Saturday, March 07, 2009

(TALKZIMBABWE) The tragic death of Mrs Tsvangirai

The tragic death of Mrs Tsvangirai
Fri, 06 Mar 2009 21:25:00 +0000

THE wife of Zimbabwe's Prime Minister & MDC's President , Morgan Tsvangirai, was killed in a head-on car crash near Harare today. Mr Tsvangirai was injured but not critically in the crash that killed Susan Tsvangirai.

Prime Minister's car collided with a lorry. He was taken to a clinic in the capital. The driver of his car was seriously hurt. There was no word on the condition of the lorry driver.

Susan was seated behind the driver of their car when a haulage truck encroached onto their lane. Their driver swerved and the truck crushed the right hand side of the vehicle, behind the driver. Their Toyota Land Cruiser veered off the road and rolled three times.

Susan survived the initial impact and when she was pulled out of the vehicle she was talking, but clearly in great pain. She then lost consciousness on the way to Harare’s Avenues Clinic, where she was pronounced dead on arrival. Initial reports suggest she might have broken her back and suffered multiple leg fractures.

The collision happened when the couple were travelling to Buhera, Tsvangirai’s rural home area where he was due to address a rally on Saturday. The MDC’s secretary-general, Tendai Biti, was one of the party’s senior officials who visited the scene of the accident.

A policeman who attended the scene said that Tsvangirai sustained head injuries but was looking lucid and talking to rescuers who pulled them out of the truck. Tsvangirai was bleeding from his head wounds, while the driver and their aide suffered minor injuries.

At the Avenues clinic, Tsvangirai had X-rays which showed that he had minor head injuries. He has suffered whiplash and the full extent of his injuries is being assessed.

The Tsvangirais were married for 31 years and had six children.

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(TALKZIMBABWE) Tsvangirai's wife killed in car accident

Tsvangirai's wife killed in car accident
Our reporter
Fri, 06 Mar 2009 17:03:00 +0000

ZIMBABWE Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai's wife is said to have died in a car accident, according to reports. Tsvangirai is said to be injured but in a stable condition, according to reports from Harare.

The Prime Minister's spokesman James Maridadi told the Zimbabwe Guardian that the car he was travelling in sideswiped a truck along the Harare-Masvingo road near Beatrice. The car was also carrying an aide, he said.

Mrs Tsvangirai is said to have died at the Avenues Clinic in the capital after sustaining multiple fractures, while Tsvangirai is said to be in a stable condition.

The Prime Minister and his wife were on the way to Tsvangirai's hometown of Buhera, south of the capital, when the accident occurred.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told Reuters news agency that Tsvangirai was not in a critical condition.

"We have just heard that there was an accident of sorts involving the president of the party. Injuries, yes, but not critical condition, we are still assessing the actual condition," he said.

He and his wife Susan, who were married in 1978, had six children.

COMMENT 1 - This could just be a terrible and tragic accident. However, I can't help thinking that there is a huge coincidence in time between this and political events. Only two days before, Morgan Tsvangirai called for the end of sanctions against Zimbabwe. That day, Barack Obama decided to extend sanctions because Zimbabwe's policies pose "a continuing unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States". That day, Morgan Tsvangirai, who compromosed on US foreign policy objectives only two days earlier, is injured in a car crash that kills his wife, after being sideswiped by a truck. Coincidence? Or to use the words of that other murdered leader, on the murder of JFK: "The chickens have come home to roost". Let's not forget that the same persons who were involved in the murder of Patrice Lumumba in 1961 and the murder of Laurent Kabila 40 years to the day of the murder of Patrice Lumumba, are still around, still contributing to the Democratic Party, still have the same diamond concessions in the Congo. Maurice Tempelsman, CIA asset at the time of the murder of Lumumba, is a contributor to Hillary Clinton, who of course now is a cabinet member to Barack Obama. Coincidence? I hope the facts will be born out very soon.

COMMENT 2 - It turns out that it this was just a terrible car accident, not a conspiracy. However, even at the beginning, the MDC and BBC were trying to claim government involvement in the issue. All I pointed out in my original comment, is that if anything, the likely details pointed in a different direction - an official shift in MDC policy on land reform and sanctions. Let's hope that this tragedy will bring both sides closer together to solve the problems of Zimbabwe, and bring about a solution that delivers justice to the people of Zimbabwe, not restitution of illegally gained lands to just a few former colonials, but land to all the people, and an end to sanctions.

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Prevention is better than cure

Prevention is better than cure
Written by Editor

Sometimes it is necessary for those in power, those running government, to mull over things and consider the feelings of other people. It is unwise for Rupiah Banda’s government to dismiss the observations made by the Catholic bishops in their pastoral letter of last Sunday. Everything in that pastoral letter is founded on truth and is verifiable.

The Catholic bishops are the last people in this country one can accuse of telling lies. The government ignores the advice given in that pastoral letter at its own peril.

The question Rupiah’s government should be asking itself is, what spirit moves the Catholic bishops to make such observations? Are they doing it to bring about a change of opinion, to create an unfavourable opinion in regard to Rupiah and his government? No, never. On the contrary, we believe the Catholic bishops would never want to expose any good politician or government to the blame and to the scorn to which bad methods, bad practices and bad policies will expose them. They made all those observations because such methods, practices and policies bring discredit and tend to spread. And they tend to reduce the standing of those in government.

The Catholic bishops made their observations simply to help overcome the errors that those in the government are making so that our country may free itself from such errors and move forward. If their observations or criticisms appear to have been harsh, it is simply because they felt it was necessary for them to be so, that it was healthy to be so.

And we would advise this government to open itself to criticism from any quarter, rather than be like that woman who they say kept looking – who the Bible says – kept looking toward that lake, toward that city which had sunk, and who was changed into a pillar of salt. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to be changed into a pillar of salt. We must look forward. That is the only proper attitude for us to have, which all honest men and women should have, which all honest politicians should have without reservations of any kind, without regrets of any kind, without mistrust of any kind.

Our politicians in government should have the public spirit and the honesty to discuss publicly their errors. If they do so, it will strengthen them and it will make our government efficient, effective and orderly. It will make the people’s faith in the political leadership of our country firmer. Why? This is because the fact that they know how to make corrections will give the Zambian people more faith in them and more prestige in our government. It will give the political leadership of this country all the strength which people have when they know how to purify themselves of evils, when they know how to correct their errors, when they know how to overcome their difficulties.

The Catholic bishops are not in any way interested in undermining any politician, in reducing the credibility or prestige of Rupiah and his government. It will not do this country any good to destroy those political leaders who have prestige. What happens if such leaders are destroyed? Then, unfortunately, when difficult times come, the people do not have anyone in whom to believe. When difficulties come, we will need political leaders who can speak with the people; who can appeal to the people’s faith. And what do we gain by unjustifiably sowing the slightest doubt? What do we gain by unjustifiably destroying the prestige of the political leadership of our country?

The truth is we have a serious political leadership problem in our country. We have people in government who have little interest in anything else other than themselves. And through the use of deception, they are trying to create conditions suitable for permitting the imposition of a tyranny, of a straitjacket, of an apparatus for the servicing of personal ends.

We believe the cause of our people is better served to the extent to which the political leadership of our country works well, to the extent to which those in politics and in government are sincere, to the extent to which they are honest, to the extent to which they have eradicated demagoguery and lying from politics and to the extent to which they have eliminated deceit.

But it is very difficult to get anything better from a clique that is in power without having struggled much for the interests of the people to get there. And to borrow a phrase from this week’s ‘Reflections with Comrade Fidel’, “The sweetness of power for which they had made no sacrifice awoke in them ambitions that led them to an unworthy role”. This is what happens in a country when a corrupt and arrogant clique is able to take over the ruling party, destroy, humiliate and crush the best members and impose its will on the entire nation.

Rupiah and his government don’t listen to anyone, don’t take advice from anyone. They don’t seem to be willing to listen to what the Catholic bishops are saying, neither do they listen to anyone but their own inner demons. Their blindness to what is going on in our country, to what is going on around them, makes them fail to see what the Catholic bishops are saying. And this makes their leadership poor.

Rupiah can’t even see or realise that some of the people who supported him are quickly abandoning him or are distancing themselves from his embarrassing deeds. Ludwig Sondashi campaigned for Rupiah last October but yesterday he was denouncing his government as corrupt. Sondashi had no kind words for Rupiah and his leadership. There are others like Jonas Shakafuswa and Lameck Chibombamilimo who also campaigned for Rupiah to become president but today have no kind words for him. And these are not disgruntled elements; they are people Rupiah had appointed to be members of his government. Rupiah should be asking himself why these people have today turned against him. There are many others in our country who supported and voted for Rupiah but today they are rubbishing him as useless, fake, inept, nyama soya. Of course, it is said that you cannot know a person completely, his character, his principles, sense of judgement, until he has shown his colours, ruling the people. Experience, there’s the test.

One who wants to do good as a servant of the people will always respectfully and patiently listen to all the people in their diversities and complexities. There is no need to become stubborn or arrogant when the people of whom you are a servant question your decisions and actions. It is said that “stubbornness will get you into trouble at the end. If you live dangerously, it will kill you. A stubborn person will be burdened down with troubles…there is no cure for the troubles that arrogant people have; wickedness has taken deep root in them. Intelligent people will learn from proverbs and parables. They listen well because they want to learn” (Sirach 3:26-29).

There is no need for Rupiah to go around boasting that he has sharp teeth and can bite and bite deep. Others also have sharp teeth and they can bite back. Life is not lived like that. And people are not led like that. This is not the way to govern a country, let alone a multi party or plural democracy. It seems Rupiah is stuck in the one-party state mentality under which he was nurtured. That type of politics might have worked under the one-party system but they can’t do now.

There is need to “admit when you are wrong and you avoid embarrassment. Using force to get a point across is like a castrated man trying to rape a girl” (Sirach 20:3-4).

What the Catholic bishops are trying to do is to help Rupiah and his government and not to destroy them. But they can’t see this. Anyway, we are again told in Sirach 22:7-8: “Trying to teach a fool is like gluing a broken pot back together, like waking someone out of a deep sleep. Explaining something to a fool is like explaining it to a sleepy man; when you have finished, he will say, ‘what was that again?’”

Rupiah and his government are denying everything the Catholic bishops are saying and dismissing it as untrue, as lies. Well, it is said that “fumes and smoke appear before the flames do; insults come before violence”.

Truly, foolish people are deceived by vain hopes, and dreams get them all excited. But wise people respectfully and attentively listen to advice even if they don’t agree with every word said. Foolish people are very quick to denounce those who give them advice they don’t like.

But life being what it is, one cannot drift very far from reality before it catches up with him. They can deceive themselves that all is well, that it’s only a few troublemakers like the Catholic bishops and a few other disgruntled elements trying to stir up things for them. We can only advise Rupiah’s friends, those who he listens to, to tell him the truth that all is not well and the situation is as the Catholic bishops had put it. And denials have never cured any illness.

Before they realise it, the deadly virus they have been denying would have spread to the whole body and there would be no cure, not even the best ARVs may be of value. The time to act is now. Prevention is better than cure. We hope Rupiah can understand what we are talking about. If Rupiah doesn’t, we can only hope that George Kunda, Benny Tetamashimba or Mike Mulongoti can grasp what we are trying to say and with their experience, do something about it.



Rupiah will be a danger to zambia – Sondashi

Rupiah will be a danger to zambia – Sondashi
Written by Patson Chilemba
Saturday, March 07, 2009 10:32:07 AM

FORMER works and supply minister Ludwig Sondashi yesterday charged that President Rupiah Banda will be a disaster to continue to lead the country after 2011. And Sondashi said some prominent people in the country, including Dr Kenneth Kaunda, have remained mute over the corruption allegations in President Banda's government.
Announcing his resignation from the MMD at a press briefing, Sondashi said President Banda was not suited to continue to lead the country after the 2011 elections.

Sondashi charged that if President Banda had failed to improve on late president Levy Mwanawasa's legacy in the four months he had been in office, he would be a disaster if given a longer term in office.

"The nation was promised during the election campaign that he would continue late president Mwanawasa's legacy. I am sad to say that Levy Mwanawasa must be turning in his grave at what has come of his legacy," he said. "As a founding member of the MMD, I am ashamed at the fact that our party is no longer the beacon of hope and the flag-bearer of democratic values."

Sondashi said President Banda's government - with only four months in office - had been embroiled in scandals and the MMD was now a subject of ridicule throughout the country.

He said while president Mwanawasa raised the bar on the fight against corruption, President Banda had lowered it to very low levels.

Sondashi further cited the importation of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) type maize by a company allegedly closely associated with President Banda's son, James, communications and transport minister Dora Siliya's alleged corruption scams and MMD deputy national secretary Jeff Kaande's corruption allegations, which he said had not been handled properly.

"Public confidence in his government has been seriously undermined by the manner in which he and his ministers have handled the recent alleged scams widely reported in the media. Allegations against Dora Siliya are of a criminal nature and it was expected that she would either voluntarily resign or be relieved of her duties as a Cabinet minister," Sondashi said. "It is common knowledge that when a member of government is implicated in a criminal case, they are asked to tender their resignation to enhance the integrity of government. That this has not been done, despite my advice to the President given only three weeks ago, raises questions about Rupiah Banda's complicity in the alleged transactions. The President has not condemned the scams, especially the ones in which his children are involved."

Sondashi further disclosed that Siliya had reportedly undertaken to concession Tanzania Zambia Railways (TAZARA) to Railway Systems of Zambia (RSZ), which had lamentably failed to run railway services in the country.

"It is therefore not surprising that Rupiah Banda recently went to Tanzania to persuade the unsuspecting and clean President Jakaya Kikwete to concession TAZARA. This TAZARA thing also stinks of corruption," Sondashi, who is immediate past board chairperson of Zambia Railways, said.

Sondashi said he was distressed at the fact that Kaande was reportedly encouraging corruption and abused his authority in directing the government to pay debts to favour MMD sympathizers.

He said MMD was now involved in corruption and this gave it little moral authority to fight graft in the country.

Sondashi said it was shocking to witness President Banda embrace Kaande with MMD supporters at State House as though nothing had happened.

He said this showed that President Banda was failing to provide leadership and was playing to the gallery.

"I wish to advise him that the honeymoon is over and he should wake up and provide leadership," Sondashi said.

He said many prominent people in the country had remained mute over the corruption allegations in President Banda's government.

He said Dr Kenneth Kaunda had not said anything on the crass corruption when he was a prominent critic when late president Mwanawasa erred.

"Does it mean all is alright or is it a matter of supporting one's relative?" he asked.

However, Sondashi said he was not surprised by President Banda's action because this was expected from a man who lacked vision.

He said it was not surprising that MMD had been embroiled in so many scandals because the party had been hijacked by outsiders and had lost the vision upon which it was established.

Sondashi said late president Mwanawasa contributed to the disintegration because he brought in outsiders, including President Banda, to occupy senior government and party positions.

He said President Banda and the people surrounding him were leading the MMD astray and that the level of indiscipline and impunity that had got into the party was unprecedented.

"Some people seem to be untouchable, even when they make damaging statements against the party leadership," Sondashi said. "Many NEC members have chosen to remain silent as they have no livelihood of their own and are dependent on handouts from the President through government jobs and contracts."

Sondashi said at the rate things were going and based on past experience, he did not expect democratic elections to be held in the party in 2010 due to corruption and manipulation of party rules and sycophancy.

He said this was witnessed during President Banda's election to become presidential candidate in 2008.

Sondashi said there would be a fixation with keeping President Banda as party leader and this would mean that those challenging him for the position would be harassed and hounded out of the party.

He said MMD had lost its usefulness and no longer had the legitimacy to lead the country.

Sondashi charged that the MMD was fatigued and had run out of ideas.

He said other than failure to address corruption in government, President Banda had also shown to be partial, exclusive and tribal in his manner of governance.

"Recently at Chipata airport on arrival to attend the Nc'wala ceremony Rupiah Banda was shown on ZNBC television telling MMD cadres that; 'Bafuna kumilanda ichi chintu'. What did he really mean by that?" Sondashi asked. "The literal meaning of what President Banda said is that: They want to take this thing, the Presidency, away from you."

"Given the closing of political space within my party, undemocratic tendencies and corruption, I am no longer able to associate freely with such an organisation. I therefore wish to announce my decision to resign from the party with immediate effect. I will soon embark on a nation-wide consultation on the formation of a new political party, as an alternative to the MMD," Sondashi said. "The MMD has no future and going by its current electoral performance will not survive after 2011, more so with Rupiah Banda as its presidential candidate."

Sondashi also said he would extend his consultations to Patriotic Front (PF) president Michael Sata and UPND president Hakainde Hichilema.

He said he fought dictatorship in the UNIP government, corruption in Frederick Chiluba's administration and differed with president Mwanawasa over undemocratic practices in the party.

Sondashi said he realised that President Banda enjoyed enormous power under the Constitution but the President should not use it to victimise other citizens who were exercising their rights.

He said he was conscious of the fact that there had been unexplained deaths of political opponents in the past.

On Nchelenge National Democratic Focus (NDF) member of parliament Ben Mwila's accusation that the Task Force on Corruption and some donor countries had hijacked the Zambian judicial system, Sondashi challenged Mwila to provide evidence over his claims. Sondashi said it would not do to defend relatives just because they were about to be convicted.

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Zambia is not a personal property of MMD – Chihana

Zambia is not a personal property of MMD – Chihana
Written by Lambwe Kachali
Saturday, March 07, 2009 10:29:14 AM

Zambia is not a personal-to-holder property of the MMD government, International Fellowship of Christian Churches (IFCC) president Bishop Simon Chihana said yesterday.

Reacting to chief government spokesperson Lieutenant General Ronnie Shikapwasha who disputed the Roman Catholic Bishops' observations in their pastoral letter that highlighted several pitfalls in the government's management of national affairs, Bishop Chihana advised Lt Gen Shikapwasha and the government against living in denial.

He said it would be difficult for the executive to reduce the animosity and tension in the country if it failed to take advice from stakeholders. Bishop Chihana said the government should not pretend as though everything were well in the country when they were able to see that many wrong things were going wrong.

He advised Lt Gen Shikapwasha, who is also information minister, to learn to tell the truth, especially that he was also a reverend.

"This country is not a personal-to-holder property by the sitting government. Governments come and go, but the truth needs to be told. There is nothing wrong with the Church to make observations, and in this case the observations made in the Pastoral Letter were right and clear," Bishop Chihana said. "There is no need for government to be antagonistic towards the Church. It's imperative that government listens carefully and take appropriate steps to rectify their mistakes."

Bishop Chihana said there was no freedom in any democratic nation without checks and balances.

He said the Church would continue to speak out whenever things were wrong in the country because it was the institution's duty to put things right.

On Lt Gen Shikapwasha's sentiments that it was a shame that the Catholic Church would advocate food packs to be dished out to able-bodied people instead of assisting them with inputs to enable them grow enough food, Bishop Chihana said the Church had the responsibility to take care of the poor through various ways.

Bishop Chihana said it was unfortunate that Lt Gen Shikapwasha could issue such a wrong statement instead of working hand-in-hand with the Church to help uplift the lives of the majority poor people across the country.

"There is animosity and tension in the country because of many wrong things and it is important that the Church, other stakeholders and the government work together and encourage each other to reduce this tension," said Bishop Chihana.

On Thursday, Lt Gen Shikapwasha said there was no basis for the Catholic Bishop to suggest that the incidence of corruption and abuse of office had increased only in the last four months.

Lt Gen Shikapwasha also observed that although the Catholic Church might not like the government's economic programmes aimed at addressing the current economic situation, it was not correct to suggest there was no clear strategy or gains made so far were being lost because of the new government.

Lt Gen Shikapwasha's remarks came in the wake of the Bishops' Pastoral Letter in which they called for integrity, saying corruption in society had become endemic and it must not be allowed to continue.

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Dora erred when she ordered cancellation of radar tender – witness

Dora erred when she ordered cancellation of radar tender – witness
Written by Mwala Kalaluka
Saturday, March 07, 2009 10:27:16 AM

A WITNESS yesterday testified before the tribunal that Dora Siliya erred when she directly wrote to Zambia National Tender Board, now Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA), director general David Kapitolo directing that the contract for the supply and installation of radar equipment at Lusaka and Livingstone airports be cancelled.

And Supreme Court judge Peter Chitengi yesterday assured communications and transport permanent secretary Mukuka Zimba that nothing would happen to her if she testified in the Siliya tribunal.

The tribunal has also noted that while donations by parliamentarians to their constituencies are encouraged, refunds should not be claimed on such gestures.

This is in a matter where former communications and transport minister William Harrington and ten civil society organisations have asked Chief Justice Ernest Sakala to set up a tribunal to investigate alleged corruption and abuse of office involving communications and transport minister Siliya.

Harrington and the ten civil society organisations urged justice Sakala to probe Siliya for allegedly breaching the Parliamentary and Ministerial Code of Conduct in her engagement of RP Capital Partners of Cayman Islands to value Zamtel's assets before partial privatisation and her cancellation of a tender that was awarded for the installation of radars at the Lusaka and Livingstone international airports. Siliya is also being probed over her alleged claim of K12.5 million from Petauke District Council as refund for two hand pumps for two boreholes sunk in one of the wards called Nyika, when in fact, the hand pumps were procured at K5 million.

Testifying before the tribunal, Ministry of Communications and Transport chief purchasing and supply officer Isaac Mukupa, 49 said that Siliya had no powers to seek the cancellation of the tender for the supply, delivery, installation and commissioning of radars at two international airports, because she was not part of the procurement entity.

During cross examination by one of the complainants' lawyers Wynter Kabimba, Mukupa said if Siliya had substantial justifications for the cancellation of the contract, she should have written to the permanent secretary, Dr Eustern Mambwe, at the time, instead of writing directly to Kapitolo.

"That is the right channel of communication in procurement," Mukupa said.

Mukupa is the author of the internal memo that was dated December 12, 2008, addressed to Siliya, communications and transport deputy minister Mubika Mubika and Dr Mambwe, in which he advised against the cancellation of the tender for the supply of the radar equipment and single sourcing.

Kabimba asked Mukupa if Dr Mwambwe would have been obliged to cancel the tender on the basis of substantial justification from Siliya, but he [Mukupa] said he could not answer for the permanent secretary. He said his internal memo was prompted by another memo that was written to him by Dr Mambwe, who sought advice on the matter following a letter that Siliya wrote to Kapitolo directing that the contract be cancelled.

Mukupa could not produce the letter from Dr Mambwe that prompted his advice, as contained in his internal memo, saying it was confidential information that was in the custody of the permanent secretary.

The petitioners have suggested that they would raise a subpoena of the document, as it was critical to complete Mukupa's evidence.

When judge Chitengi asked him what route Siliya should have taken had she noted any wrong things in the contract, Mukupa said the right channel of communication should have been through the permanent secretary rather than the ZPPA (formerly Zambia National Tender Board).

"My advice was that the minister had no power to cancel the tender without giving justification," Mukupa said. "The minister is not part of the procurement entity."

Mukupa said he was not aware of any direct instruction that Siliya gave to the permanent secretary over the directive to cancel the tender, apart from her letter to Kapitolo, which he said was not in line with public procurement regulations.

Mukupa said the involvement of the ZPPA was cardinal as the tender was being considered at a time, before December 12, 2008, when the Ministry of Communications and Transport's procurement threshold was only up to K20 billion.

Mukupa said tenders such as the one in contention were supposed to be taken to the ZPPA for recommendation of award before they could be taken back to the ministry for onward action. He said in his memo of advice to Siliya and others, he expressed reservations on the method that was used in identifying the first supplier, Selex Sistemi Integrati, because it did not adhere to then Zambia National Tender Board Act.

Kabimba then asked Mukupa on the status of the radar tender and he responded that Thales Air Systems of France had been sent a notification of award, even though the contract had not yet been signed.

"But a draft contract was sent to them," he said. "The contract can only be signed after negotiations then cleared by the Attorney General. Negotiations have not taken place, the bids are still valid...the bid also includes the draft contract."

Mukupa said the bids would elapse after 90 days after the date of notification of award. He said at this stage what was remaining was to negotiate with the above company.

He said a technical committee comprising people who were involved in drawing the technical specifications on the radar tender would now negotiate with the notified bidder.

Earlier, Mukupa said the major ingredient in the procurement of goods and services in the public service was the availability of funds. He said only the permanent secretary signs on any contract on behalf of the ministry after it had been cleared by the office of the Attorney General, while the head of the procurement unit would witness the act.

Mukupa, who has been working for the Ministry of Communications and Transport for about 20 years, said while he was not aware at which stage Siliya was notified of the radar tender, he was experienced enough to know that such issues were a matter of the departmental briefs that the permanent secretary gives the minister.

And judge Chitengi assured Zimba that nothing would happen to her after she was subpoenaed to testify in the matter.

The visibly unsettled Mukuka first refused to tell the tribunal her age when asked and only said she was an adult.

Judge Chirwa reminded Zimba that the tribunal she had appeared before was constituted by the Laws of Zambia and that she needed to abide by the law.

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Govt asks Mopani to hand over mine

Govt asks Mopani to hand over mine
Written by Mutuna Chanda in Kitwe
Saturday, March 07, 2009 10:24:40 AM

MINES minister Maxwell Mwale has asked Mopani Copper Mine (MCM)ís shareholders to officially handover the mine to the government as opposed to putting some of its operations under care and maintenance.

But National Union of Miners and Allied Workers (NUMAW) president Mundia Sikufele has challenged the government to tell Zambians that it will be ready to run Mopani if it takes over instead of keeping it idle.

In a December 2008 analysis that was presented to shareholders and separately to Mwale and labour minister Austin Liato as well as to President Rupiah Banda, Mopani management recommended the closure of the Mufulira mine and putting on care and maintenance its four other shafts in Kitwe.

This left an uncertain future for over 9,000 Mopani employees.

In an interview yesterday following a meeting between the government and shareholders of Mopani on Thursday, Mwale said the government was extremely concerned with the future of the mine.

"As a government, we are really concerned about the future of the mine and we asked them to hand it over back to the government," said Mwale. "We also asked for some time before they put the mine under care and maintenance. I am following that up by putting the matter in writing to them today (yesterday). So let us leave it at that; we cannot discuss correspondence."

But Sikufele challenged the government to call for a tripartite meeting involving itself, Mopani and the labour movement.

"As long as we are not given an official position, we will be groping in the dark. Government should tell us if it will ready to run Mopani once it takes over instead of keeping it for the breeding of cockroaches and lizards,” Sikufele said.

He also said it was not enough for the government to say that it was taking over the mines without continuing with production of copper.

And Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ) general secretary Oswell Munyenyembe complained that MCMís position on closing the Mufulira mine and putting its four other operations under care and maintenance was being done behind the unions' backs.

"We'll leave it to the government since the minister said he is aware of the Mopani position," Munyenyembe said. "It's up to Mopani and government to address this issue. They have been doing this behind our backs and this puts us in an awkward position."

He said mine workers at Mopani were anxious over their fate in view of revelations that the Mufulira mine had been recommended for closure and four other operations to be put under care and maintenance.

"Since the minister says he is aware and we have a pending request to see the President, we would like to be granted an appointment to see the President and address this issue with him," said Munyenyembe.

And Patriotic Front (PF) Kankoyo member of parliament Percy Chanda described the position taken by Mopani over the closure of Mufulira mine as an insult.

Chanda argued that the reason that Mopani gave on poor operator and maintenance skills brought about by the lack of vocational training facilities was not tenable as there were enough artisans in the country.

He also argued that transporting copper from the mine to whichever destination was not the responsibility of the mine as the cost was borne by the buyer.

He further dismissed the reason of unreliable supply of electricity.

"I live in Mufulira and we only had the issue of power outages in one quarter of the year but even then, the mine was favoured," said Chanda.

"The mine would have power in the plant and the only ones who would not have electricity are the people in the townships not the mine. They should just be honest and say they used to outsource on almost everything even what could be gotten locally. Just imagine, the mine would import safety pins and first aid dressing. They would bring in their brothers day in and day out to come and work at the mine creating unemployment for the local people but now after seeing that they have no money to pay the contractors, are they going to blame us? Today after terminating the contractors' contracts, 90 per cent of the mine is being run by Zambians and they say we don't have skills. This is an insult to Zambians and they should apologise to us."

Mopani management recommended the closure of the Mufulira mine and placing its four shafts on care and maintenance until the rebound of copper prices to profitable levels.

The mining firm stated that the Mufulira mine was a high cost operation which was at the end of its economic life given the December market price.

Mopani further stated that the copper prices rendered the mines at Nkana unprofitable for the foreseeable future.

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KCM fires 26 miners over retirement dues

KCM fires 26 miners over retirement dues
Written by Correspondent
Saturday, March 07, 2009 10:21:57 AM

KONKOLA Copper Mines (KCM) has fired 26 miners in Chililabombwe for accessing National Pension Scheme Authority (NAPSA) retirement dues before they can attain their retirement age.

And five shops have been closed for selling mealie-meal at K80,000 instead of the standard price of K50,000 per 25-kilogramme bag of breakfast mealie-meal.

Chililabombwe district commissioner Timothy Musonda confirmed the firing of the 26 miners who were involved in the NAPSA retirement dues scam.

Musonda said in an interview in Chililabombwe yesterday that the 26 had been fired for absconding work and also for bringing the name of the company into ridicule.

He said police and other security wings had since intensified investigations to bring more culprits to book so that they could face the wrath of the law.

"I can confirm that KCM in Chililabombwe has fired 26 miners who were believed to be among the 300 miners on the Copperbelt who are alleged to have fraudulently accessed their pension dues from NAPSA. Some of them were recently arrested. The fired miners have since appealed against management decision to dismiss them. Their first and second appeals were thrown out and right now they were waiting for an outcome of their last appeal," he said.

"There is group of crooked characters that mislead the miners that they can access their dues before attaining their retirement age and some miners fell for that and in the process, the scam burst, hence the arrest and firing of some miners."

And Musonda has said his office decided to close down the five shops, which were selling mealie meal at K80,000 because the government was not happy to see people being exploited by unscrupulous traders in the district.

He said his office and other law enforcement agencies in the area would be vigilant to ensure that traders were not exploiting the consumers by selling the commodity more than the recommended price of K50,000 per 25kg bag.

He said the district was fighting both the smuggling of the commodity into neighbouring countries and the exploiting of people by unscrupulous traders who were overcharging on mealie-meal.

"The problem of artificial shortage of mealie meal in the border town was getting out of hand. Almost all the marketeers have virtually abandoned their usual businesses of selling commodities such as vegetables and have turned to trading in mealie meal. Even our effort to subject buyers to dip their fingers in ink is proving futile as they are using spirit to remove them. Stands in markets are now found empty as most family members prefer to go and line up for mealie meal especially in retail shops where we are regulating the prices of the commodity," said Musonda.

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NCZ workers bemoan govt’s failure to keep plant running

COMMENT - Why can't the workers and managers get together, create a profitable business model for NCZ, and get funding on the basis of that model? NCZ could be worker owned. They should be manufacturing the nation's fertilizer, whose prices are at an all time high.

NCZ workers bemoan govt’s failure to keep plant running
Written by Florence Bupe
Saturday, March 07, 2009 10:17:34 AM

NITROGEN Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ) workers have criticised government’s failure to keep the manufacturing plant running while an equity partner is being sought.

In an interview, National Union of Commercial and Industrial Workers (NUCIW) branch president Seth Paradza said it was irresponsible for the government to stall operations at the plant through failure to release the required funds.

“Government should have let the company continue to run as they look for an equity partner. We needed only K5 billion to purchase additional raw materials to resume production, yet government has failed to avail these funds. Instead, they are talking of close to K40 billion to settle retirees’ and workers’ dues, which at the end of the day is very uneconomical.”

NCZ was shut down in November, 2007 due to lack of funds needed for recapitalisation and procurement of raw materials.

Paradza expressed disappointment over the government’s stance on the recapitalisation of the fertiliser manufacturing company.

He said the government was not committed to the revival of the company, adding that the country would continue to spend unnecessarily huge amounts of money on fertiliser imports for as long as the local plant was not revamped.

“Government’s pronouncements that NCZ is a strategic company will remain empty for as long as they are not accompanied by action,” he said.

Paradza disclosed that workers were owed two months’ salary arrears, and explained that the K8.5 billion that had been released would be channeled towards the payment of salaries for one month, as well as part payment of terminal benefits.

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Prepare for prison, Kambwili tells government officials

Prepare for prison, Kambwili tells government officials
Written by Ernest Chanda
Saturday, March 07, 2009 10:15:52 AM

ROAN Patriotic Front (PF) member of parliament Chishimba Kambwili on Thursday told some government officials to prepare for prison life after their political life comes to an end.

Debating the estimates of expenditure for the Human Rights Commission, Kambwili said the corruption in the current government made some officials possible future prisoners.

"...When you look at the state of our prisons today, the situation is not inspiring. According to our law, prisons are meant to reform people and not to punish them. But the condition of our prisons today makes offenders worse than they were before they went to prison," Kambwili said.

"When these prisons were set up many years ago, cells were meant to accommodate 50 people, but now these cells accommodate 350 people or more in some instances. In my language, we say Umulandu mume, baukumpulafye [an offence is like the morning dew which could be picked by anyone]. All I am saying is that not everyone commits offences per se, but that sometimes people find themselves with offences they did not commit because of unpredictable circumstances.

"With the current high levels of corruption we are seeing in this government, most of them [government officials] are possible prisoners when they leave office. Icili pamunobe, ecili napali iwe [What happens to someone today could happen to you tomorrow]. So the time to prepare your homes [pointing to the Executive's side of Parliament] is now.”

And Kabwata member of parliament Given Lubinda was visibly angered by a point of order raised by information minister Lieutenant General Ronnie Shikapwasha asking whether Lubinda was in order not to inform the House that Patriotic Front leader Michael Sata had been evacuated to South Africa for medical treatment.

As Lubinda was debating the estimates of expenditure for the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services, Lt Gen Shikapwasha rose on a point of order.

"...I rise on a very serious point of order. Is the PF spokesperson in order..." he said.

At this point Lt Gen Shikapwasha was guided by deputy chairperson of Parliamentary Committee Mkhondo Lungu that there were no spokespersons in Parliament, but members of parliament.

"Is Mr Lubinda who is a member of the Patriotic Front in order not to inform the House that his party president Mr Michael Sata has been evacuated to South Africa for medical treatment?" Lt Gen Shikapwasha asked.

Lungu guided that anyone who fell sick needed the prayers of the members of parliament and asked Lubinda to continue debating.

As Lubinda resumed his debate, he tried to refute Lt Gen Shikapwasha's claim, saying the PF leader was in fact not sick.

But before Lubinda could finish his clarification on Sata's health, Lungu curtailed him and instead asked community development minister Michael Kaingu to wind up debate on the ministry's budget estimates.

Meanwhile, Kaingu burst into anger as he was winding up debate on the estimates of expenditure for the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services.

This was after Roan member of parliament Chishimba Kambwili made some remark as Kaingu was trying to clarify Lusaka Central member of parliament Dr Guy Scott's accusation that the government had used the Ministry of Community Development funds in MMD campaigns for last year's Presidential election.

As Kaingu rose to debate he started by saying: "some of the people in the House are spoilers. How can the Honourable member for Lusaka Central allege that we used the ministry's funds in last year's campaign?"

At this point, Kambwili shouted from the background "Iwe, impali shilekubaba! [You, your polygamous life is itching on your body!"

It was this remark that incensed Kaingu who later burst into fury and shouted: "...We need cells around this House so that some people can be locked up for abusive language!"

This sent the Parliament into laughter, with some opposition members of parliament shouting “Kozo, Kozo,” in reference to Kaingu's Kozo Lodge in Choma.

The visibly annoyed Kaingu however continued to give a summary of the debate but some parliamentarians could still be heard talking in the background.

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Mpulungu residents demolish building for road works

Mpulungu residents demolish building for road works
Written by Emmanuel Kapampa in Mpulungu
Saturday, March 07, 2009 10:13:21

THE demolition of buildings, stores and other structures built along the main road in Mpulungu has reached an advanced stage.

A snap survey conducted yesterday revealed that most shop owners and businessmen whose structures have been earmarked for demolition had engaged people to bringing down their structures.

The works have intensified in order to beat the Road Development Agency (RDA's) ultimatum to the businessmen to have the buildings demolished by March 31 in order to pave way for the tarring of the main road by Raubex Contractors.

Last week, district commissioner Willie Simfukwe informed the businessmen that government through RDA has allowed that the period for the demolition of the structures built in the road reserve area is extended to March 31, 2009.

This was after the traders complained that they were not given enough time to carry out the exercise because they were unprepared.

Simfukwe however reminded the traders to be through with removing their valuables by end of March, adding that no further extension would be allowed.

He warned that the contractor, would remove any other structure remaining on the road reserve area by force if necessary, on April 1.

The government has awarded a multi million-kwacha road contract to Raubex Contractors to work on the Kasama-Mpulungu Road.

The works, expected to be completed by the end of this year, involve resurfacing, shouldering, pothole mending and general road maintenance.

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Magande seeks apology from MMD youth chairman

Magande seeks apology from MMD youth chairman
Written by Ernest Chanda
Saturday, March 07, 2009 10:11:33 AM

FORMER finance minister Ng'andu Magande has asked Lusaka Province MMD youth chairman Bento Chewe to apologise for alleging that he abused his office in his involvement with Zambian Airways during his tenure of office.

In a letter dated March 5, 2009 in response to Chewe's statement on Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation's television on Monday that the MMD should discipline Magande for his abuse of office, Magande stated that he had never misconducted himself when he was finance minister. Magande stated that Chewe based his statement on mere politicking rather than facts.

"... At 19:00 hours on Monday 2nd March 2009, while in company of other MMD party officials, you were shown giving a public statement on me during prime news time on Television Zambia. In your statement, you demanded that the MMD party national executive eommittee (NEC) should take disciplinary measures on Mr Magande, the former Minister of Finance and National Planning for the offence of 'Abuse of Office.' You went further to indicate that the offence involved me assisting Zambian Airways to obtain loans and deferment of payment of these loans," Magande stated. "You went further to say that I stopped ZRA [Zambia Revenue Authority] and NAC [National Airports Corporation] from collecting their dues and that Zambia lost US$30 million. The conclusion of any normal person is that your statement was meant to slur my character in the opinion and eyes of the general public, both locally and internationally.

"Your statement has greatly injured and damaged my personal reputation and integrity built over many years of impeccable service to Zambians and the international community. I therefore demand a written apology and a broadcast of the same on television Zambia at 19:00 hours before 11th March 2009. In any case, I reserve my rights."

Magande maintained that he did not commit any criminal offence in his operations as minister of finance.

"... I had been appointed to the post of Minister of Finance and National Planning on 3rd July 2003 by late president Dr Levy P Mwanawasa who passed away on 19th August 2008. During my tenure of office, president Mwanawasa used to remind me of my responsibilities and gave advice on how best to execute the duties of my office," he stated. "The offence of abuse of office you broadcast implies that I did things beyond the given and authorised mandate and for a bad purpose. I put it to you that you did not know the mandate I was using to execute the responsibilities assigned to me by late president Mwanawasa. Therefore your statement that I abused my office was not based on any facts, as you were not privy to my appointment letters and discussions with my appointing authority. You were not in attendance at any meetings where the matter of Zambian Airways was discussed by concerned government officials," Magande stated.

He asked Chewe to participate in orderly investigations as a member of the ruling party instead of being malicious.

"Your government announced the setting up of a team to inquire into the matter of the operations of Zambian Airways. As a member of the ruling party, you are expected to assist the government in the orderly investigations of this matter by tendering any information that you possess on the matter to the team. Your statement adducing judgment of the matter and calling for a penalty comes before the team has even called me to give evidence. Since you are not in the line of any authority that could have facilitated your being in possession of any authoritative information on the matter, the statement was malicious," stated Magande.

On Monday this week, Chewe appeared on ZNBC television's 19:00 hours news where he asked the party to discipline Magande for alleged abuse of office.

Chewe alleged that Magande tried to stop the NAC and ZRA from collecting taxes owed to the two institutions by Zambian Airways.

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Rupiah resorts to biting

Rupiah resorts to biting
Written by Chibaula Silwamba in Siavonga
Saturday, March 07, 2009 10:10:03 AM

PRESIDENT Rupiah Banda yesterday said he will continue to bite MMD members and government officials who think they are indispensible and become indisciplined. And President Banda described as nonsensical Jonas Shakafuswa’s argument that he was fired because the head of state does not like Lenje people.

Speaking on arrival at Siavonga High School for the launch of the Kariba North Bank Extension Project here, President Banda said his firing of Shakafuswa and Mpulungu member of parliament Lameck Chibombamilimo as deputy ministers and their subsequent expulsion from the MMD was just the beginning.

"I am visiting you at the time immediately after I took some decisive steps to instill discipline in our party. As you all know since, before my election up to now I have been subject of attacks continuously by certain quarters of the press and unfortunately by even some of my own colleagues," he said. "They mistook my teeth when I smile that I can't bite so I thought now is the good time to show them also I can bite and bite deeply and therefore I took care of those two gentlemen. I hope that those of my colleagues who are working with me in the party and the civil service will learn some lessons."

President Banda said he was not after firing people but that he would do so if provoked.

"I will go after you of course because otherwise the rest of the people will think I am not in control. I hope that those decisive measures which I have taken against these two young people will teach them a lesson, to start with so that wherever they, whatever political party they will join, it will still be necessary for them to be disciplined," President Banda said. "Therefore, I hope that they learnt something from this. I hope my colleagues [who] will remain with me within the government and the party will also learn some lessons so that we don't see some more of these bloodletting."

He said the decision he took against Shakafuswa and Chibombamilimo was not harsh.

"I hear that some people are complaining saying that, 'no! No! This is too harsh and so forth so forth'. You remind me of the saying, that it is good for the dog to bite a goat but if the goat gets near the dog threatening to bite it, you say, 'no! no! Ipayeni nimaloza [This is a taboo, kill the goat]'," President Banda said. "I have been a subject of attacks and bites continuously now I have turned around. This is just warning shots, I am going to bite even more."

He urged leaders not to take Zambians for granted.

"I just want to warn my fellow leaders that all the 11 million Zambians are capable of being leaders, when we become leaders, starting with the President right down to the party leaders, must never think that we are indispensible, we must always be humble to the people, we must always provide them with the honest service, we must always be fair because if we don't do these things other people can take over," President Banda said. "Just like these two gentlemen they have just given an opportunity; Mr Chibombamilimo will just find out that in Mpulungu there are better people than him and will be deputy minister very soon. The same with Mr Shakafuswa, must learn that he was just lucky to be a deputy minister, there are many people where he comes from, better qualified, better able to serve the people of the constituency where he has been."

He said Shakafuswa and Chibombamilimo had created opportunities for others to take over and serve the Zambian people.

"Even if I take out 10, I can find 10 new ones. That is the lesson we should all learn from being leaders. Sometimes when we are leaders we think that we are everything, we are better than all of you people here," President Banda said. "Everyone is waiting for the opportunity to provide his service and those who go they create space for others to come in. That's it, it's created."

He urged Shakafuswa and Chibombamilimo to go and stand as parliamentary candidates in further coming by-elections on Patriotic Front or UPND tickets or as independent.

"We shall meet them there, we are ready we have already started," said President Banda. "They are going round telling people saying, 'no, in the case of me, Shakafuswa, you know Mr Banda doesn't like Lenjes'. I am not going to bring a Lozi to go and take over his place; I am going to bring a Lenje also. His argument is nonsensical. The people of there [Katuba Constituency] will have another one of their children, perhaps a better one than him."

The MMD last Tuesday expelled Shakafuswa and Chibombamilimo from the party for alleged indiscipline and bringing the party into ridicule.

Announcing their expulsion at a press briefing, MMD national secretary Katele Kalumba said the duo had repeatedly and arrogantly made pronouncements and conducted themselves in ways that had placed the party into disrepute.

Shakafuswa and Chibombamilimo were earlier on Thursday fired by President Banda from their positions as science and technology and energy deputy ministers, respectively, in front of MMD cadres that marched to State House to express their solidarity with the head of state. A visibly agitated President Banda also warned that he would take the duo's names to the party's NEC where he would have them removed from the party and later follow them to their constituencies where he would defeat them.

But reacting to his expulsion from the party, Shakafuswa said President Banda was a very weak scared person. Shakafuswa said he would not seek legal action over his expulsion because he wanted to teach President Banda and his minions in the MMD a lesson. Shakafuswa also said the Lenje people were no longer an inferior tribe as they were now a strong force in the country.

President Banda was in Siavonga to officially commission the second phase of the construction of a 360 mega-watts hydro-electric power station at Kariba North Bank.

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Friday, March 06, 2009

(TALKZIMBABWE) Obama extends Zimbabwe sanctions

COMMENT - The notion that Zimbabwe represents: "a continuing unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States" is bizarre, to say the least. A more rational explanation is that Zimbabwe presents a threat to the diamond interests to certain large donors to the Democratic and Republican parties, to be specific, Maurice Tempelsman and Danny Gertler. Tempelsman is a donor to Hillary Clinton, who co-sponsored the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001.

Obama extends Zimbabwe sanctions
Our reporter
Fri, 06 Mar 2009 02:09:00 +0000

UNITED STATES President Barack Obama has extended for another year economic sanctions on Zimbabwe unapproved by the United Nations. Obama has completely ignored calls to have the sanctions lifted.

The punitive sanctions have been denounced by 118 member states of the Non Aligned Movement, 53 from the African Union and 15 from the Southern African Development Community.

Former President George W. Bush first imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2003, then expanded them in 2005 and 2008. They would have expired on Friday if Obama had not extended them.

The extensions placed on Zimbabwe ban more than 250 Zimbabwean individuals and companies from doing business with the U.S. Obama's announcement came on Wednesday after Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai had called for an end to Western sanctions.

A statement issued by the White House said: "The crisis constituted by the actions and policies of certain members of the government of Zimbabwe and other persons to undermine Zimbabwe's democratic processes or institutions has not been resolved,“

Obama added in a statement. "These actions and policies pose a continuing unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States.“

The Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment last night when approached by the Zimbabwe Guardian.

A statement from the Government of Zimbabwe said: "Through this action, Obama — who campaigned on a mantra of change — followed his predecessor, George W. Bush’s policy of destructive engagement with Zimbabwe."

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(TALKZIMBABWE) Targetted sanctions: warming up for a big punch

Targetted sanctions: warming up for a big punch
Godfrey Chakanetsa -- Guest Columnist
Fri, 06 Mar 2009 01:58:00 +0000

‘TARGETED sanctions’ is a term often referred to by countries that purport to control weaker nations and impose their hegemony on them.

The term has been masked as referring to asset freezes and travel bans; yet wherever they are imposed, they are imposed in the context of broader economic sanctions.

A survey of sanctions cases in the twenty first century shows that targeted sanctions (such as arms embargoes, asset freezes and travel sanctions) have often been followed by many other measures that affect populations.

In these cases targeted sanctions were almost always imposed in combination with selective export restrictions and/or aid suspensions.

The record indicates that targeted sanctions have been used either as a "warm-up" for broader measures or as the supposed "knock-out" punch.

The sanctions episode against Haiti in the last century illustrates the "knock-out" approach.

Initial trade sanctions by the Organization of American States were followed by more comprehensive sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council. Only after these sanctions failed to bring change were targeted measures aimed directly at the Haitian military imposed.

United Kingdom and United States sanctions against Zimbabwe illustrate the "warm-up" approach, followed by a "knock-out" punch.

An asset freeze, arms embargo have been precursors to import/export bans and suspension of multilateral trade arrangements and suspension of aid packages.

Targeted sanctions, in the various cases where they were imposed outside of comprehensive embargoes, have been followed by punitive sanctions that affect millions of people in the respective countries.

As international support for broad sanctions wanes, alternative measures masked as being targeted on the political elite are meant to offer a way to continue pressure while reducing the impact on the general population. However, the general population has not been spared the effects of these sanctions.

During the long hostilities involving Serbia, the EU was unable to separate targetted sanctions on entities and individuals linked to President Milosevic, from the disastrous effects on the population.

In Zimbabwe today, the cholera epidemic cannot be separated from the lack of foreign currency made possible by punitive measures against businesses and the government in general.

“Targeted sanctions” are often masked by the sender states as "doing something" about nations that do not satisfy their foreign policy goals.

Then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in his "Report of the Secretary-General on the Work of the Organization - 1998" concluded: "The international community should be under no illusion: these humanitarian and human rights policy goals cannot easily be reconciled with those of a sanctions regime.

“It cannot be too strongly emphasized that sanctions are a tool of enforcement and, like other methods of enforcement, they will do harm. This should be borne in mind when the decision to impose them is taken, and when the results are subsequently evaluated."



(TALKZIMBABWE) British economic logic: Dig deep to get out of the well?

British economic logic: Dig deep to get out of the well?
Philip Murombedzi
Fri, 06 Mar 2009 03:58:00 +0000

THE LABOUR Government once criticised the Zimbabwean government for digging deep to “get out of its economic mess”. But today the same government seems to be taking cues from the much criticized “Gonomics”.

The difference is that Britain, unlike Zimbabwe, is using the same measures without biting economic sanctions; which suggests that they are in a deeper hole than Zimbabwe was, or is.

Telegraph blogger , Daniel Hannan wrote: “Every single measure it has so far taken - every single measure - has served to exacerbate the recession: the bail-out, the expropriation of Northern Rock, the next bail-out, the takeover of Bradford & Bingley, the fiscal fiddling, the next bail-out, the attack on our Icelandic allies, the Lloyds-HBOS merger, the higher spending, the unprecedented borrowing, and did I mention the bail-outs?”

Britain has started printing millions of 'dosh' to avert a slump, but the story does not make the headlines. Britain's malfunctioning banking system is starving consumers and businesses of credit and businesses are folding.

“Closing Down Sale” has become the popular high street mantra in Britain and many stores lie vacant.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, taking cues from RBZ Governor, has ordered the printing of £75bn to be injected into that country’s economy over the next three months.

Threadneedle Street will be in over-drive for the next three months. Can you imagine what would happen to Britain if it had no printing paper?

We all know this is the last-gasp measure by Britain to get out of this mess. It was used by Japan to end a decade of recession and deflation, but circumstances were different then. There was no banking crisis.

In Britain, they call it “quantitative easing”. In Zimbabwe it has many nicknames. It was called “stoking up inflation”, yet Britain is spared the same economic logic.

Gordon Brown’s boom is now doom.

Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Vince Cable said increasing the amount of money flowing into the economy was the "only clear option". It was not the clear option for Zimbabwe, according to that same party and the British Government.

At least Zimbabwe did not reward those banks who played Russian Roulette with the economy.

Britain should realise that this problem is beyond liquidity issues now and it is now credit risk.

The price of money does not do anything to stimulate lending if the perceived risk of default is there.

Easing in Japan caused this mess. New tricks Mr Brown, Mr Darling?

Philip Murombedzi is the editor of the Zimbabwe Guardian

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(TALKZIMBABWE) Regime, what regime?

Regime, what regime?
Fredrick Mutangadura -- Opinion
Fri, 06 Mar 2009 00:54:00 +0000

CERTAIN circles of the so-called independent media refer to the 'Mugabe regime'. If we were in the pre-September 11, 2008 period, this would have not come as a surprise. But to try and distinguish the MDC parties and Zanu PF in an inclusive Government is a misnomer.

There is one Government in Zimbabwe – an inclusive Government, comprising Zanu PF and the two MDC’s.

There is no Zanu PF, MDC-T or MDC-M in this Government. They are one entity during the life of the transition.

It is impossible to refer to Mr. Morgan Tsvangirai as Prime Minister without accepting that Mr. Mugabe is President. They are in an inclusive Government together and their roles find expression in that Government.

The independent media has been trying very hard to dissociate Zanu PF from the two MDCs. That is what they would wish for, but that is not what is obtaining on the ground.

There is no “Government-in-Government”. There is only one Government in Zimbabwe and those sections of the independent media have to accept the situation on the ground.

The hierarchy of that Government is clear: there is a President at the top, two Vice Presidents, Prime Minister, two Deputy Prime Ministers, Ministers and Deputy Ministers. This is the structure that obtains today in Zimbabwe and is the only Governmental structure obtaining in the country.

As much as the independent media would want to sub-divide this Government, that remains the only legitimate structure in the country and the opposing media should be educated on that structure.

Fredrick Mutangadura
Leicester, UK


(TALKZIMBABWE) Tsvangirai's wife killed in car accident

Tsvangirai's wife killed in car accident
Our reporter
Fri, 06 Mar 2009 17:03:00 +0000
PM Morgan Tsvangirai (M) and his wife, Susan (L)

ZIMBABWE Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai's wife is said to have died in a car accident, according to reports. Tsvangirai is said to be injured but in a stable condition, according to reports from Harare.

The Prime Minister's spokesman James Maridadi told the Zimbabwe Guardian that the car he was travelling in sideswiped a truck along the Harare-Masvingo road near Beatrice. The car was also carrying an aide, he said.

Mrs Tsvangirai is said to have died at the Avenues Clinic in the capital after sustaining multiple fractures, while Tsvangirai is said to be in a stable condition.

The Prime Minister and his wife were on the way to Tsvangirai's hometown of Buhera, south of the capital, when the accident occurred.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told Reuters news agency that Tsvangirai was not in a critical condition.

"We have just heard that there was an accident of sorts involving the president of the party. Injuries, yes, but not critical condition, we are still assessing the actual condition," he said.

He and his wife Susan, who were married in 1978, had six children.

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(LUSAKATIMES) Ludwig Sondashi resigns

Ludwig Sondashi resigns

Friday, March 6, 2009, 14:35 Politics 707 views 36 comments Former justice Minister Ludwig Sondashi has resigned from the ruling MMD with immediate effect. Dr. Sondashi also says he will soon embark on a nationwide consultation on forming a new political party.

Dr. Sondashi who announced his resignation at a press briefing in Lusaka said he did so because he no longer feels free to associate himself within the party.

He will also hold dicussions with PF president Michael Sata and UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema on the political situation in the country. Meanwhile the ruling MMD has described Dr. Sondashi’s resignation as regrettable.

Party National Secretary Katele Kalumba said the MMD wishes Dr. Sondashi well in his political career.

Dr. Kalumba however advised Dr. Sondashi to go out of the MMD with civility and avoid insults.



(LUSAKATIMES) The Zambian Airways saga-the story going round the Internet

The Zambian Airways saga-the story going round the Internet
Friday, March 6, 2009, 14:15

Government has commenced civil and criminal proceedings against Mines Air Services Limited trading as Zambian Airways and its Chief Executive Officer Mutembo Nchito.

The civil proceedings are aimed at recovering over USD12million (over K60 BILLION) owed to statutory and public bodies such as Development Bank of Zambia (DBZ), National Airports Corporation (NAC), Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) and National Pensions Scheme Authority (NAPSA).

The criminal investigations against the directors range from theft, fraud, money laundering and tax evasion. Mutembo is accused of using Zambian Airways as a vehicle to defraud and steal public funds from banks and state institutions.

He is being accused of orchestrating purported commercial transactions that allowed him to obtain a string of loans running into millions of dollars without the intention of paying back. Every time the monies were released to Zambian Airways, Mutembo allegedly reneged on servicing the loans and would always attempt to persuade these institutions to turn the debt into shareholding without showing how and what the loans were used for or invested.

Investigating wings are particularly interested in what happened to the USD29million provided to Zambian Airways by various creditors as its asset portfolio remains poor in value and the allegation is that funds were not directed to the operations of the airline.

Zambian Airways has been known to have operated on a tight shoe-string budget. The revelation that it has over the years obtained loans and obligations totalling over USD29million is puzzling as no evidence exist that the funds were poured into Zambian Airways. This is the focus of criminal investigations by Agencies to attempt to understand what directors of Zambian Airways did with this USD29million.

The theft and fraud was perpetrated by directors of Zambian Airways using political influence, to siphone money from public bodies on the pretext that it was a ‘national airline’ and required funding, loans or couldn’t pay statutory obligations.

Its CEO, Mutembo Nchito has consistently targeted public bodies to ‘finance the operations of Zambian Airways’ even when the history of the airline shows that government privatised the airline to avoid the tax payer running such an enterprise.

It is ironical that Mutembo even targeted ZCCM-Investment Holdings, technically the former owner of the airline, urging them to buy shares in the troubled airline. ZCCM-IH were careful, and commissioned a due diligence inspection. The report showed that the airline was bankrupt and relied on external sources of money to run. On this account, ZCCM-IH rejected Mutembo’s overtures and threw out the application. Zambian Airways claims that they withdrew from the negotiations. ZCCM-IH ejected the airline from its premises at Mukuba Pension House.

The probe has been widened to key persons at Bank of Zambia and Ministry of Finance who deliberately allowed and supported the current state of affairs. Despite the financial records and audit reports showing that Zambian Airways consistently suffered annual losses, lacked solvency plans and was clearly a financial failure, Mutembo sought more and more loans.

Former Finance Minister Peter Ngandu Magande and current BOZ chief Caleb Fundanga are said to be targeted in a wider probe, for their role in allowing Zambian Airways accumulate a total debt of over USD29million.

Magande is said to have used his office to dissuade and stop statutory bodies such as ZRA, NAPSA and National Airport Corporation (NAC) from collecting fees, tax liabilities and other obligations due, from Zambian Airways. For example, Magande penned a letter to Transport and Communications Minister Dora Siliya directing her to waive’ for a period of 3 years’, debts and payments Zambian Airways owed and were due to National Airport Corporation.

Magande had rescheduled and deferred debts Zambian Airways owed statutory bodies such as ZRA, NAPSA and NAC. Further, Magande had directed ministries and government departments to fly Zambian Airways to routes the airline serviced contrary to government own liberal policies and regulations.

Magande is also accused of attempting to force the Zambia State Insurance Corporation (ZSIC) to give a loan of USD4million to Zambian Airways.

Mutembo then applied to ZSIC persuading it to be shareholders. ZSIC were requested to provide Zambian Airways with an investment of USD4million. The application showed that the money was needed to purchase the leased planes and also clear outstanding lease finance expenses (USD77, 000.00 per month) that had accumulated on the books. The application also sought to use the funds if provided to help reduce the operational costs. (This is the same line of approach Mutembo has consistently given to all the institutions that are owed money).

However, In November 2008, ZSIC declined to provide funds to Zambian Airways for its ‘rescue plan’ The ZSIC investment committee headed by Judge Anderson Zikonda rejected the bid citing ‘bad books’ and bankruptcy as the reason not to risk public funds.

ZRA, DBZ and ZSIC fall under Ministry of Finance which Magande headed until recently when he recently lost his ministerial position to Musokotwane.

Zambian Airways directors also failed to remit and pay taxes to ZRA has resulted in the debt of USD2million.

Even when extensive loans were obtained and waivers given for its tax liabilities, the airline continued to show features of bankruptcy raising the key question of whether any financing arrangement obtained was ever put into the airline. This is the foundation of the fraud and theft charges against Mutembo.

In a twist turn of events, it is said that even The Post were duped to invest USD3million by Mutembo. The Post are said to have bought 30% shares in the airline and are owed undisclosed amount in monies lent to Zambian Airways for operations. (Isn’t there honour even among thieves? Though shall not steal from each other?)

Mutembo Nchito is a Lusaka corporate lawyer from MNB Partners and Associates a firm owned by himself, his brother Nchima and current Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) President Elijah Banda. Mutembo is also a private prosecutor at the Task-Force on Corruption handpicked by the late President, Levy Patrick Mwanawasa.

Among other persons targeted in the probe is suspended NAPSA Director General, Dr Aubrey Munyeke Chibumba, who pumped USD2m into Zambian Airways. Chibumba is also being investigated for his role in Zambia Lotto where NAPSA went into a joint business with Lebanese nationals and invested K10billion. He is also being investigated for his role in the purchase of Munali Coffee. Chibumba is said to be currently ‘on the run’ and is outside the country (Germany).

BOZ governor Caleb Fundanga is accused of allowing irresponsible borrowing by commercial banks who gave loans to an entity that was bankrupt and was therefore not eligible for such loans. The loans were however disbursed despite Zambian Airways adverse financial position and in total breach of the Banking and Financial Services Act. The loans were also given in clear breach of BOZ own regulations on large loan exposures. In cases of DBZ and Finance Bank these institutions gave loans or overdrafts beyond their required threshold.

In one instance, the airline used leased planes as collateral security, and valued at USD1.2million (Valuation done by Zambian Airways itself), to obtain a huge loan of over USD4million contrary to banking and financial regulations. The regulations require that loans provided by financial institutions should be far less than that of the value of the asset mortgaged.

In another instance, Zambian Airways as mere agents of National Airports Corporation collected departure fees from passengers and refused to remit such revenues resulting in the current debt of over USD2million.

Fundanga at a Zambian Airways official function gave a public statement ‘directing’ local banks to help and support the ‘efforts’ of Zambian Airways.

In ordinary circumstances, these violations by financial institutions would attract severe sanctions from Bank of Zambia. The external lawyers for the central Bank are MNB, the law firm owned by Mutembo and Nchima Nchito and LAZ President Elijah Banda, and own the airline. It is interesting to establish if interest was declared by the Nchitos.

The BOZ governor, Caleb Fundanga enjoyed a good personal and working relation with Finance Minister then Ngandu Magande.

Despite huge loans obtained, the airline continued to lease very old, cheap and rickety planes.

Government is also trying to establish how financial institutions continued to provide huge loans to a firm that was clearly bankrupt and despite Bank of Zambia strict and supervisory regulations. The airline was provided with huge loans contrary to auditors’ reports that showed that the firm was non-performing and its business was not viable owing to its huge debts. In many cases loans were disbursed to Zambian Airways even when the institution did not pass required credit evaluation procedures or did not provide security documents.

In all these cases Zambian Airways agents obtained from public bodies loans or refused to pay for services and taxes, charges and fees due . The investigations are also attempting to establish allegations that Zambian airways directors used blackmail, threats and extortion methods to cow public officers into submission.

Clearly the scandal will engulf powerful people and forces. The threat of exposure has sent jitters in many spines. It is for this reason that there are high handed attempts to stop, thwart, frustrate and rubbish the on-going probe. The probe is also being undermined by Mutembo who is said to be connected to top investigators in the country who were under his direction during the investigations of cases of corruption against Chiluba’s administration. Officials are having difficulties to keep facts under the lid as key investigation findings or stages are being leaked to The Post.

Zambian Airways and Mutembo have so far remained quiet. Mutembo has continued to work for the Taskforce on Corruption as a prosecutor and is carrying himself in a ‘business as usual’ mood. However many are concerned about the airline’s asset since creditors have so far not secured them.

However, a vigorous and robust defence for Zambian Airways and its directors has come from The Post newspaper which is a shareholder. Its Editor Fred Mmembe sits on the airline Board.

The Post has embarked on a vicious campaign aimed at winning public sympathy. The campaign is so effective that Mmembe and Mutembo are being viewed as mere victims of government persecution.

Although The Post is not the target of the investigations so far, and is in fact a shareholder and creditor too, Mmembe has chosen to draw the paper into the scandal.

It has portrayed the USD12million obligations owed to public bodies as similar to any business. For example, it says the default of USD2million taxes by Zambian Airways to ZRA is similar to President Rupiah Banda’s company, which had an outstanding tax obligation of K96million in the past.

The Post has since ran several editorials vigorously defending its actions to invest USD3million in Zambian Airways. The newspaper has also strongly defended the actions of Mutembo Nchito stating that ‘’No single Director or employee can today be held responsible for the dealings and obligations of Zambian airways.’’ (The Post February 20th 2009)

The editorials have called the on-going investigations as ‘’trumped-up charges by those bent on abusing the judicial process’’. The editorials have ridiculed President Rupiah Banda as desperate intent on doing desperate things and only aim to silence Mutembo and Mmembe and escape the allegations of his own acts of corruption in the ‘’GMO Maize Scandal and the Dora Siliya RP Capitals deals’’. The Post has questioned the investigations into Zambian Airways claiming that such a probe could only be designed to cripple the operations of ‘’us and operations of this newspaper’’.

The editorials have also directed that if investigations against the Zambian Airways directors were commenced, the corporate veil currently enjoyed by directors and owners should only be pierced by government ‘’if they follow the proper procedure’’ of going to the High Court.

But many wonder why government should be bothered with such a procedure when Mutembo, whilst acting as prosecutor at the Taskforce on Corruption, has proceeded to arrest and prosecute numerous persons who were acting as company directors, such as Access Financial Services (AFSL) directors Faustin Kabwe and Aaron Chungu without following the law and lifting the corporate veil. Similarly the state has proceeded to arrest and prosecute Inktech Managing Directors Mohan Mathews without bothering with the law.

Others are Hetro Mining CEO; Fawaz was arrested and prosecuted for activities related to his mining operations. Base Chemicals CEO, Amon Sibanda was arrested and prosecuted and jointly charged with former ZAF Commander Sundie Kayumba, without the corporate veil lifted.

The Post is now encouraging civil society members such as LAZ, Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) who are key to its previous causes to ‘investigate and establish the truth’. It has called for a parallel probe.

Although all criminal investigations can only be conducted by competent law enforcement agencies, the paper is pushing a hard-line that the findings of a state probe will not be fair as Rupiah Banda is trying to silence them.

The Post has proceeded to ask ZCTU and SACCORD to demand for a full- fledged civil society led investigations. It has demanded that government should act with caution until a ‘’forensic audit’’ is done by an association of accountants, Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants (ZICA).

Government has since warned The Post and its allies of civil society organisations to respect lawful investigations and stop undermining legally constituted proceedings. Deputy Minister of Justice, Todd Chilembo has observed that side and parallel investigations were illegal and The Post should wait for the outcome of the lawful investigations. Government has warned that the loss of colossal sums of public funds was a serious matter and no one should deem themselves to be above the law.

The Post is among the institutional investors in Zambian Airways and Fred Mmembe and Gaudensio Rossi from The Post sit on the Zambian Airways board.

However, the civil and criminal proceedings are underway and in earnest despite the diversion and desperate antics being orchestrated by forces led by The Post.

On Friday February 20th 2009, High Court Judge, Prisca Nyambe, in a civil matter ordered that, Mine Air Services Ltd, trading as Zambian Airways, pay National Airports Corporation over K12.6billion.

The Court ordered Zambian Airways to immediately pay USD1, 020,788.95 in unremitted passenger service charges collected on behalf National Airports Corporation Limited. Further the court also directed that an outstanding and growing amount of USD1, 154,371.13 in parking fees, ground and air handling charges be settled without delay.

The court also ordered that Zambian Airways pay outstanding office rentals, water and electricity charges standing at K31, 635,120.00. This stems from services provided by National Airport Corporation Limited to Zambian Airways in Lusaka, Ndola, Livingstone and Mfuwe.

This saga came to the fore on Saturday January 10th, 2009, when Zambian Airways issued a terse statement announcing the suspension of operations. Its chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mutembo Nchito stated that the board of directors had decided to suspend all operations with immediate effect citing the high cost of aviation fuel as the major reason for such a decision.

Many in the industry knew that Nchito was being economical with facts. There was mounting speculation in previous few months that the troubled airline would close owing to financial problems. The real reasons for the shut- down quickly came to the fore. This became apparent on Wednesday January 21st 2009, when Minister of Communications and Transport, Dora Siliya issued a ministerial statement in parliament where she announced that government would not bail-out the airline and that the business had a huge debt totalling USD29million.

She stated that government through the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) had infact, significantly reduced the cost of aviation fuel from USD1.58 per litre to USD0.85 cents. This was aimed at reducing operational costs for airline operators following a meeting held on December 4th 2008 between the aviation industry and government.

She informed the House that Zambian Airways was not even a member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a clearing house for airline operators. IATA is a world-wide body, created for carriers, airports and travel agencies to promote travel standards, passenger safety and convenience and other air transport affairs. Before licences and membership are issued the association conducts a stringent operational safety audit that ensures that airline operators adhere to minimum and accepted international safety standards.

Siliya said that Zambian Airways did not meet IATA required conditions. She said efforts by oversight institutions and aviation authorities to enforce the law were thwarted by political forces friendly to directors of Zambian Airways.

Further Siliya announced that information recently obtained from Patent and Company Registration Office (PACRO) revealed that fresh amendments were recently effected to show that the airline is wholly owned by Mutembo and his brother Nchima with a 50% shareholding each.

However, in its official documents to financing houses, the airline was touted as having diverse ownership spread among, JCN Holdings (Mutembo and Nchima) 57.5%, The Post Newspapers 30%, and Seaboard (Owner of National Milling Company) 12.5%. The Post Newspaper were recent institutional investors to Zambian Airways and are said to have given a USD3million cash injection with a loan obtained from Investrust bank. The documents also showed that the board comprised of Board Chairman, Passmore Hamukoma, Chief Executive Officer and member Mutembo Nchito, Post Newspaper Editor, Fred Mmembe and well known hotelier, Gaudensio Rossi,

On the assertion that the Development Bank of Zambia’s (DBZ) loan to Zambian airways of over USD4million had been turned into equity (Shareholding), Siliya stated that DBZ and government had rejected the offer from Mutembo to purchase shares in Zambian Airways and consequently turn the debt into equity.

She said government had rejected a bail-out proposal from Zambian Airways as the business survival plan relied heavily on political favours and decisions instead of a viable business strategy.

It has since emerged that Zambian Airways owes the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) USD2million in unremitted taxes and obligations.

It owes National Pensions Scheme Authority (NAPSA) USD2.5million.

It also owes the National Airports Corporation (NAC) USD2.5million in unremitted air- passenger service charge, navigation and parking fees.

Zambian Airways also owes various financial institutions huge sums of money. It owes Finance Bank USD6.3million, Trade Creditor USD USD9.5 million, Inter-market Banking Corporation USD1.5million, Bravo Capita USD1.0 million and Investrust USD1.0million.

Zambian Airways was a company originally owned by ZCCM as Mines Air Services Ltd founded in 1948. During the privatisation process, ZCCM sold the small airline to its employees in a Management Buy-Out (MBO) process. The lawyers for the process were the Nchitos and their firm MNB. It is said that the airline was unfairly wrestled from the employees when the Nchitos turned a huge legal bill tendered into shareholding and took over ownership of the airline.

The airline now has a fleet of 7 planes mostly leased planes. It has 5 small and locally registered ones and two Boeing 737-200 series. Among the fleet are two 30-seater capacity Embraer. It has a workforce of 250 employees.

Clearly, it is strange that this small company and its limited operation would borrow and owe so much money. The operation remained small with limited routes to Johannesburg and Dar-es-Salaam and local routes to Mfuwe, Livingstone and Ndola. The airline runs a rickety and old fleet of planes with unknown but poor value.

Trouble seemed to have started when President Levy Mwanawasa died. Mwanawasa on one hand and Fred Mmembe, Mutembo Nchito and Mark Chona were close allies in ‘’unholy alliance’’ in ‘’the fight against corruption’’. This relationship seems to have cost Zambia a huge loss of USD29million.

After the death of Mwanawasa, The Post and its forces supported the candidature of Ngandu Magande as the preferred and suitable successor to Mwanawasa. Even before Mwanawasa was buried there was fiery fight for the presidency with the ‘grieving’ widow Maureen Mwanawasa issuing statement that her late husband chose Magande as a suitable successor. Magande’s bid for the presidency failed. He has since been replaced as Finance Minister by a known financial technocrat Dr. Situmbeko Musokotwane.

It has been learnt that a plot exist aimed at impeaching President Rupiah Banda using Patriotic Front (PF) and United Party for National Development (UPND) MPs. The plan is to use business contracts and agreements from all government ministries that pass through the Attorney General’s Chambers and tout them as corruption scandals. The Post will then orchestrate public disgust against Banda’s government that will lead to its eventual fall through an impeachment. The reports will smear Banda’s government as corrupt, inefficient and portray him as running a criminal empire with his children. Political enemies in government, the MMD and opposition parties will be used against Banda as he seems to be slow to find his feet.

Strong insinuations were made that close ally of The Post, Attorney General; Mumba Malila had leaked official documents and correspondence between his chambers and Siliya on the RP Capital saga. The executive assistant to the attorney General quickly issued a statement that Mr. Malila could not leak official documents to the press and that legal advice rendered to ministries remained confidential and enjoyed privilege and could therefore not be divulged.

Clearly the daggers are drawn. It is Fred Mmembe, Mutembo Nchito and their backers against President Rupiah Banda’s government. It is yet to be seen who will fall in this waged war steeped into the USD29million Zambian Airways debt. So far, Communications and Transport minister Dora Siliya who was brave enough to face and initially defeat the forces behind Zambian Airways has been exposed and fought tenaciously leading to a tribunal set up by the Acting Chief Justice, Irene Mambilima to probe Siliya. She clearly is the first victim this war has claimed.

The Post continues to fiercely campaign that the USD29million Zambian Airways debt was caused in the ordinary circumstances of running commercial business and transactions. It has continued to show that the attempts by government to embark on legal proceedings is only aimed at ‘silencing them’ over their criticism of Banda’s government.

Zambian Airways remains closed so far and creditors have been meeting to plan how to recover their monies.

Editor’s Note

Story Sent to LT by one of our readers. Similar article also appeared in Times of Zambia (



Let’s defend our magistrates, judges

Let’s defend our magistrates, judges
Written by Editor

It was frightening to listen to what Ben Mwila and Peter Machungwa were saying in Parliament the other day. It was equally shocking to listen to the favourable response and support they were getting from the executive side of the House. Mwila told the House that the Task Force on Corruption and some donor countries had hijacked the Zambian judicial system. And this has resulted in several injustices.

“I have observed that our justice dispensation started going wrong in 2001. Before that, the justice system in the country was well managed. We are bringing the Task Force to run this country with donors. Yes, they support our budget deficit but we don’t need them to run our justice system. These donors use the Task Force to target certain individuals they don’t like.

And if a political party is led by the person they don’t like, they will destroy him using the Task Force. But I have confidence in the Honourable Minister of Justice who is also the Vice-President, and I hope that he shall not let the donors run our country through the Task Force.”

This is what Mwila told Parliament amidst cheers of “hammer, hammer” from the executive’s side of the House.

And Mwila added: “The justice dispensation system has deteriorated now. I was privileged to have been minister of defence for eight years. And our own laws stipulate that matters to do with the defence forces have to be tried by a court marshal. But now we are abrogating our own laws where we try our military personnel in courts and not court marshals. That is total abrogation of the fair justice system. Things are totally going wrong and the Task Force is one way of avoiding our justice system. I hope his honour the Vice-President will have a stronger voice to rectify the situation.”

And Machungwa pulled the string a little further: “Indeed the fight against corruption is very important, but it must be done quietly. It is very unique in a country to find all defence chiefs convicted, especially in the middle of agreements signed with some countries who have been funding the fight. And have signed that these individuals be convicted, maybe. The fight should not be targeted against certain individuals, crime is crime. Certain people have become targets in this fight. Let us ensure that citizens are treated in the same manner, lest we endanger peace and security of the country. We know that our judicial officers are empowered by the law to sometimes use discretion. And they sometimes use this discretion to punish by giving unnecessary adjournments. Please don’t abuse discretions when matters are to be decided.”

This is what Mwila and Machungwa told the House on Wednesday. And this is what members of Rupiah Banda’s government were supporting and cheering.

But what do these utterances by Mwila and Machungwa amount to? What do they mean? And what are the consequences of what these two gentlemen were saying?

We don’t want to say what Mwila and Machungwa are saying amounts to contempt of court. But we will not hesitate to say that their statements are intended and have the consequence of undermining our courts of law, our magistrates and judges. They have the consequence of reducing the credibility of our courts of law and of our entire judicial process.

And we have no doubt Mwila and Machungwa know this. We also have no doubt that those who were cheering, those who were supporting them, know this very well as well. But why have they decided to take what clearly appears to be a reckless and irresponsible approach to these issues? The only discernible thing that they seem to be doing this for is politics and personal interest, greed and vanity. They all know very well that soon, it may be their boss, their friend, their relative Frederick Chiluba who may be convicted in a similar manner. But what is sad is that their behaviour, their attitude to all these things is similar to that of George Kunda and is being supported openly by members of Rupiah’s government. This confirms what we have been saying about George’s attitude towards the fight against corruption, and the Task Force in particular. Even Mwila and Machungwa are confirming this and see him as their ally, a sympathiser to all these people who are being convicted for corruption.

But for all their desperation, we beg them to leave the courts of this country alone and let them do their job without interference or undue pressure.

If they succeed in destroying the credibility of our judiciary, of our courts, of our magistrates and judges, then this country is in for very dangerous and difficult times. Right now, the judiciary is the only institution where people with all sorts of grievances, frustrations, displeasures are turning to. Even politicians with what are clearly political problems, and not legal ones, are turning to the judiciary. If we recklessly and stupidly destroy the credibility of our magistrates, of our judges, we will have so many conflicts that we will fail to resolve, and this country will be in turmoil, in flames. We will fail even to resolve simple electoral disputes.

The process that George and his friends of all hues have embarked on is very dangerous. If you start a process in which the key democratic or governance institutions of our country like the judiciary begin to be destroyed, that process is very negative, is very dangerous. They have unleashed a process that may destroy the authority, dignity and standing of our magistrates and judges. In this way, they are destroying one of the pillars of orderly governance in this country. If you destroy the standing, the authority of our courts of law, the consequences are terrible. And these characters are making an enormous mistake by failing to foresee the consequences of what they are doing. And when all the negative tendencies are unleashed, opportunistic elements will also be introduced, to further destroy this country.

There is need for our people to stand up and defend certain principles that are of tremendous value at a time of confusion and opportunism in our country, a time one might call the deification of politics.

There is totally nothing wrong or questionable with these corruption cases and the sentences that have been handed to those found guilty. After all, Chiluba is on record refusing to accept the London High Court judgment in which he was found to be a thief. Chiluba preferred to be tried by a Zambian court and today, his friends don’t want to accept the fact that the Zambian courts have conducted these cases in the best way possible and have handed the most appropriate sentences to everyone. There is no one who has been accused of corruption who can claim that he was not accorded a fair hearing and due process. Some of them have even appealed to the High Court and Supreme Court and have still been found guilty.

What Mwila and Machungwa are insinuating is that our magistrates and judges are corrupt. They are being given orders by donors and other forces to convict innocent people. Can this be said to be true? The answer is a categorical no. These people stole and that is why they have been convicted at all levels of our judiciary. It is stupid to suggest that our magistrates, our High Court and Supreme Court judges are under the direction of donors.

But this is what happens when top leaders of a country like George start to behave in such a treacherous way and opt to support and defend that which is wrong for political expedience and other petty reasons of ego and jealousy.

And this is what the electoral alliance of Chiluba and his corrupt friends and Rupiah means. Chiluba told the nation that he doesn’t support anything for nothing. They are panicking now. They can’t believe the convictions of their friends. And desperate people do desperate things. This group is not different from the group that is today facing corruption charges in our courts of law and is being convicted. That’s why they are friends. That’s why they are playing in the same league.

Well, it gets dark sometimes, but the morning comes. The Zambian people should not surrender. Suffering breeds character. Character breeds faith. In the end, faith will not disappoint.

But we need a political leadership that squares up to these challenges, one that is true and honest.

The daily deeds of our leaders must produce an actual Zambian reality that will reinforce our people’s belief in justice, strengthen their confidence in the nobility of the human soul and sustain all their hopes for a glorious life for all and not just for a few corrupt elements. We should all work to ensure that the fruits of the work that has gone on in our country since independence do not only benefit a few.

And we say all this with a full knowledge and belief that no section of our nation has all the virtues, neither does any have all the vices. We are quite sure that most people try to do their jobs as best they can, even if the result is not always entirely successful. He who has never failed to reach perfection has a right to be the harshest critic. There can be no doubt, of course, that criticism is good for people and institutions that are part of public life. No institution should expect to be free from the scrutiny of those who give it their loyalty and support, not to mention those who don’t. But we are all part of the same fabric of our national society and that scrutiny, by one part of another, can be just as effective if it is made with honesty and understanding, and not with lies and malice.

We urge all Zambians to commit themselves to the construction of a complete, fair, just and humane Zambia. And the best way to do this is to join the fight against corruption and stop the likes of George from having their way. George has a record of stopping genuine and legitimate prosecutions of corrupt elements. He has a record of defending corruption, of supporting that which is wrong, that which is corrupt. And this is why Mwila and Machungwa are exalting his name in their defence of the corrupt generals who have been jailed for their evil deeds.

Let’s defend our courts of law, our magistrates and judges. If we fail to do so, the consequences will be devastating.

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