Saturday, July 26, 2008
Fri, 25 Jul 2008 10:11:00 +0000
HARARE police yesterday visited Dr John Makumbe, a University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer and political commentator, to substantiate allegations that he made claiming that there were people in Zimbabwe still living in the mountains for fear of their lives, but had not arrested him as reported in sections of the media.
According to police sources, Makumbe’s claims that violence was still going on in some parts of the country were unfounded. A statement issued Thursday said Makumbe had "failed to substantiate the claims” he made on a ZBC TV programme, ‘Zimbabwe Today’ which was broadcast on Wednesday night. Dr Makumbe is reported to have said that he obtains all his information from Voice of America’s (VOA) Studio 7 reports on Zimbabwe and The Zimbabwean weekly newspaper.
Yesterday Dr Makumbe told VOA’s Studio 7 that he was skeptical of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the ruling Zanu PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change is not very “keen of power sharing” with Zanu PF.
He added that Zanu PF wanted to use the MDC as a ‘cleaning agent’ to make themselves ‘sellable’ to the region and the international community.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Dr Makumbe was less skeptical, referring to the MOU as “a tentative step in the right direction, but at this point everything is tentative,”
“The situation in the country is desperate and the gulf between the parties immense.”
Meanwhile, the new ZBH Chief Executive Officer, Happison Muchechetere is said to have reminded guests invited on national TV programmes to be people of integrity who do not 'peddle falsehoods'.
Since he took over from Henry Muradzikwa (the former CEO), Muchechetere has invited political and civic leaders onto the programme to ensure fairness and balance in national programming.
Some of the people who have appeared on the weekly “Zimbabwe Today” programme include MDC (Tsvangirai) spokesman, Nelson Chamisa, lawyer and political activist Douglas Mwonzora, former MDC (Mutambara) spokesman Gabriel Chaibva, MDC-M secretary general Professor Welshman Ncube, among other opposition and civic personalities.
Muchechetere said the national broadcaster expects guests on its programmes to speak the truth and not mislead viewers and listeners by making false or exaggerated statements adding that public interest was at the heart of national programming and fairness and sincerity was the only goal
Zimbabwe’s main political parties, Zanu PF and the two formations of the opposition MDC kick started the crisis talks at a secret location in South Africa’s capital Pretoria yesterday. The talks, embargoed from the public and the media, are likely to resolve the current political and economic impasse in the country.
Both sides have stressed their sincerity in ending the long time feud and work towards a peaceful resolution to the Zimbabwean crisis - a move welcomed by many Zimbabweans.
Sources say the parties may sign a power-sharing agreement soon as they have already agreed on a wide range of issues, including a new constitution. The biggest sticking point is said to be on the type and structure of a shared government. The opposition MDC prefers a 'transitional authority' which leads to a credible, democratic election, but Zanu PF is said to favour a government of national unity.
The US has imposed new sanctions on Zimbabwe, accusing President Robert Mugabe of heading an "illegitimate" government that sponsors violence. US President George W Bush signed an executive order expanding restrictions against individuals and organisations linked to Mr Mugabe's government. Mr Bush said the sanctions were a "direct result" of government actions. Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party has begun power-sharing talks with the opposition in an effort to end a political crisis.
The president was re-elected with a landslide majority in June's presidential vote, a poll boycotted by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which said its supporters have been subjected to a state-sponsored campaign of violence.
In a statement issued by the White House, Mr Bush said he approved action against Mr Mugabe's government after the Zimbabwean leader continually ignored international pressure to stop election-related violence.
The new sanctions will affect 17 Zimbabwean companies with links to the government - including the Agricultural Development Bank of Zimbabwe, and will ban US citizens from doing business with them.
Robert Mugabe (L) and Morgan Tsvangirai shake hands at the signing of a deal in Harare, 21 July 2008
Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai shook hands at their first meeting in a decade
"No regime should ignore the will of its own people and calls from the international community without consequences," Mr Bush said.
The move expands the list of Zimbabwan companies and individuals banned from dealing with the US to more than 250, after sanctions were first imposed in 2003.
On Tuesday, the European Union also expanded its list of allies of Mr Mugabe subject to travel and business restrictions.
Mr Bush added that he hoped the talks between Mr Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, currently underway in South Africa, would "result in a new government that reflects the will of the Zimbabwean people".
If so, the US would be ready to provide "a substantial assistance package, development aid, and normalisation with international financial institutions," Mr Bush said.
Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai shook hands on Monday as they signed a memorandum paving the way for talks.
It was the two men's first meeting in a decade.
The MDC says at least 120 of its supporters have been killed, about 5,000 abducted and 200,000 forced from their homes since the first round of the elections, in a campaign of violence by pro-Mugabe militias and the army.
Cabinet ministers and military officials have denied the charges.
By Katwishi Bwalya
Friday July 25, 2008 [04:00]
ENERGY minister Kenneth Konga says the government is impressed with the number of local investors wishing to invest in the energy sector. And Konga has disclosed that the government will soon conclude negotiations with Zambia National Commercial Bank (ZNCB) over the financing of the importation of crude oil.
In an interview, Konga said the ministry had received an overwhelming response to government’s calls for the private sector to invest in the energy sector amid the power challenges the region was facing.
Konga said the government was currently in talks with a local investor who would develop the Kabompo Gorge in North Western Province at a cost of US$50 million.
He said some other investors had shown interest in developing the Mambilima Falls in Luapula Province.
He said the investors were supplementing Zesco’s efforts in providing power for longer hours to the citizens.
He said Chikata Falls and Mumbututa Falls were some of the waterfalls that had attracted the interest of investors.
And Konga has described the negations with Zanaco as successful.
“The negotiations are going on smoothly and as government we are happy and we hope to conclude very soon,” said Konga.
By Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Friday July 25, 2008 [04:00]
COMMERCE minister Felix Mutati says it is difficult to ascertain the correct economic position of the country because the available statistics are not consistent. And Mutati has said there is too much theory in the development agenda of the country at the expense of practical solutions. Opening the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA)’s three-day strategic planning workshop at Sandy’s Creations yesterday, Mutati said lack of harmonised data on the country’s economic position was working against efforts of attracting foreign investments in the country.
“The same government, if you ask different institutions like Bank of Zambia (BoZ), Central Statistical Office (CSO), Ministry of Finance on any issue like inflation, exports, copper output…you get a different picture. So it means we are not coordinating in terms of understanding the fundamentals and that is where you as ZDA need to ensure the correct data is available.
This is making it difficult to tell the investors the correct position of Zambia’s economic fundamentals,” he said.
And Mutati urged ZDA to ensure that they draw up a strategic plan that was going to fit into the country’s long-term plan, the Vision 2030.
“We need to devoid ourselves from endless theories, analysis, quantifying things that we must do on a practical basis,” said Mutati.
Meanwhile, President Levy Mwanawasa’s special assistant for economic affairs Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane urged ZDA to come up with a client charter as a way of streamlining the marketing of the country’s investment potential.
By Kabanda Chulu
Friday July 25, 2008 [04:00]
AGRICULTURE Commercial Society of Zambia (ACSZ) president Paul Mumbuluma has said the institution does not host shows to make money but to showcase the country’s economic potential. And Mumbuluma announced that Zambia will in 2012 host the Royal Agricultural Society that will draw participants from all Commonwealth members and the Duke of Edinburgh will be the guest of honour.
Giving updates on the 82nd ACSZ, whose theme is ‘Growth in Diversity’ Mumbuluma on Wednesday said the main purpose of hosting the show was to afford various economic sectors an opportunity to showcase their products as well as opening new markets.
He said nine countries had confirmed participation and over 150,000 show-goers were expected to attend the show whose expenditure would be K3.7 billion with an expected income of K4.5 billion.
Mumbuluma said the guest of honour for this year’s show would be Swaziland Prime Minister Absalm Themba Dhlamini and this would be the second time the ACSZ would be graced by a dignatory from a Kingdom.
He said delegates for the Southern Africa International Dialogue Conference (Smart Partnership) would embrace the second day of the show to give them an opportunity to network and understand the Zambian economy and its opportunities.
Mumbuluma said there would be no livestock exhibition from animals from Southern Province due to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease but other areas would be represented.
And Zambia Police deputy spokesperson Crispin Kapela said the police command had taken cognizance of the two international events and would next week deploy 500 police officers.
Saturday July 26, 2008 [04:00]
For every profession to get the respect it deserves, there is need for its members to adhere to the rules that they set for themselves. For the public to have confidece in such professionals, they should be assured that they are dealing with people of high morals. Therefore, the advice given by University of Zambia Medical Students (UNZAMEDSA) patron Prof Karashani to student doctors, urging them not to let down the profession by adhering to medical ethics, is timely.
As Prof Karashani has advised, for a doctor to be respectable there is need for him or her to adopt a positive attitude towards patients, colleagues and the public. Indeed, a good doctor is one that listens to the concerns of his clients, who in this case are the patients.
Prof Karashani tells the student doctors to “develop a positive attitude towards your patients by listening to their concerns. You must build confidentiality by ensuring that when you know something about them, you will not leak the information. Behave and look like a professional. Don’t come to work drunk because the public will lose confidence in you.”
This advice to the young doctors is very important.
However, there is need for the country to create an environment where doctors can operate ethically.
Doctors, like any other professionals, have needs, families and obligations. They, too, have fears and anxieties.
They have obligations, too. As we demand so much from these professionals, we should also look at the environment they work in, the rewards they get and probably the communities they come from.
There is need for us to give our medical doctors the honour they deserve. Caring for the sick is a calling of a special dignity and importance. It’s not just another job.
We have hospitals that are run in conditions that may be termed sub-standard in terms of medical supplies such as gloves, medicines and equipment.
The lack of basic tools like Sphygmomanometers (blood pressure machines), thermometers, weighing machines. And these are very basic tools that a medical practitioner would need to have an overview impression of the client he is seeing.
These basic tools are sometimes not available in our out-patient departments. We are not even talking of the entubation equipment, suction machines, scan machines and some equipment which we can only dream about like Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRIs). For instance, one may only find Computer Tomography scanning machines (CT scan machine) at the UTH or at a mine hospital.
With all these challenges, how would one gauge unethical and ethical standards in administering medical services? How would you expect a medical professional to discharge his duties professionally?
By saying this, we are not advocating unethical practice or unprofessional conduct on the part of medical doctors. We are also not saying we cannot find ethical and professional medical practitioners among our doctors. What we are saying is that the lack of some of these basic tools may affect their work professionally, ethically or other.
We still have medical professionals living in substandard accommodation and yet we want them to carry themselves like those who come from decent places. Our doctors still suffer irregular and meagre on-call allowances, yet we want them to work with a straight face and a clear mind.
A number of wards in our hospitals are crowded, with inadequate curtains or linen, yet we are still asking our medical professionals to respect confidentiality of their clients.
UNZAMEDSA president Ephraim Munsaka raises a very important issue that should not be taken lightly. He says there is need for the authorities to provide doctors with Hepatitis B vaccine.
It is unacceptable for a doctor to contract diseases in his or her quest to save life. Most of our doctors do not have medical insurance to cover them in case of eventualities.
Let us provide the best to our doctors in order to get the best out of them.
Let us grant them the respect and support that they need.
As beneficiaries of services from our doctors, there is need for the citizens to demand for certain standards to be met in our hospitals. Let us demand good health policies and adequate medicines in our hospitals.
The doctors have in the past demonstrated their commitment to their clients as evidenced in the commonly known case of the resident doctors of 1999. This may be classified as one of the longest strikes by our doctors. One of their demands was for basic equipment and medicines to be provided to the hospitals on behalf of their patients.
They were not asking for sophisticated medical equipment like CT scan machines and MRIs.
There is need for us the citizens to press and make our politicians accountable for the promises they make during election time. We need to make sure that they change their attitude towards health care for all. As we have said before, one cannot claim to uphold the sanctity of life if there is no provision for minimum health care for all.
By Agness Changala
Saturday July 26, 2008 [11:00]
UNIVERSITY of Zambia Medical Students (UNZAMEDSA) patron Professor Karashani has urged student doctors not to let down the profession by failing to adhere to medical ethics. During the UNZAMEDSA mentorship day the ‘Medical ethics’, Prof Karashani told the students that a positive attitude towards patients, colleagues and the public would enable them to become very good and respectable.
"Develop a positive attitude towards your patients by listening to their concerns," he said. "You must build the confidentiality by ensuring that when you know something about them, you will not leak the information."
Prof Karashani emphasised the need for doctors to maintain good behaviour and attitude, saying the two were paramount to their profession.
"Behave and look like a professional," he said. "Don't come to work drunk because the public will lose confidence in you."
Prof Karashani urged the student doctors to learn to carry out their work with mutual respect and that they should not criticise each other in the presence of the public or the patients.
And UNZAMEDSA president Ephraim Munsaka appealed to health minister Dr Brian Chituwo to provide hepatitis B vaccines, a drug that prevents medical personnel from contracting diseases they are exposed to when they are working on patients.
Munsaka said the drug was important as it protected health practitioners by creating antibodies.
"We are exposed to blood products and to save ourselves from contracting different diseases we handle, we have to use this drug," he said.
Munsaka also called on the government and UNZA management to deal with the pending go-slow at the institution, saying the effect had also spread to their school.
UNZAMEDSA projects director Ndaludza Masiye bemoaned the poor infrastructure at the institution and appealed to the government and other donor organisations to assist them.
Masiye said most of their programmes had suffered as Churches Health Association of Zambia (CHAZ), which used to fund them had stopped.
"We have a new building for the library but it needs refurbishing and the computer lab also only has about two computers," said Masiye.
By Kabanda Chulu
Friday July 25, 2008 [04:00]
ZCCM Investment Holdings (ZCCM-IH) acting chief executive officer William Musama yesterday said the company has diversified its investment portfolio to include acquisition of shares in new mining companies. After privatising entities under Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM) in 2000, the government formed ZCCM-IH to maintain its interests in the sold entities and currently ZCCM-IH holds about 15-20 per cent shares in each of the privatised mines.
Giving an update on the status of the 2007 to 2010 ZCCM-IH strategic plan, Musama said the company would soon become a fully-fledged investment company through diversification of portfolio investments and increasing of shareholder’s value for investments.
“Not much progress has been achieved from the inception of the company in 2000 because the focus was on dealing with issues to do with the environment, housing and ex-employees but ZCCM-IH is now actively implementing its strategic plan whose objective is to ensure that the company becomes a fully-fledged investment entity through diversification and increasing of shareholder’s value,” Musama said. “As ZCCM-IH, we have taken a keen interest in all potential investment opportunities. But any new investments are considered after an appraisal process to ensure that it meets our requirements and to protect the interest of shareholders.”
Musama said ZCCM-IH has a stake in Lumwana Mining Company through its share ownership of Equinox Minerals and also has a stake in Albidon Limited which is undertaking the Munali Nickel Project.
Through its investment diversification plan and depending on the viability of the projects, ZCCM-IH would acquire shares in Zambezi Resources, African Eagle Resources, Konkola North Copper Mines, among others.
Notable mining companies where ZCCM-IH holds shares include Konkola Copper Mines, Mopani Copper Mines, First Quantum Minerals, Chambishi Copper Metals, Non-Ferrous China Africa (NFCA) mine, Chibuluma Mines and Luanshya Copper Mines.
By Masuzyo Chakwe
Saturday July 26, 2008 [11:01]
AN Indian company is set to open a thermo-power plant in Zambia worth US$1.8 billion with a capacity to generate 1,000 mega watts. And energy minister, Kenneth Konga said Indeni Oil Refinery will shut down for maintenance in September. Speaking when he paid a courtesy call on Vice-President Rupiah Banda at his office yesterday, Era Group of Companies senior vice-president, Sanjay Bhatia, said prospecting could start at the end of September.
He said Era Group of Companies, worth US$1.5 billion, planned to invest into the power and agriculture sectors.
Bhatia said the company had the technology and expertise to bring investment in Zambia in a very big way.
He said the company hoped to finalise the licence for investment in the next visit to Zambia.
"The power plant will take two years because it is a huge investment, which is about US$1.8 billion which consists of exploration, prospecting of coal, mining of coal and setting up of the power plant. The power plant capacity is 250 mega watts in the southern region but it all depends on the availability of coal. What kind of coal deposits are there," he said. "When we get the coal we will start with 250 mega watts units so we can get on line immediately.
Once the power plant is established, the economy of that region will be improved. We plan to build a special economic zone, a multi-purpose economic zone which will have continued power. This will bring Zambia into the map globally."
He said the company needed government support to ensure that things moved at a very fast pace.
Bhatia also disclosed that the company was ready to start a rice plantation once they identified land where they hoped to create employment opportunities for the locals.
Era Group of Companies director Ajay Mishra said the investment opportunities in Zambia were very promising.
Vice-President Banda said Zambia would like to take advantage of India's dynamic ability.
Commerce minister, Felix Mutati said through the Ministry of Mines, they were able to secure concession in Southern Province for the coal reserve.
Konga said this investment would definitely boost the energy sector that would drive the economy forward especially the mining activities on the Copperbelt.
Konga also said the electricity tariffs in Zambia were not economical and would have to be adjusted upwards.
He also said the government's negotiating team was still talking to the Zanaco negotiating team.
"We have given deadlines that I think by the end of this month, negotiations can conclude because we can't have negotiations that keep going on so that we get a financier in place. I am yet to get report on how far the negotiation is going," he said.
Konga also assured the nation that there was enough fuel.
By Mwala Kalaluka in Mansa
Saturday July 26, 2008 [10:53]
LUAPULA Province police commanding officer Dawson Siame has warned that the law will deal with people that will choose to ignore the watertight security arrangements at today's Umutomboko Ceremony in Mwansabombwe. Giving an update on the security interventions during this year's Umutomboko, Siame said yesterday that a platoon of paramilitary police officers from Kamfinsa in Kitwe had been dispatched to Mwansabombwe to maintain law and order during the traditional event.
"Then we also have 150 local police officers," Siame said. "We have six traffic vehicles from Zambia Police headquarters headed by a very senior police officer, assistant commissioner, in-charge of traffic in the whole country, to control traffic. So far so good."
He said the police would also work in conjunction with bar owners in Kazembe to ensure that there was no reckless consumption of alcohol during the Umutomboko Ceremony, which is expected be attended by the overall Lunda king, Mwata Yamvwa, from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), among other traditional leaders.
The 2008 Umutomboko coincides with the current Mwata Kazembe, Mpemba Kanyembo's tenth coronation anniversary.
Meanwhile, several activities have been lined up in the province in view of today's ceremony, among them a golf tournament slated for Mansa tomorrow and a beach party to be held under the auspices of the provincial administration in Samfya.
And provincial Road Development Agency (RDA) engineer Gilbert Nkweto said four small-scale contractors had been selected to patch up some potholed sections of the Tuta-Mansa-Mwense road.
By Christopher Miti in Chipata
Friday July 25, 2008 [04:00]
LUANGWA ward MMD councillor in Nyimba, Henry Daka was last Tuesday killed and eaten by lions. District commissioner Alexander Miti said Daka was attacked on his way to Nyimba boma between 19:00 and 20:00 hours. “Councillor Daka was coming to the boma from his village in senior chief Lwembe’s area. So when he reached Luangwa River he decided to go back to the village because it was dark and that’s when he was attacked by the lions,” he said.
Miti said Daka, who was cycling, had a torch which caused him to be easily spotted by the lions.
“The councillor was completely eaten up by the lions except for part of the skull and a bone from one of his legs that were found on the scene,” he said.
Miti said the remains of the deceased were buried yesterday.
He said the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) had since been instructed to track the animals and kill them.
“We have not had any disturbing report other than this but right now, some ZAWA officers have already gone to the area to track and kill the animals. But we don’t know the exact number of these animals,” said Miti.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Our reporter / Uhuru news
Fri, 25 Jul 2008 05:42:00 +0000
THE All-African People's Development and Empowerment Project has taken on a project to construct a 50 metres deep borehole (pressurized well) for irrigation of a 25-acre section of farmland of the Ujamma Youth Farming Project (UYFP) in Gweru, Zimbabwe.
For more than ten years, the people of Zimbabwe have endured severe hardship due to hypocritical economic sanctions imposed by the U.S., EU, World Bank, IMF and others in response to the movement of Africans in Zimbabwe to reclaim their land that has been occupied by white settlers whose ancestors stole it at gunpoint during the colonial era.
According to the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) Zimbabwe has an unemployment rate of around 70%, suffers the highest rate of inflation in the world, and has been hard hit by drought and lack of foreign currency for farming initiatives.
Established in June 2005, UYFP is an African youth-led farming cooperative that has secured a 100-acre plot of farmland in the city of Gweru under the Zimbabwe government's land redistribution program.
UYFP's mission is to empower African youth through gainful farming initiatives so that they are able to demonstrate the essential skills necessary to function as life long productive citizens of Zimbabwe's agrarian reforms.
According to Kwanisai Mafa, UYFP Founder and Chairman, "One of our immediate goals is to offer produce to wholesalers and retail outlets in and around Zimbabwe's midland provinces. A longer term goal is to establish a training program so African youth from outside of Zimbabwe and even outside Africa will visit, meet, train, work, and bond with their counterparts on the farm."
AAPDEP needs your help to raise $6,000 to construct the borehole to provide irrigation for this critical project. You can donate online or mail a check/money order for "AAPDEP" to: AAPDEP, P.O. Box 454, Normal, AL 35762.
Zimbabwe Guardian/Uhuru News
This video represents the oral representation of Chief Macha handing over the building to be used for Radio Macha
Labels: CHIEF MACHA
Posted on July 25th, 2008
Eastern province royal foundation has expressed concern at government’s intention to streamline traditional ceremonies so that it can only participate in one in each of the nine provinces in a year. Chief Mazimawe of the Ngoni people of Chipata district said traditional ceremonies provide government with an opportunity to explain its policies and developmental programs to the people.
Senior chief Nsefu of the kunda of Mambwe district ruled out possibilities of merging the ceremonies saying all traditional ceremonies in the province were an asset of various ethnic groupings.
Chief Nsefu stated that if government was not ready to continue its support to the traditional ceremonies, then it should let the ceremonies continue without its support.
“Traditional ceremonies were initiated by traditional leaders and chiefs used to manage to host the occasion even without support from government. Government only came in to support, so we can continue to host them as it was before without support from government,” he said.
He stressed that no ethnic tribe could be forced to join another because each one of them has different traditional beliefs and practices.
“My fear is that the merging of these ceremonies may lead to a cold war, because it might lead to the loss of traditional and cultural practices which are of great importance to chiefs because they are a pride of a tribe, he added.
The traditional ruler further noted that traditional ceremonies represented unique beliefs which were not similar to all other tribes hence the need not to merge their ceremonies which were based on different cultural beliefs of their traditions.
And chief Mumbi of the Nsenga people of Petauke district said the six ethnic groupings in the province host ceremonies to portray their unique cultural practices therefore, they could not be merged.
“For instance, the Nsenga celebrate their ceremony ‘Tuwimba’ to pray for the rains so that they can produce adequate agricultural produce while the Ngoni celebrate the Nc’wala to thank God for the harvest among others,’ he said.
Chief Mumbi also expressed fear that if some traditional ceremonies were not held, the affected tribes might feel belittled.
Meanwhile, chief Mwangala of the Chewa people in Chadiza district expressed concern that government was the one that initially supported the resuscitation of traditional ceremonies and wondered why it saw it ideal to do away with some now..
Chief Mwangala said traditional ceremonies provide avenues for respect of the various ethnic groupings because they teach their children to appreciate their cultural heritage.
Posted on July 25th, 2008
Kansanshi Copper Mine in Solwezi in the North Western Province has paid over $30 million to the Zambian government under the newly introduced windfall tax on mining firms. Finance Deputy Minister, Jonas Shakafuswa said government expects other mining firms to pay their dues. He told ZNBC news that the funds will be channeled towards infrastructure development.
Mr. Shakafuswa said time has come for the local people to benefit from their vast mineral wealth. The windfall tax on mining firms was effected on April 1, this year.
By Mwila Chansa and Mwala Kalaluka in Chembe
Friday July 25, 2008 [04:00]
DEMOCRATIC Republic of Congo (DRC) Katanga Province governor Moses Katumbi has said his government will ensure that it meets its financial obligation on the Chembe bridge construction project. And Katumbi commended President Levy Mwanawasa and the Zambian government for the “marvelous accomplishment” on the construction of the K46 billion bridge across the Luapula River During a conducted tour of the bridge project with Zambian government officials yesterday, Katumbi said it was important that the DRC met its 50 per cent financial obligation on the project in retrospect.
“This is very good. I just want to congratulate the President (Mwanawasa) and I hope he is recovering soon, everyone is praying for him,” Katumbi said. “I was coming in Luapula at my fish business, I am from Luapula and I had my fishing camp in Nchelenge, I know how people suffered there on the pontoon (at Chembe).”
Katumbi also commended China Henan, the contractor and Kiran and Musonda Associates, the consultants, for the remarkable progress on the project earmarked for completion on September 28 this year.
Katumbi said his delegation, which was visiting the project for the first time was in the country to discuss with its Zambian counterparts the tarring of the 68-kilometre long Pedical Road which connects Luapula to Copperbelt via the DRC’s Katanga Province.
He also suggested that it would be appropriate to set up a 24-hour one-stop border post at the bridge.
Katumbi pledged that his government would ensure that the people at Mwenda in DRC relocated towards the bridge.
Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) Commissioner General Chriticles Mwansa assured the DRC delegation that a legal framework to facilitate the establishment of a one-stop border point was in place.
Henry Musonda of Kiran Musonda and Associates said the width of the bridge, which is 10 metres was enough to allow two vehicles to cross at the same time.
Meanwhile, Katumbi said he would send a chopper to ferry the DRC’s Lunda King, Mwanta Yanvwa, to attend the Umutomboko of the Lunda people of Luapula.
Officials who were part of the Zambian government delegation included Copperbelt minister Mwansa Mbulakulima, his Luapula counterpart Crispin Musosha, works and supply deputy minister Mundia Ndalamei and permanent secretaries Clement Siame (Luapula) and Jennipher Musonda (Copperbelt).
By George Chellah and Kingsley Kaswende in Harare, Zimbabwe
Friday July 25, 2008 [04:00]
RUSSIA has stated that the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by ZANU-PF and the two MDC formations paves way for overcoming the domestic political crisis in Zimbabwe. And the ruling ZANU-PF and MDC negotiators left for South Africa on Wednesday evening to commence the inter-party talks to resolve Zimbabwe's political and economic crises.
According to a statement released by the Russian foreign ministry, Russia welcomed the signing of the MoU, which set a framework for inter-party negotiations that will take place in South Africa over the next two weeks.
"Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and leaders of the two factions of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara signed a Memorandum of Understanding on July 21, laying the basis for further talks to work out a comprehensive political agreement and to form a government of national unity," the statement stated.
"Russia welcomes this decision, which opens the way for overcoming the domestic political crisis in the country. We also note the high sense of responsibility shown by the participants of the inter-Zimbabwean dialogue, who have managed to rise above their differences in the interests of all Zimbabweans.
We call on leading forces of the country to continue demonstrating a constructive approach in the name of national unity and harmony.
"The accord became possible thanks largely to the active mediation role of South African President Thabo Mbeki, acting under the mandate from the Southern African Development Community and the African Union."
Russia further stated that it looks forward to President Mbeki's continued efforts to find possible compromises.
"We express the hope that the leaders of all political forces in Zimbabwe will fully meet obligations assumed in order to implement the provisions of the signed agreement so as within the shortest space of time to reach a mutually acceptable formula for an internal political settlement in the country," they stated. "We also expect that all external parties, including the non-African partners of Harare, will so act as to ease further successful advance of the inter-Zimbabwean dialogue."
Russia recently vetoed a US draft sanctions resolution on Zimbabwe at the UN Security Council.
And the European Union on Tuesday widened sanctions against Zimbabwe despite a political-deal between President Mugabe and Tsvangirai.
The EU foreign ministers that met in Brussels added 37 more people to a list of individuals under a visa-ban to Europe and whose assets have been frozen, including four legal entities, or firms. The new list now totals 168 persons and four firms.
And ZANU-PF and MDC negotiators left for South Africa on Wednesday evening to commence the inter-party talks to resolve Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis.
The ZANU-PF negotiating team comprises of Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche and the MDC-Tsvangirai faction comprise of secretary-general Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma.
The MDC-Professor Arthur Mutambara faction comprises of Prof Welshman Ncube and Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga who are believed to have already flown to South Africa.
The inter-party talks will begin today at an undisclosed venue.
The negotiating teams from the three political parties have two weeks from the date of the signing of the MoU by their leaders to finalise the talks and reach an agreement.
But a civil society leader said the Zimbabwean political parties had taken an "illegitimate" approach of signing the MoU for unity talks without involving major stakeholders.
ZANU-PF and the two MDC formations on Monday signed an agreement on a framework for negotiations, which would lead towards a political settlement that seeks to end the country's crisis.
Dr Lovemore Madhuku, who chairs the National Constitution Assembly, a coalition of 43 civil society organisations, said the three political parties that exclusively signed the MoU did not have the sole responsibility to end the country's crisis.
"I think as civil society our reaction is very clear. We believe that the approach taken by the political parties is illegitimate.
It is illegitimate because they believe that as political parties on their own they have the responsibility to resolve the crisis and they are excluding the rest of society generally, and not just civil society," said Dr Madhuku, who doubles up as a law lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe. "It is simply based on an understanding that once the political parties agree then that is all that is required."
The political parties in Zimbabwe are seeking to untangle the political logjam that intensified after the June 27 presidential runoff election, which Tsvangirai boycotted.
But Dr Madhuku said the crisis in Zimbabwe was more than just what happened with the recent controversial elections.
"So it can't just be seen as an electoral dispute. We are not here to talk about the sharing of power. We are here to talk about how to address the enormous problem that Zimbabwe is in. You have millions of Zimbabweans living outside the country.
Many of them left the country some four, five years ago and so forth. Those are the kind of issues that we need to get out at the moment," he said.
He said it was time to find an inclusive long-term solution to the country's crisis.
Dr Madhuku said the parties needed to extend an invitation to civil society and business leaders to be part of the solution.
On the agenda of the talks, Dr Madhuku said the entire document was simply a power-sharing arrangement.
"So if you just pick out the so-called agenda items you can be misled into believing that there is going to be a serious discussion of the issues there. There is no serious discussion," he said.
"You cannot say that you have a new government, which is what the subject matter is, and that new government must look at the land question.
And then you have a new government and that new government must look at the issues of sanctions. All those things are completely unrelated to the centre of our problem - which is a governance crisis that must be resolved by Zimbabweans agreeing to reform our political system, followed by free and fair elections and a legitimate government that has a clear mandate to govern."
There have been mixed reactions to the signing of the MoU.
Analyst Charles Mbooni said Tsvangirai had been left with no choice but to enter into negotiations, as elections were no longer an alternative for him because a brutal campaign had decimated his party structures.
However, political science lecturer Dr Eldred Masunungure believes that President Mugabe also had no other alternative, because Russia and China's veto on proposed UN sanctions on his governemnt "put him in a corner" to accept the talks.
"The veto put them (ZANU-PF) in a corner to support the negotiations. Now it's payback time," said Dr Masunungure.
World leaders have also welcomed the agreement on the framework for talks.
Sweden has said it was an important step but that to succeed, the parties needed to be serious in their desire to achieve results.
"If Zimbabwe is to have a legitimate and democratically accepted government it is important that the negotiations are based on the outcome of the parliamentary elections on March 29 and that that result is respected.
Continued international pressure is also required. As regional organisations, the AU and the SADC in particular have a key role to play in this," said foreign affairs minister Carl Bildt.
Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma said this was a significant step in the right direction, which would initiate a dialogue towards promoting peace, stability, democracy, prosperity and the reconciliation of the Zimbabwean people.
The US government said it would watch the talks closely and voiced support for a negotiation process "that leads to a result that expresses the will of the Zimbabwean people."
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon encouraged all sides to engage in good meaningful dialogue.
By Mutuna Chanda in Kitwe and Abigail Chaponda in Ndola
Friday July 25, 2008 [04:00]
LABOUR minister Ronald Mukuma has said the unionised Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) workers at the Nkana smelter had no right to protest against the recent negotiated settlement. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday shortly after meeting National Union of Miners and Allied Workers (NUMAW) officials, Mukuma said unionised KCM workers could have found a better way to express their grievances.
He said this in reference to the one-day work stoppage by KCM workers at Nkana smelter in Kitwe last week after which 14 employees were dismissed for allegedly disrupting operations.
The workers protested against the 15 per cent salary increment awarded to them, demanding instead 50 per cent.
“The 15 per cent was a negotiated settlement and workers had no right to go against that because that is what their representatives had agreed to,” Mukuma said.
Mukuma said companies made offers of salary increments and other conditions of service based on their capacity and wondered where more funds would come from if they allowed more than what they were able to pay.
Mukuma said the KCM workers were dismissed based on disciplinary action taken by the company.
“According to the Zambian labour laws, if you go on strike without declaring a dispute then that strike is illegal,” Mukuma said. “They were dismissed under disciplinary action but the local union is addressing it.”
He advised unionised workers to familiarise themselves with labour laws.
“Just as employers can contravene labour laws, employees can also contravene labour laws, so they have to familiarise themselves with the labour laws so that they don’t break them,” Mukuma said.
And during a visit to the Workers Compensation Fund Control Board in Ndola on Tuesday, Mukuma said funding to the institution had increased from K82 billion to K120 billion.
He said the performance of the institution had improved from the time that the restructuring exercise started in March last year.
“... And employer sensitisation seminars have been carried out in some towns and this has resulted in increased collection of K94.4 billion in employer assessments as of March 31st 2008,” he said.
Mukuma said the purpose of his visit to Ndola was to monitor the restructuring programme of the fund which begun in March last year. He also said the new board of directors for the fund would be appointed this week.
Mukuma said the new board would finalise the restructuring process and improved benefit levels at the fund.
By Patson Chilemba
Friday July 25, 2008 [04:00]
PATRIOTIC Front (PF) vice-president Dr Guy Scott has said there would be no leadership vacuum in the party without Michael Sata. Commenting on PF president Michael Sata's statement that there would be a leadership vacuum in the party without him, Dr Scott said although it would be difficult to replace a political figure like Sata, the party had senior people who could replace him if he went "underground or retired".
Dr Scott said the important thing would be to replace a leader without losing ground.
He said nature always had a way of filling vacuums.
"If you replace him, which other person can you bring who can make such noise and speak deep Bemba, which villagers can understand? So it's very difficult but there wouldn't be a vacuum," Dr Scott said. "There are people in PF, even people we don't know who might become presidents. What he said is just one of those things to make people talk and put chimwela morale in the party."
Asked to name the potential leaders in the party and if he was one of them, Dr Scott said if he were to replace Sata, he would not be eligible to stand as president because his parents were not born in Zambia.
He said it would take a 100 years before a white man could become president in Zambia.
Dr Scott said it was difficult to foresee one's potential for leadership.
"You can't foresee how effective they will be. Maybe somebody can be more successful than Sata. It's not likely but it is possible. But basically there is no vacancy right now, so there is no need to start talking about the presidency," he said.
Recently, Sata said there would be a leadership vacuum in PF without him.
Sata said the illness of President Levy Mwanawasa had exposed the leadership vacuum in MMD and that PF was no exception.
On the observations that political parties in Zambia were personalised by party presidents, Dr Scott said all political parties in the world were individualised.
He said people's minds were also influenced by individual characteristics of party leaders.
Dr Scott said even in the United States of America (USA), the battle for the presidency was not only based on the difference in policies between the Democrats and the Republicans but the individual aspects of Barack Obama and John McCain.
"Remember the Lima Party where me and Ben Kapita were chairmen, the party never went anywhere," said Dr Scott
Friday July 25, 2008 [04:00]
THERE is need for people sitting on the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) to realise the seriousness of matters they are dealing with. We say this because of the conduct of our three ministers sitting on the democratic governance committee who walked out of the meeting last Wednesday after they failed to reach consensus over the appointment of commissioners of the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ).
Luapula Province minister Chrispin Musosha, health deputy minister, Lwipa Puma and home affairs deputy minister, Grace Njapau walked out of the committee meeting at Mulungushi International Conference Centre in protest and accused the chairperson of the committee Stanley Mhango, of being biased in his rulings.
Under the current system, the President appoints the adhoc committee, which selects and recruits persons to serve as commissioners. From our understanding, most members of this NCC committee feel that the task should be given to the Secretary to the Cabinet for the sake of transparency.
But this is where the point of departure is because our ministers feel that the President should continue appointing the commissioners and not the Secretary to the Cabinet because he is just an appointee. The chairperson of this NCC committee has had to defer the matter twice as the committee has failed to reach a two-thirds majority vote.
The behaviour of the three ministers is unjustified, uncalled for. It actually reflects badly on the commitment of our country’s political leadership.
Elections are the central institutions of democratic representative governments. We say this because in a democracy, the authority of the government derives solely from the consent of the governed. The principal mechanism for translating that consent into government authority is the holding of free and fair elections.
Much as the relevance of free and fair elections need not be unnecessarily over-emphasised, we must state that the lack of agreement on the electoral process in Zambia has for a long time been a source of much conflict among political players. Therefore, any matter relating to elections should be looked at in a very objective and non-partisan manner.
The appointment of commissioners of ECZ deserves serious attention because the current system where powers are given to the President leaves much to be desired. We need to remember that the President is an interested party, a competitor, in the elections and it is very difficult for one to make objective decisions.
One cannot rule out bias in the manner in which the adhoc committee is set up and the manner in which commissioners are consequently appointed. And concerns over this have been raised by a cross-section of our society. Therefore, any suggestions of enhancing transparency in that area needs serious consideration.
The arguments being advanced by Musosha, Dr Puma and Njapau that the President cannot be substituted with the Secretary to the Cabinet because the Secretary to the Cabinet is an appointee are baseless. Are these ministers telling us that the President is also a judge since he is the one who appoints judges? Are they saying that any ruling that judges make is influenced by the President since he is the appointing authority?
In our view, there is nothing wrong with giving the task of appointing commissioners of ECZ to the Secretary to the Cabinet. We feel that the Secretary to the Cabinet, with constitutional mandate, can do the job effectively and efficiently.
This will also enable the commissioners to discharge their duties effectively as opposed to making decisions to please the appointing authority and protect their jobs. This is what needs to be done.
Democracies thrive on openness and accountability, with one very important exception: the act of voting itself. And those who organise elections should be seen to be free from the influences of the competitors so that citizens are confident that the results are accurate and that the government does indeed rest upon their "consent".
There is need to resolve contentious issues in a level-headed manner. But to do this requires a lot of commitment to democratic processes and a clear vision of what a multiparty political setup entails. It also requires a high sense of compromise and tolerance. We say this because democracy is more than the sum total of its institutions.
A healthy democracy depends in large part on the development of a democratic civic culture - the behaviours, the practices and norms that define the ability of a people to govern themselves. We should never forget that voting, in electing public officials, is the most visible and common form of participation in governance by the people. Therefore, the ability to conduct free and fair elections will always be at the core of what it takes to build a democratic society.
Any contest, political or otherwise, where the forms and rules are not accepted and respected by all, is bound to face serious problems. We cannot afford to attach emotion to the constitution-making process. We cannot afford to make decisions with our pockets, stomachs or jobs in mind.
The attitude of some of our politicians towards these issues when they are in power, enjoying all the advantages, is surprising. They totally forget that in a multiparty political system, being in power is temporary. Those in power will inevitably find themselves in the opposition one day.
There is need to look at issues in a principled way and not on the basis of our relative strength today. Those in power want to retain power at all costs and are reluctant to do anything - no matter how good it may be - that may diminish their chances of retaining that power. Intrinsically, they may see nothing wrong with this outrageous behaviour but if they look at the future, they may not respond to things this way. Such political attitude today does not hold much hope for the future, actually it endangers the social and political health for the future.
And we agree with Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) Reverend Suzanne Matale that government ministers and MMD members at the NCC committee sittings should respect the views of the majority in reaching consensus.
Rev Matale has rightly pointed out that the members at the conference should seriously discuss and make the right decisions, as failure to do so would have a negative impact on the Constitution. The Constitution is at the heart of holding free and fair elections and the nation-building process.
Thus, if we are looking at enacting a constitution that will benefit the country not only today but tomorrow, it will be much better to sacrifice even our political fortunes of today and do everything possible to build a better political and electoral system that will ensure peace and stability in the country.
By Lambwe Kachali
Friday July 25, 2008 [04:00]
COUNCIL of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) general secretary Reverend Susan Matale has urged government ministers and MMD members at the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) committee sittings to respect the views of the majority in reaching consensus. Commenting on the action by Luapula Province minister Chrispin Musosha, health deputy minister Dr Lwipa Puma and home affairs deputy minister Grace Njapau who victimised and accused NCC democratic governance committee chairperson Stanley Mhango of being biased on Wednesday, Rev Matale said in every election or dialogue, the majority carried the day.
Rev Matale said members at the conference should seriously discuss and make the right decisions on issues, as failure to do so would have a negative impact on the constitution.
She said matters relating to elections required consensus because elections were part of governance.
Rev Matale said the behaviour exhibited by the three government ministers was a clear indication that they had gone to the conference with hidden agendas.
She said stakeholders who refused to participate in the NCC because of government in-built majority were slowly being vindicated. Rev Matale said with the presence of such ministers, it would be impossible for the NCC to produce a constitution that would serve the interests of the nation.
"What we said that NCC is tilted towards government and politicians has now started to show. We know that when it comes to voting in the conference, MMD officials will vote for the obvious in order to protect their interest and that of government and not the interest of the people of Zambia," Rev Matale said. "My suspicion is that at the end of the process, we may have a document that will not embrace the nation."
She said if government ministers and other MMD officials continued to behave in such a manner, the conference would be faced with many problems.
"Because it is not the first time MMD ministers and other officials have strongly opposed the decisions that the majority has agreed to," she said.
Rev Matale said the Secretary to the Cabinet was the right person to constitute the ad hoc committee that would be tasked with the responsibility to recruit and select members of the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ), saying there were numerous calls from Zambians to reduce the powers of the President for the sake of efficiency, effectiveness and transparency in the commission.
"If they refuse the Secretary to the Cabinet, then they should choose a group of people or any institution but not the President. As a country, we need to have redistribution of power," said Rev Matale.
On Wednesday, Musosha, Dr Puma, Njapau and Eastern Province minister Charles Shawa strongly opposed the majority decision to change Article 104 (1) of the Mung'omba Draft Constitution, which gives powers to the President to constitute an ad hoc committee that selects members of the commission.
However, when the majority committee members settled on the Secretary to the Cabinet and Mhango ruled in their favour, the three ministers accused him of being biased.
Musosha said he was ready to be disciplined by Mhango over the committee's resolution that the Secretary to the Cabinet should constitute an ad hoc committee to recruit and select persons to serve as commissioners of the ECZ.
The matter was then, for a second time, differed to a later date.
For contempt of court
By Times Reporter
LAWYERS representing more than 400 traders at Potters House in Livingstone have started contempt proceedings against Local Government and Housing Minister, Sylvia Masebo for giving them 24 hours to vacate the market. In a letter dated July 22 addressed to Ms Masebo, Mak Partners law firm told Ms Masebo that they had immediately started contempt of court proceedings against her for evicting the traders when they had filed an injunction against that action.
In the letter, which was copied to Livingstone town clerk and the police commanding officer, the lawyers said they had started contempt proceedings against Ms Masebo and whoever would carry out her order.
The lawyers asked Ms Masebo to show cause why she should not be sent to prison for contempt of court.
“We ask that the court orders be respected by all, including ministers, commanding officer, ignore this order because it is not backed by law,” the lawyers stated.
The traders had obtained an injunction in the Livingstone High Court restraining the Livingstone City Council from evicting them from Potters House, after it ordered that the traders leave the premises within 24 hours.
Ms Masebo on Tuesday said the traders should vacate the place because it was designated for the development of residential properties and not for the market.
The minister said that the site was not in line with the Livingstone development plan and the Government would not allow residents to go against city development plans.
Ms Masebo gave the Potters House marketeers in Livingstone a 24-hour ultimatum in which to relocate to a designated area.
The more than 400 marketeers were evicted from Maramba market to pave way for the building of more than 65 police houses.
They were given an alternative market place in the nearby Libuyu market, which they rejected and bought a piece of land at K55 million near Potters House where they set up a market.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Thu, 24 Jul 2008 04:02:00 +0000
CHINA has refuted claims by an Australian newspaper that Air Zimbabwe’s scheduled civilian flights to China engaged in illicit trade dealings and dismissed the report as ‘malicious’ and meant to discredit China's relationship with African countries.
Australia’s The Age newspaper reported on Tuesday that flights of an Air Zimbabwe Boeing 767-200 to Beijing and southern China, via Singapore, have been used to transport goods including ivory, gold and diamonds.
“Flights from Harare, also carrying tonnes of illicit goods including ivory, gold and diamonds, pass directly through Australian air space en route to Singapore before touching down in Beijing and southern China,” alleged The Age on its website.
The report was dismissed by China as non-existent news and said the reporters of the newspaper “lack … basic professional ethics” adding that this “would finally ruin their reputation and credibility.”
The newspaper reports was also refuted by Australia’s Foreign Minister Stephen Smith and Transport Minister Anthony who issued a joint statement saying: “Air Zimbabwe flights between Harare and China via Singapore do not fly through air space over Australian territory, but through international air space managed by Airservices Australia on behalf of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.”
A spokesman for the Zimbabwe embassy in Canberra, Felix Nyamupinga, was reported by the Associated Press saying he knew of only one instance a month ago, during his three years in Australia of a Zimbabwe-registered plane gaining clearance to enter Australian air space.
The Age newspaper has taken a negative stance on Zimbabwe recently. On Wednesday it called the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two main parties a ‘vague’ deal, notwithstanding the fact that it was not a ‘deal’, but an agreement to engage in talks.
In an article entitled, “Zimbabwe foes begin talks,” The Age’s Johannesburg correspondent Craig Timberg said the the ‘deal’ left aside “nearly every key question about Zimbabwe's future.”
In another article on E.U. sanctions against Zimbabwe, The Age newspaper claimed that Zimbabwe’s First Lady, Grace Mugabe was on the sanctions list. The list availed to the Zimbabwe Guardian does not show her name on that new list.
Wed, 23 Jul 2008 10:30:00 +0000
ANGOLA yesterday urged the European Union to lift all sanctions against Zimbabwe because they pose an obstacle to negotiations aimed at ending that nation's political and economic crisis.
“There is no reason to justify the maintenance of these sanctions,” Foreign Minister João Bernardo Miranda was quoted by Bloomberg in an interview yesterday on state-run Angolan National Radio. “The EU should very soon lift all sanctions against the leaders of Zimbabwe.”
The E.U. announced yesterday it will add 37 people linked to President Robert Mugabe's ruling party to its list of 131 people who are targeted with sanctions. The measures, including asset freezes and travel bans, came a day after President Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai signed an agreement to begin crucial talks to end the crisis in the country.
Talks between Mugabe's ruling party and Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change should be supported by the international community, Miranda said.
“This dialogue is for real, therefore it is practical that the international community to help to establish a new political order in Zimbabwe.”
President Mugabe won the June 27 presidential runoff election which Tsvangirai withthdrew from, alleging a state-sponsored campaign of violence against his supporters.
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown has given mixed signals in his reaction to the signing of the MoU in Zimbabwe.
Speaking on Monday after a meeting with Kenyan President Raila Odinga, Brown said: “The signing of an agreement this week between Zimbabwe's leaders is a welcome step forward, and I applaud those who worked to deliver it,” adding that “it must be matched by an end to violence against the MDC, and full humanitarian access for NGO's.”
However, Brown also said that, ”Any transitional government must represent the will of the people, as demonstrated so clearly at the end of March.”
He also justified the imposition of further sanctions on the government of President Mugabe saying, “In the meantime, we will continue to take action against those responsible for the violence, as the E.U. did yesterday (Tuesday 22 July, 2008) in expanding sanctions” against the government of Zimbabwe.
By Lambwe Kachali in Lusaka and George Chellah in Harare
Thursday July 24, 2008 [04:00]
THE signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai has shamed the West and its puppets, Patriotic Front (PF) president Michael Sata has said. And opposition MDC leader Tsvangirai assured his supporters of his commitment to the agreement but noted that the signing of the MoU for inter-party talks by the three key political stakeholders in Zimbabwe does not guarantee success.
Commenting on the signing of the agreement by Zimbabwean President Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Professor Arthur Mutambara, which sets an agenda for negotiations to end the political crisis in that country, Sata likened the positive development in Zimbabwe to his reconciliation with President Levy Mwanawasa.
Sata said it was difficult to minimise tension in any country when political leaders were not talking to each other.
He said Zimbabwe would now experience a new and positive political phase since Tsvangirai had accepted the importance of political dialogue.
Sata condemned Britain and the United States for their continued negative stance on President Mugabe.
"When I said the West should stop demonising Mugabe, the West and its puppets criticised me. They called me all sorts of names. But what I meant was that the only way to solve the political crisis in Zimbabwe is by using a similar political formula as I did with Levy," Sata said. "Just yesterday Monday, I was vindicated when the two political leaders of that country agreed to end political crisis by signing the MoU. Indeed I have been vindicated."
Sata urged the West to leave Africa to resolve its own problems without any interference. He said it was clear that the agreement which Zimbabwean leaders had entered into would yield positive results and end political tension that had rocked the country.
"Even at first I said that imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe is not the solution because it's the ordinary and innocent citizens who will suffer. Now, is the West not ashamed and embarrassed for pushing to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe?
They must be very ashamed. Zimbabwe, like Zambia, is no longer under British colony. Africa is no longer in the hands of imperialists and it is time the West left Africa to adopt African political alternative programmes in resolving their own problems. We don't need Britain or US to dictate us," he said.
Sata also commended South African President Thabo Mbeki for his mediation efforts in Zimbabwe.
He said it was up to Zimbabweans to make use of the agreement and ensure that the country regained its lost glory.
"Britain and its allies condemned President Mbeki, but he stood for Africa. President Mbeki did not want to be controlled by imperialists who want to use their powers to abuse poor countries.
I want to urge Zimbabweans that although there would be some people who will still criticise this agreement, Zimbabweans should stand on their ground and support this development for the sake of the future of their country. I am very happy and hopeful that shortly, the political and economic tension will be minimised in Zimbabwe," said Sata.
In a letter to his supporters, Tsvangirai explained his expectations of the new deal for talks between ZANU-PF and the two MDC formations.
"Yesterday I signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Robert Mugabe and Arthur Mutambara. This document commits our three parties to a framework of negotiations that will take place over the next two weeks," Tsvangirai stated.
"I know that in signing this Memorandum of Understanding, I represent the hopes and aspirations of millions of Zimbabweans to end this crisis as soon as possible. Honest, hardworking Zimbabweans want nothing more than a life that offers peace, security, economic opportunity, democracy and social and personal development."
He stated that the signing of the MoU was a responsibility that the MDC took with utmost seriousness.
"This memorandum offers the most tangible opportunity in the past ten years to improve the lives of our fellow citizens. But, our signatures alone do not guarantee that we will be able to make the most of this opportunity. Our signatures on this document must be accompanied by acknowledging some very basic truths," Tsvangirai stated.
He stated that the MDC only wanted what was best for Zimbabwe.
"Our shared goal is best achieved in a climate of tolerance and stability, not divisiveness and anger.
We believe that wanting a more democratic future or expressing an alternate political opinion should be viewed as a right and not as a declaration of war. We believe that the will of the people is the fundamental basis on which to ground our negotiations," Tsvangirai stated.
"We acknowledge that these negotiations can only proceed and succeed if the rule of law is restored, if people are able to go about their business in safety, if the public media refrain from using hate speech to polarise the community, if the persecution of MDC members of parliament, members and supporters ceases, and if humanitarian organisations are allowed once again to provide aid to the millions of Zimbabweans in need of assistance."
He called on all Zimbabweans who believed in the ideals of democracy as espoused by the MDC, to continue to abide by the rule of law.
"To live in a spirit of tolerance and inclusiveness in the knowledge that if we work together in this spirit, a better future lies ahead and justice will prevail.
Yesterday, we committed ourselves to a process that presents the framework in which we can strive to find a solution to the Zimbabwe crisis. This is just the first step on a journey whose duration and success is dependent on the sincerity and good faith of all parties involved," Tsvangirai stated.
"In the spirit of a shared vision to heal our nation, I call upon my fellow signatories to join me in putting aside our differences and acknowledging that we have a responsibility to the people of Zimbabwe to show true leadership and to find agreement that will bring an end to the violence, polarisation, poverty and fear in which we have all been living for too long.
Our fellow countrymen and women look to us to find common ground that will allow us, as a nation, to chart a democratic path forward."
Tsvangirai stated that the outcome of the negotiations would not be acceptable until it had been endorsed by Zimbabwean civil society, the trade unions and the people themselves.
"We are not here to form an elitist pact, but rather to represent the hopes and aspirations of each citizen and every stakeholder.
This is my commitment to our partners who have struggled with us for a more democratic form of government," stated Tsvangirai.
"To the people of Zimbabwe I say, have courage, be strong, better days lie ahead. The heart of the entire world is broken by what has happened in our country, and your bravery is praised among all peoples everywhere. The world stands ready to join us in rebuilding our nation and restoring what has been lost, once our peace and freedom are re-established."
By Patson Chilemba
Thursday July 24, 2008 [04:00]
VETERAN politician Dr Rodger Chongwe yesterday said it would be immoral and unethical for MMD national secretary Katele Kalumba to aspire for the presidency when he is facing corruption charges. Commenting on MMD spokesperson Benny Tetamashimba's statement that Kalumba had presidential ambitions, Dr Chongwe urged Kalumba to examine his conscience and wait until the corruption cases he was facing were disposed of.
"What I am saying is that it's immoral, unethical for a leader facing criminal charges to seek to stand for higher office. But it is not unlawful because according to our law, a person can only be prevented if they have been convicted of crime," Dr Chongwe said.
"Let him ask himself, is it correct to throw himself before the people of Zambia when the accusation for criminal offences has not been concluded?"
Dr Chongwe said the MMD elected Kalumba as their national secretary even when they knew that he was facing corruption charges.
"For him to be allowed, it would seem that this country allows people who are facing charges to assume higher office," he said.
Dr Chongwe explained that human ethics dictate that a person facing charges like the ones Kalumba was facing should not aspire for higher office.
"It would be wrong for him to stand for the highest office. He has to make judgment himself that the people in Zambia and elsewhere will not expect him to offer himself for the presidency whilst he has this charge dangling around him," he said.
Dr Chongwe further blamed the country's judicial system for taking long to dispose of the case involving Kalumba and former Republican president Frederick Chiluba.
Dr Chongwe said a judicial system that could take more than three years to dispose of such a case was incompetent and not properly organised to discharge its functions in cases of such nature.
"We have to blame our judicial institutions which appear to take too long to dispose of cases," said Dr Chongwe. "Quite honestly, we should blame the judicial institutions for the inordinate delay in concluding criminal cases regarding the plunder of national resources. Surely must it take four or five years to conclude a charge of corruption before our courts?
"This is a country where to register a foreign judgment takes six months when it should take weeks. But what we should be talking about is how to reform our judicial institutions so that they perform their function. Obviously they need training and equipment."
By Patson Chilemba
Thursday July 24, 2008 [04:00]
MMD national chairman Michael Mabenga has said the party will deal with Benny Tetamashimba's disciplinary case honestly. Commenting on assertions that the party was applying double standards by instituting disciplinary action against party spokesperson, Tetamashimba, when national secretary, Katele Kalumba, was also involved in the bickering, Mabenga said the party would follow up the matter objectively.
"We don't want to be labelled as a party with double standards. We are a democratic party. In fact, we are the leaders of democracy in this country and therefore, we want to see that we don't hurt. Neither do we want to please for the sake of pleasing or hurting for the sake of hurting," Mabenga said.
"We will ensure that we look at this matter honestly."
Recently, the MMD instituted disciplinary action against Tetamashimba for bringing the party into ridicule and giving false information.
MMD deputy national secretary, Jeff Kaande said Tetamashimba had brought the party into ridicule by discussing President Levy Mwanawasa's succession in public when he could have done so within the national executive committee (NEC).
He announced that Mabenga would set up a committee to look into the matter.
And asked to comment on assertions that he was eyeing the MMD presidency, Mabenga said he was not prepared to discuss the issue of presidential ambitions now.
Mabenga further said as current leader of the party, he did not want to hear any debate on President Mwanawasa's succession. He said talking about presidential ambitions and succession would only encourage division in the party.
"Already, we have got a party leader who is sick and if people begin talking about contesting elections, where are we going to? We will break the party," he said.
Mabenga said he would soon call a NEC meeting to discuss party matters.
Asked if the party would include President Mwanawasa's illness on the agenda since it had raised speculation, Mabenga said the party felt that updates on the President were reaching the country.
"And so, it may of course, come just to inform the members at a particular time when we will be holding a meeting on the status of the illness of the President at that time," said Mabenga.
By Joan Chirwa
Thursday July 24, 2008 [04:00]
BANK of Zambia governor Dr Caleb Fundanga has assured the nation that the Central Bank took necessary steps before issuing a licence to Access Bank of Nigeria. And Nigerian High Commissioner to Zambia and Malawi Folake Marcus-Bello said Zambia remains one of the most organised and stringent countries in Africa in terms of licensing, a guarantee that only genuine businesses are allowed entry on to the market.
Dr Fundanga said the process of licensing a bank was a rigorous one, with the objective of ensuring that a stable financial system is maintained as a precondition for economic development.
He was commenting on media reports in Nigeria that 22 Nigerian banks are currently under probe on allegations of fraud.
“The process of licensing a bank is a rigorous one which involves a detailed assessment of an applicant to, in as far as possible, determine whether or not the applicant is fit to be granted a banking licence,” Dr Fundanga said. “The stability of a financial system is dependant upon, amongst a number of factors, the integrity of the market players.
The Bank of Zambia therefore applies internationally accepted practices and criteria in establishing the “fitness and propriety” of each applicant before allowing them entry into the financial system through the issuance of a licence.”
Dr Fundanga said although the current assessment system may not provide an absolute guarantee, it gives reassurance that necessary diligence had been exercised by the licensing authority.
The Central Bank recently licensed Access Bank of Nigeria, which is expected to begin operations before the end of this month.
But Patriotic Front president Michael Sata recently said the government should exercise serious caution when licensing banks in order to safeguard the country’s economy.
Sata said there was no need for the government to bring other banks like Access of Nigeria because the existing banks had already created healthy competition in the banking industry.
But the application by Access Bank, according to Dr Fundanga, was duly subjected to the aforesaid fit and proper review.
Dr Fundanga said banks are expected to operate within the provisions of the existing banking laws, including the BoZ’s Corporate Governance Guidelines once granted an operating license.
“Failure to comply with any banking laws is liable to attract supervisory action from the Bank of Zambia. The supervisory action will be commensurate to the supervisory breach and may include the removal of management where it is deemed necessary. A case in point was The United Bank of Zambia whose management was removed after they were found to have been engaging in unsafe and unsound banking practices,” said Dr Fundanga.
And High Commissioner Bello said Access Bank underwent several security and economic checks before it was granted an operating license by BoZ.
“The population of Zambia may be small but the country still remains one of the most organised countries. I’m regularly briefed on what Access went through to secure a license. The same security checks were applied to the application by Dangote Group of Companies which will establish a cement manufacturing plant here,” said High Commissioner Bello in an interview.
And on Sata’s recent comments regarding Nigerian banks, High Commissioner Bello said the Nigerian government would ask the opposition leader to offer a public apology at an appropriate time.
“His statement does not only affect Nigeria but because it was not well thought out, he rubbished the entire government of Zambia as well,” High Commissioner Bello said. “Such leaders have a tendency to discourage investors that are willing and able to come. Africa is for Africans, and Africans must therefore develop Africa.”
On media reports in Nigeria that 22 Nigerian banks are currently under probe on allegations of fraud, High Commissioner Bello said she coulzd not comment on the matter, saying it was an “internal problem.”
She said the Nigerian banking industry was one of the highly rated in Africa as most banks provided certain services that some international banks did not offer.
The Saturday Sun, a Nigerian publication, recently reported on how some banks in that country allegedly rip off customers and submit conflicting audited reports to different regulatory authorities.
The Saturday Sun quotes forensic accountant Adeyemo Olukoya, who said the 22 indicted Nigerian banks, had perfected a creative means of charging interest on credit facilities over and above the agreed interest rates between the lending bank and its borrowing customer.
The paper cites an example where if the agreed interest rate is 18 per cent per annum, the lending bank, exploiting the financial gullibility of the borrowing customer, may decide to charge 40 per cent per annum.
It is alleged the banks engage in sharp practices by illegally charging commission on turnover (COT) on returned cheques, transfers to other accounts belonging to the same customer and bank generated charges, all with a view to inflating the COT income accruable to a bank. COT is based on valid bank withdraws. The newspaper report indicates that Nigerian banks are nonetheless creating spurious and irrecoverable debts, through their illegal incomes being earned.
“Unfortunately, nearly every bank in Nigeria is deeply involved in this unholy action. So far, we have indicted over 22 banks in Nigeria for this illegal excess bank charges offence.
It is not that the remaining banks are clean; it is just that they are yet to be reported to us,” said Olukoya as quoted by the Saturday Sun. “The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) cannot be divorced from the “rot” in the banking industry since they were supervisors of the banks.”
By Joan Chirwa
Tuesday July 22, 2008 [04:00]
THE development of phosphate mining in Zambia will require joint ventures between local and foreign investors to provide adequate raw materials for production of fertiliser at NCZ, mines minister Dr Kalombo Mwansa has said. And the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has said high prices of farming inputs have become a major impediment to efforts by developing countries to increase agricultural production, with projections that most African countries will require at least US $1.7 billion to revive agricultural systems that have been neglected for several decades.
Dr Mwansa indicated that the Ministry of Mines was ready to speed up the process of issuing mining licences for phosphates in Petauke and Western Province once investors expressed interest to undertake the venture.
“Government is ready to dialogue with investors that may wish to develop where phosphate deposits have been found,” Dr Mwansa said. “The Ministry of Mines will work towards finding an investor who can be given a licence to mine phosphates to feed into NCZ and other countries as well. One company has so far expressed interest and we will look at what they want to offer before we make a decision on whether to issue them with a licence or not.”
A couple of weeks ago, the Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives called for speedy investments in phosphate mining as one critical input in fertiliser production, since high deposits have been found in areas such as Petauke.
Industry analysts say fertiliser prices are expected to exceed K220,000 by August this year as the price of the commodity has reached an all-time high of US $1,500 per tonne, on the back of rising oil prices on the international market and increasing demand of the commodity by agricultural producing countries worldwide.
The current surge in fertiliser prices means a 50 kilogramme bag of the commodity could even cost around K200,000 from an average K115,000 at the beginning of the last farming season.
The situation has been worsened by China’s recent imposition of an export tariff of between 100 per cent and 135 per cent on all fertilisers, which effectively took 2.4 million tonnes of urea out of the world market. The supply of phosphate is also an issue, which is mainly sourced from Morocco and China; where production is largely controlled by the government.
With the current market situation, it seems unlikely that additional mining capacity will be granted, which would ultimately weaken the current price. However, the Ministry of Agriculture says the government, through the Ministry of Mines should work towards finding an investor to produce phosphate in Petauke district in Eastern Province.
Dr Mwansa said the government’s desire is to have a partnership between local and foreign investors in the development of phosphate mines, in line with the country’s Citizen’s Economic Empowerment (CEE) Act.
“Local and foreign investors need to join hands in the development of phosphate mines in Eastern and Western Provinces because deposits have been found in these places,” Dr Mwansa said. “As government, we are ready to dialogue over this matter so that we can have phosphates being produced within the country to feed into fertiliser production at Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ).”
NCZ – Zambia’s only fertiliser producing company – currently imports all its raw materials, a situation that has pushed up its operational costs owing to the hike in prices of inputs at source. Having raw materials produced locally is expected to ease prices of fertiliser which have reached an all time high on both the international and local markets.
The situation, according to agricultural experts, is threatening the further growth of the industry, which is predominantly composed of small-scale farmers whose incomes are far less than the expected costs of producing crops under the current input prices.
It is expected that small-scale farmers, who account for over half of the country’s annual maize production, might not produce as much as they have been over the past few years due to rising costs of inputs.
The government is currently subsidizing inputs for vulnerable but viable small-scale farmers under the Fertiliser Support Programme (FSP), although the number of beneficiaries is far much less than those in need of subsidies. For every pack of FSP inputs, farmers pay 40 per cent of the total cost while the remaining 60 per cent is offset by the government.
For example, a total of eight bags of fertilizer (both top dressing and basal) is required to produce around 100 bags of maize from a hectare. This means an average small-scale farmers with a hectare of agricultural land needs about K1.7 million to produce an average of 100 (50 kilogramme) bags of maize if correct farming practices are employed.
Adding up other costs such as seed and labour, the figure could exceed K2 million for a hectare’s production. However, yields per hectare in the country have been far below the expected average of eight tonnes. From the previous season, yields per hectare have fallen to around 1.31 tonnes per hectare (about 1,300 kilogrammes or 26 of the 50 kilogramme bags of maize).
And if yields per hectare remain at the current level, then farmers will end up incurring high production costs with little crop coming out of their fields. For instance, if yields are maintained at 1.31 tonnes per hectare from inputs worth K1.7 million – considering the current prices of fertiliser – a farmer will only get around K1.2 million, calculated at the current Food Reserve Agency (FRA)’s maize price of K45,000 per 50 kilogramme bag.
And FAO stated that African countries affected by rising prices of farming inputs need at least a total of US $17 billion to start reviving agricultural systems that have been neglected for several decades. This amount, according to FAO, is just for immediate and short term measures during 2008-2009.
“High prices of agricultural inputs have become a major obstacle to developing countries' efforts to increase agricultural production. For the period January 2007 to April 2008, fertiliser prices in particular shot up at a much faster rate than food prices,” FAO stated.
The United Nations (UN) agricultural organization has widened its support to small-scale farmers in Africa under its initiative on soaring food prices, this time covering 54 countries, Zambia inclusive.
It has just approved a series of projects in Zambia and 47 other countries for a total value of US $21 million to help small-scale farmers and vulnerable households mitigate negative effects of rising food and input prices.
The projects will provide farmers with agricultural inputs as of this month for an expected duration of one year under FAO’s Technical Cooperation Programme and part of the organisation’s initiative on soaring food prices.
Zimphos yesterday said it has produced 1 000 tonnes of super phosphate — an essential ingredient in making Compound D fertilizer — which will be ready for dispatch to fertilizer-manufacturing companies tomorrow. Government is maintaining pressure on fertilizer manufacturers and yesterday sent the Cabinet Taskforce on Economic Stabilisation to monitor progress at Zimphos.
"We have produced 1 000 tonnes of super phosphate after receiving raw materials on July 16," Chemplex Corporation chief executive officer Mr Misheck Kachere told the taskforce. Zimphos is a subsidiary of Chemplex Corporation. Mr Kachere said the company was facing difficulties in importing some essential raw materials.
However, the company had in stock 14 000 tonnes of phosphate rock, which it had received from Dorowa Minerals and was expected to last two months.
"We have no problem with getting resources from Dorowa because it is our (subsidiary) company, but we have difficulties in getting raw materials from outside," Mr Kachere said.
The taskforce was also told that Zimphos required continuous electricity supply as its machines were designed to run 24 hours a day throughout the year.
Government said it was closely monitoring companies that have received financial support from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to ensure maximum production of basic commodities for the benefit of the nation.
In an interview after the tour, the Minister of Industry and International Trade, Cde Obert Mpofu, said it was the mandate of the taskforce to ensure optimum production of basic commodities in the country.
"We are not only looking at the production of fertilizer, but the entire economic spectrum to ensure sufficient production of basic commodities.
"Our mandate is to ensure that companies that produce basic commodities are closely monitored to ensure sufficient production," Cde Mpofu said.
Government appreciated challenges facing local companies and commended the central bank for making timely interventions.
"The RBZ has been intervening quite commendably. As Cabinet, we are monitoring these companies to ensure sufficient production of basic commodities."
Cabinet was concerned that some of the companies that had received support were channelling goods to the black market.
Cde Mpofu said companies that had received support from the RBZ were contracted to produce goods on Government’s behalf.
He pledged Government’s support to fertilizer-producing companies to ensure a successful summer cropping season.
During the tour, the taskforce heard that Zimphos required timely financial support from Government to import raw materials and for equipment maintenance.
Cde Mpofu said Government would follow up on the Basic Commodities Supply Side Intervention facility with other programmes.
He expressed dismay that the country was importing some basic commodities that could be manufactured locally in large quantities.
"There is no reason why we should import sugar when we are producing it in excess locally. Because of some unscrupulous activities, we are forced to import goods that we produce locally in abundance."
Finance Minister Cde Samuel Mumbengegwi said Zimphos highlighted its concerns to the taskforce and Government would marshal the necessary resources to ensure a successful summer farming season.
"Zimphos told us of their requirements and we are now mobilising the resources to prepare for the summer season," he said.
President Mugabe last week warned fertilizer companies that they faced prosecution unless they made available 25 000 tonnes of the commodity that they promised to supply after accessing US$10 million from the RBZ in April.
Government has already promised farmers that the fertilizer would be available before the start of the new season.
Farmer organisations also complained that fertilizer companies were holding the nation to ransom by constantly failing to produce on time.
The milestone reached this week by Zimbabwe’s main political parties in signing the talks agreement should pave the way for the country’s return to the path of economic growth and stability. This is indeed no doubt an important time for the country as Zimbabweans work to put behind them political differences and rivalry ahead of peace, stability and economic growth. Indeed, we see those involved in the talks determined to deal with the challenges and to move forward in a new chapter in Zimbabwe’s history.
What we all crave for is for Zimbabwe to quickly take back its position as a key economic player in Southern Africa with a diversified economy whose potential is immeasurable. The country’s key economic drivers are the agricultural, manufacturing, tourism, mining and banking sectors, as well as a well-educated and trained population.
And as our country undertakes the long road back to political stability with political parties getting down to serious business of the talks in South Africa, it is time for the economy to also start ticking.
Local companies must start sending positive signals to the international community of what is happening in our country and show confidence by boosting trade and investment.
Foreign investors can only take a cue from domestic investors.
Most companies have for a long time been constrained by the unstable macro-economic environment characterised by some of the highest inflationary pressures in years and foreign currency shortages.
As a result, the companies have been operating well below capacity. But now we need to boost that capacity.
Agriculture, the bedrock of Zimbabwe’s economic prosperity, has also been severely affected by lack of foreign currency to import raw materials needed for inputs.
The lucrative tourism industry, which earns the country significant proceeds, has also been upset as the political situation scared away potential visitors. But now, the country has indeed opened a new chapter where both domestic and foreign investors should claim a stake in various sectors of our economy.
This is the time for those investors who for sometime had retreated, or have been sitting on the fence to now jump on the economic bandwagon.
We need more investments not only in infrastructure such as roads and electricity, but also in water, energy, manufacturing, mining, tourism and agricultural sectors.
The spirit in the political parties involved in the talks should be such that they should be sending out a message to the whole world that Zimbabwe is on the road to a political settlement and trade and investment should take place.
We are convinced that by signing the talks agreement, the leadership of the main political parties has pledged its sincerity to ensuring that the country achieves the much-needed political and economic stability.
And what the country needs now is renewed commitment from business to get the economy out of its current doldrums within the shortest period possible.
We remain optimistic that Zimbabwe will achieve significant economic transformation.