Saturday, December 13, 2008
Written by Mibenge Mubanga, Kitwe
The government should not claim that the high mealie-meal prices on the market has a connection to the global food crisis. The truth is that our leaders are just selfish and are running away from reality. They have failed to make workable policies that are beneficial to the people of Zambia.
The government is importing maize from other countries because these countries planned well in agriculture for them to have surplus food.
Why are they only thinking of themselves in terms of economic hardships when every citizen is feeling this hardship? Schools are opening in January but workers are being retrenched without meaningful benefits. The prices of most essential commodities have been hiked. Yet these politicians are saying they are fighting poverty in the country.
The government should immediately solve the problems facing the agriculture sector for future food security, instead of increasing their salaries before they have implemented any workable policies.
We have the Zambia National Service production camps which the government should revamp, instead of making noise in Parliament. This measure has the capacity of creating employment for many youths who are currently languishing on the streets.
Let’s manage food resources
Written by Edify Hamukale
Saturday, December 13, 2008 9:27:31 AM
I have been observing with a keen eye for four years the food consumption behavioural patterns amongst fellow Zambians and I saw that we are not security-conscious in the way we utilise our limited food resources.
For the social functions that I attended in hotels where buffets were offered, more than 69 per cent of the Zambian guests collected more food than they needed and the remnants ended up being wasted in dust bins.
In German and Italy, I observed that more than 93 per cent of guests at similar functions collected only enough food for their meal requirements during a buffet feast.
Clearly, we are very wasteful in Zambia.
At household level in urban Zambia, more than 82 per cent of households cook more food than they need and most of the food bins and dumping pits show tremendous volumes of food being wasted.
In a food deficit year like 2008, the best in my opinion is to feed such left over food to pigs, goats, cattle or convert it into farmyard manure to be used in crop production. When the animals or livestock feed on the food wastes, human beings will later benefit from meat coming from livestock in a more nutritious form.
When we adhere to the sensible demands of food chains, food webs and ecosystems, we will not only be saving on our limited food stocks, but also helping in cleaning our surroundings in a bio-effective and sustainable manner.
Remember that energy is neither created nor destroyed but is only transformed from one form to another.
We can influence what form the energy takes. We can, for example, let the leftover food rot into organic matter at waste disposal sites or feed it to goats and later derive some protein and fat from goat meat.
The creeping obesity in younger Zambians between 22 and 30 years old could probably contribute towards food shortages in the country.
For obese people, the food shortage period in the country is wonderful time and opportunity to slim down and improve their health and life longevity.
The USA and Britain are among the world’s most obese or fat human populations to an extent that car manufacturers were being asked to make wider cars with wider driver seats to accommodate the tremendous evolution in human body weight.
In some airlines and buses, fat people are being charged double tickets for occupying too much space in the transport vessels.
Written by Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Saturday, December 13, 2008 9:02:36 AM
CONCERNS being raised over the announced partial privatisation of Zamtel are too early as the government has only announced an evaluation plan, Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) chief executive officer Andrew Chipwende has said.
Reacting to opposition by some stakeholders on the intended privatisation of Zamtel Limited, Chipwende defended the government’s intention saying it was aimed at strengthening Zamtel. Chipwende said strengthening of Zamtel’s position would include operations, financial, human resources and other technical perspective.
Asked to comment on concerns that telecommunications was too strategic for the country to be left in the hands of private companies and that Zamtel Limited exclusively controlled the International Gate Way (IGW) which the government had resisted to allow Zain Zambia Plc and MTN Zambia to access citing security reasons, Chipwende said all those concerns would be addressed in the review and evaluation process the government had currently embarked on.
He also denied that Zamtel Limited was a monopoly in the telecommunications sector in the country.
“I am very reluctant to talk about this issue and I would rather wait for the outcome of the evaluation. The evaluation would be very comprehensive and all those issues would be addressed,” Chipwende said. “I don’t agree to say Zamtel is a monopoly because anyone can have access to the IGW. Zamtel does not control the IGW, it is controlled by the Communications Authority (CA) and the only reason these other companies (Zain Zambia Plc and MTN Zambia) are not accessing is because of the cost (the government has pegged the cost of IGW licence fee at US $12 million). As for the security concerns, like I have said, the government has only announced the roadmap but of course all those concerns that border on legal and regulatory framework would be addressed.”
And Chipwende said it was very difficult to give a time frame as to when the transaction to dispose of Zamtel would be completed.
Communications minister Dora Siliya indicated that the government was going to conclude the transaction and come up with an equity partner for Zamtel by end of first quarter of next year.
Written by Joan Chirwa
Saturday, December 13, 2008 9:00:28 AM
FINANCE Bank Zambia chairman Rajan Mahtani has said the current global financial crisis will impact on the bank’s ability to lend in the near future.
During the 2008 award giving ceremony for the bank’s staff in Lusaka on Tuesday, Mahtani said access to international capital would be scarce – driving costs of funds and local interest rates on the upward trend.
“This will in turn impact the ability to lend,” Mahtani said. “Whilst the managing director has shared more positive news about our performance this past year, it is incumbent on me as group chairman to share the reality of what is happening in our global markets with you and to colour our expectations for 2009.”
Mahtani said achieving the bank’s targets in 2009 would require commitment, solid business plans and dedication to action.
“If you compound the current global financial crisis with the anticipated liquidity challenges we will all face (due to a two pronged US dollar capital flight – from FDI on the one hand, to the copper mines requiring less US dollar “capital” funding) and the already rising inflation rate – then you will agree that 2009 is going to be a different experience to 2008,” Mahtani said. “I am also aware that there is a likely new entrant into the banking industry which posses yet another competitor threat in the form of intense competition. Success will depend entirely on our ability to compete for that business which does take place. So my call is that we need to be cautiously optimistic for 2009. Our plans must be written-up as ‘battle plans’ and we must then execute against them in a time of heightened competitor activity.”
December 12, 2008
Government says it has received information indicating that some political parties will go ahead with planned demonstrations this weekend over mealie-meal prices.
Home Affairs Minister,Kalombo Mwansa, says the law will deal firmly with people agitating violence over mealie-meal prices.
Dr. Mwansa says law enforcement agencies will not allow anyone to disturb the peace that the country has enjoyed over the years.
He said Ring Leaders of the planned demonstrations will face the wrath of the law.
Dr. Mwansa said there is no need for people to demonstrate as prices of mealie-meal are slowly going down.
He said opposition political leaders should not resort to organising demonstrations but advise government on how best the prices of mealie meal can be reduced further. President, Rupiah Banda, says demonstrating over critical issues affecting the country can only plunge the nation into chaos.
The President says dialogue is the best alternative to addressing national challenges.
He says his door is open to opposition leaders and other stakeholders for dialogue on national issues.
President Banda was speaking in Chongwe on Friday when he called on Chieftainess Nkomeshya Mukamabo of the soli people.
The President also said government will ensure that the effects of the global economic crisis are mitigated.
And Chieftainess Nkomesha said she is confident President Banda will address the problems that the nation is facing.
She said her chiefdom is ready to support government in its efforts towards develop the country.
Written by Editor
It is interesting to see how government officials are jittery about the proposed peaceful demonstrations by opposition Patriotic Front on the high prices of mealie-meal.
The government has used all sorts of excuses to justify their undemocratic manoeuvres to ensure that the intended peaceful demonstrations do not take place. They are claiming that these intended demonstrations will not be peaceful after all because there is great potential that they can turn violent.
Of course, this is a possibility. When there is such a demonstration involving a big number of people, other opportunistic characters or elements can come in under the guise of demonstrators to disturb people’s peace.
But this possibility should not be used by the government to deny our people their fundamental human rights. If anything, it is the government that has introduced an element of violence to these planned demonstrations because defence minister George Mpombo is threatening to unleash Zambia Army officers on unarmed peaceful protestors. He says the government will meet the protestors with full force. So, who will be igniting the violence between Mpombo’s men and women in uniform and the peaceful protesters? It’s clear that the government would like to cause violence and blame the opposition.
It is certainly not desirable for any government to be subjected to demonstrations, especially the demonstrations that are not in support. No government would like to find itself in such a situation. But the way it reacts to such demonstrations will clearly define its character and democratic credentials.
So President Rupiah Banda should not mislead the public that his opposition to the intended demonstrations is well-founded and in the interest of the public. President Banda says the opposition should not resort to demonstrations whenever they are aggrieved about something but should dialogue with the government.
Yes, that is true. But it should be realised that even demonstrations are a form of communication, a form of dialogue. People demonstrate when they are happy or sad about something. In fact, it is said that mass action is a peaceful form of channelling people’s anger.
It is very clear to us that if people were talking about peaceful demonstrations to endorse President Banda’s leadership on this or that, by now they would have been allowed to demonstrate a hundred times.
Zambia is a democracy and democratic governance is about political mobilisation. This is so because there is no fundamental change that can occur in a democratic country without the support and involvement of the people. The government will be slow to act or react on the many challenges facing the country if no pressure is put on them, if they are not called upon to account to the people of Zambia, to fulfill their election promises and indeed to provide for the people.
But the government doesn’t seem to have solutions to the current economic crisis the country is going through, hence their preference to discuss this matter behind closed doors. They do not want to be taken to task, to account.
And like we have stated before, to suppress peaceful protests or demonstrations in the name of order is to invite repression. In saying this, we are not in any way encouraging violence or any demonstration that are conducted outside the provisions of the law.
Protests or demonstrations are a testing ground for democracy. The ideals of free expression and citizen participation are easy to defend when everyone remains polite and in agreement on basic issues. But protestors or demonstrators and their targets do not agree on basic issues. As such, disagreements may be passionate or angry.
The challenge, therefore, is for people to defend the right to freedom of speech and assembly while maintaining public order and countering attempts at intimidation or violence.
It cannot be denied that there is tension that is slowly building up in the country because of the sharp rise in the prices of essential commodities. There are complaints from all corners of the country, including from those in the ruling party, on the ever-rising cost of living in the country. But those who want to bury their heads in the sand, like ostriches, will not acknowledge this tension. However, it should be noted that democratic societies like ours are capable of enduring the bitterest disagreement among citizens. In this spirit, the tension that is slowly building on the country’s economic challenges should be approached.
Yes, what the opposition PF is trying to do by organising peaceful demonstrations may be undesirable for those in government but it is certainly democratic and legal. And we feel that the way to deal with something that is undesirable but democratic and legal is for those in government to deploy democratic methods and not repressive or illegal measures.
So President Banda should not feel misunderstood by those who support the idea of staging peaceful demonstrations. It is their right to do that. Whether that demonstration yields desired results or not, the demonstrators must be allowed to demonstrate within the confines of the law because democracy does not encourage lawlessness
Written by Kingsley Kaswende, Chibaula Silwamba, Mutuna Chanda and Fridah Zinyama
Saturday, December 13, 2008 4:02:50 AM
ZIMBABWE is prepared to defend itself against any military aggressor, President Robert Mugabe has declared. And South Africa's governing party, the African National Congress (ANC) has said President Mugabe must resign and go.
Addressing mourners at the burial of a party stalwart Elliot Manyika at the National Heroes' Acre on Thursday, President Mugabe told off Britain and the United States for calling for an invasion of Zimbabwe.
There have been calls by US President George W. Bush, French president Nicholas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown for a military invasion of Zimbabwe as a result of the cholera outbreak that has been blamed on the state's failure.
He said these calls were unjustified because Zimbabwe was not a threat to international peace and security and that it required doctors, not invading armies, to help the fight against cholera. ''We are not a threat to international peace, not a threat to our region...because of cholera, Mr Brown wants military intervention, Sarkozy wants military intervention, Bush wants military intervention because of cholera . . . We need doctors, if there is cholera, we do not need soldiers from outside, we have enough of our own. So Mr Brown, your thinking must undergo some medical correction," he said, in a speech that was also broadcast live on national television.
"This country was liberated through war. We are prepared…the British are saying things are not well in Zimbabwe...for leaders like that to be guilty of deliberate lies in order to commit acts of aggression. Acts of aggression for a purpose to suck the fuel of Iraq, with regards to Iraq, and in our case in order for them to share, without our consent, to share our wealth with us. We don't want that."
President Mugabe said Zimbabwe was under attack from the same forces it fought during the liberation struggle.
“They want to find excuses for re-colonising us. Why don't they just say you Zimbabweans are sitting on rich resources? You can't have those without us; we want to share with you. Whether you like it or not we also want to come. That would be much more honest,'' he said. “We are a tiny country, a demographically small nation, yet we find ourselves on white lips that do not bear our colour or language, lips of governments and regimes with a cruel history of colonial occupation and oppression, of impression, dominance and blatant dehumanisation of our people. These lips do speak against SADC and Africa. They are greedy, voracious and aggressive."
President Mugabe said Zimbabwe would have elections if the situation becomes desirable but people should solve differences with the knowledge that there were ideals of the revolution that should be upheld.
And speaking at ANC headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa when he and other ANC officials met international delegates attending the Young Communist League of South Africa (YCL)'s conference, Ebrahim said Zimbabwe was a tragic case.
"I know that the official view of the ANC is that we will support the view that is coming up internationally that Mugabe must resign and must go!” said Ebrahim, a freedom fighter and former Robin Island prisoner during South Africa's independence struggle against apartheid. "Zimbabwe is a tragic case; we issued a very strong statement yesterday. There is a human rights activist who has disappeared, that is not the only one."
He has however warned against military intervention in Zimbabwe, saying whoever would do that might be caught up in a serious battle.
"I don't think that we could support any military intervention because Zimbabwe is still an independent sovereign state and I must say that Zimbabwean army is very well trained and experienced," Ebrahim advised.
He challenged the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to put more pressure on President Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party.
"What could be done in Zimbabwe personally I don't really know. It seems that Mugabe is becoming more and more desperate now. Much would be left on the Zimbabwean people themselves. If it were in South Africa with such situation in Zimbabwe, that government would not last," Ebrahim said. "In the 80s, we managed to mobilise [people] to such an extent that South Africa became ungovernable and we were able to defy the apartheid government that is what made the government change its policies and its values."
He said in any situation where the masses were protesting against the incumbent government, the state uses the police to suppress the people.
"In any situation, the government would use the police and people lose fear for the police, then they bring in the army and when the masses lose fear of the army and then you have typical revolutionary situation in the country…whether Zimbabwe is reaching that I don't know," Ebrahim said. "SADC and the AU should continue putting pressure and try to get a resolution on the problem. There has to be international condemnation and pressure; you can't have economic sanctions because the country is collapsing.”
On the cholera situation in Zimbabwe that has now spread to South Africa, Ebrahim said the epidemic was a serious problem although the Zimbabwean government in the recent past dismissed it as a minor problem.
"They [Zimbabwe government] were telling us a few weeks ago that 'no it's not a problem…it's the media that are blowing the situation out of proportion'. But now they have accepted. It is affecting all the neighbouring countries including South Africa," Ebrahim said.
And Ebrahim has said the global financial crisis is as a result of capitalism and will cause political implications.
He said the crisis would greatly affect developing countries, especially those in Africa.
Ebrahim, however, observed that South Africa had not yet been greatly affected by the financial crisis.
"We in this country are not affected as badly because we already had regulations on the financial markets," Ebrahim said. "[But] there is a decline in the commodity prices and because of the recession in the [world] economy, it is affecting our economy. Already, I think there were 75,000 people who have been retrenched in addition to the already high level of unemployment."
Meanwhile, Ebrahim has predicted that next year's presidential elections in South Africa would be competitive.
"Of course, we are confident of winning the next elections as the African National Congress which is an alliance with the SACP and COSATU but it will be an interesting election; we will face competition," said Ebrahim.
The ANC is expected to face serious competition from a break away party formed by allies and supporters of former president Thabo Mbeki. The ANC recalled Mbeki from the presidency, leading to his resignation.
The breakaway party has continued to recruit people that are defecting from the ANC in protest against the unceremonious withdrawal of Mbeki from the presidency from the ANC.
The new party called the Congress of the People will have rallies this weekend in Johannesburg to explain its policies to the people. The Congress of the People is expected to be launched next week. However, the ANC has contended the use of the word Congress and took the matter to court. A court in Pretoria was on Friday morning due to pass a ruling on the matter.
Swazi opposition appeals to SADC
Written by Chibaula Silwamba, Mutuna Chanda and Fridah Zinyama
Saturday, December 13, 2008 3:59:53 AM
SWAZILAND's opposition political party, Ngwane National Liberatory Congress (NNLC), has appealed to the SADC and other international community organizations to urgently help democratize Swaziland before the political situation there gets out of hand.
Speaking in Johannesburg, South Africa where NNLC is lobbying the international community to intervene in the political situation in Swaziland, NNLC member Simangele Mmema said the situation in her country was terrible because the King Mswati had immense powers and that political parties were still banned.
"Our King appoints the Prime Minister, he appoints the cabinet, and all board chairpersons. Human rights violations are the order of the day in our country. The King himself even made a statement to the effect that in his life time there will be no political party in Swaziland. Right now, as I speak, all political parties still remain banned," Mmeme said.
She said Swaziland's current constitution was flawed and was not an all inclusive exercise.
Mmema said the oppressive environment in Swaziland was causing breakdown of law because people were now taking the law in their own hands.
"We have reached such a desperate situation in our country and people are now taking matters in their own hands," she said. "There have been spats of bomb attacks around the country as youths are trying to kill the King. Last week two youths were killed by their own bomb which they were trying to plant under the bridge where King Mswati was supposed to pass in five minutes' time. One of the people who died was a member of the SACP."
She, therefore, said after her interaction with the South Africa Communist Party (SACP), she was scared that she might be arrested upon return to Swaziland because the government suspected that the SACP was the one supplying bombs to people opposed to the government in that country.
"This is why I am saying I might be arrested when I go back because they will suspect that I am carrying bombs from the South Africa Communist Party," Mmeme said.
She said there was a break down in the rule of law. The courts rulings are being over looked.
She said political and civil society activists' homes were being raided on a daily basis and their families victimized by not being given scholarships and international passports.
She said the government had set up surveillance to monitor whatever the activists did where ever they [activists] went.
"There is also suppression of terrorism Act; where terrorism has not been clearly defined. It is specifically targeting those with dissenting views to such an extent that the president of the People's Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) has been arrested for uttering words at the funeral of those who were bombed to the effect that they died for a good cause," Mmema said.
Mmema said the president of PUDEMO refused to sign for a bail demanding that he wanted his cases to be disposed off quickly.
She said the rights of the president of PUDEMO were violated because the authorities were not allowing his colleagues and diplomats to visit him in prison.
She said the only people that were allowed to visit him were his wife, children, lawyer and doctor.
"We are unable to visit the president of PUDEMO, we are denied that right," Mmeme said. "Even the British ambassador who had travelled all the way from Pretoria, South Africa to visit him had been denied permission to visit him."
Mmema said political parties were challenging the some closes of the terrorism Act in the courts of law.
Written by Gloria Siwisha
Saturday, December 13, 2008 3:48:42 AM
PRESIDENT Rupiah Banda should admit his failures to come up with workable policies for the people of Zambia instead of hiding behind the global financial crisis, opposition UPND president Hakainde Hichilema said yesterday.
In an interview, Hichilema said Zambians were now going through a difficult time because of President Banda’s failure to find a solution to the economic crisis much earlier. He said the current economic situation was a sign of worse things to come in future.
“It is clear that President Banda had no plans for this country because if he had, he was not going to take the issue of increasing his own salary as top priority on his agenda. Instead, he would have worked towards improving the lives of the people of Zambia,” Hichilema said. “My heart bleeds for the Zambian people.”
Hichilema said President Banda rarely showed his face in public nowadays because he didn’t know what other lies to tell Zambians.
“How can he proudly show his face in public now when he knows he told lies during his campaigns?” asked Hichilema, “He just has to hide it as is always the case, liars always try come up with other lies to cover up the last ones. But I would like to believe that Zambians can see through him now and will definitely take him to task if he does not fulfil earlier promises.”
He said the high interest rates, coupled with the high inflation and exchange rates had the potential to hike the cost of living, a situation he said would adversely affect the vulnerable people.
He also warned that investors would soon start losing confidence in the MMD government since the cost of doing business in Zambia had gone up.
“The exchange rate is too high and already it’s clear the markets have already started losing confidence in Rupiah Banda’s government. One wonders where our late president’s legacy is,” he said.
Hichilema said there was no harm in President Banda admitting that he promised the people of Zambian things he had no intentions of fulfilling.
“President Banda promised that he would reduce the price of fertiliser, has it happened? No! Look at the two companies the government has contracted to distribute fertiliser; he is failing to pay them. This is another disaster on their part,” said Hichilema.
“The government has an obligation to take care of its people but the problem is that government is refusing to accept advice. They take it that we are insulting them when in fact we are not. They should not forget that we are also part of the Zambian people and are feeling the impact of the economic crisis.”
Written by Lambwe Kachali
Saturday, December 13, 2008 3:45:52 AM
VETERAN politician and freedom fighter Simon Zukas has asked President Rupiah Banda to “pull his socks” and give Zambia's position on the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe, saying remaining silent will not solve anything. And Zukas said the removal of Ng'andu Magande as finance minister has contributed to the continuous depreciation of the kwacha against major convertible currencies.
Meanwhile, Zukas has said conducting peaceful demonstrations over high mealie-meal prices was not the solution to the problem although he agrees that the Patriotic Front (PF) has the right to demonstrate.
In an interview, Zukas wondered what President Banda went to do in Nigeria when he was aware of the humanitarian disaster being faced by neighbouring Zimbabwe.
Zukas said President Banda's silence on important issues such as the Zimbabwe situation was unacceptable, especially that he claimed to continue with late president Levy Mwanawasa's legacy.
He observed that President Banda would fail to continue with late president Mwanawasa's legacy if he cannot contribute towards finding a lasting solution to Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis.
“I don't know what he [President Banda] went to do in Nigeria. I don't know the relevance of that trip to Nigeria. I think the problem is here next door and he is got to play an active role. We can't ignore the situation in Zimbabwe. Our late president took a good stance to help Zimbabwe get out of its problems through SADC. This process has got to continue. President Rupiah Banda, who likes to claim that he wants to continue with the legacy of the late president Mwanawasa, he must be forthright about it. He [late president Mwanawasa] represented us. Out of all countries, the most affected by Zimbabwe will be Zambia. Angola is too far away, South Africa, though has a common border it has a big economy. But the effect on Zambia is much more. Disorder, chaos in Zimbabwe will mean having an effect on us,” Zukas observed. “So we have a greater responsibility and president Banda must continue with the legacy of our late president.”
He advised President Banda to change his silent attitude.
“Maybe he has been consolidating but he is got to change his tune. He can't by pass it; he can avoid dealing with it. Yes, there are senior people politically but his [voice] makes a difference. Zambia has a say in SADC and since the death of the late president who made a big mark, the present one has got to continue with it. He should help and get a solution because it can't happen by itself. [Gordon] Brown [British Prime Minister] has made statements, [George] Bush [US President] has been making statements but its neighbours have got to make themselves out. [Robert] Mugabe [Zimbabwean President] has gone too far,” he observed.
And Zukas observed that until investors were convinced of the new finance minister Situmbeko Musokotwane's financial policies, the kwacha would continue to depreciate.
Zukas said most investors had confidence in Magande's policies hence the appreciation and stabilisation of the kwacha during his time as Minister of Finance.
Written by Reuters
Saturday, December 13, 2008 3:43:22 AM
Talks aimed at ending the conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo are encountering serious difficulties, the UN mediator says. Olusegun Obasanjo said this was because Gen Laurent Nkunda's rebel negotiators lacked the authority to make decisions.
The talks, taking place in Kenya, had not collapsed but such indecision was limiting progress, he said. Meanwhile, Rwanda and DR Congo have denied accusations of using proxy rebel groups to fight a covert struggle. The allegations are made in a draft report for the UN, seen by the BBC.
It says Rwanda is supplying aid and child soldiers to Tutsi rebels and the Congolese army is collaborating with the Rwandan Hutu FDLR militia, some of whose leaders were involved in the Rwandan genocide 14 years ago.
Rebel leader General Laurent Nkunda says he is protecting his Congolese Tutsi community from attack by leaders of the Rwanda genocide, but critics say the conflict is about raw power and control of mineral resources.
Recent fighting in eastern DR Congo has displaced some 250,000 people since August. Both government and rebel forces have been accused of raping, mutilating and killing civilians.
Obasanjo said Gen Nkunda's CNDP rebels had not been given enough power to make concessions.
"Either they give the people they have sent here the delegation, the power to make decisions or they send people who they will give such power to," he told journalists in Nairobi.
He also criticised them for "trying to broaden the negotiations to cover the whole of the DRC".
Obasanjo said this was in contrast to the delegation from the Congolese government, who were "more flexible".
"They are empowered to take decision[s] and we have seen them taking decisions on the ground," he said.
Direct talks with the Congolese government was a key CNDP demand.
A ceasefire negotiated by Obasanjo in November has halted battles with government troops, but rebels have continued attacking Congolese and Rwandan militia allies of the government.
In a draft report, the UN alleges the Rwandan authorities have supplied Gen Nkunda's forces with military equipment, child soldiers, the use of Rwandan banks, and allowed the rebels to launch attacks from Rwandan territory on the Congolese army.
But Rwandan's foreign minister told the BBC's World Today programme that Rwanda was not supporting General Nkunda.
"Rwanda and the CNDP of Laurent Nkunda do not have links, neither does the government or the military have links with them, except that they, the people on their side speak [Kinya]Rwandan but that is only a historic link it has nothing to do with the current link," Rosemary Kobusingye Museminari said.
She said that even if rebels were being recruited from within Rwanda, this was not being done with the support of her government.
"Laurent Nkunda could recruit from Kenya, he could recruit from Uganda, he could recruit from Europe, he could recruit from anywhere else, that wouldn't mean that the [Rwandan] government is sanctioning that."
In turn, DR Congo's communications minister denied working with the FDLR, saying no responsible government would co-operate with an armed group killing their own people.
"Those people are still killing our people, Congolese people, they are really destroying our environment there. We cannot ever support them," Lambert Omalanga Menda told the BBC's Network Africa programme.
The final report is being presented to the Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council in the next few days.
Friday, December 12, 2008
December 12, 2008
The late Chief Kapijimpanga of the Kaonde people in Solwezi district of Northwestern province, who died on Sunday, has been buried at Kabungo traditional cemetery.
Speaking at the burial site in Solwezi today, Minister of Local Government and Housing Benny Tetamashimba, described the late chief as a leader who had developmental programs as his personal agenda.
Mr. Tetamashimba said the late Australia Katuka Kapijimpanga, who had a foresight and focused desire to see development in Solwezi, released 50 square kilometers of his traditional land for development of Solwezi.
He said the late chief’s decision to releases tracts of land for development was in accordance with the vision of late President Mwanawasa of re-planning Solwezi district.
Mr. Tetamashimba noted that without the late chief’s vision, the replanning of Solwezi would not been on the district’s agenda for next year.
He added that Solwezi would soon be turned into a city status because of late traditional leader’s vision.
Mr. Tetamashimba said the late chief Kapijimpanga desired that his people should embrace development projects.
The minister said this would make government greatly miss the late chief.
He said the late traditional ruler deserved a credit because he was one person, who was among many people that worked with government to bring the new development of Kansanshi mine in the area.
Mr. Tetamashimba explained that government greatly appreciated the late chief’s work such that President Rupiah Banda would have loved to attend his burial but failed because of other pressing national duties.
He informed the mourners that President Banda has however sent his deepest condolences to the Kapijimpanga royal family.
Mr. Tetamashimba however appealed to Kansanshi mine to exhibit the similar good relationships to the new chief as they did to the late traditional leader.
And former Inspector General of Police, Ephraim Mateyo, chief Mumena’s representative, Jackson Kakoma, and former Works and Supply Minister Ludwig Sondashi, all appealed for calm and peace during the mourning time until a successor to the throne was chosen.
The late chief, Australia Katuka, was born on the 13th June 1932 and ascended to the Kapijimpanga throne on 4th July 1978.
He is survived by a wife, 14 children and several grand children.
The burial ceremony was also attended by Northwestern Province Minister Joseph Mulyata, Ministry of Community Development Permanent Secretary, Teddy Kasonso, Northwestern Province Permanent Secretary Jeston Mulando, clerk of the House of Chiefs and several other dignitaries.
Written by Editor
Military intervention in Zimbabwe is not an option.And it is foolish for anyone to even think of it, let alone openly advocate it. None of the problems of Zimbabwe can be solved by the use of military force. What is required in Zimbabwe is an approach that seeks consensus, compromises and unity. And this seems to be the view of most African leaders who are rational and independent in their thinking.
We have enough wars in Africa to start another senseless and endless war in Zimbabwe. However, what is clear is that there are people or forces that want to see nothing in Zimbabwe but a regime change.
And it is these people who are every day undermining the efforts of the United Nations and the African Union, through the Southern African Development Community (SADC), to bring about a negotiated settlement to the Zimbabwean crisis through a unity government.
And SADC was mandated by the African Union to help Zimbabwe come up with a government of national unity. The first step in this direction was achieved and an agreement signed. But soon after that, no effort was spared by proponents of a regime change in Zimbabwe to undermine and derail that agreement. Everything possible was done to undermine efforts to form a unity government, arguing that it can’t work.
And it has been very clear that Britain and the United States – the main sponsors of the regime change approach to Zimbabwean politics – were not in support of a unity government in that country which left Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF with a meaningful role in the governance of that country.
This may also explain why SADC guidance is being discarded and denounced by MDC leaders. Who doesn’t know the sponsors of MDC!
But what the advocates of military intervention in Zimbabwe shouldn’t cheat themselves about is a quick victory. If Zimbabwe is invaded today or tomorrow, there will be an endless war in that country. And Zimbabwe will be added to Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Uganda where there are endless wars.
The path taken by SADC leaders is the most rational one. It may seem to be slow, but it is certainly better than an endless war.
And imperialism still has endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why start another unnecessary, irrational, senseless, endless war in Zimbabwe? If they have a lot of money to spend on wars and they care so much about the people of Zimbabwe, why not use it now on the welfare of the suffering people of that country?
If there is anything that people in leadership should learn from, it is history. History is a source of free advice that people who seek peaceful ends should take seriously. It is very important that people pay attention and learn from history because the past may be the only record that we have for us to discern some similarities to the situations that may be at hand.
It worries us a lot to hear respected people such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu who have said President Robert Mugabe should go and if he cannot go on his own, he should be removed by force.
We also get worried when we hear people like Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga say it is time for African governments to take decisive action to push Mugabe out of power.
When people call for the use of force to remove President Mugabe, we ask them to pay attention to history. We ask Odinga to look at his backyard. The scars of war are clear. Odinga is in his position because some people decided to dialogue. The violence that we saw in Kenya only achieved one thing – dividing the people of Kenya.
Therefore, the position taken by secretary general of Zimbabwe’s MDC-Mutambara led faction, Welshman Ncube, who has dismissed military intervention as an alternative to solving the crisis in Zimbabwe, is the most sensible.
We agree with Ncube that the Zimbabwe crisis should be resolved through political means as opposed to military means.
As Ncube has rightly pointed out, a military intervention is likely to ignite a civil war in Zimbabwe.
Dialogue may be frustrating, but it is no doubt the best solution to solving the Zimbabwe crisis.
No doubt the situation in Zimbabwe is worrying and indeed humanitarian intervention is required urgently given the current situation such as the cholera epidemic, closure of hospitals in big cities, food shortages. The situation is desperate, but it calls for a negotiated political settlement.
However, as we have said in the past, when one analyses the Zimbabwe problem from all angles, one can’t say the problem in Zimbabwe is primarily that of democracy. If lack of democracy were to cause governments and economies to collapse, many capitalist countries we know today and their economies would have collapsed a long time ago.
The Zimbabwe situation is interesting because there seems to be some amnesia from people. Ncube himself has said that the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe have worked to an extent and he is quoted as saying: “sanctions do work and they have worked in Zimbabwe, they may not have provided the knock-out punch we would have liked to witness, but they have managed to paralyse Mugabe’s regime to an extent. Sanctions have made it possible for Mugabe to be an unsuccessful despot, they may not have driven Mugabe out of town but that was not the intention. The intention was to make the dictatorship unsuccessful, sanctions should be looked at as an instrument to make sure dictatorships don’t get away with murder.”
Indeed the sanctions against Zimbabwe have worked. The cholera epidemic, the closure of hospitals in big cities and the food shortages are a clear testimony of how the sanctions have worked in Zimbabwe. Today Ncube is complaining of the cholera epidemic, but forgets that a certain environment must exist for there to be an outbreak of cholera. He forgets that the sanctions that they have asked for to some extent have a bearing on the current situation in Zimbabwe.
It is clear that there are many factors that have led to this situation in Zimbabwe. And as we stated in the past, among them are sanctions – although denied by the Americans and Europeans – which the country has been subjected to for some years now. Some Zimbabweans today have forgotten that they have hired themselves out to work for the British and the Americans against Zimbabwe. They have forgotten that they have called for the tightening of the noose on Zimbabwe. They have forgotten that when the noose is tightened, the next thing is suffocation.
What Ncube should start doing now is call for the easing of the sanctions, which as he has said have paralysed the regime. They have paralysed the regime to an extent where it is unable to offer effective services to the country. As Ncube has stated, the intention was to make Mugabe unsuccessful, but it is clear now that more Zimbabweans are dying because of those sanctions.
Written by Etambuyu Anamela-Gundersen in Brussels and George Chellah in Harare
Friday, December 12, 2008 4:35:43 AM
MDC-Mutambara led faction secretary general Welshman Ncube has dismissed suggestions that military intervention can be an alternative to solving the Zimbabwe crisis.
And President Robert Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba yesterday said Western countries want Zimbabwe on the UN Security Council agenda.
Ncube was speaking at the European Parliament in Brussels last Thursday during a one-day conference organised by the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE).
The objective of the conference was to explore in what form European assistance should come under African leadership.
In response to questions raised by Graham Watson, leader of the ALDE Group in the European Parliament, Ncube, warned that a military solution should absolutely not even be considered because “it will play right into Mugabe’s hands”.
He said a military intervention would unite the nationalists and the war veterans and some of the most experienced fighters, who together would ignite a civil war, while claims of Europe wanting to restore colonialism will be brought to the fore in regalvanising the militancy of ZANU-PF.
Watson had sought to know, among other things, what Europe’s role should be in bringing about change in Zimbabwe or if military intervention even be considered.
Ncube said the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe have worked to an extent. He said humanitarian intervention was required urgently given the current situation, citing the cholera epidemic, closure of hospitals in big cities, food shortages leading to hunger for both the rich and poor alike.
However, Ncube argued that solving the political crisis was much more of a priority than the humanitarian crisis. He said responding to the humanitarian crisis first was a short-term strategy and not a long-term solution.
Ncube reiterated that MDC was of the view that the Zimbabwe crisis should be resolved through political means.
“In this context the strategic choice is that it makes sense to cooperate and make democratic gains, the opposition together get the majority in Parliament and thereby controlling the agenda. We also make sure the democratic gains are not lost by power sharing and not letting ZANU-PF get rid of these gains, the idea behind all this being that we will be able to effect some transformation in the legal instruments of the country.” said Ncube.
Ncube expressed frustration with the September 15 agreement accusing President Robert Mugabe of holding on to what he called the ‘coercion ministries’ in reference to the ministries of defence, information, local government and agriculture. Ncube said the ministries President Mugabe was willing to surrender were those his government had failed to run.
“We have to persuade the international community to support us even if we have a government with Mugabe in it because the second scenario is one which could lead to Zimbabwe being a failed state,” Ncube said. “His [Mugabe] regime remains strong and is ready to perpetrate violence. This scenario is one that is likely to lead to more anarchy than driving Mugabe out of power. We do not want a similar scenario as Somalia where the country breaks down with warlords taking control and that is exactly what the war veterans will do.”
Lord John Alderdice, president of Liberal International, warned that Europe and Britain, especially, had to be careful about how it lent its support as that could prove to be counter productive. He emphasised that the intention of the meeting was to ascertain what Europe could do to help Zimbabwe.
“This is a public opportunity to get across the message that Liberals throughout the world are concerned about what is happening in Zimbabwe,” said Lord Alderdice.
And George Charamba yesterday said the West would stop at nothing to have Zimbabwe on the agenda of the UN Security Council.
He said Britain and the US were set on bringing Zimbabwe back to the UN Security Council.
“They are also dead set on ensuring that there is an invasion of Zimbabwe but without themselves carrying it out. In those circumstances, they will stop at nothing including abusing both the office and personnel of the [UN] secretary general,” Charamba said.
He said Zimbabwe would not be surprised if the West came up with a mission involving the United Nations.
The European Union recently extended a travel ban on 11 more Zimbabweans and joined calls for President Mugabe to leave office.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner announced that EU foreign ministers added 11 more names to a list of over 160 Zimbabweans banned from visiting the regional bloc.
And EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said the moment has arrived to put all the pressure for President Mugabe to step down.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, also joined calls for President Mugabe to leave office after his 28-year rule.
Last week, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu called for President Mugabe to step down - or be removed by force. The Nobel peace laureate told a Dutch current affairs TV programme: "I think now that the world must say, 'You have been responsible with your cohorts for gross violations, and you are going to face indictment in The Hague unless you step down'."
Tutu's strong words came as an African government for the first time called for Mugabe to be deliberately ousted because of the failure of the power-sharing deal in Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, the UN and SADC have dispatched teams of health experts to Zimbabwe to assess the cholera situation. The two teams arrived in the country on Monday.
According to the state media, the two teams were expected to give technical and logistical support to the government. The World Health Organisation (WHO) team comprise of the head of delegation Dr Eric Laroche, director of operational platform Dr Dominique Legros, communication officer Paul Garwood, logistician Fred Urlep and water epidemiologist Dr Francesco Checchi.
The SADC team comprise of Dr Antonica Hembe, Joseph Mthethwa, Ityai Muvandi, Phera Ramoei and Dr Vonai Teveredzi.
Dr Laroche said his team was in Zimbabwe to assist the government through case investigation data management, surveillance and implementation of world guidelines in treating the disease.
"Our team will be in Zimbabwe, as long as it is required, to support the local WHO team control and stick to the guidelines of treating and registering patients among others,” Dr Laroche said. He said the team, which has already set up a command centre, was purely a technical one that would offer technical, logistical and financial support.
Written by Mutuna Chanda in Kitwe
Friday, December 12, 2008 4:28:11 AM
Patriotic Front Nkana member of parliament Mwenya Musenge last Saturday walked out of a full council meeting in protest against the offer of 30 hectares of land in Garneton for construction of houses for 300 Chinese nationals.
In an interview on Monday, Musenge said he could not be part of a decision that would sanction the settlement of Chinese when thousands of applications for land by Zambians had been pending for years without being processed.
Kitwe City Council last Saturday resolved to offer 30 hectares of land to the Zambia China Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone Development (ZCCZ) Limited.
ZCCZ had initially applied for 36 hectares of land in Garneton next to Chambishi Metals to construct houses, cafes, canteens, gymnasiums and a sports field for an expected number of 300 Chinese.
Musenge complained that Zambians had not been served first, hence his decision to walk out of the council meeting.
“I got a bit frustrated,” Musenge said. “I could not agree with the council resolution to give land to the Chinese in Garneton when we have the majority of our people, here in Kitwe, we have thousands and thousands of applications...and at the end of the day they cannot access that land. Meanwhile, we are able to give a large chunk of land to the Chinese.”
Musenge said in the council meeting, he asked that President Rupiah Banda re-look at the directive made by his predecessor late Levy Mwanawasa for the allocation of 30 hectares of land but that his idea was blocked.
“I had asked in that meeting that ‘what can we do because at this level there is no way we can allow this thing to go through?’ And they said ‘No, land is vested in the President and these directives came from the Republican President that we need to give land so there is nothing that we can do’,” Musenge said. “And I asked ‘why can’t we give Rupiah Banda to look at this issue and see whether it is in order to give such land?’ And they said ‘No, even if he looked at it there is nothing that he can do because it has already been given’. In that case, I decided to walk out because I did not want my name to be part of those that approved that resolution.
“From the look of things, we have created an artificial shortage of land…and because of that artificial shortage of land that we have created, there is now too much corruption in land allocation at the council.”
During the council meeting that approved the offer of 30 hectares of land to ZCCZ, councillors were told that some Zambians would be accommodated on the premises.
The council resolved to sign a memorandum of understanding with ZCCZ to indicate that Zambians would be accommodated on the premises.
Written by Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Friday, December 12, 2008 4:26:34 AM
THE Federation of Free Trade Unions (FFTUZ) has expressed opposition to the intended partial privatisation of Zamtel Limited by the government.
Commenting on the announcement by communications minister Dora Siliya that the government was going to partially offload some shares in Zamtel to private investors as part of the rescue plan for the financially beleaguered company, FFTUZ president Joyce Nonde wondered why the government was rushing on a privatisation programme when it was very clear the exercise had been a disaster in the past.
Nonde said the fact that highly capitalistic countries like United States and United Kingdom were now nationalising other privately-owned institutions and financial institutions in the name of protecting national interest spoke volumes about the future of privatisation in the world.
“You can’t privatise Zamtel. You know information is vital. As FFTUZ you know our position on privatisation. We strongly feel about this and we strongly oppose this move by the government just like we opposed the privatisation of Zesco,” Nonde said. “Look at what the effects of privatisation in the country are. We are having these mealie-meal problems because everything is in the hands of the private sector. Just look at what is happening on the Copperbelt, mining companies are now trying to blackmail the government by laying off workers on the basis of copper prices when in actual fact what they want is to compel the government to backpedal on the new taxation (new mining fiscal regime) and here we are taking some more companies to the private hands.”
Nonde maintained that Zamtel was a financially viable company which had been wrecked by, among other things, the government’s failure to pay its obligations to the telecommunications company.
“Instead of rushing to privatise, the way out is to ensure we increase the checks and balances in Zamtel. But it is incorrect for anyone to suggest that Zamtel is unviable,” she said.
And Nonde dismissed assertions by Siliya that the government would want Zamtel’s privatisation to take the route of Zanaco sell to Rabobank which the government described as a successful transaction.
“What success are they talking about in the privatisation of Zanaco Plc? The bank (Rabobank) is barely laying the ground and you are saying it has been a success. What success?” asked Nonde. “Now it is a disaster because the financial sector in the country is completely in the hands of the private sector and already we are seeing how Zambians are struggling to get access to loans. You find that now foreigners are finding it easier to access money from our local banks than our own Zambians. Our people are having difficulties because too much is being demanded from them…you find that they will tell you that even your house is not enough to get collateral…people have to move with everything like payslips, what about those who don’t work. Zambians can’t access loans?”
Written by Chibaula Silwamba and Gloria Siwisha
Friday, December 12, 2008 4:23:58 AM
ANTI Corruption Commission (ACC) chairperson justice Valentine Chileshe has challenged Zambians to report anybody involved in corruption, including their relatives to the ACC.
And Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) executive director Goodwell Lungu said the failure by law enforcement agencies to take quick action on corruption cases has compromised the fight against corruption.
In an interview ahead of today's commemoration of the International Anti-Corruption Day, justice Chileshe said all Zambians should be open to report corruption to law enforcement agencies regardless of the individuals involved.
“The problem we have is that you can see someone corrupting another person but you keep quiet just because of the culture or being related or something like that…but if all Zambians are open and they don't want corruption, they could help us by reporting corruption,” justice Chileshe said.
However, justice Chileshe noted that corruption levels in Zambia were reducing and hoped more could be done to eradicate the vice.
“The worldwide report indicates that at least there is reduction in corruption in Zambia. We are doing well and apart from that, we need support from the donor community so that we continue fighting corruption and be mobile,” said justice Chileshe. “We are reducing and we have reduced corruption. That is an indication that we are making headways.”
The ACC and TIZ have organised a programme to commemorate the International Anti-Corruption Day today, which will involve a march past from Northmead's Total Filling Station to Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka.
The fight against corruption has led to several high profile people including former president Frederick Chiluba, former intelligence chief Xavier Chungu among others, being prosecuted on corruption-related charges, and abuse of public resources and authority of office.
Chungu returned to Zambia last week from an over four-year self-imposed exile, avoiding prosecution in a corruption-related offence. Chungu was arrested upon arrival at the Lusaka International Airport.
And Goodwell Lungu said law enforcement agencies should ensure they acted speedily when handling corruption cases as laxity was compromising the progression made in the fight. He said the Auditor General's report had revealed gross misappropriation of funds by foreign missions, which needed quick action.
“The lack of action taken on corruption cases by enforcement agencies to us has been a major challenge because as TIZ we strongly believe that our sensitisation campaigns were intensified and a lot of people are aware about corruption but if action is not taken, then we are going backwards,” Lungu said.
He commended Auditor General Anna Chifungula for carrying out her duties diligently despite the failure by investigative agencies to take quick action on corruption cases.
Lungu urged all stakeholders to use the International Anti-Corruption Day to reflect on past successes and challenges to ensure that the country forged ahead.
“Leaders should also step up to the challenge because they are the ones who appoint, for instance, these people in foreign missions. Their commitment to the fight is important,” said Lungu.
Written by Laura Mushaukwa-Hamusute
Friday, December 12, 2008 4:20:46 AM
Former Zambia Security Intelligence Services (ZSIS) director general Xavier Chungu yesterday told Ndola High Court Deputy Registrar Jones Chinyama that he fled the country in 2004 because his life was in danger.
And Chinyama ordered Chungu to pay K500 million for jumping bail or face six months imprisonment in default.
Meanwhile, Chinyama has discharged a bench warrant issued against Chungu in another matter where the state disjoined him to the case by way of a nolle prosequi.
This is in a case in which Chungu was charged for contempt of court after jumping bail in 2004. Chungu was granted a K500 million bail in 2003 with two working sureties in his own recognizance, but he fled from the country and thus did not appear before court at the scheduled time.
The state then applied for a bench warrant against him, which was granted and this bench warrant remained in full force until Chungu returned to Zambia last Wednesday.
When the matter came up yesterday, Task Force prosecutor Fred Malambo gave the court a background of the case, highlighting Chungu’s circumstances at present. Chinyama, who sat as a magistrate, asked Chungu whether the position the state had presented before court was a true reflection of the circumstances, to which he agreed.
In mitigation, Chungu’s lawyer Nicholas Chanda urged the court to take note that Chungu’s arrest was not effected by the state but that he decided to present himself to the authorities so that he could clear himself of whatever cases he had left. Chanda said it was not intentional for Chungu to disregard court procedure without cause.
He said the reason Chungu fled from Zambia was because he had been tipped by one of his confidantes that his life was in danger. Chanda said Chungu fled Zambia to preserve his life and not to run away from the cases against him. He said Chungu had seven other cases before the courts before he left where he diligently followed procedure and was acquitted.
Chanda said before fleeing the country, Chungu had stayed in prison for over a year and there would be no reason to run away. He contended that Chungu’s return should serve as mitigation enough for whatever punishment the court was to mete out on him.
Chanda pleaded that Chungu was remorseful, humbled himself and deserved leniency. He asked the court to scale down the recognizance sum of K500 million, taking into account the credit crunch, which had hit the whole world. He said by Zambian standards, K500 million was a lot of money and that Chungu had not been in gainful employment since he fled. He also said Chungu’s properties had been confiscated by the state and his terminal benefits from ZSIS had not been given to him.
Chanda argued that the state had enough security from Chungu. He said the other mitigatory factor was that his client had spent six days in prison since his arrest last Wednesday.
But Chinyama in his ruling said Chungu was in breach of the court order and his conduct was unacceptable. He said it was a fact that it had been four years since Chungu left the country and court proceedings were disrupted without him giving the court any reasons for doing so. Chinyama said Chungu was clearly in breach and had to be dealt with according to the law.
He ordered the forfeiture of K500 million of the recognizance sum, anchoring his decision on section 131 of the Criminal Procedure Code, saying the amount should be paid within 14 days. Chinyama warned that Chungu would be jailed for six months if he failed to comply with the court order.
At this point, Task Force prosecutions lawyer Mutembo Nchito wondered what would happen to Chungu’s bail. However, it was resolved that Chungu had to apply for fresh bail.
Chanda asked if he could file the application for bail but was told to do so at the High Court after the conditions of the order had been fulfilled. Chinyama referred Chungu’s matter to the chief magistrate and it will come on December 22, 2008 for re-allocation.
With respect to Chungu’s other matter, Nchito told the court that he was granted bail of K5 million in own recognizance but on May 4, 2004 he absconded court and a warrant was issued. He said that later the proceedings against Chungu were discontinued by way of a nolle prosequi.
In response, Chanda asked the court to declare the bench warrant against his client a nullity, explaining that after the nolle prosequi, Chungu was no longer an accused person. He said the state made an application to substitute the indictment against Chungu and as at now the warrant could not stand. Chanda said all the interlocutory applications relating to the matter were considered a nullity and according to the law in the circumstances, even the guilty pleas had to be quashed.
But Nchito contended that the warrant was issued because of the court order against Chungu, and not the indictment.
Chanda reiterated his argument saying the warrant was as a result of the same proceedings and there was no indictment against Chungu because it had been substituted.
After considering the arguments by both the state and the defence, Chinyama discharged the bench warrant against Chungu, resting his decision on section 81 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Labels: XAVIER CHUNGU
Red Cross acquires flood management kitsRed Cross acquires flood management kits
Written by Kelvin Tembo
Friday, December 12, 2008 4:15:15 AM
THE Zambia Red Cross Society (ZRCS) has acquired flood management kits worth over K122 million in anticipation of floods this rainy season.
In an interview yesterday, ZRCS public relations manager James Zulu said the society was ready to respond to any humanitarian needs that would arise as a result of floods.
“We have acquired the kits worth US $25,000 for flood preparation and the equipment is already in the country,” Zulu said.
He said the kits comprised shelter materials, water purification chemicals to avoid any water-bone diseases, water storage containers, emergency sanitation materials, kitchenware and cutlery.
Zulu said also access extra water sanitation kits for about 10,000 people would be available within 48 hours from the regional office in South Africa.
He said the kits included water treatment materials, sanitation materials and hygiene education materials for sensitisation among flood victims.
Zulu said ZRCS staff had been trained from Namibia on how to use the kits so that they could quickly respond to emergencies, as that was part of the contingency plan revised for the 2008/2009 flood management strategy.
Zulu said ZRCS was working in partnership with the government and other agencies such as the United Nations and some NGOs.
The meteorological department has predicted that there is a likelihood of floods during this rainy season.
Written by Gillian Namungala
Friday, December 12, 2008 4:13:46 AM
DEFENCE minister George Mpombo has said the US $24 million loan owed to a Chinese bank by the Zambian government is the contentious issue in current negotiations between the two parties.
Zambia-China Mulungushi Textile (ZCMT), a joint venture between the Zambian and the Chinese government, acquired a loan amounting to US $24 million using the Zambian government as a guarantor from Exim – a Chinese bank – through the Development Bank of Zambia (DBZ).
In an interview, Mpombo said the issue of the loan was the main factor in addressing problems at ZCMT.
“That is why we had to engage in discussions as government to government,” Mpombo said. “The board of ZCMT has failed to come up with solutions to solve problems facing ZCMT, that is why we decided to have discussions between the two governments.”
Mpombo however said he was concerned with the slow pace at which discussions were taking place.
“These discussions have been dragging for too long. That is why we decided to take this route of engaging the government to resolve issues at ZCMT,” said Mpombo.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
By Torby Chimhashu
Posted to the web: 11/12/2008 13:57:13
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe lashed out at opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Thursday, calling him a “prostitute” before taking aim at British Prime Minister Gordon Brown whose head "must go for some medical correction”.
Addressing mourners at the burial of Elliot Manyika, a former cabinet minister who died in a road accident last Saturday, Mugabe was critical of the MDC leader’s recent foreign jaunts.
"Today you are in Senegal, tomorrow you are in that country. Ndochii ichocho? (What is that?) Chihure ichocho! (It's prostitution!).”
In a televised address, Mugabe took his customary swipe at Tsvangirai, accusing him of mobilising with leaders of western countries for a military invasion of Zimbabwe. Mugabe said the cholera outbreak that has killed close to a 1000 people was to be used as a pretext for such an attack.
"Shall we also say that [because] there is mad cow disease, there must be war, Britain must be invaded? Mr Brown, your head must go for some medical correction,” Mugabe said.
Tsvangirai, who remains in Botswana and says he will not travel to Zimbabwe without his passport which authorities refuse to issue, recently visited Morocco, France, Germany and Senegal rallying support for his stance to refuse to join a power sharing government before Mugabe agrees to what he says is an equitable allocation of cabinet portfolios.
A September 15 power sharing agreement could collapse if the stand-off over ministries is not quickly resolved.
Days after meeting Tsvangirai, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the time for dialogue in Zimbabwe was over.
"President Mugabe must go,” Sarkozy said. “There comes a time when a dictator does not want to hear, does not want to understand, and so my understanding is that heads of states and governments must end discussions. It is time to say to Mr Mugabe 'you have taken your people hostage. The people of Zimbabwe have the right to freedom, to security and to respect'.”
In Harare, Mugabe said Sarkozy was part of a plot with Brown and US President George Bush to overthrow his government militarily on the basis of a cholera epidemic. Mugabe claims the outbreak is under control, and the Western powers no longer have an excuse for an invasion.
He said: “Because of cholera, Mr Brown, Mr Sarkozy and Mr Bush want military intervention. Now that there is no cholera, there is no need for war. The cholera cause doesn’t exist any more.”
Tsvangirai’s MDC said in a statement on Thursday that it would not be stampeded into joining a government on terms that it is unhappy with.
“Either Zanu PF is killing the dialogue or has already killed it. We refuse to be cowed by wanton acts of terror into succumbing to a warped political settlement that is not in the best interest of the people of Zimbabwe,” a spokesman said.
Challenges of restructuring national budget
By David Punabantu
AMIDST a drop in copper prices and a growing global recession, fears over Government finances being undermined by the current crisis have become a major source of concern.
Consequently, the new Finance and National Planning Minister, Situmbeko Musokotwane, has the daunting challenge to restructure Government finances to reflect the economic realities the Zambian economy now faces.
For starters, the controversial new mining taxes introduced by the former Finance minister, Ng’andu Magande, gave the impression that Zambia was to benefit from the high copper prices then.
Although the romanticism of a numerically increased amount due into Government coffers infatuated many Zambians, as they got caught up in the figures, in real value terms, however, very little value would have been created on the ground within the Zambian economy.
Understanding how value moves in the Zambian economy and how it is lost, gained, destroyed or created means taking a closer look at the operational parameters of the Zambian budget, and its capacity in transmitting the total value of Zambian goods and services into the activities of ordinary Zambians to develop the nation is important.
Appreciating these value-related synergies of the national Budget means understanding the linkage between Government finances and Zambia’s export revenue, which is clearly embedded in Zambia’s past budgets.
As seen in 1995, Zambia produced 307,558 tonnes of copper. The average price of copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) stood at US$2,623.5 per tonne, giving $806 million revenue.
With non-traditional exports (NTEs), it reached about $1 billion.
The exchange rate on Budget day stood at K853 per US dollar. The Budget then was about K853 billion, indicating against the exchange rate that it was worth $1 billion and this shadowed export earning.
The 1996 budget was at K1,161 trillion, and naturally the exchange rate stood between K1,000 and K1,160 per US dollar on budget day. The budget thus in US dollar terms was worth $1 billion.
The 1999 budget was at about K2.2 trillion and was worth $840 million on budget day, as the exchange rate stood at K2,650 per US dollar.
Hence, the Kwacha appreciated after the budget to about K2,200 per US dollar against a backdrop of a World Bank loan being released for Zambia as it finally privatised Nkana and Nchanga copper mines that produced then 60 per cent of Zambia’s copper output.
By December 1999 the Zambian Parliament passed a supplementary budget of about K500 billion. This pushed the 1999 budget presented by the then Finance Minister Edith Nawakwi from K2.2 trillion to about K2.7 trillion.
Naturally, the exchange rate moved to a similar position prior to the 1999 budget of K2,650 per US dollar. At this position the 1999 budget maintained its $1 billion position.
The same pattern is seen for the 2000 budget. It is behind this pattern that whatever export revenue is obtained by the private sector, it is neutralised in real value terms by Government expenditure, including the new mining taxes, and hence no real value is being added to the economy.
The 2004 budget was worth roughly, in US dollar terms, $1.8 billion against the prevailing exchange rate indicating on the surface an overvalued Kwacha.
Yet a look at the 2005 budget shows that the budget was worth K9.7 trillion or in US dollar terms roughly worth $2 billion and did not follow the traditional $1 billion.
The reality to this was a depreciating US dollar making the Kwacha appreciate in value terms and thus precipitating what was widely perceived as the success of the Zambian economy between 2003 and 2007, which also increased Zambia’s US dollar value of the budget.
Therefore, in a space of just five years from 2003 to 2008, the budget has almost tripled in US dollar terms and prior to 2003 while Zambia had HIPC and loans to pay off, the whole of Government could run on just $1 billion. Today, without HIPC and Zambia’s debts halved, Government requires triple that base line figure.
Therefore, what HIPC basically meant was that Zambia could fund her Government from her own resources provided the national budget remained within the $1 billion mark in value terms.
Unfortunately, the structural design of the budget, with the rest of the Zambian economy, meant that the budget would always shadow export earnings and hence it is indicative that if copper prices drop so would Zambia’s export earnings and hence the Zambian budget.
In effect, the gross value of the new mining taxes, including Zambia’s export revenue has already been spent in value terms by the national Budget.
The question that arises is what then is all the tax collection by the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) about since the budget basically covers Zambia’s US dollar revenue derived from exports?
The answer to this lies in the fact that the Bank of Zambia allows for 100 per cent direct foreign exchange retention, meaning exporters can directly keep their US dollar earnings from exports without the Kwacha being involved in purchasing that foreign currency.
The mines therefore do not raise Kwacha cover like ordinary Zambians wanting to buy US dollars from bureaux.
It is the national budget under its current value condition that raises the Kwacha cover for the mines and thus ceases to be a national budget in real terms.
It is these linkages that the new Finance minister has to change to weather the storm by making the linkage of Zambia’s export revenue being anchored to the Kwacha through a 100 per cent foreign exchange retention policy through Kwacha purchases only.
This is within the powers of the new Finance minister as outlined in Chapter 360 of the Laws of Zambia, Bank of Zambia Act, Part VII, Relations with Government, Section 56(1) that states, “The bank shall be the agent responsible for administering exchange controls and any instruction and directives that the Minister may from time to time issue.”
It is under such circumstances that the mines would have to raise their own Kwacha cover to buy foreign exchange, and make the Government budget become a real and operational budget anchored to the Kwacha.
This, naturally, would free Zambia’s monetary policy, making it more effective for the Bank of Zambia to control.
At present, the relationship between the money supply and the national budget is that the money supply is usually one tenth of the budget, and in US dollar terms it hovered around $100 million in the past.
The $100 million in value terms of Kwacha currency in circulation threshold is seen in January 1998 with an average Kwacha exchange rate of K1,454.54 per US dollar, against a currency in circulation placed at about K149,659.2 million worth US $102.89 million.
The average exchange rate in January 2002 was K3,848.65 per US dollar that faced a currency in circulation of about K389,649.8 million, placing a US dollar value of the same currency in circulation at about $101.24 million.
For January 2003 it was K4,576.32 per US dollar against a currency in circulation figure of about K453,647.8 million or worth in US dollar terms, $99.12 million.
However, the exchange rate of June 4, 2004 at K4,795.83 per US dollar faced a currency in circulation of about K732,138.9 million worth about $152.6 million as the budget also increased in line with Zambia’s export revenue.
By 2007 when the former Finance minister Mr Magande left the helm, Zambia had about K1.5 trillion in circulation worth about $333 million from the traditional $100 million as export earnings increased.
The sudden increase of the budget in US dollar terms is seen in the 2006 budget speech by Mr Magande when he said: “Total export earnings have increased by 17.5 per cent, to $2,127 million from $1,810 million in 2004. It is worth noting that export earnings in 2005 doubled from $1,061 million in 2003.
“The increase in the value of export earnings was mainly attributed to the growth in the copper export volumes and the rise in copper prices.”
Thus, the budget shadows export earnings and hence it is indicative that if copper prices drop so would Zambia’s export earnings and hence the Zambian budget.
Accordingly, the new Finance and Planning minister has to recast and re-engineer the structural persona of the national budget to reflect a Kwacha position and its liquidity anchored to Zambia’s production capacity rather than a US dollar based position.
It was increasing Government expenditure that removed the ever increasing Kwacha “cover” from the economy and thus gave the impression of a stable Kwacha, coupled with a depreciating US dollar.
But with falling export revenue, and already existing high levels of Kwacha liquidity, reeling in excessive Kwacha liquidity in the economy, is bound to push the economy into a precarious US sub-prime crisis, against a depreciating Kwacha, rising inflation and interest rates against a back drop of a credit crunch unless the US dollar itself devalues.
Already, the effects of the misalignment are being felt as past Government expenditure has increased above the economic growth rate in US dollar terms since 2003.
This has increased the pressure on unemployment levels in Zambia together with a decline in the monetary value of existing jobs as outlined in the past 1964 Seers, 1967 Brown and the 1969 Turner reports.
Consequently, the threat of job lay offs from the mines has captivated the nation but impending job cuts in the civil service are bound to occur as the real value related realities close in on balance sheets.
Restructuring the linkages between Zambia’s export revenue, the national budget, the exchange rate and the nation’s money supply is thus important to avoid a value related meltdown.
Nancy Nyamhunga - Opinion
Wed, 10 Dec 2008 23:00:00 +0000
AFRICANS must refuse political solutions imposed from the West and must unite against any bullish behaviour. Africa is formally an independent continent (at least politically) and needs to use that leverage to repel any aggressive behaviour from erstwhile colonisers.
Western countries must give Africa a chance to find its feet, to find its identity, which were all lost during slavery and colonialism from the West. During these periods, mass genocides were committed on the African black native and have never been afforded the time to grieve. Neither has the West apologised for the misery.
It is therefore hypocritical for the same western countries to want to threaten the use of military force on a small, traumatised country like Zimbabwe, citing a duty to “liberate Zimbabweans”.
There will always be political conflicts and human rights abuses in Africa the same way they exist in the western world. Assaulting someone for holding different political views in Zimbabwe is the equivalent to UK criminalising a vulnerable asylum seeker by using attaching a surveillance chip on someone’s body and denying that person benefits and the right to work.
Whereas Africa, and Zimbabwe in particular, may blame the effects of the Liberation War for resorting to violence to resolve conflicts, the western world has no one to blame for its treatment of asylum seekers, most who may well be fleeing violence, a legacy which they brought and left in Africa.
The recent calls for military intervention in Zimbabwe must be taken in that context – that of perpetuating and sowing seeds of violence within the African minds.
The Western world is unanimous in calling for military action on non-European countries as a solution to conflicts, yet countries that are ruled by whites are prescribed diplomatic solutions.
Russia recently invaded Georgia and many lives were lost. No western country proposed use of military force against Russians, but instead, the French president shuttled between Paris and Russia in a diplomatic move to resolve the conflict.
When Ian Smith, declared UDI in Rhodesia, breaking away from Britain, military intervention was dismissed. The Lancaster House Agreement, held in Britain, was later to bring independence to Zimbabwe.
Israel blocks aid to Gaza, there is a severe humanitarian crisis in the region, yet we have not heard any calls for military action to solve that problem. In sharp contrast, we have seen the former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, assuming the role of mediator between the Palestinians and Israel.
So why is it that the same diplomatic avenues have not been extended to Zimbabwe? It happened before when a white man ruled the country, why can it not happen now?
Consequences of military invasion
Any military action on Zimbabwe will result in mass genocide. Here is why.
The vote between Zanu PF and MDC was split almost equally in the March 2008 election. Already there are so much suppressed tensions simmering within the citizenry due to the deteriorating economic conditions. Zanu PF supporters blame MDC for campaigning for sanctions which they believe are the main cause for their misery. MDC supporters believe Zanu PF is to blame because of its mis-management of national affairs.
These suppressed emotions only need a trigger to be released.
If we put a military invasion by a foreign country, western for that matter, into the equation how does that play out? Not least to mention that the subtle declaration for war against Zimbabwe by western countries was made in the presence of MDC leader.
It will not be the bombs that will cause mass genocide in Zimbabwe; it will be Zanu PF and MDC supporters turning against each other, each blaming the other for the invasion. It will not be the elite political leadership of Zimbabwe who will die; those will be taken care of by their friends across the borders. It will be the ordinary person in Mabvuku, Magwegwe, who doesn’t even hold a passport and let alone have any other home to flee to. It is also this ordinary person who is not able to critic handed down information; relying solely on those they perceive to be well-informed. It is this very group that can easily fall victim to mob psychology and thereby likely to resort to violence.
In Iraq, it was not the US or UK bombs that caused the mass deaths of Iraqi civilians. It has been Iraqis themselves turning against each other, blaming each other for the invasion. Even when the foreign occupiers eventually leave, the Iraqis will continue to kill each other because seeds of hate have been planted within their society.
It will be the same in Zimbabwe. There is a time when we need to pull together as Zimbabweans, as Africans and reject poisonous solutions on our country and continent.
No matter how difficult it may seem, Africans must learn to talk and resolve their conflicts that way. It is the civilised way. It encourages love rather than hate.
Loving each other is the recipe for respect. With respect for each other, African conflicts will be minimized and more time and energy can then be channelled towards self-development and self–empowerment. Africa has huge deposits of minerals which can transform that continent into a powerful bloc. This can only be achieved by having an alert and vigilant leadership which stands for what is right for Africans, not to multi-national companies.
With this realisation of what a foreign, western–sanctioned military invasion is meant to achieve in African minds, Africans must have a unity of purpose to make sure the seed is not planted in the first place on any part of the continent. Otherwise Africa will forever be a continent of wars and conflicts, to the advantage of western countries that will jump in to exploit the conflicts and pillage all the raw minerals from the continent.
Nancy Nyamhunga writes from Leicested, UK
Miles Mudzviti - Opinion
Thu, 11 Dec 2008 00:26:00 +0000
DEAR EDITOR – I will not need to restate here the conditions as they are within Zimbabwe presently, save only to say that these clearly now more than ever press for cooperation and structured resolution of the many challenges we all face in order to extricate the general population from the nightmarish existence that has become the daily life of ordinary Zimbabweans and give succor to the starved and the sick.
It is within this reasoning that we must point out those who continually and habitually shift positions, effectively holding many to ransom, now seemingly stand in the way of social and political transformation in the collective effort to make a substantive, sovereign and indigenous democracy possible.
This is the time, and no other, to acknowledge that, recognizing our political and ideological differences as parties, we are united by the patriotic responsibility of contributing progressively and effectively to the search for stability, certainty and progress for our nation and our people.
We should all be brought together at this juncture, as Zimbabweans and Africans, by the realization that conditions now threaten to reach levels (perhaps arguably have done so already) that would dramatically affect all of us and the region's stability that is essential for long term development prospects.
Whilst I have previously acknowledged the obvious difficulties inherent in the task deriving from the programmatic differences within the respective parties, and do so again now, we should consider it our duty to work towards creating the political, social, economic and international conditions that will sooner, rather than later, halt and reverse the decline.
The solution to our problems remains political and indigenous. Irresponsible and inane calls for vague and uncertain actions at this time do not help Zimbabweans at all – not one bit. Those who continue to make those calls against the spirit of September 15 should be told as such in no uncertain terms.
The time is now for those who wish to make it clear to Zimbabweans of their intention for service to the people, and maintain their relevance to the scene, to come out and make steps to repair the fissures that have become pervasive across the political landscape and lay the ground for a recovery of the now untenable conditions across the board, especially if they know they hold the key to some far away coffers that bring with them relief.
To continue to stay away from the obvious sufferings of Zimbabweans in the circumstances obtaining, and only making passing appearances here and there is an utter disdain by those who should be standing with them and difficult to ignore.
Within these conditions that have precipitated the declaration of a national emergency, we call on all the political, social and economic forces in the country to participate in an effort that all Zimbabweans have the duty to undertake in favour of the nation, and indeed by extension, the region's peace, stability and progress.
We would go further to suggest the formation of a special committee made up of the representatives of ALL political parties and civil society designed to guarantee and provide follow up on the implementation of the agreement in order to assure a realization of its purpose because it is paramount.
Having previously heard statements to the effect that "failure is not an option", we would really rather see firm action now than hear empty rhetoric. Let us get stuff done because Cholera does not wait for us – he kills still! And the ultimate responsibility lies with political leadership of all parties for failing to bring to fruition the peoples’ hopes for transformation.
Wed, 10 Dec 2008 23:56:00 +0000
Notes following Briefing to Media by South Africa's Director-General Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba, Media Centre, Union Buildings, Pretoria, Tuesday 9 December 2008. The briefing was on Zimbabwe among other issues on the African continent.
Questions and answers
Question Given the fact that human rights and MDC activists are still disappearing in Zimbabwe, why does the South African government believe that President Mugabe can and should be the President of Zimbabwe? Has he not shown that he has not changed nor will Zimbabwe change while he is head of the country? Secondly, the European Union has called for stricter sanctions against Zimbabwe – does South Africa agree with this and what does South Africa think of the call from the Europeans that Africa should place more pressure on President Mugabe to get him to step down?
Question Returning to the humanitarian situation – what are the other two epicentres of the cholera epidemic? What will the SADC Health and Water Ministers be expected to do when they meet – is there a linkage between their work and the report of Reverend Frank Chikane?
Question Is there any scenario in which South Africa will consider deploying troops to Zimbabwe?
Firstly, the negotiating parties in Zimbabwe signed an agreement on 15 September 2008 of which we are aware and they have decided to enter into an agreement which by definition would imply that they did reflect on what, under the current circumstances, would best enable them to help their country emerge from its difficulties. I am sure both parties had to make very difficult compromises. It is in the nature of those agreements but I want to start there precisely, because South Africa’s own approach is really to support the parties in Zimbabwe and the people of Zimbabwe and to the extent that the people of Zimbabwe are represented by those parties for them to implement the decisions of the agreement they have entered into. So, South Africa cannot arrive at a decision that says that what is included in that agreement, viz. that President Mugabe should be President and Morgan Tsvangirai should be Prime Minister – South Africa cannot disagree with this because this agreement is what is guiding all actions of SADC, as you know. So, that question does not even arise – what we are focusing on is to ensure that we nudge, put as much peaceful pressure in all forms, on the different elements in Zimbabwe, on the leadership of Zimbabwe to finalise the discussions so that an inclusive government can be established.
So, the posture that we are assuming now, is not the posture of pressurizing President Mugabe to step down. The pressure on President Mugabe and Zanu-PF is for them to move with greater speed to successfully implement the agreement that was signed on 15 September 2008 so that an inclusive government can be established.
But also on the issue of pressure, I really think actually that, yes, the whole of SADC, or indeed anyone who loves Zimbabwe, would want to put as much pressure on the leaders for them to move with greater speed towards concluding and establishing an inclusive government because, as I have said, it is quite clear, that have a situation that is assuming a humanitarian character. Today it is cholera, in two months time it might be malaria remembering that we are on the verge of the rainy season. Hence, we need an inclusive government to assist the people of Zimbabwe. That is really the approach.
As to whether South Africa would ever contemplate deploying troops – I cannot see that arising. I do not believe that is on the agenda of the South African government at all although I cannot predict what will happen in the next twenty years. But for now, and off course, in the current debate, I do not think that the South African government is persuaded that that is the right way to go.
And with respect to the meeting of the Health and Water Ministers, the Chikane report, yes to the extent that obviously our Minister of Health will make a contribution during the consultations, obviously the Health Ministers will look in greater detail than we may have at the details of assistance to the health sector. So, I really think the Ministers will be discussing the package of support measures that can be offered to Zimbabwe – both in the interests of Zimbabwe and its people, but also in the interests of limiting the reach of these communicable diseases to the geographical borders of only Zimbabwe.
With respect to the epicentres, one of them is in Harare, and the second one is on the eastern side, close to the Mozambican border. That is what we have been briefed by the World Health Organisation.
I think it is generally accepted that the Zimbabwe has collapsed now – it cannot provide for its citizens. Who does the South African government blame for the humanitarian crisis? To what does the South African government attribute this collapse?
Regarding your anxiety on a response from the leaders of Zimbabwe – Morgan Tsvangirai is not in Zimbabwe and has not been there for some time now. How do you anticipate a conclusion to the discussions?
The Zimbabwean government today announced that Western countries are preparing for a military intervention perhaps under the aegis of the United States – is this founded or not?
Are there plans to set up a quarantine at the border?
Up to now, I am unaware of any plans to set up a quarantine at the border – I think cholera is easy to spot and with early interventions, it should be easy to intervene. What we are trying to do on the northern border is to strengthen the capacity of our health institutions in the neighbourhood to be able to cope with the numbers but to also provide assistance on the other side of the border. I think this is basically what we are focusing on.
We are unaware of the statement made by the government of Zimbabwe about planned military intervention under the aegis of the US and the South African government has no such information available. We will not speculate on this matter.
One of the things, and I think it sometimes helps to take some wisdom from the people who are most affected and one of the striking things of the engagements we had in Zimbabwe were really how people were pleading that they should be assisted to deal with the immediate problems, that there should be no political point scoring and games played when what is really needed right now is support.
I don’t think we went to Zimbabwe, or even want to spend too much time and effort on apportioning blame and who is responsible for what. What we know is the evolution of the difficulties in Zimbabwe which is why we strongly support the conclusion arrived at by the leaders of Zimbabwe – that the problems of Zimbabwe have reached a point where you need all of the political leadership of Zimbabwe, across the political divide to pull together in one direction and try to help their country and so, all our efforts will be aimed at trying to nudge them to work for this and so, we would not really want to spend time on how is responsible.
We know that by its very nature, cholera would imply that something in terms of the water supply systems is dysfunctional and the efforts to deal with this will depend on the speed at which people are able to reach health facilities so, if there are difficulties anywhere on that chain, you are likely to have increased casualties and off course, the situation in Zimbabwe is difficult and our challenge is to assist them deal with these problems.
Yes, Prime Minister designate Tsvangirai is not in Zimbabwe, yes I don’t know, he may be in South Africa or outside of Zimbabwe. For now, we don’t want to comment on whether that is the wise or correct thing for him to do in the middle of this crisis. That is his choice, his decision. We respect the decisions he takes. What we want is that the leadership of Zimbabwe should work together so that we are able to reach a point where an inclusive government can be established.
The issue now in Zimbabwe is about saving lives, bringing to an end having an administration criticized by the people for not being representative enough given the outcome of the elections of 29 March 2008. Thankfully, the leaders of Zimbabwe, in their wisdom, agreed on 15 September 2008 to a framework they believe will assist them to extract their country from its difficulties. All we are saying to them is move with speed, implement those decisions so that we can begin to tackle the challenges facing the country.
Will South Africa be supporting the EU anti-piracy initiative in Somalian waters?
Answer With respect to the anti-piracy resolution, if I can put it like that, off course South Africa supports the efforts being taken on the Somalian waters. There was a UN resolution and South Africa supports that. South Africa has also been approached at some time to be part of, through our navy, opening up a humanitarian corridor. South Africa is considering this but South Africa’s view has always been and we are therefore happy that the UN is taking this up, that we needed to ensure that the entire question of the creation of a humanitarian corridor in Somalia as well as any interventions around the question of piracy should really be done around the auspices of a very well thought out UN resolution largely because we know from past experience that there are different points of emphasis and the international community has different slants on how to deal with the question of Somalia and it has always been our view that it would be in the interests of the integrity of an intervention in Somalia if this were to be done under a very well thought out UN resolution and to the extent that this exists, yes, South Africa supports this. I am unaware that South Africa has necessarily directly been approached on the anti-piracy side but I know that South Africa has been approached largely to assist with the creation of a humanitarian corridor and that is what South Africa is considering.
South Africa’s membership of the UN Security Council comes to an end at the end of the month. At what point are we going to sit down and publicly consider our performance?
Answer Well, just to say that firstly, we have allowed the Security Council team in New York that was due to return to South Africa in December to remain until the end of January 2009 partly to give them space in New York to engage in reflective process on the lessons learnt and begin also, because they were at the forefront of this intervention, to relate this to what we aspired to achieve during our tenure. Sometime at the end of January we will hold consultations in South Africa – at two levels – firstly the internal, departmental and government-wide consultations and secondly to invite some key stakeholders. Remember we embarked on this same process before we assumed our seat and I think it will be very important for South Africa to engage in this process. Remember we always saw our membership of the Security Council as one to help us and profile some areas on the African agenda we wanted to put firmly on the table and help drive but also we saw it as an opportunity to help us in a new democratic state process, new foreign ministry, to build the capacity and the requisite understanding to engage given our understanding of our engagement in the international arena. So, there is going to be a detailed, reflective stance that we will take and look at the lessons we have learnt and assess our ability to discharge foreign policy going forward.
When will the next power sharing talks take place and what stance will the facilitation take with regard to the humanitarian crisis?
Answer Remember, I am not part of the facilitation team so I cannot speculate on the stance to be taken. Remember, the South African government, as the South African government, is not participating in the Facilitation talks. So that question does not arise. And secondly, I am not aware of the next round of talks. Remember, the delegation to Zimbabwe was led by Reverend Chikane and he happens to be a member of the facilitation team and I’m sure he carries the same message of the urgency to finalise an inclusive government. What Zimbabwe needs more than anything now, is to finalise a government that every sector of Zimbabwe, given that it is a very highly polarised society, that every citizen of Zimbabwe can see something with which they can identify.
Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs of South Africa
Private Bag X152
9 December 2008