farming season, Kanchele said Kazungula district needed in excess of 3,500 packs of faming inputs for the coming season to have adequate maize production in the area.
During the previous season, Kazungula district received a total of 3,000 packs of farming inputs for onward distribution to the small-scale farmers in the area.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives, through the FSP, has this year provided only 50,000 metric tonnes of farming inputs for the coming farming season for all the farmers in the country compared to over 80,000 metric tonnes provided the previous season.
"We hope our district will be one of those who can benefit from an additional allocation of farming inputs. Otherwise, if we only get the 1,000 packs that we have initially been given, then we are likely to see reduced crop production in the area," Kanchele said. "We also want the government to explain the reasons behind the drastic reduction of allocations of farming inputs."
Kanchele said Kazungula district had the capacity to produce more food crops if adequate inputs are provided to the small-scale farmers.
"But because of unavailability of adequate farming inputs, the area is not producing as much as it can," Kanchele said. "Because of having less farming inputs, the area has continued to produce less crops."
Earlier, farmer associations in Northern Province also complained of a massive reduction in farming inputs to 17,000 packs compared to 34,000 packs provided the previous season for the whole province.
But agriculture and co-operatives minister Ben Kapita explained that the reduction in allocation of farming inputs was a result of increased stakeholder participation in the provision of agricultural inputs to farmers.
Thu 27 Sep 2007, 12:41 GMT
By Nelson Banya
HARARE (Reuters) - Foreign-owned companies in Zimbabwe said on Thursday they were assessing the likely effects on their business of a new law forcing them to give local owners majority holdings.
The empowerment bill, pushed through parliament by the government on Wednesday, will give Zimbabweans a 51-percent stake in foreign firms, including the important mining and banking sectors.
More than 300 foreign-owned business are still operating in Zimbabwe and the legislation raised concerns that investment might dry up.
Some feared a repetition of government seizures of white-owned farms in 2000 to redistribute among inexperienced indigenous black farmers, a controversial move which economic analysts say led to the current economic crisis.
Analysts said foreign businesses had scaled down or written off their local interests, but mining companies were still exposed.
These included the world's two largest platinum producers Anglo Platinum and Impala Platinum (Implats).
"As far as we are concerned we have agreements in place and these will be taken into account when looking at the overall compliance," David Brown, chief executive of Implats, told Reuters in an e-mail reply to questions.
London-listed Old Mutual and South Africa's Standard Bank, which has a 14-branch network in Zimbabwe, said they were still studying how the bill would affect their businesses.
"We are still reviewing the legislation and the process by which it will be implemented," Standard Bank spokesman Ross Linstrom said.
It was not clear how the bill would be implemented.
"There is no clarity at all and this will put a further damper on the economy, especially with the view that it is a political gimmick," Sheunesu Juru, a fund manager at Zimnat Insurance said.
Some foreign investors fled after the land seizures. Others stayed behind, hoping to ride out an economic storm in what was once one of Africa's most prosperous countries.
Senior officials have said the government will honour agreements made with foreign investors.
Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Minister Paul Mangwana said the process would be gradual.
"We may start with 20 percent, move on to 25 percent or to 40 percent depending on the sector," he told parliament on Wednesday.
"We will allow them time to indigenise. We have to look at each business in its own right."
However, uncertainty was growing as the unpredictable Mugabe tightened his grip on power and the economy edged towards collapse.
"What this (law) does is it worsens the investment climate, and the perception of Zimbabwe has not been good for a while now," Best Doroh, an economist at ZB Financial Holdings.
"The timing -- certainly from an investment point of view, is wrong -- although from a political standpoint it would appear designed for next year's election."
That view was shared by the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which alleges that the bill is designed to enrich President Robert Mugabe's supporters before presidential and parliamentary elections next year.
Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, has branded some foreign businesses "serpents", accusing them of raising prices and stashing foreign earnings abroad as part of a wider Western plot to remove him from power.
He faces little resistance from a weak opposition, but opponents and his Western critics hope the economic meltdown will increase pressure on the defiant leader.
Zimbabweans have been increasingly frustrated as they struggle to cope with the world's highest inflation, officially put at 6,600 percent, as well as food, fuel and foreign currency shortages.
Mugabe, who denies allegations of widespread human rights abuses, has made it clear that dissent will not be tolerated.
(Additional reporting by James Macharia in Johannesburg)
Saturday September 29, 2007 [09:00]
It is very sad that Zambia is still among the many nations of the world that have continued to resist information access legislation.
We find it very hard to understand why on one hand our political leaders want to cling to the rhetoric of democracy and transparency, yet they are on the other hand still vehemently denying the people of Zambia laws that will surely make our society more open.
It is ironic that while Zambia has been celebrated as one of the pioneers of democracy in Africa, it is not yet among the over seventy countries of the world that have implemented some form of information access or freedom of information legislation.
Being a democracy that we passionately profess to be, we think that we should have found it easy as a nation to freely accept the principle of openness, the spirit of transparency and ensure that laws are put in place so as to allow effective public scrutiny and oversight over the operations of our government and its agencies or agents.
Instead of promoting legislation that supports openness and transparency, what we have been seeing is that those in government have been trying all means to legitimise the delay in implementation of such laws on the basis of state or national security concern.
And the government is so far performing very well when it comes to its ability to shift goal posts over the subject of freedom of information legislation. Initially, considerations hinged primarily on security concerns. Recently, the government has been drumming into our ears its concerns of professionalism. Well, nobody denies that these concerns bear merit. As a matter of fact, the concerns have always been there and, in our view, they have been adequately taken care of.
We need not emphasise that freedom of information legislation is a necessity if our government system is to be truly open and to be beneficially transparent. We have stated it many times that an open government is a key hallmark of contemporary democratic practice.
And there can be no better way of testing a government's commitment to democratic practice and openness than through the passing of freedom of information legislation, which at the moment has stalled at the instigation of the government.
Up to now, we have failed to fully appreciate the real reasons behind the hide-and-seek approach by the government on the freedom of information Bill.
But we must begin to understand the negative consequences of such an approach from the government. These laws, contrary to the myopic view of most of our political leaders, are not just there in order to provide an opportunity for journalists to maliciously scandalise the government or its officers.
These laws are a necessity towards the full functioning of our democracy. These laws are required to ensure that transparency is adopted as a means of holding public officials accountable and in our fight against the endemic scourge of corruption.
In our opinion, freedom of information legislation is non-negotiable because we know that it is only when a government system is open that there is less opportunity for unscrupulous public officers to abuse the system in their own interest.
This is why it is regrettable that Zambia is not yet among the seventy countries around the world that have put in place freedom of information legislation. Yet as a democracy, we expect that we should be embracing with a lot of ease the people's right to know what our government does and how the government does whatever it does on behalf of the people.
We are aware that yesterday, September 28, was the date of the observance of the Right to Information Day, on which we recognise freedom of information laws that give the public insight into the business of government.
And if we are truly committed to democracy as a nation, we fail to understand why it should be difficult to allow, through legislation, the people to have means and ways of checking on the government's activities.
Let us always bear in our minds that ensuring that people are allowed to exercise their right to know can result in a more open and transparent government, which ultimately leads to proper decision making at the different levels of government. In short, what we are saying is that letting the sun shine on government places true power in the hands of the people, where it rightly belongs.
It cannot be denied that empowering the public or the people with the right to information will eventually lead to a responsive and responsible government. The people of Zambia can only meaningfully participate in the governance of the country if they have enough information on what is exactly taking place in the government system.
And we believe that the people of Zambia have a right to actively participate in the governance of their country because they have an important role in helping to shape government policies and programmes. But they can only do so if they are equipped with the right information. And they can only have access to the right information if there is progressive legislation such as information access laws.
There is no way that the people of Zambia can take part effectively in the governance of their country if they have limited access to information. We need to start making progress by taking quantum leaps towards the road to information access legislation.
Again, we have to say that it is regrettable that despite the United Nations having declared access to information a fundamental right, there are still some countries like Zambia, which continue to be elusive and dodgy in terms of commitment to this very fundamental right.
For this very reason, we urge the people of Zambia to continue mounting pressure on our government for it to take back to Parliament the withdrawn freedom of information Bill because we have waited for too long for this law and we cannot allow the government to continue sitting on our fundamental rights.
GOVERNMENT has set National Strategic Cropping Targets for the forthcoming main agricultural season, a move that will result in nearly 3,5 million hectares being put under different crops — including maize — to boost food security. The Minister of Agriculture, Cde Rugare Gumbo, said out of the targeted hectarage, about two million hectares would be for maize while other critical crops like cotton, tobacco, oilseeds and sugarcane, have targeted hectarages ranging from 56 000 to 400 000 hectares.
Officially opening the Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union annual congress in Masvingo on Thursday, Cde Gumbo said Government would leave no stone unturned to ensure the country achieves food security.
"In line with the need to achieve food security, Government has approved the National Strategic Cropping Targets for the 2007-2008 season to include two million hectares of maize, 400 000 hectares of small grains, 400 000 hectares of cotton, 400 000 hectares of oilseeds (soya bean and groundnuts), 60 000 hectares of tobacco and 56 000 hectares of sugarcane.
"Horticulture, tea, coffee and jatropha will come on stream in the coming seasons — all crops have to contribute towards our food security," said Cde Gumbo.
He said, this year, the Government funding under the inputs support programmes would be prioritised according to the inherent agricultural potential of the country’s natural regions.
Cde Gumbo said support for maize farmers was going to be given to farmers in natural regions two and three and those with adequate irrigation while small grains would be restricted to marginal areas of natural regions four and five.
Government, he said, was also in the process of addressing challenges that were being perennially faced by farmers such as power outages, inadequate input supplies, and shortage of fuel, among others.
Cde Gumbo, however, expressed dismay over the continued under-utilisation of land in the country despite an array of Government-initiated support programmes aimed at improving the productivity of farmers.
It was also imperative for other stakeholders in the agricultural sector to actively play a role in making sure that the forthcoming season was a success as Government alone could not solve all the problems bedevilling agriculture.
"Banks and companies have been coming forward in support of the new farmers in a big way, including through contract arrangements. We (Government) will not expect anyone to sit on the fence and expect Government to finance agriculture on its own. In fact, we do not have any fences to sit on," said Cde Gumbo.
He urged farmers to unite and collectively advance their causes so that they do not continue to be short-changed and be taken advantage of.
The minister also allayed fears that Government wanted to limit farmers’ livestock throughout the country, saying all livestock sales must be done on a willing-seller, willing-buyer basis.
ZFU first vice president Mr Abdul Nyathi said this year’s congress had been a milestone because of the agreements and deals sealed.
He said farmers were pleased with the new arrangement under which inputs would be distributed to them through their respective unions as that would enable them to monitor their use.
THE African, Caribbean and Pacific-European Union Joint Parliamentary Assembly has welcomed the progress that has been made by Zimbabwe in its efforts to find solutions to the challenges the country is facing. The assembly, which held its session in Brussels, Belgium, from September 10 to 15, was briefed on the mediation efforts that have been going on.
Sadc, represented by Zambia, tabled a report to the session and outlined what South African President Thabo Mbeki had done to mediate between the two major political parties, Zanu-PF and MDC.
The mediation efforts have since seen the unanimous passage of the Constitutional Amendment Bill Number 18 that seeks to harmonise presidential and parliamentary elections, starting from next year.
Head of the Zimbabwe delegation to the session, Chitungwiza Senator Forbes Magadu (Zanu-PF), said the assembly requested that it be briefed again on progress during its next session in Kigali, Rwanda, in November.
"Zambia, which is the current chair of Sadc, apprised the JPA in detail of recent developments and I also explained to the assembly, developments that have been taking place here.
"None among the members present raised any objection to what was presented, as they were all satisfied with the current efforts," said Sen Magadu. The whole meeting noted and appreciated progress on the Zimbabwe situation and they asked us to update them in our next meeting in Kigali in November."
Sen Magadu hailed members of his delegation, particularly Kuwadzana Member of Parliament Mr Nelson Chamisa (MDC), in demonstrating maturity.
The other member of the delegation was Chirumanzu-Kwekwe Senator Vongai Muchengeti (Zanu-PF).
The assembly wanted to know events leading to the assault early this year of Mr Chamisa at Harare International Airport while on his way to another ACP-EU meeting.
He said Mr Chamisa explained to the assembly what happened.
By Amos Malupenga
Saturday September 29, 2007 [04:00]
Fugitive former intelligence chief Xavier Chungu has been spotted in Mozambique where he has applied for asylum through the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). UNHCR sources in Mozambique’s capital Maputo disclosed during the week that Chungu’s application had since been forwarded to that country’s authorities for consideration.
“Mr Chungu has been here for sometime now and is awaiting feedback from the government on his application for asylum,” the source said.
“But this process might be complicated because we also hear that the Zambian government has gotten wind of this development and are negotiating with the government here to ensure that Mr Chungu is extradited to Zambia for prosecution on those allegations of plunder of your national resources during the time he served in the intelligence.”
And when reached for comment, UNHCR representative to Mozambique – Victoria Akyeampong – who is believed to be pushing for Chungu’s application with authorities there said: “No, that is not true. He is not here. He was here but now he is in South Africa. That is what I hear.”
But when reminded that information that Chungu had applied for asylum through her office was very authentic, Akyeampong replied in a rather unfriendly tone: “Look, these are confidential matters, all right! Journalists should not be involved in these confidential matters. Maybe this just confirms issues of persecution and other things. How can you be involved in someone’s confidential matters?
“And let me advise you, legally you are not supposed to be involved in these confidential matters and I am not supposed to give you any information on this because it is confidential.
But what I can tell you as a fact is that he (Chungu) has not been granted any refugee status here because this is done by the government, not us. And you know Mr Chungu is senior man so things have to be dealt with at that level, not our level. I hope I have been helpful to you.”
Efforts to get comments from Mozambique’s foreign affairs minister Dr Alcinda Abreu proved futile as he was said to be out of the country.
Similar efforts to contact Zambia’s foreign affairs minister Kabinga Pande failed because he has accompanied President Mwanawasa to New York for the United Nations summit.
But the source said Chungu’s application has reached an advanced stage because it was now before Mozambique’s justice minister Dr Esperanca Machavale for legal advice before a decision is pronounced.
Chungu fled Zambia about three years ago following allegations of plunder of national resources during the 10 years he served as intelligence chief.
By Brighton Phiri
Saturday September 29, 2007 [04:00]
VETERAN lawyer John Mwanakatwe yesterday urged lawyers not to participate in the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) under the current NCC Act. However, Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) members yesterday voted in favour of participating in the NCC during their extra-ordinary general meeting held at Lusaka's Mulungushi Conference Centre.
According to sources, Mwanakatwe, who chaired the 1996 Mwanakatwe Constitution Review Commission, advised the lawyers to go back to President Levy Mwanawasa and ask him to change the NCC Act instead of participating in the NCC.
Mwanakatwe, according to sources, told the lawyers that according to him the question of whether LAZ should boycott or attend did not arise, but that the issue was that the NCC Act was defective and it needed to be changed if a good constitution was to be achieved.
Mwanakatwe is said to have told the lawyers that it was not possible to attain a good constitution under the current NCC Act.
According to the sources, Mwanakatwe told the lawyers that he had been praying for President Mwanawasa so that he could help the country to have a very good constitution.
Mwanakatwe is said to have reminded the lawyers that there was the issue of trust over the constitution making process and that he felt uncomfortable with the current NCC Act.
Mwanakatwe told the lawyers that even though they were supposed to obey the law, there was nothing wrong with them to opposing the NCC Act.
The sources disclosed that another senior lawyer, Professor Patrick Mvunga, told the meeting that it would not be a good idea for the lawyers to boycott the NCC because throughout the country's constitution review commissions, some people had boycotted and that very little was achieved by those that boycotted.
According to sources, Prof Mvunga, however, urged the lawyers not to betray the people but to act professionally when they took part in the NCC.
Prof Mvunga is said to have told the lawyers that it was better for them to take part in the NCC and only walk out if they felt that the process was being manipulated.
According to sources, among other lawyers that addressed the meeting were former LAZ chairman William Mweemba and Lillian Mushota, who spoke against the NCC while Sakwiba Sikota and Christopher Mundia spoke in favour of the NCC.
Another lawyer Mwangala Zaloumis is said to have cautioned the lawyers against boycotting because they could end like UNIP after the opposition party boycotted the 1996 elections.
In a statement after the meeting, LAZ president Elijah Banda announced that his association had voted in favour of participating in the NCC.
However, Banda stated that LAZ would remain a constituent member of the Oasis Forum and that LAZ would soon meet Oasis Forum members to explain its position on the NCC.
According to sources, 75 lawyers voted for the NCC, 37 lawyers voted against the NCC while 52 votes were declared spoiled.
By Nomusa Michelo
Saturday September 29, 2007 [04:00]
EVANGELICAL Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) executive director Bishop Paul Mususu has said the decision by SADC leaders to boycott the EU summit will not help solve the problems facing the people of Zimbabwe. In an interview, Bishop Mususu said it was unfortunate that SADC had decided to boycott the EU/AU summit for the reasons they have given because, it would only protect Zimbabwean President Mugabe at the expense of the majority of Zimbabweans.
"I don't think it is the right decision to boycott on that score when they are not responding to Mugabe and his situation in Zimbabwe.
The boycott is short-lived in that SADC should be prevailing on (President) Mugabe, they should help (President) Mugabe. They should do something before sanctions are imposed on (President) Mugabe from outside," Bishop Mususu said.
"What happened at the past SADC (Heads of State Summit) is a shame and disastrous. They should have risen to the occasion and spoken not with kids gloves.
“They should have been a bit more emphatic and told him that the situation in Zimbabwe is as bad as described."
And Bishop Mususu said SADC should use its leverage to help the common people in Zimbabwe instead of ignoring the problems in Zimbabwe.
"That leverage they are taking up is not in favour of the common man or the common woman in Zimbabwe. Why don't they say we are going to boycott because (President) Mugabe has been allowed off the hook and is mistreating his people? That will be a better thing to do. And it is high time our leaders begun to do things on behalf of the people that they govern or the people that are electing them in authority," he said.
"And not when they climb up, they forget and they create a club for the top guys, the Presidents, that is not what SADC is supposed to be. SADC is supposed to be servicing the common person on the ground."
He said President Mwanawasa and other SADC leaders failed to deal 'head on' with President Mugabe during the summit held in Lusaka last month.
"What would have stopped President Mwanawasa from inviting someone from Zimbabwe to come and say things about what is happening in Zimbabwe in front of their President," he asked. "It simply says that they are protecting their fellow leader at the expense of the common person in Zimbabwe."
And Bishop Mususu said it is a paradox that President Mwanawasa would announce that SADC would boycott the summit, as it justified the Oasis Forum’s decision to boycott the National Constitutional Conference (NCC).
"It is a paradox. I think it's great that President Mwanawasa would say that. Isn't that justifying our suggestion as well when we talk about boycotting the NCC?" Bishop Mususu asked.
"When we suggested that we are boycotting because of the way the arrangement is, they called us names. They were not happy with us and said a boycott is not the way to go, so why is he talking about boycotting himself? So justification is there for a boycott if you are not satisfied."
By Chibaula Silwamba
Saturday September 29, 2007 [04:00]
Opposition UPND president Hakainde Hichilema has asked government not to be arrogant on the constitution-making process. And Hichilema said tribalism talk was meant to derail the country from economic and social development. Addressing 24 trainee journalists participating in the fourth training programme at The Post Newspapers head office in Lusaka yesterday, Hichilema said the constitution making process was a delicate subject hence no single stakeholder should bulldoze the process.
“We respect the decision of our colleagues that have decided to boycott and there are justifications they have given. Our position as the UPND is that no one should bulldoze the process.
The numbers should represent the Zambian people,” Hichilema said.
He therefore suggested that the government and other stakeholders that had withdrawn should negotiate and find the way forward.
“What other option do we have other than to negotiate? If we fail to negotiate and government bulldozes this process you will see more people pulling out. Then where is the legitimacy of the constitution-making process which is driven by one side?”
Hichilema asked. “Our approach is that let us give it another shot to ask our colleagues in government not to be arrogant.”
Hichilema said a lot of money and time had been spent on the constitution-making process.
“We have been struggling to get a good constitution for so long; we have spent so much money and time. Time is a resource but in our country sometimes we say we will do it tomorrow.
No, because there is an opportunity cost by not doing things today,” Hichilema said. “My own estimation is that we have spent over a trillion kwacha on the constitution making process since the 90s.”
Hichilema said the constitution was a part of democratization and development agenda.
“Many people in Zambia don’t make a connection between a good constitution and development. Therefore, the journalists need to be very helpful to make members of the public understand that without a good constitution you really will be struggling to develop,” he said.
Hichilema said the constitution should provide separation of powers.
“A good constitution is a basis and bedrock for separation of powers and for us in the UPND we are saying we would like to see a new constitution to have a total separation of powers among other things,” Hichilema said.
“If you don’t have separation of powers in the constitution, you have judges being appointed by the president and the president continues to be involved, directly or indirectly in their contracts, tenure and remunerations you can’t have a fair justice system in the country.
So we have to make Zambians understand that a fair justice system is driven by a good constitution.”
And Hichilema said ethnicity and tribalism would not help develop the country.
”Journalists should understand that this era of tribal talk is meant to derail us from the agenda of the time which is economic and social development,” he said. “It is also important for journalists to distinguish between petty and real issues.”
He urged journalists to focus on reporting on topical issues such as the climate, environment, poverty, hunger and the poor education standards.
“I think many of you have gone to Misisi compound (in Lusaka) before, there is a toilet here and there is shallow well there, maybe separated by five metres, there is no way you can expect the water in the well not to be free from diseases,” he said. “These are development issues and that is what we expect you to write about.”
He said journalists should be factual in their reporting. On the decision taken by President Levy Mwanawasa and other SADC leaders to boycott the European Union and Africa summit in Portugal in December if Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe will not be allowed to attend, Hichilema said the boycott was the consequence of how other people in Europe and elsewhere were viewing the problems in Zimbabwe.
Hichilema said Zimbabwe was in problems and there was need for Africans to help resolve the problems in that country.
“There is a problem in Zimbabwe and we, as Africans, must take responsibility to deal with the problems in Zimbabwe. We must assist internal stakeholders in Zimbabwe to solve the problems there,” said Hichilema.
Friday, September 28, 2007
By AC, Lusaka
Friday September 28, 2007 [04:00]
I was in Zimbabwe a few weeks ago just after the SADC summit and had the chance to experience the desperation in that country. You get the impression that the Zimbabweans feel betrayed by their African brothers for supporting Mugabe because we are benefiting from Zimbabwe’s woes.
I strongly feel we should avoid expressing all sorts of emotive armchair views when it is others who are paying the price and making the sacrifices. The crisis in Zimbabwe is serious and now is not the time for politics with the West. The guys that side have nothing to lose.
Whilst we appreciate the noble causes, I believe that we should be realistic enough to know that this is not a perfect world and we should learn to survive whilst we fight for these noble causes. It is extremely foolish to think that you can only do business with those you like. How many of us love our bosses or the so-called investors? Pure hypocrisy I can smell.
Let us put our hatred for the Westerners aside and learn to apportion some of the blame to ourselves because that’s the only way you can deal with a problem, by acknowledging it. Let us blame ourselves for not having a strategy other than direct confrontation to deal with the West and let us blame Mugabe for starting a fight he could not finish.
Let us blame ourselves for believing Mugabe’s cheap propaganda and finally let us not satisfy our unhealthy appetite for revenge by sacrificing the lives of the Zimbabwean people. The fact that Mugabe has stood up against the ‘evil’ West does not make him a good man.
Trivialising Zimbabwe situation
By Fr. Derrick Muwina
Friday September 28, 2007 [04:00]
The era of socialist cheap talk about Europe and America out to get Africa is misleading and deliberately contrived to quell any opposition to kleptomaniac leadership in Africa.
Zimbabwe is a serious case and Africans should not be cheated by cheap talk about standing against the West. What is happening in Zimbabwe is abuse of human rights, deliberate vandalism of a country and outright chaos. People live in fear and do not have the kind of freedom to talk openly against the government. The question is how many Zambians would want Mwanawasa to act like Mugabe?
How many Zambians would love to go and stay in Zimbabwe? How many Zambians would love Mwanawasa to beat up any person who opposes him? In fact, in Zambia a large section of the population are concerned with the seeming shifty position of the Mwanawasa government over the Constitution.
I find it insulting to the Zimbabwean people and very immature for anybody to suggest that what is happening in Zimbabwe is simply standing against the West and African presidents should stand behind Mugabe.
The failure of African economies is attributed directly though not simply to failure in African leadership. A country with over three million of its people in exile is a serious case. Things may seem okay for now but economic decline shows years later.
African leaders are supposed to criticise each other and seriously question the way states are governed. Africans should go beyond old school rhetoric which has bred dictators and kept them in power. We cannot deny foreign intrusion, but that should not be the reason for any African leader to abuse his/her people and run down a country as is happening in Zimbabwe.
From Caesar Zvayi at the UNITED NATIONS, New York
PRESIDENT Mugabe has thanked South African President Thabo Mbeki and Sadc for successfully facilitating dialogue between Zanu-PF and MDC, leading to the successful adoption and passing of Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No.18) Bill that sailed through Senate on Tuesday. The Bill now awaits Presidential assent to become law.
The President, who was addressing the 62nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly here on Wednesday, said Zimbabwe does not need external meddling or sanctions as it had ways of resolving its challenges.
"We do not deserve sanctions, we are Zimbabweans and we know how to deal with our problems. We have done so in the past, well before (US President George W.) Bush and (British Prime Minister Gordon) Brown were known politically.
"We have our own regional and continental organisations and communities. In that vein, I wish to express my gratitude to President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa who, on behalf of Sadc, successfully facilitated dialogue between the ruling party and the opposition parties (the two MDC factions) which yielded the agreement that has now resulted in the constitutional provisions being finally adopted."
The President said all Zimbabwe needs is to be given room to chart its own destiny.
"We want to be left alone. We will interact with those in our region and those in organs to which we belong. The Charter of the United Nations is our charter in Africa; wrath unto him who defies the charter," he charged, to tumultuous applause from delegates.
At their extraordinary summit in Tanzania in March, Sadc leaders unequivocally expressed solidarity with the Government and people of Zimbabwe, condemned the illegal Western sanctions, pledged a rescue package to boost Zimbabwe’s economic revival, and urged Britain to honour its obligations to Zimbabwe in addition to reaffirming their confidence in Zimbabwe’s electoral process, among other things.
On the political front, Sadc mandated Mr Mbeki to facilitate dialogue between Zanu-PF and MDC, results of which are evidenced by the passage of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No.18) Bill.
The President said in the wake of the adoption of the Bill, Zimbabwe will hold multiple democratic elections in March 2008, in line with its tradition of holding timeous general and presidential elections since independence, a tradition at variance with Western propaganda that claims the Government is a "tyrannical regime".
"Yesterday (Tuesday) you heard Mr Bush here calling my Government ‘the Mugabe regime’. I am termed dictator because I have rejected this supremacist view (that Westerners have a right to Zimbabwe’s resources) and frustrated the neo-colonialists," Cde Mugabe said.
The President said Mr Bush, former British leader Mr Tony Blair and his successor, Mr Brown, believe Zimbabwe’s resources should be controlled by their kith and kin, a stand Zimbabwe resists.
"The West still negates our sovereignties by way of control of our resources, in the process making us mere chattels in our own lands, mere minders of its transitional interests. In my own country and other sister states in Southern Africa, the most visible form of this control has been over land despoiled from us at the onset of British colonialism.
"That control still persists, although it stands firmly challenged in Zimbabwe, thereby triggering the current stand-off between us and Britain, supported by her cousin states, most notably the United States and Australia."
The President said Zimbabwe won its independence after a protracted struggle against British colonialism, which, in turn, was supported by many Western countries that were signatories to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The President said even after the end of the Second World War in 1945, in the eyes of the West, the Berlin Conference of 1884 that partitioned Africa for easy plunder remained stronger than the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proving that for the West, vested economic interests, racial and ethnocentric considerations prevailed over adherence to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
"Let Mr Bush read history correctly. Let him realise that both personally and in his representative capacity as the current president of the United States, he stands for this ‘civilisation’ which occupied, which colonised, which incarcerated, which killed. He has much to atone for and very little to lecture us on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. His hands drip with the innocent blood of many nationalities.
"He still kills. He kills in Iraq. He kills in Afghanistan. And this is supposed to be our master on human rights? He imprisons. He imprisons and tortures at Guantanamo. He imprisoned and tortured at Abu Ghraib. He has secret torture chambers in Europe.
"Yes, he imprisons even here in the United States with his jails carrying more blacks than his universities can ever enrol. He even suspends the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Take Guantanamo, for example, at the concentration camp international law does not apply.
"The national laws of the people there do not apply. Only Bush’s law applies. Can the international community accept being lectured by this man on the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Definitely not!" the President said to wild applause from the packed assembly.
Cde Mugabe contrasted Mr Bush’s human rights record with the way Zimbabwe treated ex-Rhodesians, who murdered thousands of innocent Zimbabweans during the liberation struggle, but who at independence were not jailed in pursuit of the policy of reconciliation that earned the President nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.
He told the Assembly of his 11-year incarceration at the hands of former Rhodesian prime minister Ian Smith, and the 15 years he spent in the struggle against the settler regime that had the blessing of some Western nations.
"I spent 11 precious years of my life in the jail of a white man whose freedom and well-being I have assured and protected from the first day of Zimbabwe’s Independence, that was Ian Smith. I lost a further 15 years fighting white injustice in my country.
"Ian Smith is responsible for the death of well over 50 000 of my people. I bear scars of his tyranny which Britain and America condoned.
"I meet his victims every day, yet he walks free. He farms freely. He has a farm of over 500 hectares. He talks freely, associates freely under a black Government.
"We taught him democracy. We gave him back his humanity. He would have faced a different fate here and in Europe if the 50 000 (Zimbabweans) he killed had been Europeans. Africa has not called for a Nuremberg trial against the white world which committed heinous crimes against its own humanity.
"It has not hunted perpetrators of this genocide, many of whom live to this day, nor has it got reparations from those who offended against it. Instead, it is Africa which is in the dock. It is Mugabe and not the British Prime Minister who is in the dock, facing trial from the same world that persecuted it and him for centuries."
The President said Mr Bush appeared to be under the mistaken notion that he was above all laws.
"We are alarmed that under his leadership, basic rights of his own people and those of the rest of the world have summarily been rolled back. America is primarily responsible for rewriting core tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
"Mr Bush thinks he stands above all structures of governance, whether national or international. At home, he apparently does not need the Congress. Abroad, he does not need the UN, international law and opinion. ‘I will go,’ he said, ‘I will go to Iraq with or without the UN’.
"This forum did not sanction Blair and Bush’s misadventures in Iraq. The two rode roughshod over the UN and international opinion. Almighty Bush is now coming back to the UN for a rescue package because his nose is bloodied! Perhaps some might regard him as God, but I have but one God, He is in heaven.
"Bush dares lecture us on tyranny. Indeed, he wants us to pray for him! We say ‘No’ to him and encourage him to get out of Iraq. Indeed, he should mend his ways before he clambers up the pulpit to deliver pieties on democracy."
Friday September 28, 2007 [04:00]
The way Levy Mwanawasa’s government is trying to review the Constitution is not very different from what Frederick Chiluba’s government did in 1996. The only difference is that Chiluba was very crude about the way he did it. It may even be correct to say Chiluba was more honest about what he was doing. He cheated no one into believing he was coming up with a people driven constitution. Chiluba in 1996 put up a constitution of his own. But this government is not doing things with the same brazenness of the Chiluba regime.
Mwanawasa’s government is trying to come up with a semblance of participation by the people in the constitution review process. But we know that this participation is not real; it is only participation in form, not in substance. First, like Chiluba, Mwanawasa appointed the Constitution Review Commission whose recommendations he is not paying much attention to. This is despite the fact that billions of taxpayers’ kwacha were spent on the Constitution Review Commission’s work.
The National Constitutional Conference (NCC) Levy’s government has come up with is not for consensus building or a negotiated approach to constitution review. It is simply a mechanism for the deception of our people, an attempt to make them believe they are really participating in the constitution review process.
There is no real people’s participation in this constitution review process. What is there is the MMD’s participation, its dominance or hegemony over the whole process. With its majority in Parliament, the MMD was in a position to push through the NCC Bill in Parliament without any meaningful opposition or resistance.
And similarly, with its in-built majority in the NCC, it will be able to write a constitution for this country unfettered by the input of others. In this way, the next constitution of this country will be an MMD constitution, not a Zambian constitution. If anyone wants to deceive himself that Levy will come up with a constitution that will endure the test of time they are cheating themselves.
What is being set is a precedent that those with the parliamentary majority and are in control of government will in future also be able to do the same; to come up with a constitution of their own in a similar way.
It is not malice to say that the MMD has an in-built majority in NCC. This is something that can easily be proved arithmetically or mathematically.
It is very clear from the very beginning that Levy wanted to leave Zambians a constitution designed and written by him. He said it several times that he wanted to give Zambians a constitution that will stand the test of time; that he wanted to leave a legacy. This is what all this amounts to. But was it necessary for him to do it in such an expensive way? Why didn’t he do it the Chiluba way, which was direct and relatively far much cheaper?
We hope members of the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) will see through Levy’s skin and reject to be part of it or to rubber stamp it. Levy should be left alone to do what he wants to do. Let those fools who want to be used be used but not intelligent people like lawyers who represent the best brains of our people.
Of course there are lawyers who can play Judas Iscariot, who can sell the dignity of their people for the sake of being near to those in power. But we have no doubt the great majority of our lawyers are men and women with a very high sense of dignity and patriotism. They have a record of staunchly defending the interests of the people.
And they will not fail to do so this time by opposing vigorously the deceitful NCC scheme; by refusing to be part of it or rubber-stamp it. It’s better to isolate the crooks and let them have their own constitution by themselves for themselves. We say this because this is going to be nothing but a constitution of the MMD by the MMD for the MMD, imposed on the whole nation by crooked means.
As we have stated before unless the process is correct, unless there is consensus around the process, a constitution that is owned by the people will continue to be elusive. It is not possible to have a constitution that is really owned by the people and contains all the rights of the people in this manner.
A constitution should not be made a preserve of those with the majority in Parliament or those who occupy State House; it must be a product of negotiation and consensus among all our people. This is so because the constitution must be a medium that regulates human conduct in necessary matters concerning the common good.
And central to good governance, to a government of the people by the people for the people is a good constitution, that is truly driven and owned by themselves. One that is imposed on them by all sorts of crooked schemes will simply not do. We have no doubt this whole NCC Act is a fraud, a deception, a lie that should be exposed, denounced and isolated for what it is.
Yes, they are trying to clothe it in sheep’s skin but we can see that its naked head is that of a wolf.
We urge the MMD government to reconsider its position on NCC and get back to the drawing board and listen to the views of others and reach consensus before moving forward again. What they are trying to come up with is not an MMD constitution but a national constitution in which all our people should have their aspirations reflected.
It is not a constitution for those who narrowly won the presidential elections last year or for those who narrowly scooped some parliamentary seats. What Zambia needs is a constitution of the people, by the people, for the people.
For these reasons, we make a clarion call to all the members of LAZ to refuse to be part of this NCC fraud. We also call upon other players in the constitution making process who have been misled into be part of the NCC to seriously consider withdrawing from this criminal scheme and let the MMD come up with their own constitution which will be easy for all of us to see it for what it is – an MMD-imposed constitution.
By Brighton Phiri
Friday September 28, 2007 [04:00]
IT will be a waste of time and national resources to participate in the National Constitution Conference (NCC) in its current form, Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) secretary Musa Mwenye said yesterday. In a telephone interview from London, Mwenye said the current framework of the NCC had not been handled with the sensitivity and consensus which should accompany the constitution-making process.
"I have been away for almost a month now. I am aware that LAZ will be meeting on Friday (today) to make its stand on the NCC.
I am confident that whatever decision the association will take will be made after a sober reflection on the long-term repercussion on the reputation and integrity of the association in the eyes of the ordinary members of society for whom we have always spoken.
LAZ has always been the bulwark of the defence of the rights of the defenceless. I am confident that there will be no difference this time," Musa said. "This association is yet to speak, but my personal opinion is that the current framework of the NCC has not been handled with the sensitivity and consensus which should accompany such process.
My prediction is that any constitution produced by the current process will have to be redone and therefore, will be waste of national resources."
Mwenye said in its current form, to participate in the NCC, would be in itself, to participate in wastage of the very meagre national resources.
He said it was clear that the composition of the NCC was engineered to favour the government so that they could use the two-thirds majority to their advantage.
"The people are also aware that amongst the representatives stated in the NCC are at least two representatives from the Zambia Intelligence Security Services. It does not require a rocket scientist to figure out that the mere knowledge that the intelligence officials' presence in the conference has a significant influence on the representatives, thereby advancing government's influence of the process," Mwenye said.
"The legitimacy of the constitution-making process is just as important, if not more important, as the substantive provisions of the constitution."
He said the current constitution-making process had been hurried and done without developing the needed consensus.
Mwenye said it was very clear that the vast majority of stakeholders would not accept the outcome of the NCC.
"It is, therefore, futile to participate in the process that does not have the confidence of the majority of the stakeholders. My hope is that those who possess the instrument of power will reconsider their stance on this process. Otherwise I am 100 per cent certain that we will have to redo this process at a great expense to the nation," he said.
In its submission to the Clerk of the National Assembly on the NCC Bill, LAZ stated that for the current attempt at constitution review to be successful it would be important to recognise that the legitimacy of the constitution making process was just as important, if not more important than the content of the constitution itself.
"To achieve the ends of an inclusive and legitimately people driven constitution-making process, the NCC Bill should in all its provisions endeavour to manage the public perceptions and instill confidence in the process by eliminating any perceived control of the process by the executive arm of government," read the LAZ submission.
"A piece-meal or two part approach to the review is undesirable because it has been tried before and has resulted in the manipulation of the process by the executive arm of government. The three-step process recommended by the Mung'omba Constitution Review Commission, which we fully subscribe to, requires the constitution adopted by the constituent assembly to be subjected to a referendum before it goes to Parliament.
"It is important that the constitution be approved by the people in the referendum before enactment in Parliament because it is the referendum that operates as an instrument to enable the Honourable members of parliament to enact the constitution without further debate.
Both the letter and spirit of the current Constitution of the Republic of Zambia shows that the supreme power of the Republic lies with the people and that this power is exercised by the people through the democratic institutions of the Republic."
And according to the LAZ extra-ordinary meeting agenda, the lawyers will today discuss whether or not the association should participate in the NCC.
Women for Change (WfC) executive director Emily Sikazwe asked LAZ to provide leadership and act in the best interest of the majority of Zambians.
"As the Law Association of Zambia holds the consultative meeting on whether to participate or boycott the NCC, Women for Change would like them to provide leadership and act in the best interest of the majority poor people in Zambia as it has always done," Sikazwe said.
"LAZ has been consistent in fighting for a good constitution and as Women for Change, we have respect for LAZ for that. Zambia needs a constitution that will stand the taste of time, a constitution that will ensure that no one is oppressed and a constitution that will ensure that all Zambians participate in national development processes.
"LAZ understands the consequences of the current NCC Act and as such, we will respect the stance that they will come up with.
We would like to advise LAZ not to be swayed by a few individuals, whom we know have the agenda of promoting government's stance over the constitution because of their selfish gains."
By Inonge Noyoo
Friday September 28, 2007 [04:00]
THE sanctions on Zimbabwe are illegal and unfair, Cuban Ambassador to Zambia Francisco Correa has charged. And Ambassador Correa has praised President Levy Mwanawasa’s stance that SADC will boycott the European Union/African Union summit in Portugal if Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe is not allowed to attend.
Addressing 25 trainee journalists participating in the fourth training programme at The Post Newspaper’s head office in Lusaka on Wednesday, Ambassador Correa said sanctions were an imperialist policy that needed to be ousted.
Ambassador Correa said Zimbabwe was no longer a colonial state which needed talking down to.
“They think they are in the colonial time where they dictate what to do and the slaves have to obey. We will not accept that. Is Zimbabwe allowed to go to England or even France and tell them what to do? Then why should they tell Zimbabwe what to do?” he asked.
Ambassador Correa said Zimbabwe must be given a chance to find their own solutions to their problems.
“Imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe will not help. Zimbabwe is a sovereign state and it is independent, it should be left to decide what to do,” he said.
Ambassador Correa said Cuba believes in respecting the political system in other countries, including Zimbabwe.
“We respect the political system in there and believe it’s up to the Zimbabwe people themselves to decide on their fate and I think they will find the solution just as they have been doing since they gained their independence in 1980,” Ambassador Correa said.
He said Zimbabwe had managed to find solutions to its problems and likened its land redistribution policy to that of Cuba.
“People may say they have made a mistake but it’s up to them.
It’s up to the people of Zimbabwe to decide what they should do. Sanctions, restrictions or imposing embargoes will never help. I wish Zimbabwe would find a solution and people of Zimbabwe would continue to develop because Zimbabwe is a rich country and the people of Zimbabwe are very intelligent and friendly,” he said.
And Ambassador Correa said President Mwanawasa’s stance on the EU/AU summit was the most ‘solidaritarian’ position anyone could ever take.
“If one member is not allowed to go, the rest should also not go in solidarity. It’s a solidaritarian position from Zambia towards a neighbour and a brother on sanctions. The position is the best. If one country is not invited, don’t attend,” he said.
He hoped that Zimbabwe with the help of sister countries such as Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania would find a way forward to its current problems.
And Ambassador Correa has said climate change was a threat to human beings.
He said climate was the greatest concern at the moment as it affected every country.
“Climate change is continually affecting our climate. We have only one planet, which we have to protect because we have nowhere else to go. It is not the responsibility of the poor countries to protect our planet but it is the responsibility of the highly industrialised countries to protect the planet,” Ambassador Correa said.
He said every country was affected by climate change and as such it required everyone’s concern.
Ambassador Correa said countries that were topping in gas emissions should own up and work on reducing the emissions because if they continued to ignore, people would continue to suffer as time passes.
“Most of the natural disasters are affecting countries all over the world be it Asia, Africa, Latin America, Caribbean countries and European countries. As Cuba, we are also adversely affected as we often experience hurricane and as such we are concerned,” Ambassador Correa said.
“We will continue to demand that capitalist countries assert the realistic of climate change and accept it and put measures to reduce gas emissions. Maybe these countries think that climate change will only affect us the poor countries which is not a reality because it will affect all of us.”
And Ambassador Correa said Cuba would not turn back or denounce its revolution.
He said Cubans had reached a point of no return in their revolution and that Cuba would strive to better the lives of its citizens through policies such as educating the masses, providing employment to all and exploiting its natural resources especially the tourism industry.
Ambassador Correa said Cuba would continue to work very hard despite the fact that it did not have many resources, as it did not receive any financial help from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
Ambassador Correa said Cuba would also continue to demand for the release of the Cuban Five, who have been jailed by the United States, with the support and solidarity and other countries.
By Brighton Phiri
Friday September 28, 2007 [04:00]
THE world stands at a more dangerous point now than before the United States of America (USA) invaded Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein, Dr Kenneth Kaunda has said. Addressing scholars and students at the University of Foreign Affairs in Beijing China on Tuesday, Dr Kaunda said the world faced the prospect of another cold war period with the super powers posing a threat to international peace and security. Dr Kaunda is on an official visit to China under the invitation of Chinese President Hu Jintao.
"The twenty-first century with unheralded potential for technological and economic advancement, opened with violent conflicts that pose a real threat to international peace and security.
There are more dangerous flash points in the world today than before...the interminable Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Israeli-Lebanese conflict, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, increasing threats of aggression against Iran, the war in Darfur region in Sudan, the simmering Ethiopia/Eritrean conflict, continuing conflict in Somalia, the uneasy peace in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Burundi, the spectre of international terrorism, Islamist militancy and threats to peace and security in regions beyond the Persian Gulf, and the recent Israeli bombing of the Syrian territory," Dr Kaunda said.
"Only recently, even Iran is assessing the signals from Washington D.C. over its nuclear ambitions and the threats to its national security, the US embarked on a new air defence system in Eastern Europe, thereby provoking Russia.
The Kremlin response was predictable. Russia will match the US military options. The world faces the prospects of another cold war period with the super powers posing a threat to international peace and security."
Dr Kaunda said with so many regional conflicts and the new potential confrontation between the US and Russia, the peace dividend promised by the end of the Cold War in the closing years of the 20th century was reduced to a mirage.
He said the world was less safe today than in 2001 when the US invaded Iraq to topple the late Hussein.
"In many ways it is more dangerous than before the Iraq invasion," Dr Kaunda said.
"Add to all these vice-gripping poverty, the HIV/AIDS and malaria that afflict the world's peoples, especially the African continent and which are obstacles to development."
Dr Kaunda said China faced tremendous challenges as a major power in the world to discharge its international responsibility without fear of intimidation.
He commended China for its positive contribution since its accession to permanent membership of the United Nations (UN) Security Council.
Dr Kaunda further commended China for rising to the top league of world politics without involving the traditional colonial approach of conquest, control, domination and exploitation of resources among the vanquished.
"All these challenges and cross-cutting issues call for China's attention, diplomatic skill and usual patience as its ascends the ladder of pre-eminence with its influence felt the world over," Dr Kaunda said.
"Unlike countries seeking to export their ideologies and values even by force, at no time did China seek to impose its will or ideology on the beneficiaries of the invaluable assistance without which southern Africa would still be in turmoil under apartheid controlled regimes."
Dr Kaunda said China's economic growth confirmed that Western propaganda against the country had failed because the communist tag, which was waved to frighten China's potential friends, was no longer relevant.
"Those who opposed our close and warm relations with this country are among the most active participants in the Chinese trade and investment. We do not hear of Red China...we see the scramble for the lucrative Chinese market, investment prospects and tourist destinations...we have been vindicated," said Dr Kaunda.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
By Claudia Parsons Wed Sep 26, 7:52 PM ET
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, accused U.S. President George W. Bush of "rank hypocrisy" on Wednesday for lecturing him on human rights and likened the U.S. Guantanamo Bay prison to a concentration camp.
"His hands drip with innocent blood of many nationalities," Mugabe said in a typically fiery speech to the U.N. General Assembly. "He kills in Iraq. He kills in Afghanistan. And this is supposed to be our master on human rights?"
Mugabe, 83, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, was speaking the day after Bush scolded the governments of Belarus, Syria, Iran and North Korea as "brutal regimes" in his speech to the General Assembly. Bush criticized the Zimbabwe government headed by Mugabe as "tyrannical" and an "assault on its people."
Critics accuse Mugabe of plunging Zimbabwe's once-thriving economy into an abyss of widespread food shortages and hyperinflation. Mugabe accuses Western countries of sabotaging the economy as punishment for his seizure of white-owned farms to resettle landless blacks.
"What rank hypocrisy," Mugabe said of Bush's speech.
He said Bush imprisoned and tortured people in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and at Guantanamo, the U.S. military prison in Cuba where al Qaeda suspects are held.
"At that concentration camp, international law does not apply," said Mugabe, a former Marxist guerrilla who fought for independence from Britain. "America is primarily responsible for rewriting core tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," he said. "We seem all guilty for 9/11."
Bush has come under international criticism for holding suspects without trial at Guantanamo and for interrogation techniques that human rights groups say amount to torture. Bush denies the United States tortures.
Mugabe said Bush and his ally, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, "rode roughshod" over the United Nations when they went to war in Iraq, yet now Bush was asking the world body to expand its role in Iraq.
"Almighty Bush is now coming back to the U.N. for a rescue package because his nose is bloodied. Yet he dares to lecture us on tyranny," Mugabe said.
He accused Britain and the United States of a campaign to destabilize and vilify Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe is grappling with the world's highest inflation rate of more than 6,600 percent, shortages of foreign exchange, fuel and food and rocketing unemployment that has left many people unable to buy even basic foodstuffs.
South African Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu told Reuters on Tuesday he was "devastated" by the human rights abuses of Mugabe's government and he struggled to understand how Mugabe had changed so drastically after steering the former British colony to independence.
LAGOS. Owing to growing foreign interest in the Nigerian banking sector, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will soon roll out a framework that will restrict foreign ownership of banks in the country. Making this known to This Day in New York, the governor of CBN, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, said the framework would deter foreign institutions from taking over the top 10 banks in Nigeria , as they collectively account for 71 percent of the country’s banking system.
According to Prof Soludo: "The kind of interest being generated in Nigeria by foreign institutions now has raised an important issue. We are coming up with something pretty soon.
"We will work out a framework on the issue of the structure for our banks whereby we shall be a bit reluctant towards foreigners taking over our top 10 local banks which constitute about 71 percent of the banking sector.
"If you review the model by Singapore, which engineered an international financial centre, you have over 100 of these international banks operating there.
"But there is one rule that prevails: They are free to come and operate, they will get a licence to operate, but they are not allowed to try to take over any of three conglomerates (domestic banks).
"These are the three conglomerates that account for 70 percent of the entire banking sector," the governor disclosed. Prof Soludo said that the introduction of the policy regime would not amount to the restriction of inflow of foreign direct investment into the financial sector as foreign institutions wishing to do business in Nigeria will be free to apply for banking licences.
He said: "They can come into the country as long as they can bring N25 billion."
Prof Soludo noted that foreign investors preferring to invest in existing banks with the structures and branches in place could only do so in smaller banks that do not make up the top 10.
"You see this is a very strategic decision that a country has to make. We are still lucky because as we develop, we must be mindful of these scenarios. You cannot be indifferent to who ever owns a banking system because he that controls the systems, owns the economy."
Prof Soludo noted that there is fundamental difference between foreign-owned and domestic bank in terms of their behaviour.
"In terms of their intermediation and why they are there, the foreign banks and there are four of them in Nigeria, for all decisions they have to make a call to London and New York.
"Just take a look at them and see where their branches are located and the type of businesses they do. They just want to take minimal risks, take their returns and go and that is why it has become of strategic importance." The governor stated that Nigeria does not just merely want banks to be banks but wants institutions that will contribute to the growth and transformation of the economy. Making references to the capitalisation exercise and its impact on the financial sector, Prof Soludo said that in terms of capitalisation, the 25 banks that met the criteria are equal to the top three banks in South Africa.
He said developments in the sector have indeed been encouraging and there is still latitude for growth. He wondered why people are concerned about banks going to the market to raise more funds as Nigeria now accounts for five of the top 10 banks in Africa and is beginning to inch up. — This Day.
THE Harare Metropolitan Province’s ever booming population has created the need for more capital projects covering a wide spectrum of services such as housing and infrastructural development, health, social, education, industry and commerce. Speaking at the provincial council meeting in Harare yesterday, Harare Metropolitan Governor and Resident Minister Cde David Karimanzira said the land for expansion was needed urgently.
He, however, said urban development now needed to be vertical, looking upwards structurally instead of horizontal development as land had become a scarce resource.
Cde Karimanzira said the submissions by the Provincial Development Committee involved maintenance of major roads, sewerage systems and upgrading of the National Sports Stadium.
"These and other related projects should be put under spotlight as we prepare for the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament to be held in South Africa," he added.
The governor said the timeous implementation of these projects would ensure that the country qualifies to host some of the training sessions.
He said the country, which boasts well-developed infrastructure, should take advantage of this event so as to reap maximum benefits by attracting a major share of the estimated 35 000 participants and auxiliary staff who could all not be accommodated in South Africa.
"I therefore call for unity of purpose, especially given the fact that Harare Metropolitan is the reception of our country," he said.
Cde Karimanzira said Harare had also established an organising committee to spearhead the preparations and at the same time implement recommendations of the Cabinet Action Committee.
He called upon the private sector, local authorities and beneficiaries to actively participate in the establishment of essential infrastructure and desist from the traditional Government dependency syndrome.
The Provincial Development Committee is made up of representatives from four local authorities, namely Harare City Council, Chitungwiza Municipality, Ruwa and Epworth local boards among others.
The Provincial Council endorsed the Harare Metropolitan Province 2008 Annual Development Plan at the meeting.
The plan consisted of key sectors such as housing and infrastructure, health and social services, industry and commerce and education and training.
Some of the notable projects included the construction of Glenwood water and sewer reticulation and reservoir in Epworth, construction of Ruwa Sports Stadium, Zimre shopping mall and water treatment plant in Ruwa, industrial servicing in Chitungwiza and upgrading of sewage reticulation in Harare.
Thursday September 27, 2007 [04:00]
It is good that the government has over the last few years been paying attention to tourism as a sector with great potential in terms of its contribution to the growth of the national economy. Looking at the rates of international tourist arrivals, it cannot be denied that tourism, if well managed and harnessed, will in the long term have a considerable and positive effect on our economy.
For a country that has perpetually depended so much on mining as its economic mainstay, the developments in the tourism sector should offer a lot of hope that our economy can truly be diversified to capture all potential sectors.
Not necessarily to exaggerate this potential, we can state with pride that our country has assets of enormous value to the tourism industry, ranging from our culture, art, music, natural wonders as well as heritage sites, although we seem to be narrowing it mainly to the Victoria Falls and national parks.
And when we look at the tourism industry, we should not only end at focusing our attention on the foreign exchange which can be earned from international tourist arrivals, because in most cases and in the manner the industry is presently run, the benefits are not accruing as directly to the nation as we would want them to.
This therefore calls for viewing of the tourism sector as a much more diverse industry. And when we talk about tourism being a diverse industry, we are referring to its potential to support other related economic activities, especially through provision of jobs as well as through creation of a complex supply chain of goods and services, which in turn should create what can be termed a spider web economic model whereby the benefits revolve around and amongst Zambian enterpreneurs who venture into tourism-related businesses.
In our opinion, tourism can only be said to be truly beneficial to the local economy if it is able to create opportunities for our small-scale and medium-scale entrepreneurs.
To add more on the point of employment creation, our view is that since the tourism industry by its nature is labour-intensive, it should have the potential to help tackle poverty through provision of employment to local communities, especially to women and young people who still face unemployment. And this can be it to individuals with skills or those with little or no skills at all because, after all, some jobs do not necessarily require individuals' skills.
Further, we know that if infrastructure is developed in areas where it is required for tourism development, that also is beneficial to the local communities. Here, we are talking about transport and communications infrastructure, social services such as healthcare infrastructure. In our view, this is the only we can truly claim that tourism has the potential to significantly contribute to our economy, to poverty reduction.
Essentially, what this means is that we should begin to understand that tourism, like any other sector, will not grow by itself. It needs serious intervention from government in terms of appropriate fiscal and other economic policies.
For tourism to attain the levels of potential it is capable of reaching, it will require immense investment in terms of, among others, infrastructure development. For instance, if our international tourist arrivals are growing each passing year, it means that we need to start creating more bed spaces, we need better airports and we need policies that will support tourism-related industries such as the aviation sector.
These are the prerequisites which will determine real growth in the tourism sector and these are the issues we expect the government to be preoccupied with.
As we have already said, it cannot be denied that we have immense tourism potential in this country. However, the problem is that this potential has not been or is not being exploited to our benefit. What we need to remember is that potential is nothing but potential; it only becomes something of benefit if it is exploited. If the truth is to be told, we should admit that we are not fully exploiting our country's tourism potential.
Little wonder that other countries are starting to exploit our own tourism potential for themselves, because we have failed to tap that potential ourselves. We are even told of how some South African tour operators are marketing the Victoria Falls as if it were in their country.
Why? Simply because we are sleeping; we are sitting ndwiii, idling, hoping things will work out on their own for us. But life has taught us that things do not work that way. What we should realise is that the days of the biblical manna are gone and they will never come back to us.
It is not a healthy situation that today we continue to hear of grievances that much of the investment in the tourism sector is either owned by foreigners or managed by foreigners, and that the profits from tourism are freely leaking out of the country to the benefit of outsiders.
Although for those benefiting, there are clearly good reasons why this situation has prevailed, we strongly feel that there are no good reasons why it should actually be allowed to prevail indefinitely, without somebody correcting the anomaly. We have to start using the resources our country is greatly endowed with in an intelligent, efficient, effective and more beneficial manner.
Today, there are so many countries in the world, which are benefiting from tourism far more than us and yet they have far fewer resources when compared to us. This is the irony, the paradox we need to face head-on because this issue is about our economy, it is all about creating opportunities to help fight and deal with poverty.
In short, what we are saying is that as we commemorate this year's World Tourism Day, our emphasis must be on reversing the skewed distribution of benefits from tourism so that we start to maximise opportunities and benefits for the local economy, for the poor.
So, rather than hoping for manna to fall from heaven, our emphasis should be on direct participation of the local people, especially the poor, in the tourism sector through, among other things, employment and business opportunities.
By Kabanda Chulu
Thursday September 27, 2007 [04:00]
TOURISM Council of Zambia (TCZ) chairman Jacob Sikazwe has said lack of proper infrastructure is the biggest challenge facing the tourism sector in the country. And the Zambia National Tourist Board (ZNTB) recorded a 13.2 per cent increase in the number of visitor arrivals in 2006 having registered 756,860 visitor arrivals as compared to 668,862 tourists in 2005.
Commenting on the World Day of Tourism that falls today, Sikazwe said there was need to channel huge investments if the tourism industry was to realise its potential as the second priority sector after agriculture. He explained that capacity building programmes must also be put in place since the country lacked experienced and qualified manpower.
“We are happy to see the government prioritising the tourism sector after agriculture and putting in various reforms to ensure the industry is driven by the private sector but the biggest challenge facing the sector is lack of proper infrastructure especially that most tourism operations are rural based.
Our roads are incapable of enhancing the industry and this calls for massive investments,” said Sikazwe. “And our bed capacity is very little and it cannot be compared to what the city of Harare has to offer and also we lack qualified manpower and if issues of capacity building are not resolved then the huge investments will not matter because provision of sub standards will continue.”
And according to statistics from the ZNTB, Zambia recorded an increase of 13.6 per cent in the number of international tourist arrivals. In 2005, Zambia recorded 668,862 visitor arrivals as compared to 756,860 in 2006. During the same period under review, the ZNTB also recorded K9.814 billion in 2006 as compared to K6.242 billion in 2005 while operating costs amounted to K5.512 billion as compared to K4.139 billion during the same period.
It was also stated that Europe contributed 19 per cent of the total arrivals and registered a five per cent growth from the 2005 figure. Out of Europe, the United Kingdom continues to lead as the biggest tourist source market for Zambia followed by Germany while South Africa continues to dominate the African region as the biggest short-haul market.
And data received from the national parks indicate that a total of 42,907 international tourists visited the national parks thus registering a 19 per cent increase over the 2005 figure of 36,097.
The South Luangwa National Park was the most visited park accounting for 52 per cent of the total visits to the national parks followed by Musi-o-tunya and Lower Zambezi National Parks.
Data collected at the Victoria Falls indicate that 114,571 tourists visited the Falls in 2006 and their average duration of stay in 2006 was six days.
However, the government’s objective of increasing tourist arrivals by additional 400,000 by the year 2010 through the 2005 Visit Zambia Campaign seems to be an elusive goal following the reduction of funding to the project.
According to the 2007 budget estimates and expenditure, under the Tourism Development Unit of the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources (MTENR), government has allocated a paltry K4,994,800 as funding for the Visit Zambia Campaigns that would focus on promoting the North Western Province.
Nevertheless, the government has allocated K1 billion for the Northern Circuit (Northern and Luapula provinces), which was the emphasis for last year’s Visit Zambia Campaign. The government has also allocated huge funding to units that fall directly under the MTENR such as K500 billion for tourism promotion and marketing and K216 billion for facilitation of foreign travel and K50 million for the review of the tourism policy.
By Chibaula Silwamba
Thursday September 27, 2007 [04:00]
PATRIOTIC Front (PF) president Michael Sata has supported President Levy Mwanawasa and other SADC Presidents’ decision to boycott the European Union/African Union summit if Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe is not allowed to attend. And Sata urged The Post to establish jjounalism training school. Meanwhile, Sata has advised the government to give tax concessions to Zambian companies the way it is doing to foreign companies.
Addressing 25 trainee journalists participating in the fourth training programme at The Post’s head office in Lusaka on Tuesday, Sata said British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s opposition to President Mugabe attending an EU/AU summit in Portugal in December was a clear case of racisms
He said that since European leaders were succumbing to Prime Minister Brown, Africans should also support President Mugabe.
“If those who are inviting them want to succumb to Gordon, we also support our brother. They are supporting their white brother Gordon, we must also support our black brother, Mugabe,” Sata said. “There is clear racism here.”
He urged Africans in general and Zambians in particular to understand and appreciate the problems between Britain and Zimbabwe.
“Now, is the quarrel between Gordon and Mugabe going to engulf all of us?” Sata asked. “As we are talking, we have allowed for the last 15 years these people foreign companies to get away our taxes, so if tomorrow I come and impose taxes, what is happening to Mugabe is going to happen to me. People who are exporting have not been paying enough taxes for the last 15 years and if I reduce your taxes and tax them because I want to protect you then what is happening to Mugabe is going to happen to me.”
He also observed that most African governments were relying on development policies from other continents.
“We don’t have our own policies, we rely on donated policies and those donated policies when we are in government we implement them,” he said. “We need to articulate our own policies.”
Sata also observed that Zambia did not have a proper school where journalists could be trained.
“It is long overdue for The Post to start a permanent Zambia School of Journalism,” Sata said. “I went to London School of Journalism, I went to Manchester Press Syndicate to write for children and I also went to London Freelance Journalism. I never practiced the way you are doing but I use the knowledge to interact with the media.
What we are missing in Zambia is a deep-rooted school of journalism, which will teach all of us what is journalism. Evelyn Hone College and other little schools have tried to teach journalism but they are not producing journalists.”
He said just as the lion was afraid of a gun, politicians and other public figures were scared of a pen.
“If a politician tells you that they are not scared of a pen then they are lying, mad or dead but still walking. Every politician, organization including the church they are scared of the pen but we should know how to use the pen effectively,” Sata said.
“That is why I am urging my colleagues at The Post to start a proper school of journalism.”
Sata said there were two forms of journalism – one where journalists depended on handouts and the other where they investigated and wrote well-researched stories.
Sata urged the trainee journalists to strive to be analytical and investigative in their work if they are to reduce crime, corruption and poverty in the country. He said journalists should not shield any wrongdoer.
“If you are my relative and decide to kill the story you are not helping me and the nation, you are killing the nation,” Sata said. “If I have done something wrong, expose me. Then you’re helping me, you have to inform the nation how criminal, biased, dictatorial and corrupt I am. Once you have done that, you’re saving more people than saving me alone.”
Sata encouraged the trainees to make ‘a name’ through hard work.
“When you are digging a story, don’t rush. Do a thorough job and be persistent,” he advised. Sata advised the female journalists to be cautious and work hard.
“The game you are going into is a very dangerous game. You are vulnerable because you are beautiful and you are going to meet some men who are not only reckless but also have plenty of talk time.
Instead of getting news they will invite you for a drink and that will be your end. Even if you lament after four years, you are finished,” Sata warned. “It’s like female lawyers, they fight to make a grade; you must also fight to make a grade.”
He added that press freedom and access to information was very important although it was dependent on how that information was being used.
And Sata suggested that the government should give concessions to local companies for them to grow.
“The Post has no tax payers’ money but now it sells more than any other newspaper in Zambia and if this paper has supporting government policies and benefits of lower taxes, it would be printing in New York or London or Ndola because now they have reporters in Zimbabwe and Cuba.
If it was given the same concessions which are given to Chinese investors or Lumwana mine and Mopani mine, this newspaper would be in Dar-es-Salaam today and this would be a better ambassador in India than Mr Kelly Walubita,” Sata said.
“If we gave The Post concession, the price of the paper would come down and become more accessible to many people like a man I found in Chama district during campaigns who was reading the newspaper upside down and saying pepa lelo yawama (interesting).”
Sata said instead of promoting the Citizens Economic Empowerment, it would be better for the government to give concessions to Zambian investors.
And Sata said poverty leads to dictatorship and anti-corruption campaigners should forget about winning the fight if poverty was not reduced.
“Democracy is not about elections or perfect electoral scheme. Democracy is about poverty. People who have nothing to eat will always be cheated. Poverty develops dictatorship,” Sata said. “Unless you can reduce poverty, you can’t reduce corruption.”