Saturday, December 15, 2007
By Times Reporter
FINANCE and National Planning Minister, Ng’andu Magande has explained that the K299 billion expenditure on the National constitutional Conference (NCC) was already Budgeted for under the constitutional reform programme in this year’s national Budget.
And Chief Government Spokesperson, Mike Mulongoti, has defended the allowances for NCC delegates saying the Government wanted the participants to find suitable accommodation, transport and other logistics during the conference.
Reacting to Patriotic Front leader, Michael Sata’s concerns over the funding, Mr Magande said the NCC expenditure was already indicated in the yellow book, that specifies Government Budget allocations, under the Constitutional reform programme.
Speaking in Chilanga on Wednesday when he visited an HIV/AIDS project, Mr Magande said the Government was not diverting funds meant for other programme such as health. He said more funds would be allocated to the NCC in next year’s national budget.
On the HIV/AIDS project, Mr Magande said the K60.4 million project was funded through a grant from the World Bank in 2004 and implemented by the Zambia National Response to HIV/AIDS (ZANARA). He said any investment would continue yielding negative results unless the AIDS issue was effectively addressed. Mr Magande said indications were that by mid-2008, the price of anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) would come down, thereby facilitating the acquisition of more drugs for free distribution to the affected under Zambia’s current programme.
And Speaking on a live ZNBC radio programme, Mr Mulongoti said in Lusaka yesterday the allowances for NCC members could seem huge but Government did not want them to languish during their deliberations because the conference was a national event.
He said that if Zambians felt that the allowances were too high, they should lobby the delegates to declare them as such instead of that coming from non-participants. Mr Mulongoti said the Government, in fact, lamented on the cost of enacting the Constitution but the same people now condemning the allowances said it was expensive to come up with the Constitution and that the Government had to bear the cost. He said the Government had so far done its part but it should not be blamed for answering the calls of the people on the matter.
Mr Mulongoti warned that while there was nothing wrong with the would-be delegates, like members of Parliament, failing to attend the conference, any one found interfering with the deliberations or participants in anyway would face the Law.
By Joan Chirwa in Chisamba
Saturday December 15, 2007 [03:00]
GOVERNMENT and the private sector must move away from mere talk and work towards implementation of programmes, commerce minister Felix Mutati has said. And Mutati said reducing the cost of doing business and the transformation of Zambians should be the main goal of the Private Sector Development Reform Programme (PSD-RP). Meanwhile, Mutati has announced that the government would mid next year commission the Pan African Bank on the local market.
In his keynote address to the PSD-RP mid-term review conference in Chisamba on Thursday, Mutati said the people of Zambia were tired of rhetoric and were hungry for results from projects being undertaken in the country.
Mutati said the effective implementation of the programmes under PSD could only be done if stakeholders stayed away from conversational reforms.
“We must abandon this system of capacity building because we have been doing this since 1964. We are just going round and round having the same conversations we have had in the past instead of getting down to real business and implementing programmes,” Mutati said.
He also said the current work of the PSD-RP should focus on reducing the cost of doing business in the country while transforming the lives of entrepreneurs.
“We need to transform into output. We must ensure that at the end of the PSD-RP, the cost of doing business will be reduced and the lives of Zambians will be transformed,” he said.
Mutati further said the government had set a number of targets for next year, among them the opening of the Pan African Bank in the country.
He said the government expected to double its investments at the end of next year from US$1.4 billion to over US$3 billion as a result of the targeted huge investments coming into the country in 2008.
“We are targeting to double the amount of investments to US$3 billion in 2008,” Mutati said. “In January next year, we will have five major projects that we will sign off. Among them are the Kafue Smelter, we will sign off a new cement manufacturing factory, a transformer and electricity metre manufacturing factory. The other one is the Pan African Bank which will be coming in Zambia in April next year.”
Mutati said the expected investments on the local market are likely to increase the number of job opportunities in the country.
“We are hoping to create at least 100,000 new jobs as a minimum target through these investments expected next year,” Mutati said.
He further said the private sector must partner with the government to develop certain areas that could assist in reducing the cost of doing business.
“Infrastructure is one key area that needs attention. Why can’t the private sector work with the government in identifying key infrastructure that needs to be worked on such as roads?” Mutati asked. “Infrastructure remains key to the growth of businesses in any country. We need to reduce transportation costs by working on our roads. We also need to manage pillars that support private sector growth such as inflation levels, foreign exchange rate and the cost of money.”
The PSD-RP was endorsed in 2004 with its primary objectives of achieving significant reduction in the cost of doing business while making it easy for people to start growing their businesses.
There is only a year remaining before the programme winds up, and donor agencies have expressed concern at the slow implementation of the project.
By Nomusa Michelo
Saturday December 15, 2007 [03:00]
FIRST Quantum Minerals will soon begin transporting copper concentrate from its mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo to smelter facilities in Zambia. In a statement from First Quantum president Clive Newall on the company’s website on Wednesday, the firm said it had worked with the government to resolve issues which include measurement procedures for concentrate movement on the DRC side of the border and communicating the export procedures following a letter it received last month stopping the movement of copper concentrates from DRC to Zambia.
The statement said First Quantum had already agreed with the relevant DRC government authorities in Katanga Province governor Moses Katumbi’s office that the company will “shortly” begin transporting concentrate from Frontier to Zambia.
“Subsequently, the issues regarding concentrate movements from Frontier have been resolved and the transportation of concentrate from the DRC to Zambian smelter facilities will commence shortly,” the statement read. “Plant operations at Frontier are expected to recommence in a few days after reduction of the concentrate stockpile.”
The restart of ore shipments from the company’s Lonshi Mine was awaiting final authorisation from the DRC authorities.
The statement read that First Quantum had last month received a letter from Katumbi, ordering the closure of the DRC border to the export of copper ores and exploration core samples from the Lonshi Mine to Zambia, and ‘advising’ the company not to ship copper concentrate from Frontier into the country.
“Consequently the Frontier concentrate storage shed has filled up with product resulting in plant operations having to be suspended on December, 11,” First Quantum said.
At Lonshi Mine, issues raised by the governor’s office included communicating details about the mining of the final remaining oxide ore and the mine’s various social programmes.
Mining operations at both mines had been unaffected by the order, First Quantum said.
Katumbi closed the border with neighbouring Zambia to trucks transporting raw copper and cobalt ore on March 3, seeking to force mining companies to produce value-added processed products inside Katanga.
By Freddy Phiri
Saturday December 15, 2007 [03:00]
A Mpulungu businessman Jean Claude has said it is time for local people to start utilising the abundant natural resources in Northern Province. Claude said this when Northern Province acting permanent secretary Gabriel Kaunda toured his mini-mango juice processing plant in Mpulungu recently.
Claude said the province was rich in natural resources such as mangoes that had not been exploited fully for the benefit of the local people.
He said he established the mango juice factory after realising that several tonnes of mangoes were going to waste every year in Mpulungu.
Claude said once his plant started operating at full capacity it would produce 250 tonnes of mango juice and in turn create jobs for the locals.
Claude further said he planned to use the same mango processing plant to produce tomato juice products for sale.
And Kaunda praised Claude for embarking on the project and said if people started realising the benefits of exploiting the existing potential in the province, poverty would be reduced.
Mpulungu is one of the areas in Zambia that has a conducive climatic condition for growing mangoes.
Saturday December 15, 2007 [03:00]
There are few disadvantages in this world that one cannot turn into a triumph if one has the iron will and necessary skill. As long as one has an iron will, one can turn misfortune into advantage. After all, it is said that losing a battle is not losing a war. It is clear to us that the battle against the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) has been lost. But this is not the end of the war, of the struggle for our people to give themselves a constitution they desire, one which meets their aspirations. There is still a great chance within the framework of the NCC for our people to triumph.
President Levy Mwanawasa thought he had things his way when he single-handedly set up the Constitution Review Commission and personally appointed every one of its commissioners. In doing so, President Mwanawasa thought in this way, he was assured of getting the recommendations he desired. But things didn’t turn out that way. The people we thought were stooges and would totally work for President Mwanawasa and give him all that he desired, turned out to be true representatives of our people. They came up with recommendations and a draft constitution which made President Mwanawasa turn his back on them and their recommendations.
It was proved that no power in this country can stop Zambians from giving themselves a constitution they desire if they are determined to do so. But we shouldn’t forget that there was a lot of militancy around the constitution at that time which made members of the Constitution Review Commission realise the need to serve the people and not the appointing authorities. We also learnt that only through hardship, sacrifice and militant action can our people be in a position to give themselves a constitution they desire and deserve.
It is still possible that those going to serve on the NCC may not betray the wishes of the people. They can also be made to realise the fact that obligation to the people takes precedence over loyalty to the appointing authorities, to an individual, to a political party or indeed to the government of the day.
Clearly, those who are ready to join hands can overcome the greatest challenges. There is need for those who have registered to serve on the NCC to come together and do like what those who served on the Constitution Review Commission did. They were also paid a lot of money by this same government, under this same President, but they knew where the money came from – the people – and maintained their supreme loyalty to the people.
The money that has been paid or is going to be paid to members of the NCC is taxpayers’ money, it is not President Levy Mwanawasa’s money, it is not the MMD’s money. Therefore, they should take the money that the taxpayer has provided and work for the taxpayer and at all times serve the interests of the taxpayer. The problems are such that for anybody with a conscience, who can use whatever influence he or she may have to bring about a constitution that meets the people’s desires and aspirations, it’s difficult to say no.
Let it never be said by future generations that indifference, cynicism or selfishness made us fail to give our country a constitution it deserves. Bad desires or intentions by President Mwanawasa or indeed any other person or organisation can be defeated if those who have registered to sit on the NCC are determined to do good, to do that which the people desire. For this reason, it will not be harmful – at this stage – for anyone to sit on the NCC and ensure that the defeat they suffered over the Constituent Assembly is avenged, is reversed.
The NCC can be used as a tool manufactured by those with ill or selfish intentions but used by those with the best of intentions to deliver a constitution that meets the aspirations of our people. How many times have our people fought battles and won using the tools or weapons created by the enemy? Similarly, institutions created for wrong things can be used for the legitimate struggles of our people. But this requires a high sense of maturity, patience and humility on the part of those trying to champion popular causes.
Staying away from the NCC is not a matter of principle, it is political expedience in the quest for control of the constitution review process. This being the case, it would be wrong to elevate it to the level of a matter of principle that cannot be negotiated. Political tactics can be changed anytime in the light of changing circumstances. Since 1996, the country has been governed under a constitution that was drafted and enacted under the thumb of one tin-pot dictator. And this is still our constitution today.
If we let the MMD and its government decide everything freely at the NCC, we are more or less bound to get a similar constitution. We therefore urge our people not to look at those who have gone to sit on the NCC as political mercenaries – yes, some of them may be mercenaries but even mercenaries can be used for legitimate causes with a bit of tact. After all, that is why they are called mercenaries because anyone can use them. What will be needed is for civil society and all other progressive forces to mount ceaseless militant actions and put pressure on the NCC to do what the people want them to do or expect them to do and not to pander to the whims of those in government.
They should be made to act in accordance with the needs and wishes of the masses of our people. And everything done for the masses must start from their needs and not from the desire of any individual, however well-intentioned. There are two principles here: one is the actual needs of the masses rather than what we fancy they need, and the other is the wishes of the masses, who must make up their own minds instead of our making up their minds for them. Their duty should be to hold themselves responsible to the people.
By Inonge Noyoo
Saturday December 15, 2007 [03:00]
CARITAS Zambia has questioned the awarding of hefty allowances to the National Constitution Conference delegates considering the country’s economic situation. Commenting on the delegates’ allowances, Caritas Zambia executive director Sam Mulafulafu stated that while it was appreciated that the members were going to be working, the allocation still raised a lot of questions considering Zambia’s economic situation.
Mulafulafu has since cautioned the government to be prudent in the manner in which it spends public resources.
He expressed concern that with such hefty allowances and the poverty prevailing in the country, the objectivity of the delegates would be marred.
Mulafulafu stated that the cumulative amount was therefore in excess of K100 billion and questioned why the delegates should be paid such colossal amounts.
“It is a shame that but now it has enough money to spoil those who are going to sit on the NCC,” he noted.
“Caritas Zambia which is part of the Oasis Forum raised this concern of hefty allowances from the beginning of this debate and the Zambia Episcopal Conference even suggested that bodies being represented under the NCC should meet at least half the costs of their delegates.”
The NCC delegates are entitled to a sitting allowance of K500,000 per sitting and subsistence allowance of K650,000 per day. They are also entitled to transport allowance of K100,000 per day and transport refund of K300,000 for those who reside outside Lusaka.
By Sandra Mulowa
Saturday December 15, 2007 [03:00]
THE Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) has charged the police officer who allegedly planted a drug on a Lusaka businessman with drug trafficking. And four police officers, a reserve officer and a southern region Zesco commandant have been arrested for alleged theft, assault and planting a drug on Christopher Malunga, a Lusaka businessman.
Recently, a Kabwata police officer, Albert Hachoose, confessed to having framed Malunga by planting drugs on him.
Hachoose recently pleaded for forgiveness from Malunga in the presence of a criminal investigations officer and other senior officers.
Malunga had explained that police beat and locked him up on September 20, 2007 around 21:45 hours when he had gone to see his brother who was detained at Kabwata Police.
Hachoose was arrested during the week and charged with drug trafficking
DEC public relations and liaison officer Rosten Chulu yesterday said Hachose was expected to appear in court soon.
“Yes, I can confirm that the ball of cannabis was surrendered to us. We also got statements from both the officer (Hachoose) and the victim (Malunga),” he said.
Chulu also said that Hachoose was now under DEC and that the drug weighed slightly over three grams.
He also said that Malunga was cautioned over his statement that DEC was rubbish.
And Malunga on Wednesday said that Hachoose, constable Munalula Liyali of Kabwata police, sub-inspector Malbin Gunduzani, sergeants Muhau Siwisha and Mathew Musumuko were arrested in connection with his case
Police spokesperson Bonnie Kapeso confirmed the arrests and added that they would wait for instructions from the command.
“We have four police officers, one reserve and a Zesco security officer. Police need to get the command to get the suspects to court,” he said.
He said the suspects had been charged with assault and theft.
“Only the one with drugs (Hachoose) has been handed to DEC,” he said.
Kapeso also confirmed that the suspects except Hachoose had been released on police bond.
By Edwin Mbulo in Livingstone and Amos Malupenga in Lusaka
Saturday December 15, 2007 [03:00]
Patriotic Front (PF) president Michael Sata is headed for a political eclipse, defence minister George Mpombo has said. And home affairs minister Lt Gen Ronnie Shikapwasha has said Sata is fighting God by insisting on expelling his officials who have resolved to participate in the NCC.
Speaking during the closure of the first session of the Zambia-Mozambique Joint Permanent Commission on defence and security at Chrismar Hotel in Livingstone on Thursday, Mpombo said the National Constitution Conference (NCC) had started off on a resounding note despite efforts by Sata to block his members from attending.
“Our arrangements over the national constitution are unprecedented in the history of Zambian politics as it is broad based. The PF tried to block this but as I speak, more than half of the PF members have registered. The PF is at crossroads, Sata is headed for political eclipse,” Mpombo said.
He said that members of parliament were elected by the people and the people’s voices could not be taken away.
“You cannot stifle people’s voices, the NCC is deadly on course and those with divergent views we will respect them, but we don’t want to stifle the majority,” he said.
And commenting on Sata’s threats to expel all party officials who have defied his directive to boycott participation in the NCC, Lt Gen Shikapwasha said if Sata insisted on expelling his members of parliament and councilors, he would be fighting God.
“Mr Sata should not be fighting God. It’s God who wants the Zambian people to have a new constitution so let Mr Sata not go ahead and suspend or expel his MPs and councillors,” Lt Gen Shikapwasha said. “There are more than 50 per cent of PF MPs and councilors who have decided to participate in the NCC. In fact, this should be taken as a vote of no confidence in Mr. Sata. And Mr Sata should realise that God is bigger than him.”
Meanwhile, Mpombo said that Zambia was at peace with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
He said the press had portrayed misleading reports over the government’s resolve to discontinue and close all criminal and civil actions against DRC’s Katanga Province governor Moses Katumbi.
“Security matters cannot be discussed in the streets and do not need to go back to the people before taking fundamental decisions,” he said.
Mpombo said some of the people making noise over Katumbi’s matter were not within the boundaries of Zambia and were playing with political dynamite.
“This is a painful issue and we had to take it in the best interest of Zambia and anything contrary is not for the good of Zambia,” said Mpombo.
By Edwin Mbulo in Livingstone
Saturday December 15, 2007 [03:00]
DEFENCE minister George Mpombo has urged the security services of Zambia and Mozambique to strengthen their cooperation through regular interactions at various levels. And Zambia has congratulated Mozambique for the political stability and democracy achieved through holding of regular elections. Speaking at the closure of the first session of the Zambia – Mozambique Joint Permanent Commission on security and defence at Chrismar Hotel in Livingstone on Thursday, Mpombo said that issues of security and defence agreed at the first session must be implemented without delay.
“It is only by doing so that this commission will be appreciated by our people and leaders, and I wish to call the two delegations to explore various way of ensuring that the co-operation between Zambia and Mozambique is nurtured for the benefit of our peoples,” he said.
Mpombo stated that this co-operation should not be restricted to officials at national level but should also apply at lower structures.
And Mozambique national defence minister Tobias Joaquim Dai hoped that the commission’s objectives would be achieved.
“The commission’s objectives will provide the two countries an opportunity to reach a consensus on mutual relationships,” he stated.
According to a communiqué issued at the end of the first session of the meeting the Zambia delegation led by Mpombo also commended Mozambique for the sustained economic achievements which had greatly improved the lives of its people.
The Joint Permanent Commission also commended the government of Zambia and Mozambique for the establishing the Joint Permanent Commission on defence and security.
“The commission expressed confidence that this will enhance the warm and cordial relations existing between the two countries,” the statement read in part.
The commission further commended the efforts of SADC in ensuring sustainable peace in the region by launching the SADC standby brigade last August in Lusaka during the SADC summit.
“Notwithstanding these positive developments the commission expressed concerns over the displacement of civilians resulting from on going fighting between the Democratic Republic of Congo forces and the militias loyal to renegade General Laurent Nkundabatware in the eastern part of that country, the commission pledged to support all international efforts aimed at resolving the issue,” read the communiqué.
The commission further stated that it was becoming concerned over the increasing vulnerability of the Southern African region to the threats of terrorism, illegal migration, human trafficking, drug trafficking and armed robberies.
The commission reaffirmed its commitment to the fight against HIV and AIDS and commended the defence and security services of the two countries for putting in place effective programmes intended to combat the scourge.
Friday, December 14, 2007
By Jane Danowitz
December 11, 2007
Gifts of jewelry -- particularly gold -- are a perennial favorite on Santa's list. And with the metal's price hovering near $800 an ounce, the tiniest golden bauble, bangle or bead will be a coveted commodity. But even if you don't elect to splurge on this luxury, it will still cost you plenty because mining companies from around the world can take gold from U.S. lands basically for free, leaving taxpayers with nothing but the cost of cleaning up the damage that mining leaves behind.
Although the practice seems naughty, it's all nice and legal because of an obsolete federal law. And although the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed legislation to close the loopholes, the metal mining industry's allies in the Senate may block the long-overdue reforms.
The mining of gold and other hard-rock minerals on public lands is governed by the General Mining Law of 1872, which has remained virtually unchanged since it was signed by President Grant to encourage settlement of the West. The statute was designed to reward pioneers who survived the trek across the frontier with the opportunity to mine gold and other metals freely and in unlimited amounts.
The prospectors are long gone, but the incentives remain. Today, the highly profitable hard-rock mining industry -- much of it foreign-owned -- continues to receive generous U.S. tax breaks. And it pays virtually nothing for gold and other precious metals it takes from public lands with few restraints. In sharp contrast, oil, gas and coal companies have been reimbursing taxpayers for decades with billions of dollars in royalties that were paid for resources removed from federal property.
Not surprisingly, such free and easy access has resulted in the United States joining the ranks of the world's top producers of gold, most of which ends up as jewelry. And despite its escalating cost, world demand is soaring. The United States now imports less gold than it sends overseas, predominantly to eager consumers in India, China and the Middle East.
The gold may be exported, but the mess made stays behind. The production of just one gold ring generates about 20 tons of waste, according to one mining policy organization, much of it left to litter the landscape as well as polluting rivers and streams. Today, most gold is mined from open pits, which can run a mile long and equally as deep. Utah's Bingham Canyon, which produces gold as well as copper, silver and molybdenum, forms a crater large enough to be visible from outer space.
Moreover, once the ore has been excavated, mining companies separate the gold from the rock with cyanide -- a substance so toxic that voters in Montana have outlawed its use in outdoor chemical processing. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, taxpayers face a bill of more than $50 billion to clean up the waste and water contamination that gold and other hard-rock mining has left behind.
It's about to get worse. Driven by record demand and a weak U.S. dollar, investors and speculators are snatching up mining claims at an alarming rate. A recent analysis of government data by the nonpartisan Environmental Working Group found that, in the last five years, there has been an 80% increase in the number of new mining claims in 12 Western states, many within a stone's throw of Grand Canyon, Yosemite and other national parks.
A solution may finally be at hand. The House recently passed bipartisan legislation that would establish royalty payments and set up long-overdue environmental standards for operations and cleanup, as well as provide special protection for parks, wild and scenic river corridors, and national forest roadless areas. The measure faces a tougher test in the Senate, where its important environmental and taxpayer protections could get watered down by mining industry allies.
Mining is an important part of the nation's economy. But it must be regulated by modern law -- one that protects the environment and the taxpayers. Considering the billions of dollars of precious metals the hard-rock mining industry has been given without charge, it's time for Congress to stop playing Santa for a few companies and start thinking about leaving a little something for the taxpayers who have been footing the bills.
Jane Danowitz directs the Pew Charitable Trusts' Campaign for Responsible Mining.
By Nomusa Michelo
Friday December 14, 2007 [03:00]
United Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema has said the re-negotiation of mining agreements should be mutually beneficial to the people of Zambia and the mining houses. In an interview, Hichilema said if there was reluctance either on the part of the government or the mining houses to reach a compromise, the people of Zambia would continue to put pressure, which no one would withstand.
“It is a requirement that the people of Zambia benefit from the mineral resource endowment that God gave us and so it must be a mutually win-win situation between the citizens and the investors,” he said.
“That is how it happens everywhere in the world. When there is an up turn in the metal commodity prices, the citizens that own the resource benefit as well. And they benefit by the mining houses paying more and appropriate tax.”
Hichilema said the increase in taxes should be proportionate to the incremental value in terms of income arising from commodity prices.
“So it’s not an optional issue, it’s only optional because there is some hesitation that the MMD government has and you must understand they are the ones who did these deals, so they are hesitant,” he said. “But the Zambians should not suffer because of that.
Appropriate taxation must be done like yesterday, so it’s really not a question of option. Also for the mining houses, they must come to the table quickly and cooperate.”
Hichilema said failure by the mining houses to cooperate with the government could result in the latter using unconventional methods.
“Failure to cooperate is inviting unorthodox ways of doing it,” he said. “As a businessman I would like a negotiated settlement that is properly done so that it does not send the wrong signal about the stability of the investment environment.”
By Joan Chirwa
Friday December 14, 2007 [03:00]
China will continue to dominate our markets as long as Zambia fails to develop its manufacturing sector, Global Justice Zambia director John Phiri has said. Phiri said Zambia’s weak industrial base was behind the increased dumping of Chinese goods on the local market.
He however said China’s strategy towards Africa’s development, which had proved to be stronger than that of Europe, had accommodated a number of people still living in extreme poverty.
“I think its time we critically looked at why we are getting the kind of Chinese products seen on the market. About 80 per cent of people in Zambia still live in poverty and I don’t think we are proving worthwhile than the Africa-Europe partnership. China’s strategy accommodates all groups, from the poorest to the richest citizens,” Phiri said.
“We should not expect China to be giving us more of high quality products because very few can afford them since a high number of people still live in poverty.
It is very important that Africa understands that China has a strategy that is different from Europe in terms of assistance.”
Phiri, who represented African youths at the European Union/Africa civil society forum in Lisbon, last month, said Europe was now realising how powerful China had become in terms of assisting African countries.
He urged the EU to rethink its strategy for Africa and ensure that its partnership with African countries benefited all groups for people in society.
“The fact is that Europe has no raw materials and it depends on Africa. It is therefore important that Europe changes its focus in its partnership with Africa so that many people can benefit from the co-operation,” Phiri said.
“During our EU-Africa civil society meetings, I foresaw a situation where Europe is panicking because of China’s presence in Africa. There is a paradigm shift in power and China is increasingly becoming an economic monster.”
By Muyoyeta Simasiku
Friday December 14, 2007 [03:00]
When we debate issues and we get overwhelming consensus, we need to ensure that the government implements those issues. A lot of things get talked over and then die a natural death just like that. The greatest challenge that is threatening our nation's development is how to get the government act on people's interests. I really don't understand why those in government do what they like as though they were small gods. I thought it is the will of the people that must prevail.
The need for a reduction of a bloated government cannot be over-emphasised, and it is long overdue.
Compared to many developed countries, we have a relatively smaller population of only 11 million people; a poor nation whose budget is heavily dependent on borrowing and yet we have more than twice the number of government ministers and their deputies and support workers trying to pay themselves huge perks from the very meagre resources that are supposed to be allocated to the starving poor.
I don't get it - is this the way to combat unemployment - employ as many people into government positions as possible, even at the expense of the majority poor?
I wrote earlier this year in this column about the various unproductive positions that exist in government - every position has an assistant and/or deputy and yet they all seem to be doing the same tasks.
I also wrote about how every position at a director or managerial level has a secretary, doing pretty much nothing but answering phone calls and making coffee for their bosses all day long while their bosses are busy reading newspapers or are driving around the city.
What is more striking is that, despite all these many workers, government departments are still about the most inefficient and unproductive in Zambia.
And why does Mulongoti think we are that dim-witted by giving, probably the dumbest excuse to the problem of a bloated government? Your editorial exposed his argument. Listen Mulongoti, here is a suggestion on which ministries you need to create and keep - you need to abolish all the others:
1. Ministry of Defence
2. Ministry of Social services, Poverty and Child Development
3. Ministry of Law, Order and Homeland Security
4. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration
5. Ministry of Education, Skills and Employment
6. Ministry of Health, Malaria and HIV/AIDS
7. Ministry of Finance, Economy, Development and Indigenous Empowerment
8. Ministry of Agriculture, Environment and Climate Change
9. Ministry of Culture, Civil Rights and Sports
That's just 9 ministries Mulongoti. All you need is one minister for each ministry and probably allocate deputies to 2 or 3 strategic ministries. This will save us heaps of money to be allocated to the people and you could still maintain your tribal balancing if you like.
By Fr Kapya Kaoma
Friday December 14, 2007 [03:00] Print Article Email Article
Long before the question of investigating Chiluba's corruption was raised, The Post published an article entitled "Why not arrest Chiluba and Mwanawasa?."
In that article the author questioned the morality of fighting corruption with Mwanawasa as President. It is against the law to possess stolen property, that is why Regina Chiluba is being investigated.
In fact, common sense suggests that we arrest Mwanawasa and the entire MMD leadership because they are beneficiaries of Chiluba's corrupt rule.
Fellow Zambians, should we drop charges against Katumbi just because he is the governor of Katanga? God forbid! Ethically, it is a lesser evil to discontinue the case against a former president than a mere governor.
The Task Force has investigated the army, the office of the president's ZAMTROP account, ZNS, and other security agencies, on which our national security hangs. Ironically, on Katumbi, the MMD wants to safeguard national security. In addition, the Task Torce has cost Zambians too much tax payers' money.
Today, they tell us that investigating Katumbi would be too costly.
Mr President, by discontinuing the case against Katumbi, you have discontinued your fight against corruption.
There's more to Katumbi's case than meets the eye
By Chilumba Ngosa
Friday December 14, 2007 [03:00]
Moses Katumbi today has been turned into a saint whilst Frederick Chiluba is still being branded a hard core criminal. Can our learned collegues at LAZ educate the masses under which laws this ‘rule of laws’ (MMD) operates?
Crime by definition is an act or ommission probihibited and punishable by law. So the obvious question a lay person like myself is asking is: Where does our independent legal system justify its existence? Don't they have the right to reject certain proposals in the interest of the nation?
I feel there is more to Katumbi’s case than meets the eye. The government knows what it is doing. There is some scam that they are shelding which needs to be unearthed.
If it does not happen in Dr LPM's time, it will do so under another president. What is burried under there should really be smelly that it has affected the whole government.
I wonder what the Task Force on corruption will now be chasing. Indeed, why not discontinue Chiluba's case. It has wasted a lot of money and made some people rich?
During Levy's rule, a lot of crooks have been shielded from the arm of the law, while the same arm is being stretched hard on others.
A crime is a crime irrespective of one's social status.
What is the implication of such immoral actions to our future generation? The world has seen big names fall - Paul Wolfwiz of the World Bank, Enron, etc.
Why can't Katumbi clear his name in the courts of law so that we know who has dirt on their hands?
I am disgusted.
By Lambwe Kachali, Noel Sichalwe and Patson Chilemba
Friday December 14, 2007 [03:00]
Twenty-five out of the 28 Patriotic Front (PF) members of parliament who registered to participate in the National Constitution Conference (NCC) yesterday refused to resign their positions and dared party president Michael Sata to take any action against them. But Sata maintained that all PF officials who would participate in the NCC would be expelled without fail.
Meanwhile, three out of the 28 PF members of parliament who registered to participate in the NCC yesterday withdrew their registration.
And Chief Justice Ernest Sakala has advised members of the NCC to put aside their personal, organization and party interest in order to come up with a constitution that would stand a test of time.
Briefing the press after the swearing in ceremony at Mulungushi International Conference Centre, spokesperson for PF members of parliament participating in the NCC, Peter Machungwa, said Sata's expulsion threats against them were unlikely to yield positive results.
"As regards disciplinary threats against us, it is our hope that common sense will prevail and that the divide and rule tactics being used are unlikely to yield positive results as we hold the view that an injury to one of us is an injury to all of us as PF members including the party president," Machungwa said, as he paraded MPs and councillors that are now NCC members.
"However, this is an internal party matter and has to be resolved internally. We are members of the Patriotic Front, we respect all those who decided not to participate and hope that posterity will show that we mean well for our party, our co-operating partners like NGOs and the Church mother bodies and indeed the entire people of Zambia."
Machungwa announced that 28 PF members of parliament, six mayors and two councillors had registered to participate in the NCC deliberations while several others had written to the Secretary to the Treasury that they would participate. Machungwa said in deciding to participate in the NCC deliberations, the members of parliament considered the Constitution as the main law and foundation of all laws in Zambia.
He said as such, it was essential that they strengthened the position of those with similar views on the NCC in whatever way to improve on the outcome of the deliberations on the Constitution. Machungwa said even where the PF NCC members were outnumbered, they would ensure that their views and voices of the minority were heard and recorded.
"The MPs are mindful of the new deal government's refusal to include amendments in the NCC Act that would have made the conference more inclusive and representative of various stakeholders in our country," Machungwa said.
"The MPs, therefore, intend to continue to push for the provisions that will benefit all the people of Zambia. It is their considered view that the total withdraw from such an important task will not best serve the interest of our constituents and the people of Zambia, rather it will even give greater opportunity for those who may not mean well to manipulate and determine the outcome of the constitutional conference deliberations."
Machungwa said it was important to note that the recent history in the country and throughout the African continent had shown that boycotts rarely yielded desired results, if anything, they have led to disastrous consequences for boycotters and those they represented.
Machungwa said that is why some PF MPs and councillors had decided to be part of the NCC deliberations.
However, three MPs - Jean Kapata from Mandevu constituency, Mwiimba Malama from Mfuwe and Mark Mushili from Ndola Central withdrew their registration from participating in the NCC.
But Sata said it would not be retrogressive to the nation and PF if he expelled the members of parliament who have defied his order for them not to participate in the NCC.
Featuring on 5 FM's Burning Issue radio programme yesterday, Sata - who commended action by some members of parliament to withdraw from the NCC - said he would expel those members that defied the party order.
"There is nothing retrogressive about it. They are going to spend K279 billion plus K20 billion. Any by-elections will cost K6 billion. In any democracy, when there is a controversy there must be a referendum.
The referendum is the one which is going to endorse Jean Kapata, which is going to endorse Sampa Bredt, which is going to endorse Elizabeth Chitika-Mulobeka's party, whether they agree that they should spend K279 billion on just making a recommendation to President Mwanawasa," Sata said.
"So we want the people themselves under this party of Elizabeth Chitika and Peter Machungwa...let them resign from PF and let the people go and endorse them and then they can find a qualification, not hiding in PF. And this is very clear because it's a referendum whether the people support them that they should spend K279 billion just to make a recommendation to President Mwanawasa."
Sata said it was a lie for members of parliament to claim that their motivation for going to the NCC was to enact laws.
"The members of parliament enact laws in parliament and members of parliament don't make recommendations. Members of parliament enact laws. In this NCC, they are not enacting laws," Sata said. "They should wait for the time when the constitutional bill goes to parliament, that's when they are supposed to enact laws."
He said PF has already informed its provincial committees to start receiving applications from other party members to replace those who have defied the party directive.
"Dr Peter Machungwa is very educated. He comes from the swamps, there is no independence there but because of money they are going to participate," said Sata.
He said he was not disappointed that people who seemed closer to him had defied his directive. However, Sata said even Jesus Christ was betrayed for a few pieces of silver.
Speaking on the same programme, Kapata apologised to PF and the people of Mandevu constituency for defying Sata's orders on the NCC. She said the hefty allowances she would have been entitled to at the NCC could be channelled towards developing her area.
"I've done this withdrawn because the party has said we should not go. I'm in parliament because of the party. I do this also for the people of Mazyopa. Why should I go to receive money when the people are suffering? I'm not going to the NCC but I'm going to stay behind and support my party president Mr Sata," Kapata said.
"I'm giving back the K800,000 I received after registration yesterday (Wednesday)."
Malama also said he would return to government the K6.2 million he received upon registration.
But Chifubu PF member of parliament Benson Bwalya insisted that he would not withdraw his participation from the NCC.
He said it was an insult for people to suggest that members of parliament were going to the conference for the sake of enriching themselves.
Meanwhile, swearing in the 321 NCC members in the presence of Vice-President Rupiah Banda, Chief Justice Sakala urged the NCC members to take into account the different views irrespective of their political differences.
"I therefore urge you all to reflect and take the views of the Zambians that have been expressed and not only look at your individual needs and perfection but look at the constitution as our supreme law that knows no creed, tribe, gender, and political affiliations," justice Sakala said. "All members of the conference, therefore need to reflect briefly on the importance of the task and the responsibility that the Zambians have bestowed on them."
Justice Sakala said although the constitutional process had generated a lot of debate and controversy, there was need for Zambians to unite and attain a common goal.
"You are all aware that the NCC has generated a lot of debate countrywide with people expressing strong diverse views at different levels of our society. This should be a by-gone and we need to unite now.
The fact that you have been appointed to represent the millions of the citizens of this country speaks volumes of what is expected of you. All the members of the constitutional conference need to mind that the people of Zambia have put trust in you to ably represent their views, aspirations, hopes and desires," justice Sakala said.
He also said the interest of the vulnerable people should be considered during the NCC deliberation.
"As members of NCC, you need to realise that the oath you have taken contains very important and strong words. So there is every need that you appreciate the words and language. For instance, the words like ‘faithfully, impartially, to the best of my ability’, were not randomly picked from the dictionary but rather they were deliberately in line with the course you have embarked on today. It is every Zambian's expectation that a good constitution is put in place.
So take into consideration the needs of Zambians irrespective of whether one is rich or poor, sane, woman, man, a child or a convict. The various interests of different groups of our society need to be captured and incorporated in the constitution," justice Sakala said. "Therefore, institutional interest should not be allowed to prevail in the conference but those of the country as a whole."
Chief government spokesperson Mike Mulongoti said it would be wrong for Sata to expel members of parliament who have decided to participate in the NCC deliberations.
Mulongoti said it would be strange for Sata to expel people who were obeying the law. He said the NCC was now an Act of Parliament and that all members of parliament participated when debating the bill. He said PF members of parliament who might be expelled had the legal recourse of challenging the decision in the court of law.
"We want everybody to participate freely and nobody should feel intimidated. As government, we are happy that a lot of people have come," Mulongoti said.
He said PF members who might be expelled were free to apply to join the MMD and later apply to re-contest their respective constituencies together with other MMD members.
He further said it was not correct to insinuate that NCC members were motivated by monitory gains that would accrue through allowances during the sittings.
"Why single out MPs and yet there are many people representing various organiaations in the NCC?" Mulongoti asked. "Not all these people have come because they have followed money. Is it not that when some presidents of political parties get money, they don't even share it with their members of parliament?"
UPND spokesperson Charles Kakoma said his party was ready to participate in the NCC deliberations and ensure that the 50 percent plus one votes clause was adopted for presidential candidates.
Kakoma said people had trusted the NCC to come up with a good constitution that would stand the test of time. He said UPND would further advocate for the independence of the electoral system and the clauses that deal with social and economic rights.
"If these issues will not be achieved, then we will be wasting government resources," he said.
Zambia Congress of Trade Union president Leonard Hikaumba said he expected the NCC to reflect the views of the majority Zambians that submitted on the need for a good constitution.
"For our participation, we will ensure that we work towards that line. If we don't come to that area, then we will be disappointing the Zambian people," Hikaumba said.
Friday December 14, 2007 [03:00]
The proclamation by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe that their sovereignty, today and in the future, is not negotiable and that the economic empowerment of their indigenous people cannot be compromised cannot attract any disquisition. The subordination of one country to another must disappear before any democracy can exist. How can a country that is dependent, that has lost sovereignty be democratic?
It can't be democratic, nor can a country be democratic if it has a land distribution system under which the majority have very little land and count for nothing economically, a country that has deep social differences, inequality and social injustice; a country where people don't have access to wealth, well-being or anything else.
In those conditions, there can't be any kind of democracy, because there isn't any participation by the people or any cooperation among them.
What obtains under such circumstances is permanent civil war - the society is divided into countless parts, so the nation can't tackle basic problems, and the whole system becomes a tool of imperialism for maintaining its domination. In such conditions, political plurality becomes nothing but an artifice aimed at dividing the people.
But no matter what proclamations are made if they don't result in increased unity, if they don't promote unity in the nation very little, if not nothing, will be achieved.
Therefore, democracy implies the defence of all the rights of citizens, including the right to independence, freedom, national dignity and honour.
In a world in which peace truly reigns and in which the respect for the sovereignty of other countries is high, democracy can take many forms of expression.
In a world in which the hegemony of the mightiest reigns and the peoples' sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence are threatened, democracy won't have many different forms of expression.
It is true many countries and governments in the world are starting to have a different view of the Zimbabwean situation.
The involvement of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and through it the African Union (AU), is starting to give the Zimbabwean political crisis a different dimension. Instead of President Mugabe having to explain the situation in Zimbabwe, South African President Thabo Mbeki who has been tasked by SADC to find a solution to the political differences in that country is speaking for them.
President Mbeki articulates the Zimbabwean issues very well and has the courage and conviction to do so.
We think President Mbeki is defending certain principles of tremendous value at a time of confusion and opportunism in the world, a time when many politicians are prostituting with imperialism and are feathering their own nests.
President Mbeki has been under a lot of pressure to turn his back on Zimbabwe, denounce Mugabe and help secure a regime change in that country. All this under the guise of human rights protection and promotion of good governance.
But one would wish what President Mbeki is doing now was started much earlier. If this was so, Zimbabwe would not have been battered to the poor economic state it is in today.
The political divisions that where unleashed in that country and allowed to deepen have opened a fissure for imperialist intervention. Some Zimbabweans allowed themselves to be manipulated and used in the destruction of their own country.
They went around campaigning on behalf of imperialism for sanctions to be imposed on their country. And indeed the sanctions and isolation of Zimbabwe came and helped to achieve what we see in that country today.
But surprisingly, the same people who campaigned and introduced sanctions in that country are the ones in the forefront today bemoaning how Mugabe has destroyed the economy of his country and subjected his people to immense suffering.
There's a contradiction here. Truly Zimbabwe is facing an economic and political crisis for which President Mugabe and his comrades, opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangerai and his colleagues must answer for.
It cannot be denied that the policies and political practices of ZANU-PF helped divide the people of Zimbabwe and gave birth to elements, agents of imperialism like the ones we see today in that country's opposition and certain sections of its civil society.
For this reason, the political leaders of that country are responsible for the hardships that the people of Zimbabwe are today enduring. And for that reason Tsvangerai should also be made to answer for his helping imperialist schemes to be effective in the destruction of that country.
Zimbabwe is an incredible case of self-destruction and its leaders both in the ruling ZANU PF, opposition MDC and the civil society are responsible for this destruction. Some destroyed it wittingly; others, unwittingly.
Everything they did led to the destruction of Zimbabwe's economy; all the phenomenon and all the tendencies that were unleashed there led to destruction. If one starts a process in which all of a country's values begin to be destroyed, that process is very negative.
It is a matter not of the analysis or criticism of problems, but of the destruction and negation of all the values, merits and history of that country's political struggles. We think nobody envisaged or could conceive of such a thing. We can't believe that all the political leaders of that country who initiated that process had that intention.
They did make enormous mistakes by failing to foresee the consequences of what they were doing and by not doing the right thing to reach the goals and purposes they proclaimed - which, of course, were necessary and legitimate. Many of the strategic and tactical mistakes that where made were viewed as the correct way of doing things.
Then, when all those negative tendencies were unleashed, opportunistic elements were also introduced, plus all of the elements that wittingly acted to aid imperialism destroy that country. Naturally, the United States and Britain and their allies helped to destroy Zimbabwe's economy, urging on the opportunistic forces there.
The United States and Britain couldn't have destroyed Zimbabwe's economy if the leaders of that country themselves hadn't destroyed it first, if those responsible for the political leadership and government of that country hadn't already destroyed that country, which is what happened. Zimbabwe's economy didn't die a natural death - it was assassinated.
But there can be a reverse of fortunes if a correct political strategy is deployed to leverage the positive results arising from the SADC and AU intervention. The support of SADC and other AU countries is something that leaders of Zimbabwe, both in the ruling ZANU-PF and opposition MDC, should capitalise on to create new opportunities for promoting unity and political stability in the country so that their people can cooperate to solve the problems facing the country.
It will not help matters much if while SADC and AU leaders are urging imperialism to ease up on Zimbabwe, some citizens of that country are trotting Western capitals urging them to tighten the squeeze until there is a regime change. It should not be forgotten that governments and politicians with a revolutionary history are never dealt with like that, they can't be ordered or pushed around.
One must negotiate with them and reach some compromises - but not to try to blackmail them because they can never be blackmailed into submission, they would normally rather die than face such humiliation. This is what British Prime Minister Gordon Brown should try to understand in his dealings with the leaders of that country.
As for the leaders of Zimbabwe, there's need to put more efforts in promoting national unity as they consolidate what would appear to be political gains at the international level. Measures should be taken to ensure that imperialism does not have any new basis for opening new political offensives in that country to regain the ground it is today losing.
But this requires humility and respect for the humanity of others, be they political allies or opponents.
There's need to ensure that all Zimbabweans of goodwill are allowed to participate freely in the affairs of their country and in the manner they deem fit. Again, this requires daily negotiations and compromises.
They should never get tired of talking to each other and compromising with each other. There has to be unending accommodation of each other. This does not only apply to the ruling ZANU-PF, but to opposition MDC as well.
By Joan Chirwa
Friday December 14, 2007 [03:00]
ZESCO Limited will start paying dividends to the government once its profitability levels are raised, managing director Rhodnie Sisala has said. Sisala said the power utility was currently not making enough profits to guarantee a dividend to the government owing to major rehabilitation projects undertaken as well as low electricity tariffs being charged.
He was commenting on finance minister Ng’andu Magande’s statement that investments maybe withdrawn from parastatals that were not paying dividends to the government as a shareholder.
“We have not been paying dividends to the government of late because of what is going on in the electricity industry, particularly what Zesco Limited has embarked on to try and rehabilitate and up-rate some of its equipment at different power stations in the country,” Sisala said. “This venture costs a lot of money.
We have spent millions of US dollars so far on the rehabilitation project and we are still undertaking major projects around the country to try and have a higher electricity generation capacity that can meet the increasing demand for power in this country and the region as well. Am sure you are aware that part of our equipment is currently not working because we have to rehabilitate it.”
Sisala further said Zesco, which had one of the lowest tariffs in the region, was making huge losses from charging below average fees for electricity in the country.
Zesco has already submitted an application to the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) for an upward adjustment to both domestic and commercial tariffs by between 45 and 70 per cent.
A public hearing was recently convened where, urging the power utility to review its proposed tariff rates, consumers said the magnitude of the proposed increment was not acceptable.
“Once we have our tariffs revised and the rehabilitation projects completed, we will return to profitability and that time, we will have no reasons for not paying dividends to the government as one of the shareholders of Zesco Limited,” Sisala said. “For now, what we are saying is we need to work on our returns through the revision of tariffs and complete the rehabilitation of equipment at various power stations across the country.”
Magande on Wednesday said it was unprofitable for the government to maintain its shares in parastatals that had not been paying dividends to it as a shareholder.
He said very few of the several parastatals in the country were paying dividends to the government, when the investments made were worth trillions of kwacha.
Development Bank of Zambia (DBZ), another parastatal in the country, said the institution would first study Magande’s statement before stating its position on the matter.
And Zambia Telecommunications Company (ZAMTEL) managing director Simon Tembo could not comment as his mobile phone was constantly out of reach.
And Zambia State Insurance Corporation (ZSIC) yesterday said its delay to pay dividends to the government was not deliberate but as a result of the nature of insurance business.
ZSIC managing director Irene Muyenga said insurance was a probability business as the corporation has had to settle huge claims recently to KCM and BGRIMM Explosives, making it difficult to pay a dividend to the government.
She however said the payment of dividends to the government was part of the corporation’s business plan for the coming year.
By Mulimbi Mulaliki in Solwezi
Friday December 14, 2007 [03:00]
SOLWEZI mayor Emmanuel Chihili has denied media reports of nepotism in recent appointment of senior staff at the council. But establishment committee chairman Fanwell Kabozha has maintained that procedure was not followed in the appointment of senior staff as his committee was not involved. Briefing the press at the council chamber on Wednesday, Chihili defended the appointments saying they were in compliance with section 14 statutory instrument No. 155 of 1996.
“I want to mention that the appointments were done by the council in compliance with section 14 of statutory instrument No. 155 of 1996. The council is a supreme body which is not bound to accept every recommendation of its committee, subject to section 35 of the local government Act cap 281 of the Laws of Zambia.”
“The council is at liberty to delegate either absolutely or conditionally to a committee or to any officer of the council the powers to discharge any function on behalf of the council,” Chihili said.
He explained that sub section three empowered the council to either withdraw or alter any delegation to a committee.
“I want to say that it is not a secret that Naomi Tetamashimba Khumalo is a daughter to Hon. Benny Tetamashimba, deputy minister of Local Government and Housing. This is a fact that was disclosed from the time the lady was employed by the council in 2001.”
“The deputy minister did comply with standing order No. 19 by declaring interest during the interviews. It also happened when she went for training and during the meeting at which Mrs. Khumalo was promoted, Hon. Tetamashimba was absent as well as the other members of parliament,” Chihili said.
Last Thursday, some Solwezi councillors questioned among others the appointment of Naomi who was elevated to deputy director in-charge of monitoring the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) from being a record keeper in the office of the town clerk.
Another appointment was that of Frederick Bwalya who was deputy director of engineering but now appointed town planner, which according to the councillors was a big demotion.
But Chihili said that Kabozha was the only one aggrieved about the appointments because his niece, Aggie Kombe, who was employed as council guesthouse manager was redeployed as procurement officer because of her poor performance.
“The statements of Kabozha are not only false but malicious aimed at bringing down Hon. Tetamashimba, the mayor and also the council. It is not good for the people of Solwezi for us to be spending time gossiping and sowing discord and hatred amongst ourselves,” he said.
But Kabozha challenged Chihili to produce evidence indicating that his committee was involved in the recent appointments of senior staff at the council.
“I found the mayor and the town clerk (Jim Zya) in his office and two other gentlemen I don’t know, preparing the list of people to be appointed. I never saw any single file of any employee and I am ready to be challenged anywhere even in court because procedure was not followed,” Kabozha said.
Kabozha explained that the establishment committee was supposed to employ and make recommendations to the full council and not the mayor sitting with the town clerk in his office to make appointments.
Kabozha said he only learnt of what the mayor was doing when he was going to attend the full council meeting.
By Pride Bwalya
Friday December 14, 2007 [03:00]
Agriculture and Co-operatives director of human resources Boniface Nalishiwa has bemoaned the poor work culture by registry staff under the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives. Nalishiwa expressed concern over the problem of losing files. He said that important documents and files on various issues for public service officers such as emoluments, retirements, confirmations and promotions were taking long to be dealt with due to poor working attitude by some registry officers.
Nalishiwa said that some officers were not even found in offices and were not security conscious, committed and had poor work culture.
He said that record keeping in public service was part of state security that needed to be improved upon.
Nalishiwa said that registry departments in his ministry and other government departments were nerve centres of all systems ranging from security to decision-making in public service delivery.
He was speaking during the official opening of a one-week workshop on records management for Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives registry staff held at Zambia College of Agriculture (ZCA) in Monze on Wednesday.
He said that the workshop was intended to help registry staff in the ministry of agriculture to appreciate the whole concept of record management for them to improve and get acquainted with the new systems developed.
Nalishiwa said the government was aware that a good working environment played a pivotal role in motivating staff.
By Mwala Kalaluka
Friday December 14, 2007 [03:00]
Kawambwa district commissioner Wilbroad Mumba has said improved library facilities in rural areas will help keep teachers at their stations whilst pursuing advanced distance education courses. And Luapula Province education officer, Florence Kanchebele, has bemoaned the scarce library facilities at both institutional and public levels in the country.
During a handover ceremony for books donated to Kawambwa Public Library and Mwense High School by the United States (US) Embassy in Zambia on Tuesday, Mumba said the lack of relevant books and proper instruction materials was the major challenge in rural-based teachers’ efforts to pursue higher education.
Mumba said he appreciated distance education courses that most of the teachers in the district were pursuing because it allowed them to advance their educational interests without abandoning their job responsibilities at their respective stations.
“The lack of instructors and lack of books is the only challenge,” he said. “The appetite for reading is quite explicit in both school leavers and non-school leavers.”
Mumba said however, that the existing stock of books was not adequate to meet this increasing reading appetite.
“We need to have concerted effort to address this problem because the Ministry of Education, as a parent ministry, will not be able alone to provide us with a library,” he said.
“That is why I am urging the steering committee to go out and fundraise for a new modern library in Kawambwa.”
Kawambwa New Library Steering Committee member Eugene Morais said reading went a long way in helping people educate themselves and should therefore be encouraged.
And in a speech read on his behalf by district education board secretary Paul Kafwanka, Kanchebele said although almost all basic schools had received small collections, there were no libraries in government basic schools.
“Most secondary and high schools have no libraries and there are no trained librarians,” she said. “The almost total absence of libraries in schools and districts in our province means that education tends to become equated to the contents of the text book or with what the teacher expounds.”
Kanchebele noted that ambitious plans to have pupils take charge of their own learning would come to nothing without proper library facilities.
The public library in Kawambwa was opened on September 11, 1989.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Business Editor Victoria Ruzvidzo
OVER the past few weeks Zimbabwe has been facing a severe cash shortage that has seen long queues become a permanent feature in most banking halls. Depositors have not been able to withdraw the $20 million allowable daily and have had to settle for smaller amounts while others have been turned away empty-handed as banks ran out of cash. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is still to launch the second phase of the currency reform whose launch Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr Gideon Gono described as "imminent" three weeks ago. The central bank has also been accused of taking a back seat instead of being in the forefront of resolving the cash crisis. It is against this background that Herald Business Editor Victoria Ruzvidzo sought to establish the facts on the ground from Dr Gono.
Question: Zimbabwe is experiencing a severe cash shortage but the Reserve Bank has been so quiet about it why?
Anser: Firstly, I want to assure you that the Reserve Bank’s observed silence was neither out of spite nor out of lack of appreciation of the intricate strain the general public is under over the cash issue. Rather, from where we sit as the Central Bank, we saw it acutely important to avoid ill-conceived or half-baked strategies that merely scratch on the surface of the underlying problems without addressing the real issues at play. To this end, the past two and half months have seen the Reserve Bank team thoroughly dissecting the cash demand and supply chain so as to appreciate what is really going on.
This comprehensive investigative research has revealed some startling results, which have convinced us that as Zimbabweans, we are fast deteriorating into being our worst enemies through self-destructive malpractices, corruption and indiscipline. And without dealing with these underlying discrepancies, any attempt to jump for the easy and soft options will be more of window-dressing.
I want to also point out that as Governor of the Central Bank, I am deeply sad that among those that are drilling the holes of instability in our economic systems are some who hold very respectable stations in our society. People to whom our upcoming children are supposed to be looking up for inspiration, guidance and protection from the chilly whims of today’s fast-paced global landscape, and yet their heads are buried deep in the shafts of economic destruction.
So yes, the Central Bank has been quiet to this point but this was mainly to allow us to closely introspect and understand the magnitude and texture of what we are dealing with. With utmost confidence, I can now tell the Nation that your Central Bank is fully informed about the core hubs, veins and arteries feeding the muscles of negation at play in our system. In short, we are excited and on top of the situation.
Q: A few weeks ago you said you had adopted a wait-and-see attitude. Has this helped?
A: Yes, when I spoke of the Bank having adopted a "wait-and-see" attitude, it was our first diplomatic tap on the shoulders of those that are flirting with illicit parallel market trading and smuggling activities to realise that their ways cannot be allowed to sway the momentum of efforts meant to stabilise our economy. We sought to also pass on a strong message to the cash barons and baronesses that as a Central Bank, we were not going to be culpable accomplices by flouncing into knee-jack reactions that furthered their destructive cause.
The strategy we adopted of first concentrating our momentum before moving decisively has immensely enriched us with intricate intelligence on some of the key platforms and characters that are at play in destroying our economy.
For instance, arising out of the research we have done, the following malpractices have emerged:
(a) Complicity by some banks, who have allowed individuals to open multiple ghost shelf-companies, which in turn are being used as avenues to siphon huge sums of cash into the underground parallel markets;
(b) Allowance by some banks for their staff members to encash huge sums of cheques into cash on behalf of their errant customers;
(c) Allowance by some banks for large cash-handling retailers and other outlets to retain cash sales without banking it into the formal system;
(d) Allowance by some banks for some individuals and companies to withdraw cash in excess of the standing cash withdrawal limits;
(e) The encashment of high-value cheques in excess of set limits by supermarkets and other outlets;
(f) Direct sales (trading) of local currency by some major high-cash-volume corporates who are victimising those in desperate need for the cash;
(g) Overt and covert diversion of normal business cash into the illegal foreign exchange and precious minerals parallel markets;
(h) Abuse of high offices by some who are going around supermarkets and other cash-handling outlets and encashing their cheques or encashing RTGS (ZETSS) transfers;
(i) Externalisation of local currency into regional markets in pursuit of foreign exchange on the parallel market; and
(j) Open refusal to give normal trade credits and subsequent demands for payment in cash by some producers/wholesalers/retailers. This has substantially bid up the demand for liquid cash.
It should be apparent to every average-minded Zimbabwean that without a radical shake-up to resolve these malpractices and anomalies, any rushed up or emotion-driven measures would be at a serious risk of instant negation.
I am, therefore, very pleased that the approach we followed has been the right one, as this allows us now to design and implement an encompassing response framework.
Q: What is the solution to all these challenges?
A: There are never easy options to dealing with extraordinary circumstances such as those we find ourselves in. Nevertheless, as a Nation, we must not allow ourselves the weakness of being impulsive or entering into excitable panic modes, often fuelled by those who would rather see us collapse as an economy.
As the Reserve Bank has already given out to the public, there will definitely be Sunrise 2 coming anytime from now, mainly to deal with the cash shortages, as well as administering a decisive deterrent blow on the speculators.
Broadly, however, it is imperative that the Nation realises that our socio-economic environment urgently requires a mutually agreed Social Contract supported by firm implementation of consistent policies all round across Government Ministries, the Parastatal Sector, the Financial Sector, in Mining, in Tourism, in Agriculture and in our Industrial and Commercial Sectors among all others. In this process, the greatest focus ought to be placed on revitalising capacity utilisation and growing the overall supply of goods and services in the economy.
I must also underscore here that in seeking to nurture a self-reinforcing atmosphere of optimism and stakeholder cooperation, we must intimately learn from our past mistakes, at the same time reinforcing our areas of strength: Consistent with this, our well-considered advice to those whose responsibility it is to superintend over the affairs of our productive, pricing and commercial systems remains that we must work to cultivate mutual cooperation by avoiding precipitous blitz, some of which has already shown us the acidity of unintended consequences born out of hastened decisions at the implementation stage.
Back onto the cash issue, I want to assure the public that appropriate measures will be taken to ensure that well-meaning stakeholders are not needlessly inconvenienced over the festive season. As I said earlier, the situation is well under control.
Q: You told the nation on November 21 that the Launch of Sunrise 2 was imminent. At that point there seemed to be so much activity towards the launch but it all seems to have died down somewhat. What is happening and when should we expect the programme to kick off?
A: In strategy, they say still waters run deep. For high impact and precision, stealth is key. So all I want to say to members of the public is that please take heed. Do not cry foul tomorrow.
At the Reserve Bank, we have watched with a mixed tempo of scorn and itchiness to crack the whip and embarrass some senior members of the community who have been passing ill-advised battons of bad-will to their runners on the streets to ignore and dismiss our advance notice on the imminence of Sunrise 2 as a hoax.
To these I have just these words: Please take heed. Do not cry foul tomorrow. Let us work together to build the economy for current and future generations. Those who departed before us will turn in their graves if we do the contrary and continue to choose the path of self-mutilation.
Q: The maximum deposits of $50 million for individuals and $200 million for corporates with effect from December 1 have not been adhered to with banks saying they have not received official communication from the Central Bank on this issue. Please enlighten us on the actual state of affairs.
A: The full operational modalities of Sunrise 2 will be made public at the right time.
What we have been doing over the past few weeks has been to listen very attentively and carefully to various pieces of advice from all interested groups of stakeholders, and as a responsive Central Bank, we want to make sure we take into account genuine submissions. For instance, we have received genuine requests by bona-fide businessmen and women, as well as from some banking institutions on special cases that needed to be treated with progressive sensitivity. But this is never to imply that we have retracted or gone back against our resolve to roll-out the full extent of Sunrise 2 with all its checks and balances to guard against the slippery manoeuvres of fraudsters in our system.
So yes, the parameters of Sunrise 2 will be made explicitly public when it is strategically opportune to do so.
Q: Some schools of thought have said that it is not practical for you to introduce a new currency in this high inflationary environment. How do you respond to this?
A: Tolerance and cordial diversity management exudes itself through the extent and depth of opinions that manifest themselves among stakeholders in a people. Likewise, the myriad of schools of thought you mention are liberated to express themselves from the vantage points of their telescopes — short-sighted or far-sighted, whichever category they fall in.
The school of thought we subscribe to as the Central Bank and custodians of the country’s monetary policy programmes has always been, and will always be that of pragmatism. Such pragmatism occasions itself through our desire to respond to real-life difficulties with tangible, practical alternatives that recognise the rigid sanctions-ridden global context we find ourselves in.
New currency or no new currency, the bottom line is that at the end of the day, as Zimbabweans, we must survive and we must work towards restoring the viability of our businesses; we must work to shore up the overall supply of goods and services in the market as the ultimate weapon against inflation; we must fight and shake off the dark omen of corruption from our systems; we must be a Nation of policy implementers, and not mere desk planners; and equally important, we must elevate our overall inclinations above sectional interests and think and act Zimbabwe First.
In this our school of thought, therefore, stakeholders will see us passionately implementing what we strongly believe are the most logical and effective courses of action to address the hurdles we face as an economy.
It has to be understood also that currency changes the world over are merely a variable with which one seeks to plough back transactional convenience to business and the general public. In itself, therefore, it is not necessarily the panacea towards overall macroeconomic stability. This fact granted, it becomes almost a matter of opinion as to the appropriateness or otherwise of going the new currency route or sustaining the existing bearer cheques. What is aptly certain is that as a Central Bank, we are enthusiastically clear about the courses of actions we will soon be rolling out. The banking public should please take heed.
Q: Others say that the "Reserve Bank theory" that much of the money in circulation is with cash barons does not hold water, saying that due to high inflation prices have gone up to the extent that people have to move around with large amounts of money to get by. What are your views on this?
A: A first principle that my Team and I at the Reserve Bank adheres to so religiously is that of never radiating unsubstantiated assertions to the public domain. We thus, always precede our public announcements with intimate research, facts from which would then energise us to speaking elegantly with confidence and authority.
To reflect this, let me use a simple reality check framework to show the perplexing inconsistencies in some of the mushrooming schools of thought as you mentioned them.
Firstly, if one alleges that there are no such things as cash barons and baronesses as was observed by the Reserve Bank, implicitly the insinuations will be that:
(a) The cash is somewhere in the vaults of the Reserve Bank or the Banking Sector; or
(b) The cash is in the pockets of genuine transacting public; or
(c) That there just is not enough cash around.
Well, let us apply the hard facts on the above points. Firstly, at the Central Bank we know with absolute precision how much cash we would have channelled out into the economy through the Banking system. As of 15 November, 2007, this stood at $58 trillion. At that point in time, banks were holding an average market-wide float of around $1 trillion, leaving $57 trillion "floating somewhere out there".
Now, with $57 trillion, or 98,3 percent of the total currency in issue circulating outside the formal banking channels, and if one rules out completely the existence of cash barons and baronesses, the question to ask is, who is holding it? Some would quip and say it is the transacting public holding it, but again it is the same public that is crying that all round they do not have even the barest minimum cash to get by.
If again one claims that the 98,3 percent of cash is in the non-errant public’s day to day transactional wallets, a direct irrefutable corollary is that then it is the wholesale and retail sectors that are encashing this money but are not banking it. In that case where is their cash going to?
Fortunately, however, as I did indicate earlier, the comprehensive research we have carried out has unequivocally confirmed the existence of the cash barons and baronesses, some who dwell in some banks, some do dwell under the banners of wholesalers and retailers, whilst others are self-styled briefcase tycoons who are wrecking havoc in our markets through their illegal dealings.
Suffice to say that as Governor of the Central Bank, together with my team, we now have in our custody the precise details of some of the characters that make up the nerve centres of these cartels. Already, some banks have lately started to summarily eject their staff which the Reserve Bank had caught up in the anti-cash barons/baronesses net we are casting out far and wide. No school of thought can rival these factual realities. In due course, the Reserve Bank will be liaising with the law enforcement arms in the land for appropriate remedial measures to be taken against the catalogue of these peddlers and their sponsors. We call upon the Nation to please see and understand the purity of our intentions. We bear not personal grudges against anyone or any corporate entity. Our passionate song is that of playing our legitimate statutory part as expected of us in the interests of Zimbabwe First, and for the public good. We bear neither ambitions to harm nor intentions to leave shrapnel under anyone’s skin; No. Never.
Q: In the same vain, banks have not reported huge deposits despite your warning to cash barons, giving credence to the view that they may actually not be holding that much money. How do you assess this?
A: The banking sector directly falls under the licensing, supervisory and surveillance tentacles of the Reserve Bank. Accordingly, through our normal certification checks and follow-ups, we are putting an added pulse-thumb to determine the veracity of your observations. I must also inform you that already we have unearthed appalling levels of complicity, negligence and in some cases absolute co-participation by some banks in the gravy train of wilful economic sabotage. Again, the full course of appropriate disciplinary measures will be laid out to these banks’ shareholders, boards and management teams. Again we are confident that the galaxy of the public’s jury will judge for itself the sincerity and purity of our intentions. We need this in the interest of cultivating mutual harmony and ataraxia in our socio-economic environment.
Q: What would you propose as the short term, medium term and long term solutions to the cash crisis?
A: We need all-round boldness and steadfast implementation of pragmatic solutions that appreciate and accept our present difficult circumstances, which are being accentuated by the illegal sanctions on us. Along the way, day to day introspection and our capacity to self-correct rather than drag each other in streams of mud will be paramount. Equally too, we need to first do away with the syndrome of armchair critics who bear no alternative solutions to the setbacks we face and start to have full cooperative reinforcement of collective implementation of progressive programmes.
Q: What challenges are posed by rising inflation in this regard and how do you propose to circumvent them?
A: The entire genealogy of our successive Monetary Policy statements has a common thread on the extent to which we have condemned inflation as the country’s number one enemy.
But to fight this monster more permanently, the ultimate weapon that we have to advance is one that impacts positively on shoring up production levels in the economy. Anything short of this, we will be tinkering on the surface of the problem. It is for this reason that under guidance from our Principals, we are passionately implementing the various productivity-focused interventions, both from a working capital point of view, as well as mechanisation and infrastructural investment standpoints.
The tragedy is, however, that some among our stakeholders expect to see instant bacon on the table literally hours after provision of combine harvesters to the people. Such of course is the fallacy of warped expectations. We must remain steadfast in the knowledge that the seeds we are sowing today will pay future dividends through increased tangible output.
Through this, the current high inflation, together with its piercing adversities will be a thing of the past. This era is not too distant, only if we roll-up our sleeves now and till the land; blast the mine shafts; attract tourists with coherent pronouncements and policies; and avoiding precipitous actions on our industries and ensuring viability of producers.
Q: The nation is keen to hear something positive pertaining to cash and the economy in general this festive season. What do you have to offer?
A: A practical solution is on its way. Very soon and before the festive season. Let us not despair, for failure can never be a viable option for us as a people. The destiny of our future is squarely in our hands.
Let me just end by saying to stakeholders out there, we are in this together and as your Central Bank, we will not disappoint you.
EDITOR — I am at a loss trying to understand what the EU-Africa Summit was supposed to achieve besides coming up with the well-orchestrated declarations which have no substance but constitute a mere wish list. The objective of the EU-Africa Summit should have been how to develop Africa and stop Africans going to look for greener pastures in Europe. This can be achieved by ensuring that skilled Africans are employed in their own countries instead of being accepted with welcoming arms in Europe.
There are more African doctors, nurses and engineers in Europe than there are in Africa. European countries have set up agencies in African countries to actively recruit these professionals and yet they want us to believe that these recruits are refugees "fleeing bad governance and human rights abuses". France and other EU countries have set up a fund to send such migrants back to Africa because of the problems they are encountering from unemployed migrant youths born in Europe.
Some from West Africa are drowning trying to cross the high seas to Europe in rickety boats. Migrants from Zimbabwe actually afford to fly to Europe in comfort.
The real focus for any dialogue between Africa and Europe should be on fair trade and investment in manufacturing of goods from primary products produced in Africa. Europe must not see Africa as a threat in global trade. European companies are happy to set up manufacturing plants in Asia but not in Africa.
Africa cannot be just the supplier of labour and primary products to Europe. It should be treated in the same way Asian countries are being treated, if not better, in order to achieve equitable distribution of trade and development.
HULIMIN (Private) Ltd and the Industrial Development Corporation, the shareholders in Zimbabwe Copper Industries, have raised a stop sign to suitors who were targeting a significant stake in the copper processing giant. IDC has a 51 percent controlling stake while Hulimin, a South African company, holds the remainder. Zimbabwe Copper operations director Mr Jan de Beer told Herald Business on Monday that a number of investors had been pursuing the company.
But shareholders preferred to recapitalise the company first before bringing new investors on board.
The company resumed operations in May last year following six years of inactivity. Operations had ceased in October 2000 when it was hit by severe shortages of raw materials. It started operations in 1985.
Zimbabwe Copper Industries is involved in the manufacture of copper products such as refrigeration and plumbing tubes, air-conditioning tubes and solid high conductivity busbars.
The plant, located in the Willowvale industrial area, about 8km southwest of Harare’s central business district, was resuscitated thanks to funds availed by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe under its Productive Sector Facility.
Since then, capacity utilisation has significantly improved from only 5 percent to 30 percent. Mr de Beer said the company would focus on enhancing production levels.
To that end, Zimbabwe Copper Industries was seeking offshore loans from foreign financiers to further boost production levels.
"We are currently pursuing offshore funding," said Mr de Beer. "We are doing this so that we will be able to get foreign currency to import pure copper for processing to augment the scrap copper metal that we are currently using. But our capacity has significantly improved since May last year."
He revealed that Zimbabwe Copper Industries was pursuing a toll manufacturing deal with a South African company.
"There is a company in South Africa interested to buy copper products from Zimbabwe.
"Because of foreign currency shortages facing the country, we are looking at an option of them supplying us with raw materials and then we will produce the final product for them," said Mr de Beer.
Sales for the company last year stood at 28 tonnes versus a budget of 495 tonnes. Profit for the year was $61 million against a budget of $113,8 million.
By Nomusa Michelo
Thursday December 13, 2007 [03:00]
AN Australian company Oval Biofuels has begun the production of bio-diesel in Lusaka’s industrial area, Biofuels Association of Zambia director Bruno Chisambo revealed. In an interview yesterday, Chisambo said the Oval Biolfuels started bio-diesel production two weeks ago and is producing 3,000 litres of bio diesel per day.
“Already we have some companies that have set up refineries, have set up bio-diesel plants in Lusaka,” he said. “Oval Biofuels Limited for instance have set up a refinery and they are producing 3,000 litres of bio-diesel per day and they are in Lusaka, it’s an Australian company.”
Chisambo said Oval biofuels was using Soya beans to produce bio-diesel.
“They are not using jatropha, but they are using Soya beans as an energy crop but eventually they will be using jatropha when it is available in masses as feed stock,” he said.
Chisambo said with the increasing cost of petroleum oil, it was important that more bio-energy refineries were set up with the increased growing of bio-energy crops.
“On the average per hectare you are able to get 1,500 litres of jatropha oil per hectare,” he said. “So you can see how that can benefit the country. You are aware that the country imports 100 percent of petroleum products and it will go a long way.”
And Chisambo said the country currently consumes 1.5 million litres of diesel, 450,000 litres of petrol and 50,000 litres of paraffin per day. Chisambo also said growing bio-energy crops should not have a negative impact on food security as crops such as jatropha could be grown along side food crops.
“We have ample land in this country and this is why we are promoting jatropha because it is a non-edible plant which won’t compete with food crops and we are encouraging our farmers to grow it as a fence,” he said.
Chisambo said farmers could also plan their plantations in a way that would allow them to intercrop.
“This is why we at Biofuels Association of Zambia we are saying on bio-diesel that we are going to promote jatropha and for those that are planting bigger hectares we are recommending to grow palm oil,” he said. “On the bio-ethanol we are recommending sugar cane. We are also recommending sweet sorghum, which can easily be grown by small-scale farmers.”