Saturday, July 19, 2008

(DAILY MAIL) State warns loss-making parastatals

State warns loss-making parastatals

GOVERNMENT has reiterated that it will not protect loss-making parastatals from business competition. Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry, Felix Mutati, said in Ndola on Sunday that Government expected parastatals to be competitive so that they could declare dividends. Mr Mutati was speaking during the Zambia State Insurance Corporation (ZSIC) cocktail party to celebrate its 40th anniversary.

“We are not going to protect any loss making company that will want to do business with Government and we do not want them ask Government to shield them,” he said. Mr Mutati called on parastatal companies to be proactive by coming up with business products that would make them profitable. He commended ZISC management for keeping the company focused and for rejuvenating the company’s services.

Mr Mutati said the separation of life and general insurances should result into the corporation becoming a market leader in the insurance industry.

“Only a few years ago, this company was a dying baby but you have managed to turn the corporation into a profit making company,” he said.

And ZISC managing director, Irene Muyenga said the insurance market has become more stable and active as the number of insurance companies was on the increase.

Ms Muyenga said innovations in the insurance industry was evident through new insurance products.

She said the General insurance business and the Life and Pension Products would be introduced as independent entities before the end of this year.

“We are hopeful that by the end of December 2008, the separation process will have been completed,” he said.

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(HERALD) Zanu-PF: Little noises, big distractions

Zanu-PF: Little noises, big distractions

I will not be detained by MDC arguments regarding the inter-party dialogue. Save for their sharp, cumulative irony, they do not make any sense at all. For example, on the one hand, the MDC wants all "political detainees" unconditionally released. On the other, the MDC wants "all perpetrators of violence to be prosecuted expeditiously and impartially". How does one realise one without undermining the other? Those thugs in police cells — thugs we have been feeding as taxpayers — are MDC’s so-called democratic resistance committees (drcs).

To the man and woman, they are part of the gang which the MDC has been nursing for Renamo-like banditry in Zimbabwe. Hoping, of course, to frighten Zanu-PF into making grand concessions at the talks, the MDC last week ineptly leaked this ugly dimension of insurgency it hopes to bring into play as an extra string on its political bow. Strangely, these thought-free politicians forgot they were addressing Zanu-PF, a party with deep roots in insurgency.

Over-rating the dying

Then you have the MDC demand for a resumption of humanitarian aid, presumably made as a public relations stunt. Except this is a strange request from a party of sanctions. I mean how do you make a case for humanitarian relief, invasion and greater sanctions at the same time? It is plain stupid. Of course, the MDC does not want Zimbabweans assisted. It wants them to suffer more and more, as its leader said.

What the MDC is agitating for is the resumption of political work by NGOs who did all the dirty political work for it and Britain. But there is a greater danger. It is one of creating an aura around the MDC-T as the party with the key to resolving the Zimbabwe question which we all know to pit the country against imperial Britain. On the ground, the MDC has no wherewithal to set preconditions and send ultimatums. None absolutely. Its backers were humiliated last Friday; its structures are weak or non-existent on the ground. What is more, Zimbabweans are now more aware and are unlikely ever to repose their vote in that party. Which is why MDC-T will never want to go back to the polls, as the European auxiliaries of its backers mistakenly thought initially.

Pink politics

Then you have the danger of paucity of information filtering through the media. This could very well lend decency to MDC’s elaborate political stupidity. Or the danger of the media filtering false reports, such as the one we had in this week’s issue of The Financial Gazette. The residually pink publication wrote about "a United Nations sanctions list forming part of a draft resolution on Zimbabwe . . . "

It is as if the pink paper is unaware who drafted the list he imputes on the UN. Or that after the historic Friday veto there was no draft resolution on Zimbabwe before the United Nations Security Council. The list was never a UN list; the draft resolution was never a UN one. Both were idiosyncratically Anglo-American, and it is sinister dishonesty for any editor, least of all with a Zimbabwean paternity, to make such heinous claims against truth and country. To achieve what? Respectability for Anglo-American spite born out of neo-colonial avarice?

If it was a UN resolution, why then did it need debate in the Security Council? Such politically invested falsehoods disable informed judgements on the MDC, indeed incites the MDC to greater harm.

When the horn of plenty drips dry.

On two occasions, the MDC-T president has refused face-to-face talks of principals of negotiating parties. On both occasions he claimed the Chairman of the AU Commission, Jean Ping, had advised him against participating, citing an AU Summit Resolution he says required Mbeki to share mediation on Zimbabwe with "a permanent representative" of the AU.

Of course, no such AU resolution exists, which is why the MDC, thoroughly embarrassed by its own leader’s sparse reading skills, could only wish the bad story some quick death. Secondly, what is "a permanent representative" of the AU?

Does permanency refer to a definite position and tenure within the negotiating structures of the AU? Or does it refer to the quality of expected seizure with the mediation matter? Thirdly, why would the AU’s top civil servant mislead Tsvangirai? Except Khupe and Sibotshiwe were also in Egypt, in fact well connected through a Zimbabwean working for the AU Secretariat?

Of course, I am indulging myself a bit. Tsvangirai absented himself from the talks in the hope of plenty from the G8 Summit, and from the debate in the Security Council. He expected both developments to give him greater leverage at the talks, if not presidency of Zimbabwe itself. It was a strategy wholly staked on an external dynamic, then read as unfaltering, as inevitable.

When Sibotshiwe is not Ping

But all this presupposes Tsvangirai indeed heard from Jean Ping. He did not! This is where the media has not been helpful at all. Ping is reachable, surely? Or is there a consensual editorial reluctance to report the truth, and to expose its victims? July 16, the day an MoU was supposed to be signed. When it became clear Tsvangirai was not coming, Mangoma pleads with Welshman Ncube and Priscilla Mushonga (I never like double barrels where one shoots enough!) to reach Tsvangirai to try and persuade him to do the right thing.

Biti and Mangoma would trail behind, clearly knowing the predictable outcome but still hopeful the day would deliver a rare miracle. In the end, Mangoma was the only one in tow to witness the failure of Tsvangirai’s erstwhile comrades.

The media make passing reference to this encounter, quickly dropping it as if it bore no significance or relevance to the state we are in, or the turn of events in future. I will bring out the significance which lies well before the outcome. Fascination with outcomes makes the media less inquisitorial, and thus more likely to miss significances in the penultimate.

Asked whether indeed he had spoken to Ping to receive the counsel against participation, Tsvangirai stunned his interlocutors by confessing he had not spoken to Ping. George Sibotshiwe had!

And who is Sibotshiwe? Some little boy who hits fame as a once-off music promoter, helping with the design of MDC’s tasteless website, and, of course, playing PRO to Strive Masiyiwa, himself the real nut for cracking.

Does anyone expect a whole leader to take momentous decisions on the basis of impressions of some little minion unable and disabled from spelling out P-O-L-I-T-I-C-S? And it turns out the little boy got nowhere near to Ping, all the time spending his un-precious time in the digging the minds of Masiyiwa and Bennett, his real founders.

Hurting interest and diplomacy

But worse was to come. It later transpires that on both occasions the villager was supposed to meet with fellow principals, the prologue was a quick despatch of dialogue documents to the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, courtesy of George Sibotshiwe.

And on both occasions, Milliband made it crystal clear Tsvangirai should not attend, lest British interests and diplomacy are damaged. Interests because the document for discussion and signing requires all political parties to affirm the irreversibility of land reforms and to renounce Anglo-Saxon-led unilateral sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe from 2001.

Diplomacy damages because Britain hoped a combination of US support and manipulation of the Russian position at the G8 Summit, would make a sanctions resolution against Zimbabwe in the Security Council an accomplished fact. Unable to invent any victory on the domestic scene, Brown badly needs a foreign policy breakthrough for a dividend at home.

Zimbabwe was eminently suited for such a role. The white émigré community here makes it very easy for Brown to ethnocentrically dock British domestic politics here. Which is what would have made Brown and Tsvangirai Siamese twins if one was not the master, the other the servant. Both badly expect domestic glory from foreign affairs. Again, the media has not been fair with their readers.

Who is out of touch?

Increasingly, Brown is getting desperate, really desperate. He can no longer pretend that Zimbabwe is a matter "for the world", a matter to do with democracy and governance. It is a matter for Britain, both as former coloniser and as an intending neo-coloniser.

Which is why Brown came for heavy drabbing from the tabloid Press for "sub-contracting Zimbabwe to the UN" when he should have just sent in the boys to do a quick job. We are a parcel, a piece of work for Britain. We are not a sovereign country. No!

So reckless is Brown that his system has laid bare British motives in the whole matter. Apart from wanting Mugabe out (and they never pause to ask themselves on what legitimate basis), Brown wants to sideline Mbeki in the resolution of the Zimbabwean question.

Of course, the larger meaning is hard to miss: diplomacy is standing in the way of war, which is what Britain and America are itching for. The American permanent representative to the UN was even more brazen. Describing Mbeki as "out of touch", he added that the US takes heart from "interesting developments inside South Africa itself".

What are those? Do they include xenophobic attacks we have always known to have been made "spontaneous" on behalf of black South Africans? I am surprised Pahad did not give the US a fitting retort: who now has been shown to be out of touch, Mbeki or Bush and Brown who could not read President Medvedev?

From revolution to bureaucracy

When will Zanu-PF learn? When? Is it not obvious that while power is exercised in and through the institution of Government, in reality it resides elsewhere in larger society? I am not referring to that long-ululated lie of political science that the people are the power.

Of course, they are not, much as power is successfully exercised in their name and supposedly on their behalf. Throughout history, the people have always been the pretext for the unilateral use of power by those who have it. Between 1980 and now, we all witnessed Zanu-PF’s slow but inexorable morphing into a staid and very inefficient bureaucracy. It was not society that suffered a gradual de-politicisation. It was Zanu-PF itself, as its ideology and revolutionary programme went dormant.

It is not surprising that the one matter that has repeatedly vexed Zanu-PF has been that to do with ideology and the school for it. Bureaucracies run on cold, brittle, universal rules to which all societies are expected to adapt. Which is why bureaucracies are never agents of transformation. Their craving and appetite is stability guaranteed by immutable rules, strictures of precedent.

Rude awakening of 29

So did Zanu-PF expect the civil servant to politicise society for it? Or to keep and defend power for it long after it had itself dis-empowered and demobilised itself? Which takes me to the nub: why does Zanu-PF confuse bureaucratic power with its own stability and continuity as a party, tradition, goal and legacy?

Until it nearly happened on March 29, it was inconceivable to imagine a Zanu-PF out of power and without power or leverage for a second coming. Its power was its Government, its civil servants, its parastatals and its dominance in making rules for the rest of society.

Until March 29 rudely shocked it to realise that power residing in Government is there for taking by anyone whose tricks makes him more successful in an election. Had it not been for this clever clause requiring a run-off, Zanu-PF would have been without Government, without parastatals, without media, without security, without the power of making commandments only the morning after.

Ghastly, is it not? Yet possible, is it not? That party of struggle, of liberation, of history would have been wiped from the political face of this our small earth. By puppets, settler puppets at that!

Product, price and peasant

Has Zanu-PF drawn any lessons from this? That power resides outside Government and its instruments, cleverly dispersed in larger society, ready to be mobilised on a rainy day? Is that not why the soul of the British Conservatives lies in CBI — Confederation of British Industries — never in their party headquarters?

Is that not why Labour’s is in TUC — Trade Union Congress — never at its headquarters? Indeed, is that not why MDC’s fate lies in its ability to keep ZCTU politically interested? The predicate of Zanu-PF power has always been the peasantry in the countryside. No doubt a stable base, but the events of the last year have clearly shown that the moguls in cities wield the whip that upsets the peasant.

Goods and prices make up this deadly whip, made even more painful by nature’s own retribution, such as drought. Thanks to its successes in transforming rural lives, Zanu-PF’s rural vote is increasingly having to be defended and stabilised from the market-place.

Gone is the era of place and numbers; come has the horror of product and price, the horror of placeless stomachs. Which is why the 100 percent Empowerment mantra is a do-or-die for the ruling party. It has to find life and place in post-June 27 politics.

Law for good or bad times?

Much worse, Zanu-PF has to learn that the art of good law-making and development is not one where laws are made to confirm and comfort a party in moments of its undisputed power and dominance. After all with a parliamentary dominance, who needs the law?

The test of good laws is how well they become a veritable resource in the seven lean years, that is, when the margins are slender, dominance slim. In such dispensations, far-sighted parties with a strong urge to fall and rise, rise and fall will wring succour from good rules and generous interpretation of them.

The whole legislative agenda of Zanu-PF has been geared to serve a party at its zenith of power, never a party in serious political trouble. The agenda has never been crafted to become a tool, a resource for hard and harder times which are so predictable and so inevitable in politics.

I cannot say more, although I imply mouthfuls to the thoughtful. From now on, Zanu-PF must learn to think outside the box of power. Literally. Including knowing that once bigger ideals are jettisoned because an election has been won, little thoughts become big and dangerous distractions.

Such as the miasmic succession debate. Such as the myth of "gossip" and "stooges" for Matabeleland. How so experienced a party, so encircled a party ever affords such inane thoughts, is what beats little boys like me. The Israelites needed a star to keep focused; to avoid getting confounded and conquered by their own ugliness; to keep going, focused. As the 100 Percent Empowerment election hype hits a slow denouement, Zanu-PF, true to form, begins to chew its own entrails, strangely satiated by its own self-destruction.



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(HERALD, AFP) AU, UN set to monitor talks

AU, UN set to monitor talks
AFP-Herald Reporter.

South African President Thabo Mbeki yesterday invited the African Union and the United Nations to join a new "reference group" with Sadc that will liaise on his efforts to mediate a solution to Zimbabwe’s problems, a top aide said. President Mbeki, however, remains fully in charge of the mediation process as mandated by Sadc and the AU, but the group can monitor progress and give him its views.

Speaking after President Mbeki met AU Commission chief Mr Jean Ping and UN envoy Mr Haile Menkerios in Pretoria, South African Local Government Minister Mr Sydney Mufamadi said the new group would support the Mr Mbeki in his mission to mediate between the ruling Zanu-PF and MDC in Harare on behalf of the 14-nation Sadc regional bloc.

"The special representantive of Sadc (Angolan Deputy Foreign Minister George Chikoti), the AU and the UN were briefed by President Mbeki and he invited them to constitute a reference group with the mediator on an ongoing basis," said Mr Mufamadi, who is President Mbeki’s right-hand man in the mediation effort.

"They will appoint people who will be based at the venue country. They will get briefings on a regular basis from the facilitator."

President Mbeki, who was appointed by Sadc a year ago to mediate in Zimbabwe, met Mr Ping and Mr Menkerios behind closed doors, a spokesman in the president’s office said.

"I can confirm there is a meeting. It is in Pretoria at the presidential guesthouse," Thabang Chiloane told AFP.

South African Foreign Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was to give an update on her leader’s mediation efforts at yesterday’s meeting of Sadc foreign ministers in Durban, with the South African government insistent that a resolution to the Zimbabwe issue remains the sole preserve of Sadc.

"Our view has always been, and I am stressing it, we are being diverted by a fake argument about the expansion of the Sadc facilitation," Deputy Foreign Minister Mr Aziz Pahad told reporters earlier this week.

Yesterday’s meeting between President Mbeki and the AU and UN officials is expected to pave the way for the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding setting the agenda for dialogue between Zanu-PF and the two MDC factions.

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Wednesday made a last-minute decision to withhold his signature from the MoU.

Tsvangirai told The Star newspaper of South Africa on Thursday that he was awaiting the outcome of yesterday’s meeting between President Mbeki and Mr Ping before he could sign the MoU. — AFP-Herald Reporter.

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(LUSAKATIMES) Senior Govt officers warned against being tight-lipped

Senior Govt officers warned against being tight-lipped
Posted on July 18th, 2008

Secretary to Cabinet Joshua Kanganja has warned permanent secretaries and other senior government officers against resisting to release relevant and important information to stakeholders on the country’s governance. Dr Kanganja said he has received reports from various stakeholders on the failure by senior government officers to respond to stakeholders when they are in need of information on the country’s economic, social, corporate, political, and democratic development.

Dr Kanganja charged that government officers must ensure that relevant and adequate information is provided to stakeholders who have genuine reasons to have access to the various types of information. He said this in Lusaka today when he officiated at a seminar for senior government officials on the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM).

Dr Kanganja explained that the challenges that Zambia as a country faces in realizing good governance should be brought to the fore so as to enable all stakeholders in society to propose remedies to addressing the challenges.

“I do not want to receive any more reports that a permanent secretary or any other senior government official does not want to release information to genuine stakeholders”

“Those offices you are occupying public offices, hence you must be accountable and attend to stakeholders when they are in need of information,” Dr Kanganja.

Dr Kanganja said government officials should not view the APRM as a blame apportioning exercise but rather as a genuine opportunity to show case Zambia’s determined efforts to release and actualize good governance principles.

“WE should equally ensure our co-operation with the APRM secretariat by providing all the information which is critical in producing the country’s self assessment report,” Dr Kanganje said.

Dr Kanganja said the Zambian government’s contribution to the APRM process should continue to demonstrate the good efforts being sewn to enhance good governance in the country.

He explained that the APRM process to which the Zambian government has committed itself is meant to assist African countries and its leadership in developing credible and satisfactory governance systems.

Dr Kanganje added that countries accredited to the APRM process are accountable for the governance situation in their respective countries through a self country assessment report and the peer review of the president.


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(LUSAKATIMES) Govt. projects should be monitored, says Chief

Govt. projects should be monitored, says Chief
Posted on July 16th, 2008

Chief Mbang’ombe of the Chewa people in Katete district in Eastern province has bemoaned lack of supervision on government developmental projects done in his chiefdom. Chief Mbang’ombe complained that shoddy works have been identified on Munyamanzi bridge. The chief has since called for the monitoring of Constituency Development Funds (CDF), saying government resources sometime go to waste when there is no provision for appraisal and monitoring of projects.

“The projects are not taken seriously and shoddy works are done, there is need for close supervision if government funds are to be utilized for the intended purpose,” he added.

He was speaking when Mkaika Member of Parliament, David Phiri, who is also Information Deputy Minister, paid a courtesy call on him yesterday.

Mr. Phiri is in a one week visit to his constituency to inspect developmental projects.

The traditional leader expressed sadness that civic leaders, who are supposed to monitor the projects, were reluctant to do their work mostly because of belonging to various political parties.

Chief Mbang’ombe also raised concern that some contractors considered him as an enemy whenever he requested for their explanation and reports concerning projected they were undertaking.

“Munyamanzi bridge is one of the projects on which government spent a lot of money but due to lack of supervision, the work is not satisfying as damages have already started showing such that the structure needs to be redone,” he noted.

Chief Mbang’ombe said time of politicking was over, saying all that was needed now was to work together for the betterment of the constituency.

“All civic leaders are supposed to work together regardless of their political affiliations if the area was to improve structures such as schools, roads and health centres,” he added.

Meanwhile, the chief has complained that his subjects still had to walk long distances to access medical services from Vulamukoko and Chimutende Rural Health Centres.

He stated that there was need to put up a health post at Nthambo village to ease his subjects’ suffering through walking long distances to access the medical services.

And in response, Mr. Phiri said funds for the rehabilitation of Munyamanzi bridge were released under Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) in the Vice President’s office thereby making it difficult for councillors to take the responsibility of inspecting the project.

He disclosed that such projects were difficult to monitor as it was the responsibility of the Road Development Agency (RDA) Engineers and Provincial Roads Engineers to do so.

Mr. Phiri said he was also not happy with the works done on the bridge and he had since sought audience with the regional engineer.

Munyamanzi bridge was badly damage during 2006/07 rainy season.

Meanwhile, Chief Mbang’ombe said the illness of President Levy Mwanawasa will slow down many development projects which needed his attention.

Chief Mbang’ombe said people in the area have continued praying for him to get better so that he could come back and foster development.

“When a parent is sick in a home, things do not move at the pace they are supposed to. We shall continue to pray for him so that he quickly comes back to foster development.

He said people still needed boreholes, health facilities and good roads which need his attention to materialise.


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Tsvangirai is an unrepentant puppet, charges Grace Mugabe

Tsvangirai is an unrepentant puppet, charges Grace Mugabe
By George Chellah in Harare, Zimbabwe
Saturday July 19, 2008 [04:00]

FIRST lady Grace Mugabe has accused MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai of being an unrepentant puppet. And the opposition MDC has indicated that it would decide on the inter-party talks with the ruling ZANU-PF after the outcome of South African President Thabo Mbeki's meeting with the African Union chairperson Jean Ping.

Commenting on the deadlock in the inter-party talks, Grace, who was donating agricultural machinery and food hampers in Gutu District, condemned Tsvangirai saying the MDC leader had proved that he was serving the wishes of Western powers.

President Robert Mugabe, MDC smaller faction leader, Professor Arthur Mutambara, and Tsvangirai were supposed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Wednesday as part of President Thabo Mbeki's mediation efforts.

But the dialogue process could not proceed as expected following Tsvangirai's last-minute decision to hold back his signature from the MoU that was expected to set the agenda for the inter-party dialogue between the ZANU-PF and the two MDC formations.

Grace further said Tsvangirai must be ashamed of being an unrepentant puppet of Zimbabwe's former colonisers.

Grace reminded the opposition leader that the dialogue was as a result of the ruling ZANU-PF's determination to resolve Zimbabwe's problems.

But the opposition MDC stated that the party would only decide on the MoU with the ruling ZANU-PF after observing the outcome of the meeting between President Mbeki and Ping.

President Mbeki, who is the Southern African Development Community (SADC)-led negotiator, is today expected to meet Ping to discuss the Zimbabwean crisis.

"We MDC want to see the outcome of the meeting between Mr Ping and President Mbeki tomorrow and then we will take it from there," MDC spokesperson, Nqobizita Mlilo, told the media. "We won't have people putting it on our heads that we have to sign an agreement when our demands have not been met."

On Wednesday, the opposition MDC refused to sign an MoU on the inter-party talks with the ruling ZANU-PF.

The MDC has set conditions before the MoU with the ruling ZANU-PF can be signed.

The opposition is demanding that the Zimbabwean President acts to end political violence against its party supporters and also that the AU appoints an envoy to work with President Mbeki on the Zimbabwean crisis.

The MDC also demanded that Tsvangirai's victory in the March 29 presidential election be recognised.

However, this is a demand which may not be met following President Mugabe's declaration upon returning from the AU summit in Egypt that he would only engage the opposition for talks when they first recognise him as the duly-elected Head of State.

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Sichinga calls for Zesco restructuring

Sichinga calls for Zesco restructuring
By Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Saturday July 19, 2008 [04:00]

ZESCO Limited will still fail to meet the energy challenge in the country even when it raises tariffs as long as it is not restructured, Lusaka business consultant Bob Sichinga has observed. And Sichinga said it will be difficult to attract meaningful participation of the private sector in the energy generation sector if Zesco continues to control the transmission facility. In an interview, Sichinga who is also managing director of Innovative Consulting, also called for the limitation of the participation of Zesco in the development of future electricity generation facilities.

"People are not opposed to the increase of tariffs but the question everyone is asking is... 'Is Zesco going to be more efficient if the tariffs are raised?'" Sichinga asked. "The answer is 'no'. Right now Zesco is not an efficient company in that in most of the power that it generates, very little reaches the final consumers, the end users."

And Sichinga also said it would be difficult to attract private participation in the electricity generation projects if Zesco continued to monopolise the transmission facilities.

"There is need to dismember Zesco. You want invite private sectors like Lunsemfwa and other private individuals to come in the market yet you want Zesco to monopolise the power distribution facility. How is that possible," Sichinga asked. "There is need to have an independent carrier in place to specifically handle transmission. Let Zesco do their core business which is generation."

Sichinga further called for limiting of Zesco's participation in the future generation facilities.

"Government policy is to allow private sector investment in the energy sector. The mines have shown willingness to invest in power generation facilities, why not support such ideas?" asked Sichinga. "Zesco's current balance sheet makes it impossible for any financial institution to lend them money.

Now government is doing that for them...contrary to its own policies. And it has taken Zesco five years to complete the mere rehabilitation works, how long would take them to put up a new power plant? These are the questions our policy makers should be asking themselves."

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Leadership vacuums

Leadership vacuums
By Editor
Saturday July 19, 2008 [04:00]

LEADERSHIP vacuums in our political parties are a sign that parties are not managed in an efficient, effective and orderly manner. Patriotic Front president Michael Sata says there would be a leadership vacuum in the party without him, that PF is not an exception on this score. If this is so, it means that collective leadership is very weak, or nonexistent, in our political parties.

If a political party’s progress and survival is totally dependent on one individual, then it may not be worth supporting, investing in. We say this because if that individual collapses from a heart attack or a stroke, that may mark the end of that political party and any investment in it would be lost.

And asked what he was doing to ensure that there was no leadership vacuum without him in the Patriotic Front, Sata’s response was far from being satisfactory. He says, “You can take a horse to a river but you can’t force it to drink water.”

Our political parties need to initiate and invest in cadre and leadership development programmes. Leaders can be nurtured, leaders can be developed.

We have witnessed the absence of political education, cadre and leadership development programmes in our political parties. There should be continuous educational programmes for members, cadres and leaders. And most members, cadres and some of the leadership are not involved in the daily lives of their political parties.

There must be collective party leadership, and individuals should be prevented from monopolising the conduct of affairs.

It appears to be the habitual practice of our party leaders to monopolise the conduct of affairs and single-handedly decide important programmes.

Solutions to important problems are not decided by the central committee or national executive committee but by one individual. This situation must change. A sound system of central committee or national executive committee meetings must be instituted.

All important problems - of course, not unimportant, trivial problems, or problems whose solutions have already been decided after discussion at meetings and need only be carried out - must be submitted to the central committee or the national executive committee for discussion, and the members present should express their views fully and reach definite decisions which should then be carried out by the members concerned.

Furthermore, there is need to take care and ensure that neither collective leadership nor personal responsibility is overemphasised to the neglect of the other. In a political party, the president should have the right to make emergency decisions when circumstances so require.

The party president must be good at being a “squad leader”. To lead means not only to decide general and specific policies, but also to devise correct methods of work.

Even with correct general and specific policies, problems may still arise if methods of work are neglected. To fulfil its task of exercising leadership, the central committee or the national executive committee must rely on its “squad members” and enable them to play their part to the full. To be a good “squad leader”, the party president should study hard and investigate thoroughly.

The party president will find it difficult to direct his “squad” well if he does not take care to do organisational work among his own “squad members”, is not good at handling his relations with committee members or does not study how to run meetings successfully.

Of course, the relationship between the party president and the committee members should be one in which the minority must obey the majority.

There is need to place problems on the table. This should be done not only by the “squad leader” but by the committee members too.

There shouldn’t be any talking behind people’s backs. Whenever problems arise, a meeting should be called and the problems placed on the table for discussion, decisions should be taken and the problems will be solved.

The “squad leader” and the committee members should show understanding in their relations with each other. Nothing is more important than mutual understanding, support and friendship between the party president and the committee members.

There should be continuous “exchange of information”. This means that members of a party’s central committee or national executive committee should keep each other informed and exchange views on matters that have come to their attention. This is of great importance in achieving a common language.

It is a mistake to think that a single individual can manage to organise and develop a political party that will last long, that will outlive them.

It is important to realise that the prestige of any political party is judged by how many credible leaders it has in its ranks.

And where there are many credible leaders in a political party, one cannot talk of a leadership vacuum. It is therefore important for those leading our political parties to surround themselves with strong and independent personalities, who will tell them when they are wrong.

The mark of great leaders is the ability to understand the context in which they are operating and act accordingly.

Sata’s Patriotic Front is presently facing serious challenges, and in particular they need to confront head-on the danger of intra-party factionalism.

This danger has its roots in several factors: the rough handling and marginalisation that many outstanding party leaders have experienced at the hands of Sata has left a strong legacy of bitterness and resentment - the walking wounded.

This has cultivated tendencies towards excessive defensivism, and also habits of counter-factionalism in some cases, with party leaders running the danger of falling excessively into the same type of politics they have been criticising in the ruling MMD - of palace manoeuvres.

There are also some warning signs of the dangers of disciplinary measures being used to settle political differences.

And like we warned UNIP before, experience has repeatedly shown that a party divided into hostile groups loses its militancy. Protracted intra-party strife inevitably results in party members’ concentration on discords.

The party becomes distracted from political struggle and day-to-day work among the masses and loses its influence. If the Patriotic Front does not take adequate time to resolve the current intra-party strife, it may get into 2011 very weak and lose the good performance it put up in the 2006 elections.

There should not be a leadership vacuum if the Patriotic Front tomorrow were to wake up without Sata.

There are many potentially capable people in that party who, if given a chance, would in no time develop into very good leaders who may increase the party’s chances in the next elections. But individuals perform well in a good political party and environment - and this has to be created by the “squad leader” - Sata himself.

There is no doubt Sata is currently the strongest personality in the Patriotic Front, and if he doesn’t moderate himself, accommodate others and build collective leadership, there will certainly be a leadership vacuum in the party when he ceases to lead.

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There would be a vacuum in PF without me - Sata

There would be a vacuum in PF without me - Sata
By Patson Chilemba
Saturday July 19, 2008 [04:00]

PATRIOTIC Front (PF) president Michael Sata yesterday said there would be a leadership vacuum in the party without him. In an interview, Sata said the illness of President Levy Mwanawasa had exposed the leadership vacuum in the MMD and that PF was no exception.

“PF is no exception. Any other organisation is no exception. But it is up to people of Zambia...leaders through these organisations. If today Hichilema Hakainde was not in UPND, Tilyenji Kaunda in UNIP and all other leaders....or if Mr Sata was not in PF. People should not rely on Sata as a voice of the voiceless. People in PF should speak for the voiceless," Sata said.

"Everybody in PF should not be scared of going to prison for speaking the truth and should not look for greener pastures like NCC National Constitutional Conference.

"When asked what he was doing to ensure that there was no leadership vacuum without him in his party, Sata responded: "You can take a horse to a river but you can't force it to drink water."

Sata said the vacuum in the MMD could apply to other organisations. Sata said just like in other organisations, PF members should be aggressive and sacrificial enough to assume higher offices such as the presidency of the party.

Sata said true leaders should mould themselves and not wait to be moulded.

"So you find in every field, anything trusted upon you which you have not worked for becomes very difficult. I have told my colleagues, first of all, they must know why they are leaders whether in the Parliament or outside Parliament," Sata said.

"When I started talking to Levy, people were saying the voice has gone. Where are the other voices? Why can't they fill the vacuum? Let them be aggressive."

Sata said the PF and the nation in general would not be the same if leaders learnt to be selfless and sacrificed enough. He urged party members of parliament to do more for the nation than what they were currently doing. He said if PF parliamentarians were as aggressive as member of parliament for Munali, Mumbi Phiri, checks and balances could be much more effective.

"Some people are more educated than Mumbi Phiri but she is very aggressive. She is always with the people. People of Munali have no shortage of representation," Sata said.

"Because it's not a question of if you are representing a rural constituency to go in a boma and stay in a guest house and say 'I have been to a constituency'. Go and see, what type of water do your people drink?"

On UPND president Hichilema's statement that he was an opportunist following his proposal that President Mwanawasa be subjected to a medical board examination to ascertain his fitness to remain Republican President, Sata said he was honest when he urged government to either allow doctors attending to President Mwanawasa to brief the nation or set up a medical board to ascertain his health.

Sata said people were speculating over the President's condition.
He said Hichilema had misunderstood the whole issue.

Sata said he loved President Mwanawasa more than Hichilema and his wish was for the President to return home safely.

He said the problem with Hichilema was that he was petty and had little understanding of politics.

"When we are trying to teach Hichilema governance, but the boy is twisting the story like as if he is privatising Zambezi Sun," he said.

Sata also said MMD national secretary, Katele Kalumba, should be given a benefit of doubt because he was innocent until proven guilty.

"You can't judge him. He is innocent until proved guilty," said Sata.

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Chief Justice Sakala bemoans ZIALE pass rate

Chief Justice Sakala bemoans ZIALE pass rate
By Inonge Noyoo
Saturday July 19, 2008 [04:01]

THERE is need for a comprehensive and forensic study to ascertain the causes of the low passing rate at Zambia Institute for Advanced Legal Education (ZIALE), Chief Justice Ernest Sakala has suggested. And Chief Justice Sakala said the fight against corruption in the country should start with lawyers. Meanwhile, ZIALE director, Dr Ngosa Simbyakula, equally admitted that the passing rate for the graduating students was very low.

Addressing newly-admitted lawyers to the bar yesterday, Chief Justice Sakala said the fact that only 29 law students passed out of the 130 that sat for examinations was an indication that there was something wrong somewhere.

"But regrettably, we have come to accept this situation hence no change. In my view, there is need for a comprehensive and forensic study to ascertain the cause or causes of these low passing rates at ZIALE," he said. "It is not cheap to train a student at ZIALE. Why then should we have these low passing rates?"

Chief Justice Sakala observed that some of the 'casualties' of this year's examinations included some magistrates adding that it was strange considering that the courses taught at ZIALE were part of their routine work.

"As the judiciary, we had hoped that relief was on the horizon as we expected a good harvest of resident magistrates to relieve our critical manpower shortage at the level of magistrate. That hope unfortunately has been dashed for now," he said.

Chief Justice Sakala advised the student magistrates who had not passed the examinations not to lose heart but work extra hard so that they could make it next time.

Chief Justice Sakala reminded the newly-admitted lawyers that the legal profession was anchored on honesty and integrity.

He said the legal profession was a noble profession that was regulated by laws of the land.
Chief Justice Sakala said the aim of lawyers should be to ensure that justice prevailed for all in society.

He advised that it should be borne in the graduates that their career should be built on a firm foundation of honesty and integrity.

"Once you choose to ignore these values, you will seize being the person I have admitted today. You will have lost all the integrity, consequently you will never escape the negative connotations that come with it," he said.

Chief Justice Sakala said there should be no doubt created in the eyes and minds of the public when they reach out to the lawyers for advice.

"The different oaths you all have taken this morning form the basis upon which you need to remain honest and maintain the highest level of integrity throughout your profession. I want to believe that you have sworn or affirmed to the oaths voluntarily," Chief Justice Sakala said.

He also advised the newly-admitted advocates not to depart from the standard of conduct in the profession.

Chief Justice Sakala advised the graduates that the temptations and challenges that they may face in their duties would determine what sort of lawyers they would be.

"You should also remember that all material aspects of life that may come with the reasons for losing your integrity can disappear overnight but the character of a person is the foundation that stays secure if you choose to live an honest life," he said.

And Chief Justice Sakala said the lawyers would also be expected to play their role in the fight against corruption especially in the legal system and the courts in particular.
He urged them to become part of the crusade in the fight against corruption.

"Do not only be interested in defending those involved in corruption but be interested also in the prevention of corruption," he said.

He said he was greatly disappointed by the conduct of some lawyers who seem to contribute to corruption in the judiciary by enticing some judiciary workers to do all sorts of corrupt practices.

"Instead of playing their lawful roles of ridding the vice, some lawyers have been in the forefront paying our junior judicial officers in some cases to back-roll date stamps and manipulate court records. This is unethical and criminal, it is not honesty and integrity," he said.

Chief Justice Sakala said advocates should at all times strive to be transparent, accountable and responsible.

"You should not thrive on rumours but seek the truth at all times and check your facts," he said.

Chief Justice Sakala said the success of the court system and the legal profession depended on public confidence and trust adding that the confidence could be eroded if lawyers did not conduct their business with honesty and integrity.

And in his speech, Dr Simbyakula observed that the pass rate for the intake that graduated yesterday was far lower than that of the last examinations held in November last year.

He attributed the disparity in the pass rate to the fact that the last intake sat for mid-year and final examinations, which were both nullified before attempting the final.

Dr Simbyakula added that the November examination were marked out of 100 per cent instead of the usual practice of 25 per cent and 75 per cent pass percentages for the mid-year and final, respectively.

He advised the graduates to keep abreast with the changes in law and its practice through the reading of law books and recently decided cases.

Dr Simbyakula also advised the newly-admitted lawyers to be aware of HIV/AIDS at all times.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Masheke accuses Tilyenji executive of contributing to UNIP's downfall

Masheke accuses Tilyenji executive of contributing to UNIP's downfall
By Allan Mulenga
Friday July 18, 2008 [04:00]

FORMER UNIP vice president General Malimba Masheke has said old party members cannot sit by and watch UNIP go to the grave under Tilyenji Kaunda. But Tilyenji refused to comment, saying he did not want to talk about the issue anymore. Commenting on Tilyenji’s earlier statement that he would not step down despite calls from some of his party members to do so, Gen Masheke said UNIP was a democratic party and members would not accept any kind of tinpot dictatorship from any quarter.

“UNIP has a constitution which all along it has kept from 1964. According to the constitution, elections are supposed to be held every five years which is not the case with the current leadership,” he said.

Gen Masheke said under the leadership of Tilyenji, the party had been performing badly whenever there was a by-election.

“We as old UNIP members cannot sit back and watch the party go to the grave. It is clear that the Tilyenji-led executive has failed to deliver,” he said.

Gen Masheke, who is also the newly formed UNIP national revival forum chairperson, accused the current UNIP executive of having contributed to the downfall of the party.

He said UNIP had crumbled because Tilyenji had no leadership qualities, saying he was leading the party as if he was herding cattle.

“Tilyenji has been intimidating all members of the party. He used to threaten all members who talked about his administration of the party with suspensions and expulsions,” he said.

“As senior members of the party, we noticed that there were a lot of anomalies in the leadership of the party, hence the need for us to come together and revive the party.”

And UNIP member Dr Kamoyo Mwale said the current UNIP executive had no blessing of the party and therefore was clinging on to power illegally.

Dr Mwale said the executive members were worried that if they were voted out of the offices, they would be held accountable for the party assets that were allegedly missing.

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(NEW ZIMBABWE) Interview: RBZ Governor Gono on sanctions and inflation

Interview: RBZ Governor Gono on sanctions and inflation

Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono recently fielded questions from the state-run Herald newspaper on the state of the economy, US and British threats to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe and his vision for the future. This is the full interview:

Q. Dr Gono, the June 27 run-off is over and while the political players are still
talking about the talks on a possible way forward for Zimbabwe, the general populace has shifted its focus to the reeling national economy whose negative impact on ordinary people is now too severe. As Governor of the RBZ, what would you say is the way forward now in terms of reviving the economy under the prevailing national, regional and international conditions? Can you also give a detailed background to the origins of our current difficulties and at the same time commenting on the views proffered by some analysts who allege that our problems started with our interventions in the DRC as well as payments made to our War Veterans in 1997/1998?
A. Our economy has been under siege for almost 10 years now since the time we began the land identification exercise as a precursor to the land re-distribution programme in 1997.

That process (land identification) drew adverse reaction from the West, especially Britain, who went on to adversely influence the World Bank, IMF, ADB, as well as other Paris Club lenders not to support Zimbabwe financially and technically.

Although two other factors are cited by the economic historians as having been partly influential to the genesis of our current state of affairs and the two factors are the DRC war where, as part of our responsibility and contribution to regional, continental and international peace and security, we went into that country as part of a regional coalition of states to defend its sovereignty and the payment of unbudgeted gratuities to the war veterans in 1998. To date, the impact of these two events is often conveniently exaggerated and therefore I will not dwell on these two factors as they remain peripheral to the main causes of our situation today.

On the exogenous side are the sanctions that are being applied against the country as a result of the factors I have already cited above as well as, currently the steep rise in the price of oil and other forms of energy, the global warming phenomenon which has produced unpredictable weather patterns, which have brought about frequent droughts and floods detrimental to crop production, and animal husbandry, especially in Southern Africa and Zimbabwe in particular.

These irregular weather patterns have given rise to the current world as well as Zimbabwe food shortages. To this end strategies will have to be devised in order to deal with these external factors, and plans are afoot to do so.

Under endogenous factors, our economy has remained hostage to the lack of unity and lack of one vision among political players in the country, the diminished presence of economic patriotism showing itself in the form of the indiscipline and get-rich-quick mentality by most economic players in the country; in the public and private sectors of our economy.

All these factors have led to the introduction of a raft of extraordinary measures on the part of Government, through its various arms; such as the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, the Grain Marketing Board and other institutions under Government’s control in an effort to survive. Some of those extra-ordinary interventions have flown in the face of conventional economics, while others have, by coincidence, conformed to economic convention or textbooks theories.

In dealing with the challenges before us, especially under a tightened sanctions regime, it will be necessary that pragmatism and reality operate side by side, with technocratic interventions that run side by side with political idealism.

Having said this, however, there are two fundamental background points arising from your question that must be understood and underscored.

In the first place, and contrary to the propaganda that is often repeated even by some political groups in the country, that western economic sanctions have been targeted only at some individuals in or believed to be associated with the ruling Zanu PF, it is now common cause that ordinary people in the cities and rural areas are in fact the helpless victims of these illegal sanctions which are specifically designed to cause human suffering by precipitating a humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe which could trigger a generalised conflict to justify international intervention.

This is being done in the vain hope that economic sanctions would provoke Zimbabweans into turning against their government.

In the second place, the time has come for all of us to understand that our national economy does not exist in a vacuum nor does it exist as another world separate from our national politics.

The economy and politics are inextricably intertwined such that it does not make sense for anyone to expect the RBZ to somehow fix the national economy and turn it around for the better while political players continue to play bickering games over the way forward.

Therefore, I cannot imagine let alone proffer any way forward in terms of reviving the economy given the current situation that is not based on and informed by a political economy of national unity. As such, the only way forward for our country is for Zimbabweans to come together and to speak with one voice to foster a national consensus that puts the country’s interests first.

For sometime now my team and I at the RBZ have been calling for a social contract and a spirit of national healing as the pillars of the way forward not just in our national economy but also in our national politics.

Against this backdrop, we have been saddened to see how the outcome of the harmonized elections held on March 29 has led to unprecedented political disharmony in the country. That cannot be good for the economy.

And so, the prevailing the disharmony is very dangerous for our national survival and we need to confront it with an audacious commitment to national unity. For that to happen, the political players across the political divide need to stop being players and start being leaders who do the right thing for Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans.

I honestly believe that our political leaders know what is right for Zimbabwe and what remains is for them to seek it with urgency or risk being judged very harshly by history and posterity.

Q. What do you expect to be the bottlenecks and the challenges facing the nation as it seeks to turnaround the economy?

A. You know, we are in an extraordinary situation requiring extraordinary measures. The business-as-usual approach will not do in this situation.

This is because the core issues are no longer about the conventional economic bottlenecks many of which are very well known not least because they have been highlighted in virtually all of my monetary policy statements since December 2003.

Yes, we have to attend to conventional bottlenecks such as foreign exchange reforms, removing pricing distortions that have adversely affected producer viability and we need to revamp the financial position of public utilities while continuing the fight against inflation among other urgent measures.

And even more critically, the current global instability of food prices dictates that we treat national food security as our number one priority and thank God we are well positioned to deal with this challenge because of the considerable success of our ongoing historic and now irreversible land reform programme.

But, in my respectful view, the major if not the only bottleneck in our efforts to turnaround the economy is the absence of the required political will among key national leaders and stakeholders to do and say the right thing for Zimbabwe and its people.

As a nation, we have become too factionalized while some among us have become too foreign oriented in their actions and pronouncements. You cannot have a thriving and vibrant economy in such a situation even with the best of efforts and intentions from the Reserve Bank.

Q. The United States recently drafted a resolution that however failed to pass before the United Nations Security Council. It sought, among other things, to freeze personal assets and to extend and internationalise the current limited travel ban against not only you but President Mugabe and 12 other top government officials. What do you make of this move?

A. While I respect the fact that sovereign countries have a right to take measures in pursuit of their national interests, I have failed to understand how the world’s most powerful nations have been so blinded by the British government which has a hidden agenda in Zimbabwe over the land reform programme they wish to reverse and they have found it within their top priority to make Zimbabwe’s domestic affairs on internally disputed elections their international business to the point of seeking such misplaced and ill-conceived sanctions against Zimbabwe.

It is a fact that many members of the United Nations, including the United States itself under its current President, have for one reason or another held presidential elections with disputed outcomes that have been judged by some observers to be neither free nor fair but which, although internally controversial, have not posed a threat to international peace and thus have not warranted international intervention in terms of chapter seven of the United Nations Charter.

As I see them, the ongoing efforts instigated by the British government and led by the United States to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe on account of a disputed presidential election would set a very dangerous precedent which would itself be a very serious threat to international peace. Conversely, the fact that there are some Zimbabwean political groups or individuals that are supporting those efforts is a clear threat to national unity and stability.

Therefore, while the move you mention at the United Nations was predictable given what we have experienced over the last few years from the same quarters, it is nevertheless quite sad to see that the countries seeking economic and other sanctions against Zimbabwe have abandoned all diplomatic pretence to neutrality and have decided to be part of the so-called Zimbabwean problem by taking partisan positions in support of particular Zimbabwean political players against others instead of bringing them together. Instead of preventing conflict, they are fomenting it and that is very sad to see.

By the way, it is very instructive to note that the anti-Zimbabwe sentiment in the G8 is so full of personal hatred of our national leadership that would lead a neutral observer from outer space to mistakenly conclude that the Government is sitting on a deadly nuclear arsenal that is a threat to world peace when the matter at stake is merely a disputed presidential election which has not provoked any unrest in the country beyond press statements from some aggrieved political quarters.

Indeed, the disproportionate and over the top focus on Zimbabwe by the G8 and their surrogates at the United Nations and elsewhere has led some amazed neutrals to observe that if the G8 were to pursue their 2007 US$25 billion pledge to fight poverty and promote development in Africa by 2010 with the same zeal, vigour, enthusiasm and single-minded determination as they are pursuing the Zimbabwean leadership on account of a domestic affair over a disputed presidential election, there would be tremendous progress in realising the United Nations goals of development across Africa.

At the end of the day, the gist of the matter though is that any sanctions against Zimbabwe and from whatever international forum, and however disguised, will only lead to more suffering of the already suffering ordinary people. It seems to me irresponsible that the United Nations Security Council should even bring itself to entertaining such moves whose only impact would be to widen and deepen the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe at a time when the United Nations should be at the forefront of solving the very same crisis in a non partisan manner.

Even so, I remain optimistic that the current wave of irrational excitement over Zimbabwe gripping some members of the G8 and their surrogates will sooner rather than later give way to reason, especially within the United Nations Security Council.

I believe that many rational voices in the United Nations and indeed within SADC and the African Union now realise that punitive economic sanctions and other measures whether personalized or not can only deepen and spread conflict in Zimbabwe at a time when there are now hopes on the horizon for a negotiated home-driven settlement to which His Excellency President Robert Gabriel Mugabe has committed himself and the government. I have faith in SADC mediation led by President Thabo Mbeki and I hope the international community will stop sowing divisions and support his efforts.

Otherwise, it should be clear to anyone who cares about the tense situation in the country that Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans do not need punitive economic sanctions or other divisive measures from the United Nations, rather, they need constructive support to bring about national unity and to lay the foundation for national healing and economic prosperity.

BRIEF: RBZ Governor Gideon Gono in discussion with President Mugabe in November 2007


Q. You have been specifically been targeted by Britain and America as being "responsible for funding repressive state policies”. What’s your response?

A. That statement alone is enough to demonstrate that something else is going on here beyond what meets the eye. If the laughable allegation was that I am using my own personal funds to underwrite the alleged repressive State policies, one would pause and reflect for a moment. But I am the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe which is a State institution and I have discharged my responsibilities from that perspective and in accordance not only with the laws of Zimbabwe as enacted by both Zanu PF and MDC legislators, but also international banking practice.

Of course, I do not expect all leaders to understand banking and economics especially Central Banking but I expected a bit more understanding of the subject matter from former Chancellors of Exchequer and Harvard MBA graduates!

If the expectation at play here is that I should somehow work against the State or use my office to subvert it or be somehow disloyal to the State, then I should make it clear to anyone with an interest in this matter that no such a thing will ever happen. Never!

The reference to “repressive State policies” is a political opinion and not a fact. Besides, the Government of Zimbabwe is entitled to formulate and implement its own policies that it advances during elections and it is only the electorate in Zimbabwe that can support or reject those policies. It is not the business of the British or American government to tell the Government of Zimbabwe what policies to implement or not to implement.

It is now clear that there are some elements within the international community who want to abuse their positions at the United Nations to induce a rebellion in Zimbabwe by publicly supporting certain groups and individuals who are doing their bidding in the country while threatening and demonizing others who are seen as obstacles to that bidding.

As far as I am concerned, as Governor of the Reserve Bank, I stand ready to do what I believe and know is right for my country without fear or favour given the public mandate entrusted on me in terms of my employment contract. I take my instructions from my principals in Government and not from anyone in London, Washington, New York or anywhere else outside Zimbabwe.

If this earns me any punishment or personal hatred, then so be it. What I know and I believe every other fair minded person knows is that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has since 2003 taken extraordinary measures to help Zimbabweans across all sectors of the national economy in a transparent manner to enable them to survive the consequences of illegal sanctions. I and the RBZ team will never shy away from helping out where we can and that is a matter of national responsibility and pride.

Q. Can Zimbabwe’s economy take any more battering from more and broader economic sanctions?

A. I have already made it clear that this whole discourse of sanctions is misplaced because sanctions always and everywhere affect the most vulnerable people in society than anyone else. This is food for thought for those bent on forging ahead with what can only be seen as an evil sanctions agenda. The idea that somehow the threatened sanctions would help ordinary Zimbabweans is not even a joke. It is shameful and disgraceful and an act of serious intellectual dishonesty that screams for debate by all fair minded persons.

While the difficulties that would result from further sanctions should not be underestimated or ignored, the fact remains that Zimbabwe will not die because of the threatened sanctions. If anything, those who have imposed economic sanctions on Zimbabwe and are now threatening more, and those locally who are supporting the sanctions, will never ever win the popular favour of Zimbabweans. About that I’m certain.

Otherwise, our economy has a capacity to survive but that capacity can only be triggered by our collective willingness as Zimbabweans to put our country first.

The sanctions will succeed in the interim if we remain divided as a nation and if there are some among us who want to make cheap political capital from being used by the western countries as their instruments or weapons of destabilization.

I must say though that in the long run, our economy and our nation will prevail and that those who think they can make political careers out of the misery of ordinary Zimbabweans shall live to regret their deeds.

Q. What chance does Zimbabwe stand of lessening the impact of sanctions, if any?

A. These sanctions that you are talking about are real and they are not coming from angels above or from our earthily friends. They are coming from enemies of Zimbabwe who are determined to trigger a humanitarian crisis in our country purely for political reasons in pursuit of their hidden agendas.

In that regard, it would foolhardy to go up Mount Kilimanjaro and shout from its top the measures that are in place or will be in place to bust the sanctions. If we did that, then we would not know what we are doing let alone understand the challenges at hand.

All I can say here is that Zimbabwe is standing at a historic moment such that the salvation of our country now lies not only on the determined will of all Zimbabweans but also on our collective ability as a nation to better organize ourselves to extract value from our God given natural resources which may be the reason our country is attracting hostile attention from those who want to impose sanctions.

Swift and radical measures need to be taken to invoke a much quicker supply side response in order to avert further deepening and widening of the economic crisis. It is for us to know what these measures are or will be and to implement them for our enemies to find out after the fact.

Q. The government through the RBZ has come up with the idea of the "People's Shops". Some say it’s a gimmick and question whether it is sustainable. How successful have you been with this project?

A. Well, the term “People’s Shops” is a populist one and understandably so. But there is some very serious strategic thinking behind it. Among ordinary people, especially the vulnerable elements, the availability of basic goods and commodities at affordable prices is the key to the revival of our national economy.

It is for this reason that as the Reserve Bank, we have found it necessary to relieve the strain of the illegal sanctions especially among the vulnerable groups in our country in the rural and high density urban areas by putting in place a “Basic Goods Accessibility Programme” (BGAP).

Under this programme, targeted support is being given to the producers of basic commodities such as cooking oil, sugar, soap, matemba, salt, maize meal among others. These products are then supplied to targeted groups, through the so-called People’s Shops, at affordable prices. This programme has started nationwide on a pilot basis and so far it is going on very well and we have no doubt about the sustainability of the programme because it is based on good business sense.

Q. Some economists are saying this idea of the "People's Shops" is inflationary. Do you appreciate their concerns?

A. The same economists have said the same thing about any and every intervention we have made to alleviate the suffering of ordinary people in our country. I guess as economists it is their duty to point out the obvious without necessarily looking at the nuances and long term policy objectives being pursued.

Helping out suffering people may indeed be inflationary in the first instance but that kind of intervention is not inflationary in the long run if it is done in structural terms to stimulate productivity, provide food security, create employment and generate income as intended.

The basic point is that we are not living in normal times. Ours are extraordinary times requiring extraordinary measures and I cannot wait for the day the economists you are talking about will realise this fact.

Q. By all estimates, Zimbabwe’s inflation tops a million percent. Despite your public commitment to fight it, it does look like a losing battle. Dr Gono is the fight still on or have you postponed that fight to another day in future?

A. That fight will remain until victory is achieved. That is our policy objective. What should be understood though is that fighting inflation in polarised political environment and in an economy under growing illegal sanctions cannot be a textbook affair.

Therefore, when we scale up our proactiveness and adopt extraordinary measures to deal with extraordinary situations, that does not mean we have abandoned our main objective to fight inflation as our number one enemy, it simply means we need to be strategic in that fight which I have no doubt we will win sooner rather than later if we act together as Zimbabweans with a common heritage and a common destiny.

Q. Governor, the people of Zimbabwe are searching for hope. They have been living under economic hardships for over five years now. While their resilience has been amazing considering the hardships they’ve faced, one wonders whether that resilience will last for any much longer. Is there light at the end of the tunnel and if so, what is it that should keep Zimbabweans hoping that better days are coming?

A. Yes, indeed, there is light at the end of the tunnel and I see it in the eyes of ordinary people I meet everyday who tell me that they are relieved elections are over and that the composition of the elected Parliament dictates that Zimbabweans work together in a spirit of national unity and for the common good of the country. So the hope in the eyes of the people is shining the light on the urgent need for national unity and national healing.

More importantly, I see the light at the end of the tunnel when in his inauguration speech President Mugabe’ called for national dialogue and national unity to find a common ground across the political divide. I was really touched by the self-evident sincerity and pragmatism of that national call.

I believe that President Mugabe’s call will be well received by everyone, especially those in opposition politics, with important roles to play in the political process and that reception stands to create tremendous opportunities for the much needed economic recovery of our country.

So the key lies in the ongoing dialogue under the SADC mediation led by President Mbeki and I have absolute faith in the nationalism, patriotism and commitment of those participating in it and I don’t believe for a moment that they will let Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans down simply because they cannot afford to.

Q. You have the final word Governor.

A. History is awash with actions that have been taken, guns fired, people going to war and people killed or injured on the basis mistaken identity, false intelligence, rumour, stage-managed events, misrepresentations and outright lies on the part of those seeking to achieve sinister agendas which cannot or would not be accomplished if the true situation and facts are presented for all to see and interpret for themselves.

In the same vein Harare has been dubbed, the rumour capital city of the world, particularly when it comes to smearing individuals and the Government with falsehoods, and unfortunately outsiders never take time to verify or check those stories.

Only last week, we had a story in a reputable US newspaper, The New York Times, admitting that they had been fed with lies until they tried to verify the story and that is when it emerged that they had been taken for a ride by a financially stricken lady who was hoping to get financial sympathy!

We also have cases of scribes who will write anything in order to be awarded scholarships or residence permits abroad on account of faking threats to their lives from the Zimbabwean so called “system” for alleged “nasty revelations” of Government misdemeanours. Others are internet lie-contributors doing so under pseudo names for the sake of earning US$50 or US$100 a month depending on how juicy their stories are. So, in short my appeal to the outside world is that they should verify, verify and verify again stories from Zimbabwe before swallowing hook, line and sinker the stories they receive and act upon.

Of course, I am not defending anyone who murders another person; I am not defending anyone who tortures another person or anyone who perpetrates violence on any other person or property for whatever reason. Such people must be punished, by and dealt with through the laws of the land after establishing the real facts on the ground, regardless of who the perpetrator of such murders, violence or torture is.

Ultimately for me, I would like the whole world and Zimbabweans in particular to know that I want to be counted as one of those patriotic sons of the soil who was there for my country, stood for and by my country and countrymen/women at Zimbabwe’s hour of maximum danger, its hour of maximum need and not one who hid behind a finger or heap of lies, or under the desk when the country needed men and women to uphold its laws, preserve and promote peace and stability through whatever modest efforts I am able to make, and contributed to the preservation of the Nation’s legacy as defined by our present and departed heroes and heroines of our liberation struggle.

Saka, sanctions or no sanctions, Governor Gono will stand for, and by Zimbabwe for Zimbabweans at all times. Never doubt that!

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AU, UN and SADC reaffirm support for Mbeki mediation in Zimbabwe
Last updated: 07/19/2008 10:59:37

THE African Union, United Nations and a grouping of 14 southern African nations have endorsed South African President Thabo Mbeki's mediation of Zimbabwe's crisis talks, Mbeki's office said on Friday. "All parties agreed with the framework proposed by President Mbeki to facilitate a solution to the challenges in Zimbabwe," the presidency said in a statement after the South African leader briefed AU, UN and SADC diplomats on the talks.

Mbeki invited the African Union and UN to join a new reference group which will liaise on his efforts to mediate a solution to Zimbabwe's crisis, a top aide said.

Speaking after Mbeki met AU commission chief Jean Ping and UN envoy Haile Menkerios in Pretoria, Sydney Mufamadi said the new group would support the president in his mission to mediate between the ruling party and opposition in Harare on behalf of the 14-nation regional bloc known as SADC.

"The special representantive of SADC (Angolan deputy foreign minister George Chikoti), the AU and the UN were briefed by President Mbeki and he invited them to constitute a reference group with the mediator on an ongoing basis," said Mufamadi who is Mbeki's right-hand man in the mediation effort.

"They will appoint people who will be based at the venue country. They will get briefings on a regular basis from the facilitator."

The UN, SADC and AU's faith in Mbeki will be a crushing blow to Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) which has been pushing for a second mediator, preferrably from the AU. The MDC ccuses Mbeki of bias -- a campaign rejected as a "fake issue" by South Africa's foreign affairs minister this week. -


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(NEW ZIMBABWE) Ping snubs MDC official ahead of Mbeki meeting

Ping snubs MDC official ahead of Mbeki meeting
By Lindie Whiz
Last updated: 07/19/2008 11:53:24

AFRICAN Union Commission chairman Jean Ping – meeting South African President Thabo Mbeki in Pretoria on Friday – snubbed Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) after it sent a junior official to meet him in France on Wednesday. The MDC, pushing for President Thabo Mbeki to be sidelined in favour of an African Union mediator in the diplomatic push for a political settlement to the crisis in Zimbabwe, wanted to brief Ping ahead of his meeting with Mbeki.

Diplomatic sources revealed Ping declined to meet the MDC’s emissary, George Sibotshiwe, the Johannesburg-based spokesman for MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and a virtual newcomer to Zimbabwe’s political theatre.

“Ping refused to meet him (Sibotshiwe),” said one diplomatic source. “He instead offered to send his PA to meet Sibotshiwe and in the end the whole thing collapsed.”

Tsvangirai is being privately assailed by some party officials who say he has sidelined loyal party cadres for the sleek PR of Sibotshiwe and an increasingly influential cabal of aides, financiers and advisers based in South Africa.

One MDC official said Tsvangirai was unlikely to have made the call to send Sibotshiwe, blaming it on the “South Africa group”.

“How can they send to a senior AU official someone junior like that (Sibotshiwe), and in the process marginalising MDC structures? Why couldn’t they send (Prof Elphas) Mukonoweshuro who is the foreign affairs spokesman? It is embarrassing because these people ('South Africa group') don’t even know the protocols of international politics. It boomeranged; the result was there was no meeting.”

Sibotshiwe, when reached by telephone on Friday, asked to be called back in 10 minutes. Subsequent phone calls were not answered.

A second MDC spokesman based in Johannesburg, Nqobizitha Mlilo, said only Sibotshiwe could give an explanation.

On Friday, Mbeki pushed ahead with efforts to broker an end to Zimbabwe's crisis by welcoming Ping at his Pretoria Office. Ping came after another meeting between Mbeki and the United Nations’ Zimbabwe trouble-shooter, Haile Menkerios, who was appointed recently.

The closed-door talks were being held ahead of a gathering of foreign ministers in the city of Durban, where Zimbabwe's post-election violence and efforts to bring about some kind of power-sharing deal were to top the agenda.

While Mbeki posed with Menkerios and then Ping at the start of their meetings, he was tight-lipped on what they would discuss.

While little fanfare has surrounded the get-together, it is the first between Ping and Mbeki since Mugabe's re-election in a one-man poll on June 27.

The ballot was widely denounced as a sham in the West after Tsvangirai boycotted the run-off following a wave of deadly attacks on his supporters.

Mbeki has been trying to mediate between the opposition and Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF party but, having made little headway so far, has faced calls to be either axed from his role or at least to begin working in tandem with the AU.

"The MDC has made it clear an expanded (mediation) team provides the best opportunity for a negotiated solution to the Zimbabwe crisis," the news agency AFP reported a source close to Tsvangirai as saying.

"The situation in Zimbabwe is deteriorating on a daily basis and it is essential for the people's welfare that a transitional agreement is reached as soon as possible and we hope the outcome of Friday’s consultations will facilitate this."

The MDC and Zanu PF began preliminary talks last week aimed at establishing a framework for substantive negotiations.

Tsvangirai, who beat Mugabe into second place in the first round of voting in March and does not recognise his old rival's re-election, has so far refused to put his name to a framework deal -- although his aides have hinted he will be ready to sign after the Ping-Mbeki talks.

Mbeki was tasked more than a year ago by the 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) to mediate between the MDC and Zanu PF, and was asked to push ahead with his efforts at a summit in April. The AU and UN have recently thrown their weight behind his mediation.

His Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was to give an update on the mediation efforts at Friday's meeting in Durban, with the South African government insistent that a resolution to the Zimbabwe crisis remain the sole preserve of SADC.

"Our view has always been, and I am stressing it, we are being diverted by a fake argument about the expansion of the SADC facilitation," Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad told reporters earlier this week.

"I don't believe that at this very crucial moment, adding new bodies, simply to sit in the same room, is what is required.”

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(TALKZIMBABWE) Anglo American staying in Zim despite E.U. sanctions

Anglo American staying in Zim despite E.U. sanctions
Tendai Nyatanga
Fri, 18 Jul 2008 09:55:00 +0000

Anglo American Chief executive, Cynthia Carroll, was formerly president and chief executive officer of Alcan Primary Metal, the largest division of the Canadian aluminium producer. Carroll holds an MBA from Harvard and an MSc in Geology (Kansas). She is strongly committed to improving safety in the workplace and has a track record of working with communities in addressing sustainable development challenges.

FOLLOWING media and government pressure in the United Kingdom, Anglo American reiterated that it will stay the course in Zimbabwe and will not pull out of its US$400 million investment as metal prices continue to soar.

“Anglo American has been an investor in Zimbabwe for 60 years,” said a statement issued by the company in response to the British and E.U. calls for the business giant to move its businesses from Zimbabwe adding that it has “has a clear responsibility to protect the wellbeing of its more than 650 employees and contractors, as well as their families and all those who depend indirectly on the activity around the project.”

More than 40% of Anglo American’s assets are located in Africa including all the mining and refining operations of Anglo Platinum, the world’s number 1 platinum producer; many of Anglo Coal’s mines; and the great majority of the mines of their associate De Beers, according to Anglo American CEO Cynthia Carroll.

Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown has indicated that he will ask the E.U. to seek further stringent sanctions against Zimbabwe in defiance of a U.N. Security Council vote that failed to endorse a new sanctions package for Zimbabwe.

Britain and the U.S. had drafted a sanctions draft that sought to impose an international travel ban on President Robert Mugabe and 13 members of his government and an arms embargo on the country. It was vetoed but Russia and China, long term allies of Zimbabwe arguing that talks were the only way to resolve the situation in the country.

After failing to garner support at the UN Security Council, despite previously indicationg that sanctions were certain, Brown turned to the E.U. to impose further sanctions.

David Miliband, Britain’s Foreign Secretary said the extension of E.U. sanctions against Zimbabwe, which currently target 132 individuals, would be addressed at a meeting of European foreign ministers in Brussels on July 22 and 23. Press reports say a definite sanctions package has been drafted and will be adopted at that meeting.

Anglo American has indicated that although it was monitoring the situation in Zimbabwe very closely and reviewing all options, they will not be withdrawing from the southern African country despite E.U. and American pressure to do so.

The company argues that “livelihoods would be jeopardized should the company withdraw from Zimbabwe” adding that “Anglo American is in full compliance with all relevant national and international laws relating to its activities in Zimbabwe.”

It would be difficult for the E.U. to impose penalties of the mining giant as it runs a subsidiary company registered in Zimbabwe - Anglo American Zimbabwe (Amzim) – which would not be subject to E.U. laws.

Anglo American currently runs a multi-million dollar platinum project at Unki mine in Zimbabwe employing thousands of workers. Unki has an extensive underground deposit of platinum and palladium and Anglo American is unlikely to give this up. It is situated on Zimbabwe's Great Dyke which is the world's second largest repository of platinum group metals, after the Bushveld igneous system in South Africa.

Tenders were awarded for infrastructure projects at the mine as business is going on as usual. The first phase of the $90 million exploration was completed at the end of 2006.

Anglo America’s strategic plan indicated that the mine was expected to remain in operation for twenty years, and is forecast to produce 290 million tons of ore over that time. The mine will produce 58 000 oz of platinum and 40 000 oz of palladium a year with an estimated 1,300 jobs created over the period.

The plan also shows that a black empowerment scheme will ensure that 15 per cent of the mine's shareholding will be held by 'indigenous Zimbabweans' and a scheme is also being discussed to give certain employees a five per cent stake in operations.

Anglo American also holds a 37.2% stake in Tongaat-Hulett, a sugar and starch company, which has operations in Zimbabwe employing 16,000 people.

Zimbabwe has rich deposits of natural resources, including coal, chromium, platinum-group metals, gold, nickel copper and iron ore and many companies weathering the storm are set to benefit hugely, according to a mining CEO who refused to be named.

“Those companies moving out of Zimbabwe will only have themselves to blame if things start improving in Zimbabwe. We all know that sanctions are affecting the Zimbabwean economy, but if they are lifted many companies will benefit,” said the CEO adding that “Zimbabwe has excellent “infrastructure which needs minimum maintenance.”

“May companies should bank on the possibility that the country will very soon bottom out and things will be much better,” he said. “If the country can keep assets pretty cheaply right now, it can pay off later.”

President Mugabe reacted angrily to E.U. threats of pulling out their companies out of Zimbabwe.

"The British are threatening to withdraw their companies," President Mugabe said. "We say: The sooner you do it the better. Please Mr Brown, withdraw all your companies from Zimbabwe."

Anglo American said in February that its 2007 net profit jumped 18 percent to 7.3 billion dollars, boosted by high output and soaring metals prices.

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(TALKZIMBABWE) Britain builds US$10 embassy complex in Zim as it urges companies to pull out

Britain builds US$10 embassy complex in Zim as it urges companies to pull out
Fri, 18 Jul 2008 10:05:00 +0000

BRITAIN is building a 10-million-pound complex for its embassy in Harare despite the British government's calls for foreign companies operating in Zimbabwe to pull out of the country, The Herald reported on Wednesday. Chief executive of leading construction group Murray and Roberts, Brian Bruce, recently revealed that his company was contracted nearly 18 months ago to build the complex just outside Harare's central business district.

“It is a completely new facility from scratch, costing 10 million British pounds. Work began about 18 months ago and is pretty close to completion," Bruce said.

Murray and Roberts Zimbabwe is 48 percent owned by Murray and Roberts, Johannesburg in South Africa and is listed separately on the local bourse.

The building is now close to completion and insiders said the British Mission in Harare would relocate there "late this year or early next year."

Observers say the project exposes British hypocrisy following repeated claims by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and several of his ministers that Zimbabwe was not a safe country to do business in and that companies operating in the country should relocate as part of the illegal regime change agenda.

In essence, this means that the British government is investing in Zimbabwe while discouraging companies like Anglo-American and Barclays from doing so.

Keith Scott, the first secretary for political and public affairs at the British Embassy in Harare, on Tuesday admitted that Britain was indeed expanding its presence in the country despite official pronouncements calling for sanctions.

"It is right that the UK should plan an embassy commensurate with its interests in Zimbabwe," Scott said without explaining why they were expanding while at the same time coercing others to pullout.

He added that their position was that "individuals must look to their own consciences as regarding investments" in Zimbabwe.

Britain, together with the United States, has been at the forefront in urging companies to pull out of Zimbabwe and last week their bid to have United Nations sanctions imposed on the country was thwarted by several members of the UN Security Council. – Xinhua

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(TALKZIMBABWE) Opposition needs to be realistic and engage

Opposition needs to be realistic and engage
Miles Mudzviti—Opinion
Thu, 17 Jul 2008 22:18:00 +0000

DEAR EDITOR—Effective progress can only be home–conceived, home–grown and home–led. The opposition's agenda has shown itself to be neither locally generated nor owned and its definition completely and palpably driven by external financial, political and technical assistance.

The MDC-T has failed dismally and repeatedly to demonstrate to us that a firewall exists, especially on programme decision making and policy direction, between them and their backers.

It is time they take stock of themselves, discard their naked ambitions and remove ill-advice, which we can see from miles away, and put Zimbabwe's interests firmly at the fore.

Nevertheless, it is the magnanimity of the rightly elected president of Zimbabwe, by due process of the constitutional requirements of the land, that we should be commending now, and praying the opposition reciprocates, for seeking a common negotiated solution to the political malaise and economic quagmire we find ourselves amidst.

What the country clearly needs now is engineering and consolidation of sustainable democratic peace through effective dialogue processes within the nation.

Let me here and now commend the MDC-Mutambara for recognizing the President and more importantly, the discerning need to engage him as the legitimate executive of our country.

We can only hope that their counterparts recognize this urgent need to not only come to the table, but to do so with independence of thought and judgment that has eluded their campaign thus far. We urge them to sign the MoU now - time for vacillation and prevarication they do not have, and Zimbabwe itself cannot afford it.

These talks represent for them now, the primary and perhaps only alternative means through which their objective of pluriform democracy is achieved, having abstained from the process of the month gone. This process of dialogue should construct the effective practice of democracy, that is distinctly African and original, internationally recognized as indeed the process to create it has been by the Sadc, the AU and the UN and is paramount and divorced from the Western influences and cajoling that have characterized the opposition and its leaders' modus operandi so far.

Our common values, goals and destinies demand that we earnestly innovate, address our differences, refine and re-define our objectives and embark on the reconstructive journey now rather than later.

We have all lost more than we can afford to already-we can afford to lose no more. Progress must be made, and it must be seen by all to be made-signing the MoU would stand the MDC-T and its leaders in good stead now and going into the future.

Miles Mudzviti
Yorkshire, England

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Poor accountability on aid in kind

Poor accountability on aid in kind
By Editor
Friday July 18, 2008 [04:00]

SUPPORT from friends is something which is always a source of tremendous inspiration to everyone. Those who are ready to join hands can overcome the greatest challenges. No country in the world today can overcome all its problems and satisfy all its needs by itself. The cooperation and support of others will always be needed.

But support doesn't come just like that; it doesn't come easy. It has to be mobilised. Someone has to make it happen. The aid we receive from others is the result of efforts of other people who spend a lot of time mobilising it, making it happen.

And the donations we receive are products of other people's work, other people's sacrifices and sweat. They give it to us for a legitimate cause. If they knew that what they were giving us would be stolen by a few greedy individuals; that it would not be accounted for properly, they would not give it to us.

Therefore, whatever we are given by others, we need to account for it and ensure that it gets to the intended people. And this is much more so when it is food intended for the poor people, for those affected by some disasters of one form or another, and are not in a position to feed themselves or meet their basic needs. Stealing from the poor is not only a crime but also a betrayal of Christ. He who betrays the poor betrays Christ.

Food is the most important element in any society. Consequently, the arrangements to make food readily available take very high priority in a well-ordered society. And those who try to sabotage or derail efforts to get food to every household don't get away with it.

It is a strict duty of justice and truth not to allow fundamental needs to remain unsatisfied. Hunger in our society is a sign of gross injustice and a block on development.

The existence of large numbers of hungry and undernourished people in our country should constitute an affront to all of us. And a stable, permanent solution must be found for this serious problem. And we must struggle, with international support, to meet our people's needs for basic foodstuffs as much as possible.

International support is meaningless and will not achieve much if we are not responsible in the management and use of whatever assistance is given to our people by the international community.

At the end of the day, it is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another, one community from another, one country from another.

Stealing items donated to our needy people in order to enrich oneself should be a serious crime, should actually be unthinkable.

How can we expect the international community to be sensitive to the plight of our suffering people when we ourselves, their own leaders don't care much and cannot even pay much attention to the management and distribution of the assistance they have been given? We cannot continue to poorly manage international assistance when there are so many people in our country who, each day, cannot meet the basic needs necessary for a decent human life.

The concerns raised by finance minister Ng’andu Magande over the poor accountability on gifts received by the government from donors deserve serious consideration by the National Constitutional Conference.

Although we should stand for self-reliance, we hope for foreign aid because in our current circumstances, it will not be easy to completely do away with it. We should depend on our own efforts but this should not stop us from receiving help when it is generously extended to us.

Poor management and accountability does not show a sense of gratitude on our part for the assistance being extended to us by the international community. If we continue on this path, it will be very difficult in future to be taken seriously by others. We need to change our ways and manage the aid we are given in a more efficient, effective and orderly manner.

We, therefore, urge the National Constitutional Conference to come up with resolutions that will improve the management of international assistance extended to our people and increase the levels of accountability to ensure that such assistance reaches the intended sections of our nation.

In fact, this should not only be confined to international assistance, but should be extended to the resources generated by our own people, our taxpayers. Every kwacha needs to be accounted for. With the very limited resources we have, we cannot afford wastage.

We need to increase the effort to practice a strict economy and combat waste. The principle of diligence and frugality should be observed in everything. Thrift should be the guiding principle in our government expenditure.

And it should be made very clear to all government workers that corruption and waste are really great crimes. Our national campaigns against corruption and waste have already achieved some results, but further efforts are required.

We must take resolute measures against anyone failing to account for donor aid and other public resources. And we must pay attention to thrift and economy.

Our Minister of Finance has raised the alarm - has raised the concern - the lesson is there and attention must be called to it.

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