Saturday, January 10, 2009

(GUARDIAN UK) Lancing Ghana's boil

Lancing Ghana's boil
The elections were free and fair, but it was touch and go whether ethnic divisions would lead the country 'on the way to Kenya'

* Cameron Duodu
*, Tuesday 6 January 2009 20.30 GMT

When Ghana swears in a new president on Wednesday, it will be installing an opposition candidate who has defeated the candidate of the incumbent government in a free and fair election.

People in other African countries will marvel at this, especially those in Kenya, who elected a new leader in 2007 but are still encumbered with the old one, President Mwai Kibaki.

The people of Zimbabwe will also wonder how an African country such as their own can hold elections in which not a single life is lost, while in their country Morgan Tsvangirai said of the 2008 election: "This is not an election, but a war."

That is not to say that the Ghana election didn't throw up scary moments of its own. The first presidential election, held on 7 December last year, had failed to produce a clear winner. According to Ghana's constitution, the winner must obtain more than 50% of the vote, and neither the candidate of the sitting government, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, or the opposition candidate, John Atta Mills, achieved that. The result was as follows: out of a total of 8,465,834 valid votes cast, Nana Akufo Addo polled 4,159,439 votes (49.13%) while Atta Mills polled 4,056,634 votes (47.92%).

So a runoff was called. This took place on 28 December. It became clear, as soon as the new results began to roll in, that the previous tight result would be maintained. In fact, the outcome was so close – 50.13% for Atta Mills and 49.87% for Akufo Addo – that the chairman of the Electoral Commission, Kwadwo Afari-Djan, decided he would not announce a winner until voting had taken place in a single constituency, Tain, in the Brong-Ahafo region. There had been no voting here on 28 December because electoral materials for the constituency had not arrived in time and, according to Afari-Djan, the 53,000 registered voters there could affect the outcome of the election as a whole.

At this point, the uncertainty and tension combined to create a climate of fear in the country. As charges of electoral fraud flew – with the government claiming that the opposition stronghold, the Volta region, had been turned into a no-go area for its agents, while the opposition counter-claimed that the government stronghold, Ashanti, had been rendered equally unsafe for its representatives – the tension could have been cut with a knife.

As everyone wondered whether Ghana was "on the way to Kenya", the governing party announced that it would boycott the election at Tain, and many regarded it as a declaration of war, no less. The tension increased when the governing party also announced it was filing a court case against the chairman of the Electoral Commission to stop him from announcing a winner. Crowds from both sides of the political divide began to congregate near the Electoral Commission headquarters. Would the police be able to control them without calling in the army? If the army came in and was forced to shoot, would it stop there, or go on to carry out a coup d'etat? It was touch and go.

Then the outgoing president, John Kufuor, displayed statesmanship by advising his party to allow the result to be declared so that the constitutional deadline of 7 January 2009 could be met. It could settle any complaints by due process later, he said.

The chairman of the Electoral Commission then duly announced John Atta Mills as the winner. Most Ghanaians heaved a deep sigh of relief. The past week had been like a cup final in which there had been an initial draw, a replay also ending in a draw, then extra time also yielding a draw, penalties which no one won, and the result decided by the toss of a coin. Well, that's how it felt.

What has became clear from the election is that despite 51 years of independence and its boast that it was the first British African territory south of the Sahara to gain nationhood, ethnic divisions in Ghana are as sharp as ever. The fears of the ruling NPP and the opposition NDC about each other's "strongholds" – the Volta region for the NDC and Ashanti for the NPP – are rooted deeply in fact.

It is like a boil on Ghana's foot, which has swelled into an ulcer during each election, since way back in 1969. Unless an ingenious way is found to lance the boil, it will one day grow big enough to cripple Ghana altogether. And that awful day may not wait for another 30 years to pass before it makes its terrifying appearance.

Labels: ,


(GUARDIAN UK) Enough. It's time for a boycott

Enough. It's time for a boycott
Naomi Klein
The Guardian,
Saturday 10 January 2009

It's time. Long past time. The best strategy to end the increasingly bloody occupation is for Israel to become the target of the kind of global movement that put an end to apartheid in South Africa. In July 2005 a huge coalition of Palestinian groups laid out plans to do just that. They called on "people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era". The campaign Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions was born.

Every day that Israel pounds Gaza brings more converts to the BDS cause - even among Israeli Jews. In the midst of the assault roughly 500 Israelis, dozens of them well-known artists and scholars, sent a letter to foreign ambassadors in Israel. It calls for "the adoption of immediate restrictive measures and sanctions" and draws a clear parallel with the anti-apartheid struggle. "The boycott on South Africa was effective, but Israel is handled with kid gloves ... This international backing must stop."

Yet even in the face of these clear calls, many of us still can't go there. The reasons are complex, emotional and understandable. But they simply aren't good enough. Economic sanctions are the most effective tool in the non-violent arsenal: surrendering them verges on active complicity. Here are the top four objections to the BDS strategy, followed by counter-arguments.

Punitive measures will alienate rather than persuade Israelis.

The world has tried what used to be called "constructive engagement". It has failed utterly. Since 2006 Israel has been steadily escalating its criminality: expanding settlements, launching an outrageous war against Lebanon, and imposing collective punishment on Gaza through the brutal blockade. Despite this escalation, Israel has not faced punitive measures - quite the opposite. The weapons and $3bn in annual aid the US sends Israel are only the beginning. Throughout this key period, Israel has enjoyed a dramatic improvement in its diplomatic, cultural and trade relations with a variety of other allies. For instance, in 2007 Israel became the first country outside Latin America to sign a free-trade deal with the Mercosur bloc. In the first nine months of 2008, Israeli exports to Canada went up 45%. A new deal with the EU is set to double Israel's exports of processed food. And in December European ministers "upgraded" the EU-Israel association agreement, a reward long sought by Jerusalem.

It is in this context that Israeli leaders started their latest war: confident they would face no meaningful costs. It is remarkable that over seven days of wartime trading, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange's flagship index actually went up 10.7%. When carrots don't work, sticks are needed.

Israel is not South Africa.

Of course it isn't. The relevance of the South African model is that it proves BDS tactics can be effective when weaker measures (protests, petitions, backroom lobbying) fail. And there are deeply distressing echoes of apartheid in the occupied territories: the colour-coded IDs and travel permits, the bulldozed homes and forced displacement, the settler-only roads. Ronnie Kasrils, a prominent South African politician, said the architecture of segregation he saw in the West Bank and Gaza was "infinitely worse than apartheid". That was in 2007, before Israel began its full-scale war against the open-air prison that is Gaza.

Why single out Israel when the US, Britain and other western countries do the same things in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Boycott is not a dogma; it is a tactic. The reason the strategy should be tried is practical: in a country so small and trade-dependent, it could actually work.

Boycotts sever communication; we need more dialogue, not less.

This one I'll answer with a personal story. For eight years, my books have been published in Israel by a commercial house called Babel. But when I published The Shock Doctrine, I wanted to respect the boycott. On the advice of BDS activists, including the wonderful writer John Berger, I contacted a small publisher called Andalus. Andalus is an activist press, deeply involved in the anti-occupation movement and the only Israeli publisher devoted exclusively to translating Arabic writing into Hebrew. We drafted a contract that guarantees that all proceeds go to Andalus's work, and none to me. I am boycotting the Israeli economy but not Israelis.

Our modest publishing plan required dozens of phone calls, emails and instant messages, stretching between Tel Aviv, Ramallah, Paris, Toronto and Gaza City. My point is this: as soon as you start a boycott strategy, dialogue grows dramatically. The argument that boycotts will cut us off from one another is particularly specious given the array of cheap information technologies at our fingertips. We are drowning in ways to rant at each other across national boundaries. No boycott can stop us.

Just about now, many a proud Zionist is gearing up for major point-scoring: don't I know that many of these very hi-tech toys come from Israeli research parks, world leaders in infotech? True enough, but not all of them. Several days into Israel's Gaza assault, Richard Ramsey, managing director of a British telecom specialising in voice-over-internet services, sent an email to the Israeli tech firm MobileMax: "As a result of the Israeli government action in the last few days we will no longer be in a position to consider doing business with yourself or any other Israeli company."

Ramsey says his decision wasn't political; he just didn't want to lose customers. "We can't afford to lose any of our clients," he explains, "so it was purely commercially defensive."

It was this kind of cold business calculation that led many companies to pull out of South Africa two decades ago. And it's precisely the kind of calculation that is our most realistic hope of bringing justice, so long denied, to Palestine.

A version of this column was published in the Nation (

Labels: , ,


Rupiah is being dubious like Chiluba, says Sata

Rupiah is being dubious like Chiluba, says Sata
Written by Mwala Kalaluka and Lambwe Kachali
Saturday, January 10, 2009 7:45:24 PM

PATRIOTIC Front (PF) president Michael Sata yesterday accused President Rupiah Banda of engaging in dubious tendencies similar to those of former president Frederick Chiluba in his bid to subsidise maize through the Food Reserve Agency (FRA).

And Sata charged that President Banda and finance minister Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane have nodded a K26.4 billion funding to procure new vehicles for ministers even before the 2009 budget is approved.

Featuring on Radio Yatsani's MISA-Zambia sponsored Good Governance programme, Sata said President Banda was hoodwinking Zambians on the issue of maize subsidies.

He likened President Banda's decision to subsidise maize to Chiluba's dealings with Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Katanga governor Moses Katumbi and Paul Steele over the provision of cheap maize to Zambians during his tenure of office.

Sata said the characteristics of the current government's maize subsidy pledges were a repeat of what happened in Chiluba's administration.

"Last year, 2008, this government spent K50 billion on the NCC. Can you give me what justification? If that K50 billion was not spent on the NCC, they could have subsidised maize," Sata said. "Today they are saying that they are subsidising maize, they are lying. It is a repeat of what happened to Frederick Chiluba. Frederick Chiluba brought Moses Katumbi and Paul Steele. When he brought Moses Katumbi and Paul Steele to bring cheap food to hoodwink the people, they brought cheap food."

He said by the time late president Levy Mwanawasa came into power and probed the plunder of national resources during the Chiluba administration, Steele and Katumbi had become powerful and prominent people in their own right than was the case with Chiluba who was dealing with them.

Sata said the government had disclosed a few weeks ago that the FRA had no maize and that there was need to import maize stocks.

"We were told they are going to import maize. We were told how much they were going to spend on importing maize," he said. "The President goes for a ten-day holiday and maize starts flowing from Chipata. Where is the maize in Chipata? There is no maize in Chipata."

Sata said he was speaking on things that transpired during Chiluba's presidential tenure and relating them to what was happening in the current leadership, from experience and not mere speculation because he was part of it.

Sata also said even if the issue of the PF 'rebel' members of parliament takes years to resolve, the affected individuals should consider themselves one-time parliamentarians.

He said the PF was not seeking favours from anybody but the people of Zambia on the above issue.

"These by-elections are long overdue," Sata said. "There is no order that is stopping us from disciplining them."

And Sata said a lot of money that was being spent on procuring motor vehicles for 66 ministers were a permanent cost than the temporary costs that could arise from having by-elections in 17 constituencies.

"Comrade Rupiah Banda and his [Dr Situmbeko] Musokotwane he has been able to spend, even before the budget has been released, K26.4 billion to buy 66 land cruisers for ministers," Sata said.

Reliable sources in the Ministry of Works and Supply also confirmed that plans were underway by the government to procure new vehicles for all ministers in President Banda's administration.

Ministry of Works and Supply permanent secretary Lieutenant Colonel Bizwayo Nkunika, who is on leave, referred all queries on the matter to the acting permanent secretary Bupe Kaonga, who however could not be reached.

"I do not know, because the acting PS is dealing with the matter," said Lt Col Nkunika.

But works and supply minister Mike Mulongoti said there were no plans to procure new motor vehicles.

"We have just re-allocation. All those who were deputy ministers, who have become Cabinet ministers, it means they have taken over from those who were Cabinet ministers," he said. "What we have done is to reallocate the vehicles from those that have left."

Mulongoti said there would be no procurement of new vehicles unless where there was a shortage.

When reached for comment on the matter, finance deputy minister Chileshe Kapwepwe, who could neither deny nor confirm the issue, said the question was not ordinary, saying required the submission of a press query before she could respond to it.

Finance minister Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane would not answer his mobile phone.

Meanwhile, Sata disclosed that he had instructed his councillors at Lusaka City Council to get back and discuss the council budget, which they recently refused to discuss.

However, Sata, who described local government minister Benny Tetamashimba as somebody who was practical at destruction and ignorant, said even if the councillors discuss the budget it would only be approved after the national budget had been approved.

On the PF's expectations from the 2009 budget, Sata said there was nothing that would take the people of Zambia forward in this year's budget because all the issues were concentrated on consumption.

Sata also said President Banda had deviated from the norm by allowing about 41 senior army officers to unnecessarily remain on contract at the expense of junior officers that crave for promotions.

Labels: , , , ,


Zambian Airways suspends operations

Zambian Airways suspends operations
Written by Lambwe Kachali
Saturday, January 10, 2009 7:43:58 PM

ZAMBIAN Airways has suspended operations with immediate effect.
The company announced that the airline had suspended operations to facilitate restructuring of the company due to operational problems.

According to the airline, the suspension threatens the jobs of 260 members of staff if the company does not successfully restructure and resume operations soon.



Reflections from my detention cells

Reflections from my detention cells
Written by Frank Bwalya (Fr) in Kalulushi Police cell, Kalulushi
Saturday, January 10, 2009 7:41:41 PM


I dedicate this message to you dear fellow Zambians living in our beloved land. I also dedicate this same message to the Zambians living in the Diaspora who constitute the virtual 10th province of our country.

I say to you, peace and goodness be with you all.

Background to my arrest

Wednesday, November 12, 2008 will forever be remembered by me in my personal life calendar as Dark Wednesday, since this was the day when Zambian State Police arrested me around 17:00 hours at Icengelo Radio Station premises immediately after presenting a radio programme on the inadequacies of the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ). During the radio programme, I argued that Zambia would never have free and fair elections if “rotten” laws that promote fraudulent elections remained in place. I also said that ECZ needed to be made independent and answerable to the people through Parliament.

I was detained overnight at Kalulushi Police Station without charge. What followed is public knowledge.

Police treatment

Police officers treated me humanely and did not say any word that I considered harsh, rude or violent. In their faces I saw tension and agony that reminded me of the agony of Pontius Pilate during the trial of Jesus Christ. It was clear that the police were carrying out instructions that made them agonise about arresting and locking up a peaceful and innocent person. I have nothing against them. I love them as my fellow human beings.

Flashes from the dreaded one party state

As I lay down in that police cell in Kalulushi without charge, I started having visions of the dreaded One Party State that our country was once in during the period 1973 to 1991, with its offshoots of:

- paranoia about criticism leading to wanton arrests of citizens holding divergent views, mainly on trumped-up charges;

- institutions of State like Police used against the innocent citizens in the name of maintaining law and order;

- the rule of law based on a legal system supporting the spirit of Animal Farm where citizens who belonged to the Ruling Party were more equal than those who did not;

- espousing of a culture of hero worshipping and appeasement Vs principled reasoning and merit;

Then I realised that all the institutions of State set up to prop up the One Party State in 1973 have remained virtually intact to this day. The country has since 1991 remained a de-facto One Party State while masquerading as a Multi-Party Constitutional Democratic Regime by making some cosmetic changes to the legal infrastructure over the years.

I cried

I cried over the lost 10 years under Chiluba. The man privatised our economy but went further to privatise public resources. No real change towards real democratisation and good governance took place. I remembered people like late Dean Mung’omba and others that were locked up on tramped-up charges. I remembered people who died mysteriously such as Ronald Penza, Wezi Kaunda, Paul Tembo to mention but a few. I prayed for leaders that would guarantee human rights and freedoms.

It was clear in my mind how since 1991 One Party State institutions have been used by the government of the day to undermine:

- multi-party democratic governance and real peace by always manipulating the Republican Constitution and the country’s legal order, thus compromising fundamental human rights and freedoms;

- socioeconomic progress leading to high unemployment levels, compromised socioeconomic rights hunger, poor education and health standards, poor housing, dilapidated infrastructure, high cost of living, institutionalised corruption; high cost of running government including the holding of unnecessary presidential and parliamentary by-elections;

- prosperity of the citizens leading to dehumanising poverty levels especially among rural dwellers, citizens not empowered with wealth.

Where did we go wrong?

I asked myself the question, “why has change eluded us again? Didn’t we change from One Party State to Multi-Party Democracy? Where did we go wrong?” I found the answer in no time. “We changed the driver, but not the system. We changed the president but not the bad laws.”

If we do not change the system, transform politics by imparting upon it attributes of servant leadership, overhaul our constitutional framework which currently promotes constitutional dictatorship, we are not going anywhere.

Way forward as a nation

In order for other citizens not to go through what happened to me on that dark Wednesday night, we in Zambia urgently need to undertake fundamental political and socioeconomic changes. However, the main target should be the Republican Constitution. All Zambians need to push for the amendment of the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) Act to transform the NCC into a supreme all-inclusive body superior to Parliament. This body shall have the authority of “We the People” in considering both the text and content of the final Mung’omba Draft Republican Constitution and the first draft report of the Electoral Review Technical Committee (ERTC). This is of paramount importance for the current NCC to produce a final people-driven Republican Constitution draft to be submitted to the people for final approval through a referendum.

This should be done and concluded way before the tripartite elections in 2011. Otherwise the constitution that will come out of the current NCC will lack legitimacy.


No country or people have overcome problems whether political, social or economic without sacrifice, especially by those who offer themselves as leaders. Sacrifice is vital for Zambia to move forward. Unfortunately, our leaders think that sacrifice is only for taxpayers. It is clear that they believe that taxpayers are the ones that should tighten their belts. This is wrong and it shows that ‘animal farm’ is real here.

In order for our leaders to show that they are willing to sacrifice for the common good, the Republican President should reduce his bloated government by at least half. Positions of Deputy Minister should be done away with together with those of District Commissioners and double Permanent Secretaries in some Ministries.

Against this background ministers and MPs on the NCC should be asked to forego their allowances as their contribution to the sacrifice for this work since the taxpayer is already paying for them as ministers and MPs. The allowances for the other members should be borne by their sponsors.

My role as a priest

Since the relationship between the State and the Church is for no other reason than for the welfare of the people who are at the centre of these two institutions as both citizens and believers, the Church shall, at all times act within and with the State on all the issues of common concern that safeguard the welfare of the people while performing her basic fundamental duties.

Both the State and the Church have a moral obligation to dedicate themselves to the service of humankind by always acting in the best interest of the common good of the citizens; and also by always openly and courageously speaking out on issues affecting the welfare of the voiceless poor and helpless majority of Zambians whenever the common good of the people is at stake.

This is my motivation.

Personal Commitment

Therefore, I hereby declare that I will speak out for the voiceless come what may, whenever injustices show their ugly heads in our society. My arrest has awakened me. It has given me a kind of new birth into a time to speak out without fear whatsoever.

God bless you all.

Labels: , , ,


Auditor General’s office not independent, observes envoy

Auditor General’s office not independent, observes envoy
Written by Chibaula Silwamba in Kasama
Saturday, January 10, 2009 2:52:40 AM

THE Office of the Auditor General (OAG) is not yet fully independent, acting Norwegian Ambassador to Zambia Gunnar Boe has observed.

Speaking on behalf of all donors to the OAG at the official opening of the Office of the Auditor General in Kasama on Wednesday, Boe said there was need for autonomy of that office.

“It is also important to secure an increased autonomy of the OAG as it is not yet fully independent as per the Lima convention,” Boe said.

“Public investment in the OAG has a high rate of return through reducing mismanagement of public funds and as much improving public service delivery and reducing poverty.”

However, he observed that a strong OAG was not sufficient to attack corruption and ineffective management of public funds.

“It has to be matched by strengthening the other oversight institutions of finance management across the public service; institutions like the office of the accountant general, ACC [Anti-Corruption Commission] and the Task Force on Corruption,” he said.

“We would welcome a statement from GRZ [Government of the Republic of Zambia] on this as a continued priority for the new government.”

He said prudent and efficient management of public funds according to plans and priorities was a prerequisite for fostering sustainable development.

“This takes transparency and accountability. Anything else gives room for mismanagement and corruption which is undermining development- and to be a bit blunt - steal from those that are suffering most, namely the poor,” Boe said.

“In this context the OAG plays an instrumental role and this is exactly why countries like Zambia need a strong and independent OAG. This is also why the donor community has actively supported capacity building of the OAG over [the] years as a supplement to GRZ’s own input.”

He said the opening of the OAG Kasama office was part of a decentralisation of the OAG, which brings it closer to the local level of public service delivery.

“Such decentralisation is key to obtaining transparency and accountability to the receiving population of public service delivery,” said Boe.

“It is now important that the OAG continues to be prioritised by increased staffing and financial allocation from GRZ.”

And President Rupiah Banda pledged his total support to the OAG.

“Government has put in place laws and systems to strengthen institutions and prevent corruption, abuse of office and other irregularities in public institutions. What I expect therefore is total adherence to these laws and systems,” said President Banda.

Labels: , ,


Reflections on Fr Bwalya’s reflections

Reflections on Fr Bwalya’s reflections
Written by Editor

Citizens, priests like Fr Frank Bwalya, give us a lot of hope that although evil may be on the rampage temporarily, the good must win the laurels in the end.

We need priests to be the conscience of our society, the moral custodians and the fearless champions of the interests of the weak and downtrodden. Being a good Christian, being a good religious person of any faith or persuasion is a great force and it can help one have command of one’s own morality, one’s own behaviour and one’s own attitude.

Fr Bwalya has shown us that a priest has both the right and duty to participate fully in building a just, fair, humane and peaceful society with all the means at his disposal. A priest is of little value to his congregation if he does not try to establish justice.

What Fr Bwalya is doing is truly a revival of early Christianity, with its fairer, more humane, more moral values. It is truly in line with Christ’s teachings of humility, selflessness and loving thy neighbour. The ideas of social justice that Fr Bwalya is pursuing fit in perfectly well with his duties as a Catholic priest. As we have stated before, we believe that Christ was a great revolutionary. His entire doctrine was devoted to the humble, the poor; his doctrine was devoted to fighting against abuse, injustice and the degradation of human beings. And we are truly living at a time when politics has entered a near-religious sphere with regard to man and his behaviour. We also believe that we have come to a time when a priest can enter a political sphere with regard to the interests and plight of his congregation and their material needs.

It is clear to us that the line Fr Bwalya has taken is very correct and deserves our respect and support. We need only to look at history to see that the Church has survived the collapse of many powers that once were thought to protect it or to use it. And the current social doctrine of the Catholic Church, reaffirmed by Vatican II, has already rescued it from the clutches of the powerful, of abusers, of oppressors – the forces to which it seemed bound for some time in the past.

What Fr Bwalya has taught us is that when a system ceases to promote the common good, the priest must not only denounce it but also break with that evil system. The priest must be prepared to work with another system that is more just and more suited to the needs of the day. Fr Bwalya says that “since the relationship between the state and the Church is for no other reason than for the welfare of the people who are at the centre of these two institutions as both citizens and believers, the Church shall, at all times act within and with the state on all the issues of common concern that safeguard the welfare of the people while performing her basic fundamental duties…by always openly and courageously speaking out on issues affecting the welfare of the voiceless poor and helpless majority of Zambians whenever the common good of the people is at stake”. This holds true for all Christians, for all their leaders in the hierarchy, and for all the churches.

Today, the world insistently calls for recognition of man’s full dignity and for social equality among all people. Priests and all persons of goodwill cannot but go along with this demand, even if it calls for the greatest sacrifices on their part, for harassment and arrests and detentions.

The people are hungry for justice. And Jesus teaches us that we cannot love God without loving our fellow humans. We shall be judged by that same standard that the Bible talks about: “I was hungry and you gave me food…in so far as you did it to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me” (Matt. 25:35-40).

And all the great religions and philosophies of the world echo this sentiment. The Qur’an spells out the last and ultimate test to which humans must submit when they are judged by Allah. What is that test? “Have you redeemed the captive, fed the orphan in his need or the beggar on your doorstep, and lived your life as a rod of mercy?” (Sura 90,11:18).

Jesus took all humanity upon himself to lead it to eternal life. And the earthly foreshadowing of this is social justice, the first form of brotherly love. What a priest can appropriately contribute is a humane vision of the human being and of humanity, a vision that situates the process of development within the human vocation.

Throughout the course of centuries, human beings have laboured to better the circumstances of their lives through a monumental amount of individual and collective effort. To believers, this point is settled: such human activity is in accord with God’s will. In the design of God, all human beings are called upon to develop and fulfill themselves, for every life is a vocation. If this is true, if full, integral and authentic development liberates human beings, then it is included within the human vocation. And if development exists within our vocation, it has the value of salvation. Not only what is done for the love of God, but everything which contributes to growth in humanity, everything which makes a person more human and contributes to human liberation, contains the value of salvation and communion with the Lord.

The creation of a just and fraternal society is the salvation of human beings, if by salvation we mean the passage from the less human to the more human. In all this, we are only retrieving the most ancient tradition of the Church.

Every human being of goodwill should be committed to changing a social order that is cruelly unjust. To refuse such a commitment would be to make oneself an accomplice of injustice. If priests do not commit themselves to changing a system that prevents most persons, most human beings from achieving personal fulfillment, then they are not helping humanity to live out its vocation and attain union with God. Priests cannot evade their commitment to social change. They must, like Fr Bwalya, involve themselves in this effort. Thus, the outlook of priests cannot be restricted to personal religious practices or to an individualistic morality; they cannot fail to re-examine their conduct within the framework of the structures prevailing in this world. If they fail to do this, they would be bearing witness against the gospel. They must confront the reality of today within the reality of the gospel, living always as wayfarers open to change and ever on the move.

Our priests are leaders of the Church but they are also the product of a society that has taught them to look coldly on the plight of their impoverished fellow citizens. In the light of the present situation, our priests must draw nearer to the poor for only then will they be able to change their situation radically. And in this regard, the limits of self-sacrifice must be set by real love, not by the standards of a society that tends to maintain the present situation. We say this because the poverty situation in our country today is the product of unjust socio-economic structures that must be changed.

The presentation of the gospel message presupposes a solid knowledge of the real situation in which its audience lives. Social, political and economic factors must be part of this knowledge, insofar as they affect human lives. To attain such knowledge, there must be a thoroughgoing analysis of the situation in which the Church and today’s human kind are living.

The spiritual life of the community and the individual must be guided by the signs of the times, on the basis of such factual analysis. A spirituality that is unconcerned about temporal realities is always alienating to the extent that it does not induce Christians to love the ones who are living through the same moment of history. The priest should help his congregation to discern, interpret and respond to the signs of the times. Historical situations and happenings send out a call to us and expect a response from us. Today’s situation calls for the priest to join the cause of the poor, the marginalised and the oppressed, and to work on behalf of full human development. This is exactly what Fr Bwalya is doing.

Only close experience will teach the priest the magnitude of the problems that afflict the majority of his congregation, the majority of the people. Therefore, our priests must transform the way they work so that such contact really takes place. Without such contact, they cannot really identify with “the joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties, of persons of this age, especially those who are poor”. These are our humble reflections on Fr Bwalya’s reflections from his detention cell.



(TALKZIMBABWE) Mothlanthe says Zim parties 'lackadaisical' in ending crisis

Mothlanthe says Zim parties 'lackadaisical' in ending crisis
Fri, 09 Jan 2009 17:15:00 +0000

ZIMBABWE'S parties have had a "lackadaisical" attitude toward ending a months-long stalemate, despite a worsening humanitarian crisis, South African President Kgalema Motlanthe said Friday.

"The sooner an inclusive government is formed, the sooner there can be concerted efforts by all parties to deal with a massive humanitarian crisis," Motlanthe said in an interview with The Mail and Guardian newspaper.

"But the fact is that the parties there have sometimes had a lackadaisical attitude to these matters," he said.

President Motlanthe urged the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party (MDC-T) to settle its outstanding issues with President Robert Mugabe after creating a unity Government.

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai and President Mugabe signed a Global Political Agreement nearly four months ago, but the deal has stalled over disputes on how to share power in the new Cabinet.

The Agreement was meant to lift the country from the current political and economic crisis.



(TALKZIMBABWE) Mothlanthe says Zim parties 'lackadaisical' in ending crisis

Mothlanthe says Zim parties 'lackadaisical' in ending crisis
Fri, 09 Jan 2009 17:15:00 +0000

ZIMBABWE'S parties have had a "lackadaisical" attitude toward ending a months-long stalemate, despite a worsening humanitarian crisis, South African President Kgalema Motlanthe said Friday.

"The sooner an inclusive government is formed, the sooner there can be concerted efforts by all parties to deal with a massive humanitarian crisis," Motlanthe said in an interview with The Mail and Guardian newspaper.

"But the fact is that the parties there have sometimes had a lackadaisical attitude to these matters," he said.

President Motlanthe urged the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party (MDC-T) to settle its outstanding issues with President Robert Mugabe after creating a unity Government.

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai and President Mugabe signed a Global Political Agreement nearly four months ago, but the deal has stalled over disputes on how to share power in the new Cabinet.

The Agreement was meant to lift the country from the current political and economic crisis.



Zimbabwe's Tsvangirai seeks crucial Mugabe meeting

Zimbabwe's Tsvangirai seeks crucial Mugabe meeting
Written by Reuters
Saturday, January 10, 2009 2:46:07 AM

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has requested a meeting with President Robert Mugabe in a last-ditch effort to salvage a power-sharing deal, an opposition spokesman said Friday.

Tsvangirai and Mugabe signed a unity pact last September, but the agreement appears to be unravelling following a dispute over the control of key ministries and the abduction of several opposition and human rights activists.

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) spokesman Nelson Chamisa told Reuters that the opposition party had sought a meeting with Mugabe on the dialogue.

"We have written to Mugabe, indicating that we want a meeting between him and (MDC) president Tsvangirai to bring finality and closure to the dialogue," he said.

"We cant keep Zimbabweans guessing, we have to close the chapter on dialogue, whether in success or failure."

Chamisa said Mugabe was yet to respond to the MDC's overtures. He declined to give details on what Tsvangirai expected from the meeting.

Chamisa said Tsvangirai, who has been outside Zimbabwe since a regional summit in South Africa last November, would soon return to the country.

"I cannot say when exactly, but he will be coming back within days," Chamisa said.

Last week, Mugabe's spokesman told state media the veteran leader would appoint a new cabinet in February, despite the stalled talks with the opposition. Chamisa said the MDC would not be part of that government.

Mugabe also fired nine ministers and three deputy ministers who lost their parliamentary seats in March polls and named acting ministers, in apparent preparation for the new cabinet.

"We have never stopped Mugabe from forming a fake and illegal government, but if he were to do that, he can be sure he will not have the support and co-operation of the MDC and the majority of Zimbabweans," Chamisa said.

"If they proceed, they would be in violation of the global political agreement and in defiance of SADC," he said, referring to the Southern African Development Community, a grouping of regional states which has been mediating between the two sides.

Chamisa said the MDC leadership had scheduled a meeting to discuss the deadlocked talks.

"The national executive council will meet on January 18 to assess the state of inter-party dialogue in the face of continued intransigence by ZANU-PF," Chamisa said.

"Depending on the factors at the time, critical positions will be taken, relating to the dialogue process."

Tsvangirai has threatened to pull out of negotiations following the abduction of several MDC and human rights activists.

Zimbabwe's police have charged at least 16 activists of plotting an insurgency against Mugabe's government.

Tsvangirai outpolled Mugabe in the first round of voting in March elections, but fell short of an outright victory to avoid a run-off poll won by Mugabe after Tsvangirai pulled out citing violence against his supporters.

Labels: ,


SADC has no plans to convene meeting on Zimbabwe

SADC has no plans to convene meeting on Zimbabwe
Written by George Chellah in Harare, Zimbabwe
Saturday, January 10, 2009 2:43:52 AM

SADC executive secretary Dr Tomaz Salamao has stated that the regional bloc has no plans of convening a meeting on Zimbabwe as requested by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Dr Salomao, who was asked on state television - Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation - whether SADC would convene a meeting to discuss the proposed inclusive government in Zimbabwe, said the regional bloc had no plans for such a meeting.

Recently, Tsvangirai requested South African President Kgalema Motlanthe to facilitate a 'confidential' meeting with President Robert Mugabe.

"The SADC executive is the only office with a mandate to call a meeting of regional leaders in consultation with the [SADC] chairman and the chairman of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security [King Mswati III]," Dr Salomao said. "I am currently consulting within the region and no letter has been written to convene such a meeting on Zimbabwe."

Dr Salomao also said Tsvangirai had never approached the SADC headquarters in Botswana over his grievances.

According to Tsvangirai's letter to President Mugabe dated December 29, 2008, which was leaked to The Post by Botswana government sources, Tsvangirai outlined a set of conditions to be met by President Mugabe before he could join an inclusive government.

"In the absence of the processes, I find your proposal to appoint me Prime Minister irregular. I have written in the same vein to President Motlanthe suggesting that he convenes a confidential meeting in South Africa between you and me, under his chairmanship, so that we can iron out these matters to the satisfaction of all parties," read Tsvangirai's letter to President Mugabe in part. "I am sure you are anxious to proceed to the successful implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), anxiety that I share, but the issues are so profound that we must act in a logical sequence. In the meantime, I hope that when Parliament convenes on 20 January, 2009, all parties will support the text of the bill in accordance with the agreement."

Meanwhile, the MDC has dismissed Zimbabwean state media reports that it's currently divided.

"The opposition ZANU-PF-controlled Herald newspaper has climbed laughable heights in alleging non-existent divisions within the leadership of the MDC. Since Saturday, the Herald has engaged on cheap propaganda about the so-called divisions within the top ranks of the MDC," party spokesperson Nelson Chamisa stated. "Zimbabweans will not be hoodwinked by shrill propaganda from a discredited newspaper that has since lost its credibility. Since Saturday, the allegations have ranged from false stories that the MDC secretary-general, Hon Tendai Biti, is plotting to oust President Morgan Tsvangirai to laughable claims that the MDC President has summoned the top leadership of the party to South Africa to mend non-existent rifts within the top hierarchy of the party.

"Zimbabweans know that the only political divisions that exist are in ZANU-PF where contrived accidents and succession disputes and factionalism are a reality and not fiction. The Herald has obviously mistaken the MDC for ZANU-PF where internecine succession battles have wrought deep rifts, mistrust and suspicion across the length and breadth of the dying party."

He stated that Tsvangirai and all members of the party's standing committee, including Biti, were elected for five-year terms at the MDC Congress on Sunday, 19 March 2006 and their terms expire in 2011.

"There is no reason why the MDC secretary-general, himself a lawyer of unquestioned repute and a key figure in the drafting of the MDC Constitution, would wish for an illegal Congress in February 2009. The lies are too threadbare, indeed too naked to be taken seriously by the discerning people of Zimbabwe who overwhelmingly voted for the MDC on 29 March 2008," Chamisa stated. "It is common cause that several resolutions by the MDC national council have reiterated the fact that all outstanding issues have to be resolved before the party can become part of the inclusive government. These resolutions, including those of the last National Council held in Kadoma on Friday, 12 December 2008, have been unanimous. This means there are no divisions within the party; the party has one position regarding the issue of the inclusive government.

"No amount of propaganda against the MDC and its leadership will improve the waning political fortunes of ZANU-PF. No amount of malice, hate language and distortions will be able to transplant divisions and factionalism from their home in ZANU-PF to the MDC. No amount of fiction will change the fact that Zimbabweans see their only hope in the MDC and its leadership as expressed by the people's vote on 29 March."

Chamisa stated that no prophets of doom would be able to bring ill luck to the people's project.

Labels: , , ,


70% of corruption cases received last year involved govt officials – ACC

70% of corruption cases received last year involved govt officials – ACC
Written by Masuzyo Chakwe
Saturday, January 10, 2009 2:41:33 AM

ANTI Corruption Commission (ACC) acting director general Rosewin Wandi yesterday said about 70 per cent of corruption cases received last year involved government officials. And Wandi said the prosecution of high profile cases has shown that no one is above the law.

Meanwhile, Wandi said the case involving National Revolution Party president Cosmo Mumba, where he allegedly received K15 million from President Rupiah Banda during election campaigns, had been disposed of due to insufficient evidence.

During the 2008 end of year press briefing, Wandi said ACC last year received 696 categorised cases of corruption of which between 60 and 70 per cent were complaints against government officials.

Wandi said ACC received a total of 2,007 reports of which 696 were catergorised as corruption complaints while 1,311 were non-corruption related complaints and were treated as information received.

She said from the 696 corruption complaints, 387 cases were authorised for investigations while 307 cases were not authorised for investigations as they were deemed not to be pursuable and appropriate advice was given to the complainants for appropriate action.

Wandi said according to the reports received by the ACC, between 60 and 70 per cent of reports were complaints against government officials while only 20 per cent were on officials in the private sector.

She said the rest were complaints from other government agencies and the civil society organisations.

Wandi said ACC also participated in the monitoring of the October presidential elections where 68 complaints on allegations of electoral malpractices were received.

"Some cases were investigated but no tangible evidence was adduced and these cases were closed while the rest of the cases were referred to and resolved through the conflict management committees in the various districts," she said.

Wandi said the Acc investigated a number of cases where arrests were effected and cases brought before the courts of law where sufficient evidence was established. She said administrative action was recommended to appropriate authorities where violations were established but the evidence did not meet prosecution standards.

"The prosecution of high-profile cases has shown that no one is above the law. The law must take its course. Whoever indulges, the due process must take its course. If convicted, they must serve the jail sentence," she said.

Wandi also warned those who indulge in corrupt practices that ACC would continue to implement the concept of 'no sacred cows' in investigations.

Wandi said the year 2008 was characterised with a number of challenges for Zambia which in turn affected the smooth operations of most government ministries, departments and agencies including ACC.

She said the year 2008 had also marked the end of a four-year strategic plan which ran from 2004 to 2008. The plan had placed more emphasis on the prevention of corruption without necessarily downplaying the functions of investigations, prosecutions and education.

Meanwhile, Wandi said ACC recorded a total of 31 arrests for various offences of corruption and in the same period under review.

She said 11 convictions were secured while two acquittals and one withdrawal were also recorded.

Wandi said the total number of cases before the courts of law now stands at 87 while cases pending judgment by close of the year stood at 10.

She said there was need for speedy approval of the National Anti Corruption policy aimed at serving as the umbrella guide for anti-corruption prevention interventions in all sectors of government and the society in general.

Wandi said there was need for the government to provide funding to institutions that have established integrity committees to cover their activities. She said there was also need for ACC and the governance secretariat to speedily conduct the corruption diagnostic survey that would provide new data and information after the 2004 governance baseline survey on issues of corruption and governance in Zambia and enable timely and focused corruption interventions.

Wandi said ACC had developed another strategic plan to be launched next Thursday for the next five years to run from 2009 to 2013. In this plan, ACC has repositioned itself to further propel the fight against corruption in Zambia with a new vision to be a lead institution of a broad sector alliance for combating corruption in Zambia.

Labels: , ,


Zesco today shuts down generator for maintenance

Zesco today shuts down generator for maintenance
Written by Kabanda Chulu
Saturday, January 10, 2009 2:33:18 AM

ZESCO Limited will today shut down one of its generating units at Kafue Gorge power station for routine maintenance, contrary to reports that the machine had developed a technical fault.

According to reports, the machine, which includes, turbines, generators and transformers, had a problem with one of the switch gears that led to the break down, raising fears of increased load shedding over this weekend.

But Zesco acting senior manager for public relations Lucy Zimba said today’s planned shutdown of one machine at Kafue Gorge was for routine maintenance, and that nothing had broken down.

She said Zesco expected people to cooperate by way of minimizing power usage so that load shedding could be reduced.

“It is true that today we are taking out 150 mega watts from the national grid when we shut down one machine at Kafue Gorge but it is not true that the machine has broken down, it just for routine maintenance works and nothing else has happened,” said Zimba.

“And we expect people and the customers in general to cooperate like they have done before through minimising the usage of power so that load shedding can be reduced.”

The 150 mega watts power reduction would take place today from 07:00 hours to midnight, resulting in increased load shedding during peak hours.



Smoke chokes 155 Mopani miners

Smoke chokes 155 Mopani miners
Written by Mutuna Chanda in Kitwe and Zumani Katasefa in Luanshya
Saturday, January 10, 2009 2:31:39 AM

ONE hundred and fifty-five (155) miners at Mopani Copper Mines (MCM)’s Mindolo subvertical were choked on Thursday night after an underground conveyor belt caught fire.

All of the 155 were however rescued and immediately taken to Wusakili Mine Hospital where they were admitted for observation. Of the 155 that were admitted, 10 were still admitted by press time yesterday.

Sources told The Post that most of the mine workers in the afternoon shift were choked from the smoke that came from the burning conveyor belt underground.

And MCM corporate affairs manager Chuma Kabaghe confirmed the fire incident but stated that there were no fatalities.

"On Thursday, 8th January 2009 at about 18:30 hours, the UG8 conveyor belt underground on 2880 level caught fire," Kabaghe stated. "This conveyor belt which is located in a tunnel transfers ore from the Subvertical Shaft to number One Shaft. Since this tunnel in which the conveyor belt is located is a fresh air intake, the smoke drifted downstream at a fast rate affecting 155 employees on different levels in the afternoon shift through smoke inhalation."

She stated that rescue operations were conducted by Mopani fire crew and rescue operation teams that included those from Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) and Chibuluma Mines.

"All the 155 employees who went underground on the afternoon shift of Thursday were evacuated, accounted for and hospitalised for observation," she stated. "Only 10 out of all the employees earlier admitted are still under observation and are in a stable condition."

Kabaghe stated that the fire came under control at 02:45 hours yesterday morning and thanked KCM and Chibuluma Mines rescue teams for their assistance.

"However, the conveyor belt continued smouldering owing to the high tempereatures within the conveyor belt tunnel," stated Kabaghe. "All logistics are in place to effectively extinguish the smouldering belt."

Meanwhile, mines minister Maxwell Mwale has said the government will not immediately take over the running of Luanshya Copper Mine as it first needed to look at certain technicalities involved in the matter.

Addressing Mine Workers Union of Zambia (MUZ) local branch officials after touring the Baluba mine following reports that the mine may flood due to the inadequate care and maintenance programme which had been put in place by the investor, Mwale reiterated that the government was committed to ensuring that the mine was reopened.

"We would like to see that the mine is opened, we are doing everything possible and a technical committee has since been put in place to look into the matter. As government we used to operate ZCCM, so as government we cannot fail to run the Baluba mine but we have to look at legal aspects and also economic aspects," said Mwale. "We also have to look at what message we would be sending to the donor community and other investors if we take over the mine."

And Copperbelt minister Mwansa Mbulakulima said the union had just expressed concern that the mine could get flooded because of the inadequate care and maintenance programme put in place.

And MUZ local branch officials who had accompanied the minister during his tour of the mine observed that the 480m level central haulage had foggy visibility and ventilation was bad.

"The ground is weak and this is the access to the centre lib and the flat area which is the main production area of our mine. In the same area are machines such as drilling rig, ventilation fans and there is also an 11kv substation which is live," they said.

They said if the 11kv substation was disturbed, it could cause a major electrical power interruption on the Copperbelt.

"Also notable was the visible water on live electrical panels at another substation. This will cause a blow of such electrical installations," they said.

During the tour of the underground mine, LCM chief operations manager James Bethel was visibly panicking in trying not to lead the minister to some sections of the mine where the situation was bad.

Labels: ,


Friday, January 09, 2009

(HERALD) Sadc snubs Tsvangirai

Sadc snubs Tsvangirai
By Mabasa Sasa and Sydney Kawadza

SADC has rejected MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai’s request for a meeting to reopen debate on the allocation of ministries in Zimbabwe’s inclusive Government. Speaking to journalists in Harare yesterday, Sadc executive secretary Dr Tomaz Salamao said the bloc had no plans to convene such a meeting.

Earlier in the week, Sadc chair and South African President Cde Kgalema Motlanthe rejected Mr Tsvangirai’s request for him to facilitate a "confidential meeting" with President Mugabe, telling him to instead immediately join the inclusive Government with Zanu-PF and MDC.

"The Sadc executive is the only office with a mandate to call a meeting of regional leaders in consultation with the chairman and the chairman of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security (King Mswati III of Swaziland).

"I am currently consulting within the region and no letter has been written to convene such a meeting on Zimbabwe," Dr Salamao said.

Dr Salamao said while he had heard reports that the MDC-T leader was in Botswana, which hosts the Sadc headquarters, Mr Tsvangirai had never bothered to approach the offices with his grievances.

According to information at hand, on Tuesday President Motlanthe summoned Mr Tsvangirai to Tshwane where he told him he could not entertain his request as it would undermine the role of the facilitator, Cde Thabo Mbeki.

He also made it clear that MDC-T could not in one breath rubbish a binding resolution passed by a Sadc summit while at the same time asking the regional group to help him push Cde Mugabe out of power.

The rejection comes on the back of indications that the South African government recently told United States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer to respect the Sadc initiatives in Zimbabwe and stop treating the country as if "it is in America’s backyard".

South African sources told The Herald that Frazer tried to "intimidate" them into forcing President Mugabe out of office and picking someone else to represent Zanu-PF in the inclusive Government because "Tsvangirai was too weak to handle" the Zimbabwean leader.

"President Motlanthe told Tsvangirai that there was no way he would facilitate a meeting on the issue of the inclusive Government while excluding (Prof Arthur) Mutambara and the facilitator.

"He pointed out that Tsvangirai had insulted Sadc leaders by rubbishing the resolution in Sandton on the structure of the inclusive Government and that it should be constituted immediately.

"As such, it was highly irregular to expect him to chair another meeting whose outcome Tsvangirai could just as easily insult. His final words to Tsvangirai were that he should return home, join the inclusive Government and seek to solve any other outstanding issues from inside for the sake of progress," a diplomatic source revealed.

President Motlanthe, the source said, indicated that it was "highly irregular" for him to be seen to be usurping the facilitator’s role.

The South African leader’s rejection of Mr Tsvangirai’s request prompted the latter to convene a crisis meeting in South Africa to re-strategise in the face of regional resistance to their demands.

Observers yesterday questioned why Mr Tsvangirai was holding the meeting with his executive in South Africa rather than returning to Zimbabwe.

President Motlanthe’s position, according to observers, leaves MDC-T with few options to pursue their agenda of using Sadc to push President Mugabe out of the agreement.

It also means they will be hard pressed to get the African Union to think any differently because the continental bloc acts in sync with Sadc’s resolutions.

Further compounding Mr Tsvangirai’s headache is the revelation that the South African government told America’s

Frazer that they viewed the US as a bully with no respect for Sadc’s initiatives in Zimbabwe.

According to an official in the South African Embassy in Harare, Frazer last month tried to convene a meeting with President Motlanthe and Cde Mbeki during her regional tour but eventually settled for an audience with one of the facilitators in the talks.

In the meeting with Cde Sydney Mufamadi, who is part of Cde Mbeki’s team, she insinuated that South Africa was arm-twisting the rest of the region to be "soft on President Mugabe".

She admitted that the September 15 agreement was "a good framework" but the US would not allow it to be implemented as long as President Mugabe was involved because "Tsvangirai was too weak" to work with the Zimbabwean leader.

Frazer — a former US Ambassador to South Africa — said Mr Tsvangirai was "no Odinga" and would not be able to "handle President Mugabe" and so the latter would have to step aside and appoint someone else to represent Zanu-PF in the inclusive Government.

"She effectively said the US would only recognise a weak Zanu-PF leader who would make it easier for Tsvangirai to pursue their agenda in the country and the region.

"Frazer wanted Sadc to persuade President Mugabe to step aside and she claimed the rest of the region agreed with this but was afraid to confront South Africa.

"Mufamadi responded to her saying ‘Zimbabwe is not in Latin America, it is not your backyard. It is Sadc’s backyard and Sadc knows best what Zimbabwe needs. This is not an American issue. What gives you the status of declaring veto over a Sadc decision? Who are you?

"You say that South Africa is bullying the rest of Sadc but the truth is that you are the real bullies. You go to countries that depend on you for budgetary support and you ask them to give you their views on the Zimbabwe issue.

"’What kind of answer do you expect to get from them when they still want budgetary support from you? They will tell you what you want to hear’," he said.

The official added: "When Frazer pressed on Mufamadi became annoyed and told her pointblank to just instruct her man to join the inclusive Government and resolve his issues from inside for the sake of progress.

"Our Foreign Affairs Minister (Cde Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma) told her the same thing and she said she would take up the matter with them again when she returned from Lesotho. But that was the last that was seen of her in South Africa."

He said South African officials told Frazer that the US and Mr Tsvangirai were "acting as if their words were cast in stone like the Law of Moses and everyone should obey them".

After Frazer’s visit, Washington’s chief diplomat in South Africa, Eric Bost, tried to press home the line that President Mugabe should appoint "a weaker person" to take his place in the inclusive Government.

In a letter to the Star newspaper on January 6, 2008, Bost wrote: "We are calling on the leaders of the Sadc to unite strongly and publicly in their call for Mugabe to step down and give the political parties in the country space to work together."

Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to South Africa, Cde Simon Khaya Moyo, said the letter demonstrated American arrogance and lack of respect in trying to tell Sadc what to do.

"The United States ambassador must surely know that Sadc leaders do not take orders from Jendayi Frazer or from Washington. It is baffling that Frazer continues to speak at cross-purposes with Sadc in clear defiance of African sentiment and the consistent advice that she received from all the South African leaders that she interacted with while in South Africa."

Cde Khaya Moyo said African leaders had shown a lot of restraint in the face of "provocative and insulting behaviour from the United States".

"In a further show of US ignorance and arrogance, the US ambassador in his letter calls on Sadc leaders to ‘unite strongly and publicly in their call for Mugabe to step down . . . ’ Sadc leaders have never at any point called for President Mugabe to step down. Not in the Sadc meetings; not in the resolutions adopted. Never!"

Labels: , , , ,


(HERALD) MDC-T MPs petition party over graft

MDC-T MPs petition party over graft
Herald Reporter

FIVE MDC-T legislators from Chitungwiza have petitioned the party to investigate the opposition-led council in the area over alleged rampant corruption which they say has seen councillors’ fortunes balloon overnight.

In a letter addressed to the party’s secretary-general, Mr Tendai Biti, the legislators said they had unearthed stunning corruption by their councillors which they fear could erode the party’s support.

The legislators fingered mayor, Mr Israel Marange, and some councillors as being involved in clandestine deals involving the allocation of stands in return for kickbacks ranging from US$2 000 to US$3 000.

The lawmakers who signed the petition are Fidelis Mhashu (Chitungwiza North), Marve-llous Khumalo (St Mary’s), Misheck Shoko (Chitungwiza South), Alexio Musundire (Zengeza East) and James Makore (Chitungwi-za Senator.)

The legislators said they had observed deep-rooted corruption in council, which could see the electorate punishing them by voting the party out.

Contacted for comment, Mr Marange accused the petitioners of begrudging him and his administration.

"They are personalising issues instead of reading the Urban Councils Act. We gave some councillors stands, including the MPs themselves, after council felt that it would preserve their integrity, and all that was done in compliance with the rules."

A source close to Mr Marange said there was a ploy to stop Mr Marange from becoming provincial chairperson ahead of elections expected soon.

The source said the fight between legislators and Mr Marange was a sign of growing schisms within the party for the control of the party.

The source accused the lawmakers of covering up for alleged ineptitude, saying they were rarely visible in their constituencies while Mr Marange is seen working.

In their petition, the lawmakers said if the corruption remained unabated, it would weaken the party.

"Surely, this corruption will debilitate, weaken and dilute the strength of the party in Chitungwiza. The nature and intensity of the corruption is very worrying," read the letter delivered to Mr Biti’s office last weekend.

Mr Biti was yesterday reported to be on holiday in South Africa.

"The level of corruption is so wanton that in a short space of time, the quality of life of the concerned councillors has dramatically changed to the extent that ordinary residents are openly asking questions. The rate at which councillors are buying vehicles, building houses and shops bears testimony to this."

The legislators said Mr Marange, who went

into council in 2003 as a mere pedestrian with a single house, now owns a significant portion of the town in terms of assets.

They also drew the attention of the party leadership to the recent arrest of Mr Marange for allegedly asking for a bribe from a party youth member.

Mr Marange is said to have acquired an array of vehicles that include a Prado, Kombi, Colt, Nissan Navara, B18 Mazda and Nissan 2.7 D.

"Given this evidence that continues to mount, it is clear that the Chitungwiza mayor is unfit for such office. He, therefore, must be removed," read the petition.

Labels: , ,


(HERALD) Take flood warning seriously

Take flood warning seriously
Herald Reporter

THE warning by the Meteorological Services Department that the incessant rains currently pounding the country would cause flash flooding over areas that include Masvingo, south of the Midlands and Manicaland must be taken seriously.

A flash flood is a sudden, violent flood caused by heavy rain. Rainfall intensity and duration, soil conditions, and ground cover contribute to flash flooding.

It is also possible to experience a flash flood without witnessing any rain.

In this case, there would be heavy rain in areas upstream of one’s location. In the past, people have tended to ignore flood warnings and this has resulted in catastrophe, with loss of lives, homes, household property and livestock.

It is, therefore, important for people in the risk areas to take heed of all flood watches and warnings and get prepared for evacuation.

Those in risk areas should ensure that they first learn the safest and shortest route to higher and safer ground.

It is also important to develop a family escape plan and identify a meeting place should family members become separated.

Children should be made aware of the dangers of flood waters. It is often difficult to judge the depth of water, and the strength of fast flowing water can be very deceiving. Both adults and children can be quickly overpowered by flood waters.

Another equally important thing to do in preparation for flooding is to stockpile emergency supplies of food, drinking water and cooking equipment or firewood.

When flooding occurs, it is advisable to evacuate, and do so promptly. And if directed to a specific location, one should go there.

During flooding there are chances that one’s livestock might get mixed with other livestock, therefore tagging will assist in identification and protection of livestock.

One area of concern during flooding is public transporters and motorists.

They tend to develop false confidence and attempt to cross flooded rivers, putting lives at risk.

Buses have in the past been swept away when drivers, under considerable pressure from passengers, drive across flooded rivers.

However, some drivers do the right thing and flatly refuse to drive across flooded rivers.

They end up earning the wrath of irate passengers, but in such circumstances, they should take comfort from the fact that they would have saved lives.

Drivers and passengers should realise the fact that even the largest and heaviest of vehicles will float under flooding.

Two feet of water will cause one to lose control of a vehicle and can carry most cars away.

It is critical for motorists to always remain alert to changing road conditions.

Roadbeds may have been scoured or even washed away during flooding, creating unsafe driving conditions.

At the same time, driving too fast through low water will cause the vehicle to hydroplane and lose contact with the road surface.

The public water system is also an area of concern during and after flooding.

If the water system is declared unsafe by health officials, it is only best to vigorously boil it for drinking and cooking.

We all want Zimbabwe to receive good rains every season, but the onus is on everyone to act responsibly and ensure that we remain extremely cautious in the face of floods.

The bottom line is any flood warning issued means that we must take immediate precautions to protect life and property.



(HERALD) International Crisis Group dead wrong on Zimbabwe

International Crisis Group dead wrong on Zimbabwe
By John Dziva Kuvita

THE analysis of the Zimbabwe situation by the International Crisis Group, contained in Africa Briefing Number 56 issued in Pretoria and Brussels on December 16, 2008 is mind-boggling. ICG blames President Mugabe and Zanu-PF for all the problems facing Zimbabwe.

It claims that President Mugabe and Zanu-PF "stole elections, unleashed violence upon Zimbabweans, have run down the economy, have caused HIV and Aids, and caused cholera etc" — the list is endless. How on earth can the intellectuals and eminent persons in the ICG overlook the role and motives of Britain and the United States in Zimbabwe?

How can they fail to notice that these countries have systematically and relentlessly destabilised Zimbabwe since the advent of the land reforms in 1999? How can they fail to also condemn violence perpetrated by MDC-T led by Morgan Tsvangirai?

The so-called Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act authorises President George W. Bush and future US presidents "to provide support for independent and free Press and electronic media" and "to provide for democracy and governance programmes in Zimbabwe", among others.

This Act effectively disabled all lines of credit to Zimbabwe and prevents the "World" Bank and International Monetary Fund from providing any development assistance or support to Zimbabwe.

The motive of these sanctions should be known to the ICG.

In a 2005 testimony to a US Senate hearing on Zimbabwe, former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Chester Crocker had this to say: "To separate the Zimbabwean people from Zanu-PF, we are going to have to make their economy scream, and I hope you, senators, have the stomach for what you have to do."

This statement in itself confirms US complicity in economic destabilisation of Zimbabwe.

The European Union as a bloc and the British in particular have imposed a set of their own sanctions — targeted they call them.

How can the sanctions be called targeted to individuals when their effect discourages British companies and individuals from investing in Zimbabwe’s economy?

How can they be called targeted when the British government bans the delivery of aircraft and vehicle parts fully paid for by the Government of Zimbabwe?

Will Britain in future pay interest on the monies remitted by the Government of Zimbabwe for the spares?

Over the last eight years, hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent by the US, Britain and the EU bloc of nations to destabilise Zimbabwe.

On the ground, measures taken by the US, Britain and the EU translated into funding of anti-Government of Zimbabwe and Zanu-PF radio stations and newspapers, bankrolling the opposition MDC and inciting and urging Zimbabweans to vote against President Mugabe.

Quantified, all these punitive economic measures, destabilisation and huge funding for the opposition make violence inevitable.

Any economy subjected to such punitive measures would spiral into hyper-inflation, chaos and human suffering.

It is, therefore, not mismanagement, but external sabotage which is the main ingredient of the problems in Zimbabwe.

The notion that Zimbabweans are hapless victims of a power-hungry African dictator is a fairy tale sponsored by Washington and London to mask the crimes these countries are committing against the people of Zimbabwe.

The claims about non-existence of democracy and human rights violations in Zimbabwe being regurgitated by Western governments and institutions, the ICG, "humanitarian NGOs and independent journalists" (all paid by Washington and London) are a ploy designed to hoodwink their African and overseas audiences into missing the point about what this is all about, which is the ownership by Zimbabweans of their resources, including land.

If the West really cares about the suffering Zimbabweans, they would simply lift the sanctions.

The British, United States and the white Commonwealth governments MUST be charged with genocide over the death of over 1 000 Zimbabweans because of the cholera epidemic.

This call is predicated on the undeniable fact that these countries have in the past eight years imposed illegal economic sanctions that are affecting all facets of Zimbabwean society, thereby severely incapacitating Government’s ability to deal with outbreaks of epidemics.

These countries must stop forthwith covering their guilt.

Most Zimbabweans are clearly seeing the vicious assault on Zimbabwe aimed at effecting a coup against the elected Government of President Mugabe by whipping up people’s emotions on the cholera outbreak and instilling a sense in them that there is no government in Zimbabwe to address the impact of the epidemic.

If anything, the West is creating permanent enemies with the people of Zimbabwe because people of my generation will not forget the flagrant violation of our rights by the Western nations to economic prosperity and the denial of basic necessities because of the sanctions imposed by the West on our own God-given country.

The ICG also lacks in depth in its assessment of the political situation in Zimbabwe by misinterpreting the vote tally of the contesting political parties following last year’s harmonised elections.

The two MDCs are two different political parties with different leaders and party ideologies.

To try and create a single MDC is obviously an attempt to mislead the ICG audience that Zanu-PF lost the elections.

Tsvangirai led in the first round of the elections but failed to achieve the constitutional threshold to become President.

He chickened out of the run-off sensing defeat. MDC-T has only one Member of the House of Assembly more than Zanu-PF. MDC, which is a different political party, has 10.

So to try and create one political party out of the two factions is a betrayal of the truth.

Why does the ICG ignore the results of the Senate elections which Zanu-PF won, which also translate into a majority popular vote for Zanu-PF?

Be fair with your readers, please.

Perhaps there is need for the ICG to change its name to International Constructive Group if people of rational minds have to take the input of the organisation seriously, otherwise the International Crisis Group as presently constituted, and for its name sake, foments and provokes crises around the world.

Anyone who has had sight of Cde Thabo Mbeki’s letter of admonishment to Tsvangirai will see clearly that the latter does not care about ordinary Zimbabweans and is only interested in the blind pursuit of power, hence he is to blame for the problems bedevilling the country.

l John Dziva Kuvita is Harare-based researcher on African politics.

Labels: , ,


(NYASATIMES) Mwenefumbo in fertiliser subsidy scam

Mwenefumbo in fertiliser subsidy scam
Judith Moyo 09 January, 2009 01:17:00

Deputy Minister of agriculture and food security, Frank Mwenefumbo has been accused of diverting coupons for the fertiliser subsidy progmamme from Rumphi, Chitipa and Mzimba to his constituency in Karonga.

“The Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Frank Mwenifumbo has used the Fertiliser Subsidy Programme extensively as a political tool.

“Fertiliser coupons destined for Rumphi, Chitipa and Mzimba have found their way to supporters of Mwenifumbo in Karonga,” a whistle blower in government said.

“The wife of Mwenifumbo used coupons to win the DPP primaries in Karonga North west. The Deputy Minister used coupons to try to buy voters in Karonga Central,” said the source.

“Key people in the Mwenifumbo group have been given several coupons each, which they have sold and bought iron sheets for their houses, ox carts and even TV Satellites,” the source disclosed.

Among the people who have benefited include his campaign director, Mapunda Mwalwanda, his secretary of his organization, Calles Gondwe, Dick Sichali, Erina Mhango, Ann Nasawi, Tota Mwafulirwa, Hope Chiwaka and others.

The conduct by Mwenefumbo is deliberately derailing the programme which is supposed to help Malawi achieve "Food Security", complained a government official.

He expressed worry that donors will not be amused that their money is funding political patronage. Mwenefumbo could not be reached on hi phones for comment.

But during a recent meeting he held in Gumi, Mlare the deputy minister boasted that that he is untouchable as President Bingu wa Mutharika’s “right hand man”.

During the last growing season, cabinet ministers were selling the coupons. And former Minister of Defense, Bob Khamisa lost his cabinet portfolio due to the same.

The fertilizer subsidy programme has been highly detested by the opposition, mainly Malawi Congress Party (MCP) saying it is discriminatory.

But President Mutharika has stood his ground maintaining that it has been a huge success since its inception.

Labels: , ,


(NYASATIMES) Malawi ruler blames opposition for maize shortage

Malawi ruler blames opposition for maize shortage
Alinafe Mtawanga 08 January, 2009 11:06:00

As Media reports in Malawi indicate acute food shortage, President Ngwazi Bingu wa Mutharika on Thursday January 8 maintained that the country has enough food and faulted the media and opposition for the reported hunger situation.

Mutharika was speaking in Balaka during his whistle stop tour: “The opposition is using media to cheat you that people are dying of hunger related illnesses, they came here in Balaka and took a picture of a poor old woman and claimed she was dying of hunger.”

This comes as there have been several stories covered in the media of acute hunger situation in Malawi.

As the President was speaking, The Daily Times which is deemed to be pro government had carried a story on its front of people who are exchanging bicycles for food items in the neighboring Mozambique. This story was also earlier posted on Nyasa Times.

On Tuesday the Daily Times reported a story which said people in Machinga are leaving on maize bran, locally known as ‘madeya’ and dried cassava (makaka).

The report said Malawians are buying these food items at a very high price in areas neighboring Mozambique.

“These newspapers are saying that you have all died of hunger, is this true?” asked Mutharika in Balaka. “Is this the first time you have depended on maize bran (madeya), did you not do that in Kamuzu and Muluzi era?” queried the President.

“We have a lot of maize but the opposition is sending boys to buy it away so that they fulfill their evil agenda," said the Ngwazi adding that, that is the reason the prize of maize has gone up.

He however said he knows that in some areas people do not have enough maize but said that was due to erratic rains.

Labels: ,


(NYASATIMES) Mwenefumbo in fertiliser subsidy scam

Mwenefumbo in fertiliser subsidy scam
Judith Moyo
09 January, 2009 01:17:00

Deputy Minister of agriculture and food security, Frank Mwenefumbo has been accused of diverting coupons for the fertiliser subsidy progmamme from Rumphi, Chitipa and Mzimba to his constituency in Karonga.

“The Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Frank Mwenifumbo has used the Fertiliser Subsidy Programme extensively as a political tool.

“Fertiliser coupons destined for Rumphi, Chitipa and Mzimba have found their way to supporters of Mwenifumbo in Karonga,” a whistle blower in government said.

“The wife of Mwenifumbo used coupons to win the DPP primaries in Karonga North west. The Deputy Minister used coupons to try to buy voters in Karonga Central,” said the source.

“Key people in the Mwenifumbo group have been given several coupons each, which they have sold and bought iron sheets for their houses, ox carts and even TV Satellites,” the source disclosed.

Among the people who have benefited include his campaign director, Mapunda Mwalwanda, his secretary of his organization, Calles Gondwe, Dick Sichali, Erina Mhango, Ann Nasawi, Tota Mwafulirwa, Hope Chiwaka and others.

The conduct by Mwenefumbo is deliberately derailing the programme which is supposed to help Malawi achieve "Food Security", complained a government official.

He expressed worry that donors will not be amused that their money is funding political patronage. Mwenefumbo could not be reached on hi phones for comment.

But during a recent meeting he held in Gumi, Mlare the deputy minister boasted that that he is untouchable as President Bingu wa Mutharika’s “right hand man”.

During the last growing season, cabinet ministers were selling the coupons. And former Minister of Defense, Bob Khamisa lost his cabinet portfolio due to the same.

The fertilizer subsidy programme has been highly detested by the opposition, mainly Malawi Congress Party (MCP) saying it is discriminatory.

But President Mutharika has stood his ground maintaining that it has been a huge success since its inception.

Labels: , ,


(NYASATIMES) Malawi refutes ‘Mugabe’s Web of power’ article

Malawi refutes ‘Mugabe’s Web of power’ article
09 January, 2009 01:56:00

The Malawian Ambassador to Harare has denied that President Bingu wa Mutharika tried to prevent the Malawian media from writing any stories on and about Zimbabwe, as suggested in an article headlined Mugabe’s Web of power and corruption in The Zimbabwean newspaper of 4-10 December, 2008.

“Malawi promotes freedom of speech and prides itself to have one of the vibrant media fraternity in the Southern Africa region, with over 20 private owned radio stations and independent newspapers whose editorial policies are not dictated by the Government,” says a statement from Malawian Ambassador Benson Tembo.

The article mentions the President’s farm in Zimbabwe - Bineth.

“Indeed His Excellency Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika and the late Madam Ethel Mutharika bought the farm a long time ago, in the 1980’s, even before becoming President.

“It has been operating as a private entity with its own management that is not in any way connected to either Zimbabwe or Malawi Governments. The farm operates strictly as a private business and therefore, in no way could it have Zimbabwe’s Presidential Guards guarding it,” adds Tembo.

Referring to the point made in the article about Mutharika diverting 300,000 tons of maize to Zanu (PF) during the elections, the statement says: “It is common knowledge that between 2007/2008, the Government of Zimbabwe openly indicated that it was importing maize from several countries around the region that included Malawi.”

“In that agricultural season, Malawi had a surplus harvest and upon official request, it exported almost 400,000 metric tonnes of Maize to Zimbabwe. The National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) of Malawi and the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) of Zimbabwe worked hand in hand in facilitating the transaction.”

Tembo said several media outlets had sprouted recently in Malawi, but some reporters “have not walked the corridors of schools and colleges of journalism and write what would attract readers’ attention, perhaps due to sheer ignorance of the practice or for the sake of sensationalizing their stories for quick sales, in the process defying all rules of the trade – thorough research, balance, fact and verification of fact, adherence to journalism code of conduct, ethics and fairness”.

He said the Embassy offered its services to anyone who may wish to obtain any clarification on any issues regarding Malawi, so that Zimbabweans may be given nothing but the truth.

Mutharika and Mugabe enjoy very good relationship.—The Zimbabwean

Labels: ,


(NYASATIMES) Malawians debate on dual nationality

Malawians debate on dual nationality
Thom Chiumia 09 January, 2009 01:46:00

Malawian bloggers and “netizens” have been debating on the issue of Malawians having dual nationality following Nyasa Times story that brother to the President, Peter Mutharika has dual nationality.

The President’s brother holds two passports now, U.S and Malawian passports respectively and there are questions on his eligibility to run for the Thyolo East constituency parliamentary seat this year and the presidency in 2014.

Malawi’s Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Act does not allow citizens of other countries to run for elections.

A Malawian blogger Cryton Chikoko on his pleads to the powers that be to revisit (with the aim to amend) the archaic citizenship and nationality law - Malawi Citizenship Act, dated July 6, 1966.

“This is not only for the good of Malawians stuck abroad but also for the good of the country,” argued Chikoko on his blog.

“I therefore advocate a new citizenship law allowing dual citizenship. This is good to Malawians who are still interested in Malawi but have embraced other citizenship as they will be allowed to maintain dual citizenship with unrestricted rights to work and own property in Malawi,” he wrote.

Chatonda Mtika, co-moderator of Nyasanet discussion forum, posted his view in favour of dual citizenship for Malawians.

“I am for dual citizenship. I have yet to hear a convincing reason why we shouldn't have it. But, at the same time, I expect the laws of Malawi to be followed, without exception,” he wrote on the forum.

Mtika went on to state that he was not okaying Prof Mutharika to run for office.

“I'm not saying it's ok for Peter [Mutharika] to run for office. The laws of Malawi need to be followed. I am staunchly against changing the law (or looking the other way) to satisfy certain individuals.”

Trevor Chimimba added his voice to the debate.

“The right to run for elective public office is guaranteed by the Constitution subject only to its provisions. If one is running to be a Member of Parliament, the Constitution is very clear. One has to be a citizen of the Republic, but one may be rendered ineligible if he or allegiance owes allegiance to a foreign government.

“If owing allegiance in this particular case was intended to proscribe one from having dual citizenship the Constitution should have said so expressly. As already conceded having a citizenship of another country may be a pointer to owing allegiance to that country but for the purposes of the Constitution is not necessarily conclusive,” wrote Chimimba, a lawyer based in the US.

London based Nyasanetter, Pia Likoya also posted his reaction:“When you stand before the judge and he declares you a citizen of the United States of America don't you pledge to owe allegiance to the constitution of that country. What’s the point if you don't mean it.”

Labels: , ,


(LUSAKATIMES) Chipata slashed maize victims to be compensated

Chipata slashed maize victims to be compensated
January 9, 2009

People whose maize was slashed on hill slopes in Chipata district on Wednesday will be compensated. Chipata Central Member of Parliament, Lameck Mangani confirmed the development in a telephone interview. Mr. Mangani said that the Chipata District Disaster Management Committee will go to the hills and assess the damage to see how the affected families can be assisted, although he did not disclose the kind of aid to be provided.

The MP, who is also Lusaka Province Minister, however, warned that the move to assist the affected families is not an acknowledgement that people should continue cultivating on the hill slopes.

Mr. Mangani said that cultivating on hill slopes contributes to land degradation. He said that this is because the hills are left bare resulting in heavy current of water from the hill slopes, damaging property and roads in the townships.

Meanwhile, Mr. Mangani has condemned the move by the residents to stone his building in Nabvutika compound in protest against the council’s action.

The MP said that it was also unfortunate that the residents had intentions to go and slash maize at the republican president, Rupiah Banda’s farm along the Chipata-Mfuwe road.

He strongly condemned the action by the grieved residents, saying people should not take the law into their hands. The residents on Wednesday took to the street stoning the building belonging to Mr. Mangani, a shop for Nabvutika Area Chairman for Zone 3, Dauzen Mwanza and a house belonging to Chipata mayor Sinoya Mwale.

This was in protest against the move by the council to slash their maize planted on the hill slopes. The slashing of maize has also sparked confusion between the mayor and the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy, MMD’s leadership, with the mayor facing disciplinary action.


Labels: , , ,


Prof Lungu welcomes plans to nationalise copper mines

COMMENT - I guess the foreign mining companies have no lack of 'representation' in parliament.

Prof Lungu welcomes plans to nationalise copper mines
Written by Kabanda Chulu, Fridah Zinyama and Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Friday, January 09, 2009 5:42:58 AM

COPPERBELT University Professor John Lungu yesterday said the government has a duty to take over copper mines if the private sector has failed to operate effectively.

However, former Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ) national treasurer Davies Mwila has said the government should find more meaningful ways of revamping the mines than nationalisation as the mining companies were likely to become loss-making entities under state ownership.

Meanwhile, Economic Association of Zambia (EAZ) executive member Bob Liebenthal has said nationalising the mines at a time when copper prices are down will not help alleviate the problems the economy is currently experiencing.

Reacting to President Rupiah Banda’s statement that the government was considering nationalising copper mining companies that were experiencing operational difficulties, Prof Lungu said there was need to increase the participation and broaden the shareholding of Zambians in the mining industry.

“Government should not just restrict itself to those companies facing operational difficulties but even those which are performing well because this is the time to increase and broaden the participation of Zambians in the copper mining sector,” Prof Lungu said.

“There is a change in the paradigm of how businesses were operating worldwide and due to many factors which the private sector are involved in that results in some operational difficulties, government has a duty to take over and it is not nationalisation per se but this is a purpose of avoiding job losses and it is cardinal.”

He said Zambia could run its copper mines effectively if only the government could be disciplined and applied corporate governance principles when operating the mines.

“It is true ZCCM Investment Holdings holds some stake but that is just a basket for government, which needs to be opened up for these shares to start trading at the stock exchange, then we can have a say in the mines since the idea is to increase local shareholding,” said Prof Lungu.

“I don’t think we can fail to run the mines since the mines currently are run by Zambians and the capacity is there but what is needed is to be disciplined and to apply corporate governance principles so that the profits are not consumed.”

And Mwila, who is also Patriotic Front (PF) Chipili member of parliament, said the ruling MMD’s policy is that of liberalization of the economy and nationalisation of industries.

“This government has got only a temporal capacity to run the mines while waiting for investors since government does not have the money, for example, if government can take over Luanshya Copper Mines, losses of over US $ 4 million will be recorded every month,” said Mwila.

“Hence I am not in agreement that the mines should be nationalised because this will be like going back to one party governance system and also the MMD will be going back against their policies of liberalisation.”

And Liebenthal said it was understandable that everyone was concerned about the situation on the Copperbelt.

“But the fact is that copper prices have gone down on the international market and this has made it difficult for the mines to operate viably. Operating costs are very high when prices are down and it does not make economic sense to continue running a company without any changes,” he said. “It does not matter who is running a company; it can be a foreign investor or government but when a company is not making profits, some changes will have to be effected.”

Liebenthal said even if a company made use of some of its reserves [of funds] from the time when things were good, this could only be done for a short while and other drastic measures would have to be effected.

“On the other hand, nationalization is not going to do any good and will not change anything,” said Liebenthal.

And KONKOLA Copper Mines (KCM) has disclosed that it plans to start importing copper concentrate from the Frontier Mine in the DR Congo, which had banned the export of copper ores.

KCM stated in its latest edition of the Konkola News that it was talking to owners of the Frontier Mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo, (DRC) and the Chibuluma and Kansanshi Mines in Zambia to procure copper ore to be processed at the newly commissioned 300,000 tonnage capacity, Nchanga copper smelter.

Labels: , , , , , , ,