Saturday, October 06, 2007
THE indigenisation of the Zimbabwean economy is vital. But it is necessary to note first that Zimbabwe is not intending to ban foreign businesses or foreign investment. Such investment will, in fact, be needed for a long time to come. So no one is suggesting mass nationalisation or total sale of assets. The final desired result is that at least 51 percent of business will be in the hands of indigenous Zimbabweans. But that leaves 49 percent.
The Indigenisation and Empowerment Bill, and the proposed amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act, do change the present rules and new ways will have to be sought to encourage necessary external investment while making it clear that majority ownership must eventually be in the hands of Zimbabweans.
For industry, there can be few better models than China.
Although half the world has its goods made there, there is very little foreign ownership of factories or businesses.
If a major computer company, for example, wants to have its machines made in China, it gets together with a Chinese-owned business in a smart partnership.
The Chinese partner provides the factories and workforce while the foreign partner provides the specifications, plans and necessary technology.
This is how so many American and Japanese brand-named products are made in China.
The technology transfers also allow Chinese manufacturers to create their brands.
In mining, we hope that the solution will be for a dramatic expansion in the Zimbabwean mining industry as new Zimbabwean capital is brought in, rather than just seeing existing mines sold off.
A foreign mining company should be encouraged to double production, doubling the number of mines it owns, using capital raised by selling shares to Zimbabweans.
Its total investment will remain unchanged, its dividend income will remain unchanged, but it will have Zimbabwean partners and the country will benefit both from increased output and from Zimbabwean participation.
For new investments, there can be, from the beginning, a partnership. While fancy equipment may have to be imported, and that will need a foreign investor in many cases, there is much investment in roads, housing, and the actual digging for which Zimbabwean funds are needed.
The dividend return on actual foreign investment will remain the same in both cases, except the foreign partner will have 49 percent of something twice the size of what they would own if there was no local contribution.
One problem might be in finding individual Zimbabweans with the necessary capital. We hope that pension funds, the traditional mobiliser of capital, will be allowed to participate in a major way.
Demographics suggest that the overwhelming majority of pension fund members are indigenous Zimbabweans, and that such funds are owned and controlled by indigenous Zimbabweans.
But if there is any doubt, it should be fairly easy to list members and obtain an "indigenous percentage" of each fund.
Most pension funds are always on the lookout for new investments, having taken ownership of most shares available on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange and it should be possible to design investment vehicles that will allow them to move into new areas with their vast pooled funds.
In other words, we argue that the swiftest way of indigenising is not to take away or encourage disinvestment, but to expand mining, industry and the financial sector rapidly by mobilising Zimbabwean funds.
That way we win twice, once by doubling investment and once by seeing final control of the combined foreign and local investment being held by Zimbabwean hands.
Saturday October 06, 2007 [04:00]
It is said that teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions. True as this may be, it appears that we have abandoned the clear purpose of this very noble profession. Instead of making this profession what it really is, we have diverted our attention to other less important things.
Actually, when one critically looks at the way the teaching profession is looked at nowadays, it is easy to agree with JF Kennedy when he said: "Modern cynics and skeptics see no harm in paying those to whom they entrust the minds of their children a smaller wage than is paid to those to whom they entrust the care of their plumbing." Indeed, gone are the days when teaching was respected as a profession.
The way things stand today, a teacher is neglected to fend for himself or herself. These days, the conditions of service for our teachers have deteriorated to unimaginable levels and the consequences have been a decline in the quality of teaching which has ultimately resulted in the production of ill-prepared or ill-equipped pupils or students.
While we know very well that things such as salaries are an important aspect of teachers’ conditions of service and poor remuneration is a determining factor of the degree of professionalism that can be expected, nothing much has been forthcoming for teachers.
For years, our teachers have continued to cry for improved conditions of service, for a better pay. Unfortunately, their plea continue to fall on deaf ears. But what we should know is that poor pay for our teachers means a fall in professional standards.
As long as we neglect the conditions of service for our teachers, we should expect less in terms of standards and professionalism will continue to be compromised as long as we neglect the needs of our teachers.
A number of teachers today remain miserable and problems associated with teachers' pay continue to arise very frequently. Teachers - especially those in the rural communities - still cannot fathom why they should suffer before they receive their meagre salaries.
Until now, teachers commanded a lot of respect in their communities. But these days, teachers have been pushed off their former position of glory.
Their conditions of service keep deteriorating and as we have already said, with such poor conditions come poor quality teaching, which in turn churns out students who are barely able to read and write.
As a result of poor conditions of service, teachers have to devise ways and means of surviving.
They have to engage in all sorts of things, such as petty trading, providing extra tuition at a fee, among other activities. We are not saying that it is wrong for teachers to be industrious or to engage in entrepreneurial activities.
However, our worry is that this is normally done at the expense of the needs of pupils and students because they are neglected by teachers who have to find alternative means of making ends meet since their income from teaching is not adequate.
Due to poor pay, many of our teachers are now being exploited by all sorts of moneylenders and they are sinking deeper and deeper into debt because they have to find ways of surviving beyond the meagre salaries that are being offered at the moment. Surely, how do we expect teachers to find decent accommodation when K100,000 is all that is available for them?
These are the problems which need to be addressed by the government. And given the miserable conditions of service that teachers are presently in, it is quite encouraging that the majority of them are still very dedicated to their profession.
And this is as it should be because teaching, as we have said already, is a noble profession - teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions.
And as Zambia Congress of Trade Unions general secretary Roy Mwaba has rightly observed, teachers are in the profession because they have a passion for the children.
As he puts it: "In the children, we see ministers, engineers and all and pride comes from that.
We are role models and are supposed to make a difference in society..." And of course as Mwaba admits, we must accept the reality that there are some teachers who are not exemplary in their conduct and much more is desired of them.
To such teachers, we can only remind them that teachers are known to teach more by what they are and not by what they say. To that effect, there is a saying that the mediocre teacher tells; the good teacher explains; the superior teacher demonstrates; but the great teacher inspires.
Indeed, a teacher who attempts to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on cold iron.
To return to our main subject, again we want to remind the government that it has an obligation to do something about the plight of our teachers by ensuring that their conditions are looked at and addressed accordingly and appropriately.
We have been saying this for many years now and we will not stop doing so as long as these concerns are not given attention. Granted, teaching is a selfless and noble profession. However, those who are selfless and noble deserve to be treated better and with a lot of dignity.
We do not think that teachers will be honoured for their selflessness by subjecting them to poor conditions. Rather, the opposite is very true.
Teachers can only be truly honoured for their selflessness by improving their conditions of service. And this is what we expect our government to be doing.
We can't allow a situation where there is always nothing for teachers while there is plenty for others.
By Masuzyo Chakwe
Saturday October 06, 2007 [04:00]
TEACHERS in Zambia are working under the most deplorable conditions, Zambia National Union of Teachers (ZNUT) secretary general Roy Mwaba has said. And Mwaba said teachers who were molesting and impregnating pupils were denting the image of the profession and should be flushed out. Commenting on the World Teachers Day, under the theme, 'Quality teachers for quality education' which fell yesterday, Mwaba said teachers sometimes worked under trees.
He said teachers were demanding for a decent working environment that was safe and healthy for them and the learners.
"There are inadequate classroom spaces especially in rural areas. Even where classrooms are available, they are not of the required standard, making the work of a teacher unmanageable. We believe that work must not be endured and must be enjoyed under a healthy environment," he said.
Mwaba further said that Zambian teachers had for a long time endured the pressure of work conferred on them due to the high-class sizes.
He said the low number of teachers in Zambia put pressure on their workload exacerbated by the increased enrolment levels.
Mwaba said since 2003, the recruitment of teachers had not kept pace with the increased enrolment levels where class sizes had soared to unprecedented levels.
"In realising this problem, we demand for the recruitment of all graduate teachers to ensure appropriate class-sizes. We also demand for the provision of adequate pedagogical resources in the classroom," he said.
He appealed to the government to take the issue of teacher's conditions of service as teaching was a motivating job.
"The lowest a teacher gets for housing allowance is K100,000 and there is no where you will find good accommodation for that amount in Lusaka so we want it to be at least increased from K100,000 to K250,000," he said.
He said the lowest and highest salary for a diploma holder was K900,000 and K1.3 million respectively while for degree holders, the lowest and highest was K1.5 million and K1.8 million respectively.
Mwaba urged the government to implement the collective agreement that was signed early this year.
"The collective agreement has not been implemented. There were house loans, car loans, furniture loans, bicycle loans but when teachers apply for loans, they are told that there is no money. We want to appeal to government to respect the collective agreement. Negotiations for 2008 should start now instead of when the budget is passed because when negotiations delay, government always blames us and uses that lame excuse that we started negotiations late so we are saying they should start now," said Mwaba.
And education deputy minister Lucy Changwe said in providing quality education, the government had focused on improving and expanding infrastructure through rehabilitation and construction of school buildings and teachers houses.
Changwe said the government recently deployed over 6,000 male and female teachers countrywide.
She said the government had put in place deliberate efforts to address the working conditions of teachers by entering into agreements with teacher unions.
Meanwhile, Mwaba said teaching was supposed to be a noble profession even though some teachers acted differently.
He said as teachers, they were not commemorating the day because there was anything to celebrate but because it was a calling.
"We are doing it because we have a passion for children and parents. In the children, we see ministers, engineers and all and pride comes from that. We are role models and are supposed to make a difference in society but unfortunately, there are some teachers who do not behave in that way. They molest and impregnant pupils. This has made society doubt our profession," he said.
"Teaching is still a noble profession and we need to work together to identify the few who are denting the image of the profession and flash them out, we totally condemn such teachers."
And Mwaba commended the government for being consistent in the recruitment of teachers.
"Last year, government recruited 10,000 teachers and 6,000 this year and is likely to recruit 4,000 more before the end of the year. This is a move in the right direction," said Mwaba.
By Chibaula Silwamba
Saturday October 06, 2007 [04:00]
UPND president Hakainde Hichilema has asked the police command to increase the number of police posts in Lusaka townships to curb the rising crime levels and brutal murders. And Hichilema said the damaged Choma-Maamba road is likely to cut off Maamba from the rest of the country if it is not repaired urgently.
In a speech read on his behalf by party vice-president Richard Kapita to welcome United Liberal Party (ULP) members that defected to the UPND on Thursday, Hichilema expressed concern at the increasing crime rate in Lusaka.
“We call upon the government to upgrade residential areas such as Misisi, Chawama, George, Mandevu, Jack, Kuku and many other compounds in Zambia,” Hichilema said.
“By this we mean there is need to improve the provision of clean drinking water, the provision of tarred roads, street lighting and increase in the number of community police posts to curb the rising incidences of crime and brutal murders that we have been witnessing in our townships.”
He observed that women and children woke up early in the morning every day to queue up for water instead of doing business.
“This situation also impairs the girl child’s opportunity to progress at school,” he observed. “There is also an urgent need to improve garbage collection in our compounds so that we reduce the prevalence of cholera during the rainy season which has become an annual problem in Zambia.”
Hichilema also said Maamba risked being cut-off from the rest of the country if the damaged Choma-Maamba road would not be repaired before the onset of the rains.
“I just returned from senior chief Mweemba’s burial in Sinazongwe district and the Choma - Maamba road is in a deplorable state. With the onset of the rains, Maamba risks being cut off from the rest of the country,” Kapita said.
“This will affect the movement of not only traders and people in general but also the transportation of coal from Maamba Collieries, which is also operating below capacity.”
Hichilema urged the government to repair roads in the country before the onset of the rainy season to avoid them becoming impassable.
And ULP chairman for culture and arts, Sibote Sibote led 58 other members to rejoin the UNPD.
By Brighton Phiri
Saturday October 06, 2007 [04:00]
MMD does not want to be associated with Chiluba, MMD spokesperson Benny Tetamashimba said yesterday. Reacting to former president Frederick Chiluba's statement that it would be an abomination for him to rejoin the ruling MMD, Tetamashimba, who is also works and supply deputy minister, said the ruling party was not interested in asking Chiluba to rejoin the MMD.
"I don't know who asked him to come back to MMD. He did not tell us when he defected to Patriotic Front. There is nobody in MMD national executive committee who can go to him and ask him to come back," Tetamashimba said. "We don't want to be associated with people who made the country to be bad."
Tetamashimba said the MMD was very comfortable without Chiluba in its midst.
"In fact the country's economy is doing very well under the New Deal government as compared to the period when he was leading this country," he said. "Let him remain in PF and we wish him well."
Chiluba on Thursday said media reports that he was rejoining the MMD were both highly offensive and insulting.
He said he supports the opposition Patriotic Front (PF) and not the ruling MMD.
Chiluba said he was too principled "to commit such an abomination" as to rejoin the MMD.
He said while he had many friends in MMD, there was nothing beyond that friendship.
"I am not MMD or New Deal," said Chiluba. "I have many friends in the MMD but that is as far as it goes."
Chiluba ditched the MMD last year saying the party had lost its original vision, which he associated himself with.
He said the New Deal MMD was not the same MMD he helped found in 1990.
Friday, October 05, 2007
By Times Reporter
SOME chiefs have proposed that the Government should start issuing title deeds to chiefs for the land that constitutes their chiefdoms to curb illegal squatting and boundary squabbles. Chief Nkana of Lufwayama District said that he had learnt a hard lesson of not having a title to his chiefdom where mineral benefits had not trickled down to the subjects.
The motion to urge the Government to allow chiefs to obtain title deeds for their chiefdoms was moved by Chief Shaibila of the Lala people in Mkushi District and was seconded by Chief Nzamane of Chipata district. The house was being chaired by Chief Mumena of Solwezi.
Chief Nkana, who was earlier against the motion, observed that had the first Chief Nkana been clever enough to obtain title deeds for his chiefdom, the copper which was being mined on the Copperbelt could have brought great benefit to the current generation.
He wondered why a chief could not have title to his customary land when his subjects were having titles to their pieces of land within the chiefdom.
Chief Anananga Imwiko cautioned investors who trek to chiefdoms where they know such chiefdom had no title deeds to stop the practice because chiefs had powers to oppose any investment which was disadvantaging the local people.
In his contribution, Chief Hamusonde noted that title deeds had advantages and disadvantages. “I am in favour of this motion. Title deeds are good to solve boundary squabbles and wrangles in chiefdoms but what I want to ask is, who is going to get the ground rates, the Government or the chiefdoms?” he asked.
Chief Mumena said the motion had generated a lot of heated debate and allowed Chief Bundabunda of Chongwe District who was against the idea, to make his contribution before allowing the motion-mover to wind up the debate.
Chief Bundabunda called on his fellow chiefs to understand, “Title deed” as they debated because to his understanding, there was no need for customary land to have title deeds but that could be possible if it was State land which needed titles.
In winding up the motion, Chief Shaibila called for a review of the land policy where three titles should be issued, the municipal, customary and State title deeds to solve the problems surrounding land issues countrywide.
By Times Reporter
FINANCE and National Planning Minister, Ng’andu Magande has warned local and foreign contractors against using Government projects to experiment their capacity to perform. Mr Magande said the Government was concerned that most road contractors in Zambia were using Government’s projects to experiment their capacity to perform and ended up doing shoddy works.
Mr Magande was speaking in Kitwe yesterday after touring some roads in Parklands and Chimwemwe residential areas.
Mr Magande said the Government was using tax payers’ money to ensure that it developed the country, but was saddened that some contractors were being paid for the shoddy work they were doing on a number of roads.
Mr Magande, who was accompanied by Kitwe town clerk, Ali Simwinga said he was concerned that even contractors without capacity were being given contracts to rehabilitate roads.
He said the awarding of contracts to contractors who were doing pathetic works was a clear indication that there was a problem with the tendering system and it needed to be amended.
He said the Government was in the process of amending the tendering system so that there could be specific jobs for local contractors and others for foreign contractors.
He was, however, impressed with the quality of work being done at the European Union (EU) funded modern market project at Nakadoli.
FARMERS should focus on ensuring national food security and making the agricultural sector the main source of raw materials for the manufacturing industry, a Cabinet minister said yesterday. Speaking at a graduation ceremony at Chibero Agricultural College near Norton, the Minister of Economic Development, Cde Sylvester Nguni, said there was need to have vibrant people in the agricultural sector to ensure increased production.
"The prevailing economic environment dictates that improving the agricultural sector cannot be the responsibility of Government alone but of all strategic stakeholders. Government is determined to join hands with the private sector in serving the farming communities by financing the coming agricultural season’s input requirements in keeping with the vision to eradicate food shortages," Cde Nguni said.
He urged college graduates to be highly active in the agricultural industry after graduation for the purpose of prosperity in the sector.
"Students should use their training programmes as a vehicle for equipping young men and women with agricultural knowledge and skills that empower them to tackle challenges facing the agricultural sector," he said.
Cde Nguni invited stakeholders with key interests to join the Government in its efforts to engage all land reform beneficiaries and lead them towards a common goal of transforming the agricultural sector into a vibrant industry.
At least 125 graduates were conferred with national diplomas, higher national diplomas and certificates with the best student, Innocent Dube, taking home $61 million donated by various firms.
Chibero Agricultural College principal Mr Moffat Nyamangara emphasised to the students that they should use their newly acquired skills to serve the nation.
"I am convinced that the training at this college has imparted you with skills that will enable you to facilitate recovery and assist both new and existing farmers in finding lasting solutions to production problems in agriculture," he said.
By Godwills Masimirembwa
OUR economic survival is dependent on the actions we take, which actions must be well thought out, appropriate, forthright and courageous, taking into account the social, political and economic situation we find ourselves in.
We need to remind each other of the following anxioms:
l The Government of Zimbabwe has the moral responsibility and power to protect the population and the economy against private predators;
l The IMF, the World Bank, Western capital, profiteers and racketeers among us, will not come to our country’s aid or assistance;
l We have friendly neighbours and in the East, but the ultimate responsibility to restore and prosper our economy is ours;
l We have sufficient resources, which if utilised frugally and prudently, will facilitate the recovery of the economy;
l Thousands of Zimbabweans have access to foreign currency, which, if channelled to the productive sector, will bring about substantial growth of the economy.
Over the past 27 years the Government has taken decisive measures in nation building. There has been significant infrastructure development in the form of hospitals, educational institutions, factory shells for small to medium-scale enterprises. The land redistribution exercise is almost complete.
Despite the existence of sound infrastructure, the abundance of land, and peace, this writer submits that those with access to foreign currency and other resources still need to make a quantum leap to embrace economic patriotism.
Economic patriotism involves embracing as a value system that the prosperity of Zimbabwe and its people is a non-negotiable condition for sustainable peace and development.
Zimbabweans with the capacity to invest need to appreciate that the nation will become richer and therefore make them more prosperous if they invest in it. There is need for a paradigm shift from immediate consumptive behavioural patterns to affirmative action on the investment front.
Imagine if all the foreign currency that is sent home by Zimbabweans in the Diaspora found its way to the Reserve Bank and was used in agriculture and industry.
Imagine if all the foreign currency that is used to buy luxuries was used to buy manufacturing equipment, import raw materials and set up businesses.
But what we witness is that foreign currency received through MTAs is offloaded onto the illegal parallel market.
What we witness is that the bulk of Zimbabweans who have access to foreign currency would rather use it to buy luxuries or invest in foreign lands, rather than invest in agriculture and industry in their own country.
The Government, through the ministries of Finance, and of Industry and International Trade and the Reserve Bank has put in place a raft of measures to curb unpatriotic economic actions in order to promote patriotic economic activities. The punitive measures include the imposition of duty in foreign currency on all luxury goods.
The persuasive measures include the recently introduced 800 percent interest on the Zimbabwean dollar equivalent at the official exchange rate, if foreign currency is sold to Homelink, an authorised dealer, including MTAs or to the Reserve Bank.
When this writer listened to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor deliver his Mid-Year Monetary Policy Statement, as indeed he listened to previous ones;
When he recalled the visits by the Reserve Bank Governor to Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to promote the Homelink project; he was and still is convinced that the Reserve Bank governor is a champion of economic patriotism. He appeals to Zimbabweans living in the Diaspora to become equally patriotic by sending foreign currency back home, selling the same to authorised dealers at the official exchange rate, to boost the foreign currency in the country.
Zimbabwe cries out for the imports that the Reserve Bank has categorised No Currency Involved Approved Imports (NCIAIs). The imports, which will not attract duty in foreign currency, are:
Fuel; the engine for economic development; maize and wheat, the food we eat, the bread we queue for; fertilizer, seeds, agro-chemicals and agro-equipment, to ensure successful farming seasons; mining sector consumables, for a prosperous mining sector with the attendant exports and generation of foreign currency; packaging material and industry raw materials, for fully-fledged industrial development and the attendant supply of goods to wholesalers, retailers and ultimately to the consumer; approved medical drugs and medical equipment, for the health of the nation.
Instead of Zimbabweans trading in currency, and in the process wrecking the economy, those with access to foreign currency are being called upon to promote, protect and preserve the economy through investing in the creation of real wealth, rather than opting to become isolated ultra-rich currency traders, surrounded by poverty stricken fellow citizens.
Zimbabweans with access to foreign currency go out in droves to buy and import trinkets or similar sub-standard products. Why don’t we produce our own goods or improve the quality of those currently under production or increase production levels?
Why don’t we invest the little foreign currency we have in all forms of manufacturing, in agriculture and in a commercial sector that is based on what is produced in our factories, on our farms, in our mines, in our electronic and pharmaceutical industries?
There is no legislation that stands in the way of any Zimbabwean with say US$5 000, US$10 000, US$100 000, or whatever sum, from investing the same in the productive sector. In fact, the No Currency Involved Approved Imports window creates an opportunity for business to those who have free funds outside Zimbabwe.
The decision to invest in another country’s trinkets, another country’s worn-out clothes, second-hand cars, rejects, etc, which are then imported into Zimbabwe for resale is a decision that hurts our economic development.
The Reserve Bank Governor’s Mid-Year Monetary Policy Statement is rightly exhorting Zimbabweans to shun spending foreign currency on activities that do not enhance the wealth profile of the country.
However, this writer submits that the Reserve Bank, in its protective role, should go further than merely offering an incentive to Zimbabweans receiving foreign currency through MTAs for them to sell it to authorised dealers or to the Reserve Bank, by sending a clear message that foreign currency received through MTAs is not to be used for speculative purposes or to be traded on the illegal parallel black market. The surest way of doing this is to deem that all foreign currency received through MTAs has been sold to the Reserve Bank at the official exchange rate with the beneficiary being entitled to be paid out the Zimbabwean dollar equivalent at the official exchange rate plus the 800 percent overnight investment incentive.
This writer submits that it is expecting too much to rely on patriotism to expect a person who has received lets say US$1 000 through an MTA to sell the same to an authorised dealer at the official exchange rate, even with the incentive of 800 percent on the overnight investment, in the process foregoing parallel market rates which are currently over 100 percent higher than the official exchange rate and the 800 percent investment incentive combined. The person who receives foreign currency instead of Zimbabwean dollars will ordinarily head for the parallel market instead of heading to an authorised dealer.
To avoid tempting recipients of foreign currency into not only breaking the law but fuelling inflation, the Reserve Bank ought to immediately stop MTAs from paying out foreign currency, but instead direct them to surrender the same to the Reserve Bank, with the beneficiary being paid out the Zimbabwean dollar equivalent plus the 800 percent overnight investment incentive.
The Reserve Bank has identified the "indexing’’ of prices to the parallel foreign exchange rates" as one of the inflation drivers in the economy. This indexing is partly facilitated by the availability of foreign currency on the local foreign currency parallel market.
Putting a stop to MTAs paying out foreign currency to beneficiaries of foreign currency receipts from persons in the Diaspora will reduce foreign currency available on the parallel market
The Reserve Bank has opened the No Currency Involved Approved Imports (NCIAIs) window.
This window opens opportunities in business and in assisting families secure agricultural imports, maize and wheat for food. This is the window that, if taken advantage of, can significantly enhance the industrial and agricultural capacity of the country.
The Governor of the Reserve Bank together with the majority of Zimbabweans pray and wish for a resoundingly successful agricultural season. This writer submits that for the prayers and dreams to become a reality the Reserve Bank should vigorously market the No Currency Involved Approved Imports window to Zimbabweans in the Diaspora for them to fully appreciate that it can be turned into a viable business proposition that benefits not only themselves but Zimbabwe as a whole. It is particularly important that administrative bottlenecks be eliminated to facilitate the smooth inflow of the prioritised imports into the country.
The Reserve Bank Governor’s pro-economic development dispensation which has seen him further reduce interest rates and providing liquidity for real economic development will be complemented by forthright and courageous actions to stamp out the currently prevailing speculative and injurious parallel market currency trading activities.
This writer submits that while inflation is our number one enemy, currency trading is arguably the number one mover of inflation.
The Reserve Bank may not catch all parallel market foreign currency dealers, particularly those who intercept foreign currency at source in order to invest outside the country, but a wider liberal approach to imports for the productive sector, assuring the importers of reasonable return on investment, will guarantee Zimbabwe a significant share of the foreign currency at the disposal of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora.
This writer acknowledges the point made in the Mid-Year Monetary Policy Statement that "a total of US$23 916 546 was received as Diaspora inflows" during the period January 2007 to August 2007, "compared to US$5 201 138 during the same period in 2006".
The question is how much of these inflows found their way to the Reserve Bank at the official exchange rate? If the foreign currency found its way to the Reserve Bank at the official exchange rate, then all is well, and this writer is willing to eat humble pie.
THE Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill will be brought to Parliament at the end of this month as Zimbabwe consolidates efforts to facilitate the participation of indigenous citizens in the mainstream economy. The Minister of Indigenisation and Empowerment, Cde Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana, told Senate on Tuesday that the Bill seeks to consolidate the Indigenisation and Empowerment Bill which sailed through Parliament and now awaits assent by the President.
Cde Mangwana said this during the second reading stage of the Indigenisation and Empowerment Bill, which seeks to create an enabling environment for increased participation by indigenous Zimbabweans in the economy.
The Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill seeks to amend the principal Act by creating provisions requiring that Government or indigenous Zimbabweans assume at least 51 percent ownership of all mining companies.
The Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Cde Amos Midzi, will table the Bill during Parliament’s next sitting, which commences on October 30.
Cde Mangwana said this while responding to concerns by Senators as to why the Indigenisation and Empowerment Bill did not provide finer details on the indigenisation of mining companies.
"My brother, the Minister of Mines and Mining Development, will soon be coming to you with the Mines and Mining Amendment Bill and it is that Bill that will address all the indigenisation issues related to mining. We want indigenous Zimbabweans to participate in every sector of the country," he said.
The House of Assembly, which adjourned last Thursday, will resume sitting on October 30, while Senate adjourned yesterday and will resume sitting on November 6.
Parliament adjourned after the passage of various Bills, the most notable ones being Constitutional Amendment Bill (Number 18) and the Indigenisation and Empowerment Bill.
In the last sitting, the Constitutional Amendment Bill, which seeks to harmonise presidential, parliamentary and council elections so that they are held simultaneously, was passed by both Houses.
The Bill — which is historic in the political scenario of the country in that both the ruling Zanu-PF and the two opposition MDC factions closed ranks to pass it unanimously — now awaits assent by the President.
The Constitutional Amendment Bill also seeks to introduce a Human Rights Commission to investigate cases of human rights abuse in line with international standards, and it also provides for the establishment of the post of Deputy Chief Justice.
The Indigenisation and Empowerment Bill, seeking to create an enabling environment for increased participation by indigenous Zimbabweans in the country’s economy, sailed through Parliament and now awaits assent by the President.
The empowerment of indigenous Zimbabweans would be done by requiring that they own at least 51 percent of every business institution.
The Bill generated significant interest in and outside Parliament as some sectors of the economy and legislators expressed reservations about it while others saw it as the only window through which indigenous Zimbabweans could be empowered.
The Electricity Amendment Bill and Warehouse Receipt Bill also sailed through Parliament and now await assent by the President.
The Electricity Amendment Bill seeks to provide stiffer penalties for those who vandalise electricity equipment while the Warehouse Receipt Bill provides for the establishment and registration of warehouses for storage of agricultural equipment as the Government intensifies its agricultural mechanisation programme.
Friday October 05, 2007 [04:00]
I wish to comment on the numerous mineral explorations going on in our country. First of all, let me advise the government that the present conditions do not warrant opening up new mines by private companies. I say so because the mines currently operating in our country do not add any significant value to the well-being of this country.
If anything, they just benefit foreigners. Zambians have cried that the concessions given to these mining firms be revised so that we can see some benefits trikling to ordinary Zambians. Todate, this issue is almost dying a natural death.
It follows therefore that with the prevailing conditions, it not prudent to grant mining licences to foreigners. With the current copper production and prices on the international market, one would have expected this country to have seen huge developments in terms of infrustucture as well as a rise in the standard of living by most of our people. This however is not the case.
Most developments we see around are donor-driven. We used to be told that ZCCM was making losses but if you compare ZCCM with these mining firms which are actually making huge profits, you would not easily agree that ZCCM was oprating at a loss.
During ZCCM days there were a number of community initiatives that were being undertaken. Mining areas were kept clean, social amenities were in place, roads were maintained and above all they employed more of our people than these profit making mining firms. Those of us on the Copperbelt can just see what the road leading to some mine offices in Kitwe look like. It is a sorry sight.
It is time these firms were reminded that the government has introduced the keep Zambia clean and healthy campaign. For sure you cannot tell who is or was making losses between ZCCM and these new firms!
In my view, and at a time such as this, the government should source funds and try to open mines that will be wholly owned by government, something in the lines of ZCCM.
By allowing foreigners to open mines at our doorsteps and every corner of Zambia, we are just leaving a bad legacy for our children and their children. Let us leave something for the future, otherwise posterity will judge us harshly.
Minerals are a wasting asset and so if we are not careful, we will only leave trenches or breeding grounds for mosquitoes as inheritance for our children!
Let those with ears, hear.
Let's borrow money for productive ventures
By Chilekwa M Mumba,Lusaka
Friday October 05, 2007 [04:00]
Allow me to air my views on the retrogressiveness of the Mwanawasa adminstration, which seems to find solace in it's failures through China's loans. It seems our government lives for the day and does nothing to plan ahead for the country's future. To cite one significant example, what sense does it make for Zambia to obtain a 39 million dollar loan for feeder roads- which cannot be said to be permanent structures.
To put it in layman’s language: Which individual in his right capacity will borrow money at a high cost for a house whose roof has to be replaced every year. There is a serious lack of foresight here.
The aforementioned 39 million dollars being spent on feeder roads is better spent on a permannent structure if Zambia is getting a loan which has a serious cost in terms of interest.
It is an abomination that in the 21st century, a governement which claims to be making improvements, is making feeder roads which add absolutely no value to a country's infrastructure. These feeder roads can only be good for a year and not anytime beyond that.
This governement is digging a hole for Zambia every day, and the Chinese are happily providing the shovels with their money. I doubt that there is any serious debate either in Parliament or Cabinet analysing the long-term effects these loans will bring.
Mwanawasa and company are more than happy to be given fish to eat today on a silver plate by the Chinese- rather than be taught how to catch fish for the future.
We should only borrow money for productive undertakings.
I salute Jean Kapata
Thursday October 04, 2007 [04:00]
I want to thank Mandevu MP Jean Kapata for doing a simple investigation about how some of our clinics operate.
She pretended to be heavily pregnant and feeling unwell. She went to Ng'ombe clinic where she waited for one hour before she could be attended to. When the nurse on duty came, she told the patients (including Kapata) to go and seek help elsewhere.
I salute her for doing this because ordinary people are the ones suffering. We need more leaders like her. She cared enough to find out exactly what goes on.
There are no medicines in most of our clinics and the service offered is poor.
Mongu land allocation scam
By Concerned resident
Friday October 05, 2007 [04:00]
I would like to comment on the Mongu town clerk’s unearthing of an illegal land allocation syndicate by Mongu council officers.
The most disheartening thing is that after these three culprits were about to direct the investing officers to plots they had sold, investigations were stopped.
Acquiring land in Mongu is almost impossible if you use the right procedure.
You are always told to keep checking until you get tired and give up, unless you go through the same culprits and pay millions of kwacha.
Madam Masebo, when are you going to visit Mongu Municipal Council, to save Mongu residents from this abuse of office which has become institutionalised?
Why NCC is a national fraud
By Nkula Kaoma, Lusaka
Friday October 05, 2007 [04:00]
I wish to join the debate on the National Constitutional Conference Act of August 2007.
The principal function of the NCC is to adopt the Mung’omba draft constitution.In adopting this draft constitution, the members, to a large extent would be agreeing that it contains what the petitioners submitted.
Suprisingly enough the Act does not specifically provide for the attendance of these petitioners whose names are still intact at the former CRC sectariat and could be easily contacted if the Act had provided for their attendance.
Most of the members that the Act has provided for are not even petitioners and how then will they know that what is in the Mung’omba draft constitution is what was submitted?
In this regard,the Act should be amended to include all the petitioners and the Mung’omba CRC commissioners and those existing in the Act.The exsting members in the Act like the eminent persons and freedom fighters from each province is good idea but who will nominate them and how?
Friday October 05, 2007 [04:00]
Having experienced one of the worst fuel shortages in the country in September 2005, we thought that enough lessons were learnt in terms of management of the flow and supply of energy resources in the country. We must have been mistaken. Given the public pronouncements that were made by government leaders following the 2005 fuel shortages, we believed that the government had truly realised the importance of having in place an elaborate and reliable fuel supply system.
And we cannot be blamed for having believed so because President Levy Mwanawasa in October 2005, after dropping George Mpombo as energy minister, told the nation that the government would do everything possible to ensure that fuel shortages came to an end.
He went further to appoint a special committee which was headed by then commerce minister Dipak Patel to investigate the possible causes of fuel shortages in the country. If anything, we have not heard of what really came out of that special committee.
We are actually interested to learn more about the actual work that was done by this committee towards the realisation of the goals and objectives that were set out for it.
Furthermore, we still remember that early last when Felix Mutati was still energy minister, he told the nation that the government had partnered with the private sector in starting to work on the country’s fuel reserves. Mutati went on to announce that the government was working on establishing state reserves and that legislation was under way.
Today, we know that there is what is known as the Strategic Reserve Fund (SRF), whose real purpose people are now beginning to question basically because fuel shortages have continued notwithstanding this SRF.
The fuel stability assurances come from political leaders. Even the energy technocrats have made pledges to the effect that fuel supplies would be stabilised. Some of the promises of stability in fuel supply have come from the Energy Regulation Board (ERB).
In February last year, ERB executive director Sylvester Hibajene told the nation that Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) had been asked to reserve fuel volumes equal to 15 days’ supply based on their respective market share.
We doubt if this is really happening because if that were the case, the country would not be going through another fuel crisis like the one before us now.
We may not be able or competent enough to clearly outline the intricate details of the genesis of the present fuel shortage. However, we can state plainly that what we are going through today is primarily a result of mismanagement by those tasked with the responsibility of managing this sector. And we can say that it starts from the top.
We have stated in the past that the oil sector requires capable leadership because this sector is central, very key, to the smooth functioning of our economy. There is no need to start recounting the well-known spiral effects of fuel shortages on the economy and people’s lives and their ways and means of doing things.
With what we are witnessing, we are tempted to think that the energy sector, like many other sectors, is running on an autopilot basis. We seem to be content with old ways of running this sector without a strategic plan.
What we need to know is that things will not change in the country if our people do not demand that those entrusted with responsibilities deliver in accordance with public expectations.
In the first place, we think that the constant breakdowns at Indeni Petroleum Refinery must be looked at in a different way. In any case, we already know that the refinery is in an obsolete state and the equipment at the plant has for a long time been in desperate need of a complete overhaul.
We do realise the need to keep attending to and repairing equipment at Indeni Oil Refinery because the plant obviously requires regular maintenance and service.
However, we also think that it is not good management and planning to be fixing one problem today when we know very well that another problem will be experienced in another area tomorrow. We are saying this because from the look of things, this is how Indeni has been managed for some time now.
If we are truly serious about finding some kind of lasting solution to fuel supply in the country, and bearing in mind that Indeni is the only crude oil processor, we think that there is need for the government and its partners in Indeni Oil Refinery to seriously invest in the plant. This is if some of the problems that have become an occasional occurrence are to be done away with.
Another area that needs to be tackled is the procurement process. We think that this area has suffered short circuits for a long time and it needs to be streamlined or at least structured in a more realistic manner, perhaps in the manner that the ERB was proposing in terms of involvement of OMCs.
From the present shocks in the fuel sector, it is very clear that the country does not have buffer fuel stocks, yet this need has been there for a long time.
We are not talking about buffer stocks for 20 years - although this would not be a bad idea if feasible - but stocks that would keep the country running for some reasonable period in times when we have problems, for instance, at Indeni.
In the final analysis, what we are saying is that we need a clearly thought-out energy policy for the country so that minor hiccups in the supply chain do not cause shocks to the economy, which highly depends on energy for its smooth functioning.
We do not need to recite the importance of a steady energy supply system to economic development. All we have to do is formulate a clear vision and policy on this significant sector of our economy.
By Webster Malido and Joan Chirwa
Friday October 05, 2007 [04:00]
OPPOSITION Patriotic Front president Michael Sata has questioned the purpose of the Strategic Reserve Fund (SRF) since the country has continued to experience fuel shortages. But Energy Regulation Board (ERB) public relations officer Kwali Mfuni said the SRF has actually helped greatly in maintaining prices of fuel on the local market through subsidies.
Meanwhile, Lusaka has also been hit by a shortage of petrol, barely a week after the Copperbelt Province started experiencing critical shortfalls of the commodity.
Sata alleged that there was failure by the ERB to properly account for the use of the SRF.
“What has happened to that money (SRF)?” Sata wondered, “because all pump stations are dry when they have been collecting that money. You have a fully-fledged ERB board. Do they only regulate fuel increases? Where is the Strategic Fuel Reserve? What have they done to that money? Fuel here in Zambia is still very expensive. Here we are, dry, nothing!”
Sata said there was need to thoroughly investigate the use of the SRF. But Ministry of Energy and Water Development Permanent Secretary Buleti Nsemukila said the government had always been transparent in publicising the use of resources under the SRF.
Nsemukila said records regarding the use of the SRF were available and dismissed assertions that the government had not been accounting for resources collected from OMCs for the country’s fuel reserves.
“It is not correct to say government has not been accounting for money collected under the SRF,” Nsemukila said. “The Ministry of Energy and Water Development even gave a breakdown of the money spent under SRF to the parliamentary committee on energy. It is important to appreciate the fact that the SRF has most of the times been used to cushion prices of fuel since the fund was established for that.”
And Mfuni said without subsidies from the SRF, fuel prices in the country would have been much higher than the current rate.
“The money that Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) are remitting to the SRF is being used to cushion increases in prices of petroleum products so that a change in international prices of fuel is not felt so much here in Zambia,” Mfuni said.
“Sometimes, the ERB has not increased prices of fuel for some months because it has been using part of the SRF to stabilise prices of fuel in the country.”
Mfuni said diesel was one commodity that had always been highly subsidised through the SRF due to its importance on economic development.
“Prices of diesel on so many occasions have been retained because it is a key fuel for economic development,” Mfuni said. “We are talking about huge quantities of petroleum products here that are being subsidised by the SRF although sometimes this fund is limited, so prices of fuel go up.”
The Strategic Reserve Fund was established in 2005 for the country’s strategic fuel reserves and to help stabilise fuel prices.
And a number of service stations in Lusaka have run out of petrol, causing several motorists to queue up for the commodity.
By Wednesday evening, BP filling station in Longacres area only had stocks of premium to last until Wednesday night while one of the Total filling stations on Great East Road had run out of petrol.
However, Caltex filling station in Longacres on Wednesday received 29,000 litres of unleaded petrol and 25,000 litres of diesel and it was expecting another 14,000 to 21,000 litres of petrol yesterday.
Government has indicated that the shortage of petrol was a short term situation, saying supply would get back to normal once Indeni Oil Refinery in Ndola resumes production soon.
Indeni last week received a total of 60,000 litres of crude oil which has not yet been pumped, causing a lot of panic among motorists.
By Brighton Phiri
Friday October 05, 2007 [04:00]
THE Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are a threat to food security in Africa, visiting German-based FoodFirst Information and Action Network (FIAN) trade officer Armin Paasih warned yesterday.
Presenting a research report on the impact of EPAs on milk and honey sectors in Zambia, jointly conducted by Civil Society Trade Network of Zambia (CSTNZ), FIAN, Germanwatch and National Peasant Farmers' Association of Ghana under the Fact Finding Mission (FFM), Paasih warned that the EPAs would lead to severe violation of human rights to adequate food, which was enshrined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of the United Nations (UN).
The team conducted interviews with small milk producers in Magoye, beekeepers in Ndola, government and Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) officials.
"It is very clear that very few countries will benefit from the EPAs. There is high level of hypocrisy on the part of European Union (EU) over this EPAs debate," Paasih said.
According to Paasih, the report revealed that milk was an emerging sector in Zambia and that it had a potential to remove many smallholder farmers out of abject poverty through provision of income, employment and food.
"Despite this, milk farmers are still facing many problems, as from the interviews with members of a diary co-operative in Magoye," he said. "While the farmers benefit from a guaranteed market access through a contract with Parmalat, they are not able to influence the price for the milk but have to accept the price set by the board of Parmalat.
"The farmers lack financial capacities and access to affordable credits to purchase adequate feed and pure or cross breads than can produce larger quantities of milk."
Paasih warned that higher imports from the EU would strangulate the local farmers' efforts if EPAs led to cuts in tariffs and exposed them to an open market with highly subsidised competitors.
"Indeed while their cows, in the rainy season, give at highest four litres of milk, a German cow can give up to 50 litres of milk due to high levels of subsidies. It is very unlikely that Zambian farmers will be able to compete with their European colleagues. This threat would be even higher if the quota system in the EU would be removed by 2015, like the EU intends to do."
He asked the Zambian government not to sign any trade agreement, which could reduce the policy space to protect the right to food for its citizens.
He advised negotiating parties to extend the timeframe to allow meaningful consultation within the country until all the outstanding issues were resolved.
CSTNZ programme officer Dominic Chanda said about 97 per cent of Zambians were not aware of the current debate on the EPAs.
He urged government to embark on a wide sensitisation programme on the EPAs so that the people could be aware of the dangers.
Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana president Mohammed Adam Nashiru said EPAs were not in the interest of Africans.
"If we sign these EPAs, it is as good as signing our own death warrant. We have no choice but to stop these EPAs because under these agreements African farmers will be kicked out of the market," said Nashiru.
By Florence Bupe
Friday October 05, 2007 [04:00]
DEVELOPING countries are unable to significantly benefit from global trade due to unfavourable competition, Southern African Regional Poverty Reduction Network (SARPN) policy analyst Jack Zulu has said. Zulu said developing nations, including Zambia, were unable to benefit from booming global trade because of market policies that were not conducive for emerging markets.
"The free market ideology that encompasses the IMF (International Monetary Fund) thinking and policy analysis suits multinational corporations perfectly. Small and less developed economies, many of which are in Africa, are not able to compete effectively," Zulu said. "Therefore, imposing free market policies on economies that are not ready leads to massive problems."
Zulu was giving his views at a session to review the role of the International Monetary Fund in low-income countries.
He advised that the IMF should be consistent in its policy stipulation in order to level the market playing field for developed and developing countries.
He cited the Fund's attempt to get developing countries to scrap agricultural subsidies as one unfair policy imposition.
"Whilst a number of countries in Africa are generally advised to remove subsidies on agriculture, we don't hear the same voice by the Fund or World Bank to European countries. This to us is a contradiction, and we feel that the IMF should be consistent in some of these policies," he said.
Zulu also said there was need for low-income countries to ensure that there is policy coordination.
He said it was not enough for low-income countries to focus only on attaining macroeconomic stability, but ensure that these efforts are matched with other sets of policy imperatives such as debt sustainability and fair trade.
"For us in Africa, the issue is not just achieving macroeconomic stability, though it is very essential for growth and poverty reduction. But I think stability has to go along with other sets of policy imperatives such as debt sustainability, cautious trade liberalisation, promotion of fair trade, job creation, poverty reduction and good governance," said Zulu.
By Lambwe Kachali
Friday October 05, 2007 [04:00]
Labour deputy minister Austin Liato has warned Taj Pamodzi Hotel that the law will visit them should they reduce workers’ conditions of service. Reacting to Pamodzi Hotel management that has defied the government’s directives not to downgrade conditions of service for its unionised employees, Liato said there was no Act under labour laws that allowed employers to reduce conditions of service for its workers.
“Our advice to Pamodzi Hotel’s general manager Mahipal Singh was clear and fair. If Singh is a good investor he should have listened at once. It’s like Singh wants to bring his own labour laws in Zambia.
We will not agree with him in any situation and he has to face the wrath of the law should he go ahead with the move,” Liato said. Liato said it was unfortunate that investors coming to Zambia were taking advantage of the peaceful investment atmosphere the country accorded them.
“The way Singh wants his business to flourish in Zambia, our citizens also want improved conditions of service. There is no country on earth where I have heard that the employer reduced employee benefits or any other conditions of service. I think Singh’s decision is wrong, indeed the first of its kind in Zambia and the world at large,” he said.
He said the government would not tolerate investors who defied the laws of the country.
“You see, we will have no option but to take action. It is clear that Singh is becoming arrogant. So, his arrogance will cost him. When we are calling for investors to invest in Zambia, we don’t mean they should start abusing our citizens. What is happening at Pamodzi is totally an abuse of workers. We have the reports that a conciliator has been appointed.
This is a serious matter and if it ßso happens that conditions of service for employees at Pamodzi Hotel are reduced, government will swing in with stiff action against the institution,” he said.
Liato said his ministry would monitor the happenings at the hotel to ensure that no employee was victimised.
“A group of officials from the ministry will soon be going to meet hotel management and the union. But should we get stories of victimisation, the punishment will be in accordance with the law. Enough is enough and what is remaining now is action,” said Liato.
Pamodzi Hotel management has declared a dispute against its employees over their refusal to have their conditions of service downgraded.
Among the conditions of services to be downgraded are retirement benefits, resignation benefits, medical and disablement discharge, basic salaries (no salary increment), leave allowances, funeral assistance and maternity allowance.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
By Kabanda Chulu
Tuesday September 25, 2007 [04:00]
UNIVERSITY of Zambia head of mass communications department Kenny Makungu has said the reduction in interest rates is not because of an improved economy but lack of business for commercial banks. And Economics Association of Zambia (EAZ) has observed that there was need to break down the invisible cartel that most commercial banks apply when doing business.
During a media workshop for economic and business reporters held last week in Lusaka, Makungu said there was need to expose the anomalies behind the positive macroeconomic indicators because they do not relate to the situation on the ground. He said reduced rate of inflation should result in lower prices and a general improvement in standards of living.
“Almost all the macro economic indicators are showing signs of growth but we are not seeing this on the ground or maybe there is a small group of people who are seeing the benefits of these indicators and there is need to expose this anomaly because it is not tangible,” Makungu said. “If the economy is improving where is the money going to because people in the streets do not have the purchasing power and the reductions in interest rates is not because of an improved economy but lack of business for commercial banks.”
Lately, there is intense competition among banks in the country that has resulted in the banks introducing various promotions in order to attract customers. Several banks have reduced interest rates from over 40 per cent to below 20 per cent and the rate of inflation currently stands at 10.7 per ecnt.
Recently the EAZ stated that there was need to break down the invisible cartel that most commercial banks used to apply in the country. The EAZ has also projected that many commercial banks would continue to feel the pressure due to the government’s reduced participation in treasury bills.
The EAZ also anticipates base rates to come down to as low as 10 per cent by 2008 in order to meet the international trends that is at the same level with the rate of inflation.
The EAZ stated that continued reduction of interest rates, which was spearheaded by Zambia National Commercial Bank (ZNCB), when it reduced rates from 20 per cent to 15 per cent last January, would be a turn around for the country’s economy since funds would be readily available for businesses to borrow.
The EAZ stated that shortage of capital to finance and expand businesses in Zambia had been the major obstacle stifling economic growth.
“The big banks have played the role of influencer in issues of interest rates and they have refused to reduce even when inflation rates went down and also when Felix Mutati was deputy at finance ministry, he used every fora to plead for the reduction of base rates but to no avail,” it stated.
“So one has to believe that there has been an invisible cartel among these banks which ZNCB has literally broken down and it seems this is the only solution that will work since the rest of the banks will follow.”
The EAZ observed that about 75 per cent of all businesses in the country fail to take off because of high capital costs offered by commercial banks.
“There is a lot of viable business plans in the country and almost every sector needs capital injection for expansion but high costs of capital offered by these banks is stifling the intended economic growth and we hope this reduction of base rates will improve things,” it stated. “And owing to these high costs companies literally work for banks to liquidate the high interest loans and given this scenario no economy can grow.”
And according to the medium term expenditure framework (MTEF), the government has indicated intentions of maintaining borrowing from the gross domestic product (GDP) at not more than one per cent in 2007 and 0.5 per cent in 2008 and 2009 respectively.
The government’s participation in the bonds and treasury bills market has reduced since they want to limit borrowing from the GDP and one per cent of GDP would entail the government to only borrow about K500 billion, which a few banks could manage to lend out while others would have no choice but to lend out to the business community.
By Patson Chilemba
Thursday October 04, 2007 [04:00]
PATRIOTIC Front (PF) members of parliament are a fraud because they took part in setting up a constitution fraud, PF president Michael Sata has charged. Reacting to Roan Constituency PF member of parliament Chishimba Kambwili’s statement that he was ready to go against his party’s stance by participating in the National Constitutional Conference (NCC), Sata said that his own members of parliament took part in setting up a constitution ‘fraud’. He said his party would meet on Saturday to discus a number of issues and the constitution-making process will be on the agenda.
“Our members of parliament were party to the fraud in Parliament…all without any exception. All the members of parliament, they are a fraud,” he charged.
And Sata has urged Kambwili to try and avoid creating controversy in the party.
He said most members of parliament including Kambwili himself wanted to be part of the NCC because of monetary gain.
“The members of parliament who are trying to say ‘yes we will attend’, they are not going to attend because they want to help produce a better constitution; they are only going there for the K500, 000 sitting allowance. Those who think they can go, we will decide and it’s not Kambwili alone who should receive K500, 000. If Kambwili will receive it even Mumbi Phiri will,” Sata said. “The sitting allowance of K500,000 is their pre-occupation.”
Sata warned that members of parliament risked becoming miserable if their pre-occupation was money rather than service to the people.
“Levy is in a much stronger position because he is going to leave office with a life pension and gratuity. These MPs will leave without any pension, apart from the gratuity which they will blow before receiving.
So they will be very miserable just like all those other people who were boot-licking; they are very miserable. When you see them in the streets, they don’t even want to say they were in Parliament. Some of us are proud to have been in Parliament for 20 years,” Sata said. “Mr. Kambwili must try to avoid controversy. I would like to advise him to avoid controversy.”
Sata urged Kambwili to hold his fire, saying he had already created so much controversy on a number of issues within a short period.
“Mr. Kambwili is married to a nurse. The other day, he was saying they should be beating nurses which we cautioned him and he apologised. The wife is not even in the country because of frustration. So how can a person who lost a wife to go to England be supporting people who are beating nurses? So Comrade Kambwili should hold his fire,” he said.
And Kambwili said he would hold his fire because Sata had said so.
“If my president says I should hold my fire, then I will hold my fire. We have a meeting on Saturday, so I can only comment further after the meeting,” said Kambwili.
Recently, Kambwili said he was ready to participate in the NCC because of the collective responsibility of Parliament. This is against his party’s current position that it would not participate in the NCC because it was a ‘national fraud’.
Sata further charged that home affairs minister Lieutenant General Ronnie Shikapwasha was a coward.
“I said Comrade Shikapwasha is respectable. Can he exhibit his respectability the way he behaved at Solo? He hasn’t replied. What I am saying is he was commander of the Zambia Air Force (ZAF). He was the only commander out of all the commanders we had who behaved respectably,” Sata said.
“I am a shameless old man but I’m not a coward. He’s a very big one. I can’t elaborate, he will help himself.”
On the impending Nchanga by-elections, Sata said PF would adopt a very close friend to former PF Nchanga member of parliament Charles Chimumbwa.
“We will pick a very close friend of Chimumbwa because he’s the one who knows Chimumbwa better than us,” said Sata.
By ANGELA CHISHIMBA
MINISTER of Finance and National Planning, Ng’andu Magande, says Government will amend tender procedures to provide for certain contracts to be exclusively reserved for Zambians in a bid to empower citizens. Mr Magande said this in Kitwe yesterday when he toured roads that were constructed under the accelerated urban road rehabilitation programme (AURRP).
The minister took a JJ Lowe contractor to task after observing that some roads were poorly done. Mr Magande, in the company of Kitwe town Clerk, Ali Simwinga, was disappointed with work done on Nationalist Road, among others. He wondered why the contractor, who was expected to finish working on the road by September 31, was still dragging on with the same work.
“We want these projects to be implemented. That is why sometimes I would rather the local people were empowered to be able to do these jobs because they will do a good job because this is their country,” he said.
He said there were a lot of problems in tender procedures and the State would seek to amend them. “Why should one contractor be given three roads to work on when they do not even have equipment?” he asked.
The minister said this when a JJ Lowe supervisor, a Mr Hussein explained that the only grader they were using to work on the roads had broken down. Mr Hussein said it would take two weeks to work on the grader, as the engine had been sent to Lusaka to be worked on. Mr Magande ordered the contractor to hire equipment from Kitwe City Council to finish the job. “I’m not happy with your work and equipment. Government spends a lot of money on these roads and we expect a good job,” he said.
Mr Simwinga said the reason why some roads were poorly done was because both contractors and consultants were from the same company, a situation he said was unethical. The minister was also disappointed with the work done on some township roads in Kalulushi. He said the industrial road that JJ Lowe worked on barely two weeks ago was cracking. “What will happen to these roads when the rains come?”
Kalulushi Municipal Council director of engineering services, Benny Chiyesu, said engineers from Lusaka were the ones who took the road specifications. “We are not in charge, specifications came from Lusaka, and this has been the problem because we have no say,” he said. Mr Magande warned that shoddy contractors would be black-listed. “These people are not giving us value for our money, and what is unfortunate is that these jobs are certified by our own people,” he said.
The minister said there was need to ensure that road works were supervised. He said he would speak to the Minister of Works and Supply to find out whether engineers were satisfied with the works being done.
By Mabasa Sasa
A European Union study on the implementation of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement has admitted that the slapping of sanctions on Zimbabwe was a political tool designed to manipulate the outcome of the 2002 presidential elections as well as a form of punishment for embarking on the revolutionary land reform programme.
The study, commissioned to evaluate the coherence, co-ordination and complementarily of Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement, admits that the body precluded dialogue with Zimbabwe in a rush to slap sanctions ahead of the elections.
Article 96 of the agreement, which regulates relations between the EU, Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP), outlines the procedures to be followed should a country be deemed to be in violation of certain governance, rule of law and human rights requirements of the document as defined in Article 8.
Part of the study, "The fact that the EU decided to commence Article 96 processes even though no effective dialogue had taken place under Article 8 points toward incoherence in the EU approach, since the aim of the EU had been to proceed to Article 96, only if dialogue did not solve the problem.
"The explanation for the haste was the forthcoming elections. In other words, foreign policy goals were safeguarded and considered more important than the partnership principle in the Cotonou Agreement."
This effectively means the EU deliberately flouted its own procedures so that the sanctions regime could be mobilised in time to influence the elections.
According to the Agreement, ACP countries are engaged in dialogue for a maximum of 60 days over any contentious issues and are given a chance to respond to any allegations before a decision is made, which was not the case with Zimbabwe.
"The Commission and the Council Secretariat were already preparing the papers for the passing of sanctions against Zimbabwe. This again points to incoherence as the EU was not waiting for Zimbabwe’s response, even though the aim of the consultations had been to try and solve the problem," the study says.
"Article 96 has usually been considered as an instrument of last resort instead of an instrument that could be used to prevent major constitutional crises. It is often initiated in a reactive manner only after flagrant breaches of the essential elements have taken place. Zimbabwe is an exception."
Another revelation in the report is that sanctions were slapped to erode capacity for governance and place pressure on the economy and key institutional structures with the eventual aim of seeing Zimbabwe collapse.
It also accepts that the so-called targeted sanctions have adversely affected the economy.
The report concedes that the United Kingdom largely influenced the EU’s position on Zimbabwe and that a clique of hardliners had pushed for Harare’s isolation.
These hardliners were identified as the UK, the Netherlands, Germany and the Nordic countries.
"The United Kingdom was active in pressing the Commission to propose (Article 96) consultations with Zimbabwe in a speedy manner and literally coerced the EU to slap sanctions.
"France, Belgium and Spain were more moderate. France in particular opposed invoking Article 96, however in line with its agreement with the UK in Saint Malo in 1998, which stipulated that both countries should respect each other’s policy, it left the EU-Zimbabwe policy largely to the British."
The reason why EU policy on Zimbabwe was left to the UK and the other hardliners was because it was accepted that these states had economic and political interests in what was going on in this country. This puts paid to claims that the EU position on Zimbabwe has thus far been governed by issues of human rights, rule of law and governance but rather has been based on the economic interests of the UK and its allies in the body.
The study noted that there was displeasure with the conciliatory tone adopted by the Head of Delegation of the European Commission — the implementing arm of the EU — in Zimbabwe, Ambassador Xavier Marchal.
"Some member states criticise the current Commission delegation for being too lenient and overlooking the common view of the member states. Under the previous Head of Commission Delegation, the Commissioner’s approach was more centred on human rights."
TIME is now ripe for the international community to take a different approach towards Zimbabwe and engage the country in a progressive manner that does not hurt people as has been the case with sanctions imposed over the last few years.
Briefing diplomats on the Mid-Year Monetary Policy Statement in Harare yesterday, Reserve Bank Governor Dr Gideon Gono said the sanctions path had proved destructive and whatever message it was meant to drive home had been heard.
"At this stage there are two choices for those who want to influence events. Either you choose the brutal way and cut the throats of all the people on the sanctions list and live happily ever after or you choose to engage.
"The time is now. We now need to test each other’s ability to live together," said Dr Gono.
Sanctions had affected Zimbabwe socially and economically and nothing positive would come out of them. It was, therefore, insensitive for some sections of the international community to remain rigid instead of seizing existing opportunities for constructive engagement.
"If we say we are so rigid and miss opportunities to soften while that moment is there, it will be a tragedy. The tragedy is that if we get it right on our own, it will not be a good platform for future engagements. You harden people unnecessarily," he stressed.
The governor also referred to calls by President Mugabe to build bridges between Zimbabwe and the international community, saying such calls needed to be taken seriously.
In this regard, Dr Gono commended Sadc and South African President Thabo Mbeki specifically, for supporting Zimbabwe during these times.
Presently vulnerable groups such as women and children, the elderly and the generality of the population were suffering under the burden of sanctions that some members of the international community, particularly the West, had imposed on Zimbabwe.
"Why should all these people suffer? We have really been pushed to the corner, but as Zimbabwe we will never retaliate.
"We are disappointed and sad about the sanctions, but we are not bitter. You can do as much harm as you want to whosoever you wish but two wrongs do not make a right.
"It would be wrong for us to say every white person should pay for the colonial injustices that we experienced in Rhodesia," he said. In the sanctions war, there were no winners or losers, "but is it about humanity".
Addressing the diplomats, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Mr Reuben Marumahoko also implored on the international community to adopt a softer approach towards Zimbabwe.
"Your Excellencies, if at all there was a time for friends of Zimbabwe to come together and come up with solutions for our problems, this is the right time.
"Let’s mend bridges. A few countries have adopted this stance, but some are adamant that Zimbabwe should be punished. That is a very unfair punishment," he said.
It was time to bury differences and adopt attitudes that would be mutually beneficial because "we need you and you need us".
Spokesperson for the business sector Mr Anthony Mandiwanza also added his voice in condemning sanctions, stressing that they hurt ordinary people more than those targeted.
"It is important that we make sure that what we do does not hurt the very people we say we want to protect.
"As businesspeople, we feel the international community should assist us to procure goods and ensure that people live decent lives," he said.
Asked on the relations between Zimbabwe and the International Monetary Fund, Dr Gono said it was unfortunate that the Fund criticised Zimbabwe for not going deep enough in its policies without proffering advice on the strategies that should be adopted.
"We have never professed to know it all so we hope the day is not long when the IMF will realise that such an approach is not beneficial to anyone," he said.
The Bretton Woods institution was also too harsh with Zimbabwe compared to its stance with other developing countries.
"If the way Zimbabwe is analysed were to be applied to other countries, then multilateral institutions would not do business in three-quarters of the developing countries," said the central bank chief.
Zimbabwe had been naive to think that such multilateral institutions would separate politics from economics and to conclude that their operations were guided by their charter clauses when, in fact, other issues were always at play, he said.
Despite all this, Zimbabwe remained a member of the IMF and "intends to be a member for a very long time".
Yesterday Dr Gono also took the opportunity to assure the international community that foreign direct investments were most welcome and that authorities would do everything possible to ensure their security contrary to reports that investors would lose their investments.
"We want to ensure sanctity of investments is observed. We will structure our instruments to promote and protect foreign investors.
"We do not support any unstructured interventions," said Dr Gono.
He challenged those mandated to craft and debate legislation to balance FDI inflows with indigenisation.
In some instances, the Indigenisation and Empowerment Bill had been misinterpreted to entail haphazard confiscation of investments.
"We want win-win situations. There will not be any grab, take-and-run interventions," said Dr Gono.
Investment opportunities were abound in tourism, manufacturing, mining and infrastructure development.
By F. Mukwala
Thursday October 04, 2007 [04:00]
I want to comment on the calibre of some of our ministers. For heaven's sake, doesn't President Mwanawasa get embarrassed by the low calibre and petty cadre mentality exhibited by ministers like Mike Mulongoti?
The man is a disgrace each time he opens his mouth and it seems the appointing authority takes no notice.
Why allow important national policy statements to be coming from a man who does not seem to have analytical skills.
Mr President (or is it Dr now), please save the dignity of this nation and give us a sober-minded person to speak to us who, despite being partisan, can generate challenging brain-storming analysis.
More light on federalism
By Kaliza,Unza student
Thursday October 04, 2007 [04:00]
I refer to the article in The Post of September 29 on the subject of federalism which David wrote.
I want to make some clarifications on what the federal type of government is and what a unitary state of government is.
A unitary government is a system of government where a nation is governened as a single entity. In a unitary state, there is one cabinet, one military command, one judiciary, one legislature, one currency, and one central administration.
In a unitary state, sovereignty is not shared among individual provinces or states. Furthermore, there is one constitution.
A federal system, however, is a form of govermenment where different states come together - like in the USA and Nigeria.
In a federal state of government, sovereignty is shared. Individual states have powers to make laws that govern them. For example in the USA, some states have got laws that allow gay marriages whereas others do not.
In Nigeria, the state of Kano has got sharia law that carries a death penalty on an individual caught in adultery, whereas other states do not have such a law.
The disadvantage of a federal system of government is that it is more expensive to run than a unitary one.
Furthermore, in a federal system, there are more chances of individual states seceding from the federal system because of their sovereignty.
This happened in the US where some states seceded from the federal system. In a unitary system, secession is unlikely because the country is being governed as a single unity and also because of having one military command.
I thought of sharing my little knowledge on this issue to supplement David's article.
KK, Chiluba and the Constitution
By Chomba Lukonde
Thursday October 04, 2007 [04:00]
The Oasis Forum comprises men and women who are intelligent. They say in the abundance of water, only a fool is thirsty.
The Oasis Forum knows too well that the former presidents' advice will not be biased because they are not in government anymore, and therefore will be in a position to exercise impartiality in their approach to issues regarding the Constitution.
Kaunda and Chiluba have been in power before and they know that power intoxicates people more than alcohol, and is more adictive than drugs. Notwithstanding, the current court cases between Chiluba and the government, the Oasis Forum would have sieved Chiluba's advice to suit their requirement.
Fellow Zambians please understand that it is actually very difficult to trust people in government.
George Kunda and his boss should therefore re-consider their stance regarding the NCC road map because going ahead will not only be costly but retrogressive. We do not want another party that forms government to start re-visiting the constitution.
Thursday October 04, 2007 [04:00]
IT is not an exaggeration to state that our two public universities - the University of Zambia and the Copperbelt University - have over the years gone through challenging moments; they have faced numerous difficulties, which unfortunately now appear to have assumed insurmountable levels.
From funding, state of infrastructure, staff capacity to student enrolment, among others, the experience of the University of Zambia (UNZA) and the Copperbelt University (CBU) has not been a pleasant one, particularly in the last few years.
And looking at the problems from a holistic perspective, it is clear that the solution will not emerge from symptomatic treatment of the problems. Unfortunately, those in charge either at institutional or government levels, have yet to realise that symptomatic measures such as frequent indefinite closures of the two institutions will never form part of the lasting solution to the challenges that continue to bedevil UNZA and CBU and the sooner they wake up to this stark reality the better.
On the now more than two-month closure of CBU since July 23, 2007, and in trying to appreciate the real reasons behind this decision, we have endeavoured to follow through the official statement that was released by CBU management in order to "clear the air on the closure of the institution in view of the numerous misleading press statements by students and concerned students". In a nutshell, CBU was closed following a protracted sequence of events, beginning with students' protests over meal allowances, lecturers' sit-in over salaries and conditions of service and, perhaps most important, students' alleged riotous and violent behaviour towards not only CBU management and its senate, but also lecturers and police officers.
Clearly, these concerns contain some tincture of genuineness and they may truly warrant a decision to close any institution. Again, we want to say clearly here that we have never been in support of uncivilised means of resolving disputes, grievances or misunderstandings. And it is not our intention, now or in the future, to abandon our position on violence; it is repugnant, completely unacceptable and it should never be accepted as aggrieved parties’ way of settling disputes.
Having said all that, we also believe that there should be responsibility on all parties to ensure that undesirable conditions are not provided with an environment in which they can easily thrive.
We believe that certain problems can be forestalled not through fire-fighting mechanisms such as closure of institutions whenever there is a problem.
Besides, it is well known that indefinite closures are not desirable because the ideal purpose for institutions of learning is to keep their doors of knowledge open for most of the time - because that is essentially their purpose. Learning institutions are not there to be closed for most of the time as the situation has now become at UNZA and CBU, where it is actually strange when the two institutions run without disruption of their academic calendars.
On a broader scale, the present state of affairs at both UNZA and CBU should show us the bigger picture of our education system, especially university education. First of all, we must not hesitate to acknowledge and accept that over the years, there has been a steady but unattended to decline of the state of our universities whether we focus on funding, infrastructure or staff capacity.
And when we talk about infrastructure, the case for CBU, which was merely transformed from what it used to be - Zambia Institute of Technology to CBU - is worse because practically there has been no improvement of the infrastructure there from the time the institution was still called UNZA Ndola campus to date.
As for UNZA, the leaking roofs, the overcrowded students' hostels and congested classrooms all point to the fact that the decline of standards has not been relenting.
n summary, what our two universities have been experiencing is a deterioration of standards to unprecedented and unacceptable degrees as a result, primarily, of prolonged neglect on the part of government. And it is important to note that the decline in standards has led to, among others, problems in terms of both access to and quality of university education.
Well, we do understand that our country has over the years undergone equally challenging moments, especially in relation to economic and social demands of the national and local communities insofar as provision of services is concerned.
However, we are also aware of the centrality of education, especially higher education, to the development of our country. Unless we are not serious about our country's economic development, we cannot sacrifice just like that the standards of education in our tertiary institutions.
For us, as far as education is concerned, we want to insist on the irreducible responsibility of the government to ensure that education remains top of the development agenda.
And the government can only demonstrate its sincerity and commitment as far as education provision is concerned, if it realises immediately the need to reclaim its responsibility towards the education of the citizens of this country.
Furthermore, the government must begin to seriously consider the public nature and purpose of tertiary education by increasing, not reducing, public funding to this sector.
We do not need to keep reminding the government of its responsibility towards the education of the citizens of this country. Let us not forget that the choices that we make today will have a bearing on the kind of future we want to build or create.
In conclusion, we want to say again that we should all insist that the government does not run away from its responsibility of doing everything to maintain and improve standards of education in the country.
There is definitely a need for the government to educate and reappraise itself on the overarching purpose of tertiary education. In our view, this is the only way that the endemic troubles of our two public universities may be addressed in a much more long-term manner.
In the meantime, we want to urge both the government and CBU management to work towards the immediate re-opening of the institution.
For the very reasons we have already alluded to, the continued closure of CBU - no matter how justifiable the reasons may be - will in the long run not be very helpful to all concerned parties in particular and the nation in general.
By Patson Chilemba
Thursday October 04, 2007 [04:00]
OPPOSITION UPND president Hakainde Hichilema has urged President Levy Mwanawasa and his government to listen to the demands of the people by re-opening the Copperbelt University (CBU). And Hichilema has charged that the MMD government is inherently corrupt. Commenting on the continued closure of CBU, Hichilema said President Mwanawasa, being a servant of the people, should listen to their calls to re-open CBU.
“The President should ensure that CBU is re-opened. Those children are the children of Zambia, he must oblige; he is a servant. He’s in public office. When we come into public office, we shall do what the people want,” he said.
Hichilema said the problems facing universities were deep-rooted because those in government were not interested in addressing them.
He said there was no need for him and other people to continue pushing the government on the need to re-open CBU if education was prioritised.
“Why should I write to those fellows? Those fellows are aware? What am I going to write to Mwanawasa about? The closure of CBU emanates from poor policy of the MMD with regard to poor remuneration of workers and support to students in material and allowances so that there could be a good learning environment,” said Hichilema.
“This is why this country keeps finding itself in the same place.”
Recently, education minister Professor Geoffrey Lungwangwa said the CBU would remain closed until further notice.
Prof Lungwangwa said the university was closed as a result of culminated disturbances that occurred between March and July 2007.
Prof Lungwangwa said the Ministry of Education would not allow student disturbances, which result in violent behaviour and a threat to public order and destruction of public property.
He said the frequency of the disturbances at the institution pointed to lack of appreciation by students for university education and a failure to recognise the amount of resources that the government had provided to a few privileged students to attain high education at the expense of a large number of Zambians who were unable to attain tertiary education.
Prof Lungwangwa also said the attack on the innocent members of the public indicated that students had no respect for taxpayers whose resources kept them in university.
However, the Copperbelt University Students Union (COBUSU) has denied the allegations, saying the closure of CBU was largely due to the unresolved issues involving management and the lecturers regarding the conditions of service.
COBUSU president Lee Mudenda said at no time did the students involve themselves in violent behaviour.
He said CBU has been one of the most peaceful institutions in the country.
CBU was closed two months ago.
And commenting on the 2007 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI) which ranked Zambia 13th of 64 from last year's 9th out of 58 ranks, Hichilema said the country was experiencing high corruption levels because the Zambian people elected a corrupt government.
Hichilema charged that MMD was the only party with the highest number of party officials facing corrupt charges in the courts of law.
He said the MMD was naturally corrupt.
“They (people) know the MMD is inherently corrupt. From way back to the 2001 elections, the motor vehicles which they are still holding on to, the lack of desire to give Zambians a people driven constitution and the continued closure of universities shows that this party is inherently corrupt,” Hichilema said.
“Look at the corruption index right now. What is the result of all this? The MMD has produced more leaders that are in the courts.”
In this year's CPI, Zambia has remained the same without any improvements. A total of 180 countries were surveyed and Zambia had a score of 2.6 out of 10.