Saturday, July 04, 2009
Zambia’s economy still unstable
Saturday, July 4, 2009, 11:56
Government has observed that the 44th edition of the Zambia International Trade Fair (ZITF) has come at a time of economic uncertainty.
Ministry of Commerce Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Richard Taima said Zambia’s economy was currently in an unstable condition mainly due to the global economic recession. Mr. Taima said this yesterday when he officially opened the one day small scale business forum at the ZITF’s presidential pavilion.
“The 2009 Trade Fair has come at a time of uncertainty regarding our economy. We all know that the global economic growth slowed down from 3.7 per cent to 2.5 per cent in 2008,” he said.
He however said government had already taken steps to redress the situation.
He said already government had found a strategic partner at Luanshya Mine, adding that the move had brought relief in the country.
Mr. Taima further said government had embarked on other supportive measures such as the announced reduction in customs duty on heavy fuels mainly used in the mining sector from 30 per cent to 15 per cent.
He also said the deferring of value added tax (VAT) on copper concentrates as another measure being taken by government through the Ministry.
He explained that all the measures were being put in place to reduce the cost of business in the mining industry, so as to encourage existing mines to remain in business.
The ongoing ZITF is expected to be officially opened by Republican President Rupiah Banda and his Tanzanian counterpart Jakaya Kikwete on Sunday.
Thursday, July 2, 2009, 16:31
The Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has opposed the liberalisation of the international gateway saying the move will compromise the security of the nation.
ZCTU Deputy Secretary General, Alfred Mudenda, says the proposed partial privatisation of ZAMTEL should not lead to the liberalization of the country’s only international gateway.
Mr. Mudenda says ZAMTEL has strategic assets which are important to the security and economic development of the country.
He was speaking in Kitwe on Thursday when he officially opened a one day National Unions and Communication Workers -NUCW- workshop, on the privatisation of ZAMTEL.
Mr. Mudenda however said the labour movement supports the partial privatization of the company in order for it to attract capital investment.
Private mobile phone service providers have been pushing the government to liberalise the gate way, a move they say will enhance competition and reduce the cost of communication.
Government says it is carrying out extensive consultations with a view to addressing all concerns from service providers before fully liberalizing the international gateway.
Saturday, July 4, 2009, 13:26
Former Headmistress Judith Theresa Chilekwa Mpamba, will be crowned Queen Mother for the Bemba people in Kasama today. Ms Mpamba will be succeeding her late mother Her Royal Highness, Chanda Mukulu wa Chibundu, who died last year.
Ms Mpamba will be crowned queen of the main stream Bemba Royal Establishment through a coronation ceremony which will take place at the Chanda Mukulu Royal Palace in Kasama.
In a press release to ZANIS in Lusaka today, the main function of the queen mother is to bear children that will succeed the main stream of Bemba chiefs such as Paramount Chief Chitimukulu and Senior Chiefs Mpepo, Nkolemfumu and Mwamba.
The release further states that Bemba chiefs, being matrilineal,trace their decent and ascendancy to the highest thrones through the female line.
Ascendancy to the position of queen mother is also through the female line, and the tradition dates as far back as the 18th centaury when two brothers, Chiti and Nkole, were running away from the brutality of their father, then King Mukulumpe. They left Kola Country and founded a Bemba Kingdom across Kalungu river in present day Zambia.
The two fugitive brothers later rescued their sister, Chilufya Mulenga, who had been imprisoned by their father in Kola Country, saying he did not want her to bear children who would succeed them as king.
The statement says since the Bemba tradition of tracing ascendance through the female line has been strictly followed ever since and there is no doubt that the current queen mother who will be installed today will be any different, adding that she shares the same blood with the very first queen mother, Chilufya Mulenga.
The Bembas are sure that the current Paramount Chief Chitimukulu the 37th is a blood relation of the first chief chitimukulu who was the son of Mukulumpe of the Kola Country.
Written by Editor
It is clear that there is systematic corruption within our justice system; it is increasingly coming under the direction of Rupiah Banda and his friends. And this is resulting in an improper delivery of judicial services and legal protection for citizens. Why should we be concerned that corruption pervades our justice system?
This is because in a democracy based on the rule of law, all citizens expect equal access to the courts and equal treatment by the investigative bodies, prosecutorial authorities, and the courts, regardless of their relations with those in power. The fulcrum of the judicial system must be equality for all the citizens that it serves.
This virtue should be granted regardless of one's political affiliation or lack of it. The absence of this promotes a system that can be distorted and manipulated to the advantage of those in power and against the loss of their opponents. This is against the very essence of justice.
An affective and respected judicial system is the most effective deterrent to those who wish to break laws or abuse their legally attained powers. There should be no slip-up or double standards in the application of the law or the pressing of charges. And the police is generally the body that should protect the community from those who break the law; in other words they should be the law enforcement body and the guardians of the civil society.
Consequently those in government must be the main sponsors in ensuring that lawbreaking is dealt with in a systematic and non-prejudiced manner. The judicial system should aim to serve the core aspect of justice and justice alone. It should not be abused by Rupiah to settle political scores with us, with his opponents.
The increasing abuse of the police and other law enforcement agencies in this country by Rupiah is disturbing and worrying and should be stopped.
We say this because the police have a cardinal role to enforce the law, keep peace and protect life and property. And in carrying out these duties, the police have a lot of discretion. And this discretion can be open to gross abuse. It is important to note that the separation of the police from the politicians running government is an important tenet of democracy.
At no time should the police be a political tool of those in power.
A dangerous trend is emerging where our police, the Zambia Police Service, is short of being turned into an MMD militia which can be unleashed on innocent citizens as and when Rupiah and his friends deem fit. It appears that the police are just there to serve the interests of Rupiah and his friends instead of protecting all citizens in the country.
Our reporters have for some time now continued to suffer harassment at the hands of MMD cadres and thugs in the full view of the police. Last year, shortly before the October 30 elections, our reporter Mutuna Chanda was blocked from interviewing commerce minister Felix Mutati, who had gone to the Copperbelt to campaign for Rupiah. A few days later, Mutuna was ejected from another meeting that was being addressed by MMD officials in Kitwe on grounds that The Post was publishing lies about Rupiah, the then ruling party’s candidate. Mwila Chansa, another Post reporter, was chased from Buchi Hall in Kitwe where Thandiwe Banda was addressing women during the same period. These MMD women actually threatened to sort out Mwila if she did not leave their meeting because they did not need The Post's presence. Not so long ago, Thomas Nsama, our photojournalist, was beaten by MMD cadres in full view of the police at Chipata airport where he had gone to cover the arrival of South African President Jacob Zuma, who was expected to grace the Nc’wala ceremony. Thomas was asked to leave the airport by the police for his own safety because the police said they were busy and would not manage to give him protection. The matter was reported to the police and pictures of the thugs who harassed Thomas were forwarded to the authorities for their attention and nothing has happened to date. Most recently, our photographer Eddie Mwanaleza and reporter George Chellah were chased from Lusaka's City Airport by MMD cadres where they had gone to cover Rupiah's arrival from Zimbabwe, and they were advised by police officers to leave for their own safety. These are just some of the examples of cases where our reporters have had to suffer at the hands of Rupiah's thugs in the presence of police officers whose duty is to protect all citizens in the country.
Innocent citizens and cadres from other political parties have also been subjected to harassment, in some cases from MMD cadres, without any action from the police.
What is even more sickening is the response and justification from Rupiah and his officials like chief government spokesperson Lieutenant General Ronnie Shikapwasha who recently said The Post is reaping what it sowed. Rupiah himself said The Post should know that the people they attack have supporters who are capable of reacting if they feel their leader is unfairly treated. This is unacceptable, outrageous and it should not be allowed to continue.
The police, as a professional public institution financed by all taxpayers, cannot continue to act on instructions from Rupiah whenever he feels like taking on his opponents, perceived or real. The police should not be used in a partisan political way to harass and humiliate Rupiah's political opponents because this tends to undermine people's confidence in a public institution they fund. We believe that in any democratic state, policing should comply with the law, be accountable and respect human rights. It will be very difficult if our people reach a level where they feel they do not need the protection of the police and start to take the law into their own hands. We need to, as much as possible, foster the independence and integrity of our police service as well as other law enforcement agencies. We need to ensure that we give them room to do their own investigations and pursue matters where they genuinely feel there is a case. The current trend of Rupiah issuing instructions to our law enforcement agencies to pursue his political enemies, people he hates or act on certain matters is causing a lot of embarrassment and is placing our law enforcement officers in an awkward position as they are having to go to great lengths to please Rupiah and his friends even when they know that there is nothing to investigate. The police and other law enforcement agencies are being subjected to holding political press briefings just to issue empty statements to show that they are making progress when there is nothing to investigate. These unproductive exercises can be avoided; there are better things that our law enforcement officers can exert their energies on. The most unfortunate thing is that they are not morally or otherwise courageous enough to tell Rupiah and his friends that they have found nothing on whatever it is that they have been asked to pursue. There is need to leave these institutions to operate free of political manipulation because they are there to serve all Zambians. Besides, these are officers who are paid taxpayers’ money to maintain law and order in the country and protect all Zambians and not just Rupiah and his friends.
Rupiah's increasing abuse of our judicial process must be stopped because it is dangerous and criminal.
Written by Patson Chilemba
Saturday, July 04, 2009 3:14:14 PM
MMD member Willa Mung’omba has advised the party to allow President Rupiah Banda to be challenged at the convention. Commenting on the endorsement of President Rupiah Banda as the MMD's sole candidate by the national executive committee (NEC) and the statement by Benny Tetamashimba that the presidency would not be contested for at the convention, Mungo'mba asked the MMD to obey the constitution by allowing members to contest for any position in the party.
Mung'omba, who applied to be adopted as presidential candidate for the MMD in 2008, said MMD was an open party and people should be allowed to contest positions in the party.
"I hope everybody knows that there are constitutional provisions for different positions and those have to be studied and obeyed. I think that MMD remains an open party and should try to encourage as many members as possible to contest for certain or any positions in the party according to the constitution," he said.
Mung'omba said the MMD constitution stipulated that people would contest for positions at the party convention.
"I think that is my statement from a legal point of view," said Mung'omba who is former Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) chairperson. "The MMD should obey the constitution by allowing members to contest for positions at the convention."
Asked if he were still interested in the Republican and party presidency, Mung'omba said it was still too early as elections were still ongoing at the lower organs of the party.
Recently, the NEC endorsed President Banda as the sole candidate for the MMD ahead of the party convention and the 2011 elections. Following the resolution, party members on the Copperbelt Province and other parts of the country advised the party to defer the convention since a candidate had been identified to save money for election campaigns.
In response, MMD chairman for elections Mike Mulongoti said it would be unwise to ignore the calls to defer the convention while Tetamashimba said the convention would go ahead and all positions would be contested for except for the presidency.
Former finance minister Ng'andu Magande said he was still interested in the Republican presidency another MMD presidential aspirant Professor Clive Chirwa said it was undemocratic for the NEC to have a sole candidate because the final decision lay with the convention.
However, Tetamshimba said Prof Chirwa was not a member of the MMD. Tetamashimba maintained that the presidency would not be contested for and all party members should support the NEC's decision.
Written by Zumani Katasefa in Ndola
Saturday, July 04, 2009 3:11:00 PM
PRODUCTION at Ndola Lime Company yesterday morning ground to a halt as workers protested against managements’ failure to award them a 40 per cent salary increment.
The irate workers who were found gathered within the company premises had also switched off kiln machines and demanded for the immediate removal of the entire management led by managing director Daudi Amis for alleged incompetence. The workers complained that the salary negotiations, which started in March this year, had taken too long to be concluded.
“The negotiations started in March but management had refused to give us a 40 per cent salary increment, and now they want to defer the negotiations to December. They are saying they cannot give us that increment because of the global financial crisis,” complained one of the workers.
The workers blocked the entrance to the company with a dump truck and big stones, hindering Amis and other managers from gaining access to the premises.
“This management has failed to buy spare parts for the faulty machines, instead they are taking any machine that develops a fault as scrap which they later sell for their personal benefits,” they said.
They further complained that the firm owed suppliers huge debts saying this was due to bad management.
“…Instead of giving us our salary increment, management instead is giving us what it is calling stand alone allowance of K110,000 each, this is sad,” they complained.
The workers also complained of casualisation at the firm and called on government to move quickly and arrest the situation.
Written by Namatama Mundia
Saturday, July 04, 2009 3:06:15 PM
GRANDMASTER Amon Simutowe has said the African individual chess tournament set for July 20 to 31 in Tripoli, Libya will be challenging.
In an interview, Simutowe said he is training hard for the Libya tournament even if he has cancelled his participation in the Spain chess championship which he was supposed to use for preparations in the Libya event.
"I have cancelled my participation in a preparatory tournament in Spain. The tournament will be held from 3rd to 13th July in Barcelona. It's a good tournament... but if I decided I might lose a lot of energy... and I might not recover before the African Championship," he said.
Simutowe, however, said he would find another tournament to participate in before the African Individual tournament.
He added that the African Championship in Libya will be tough.
"For instance, it’s rumoured Libya-hired GM Sveshnikov or GM Rausis... Sveshnikov has made significant contribution to the development of chess theory and he is one of the most creative grandmasters. Rausis is also very talented having trained many current grandmasters including Shirov... Shirov has reached the finals or semi-finals of the World Championships several times," Simutowe said.
He added that GM Sveshnikov and GM Rausis are good enough to read his game plan.
Simutowe said his competitors will be playing at a very high level.
"They are very motivated to qualify for the World Cup and in competition the biggest mistake you can make is to be comfortable when playing a motivated opponent in a world championship qualifying match. The World Cup will be held in Russia this November," he said.
Other countries expected to take part are Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and South Africa.
Written by George Chellah
Saturday, July 04, 2009 3:00:38 PM
AUDITOR General Anna Chifungula yesterday said some of the responses given by Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) management to her office's audit report on the corporation are not satisfactory.
In an interview, Chifungula confirmed that her office had concluded the audit on ZNBC and that she was surprised that the audit report was published in The Post. She said her office had examined ZNBC management's response to the audit and some of the responses were not satisfactory.
"They sent to us responses which we have looked at and some of them we are not satisfied. Even their responses to me were a bit out of character, some of the language was very crude. Actually, even their clients some of them are writing really insulting letters to us after what you people published," Chifungula said. "It's just that I can't remember that client. We had one uncouth letter from one of them. They [ZNBC management] are entitled to their own responses and I am also complaining that I didn't like the tone of some of their responses."
The Auditor General's interim audit report on ZNBC revealed several financial irregularities, which include loses incurred amounting to K6 billion, tax evasion on retirement and gratuity and hefty board allowances among others.
According to the interim audit report obtained by The Post, in an internal minute dated November 12, 2008 the minister of information and broadcasting services approved the new sitting and quarterly allowances for the board.
"It was however observed that the quarterly and sitting allowances had been backdated to July 1, 2008. In this regard, the board members received arrears in the sum of K104,200,000.00," the report stated. "It was also observed that the board and its subcommittees met 44 times between March 2008 and March 2009. In this regard, a total of K384, 300,000.00 was spent on board allowances during the period in question."
But ZNBC management's response to the above irregularity was that the application for review of the board's quarterly and sitting allowances was made on July 30, 2007.
"In that letter, the board chairman was seeking the minister's approval for an upwards review of sitting allowances so as to approximate the level obtaining in other public media at the time," management stated. "The minister's approval was silent on whether or not the adjustments were effective from the date of the letter of the request. After debating the matter in the board meeting of November 17, 2008, the board was of the firm view that the adjustments were applicable from the date that the approval was sought from the minister."
On board allowances, management responded: "The correct position is that the 44 board meetings were held over a period of two years, i.e. from March 2007 to March 2009."
Barclays Bank head of government relations Augustine Seyuba chairs the ZNBC board. The other board members are information permanent secretary Emmanuel Nyirenda, Sr Rose Nyondo, Elias Mpondela, Joseph Chileshe, David Chimpinde and Bertha Lishomwa.
The report further showed that the corporation operated without a strategic plan up to the year ending 2008 and that a strategic plan covering the period 2009 to 2014 had however been put in place at a cost of K54, 045,312.
But in response ZNBC explained that, just like government, management was using its corporate budgets, which are prepared annually to run the corporation.
The report revealed that the corporation incurred losses of K1, 821,145,000 in 2006 and K5, 072,962,000 in 2007 and that interim results for 2008 showed that the situation was not likely to change.
"The losses are mainly attributed to staff costs which represented between 70 per cent and 80 per cent of turnover as opposed to the industry norm of 30 to 40 per cent," it stated.
In response, management agreed with the auditors that most of the financial resources were being spent on staff costs.
The report indicated that a review of the March 2009 payroll revealed that 43 per cent of the total payroll related to 74 management staff while 57 per cent related to 343 unionised staff.
Management's response was that: "whereas the auditors concentrated on the payroll issues, staff costs constitutes all costs including those paid outside payroll."
The audit report stated that the corporation's current assets were insufficient to cover the current liabilities.
And Chifungula said the forensic audit at the Ministry of Health headquarters had been concluded.
"We are now going to follow up these grants to find out if they reached at all," she said.
She said her office submitted the findings to the investigating wings yesterday.
"Since they commissioned it and we are doing it on their behalf. This is a forensic audit. It's for a specific purpose to help the investigators. And we attached the evidence," said Chifungula.
Written by George Zulu in Mazabuka
Saturday, July 04, 2009 2:58:14 PM
MAZABUKA district mayor Shadreck Mwiinga has said the pulling out and subsequent closure of the Albidon Nickel Mine in the district should be a lesson enough to government as they continue searching for an appropriate and viable investor.
In an interview on Tuesday, Mwiinga said the government should seriously consider finding a viable and sustainable investor, who would not pull out for any reason, to take up the operations of the mine. He said the current scenario in the nation where investors were pulling out at will was a source of concern.
"Government should look for an investor who is not going to fold the operations of the mine at will. We need an investor who would appreciate investing and operating in the country in terms of sustainability. We want to see profits not one who reaps and go out...No! We have learnt the hard way as Zambians on who should come to Zambia as an investor. And it shows that we need a strong investor who will stand the economic variances than to allow briefcase investors. And I hope that the government has studied the Chinese investor they want to bring and take over the nickel mine," he said.
Mwiinga said the government should learn the difficulties the investors who closed and pulled out had.
He said even leaving the country's economy into foreign hands would be suicidal to the nation and the people of Zambia.
Mwiinga said it was not only the issue of Albidon but also the situation on the Copperbelt was a source of concern.
He said Zambia needed investors who would sustain the aspirations of the people and the Zambian mining industry.
"Investors have helped Zambians to become poor and live in abject poverty because of lack of government's commitment. Look at people in Mazabuka ... were displaced to allow the setting up of the mine but the mine has failed to inspire the people economically and socially. So what we are saying is that we should not only look at the mining sector to be the only economic spine of the country. We should also promote other sectors such as agriculture, tourism and construction," said Mwiinga.
THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions has slammed Members of Parliament over their decision to shun locally-assembled vehicles — demanding a whooping US$30 000 each to purchase luxury cars outside the country.
The labour body’s secretary-general, Mr Wellington Chibebe, in a statement yesterday, accused MPs of being inconsiderate about the economic challenges the country and the people of Zimbabwe were facing.
"ZCTU is dismayed by reports that some MPs have spurned an offer by the Govern-ment to be issued with locally-assembled utility vehicles for use during their day-to-day operations, opting to be issued with more expensive imported vehicles.
"On behalf of Zimbabwe’s workforce, the ZCTU is dismayed that the legislators are not concerned about the economic quagmire the country is currently saddled in.
"We currently have an unemployment rate of more than 90 percent and our industry is operating at below 20 percent of its capacity," he said.
He said that the country had vehicle-assembling plants at Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries in Harare and Quest Motor Corporation in Mutare, which were currently operating below their potential because there were few buyers for their products.
Workers at the two plants, he said, were facing a bleak future because their companies could not generate enough business to sustain them with some having been put on forced leave while others faced retrenchment.
He said that it was against the background of such a "sorry" economic state that ZCTU was concerned that legislators were demanding that they should be paid US$30 000 each to purchase the vehicles outside the country.
The labour body was disturbed to note that the MPS wanted to send back the foreign currency the inclusive Government was mobilising from various sources the world over to recapitalise local industries that were operating below capacity.
"Such a demand is absurd considering the fact the Government is failing to pay civil servants a salary, but an allowance of only US$100 per month.
"What these legislators should understand is that, by purchasing the vehicles from outside the country, they are killing our own industry.
"Our car assembly plants are lying idle and unless they are revived, it is the lives of those they purport to represent that is put at risk," he said.
Mr Chibebe urged legislators from all political parties to settle for much cheaper locally assembled vehicles that he said would create employment for locals and down stream industries.
MPs last month rejected Mazda BT50 trucks they were offered by Finance Minister Tendai Biti through a deal with Willowvale Madza Motor Industry, arguing that they were expensive to maintain, inferior and not durable for rural based lawmakers.
The lawmakers want to import more expensive top of the range vehicles. Some of them had taken some vehicles offered by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe as an interim measure.
HARARE City councillors have urged management to demolish, with immediate effect, all mushrooming illegal structures amid fears that the city is fast sliding back to the pre-Operation Murambatsvina period.
The MDC-T dominated council also asked management to ensure that sanity prevails at markets where some vending stallholders were not paying anything to the local authority. Councillors cited unsanctioned markets at the Boka Auction Floors, Mbare and Newlands.
They also expressed concern over squatter camps in Gunhill, along Mukuvisi River, among other places in the city.
Deputy mayor Councillor Emmanuel Chiroto said council should not promote anarchy.
"Let us not promote anarchy. Let us do away with illegal structures. We need to move fast to restore order," he said.
Mayor, Mr Muchadeyi Masunda, said council should not promote the development of another Kibera in Harare.
Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya, is the largest slum settlement in Africa with over a million people who live under unhygienic conditions that promote the spread of diseases and crime.
He said council should deploy "foot soldiers" to audit illegal structures in the city and bring them to the attention of the authorities.
"We do not want another Kibera here. We have by-laws — let us enforce them," he said.
Clr Friday Muleya accused management of double standards when he said each time councillors asked for the deployment of security details to remove squatters and their illegal structures – the argument was always that there was no manpower, but when ever workers went on strike, all the municipal police details were deployed.
He accused Mr Masunda, Clr Chiroto and town clerk, Dr Tendai Mahachi of failing to enforce council resolutions.
"We feel our resolutions are dying in your offices. You are not following up on our resolutions," he said.
Clr Paul Gorekore accused senior officials of promoting the emergence of illegal structures.
Clr Thomas Muzuva who said some of the people operating the illegal markets have council receipts concurred with Clr Gorekore.
"We are going back to the pre-Murambatsvina era. Some of our officials are allocating the illegal markets," he said.
Clr Charles Nyachowe said the mushrooming of illegal structures was a reflection of the city’s bad planning.
"The people are simply following the markets. We should help our people to do their work properly," he said.
Clr Sasha Jogi defended the illegal sculptor market at Newlands Shopping Centre saying the council needed to understand that the people needed to earn a living.
But Clr Herbert Gomba said all illegal structures should be removed within a month.
Clr Panganayi Charumbira complained of the chaos at the city’s established markets like Mupedzanhamo, Machipisa and the Green market at Mbare where he said some stallholders were not paying anything to council despite them subdividing and subletting their stalls.
Friday, July 03, 2009
An Interview with Sam Moyo
by Gregory Elich
Amid the economic crisis in Zimbabwe, the agricultural sector continues to struggle. Although the plunge in agricultural output over the last few years has often been commented on in the Western media, little or no attention is paid to the complex factors contributing to that decline.
Instead, matters are reduced to a simple generalization. It is rare to be presented with information from someone with direct involvement with the agricultural sector in Zimbabwe. Sam Moyo has over 25 years of research experience in rural development issues, and his organization has conducted studies and analyses and provided policy recommendations on land policy.
Highly respected in his profession, Moyo is uniquely positioned to offer an evidence-based overview of the situation.
Elich: You are the Executive Director of the African Institute for Agrarian Studies (AIAS). What is the aim of your organization and what is its role in supporting agricultural development in the continent?
Moyo: The aim of AIAS is to work with key actors throughout Africa to enhance the capacity to develop and implement equitable agrarian policies and to promote sustainable land use in support of marginalized groups by undertaking research, policy analysis, training, and dialogue.
The role is to mediate in the policy making process, so as to enhance rural livelihoods through an improved policy framework. In its work, the Institute interacts with and provides policy advice and capacity support to various stakeholders, who include governments, regional bodies, universities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) researchers, students, and the donor community.
Elich: Although much has been written in the West about agriculture in your home country of Zimbabwe, reports tend to be heavy on emotion and light on concrete information. You and your organization continue to play an important role in the study and development of agriculture in Zimbabwe through research, analysis, and policy recommendations. You are well qualified to fill the information gap for a Western audience, so I would like to focus on that topic for this interview.
Let's start by discussing land reform. There was a market-based land reform in place before Zimbabwe embarked upon a more radical program. Why was this path chosen? The popular attitude in the West is that the land was best left in the hands of the few white commercial farmers.
Moyo: The market-based approach was sensu stricto the only approach followed between 1980 and 1992, for the following reasons.
The market approach was a result of the Lancaster House constitution, which emphasized that approach, and allowed for expropriation (for specific public purposes) under stringent and costly conditions. The latter included full market pricing of compensation, and in a forex (foreign exchange) currency of the choice of the landholder. This constitutional clause could not be altered until 1990. At the Lancaster negotiation, Western funding of the market-based process was promised by the key brokers of the settlement (UK and USA). The UK provided significant funds for this (44 million pounds), particularly up to 1989, and this was co-financed with the GoZ (Government of Zimbabwe) to secure 3 million hectares out of the 15 million hectares held by large farmers; but the USA did not fund land. The policy (concept) of 'reconciliation' (racial and political) was assumed to lead to a spirit of land sharing through negotiated transfer. But racial polarization and land and wealth concentration continued instead. Some GoZ technocrats believed the market would deliver more land (but this was not to be, as mainly abandoned and marginal land was sold) at reasonable prices (again not to be), and there was limited access to capital for state and private purchase within the broader social reform program.
The radical approach to land reform was initiated in terms of the constitution, land laws, and the policy framework during 1990 and 1992 and was implemented as follows. A small-scale attempt at land expropriation in 1993 (30 farms) and 1995 (100 farms) was largely defeated by landholder litigations.
These processes fueled an increased hostility between landholders, whites, and business on the one hand, and blacks in general, government, war veterans, and the landless on the other hand.
Antagonism between the UK and Zimbabwe governments over a new phase of funded land reform emerged, with failure to agree to the new program which had been agreed by UK's John Major. An effort to get large land holders and government to agree to land transfers through joint identification of land for transfer was started in 1995, but this ended in disagreements, leading to the GoZ producing its own list of 1,700 farms to be designated for expropriation. There was a refusal by the Blair government in 1997 to honor the Conservative government's proposal of 1996, and broader confrontations between the GoZ and international donors over the failed ESAP (Economic Structural Adjustment Program) led to failure in 1996 to sign a new ESAP (called ZIMPREST).
Other factors driving the radical approach were internal 'rebellion' by war veterans within ZANU-PF demanding compensation for war losses and pensions, as well as impatience over access to 20% of the land to be redistributed; expansion of the indigenous (nationalist) bourgeoisie who also sought land; greater landlessness and urban retrenchees seeking land in rural areas, and their resort to scattered "illegal" land occupations; the designation of 1,471 farms (4 million hectares) for expropriation in 1997, and the 'defeat' of this effort by large farmer litigations in 1997 and 1998; and the mobilization by war veterans, with rural leaders (traditional leaders/chiefs; spirit mediums; other rural war veterans and some landless people) in areas already mobilized over land grievances, towards land occupations in 30 sites throughout Zimbabwe by 1998.
There was also a general political radicalization of ZANU-PF and nationalists over reforms in Zimbabwe in view of the resurgence of white farmer and business political mobilization against land reform and in support of a new political opposition party (the MDC). Heightened political polarization emerged from Western criticism and withholding of loans/aid, while supporting the MDC and embedded NGOs, beginning with the constitutional Reform process (1999-2000) and in subsequent elections. The failure of the 1998 donor conference to deliver land and/or funding for a market-based reform also contributed. The radical land reform process was further entrenched during 2000 and 2003, due to intense political conflict and electoral contests over land reform, including further grievances emerging from the imposition of sanctions on and the isolation of Zimbabwe.
As for the Western attitude that the land should have been left to whites, this belief is also held by some in the middle and capitalist classes in Zimbabwe too. But this has been unfounded and rejected by nationalists and peasants because past policies favored large farmers and support to new farmers was minimal. Banks and agribusiness were tied into the large farming system and international support to small black farmers was minimal. Access to good land infrastructure was not balanced to black farmers. Moreover the white farmers increasingly produced less of the food needs of the majority, while income concentration perpetuated an imbalanced home market and consumption.
Elich: In the context of domestic political polarization, Western interference, and the imposition of sanctions, fast-track land reform could hardly have had more inauspicious circumstances for its launch. Historically on the world scene, the success of land reform efforts have hinged to a significant degree on the ability to supply sufficient inputs (loans, tools, fertilizer, training) to resettled farmers. But access to foreign exchange has been severely constrained by Western sanctions. Zimbabwe has also had unfavorable climatic conditions in recent years.
None of this gets much mention in Western media. Instead it is pointed out that agricultural output was bountiful when most of the best land was in the hands of white commercial farmers, but since fast-track land reform the government has had to import food to avert starvation. It is implied that black farmers are incompetent or ineffective and that the land did better when it was held in so-called "capable" hands.
You've closely studied agricultural production in Zimbabwe. What are your thoughts on the reasons for the decline in food production and the Western perception of that?
Moyo: This question is complex and needs a nuanced response.
To begin with, close to 70% of the food consumed by the 80% of Zimbabweans who are the working classes (peasants, formal and informal wage workers, the unemployed) and over 50% of the middle class foods, which comprise mainly grains (maize, sorghum, groundnuts and pulses as oils or for direct eating) and local relish (greens) have always been produced by the peasants and urban residents' gardens. Apart from feeding themselves (65% of the population), the peasants sold over 70% of the marketed grain and groundnuts and the little locally produced rice (over 90% of which was always imported). Secondly, peasants provided most indigenous fruits (Mazhanje, Masawi, etc.), as well as most of the meat and milk consumed in rural areas.
True, large white farmers produced and sold most of the higher protein-value, largely urban-consumed, foods: milk and dairy products; wheat; temperate fruits and jams (apples, oranges, etc.), tea and coffee, sugar, meat (beef, poultry, and pork products), and oils and fats (from soya beans, sunflower, and so forth). The middle and upper urban-based classes consumed most of this LSCF (Large-Scale Commercial Farm) production.
However, most of the poor urban working class transferred money to peasant producers, who kept some for their family members and supplied them with part of their food. There was a clear division of production between peasants and large farmers, with the former producing most of the cheaper and bulkier foods, and the latter producing the rest of the foods, much of which was consumed by a few people.
Moreover, by far the largest outputs (in volumes and value) produced by large farmers were destined for exports (tobacco, sugar, tea, coffee, horticulture, beef, etc.) and for the local industry (soaps, etc.). Although their exports were critical for forex (40% of national forex was from agriculture, but peasants produced 80% of the cotton and its attendant forex), they were not the main supplier of the food consumed by most of the population, who could not afford their products.
These are the social and structural facts of the previous unequal income and consumption situation.
However, we must still explain why the bulky low-income foods are in short supply (maize especially)! Well, it is mainly because of the decline in seed and fertilizer supply, and reduced private and external financing. During the last eight years the country also experienced four substantial droughts, with signs of climatic change or higher variability in rainfall. The previous season was one such year, coupled with extremely low input supplies. This trend has led to reduced rain-fed maize production by the peasantry, as 90% of the irrigation resources were and are still held by large farmers, including the sugar estates. Peasants have thus experienced a loss of their own seed and cash resources, which has undermined their production cycle. Various other constraints have been experienced in a context of economic decline and sanctions: fuel shortages and high global prices affected the transport and plowing processes; electricity shortages limiting irrigation and fertilizer production processes; and reduced government revenues limiting state support to peasants, and so forth. This occurred in the face of limited aid to small farmers largely because of the political standoff at the international level.
Elich: That brings me to my next question. What advice are you and the AIAS providing to the government of Zimbabwe in regard to agriculture? Obviously, a timely and sufficient provision of seed and fertilizer is essential, but there are hindrances. There is also a shortage of fuel, farming implements, irrigation schemes, and financial assistance. Under the circumstances, I assume that any recovery plan is going to have relatively modest short-term goals and a more ambitious long-range plan. And finally, what results would you anticipate from a successful establishment of a government of national unity?
Moyo: We have argued for a greater effort to support small farm producers with subsidized seeds and inputs for food production, and measures to improve their marketing of products as a primary step. This includes some levels of decontrolling the pricing of staple foods, so that producers get a better price, and to cut out usurious middle persons. Extension services and information on inputs and related services need to be enhanced through creative measures. A revised strategy for smallholder farming development, combined with a transformative social protection policy agenda (subsidies for rural health, education, etc.), is required to rebuild the rural economy and national food security.
An agro-industrial sector recovery program is also necessary, contrary to those who seek to use the situation to finish off existing under-utilized capacities through their calls for full-scale de-protection and liberalization as a condition for refinancing the country. Since local fertilizer production is also hampered by shortages of forex to import raw materials and by electricity shortages, this has had to be imported while capacities still exist but are forex-starved due to shortages. This applies to the variety of agro-industries (veterinary materials, agricultural chemicals, and machinery and equipment, etc.). The available forex resources have been spread widely across the economy, rather than prioritized on agro-industry and smallholder food production. The last droughts reduced small producer incomes, let alone savings, such that effective "demand" for inputs is low and this limits the recovery of agro-industrial production, too.
Moreover, we have always called for humanitarian aid to assist the recovery of small producers, but this has not materialized. It has certainly not been prioritized by donors, although to some extent the government has not been helpful by limiting the operations of some NGOs. What is required is less belligerence on both sides and agreement on a constructive and less politicized approach to aid by both sides. After all most African countries, including those performing well in food production (e.g. Malawi, etc.), receive such aid.
Yes, besides these shorter-term measures, a comprehensive development plan needs to be put in place on the basis of wider national consensus, which the inclusive government could promote. This will hinge on how to refinance the economy in the medium to long term, including from new sources of state revenue (e.g. from dividends that could be gotten from existing and new mining investments, increased collection of taxes from the now informalized formal sectors whose production is below capacity), from new investments (especially in mining if suitable terms are negotiated), and from concessional loans and credit. In general the balance of payments deficit means that government has been operating on a restricted cash budget and making ad hoc allocations of forex as pressing needs surface. Broader international support (e.g. besides the west, including from SADC, China, Venezuela, etc.) could be sought to widen the terms of borrowing and therefore integration into a wider world economy. The planning should become more coherent and transparent, and thus reduce corruption in the public and private sphere. For in the inflationary context finance capital has been happier to trade speculatively on money and other imported goods which give them quicker and higher returns, while charging markups of above 100%.
The inclusive government might enable the government to procure long-term concessional loans and credit on better conditions. However the signs from the International Financial Institutions and donors is that they would wait for certain political guarantees and would want full-scale liberalization to release money. The inclusive government might also get more humanitarian aid to pay for health, sanitation, HIV-AIDS, and education, thus releasing some resources to pay for agricultural inputs and the maintenance of related infrastructures.
The recovery in the medium term will depend on political "normalization" relating to a new economic situation, which accepts the current land redistribution while reducing some of the remaining and new land holding inequalities, including accommodating some of the former land owners on smaller farms -- like their new counterparts, on the principle of equitable land rights and not privilege. The thrust would be to attempt to build on the new configuration of property relations in agriculture, mining, and industry (including the new small and medium scale enterprises in all these sectors, and the emerging state mining ventures). This requires the removal of sanctions (which many continue to deny exist, let alone recognize their social effects) and the depolarization/de-demonization of the Zimbabwe "crisis" at the international level. To the extent that pressure is reduced on forex to import key goods, the speculative economy could be dampened, thus limiting some of the inflationary behavior. Removing sanctions is also critical to encouraging the investors to revive industries and mines, and to allow "investors" to continue with their plans.
There is no doubt that the issue of compensating former landowners for some degree of their losses for their improvements on the land, in realistic terms, will have to be negotiated in order to put to rest the land transfer process. The UK would have to be drawn in on this, and other donors might participate. This is a position that SADC has proposed, and is etched into the recent agreement on the inclusive government signed by the political parties. We have advised that government takes this issue up and enhances public knowledge on the issues involved, so as to garner broadly based support for any decisions taken.
Sam Moyo is a land policy analyst and Executive Director of the African Institute for Agrarian Studies. He is also chairperson of the ZERO Regional Environment Organization, based in Harare, and a former director of the Southern African Regional Institute for Policy Studies of the Sapes Trust. Among his published works are two recent books that he co-edited: Reclaiming the Land: The Resurgence of Rural Movements in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and Land and Sustainable Development in Africa. Gregory Elich is the author of Strange Liberators: Militarism, Mayhem and the Pursuit of Profit.
Fri, 03 Jul 2009 01:16:00 +0000
LOCAL Government, Urban and Rural Development Minister, Ignatius Chombo (left), Finance Minister Tendai Biti, outgoing Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Yuan Nansheng, Higher and Tertiary Education Minister, Stan Mudenge and Industry and Commerce Minister Welshman Ncube (far right) pose in front of one of the 173, 20 tonne containers used to ferry 4 000 tonnes of soya bean seed donated to Government by the Chinese government. The seed was officially handed over by Mr Nansheng to Minister Biti at a function held at Olivine Industries on Tuesday
ZIMBABWE and China have signed a US$5 billion loan deal securing half of the amount the inclusive Government needs in delivering its Short Term Emergency Recovery Programme (Sterp).
The deal becomes the largest deal that has ever been signed between the two countries and is secured on various mining and infrsatructural development rights.
Sources in Harare say Finance minister Tendai Biti and Reserve Bank officials on June 8 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with China Exim Bank (CEB) guaranteeing the loan.
"They signed a large package of documents, including those in the mining industry and infrastructure development, in Harare on June 8," says our source in government.
“It became possible owing to the use of the mechanism that we created with the leader of the People’s Republic of China some years ago.”
CEB is the export and credit guarantee agency of the Chinese government in Africa. The bank has played an important role in fostering the rapid expansion of Chinese trade and investment in Africa.
Under the deal Zimbabwe will get US$5 billion from CEB and in return the Chinese get some equity in a US$40 billion platinum concession. The actual size of the stake still remains undisclosed.
The loan will, in line with the Sterp program, be used to boost capacity in agriculture and other key sectors such as mining, tourism, construction and public works.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai this week announced that Zimbabwe had secured a US$950 million credit lines from the Chinese government. The credit line is separate from the platinum-backed loan.
China also donated 4,000 tonnes of soyabean this week (see picture above). The consignment was handed over to Olivine Industries whcih has entered a vegetable oil processing deal with Government.
The inclusive Government has separately secured about US$3 billion since it came into office in February, mostly from African governments and institutions.
The West has has not been forthcoming with aid preferring to adopt a wait-and-see approach until "certain benchmarks" are achieved by the inclusive Government.
Tsvangirai recently toured Western capitals seeking the easing of sanctions against Zimbabwe and in search of money, but his spokesman James Maridadi said the trip had brought home pledges of a modest US$200 million.
On Tuesday this week he inflated that figure and said US$500 million was raised, saying the breakdown would soon be made public by his office.
The US$5 billion deal has been kept under wraps as underwriters complete the necessary legal paperwork.
China’s trade, investment and aid activities in Africa have been growing rapidly over the past decade.
Chinese aid to Africa totaled $5.75 billion in 2006, and China the world's third largest food aid contributor. Trade between China and Africa has grown tenfold since 1999, reaching $56 billion in 2006.
By September 2006, there were 259 China Exim projects in 36 African countries, 79 percent of which committed to infrastructure development, such as railways (Benguela and Port Sudan), dams (Merowe in Sudan; Bui in Ghana; and Mphanda Nkuwa in Zambia), thermal power plants (Nigeria and Sudan), oil facilities (Nigeria), and copper mines (Congo and Zambia).
Fri, 03 Jul 2009 09:15:00 +0000
GOVERNMENT has shelved the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill which demanded foreign owned mines to cede 51% of their shareholding to locals as it seeks to lure external investors.
Informed sources yesterday said government had withdrawn the Bill which was analysts say would have scared away foreign investors in the mining and minerals sector.
The government will also be holding its first international investment conference in a bid to lure investors into the country.
The conference will discuss investment opportunities in key sectors of the Zimbabwean economy: mining, agriculture, infrastructure development and tourism.
The Bill sought to transfer a majority stake to locals, including giving the Zimbabwe government a 25% stake.
President Robert Mugabe had said the State would nationalise all 500 of the country's mines.
He said at the time, the government "would broaden participation in the sector by indigenous players".
Mining firms and analysts had expressed concern thar the legislation would hurt the mining sector, one of the country's leading foreign currency earners.
Foreign firms that would have been affected include the world's second biggest platinum producer, Impala Platinum, which has widespread operations in Zimbabwe. Rio Tinto which has diamond interests and the world's top platinum producer, Anglo Platinum, which is developing a mine in the country and South Africa's Metallon Gold.
By Nyasa Times
Published: July 3, 2009
Without a doubt I vote Bingu wa Mutharika, the President of the Republic of Malawi, one of the best performing African Presidents. And the reason for it is simple; in 2004 when he came into power he made a pledge: “I will not be a president who goes around begging for food”. Unlike other rhetorical commitments we have often been treated to, he has put his words into action.
Malawi is an agriculture-based economy where agriculture contributes over 80% of export earnings; 38% GDP and supports 85% of the population. Smallholder farming (3.42 million households) contributes 75% of agricultural production. Maize is the staple food, grown by 97% of farming households and consumed by every Malawian. Prior to 2004, Malawi was forced into massive importation of maize for a number of consecutive years due to bad weather and low input uptake, among other factors.
In the 2004/5 season, many parts of the country were hit by prolonged dry spells. Yields in that year dropped to around 0.8 tons/ha, one of the lowest on record. The national production declined to less than 1.2 million Metric Tons, representing a decline of 24% from the previous year, approximately 60% of the estimated national maize food requirement. The whole country, and smallholder farmers in particular, were thrown into high risk and vulnerability.
In a space of three years, between 2005 and 2007, a miracle took place: the country has gone from food deficit of 43% to a food surplus of 57%; productivity increased two-fold from a ton per hectare to over 2 tons. Maize production nearly trebled from 1.23 million metric tons to 3.44 million metric tons. Malawians had enough and to export. As shown in the graph below, in 2009 the miracle is continuing.
How did the miracle take place?
The government doubled its expenditure on agriculture from 7.4% to 14%; scaled up access and affordability of farm inputs through rapid up-scaling of agro-dealers and a smart subsidy programme (through non-transferable coupons) for a whole range of farmers from vulnerable households through hard-working ones and adapters of new technologies.
From food exports and sales to the World Food Programme through the Purchase for Progress Programme, the country has been generating in excess of US120 million annually. This is then ploughed back for further scaling-up of the programme. And to ensure that smallholder farmers graduate faster from reliance on subsidized input for food security the government has embarked on a manure-making campaign; intensified extension and research in agriculture and the Greenbelt Initiative.
In 2003, in what is commonly referred to as the Maputo Protocol, African governments were supposed to have worked towards a similar miracle across the continent. They committed to spend 10% of their national budgets to agriculture in order to ensure food security to their citizens by 2015.
However, so far only 6 countries are coming good on this political commitment. Besides Malawi, they include Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal and Ethiopia. Nearly 7 years after making the political commitment, 17 countries still spend less than 5% of their national budgets on agriculture.
Malawi has restored faith in Africa by demonstrating that the continent need not become the world’s basket case. Effective ways to improve agriculture and combat food insecurity are no longer a secret.
In fact they are quite simple: scale up access and affordability of high yielding farm inputs through scaling up agro-dealers; put in place a smart subsidy programme for farmers; close the resource gap by leveraging commercial banks to lend more to agriculture through risk-sharing arrangements; build Africa’s capacity for evidence-based policies by strengthening policy institutions; and make operational policies to promote agro-processing and value addition.
However, the one ingredient that pulls all these solutions together is political will to deliver on commitments that have already been made.
As in the case of Malawi, donors may be resistant at the beginning but if the country hangs in there, in the end, as long as the programme is well run and corruption-free, everyone will want to associate with success as did the donor community in Malawi which provides budgetary support: DFID, EU, NORAD, Irish Aid, and World Bank among others. It is time that Africa took the initiative to make hunger history.–African Monitor
Archbishop Njongo Ndungane is the founder and president of African Monitor.
Friday, July 3, 2009, 11:41
An insurance agent at Chanida border post has been sentenced to 36 months in prison for defrauding the Norwegian People’s Aid Landmine Survey Project.
Chadiza Magistrate Billy Milanzi jailed Juma Milanzi 33, after convicting him on four counts of making a false document, one count of uttering a false document and one count of obtaining money by false pretence.
Magistrate Milanzi sentenced Juma to six months in prison with hard labour on which each of the six counts will run consecutively.
During trial, Landmine Survey Project Manager Mario Tome Nunez had testified that on 1st September 2008, while in the company of 20 others, he entered Zambia from Mozambique with 15 Toyota Land Cruisers at Chanida Border post.
He said he wanted to insure the vehicles before proceeding to Lusaka and approached Juma at one of the containers trading as Beam Insurance who purported to be an agent for Goldman Insurance Limited.
He said Juma charged K350, 000 per vehicle but because they did not have Kwacha, they paid him $ 1500 for the 15 vehicles.
Nunez testified that although Juma gave them insurance certificates, he did not issue them with receipts and it was only in December 2008 when he went to Goldman Insurance to collect the receipts in Lusaka that he learnt that the certificates were fake.
Written by Ernest Chanda
Friday, July 03, 2009 3:31:54 PM
CHIKONDI Foundation president Bishop John Mambo says it is a pity that most Zambians have accepted politics as a source of income. In an interview in Lusaka on Wednesday, Bishop Mambo said those with integrity were fearing to join politics.
“The biggest problem is that the Church, civil society and all Zambians have accepted that politics is now a major source of income and because politics have been dominated by unprincipled men and women, those with integrity fear to join. Mishanga sellers have taken over politics in Zambia and we are looking at them as if everything is fine,” he said.
Bishop Mambo also called on the current government to stop attacking the integrity of late president Levy Mwanawasa.
He said it was disheartening to hear how some ministers had suddenly thrown away the loyalty they gave to the late president.
“In the last few days, we have all heard how [local government minister Benny] Tetamashimba has been calling on law enforcement agencies to extend their corruption probe to the Mwanwasa rule. In essence he is insinuating that all these corruption revelations we have today should be borne by our late president. And this son of Zambia is not here to defend himself. This is totally unacceptable especially that almost all of those in the current leadership served under Mwanawasa,” Bishop Mambo said. “I fully support the young man Patrick [Mwanawasa] for speaking on behalf of his late father. Had we known that these people were going to witch-hunt into the life of the late president we were not going to allow them to use our money to fly his body all over the country last year? The man did his part and he should be left to rest in peace because there is no one to answer for him. So is this what political opportunism can do?”
Bishop Mambo said Tetamashimba was practicing hypocrisy of the worst kind.
“This is the same person who sang songs of praise for the late president and announced that he [Mwanawasa] was not corrupt. And today Tetamashimba has become a champion in the fight against corruption and wants to blame it all on the man he revered so much. Can we for once stop witch-hunting and channel our resources towards the right things. Yesterday Levy was a hero but today we are witch-hunting into his past, how shameful!” Bishop Mambo said.
He said there was a deliberate ploy to create confusion in the country to benefit those in power.
“These people want to use confusion to plunder even more. Because of these corrupt revelations, there is a lot of anger building up in the nation. People are not happy to see how their resources are being abused and the best way to defuse this anger is to do the right thing,” he said.
And Bishop Mambo has commended President Rupiah Banda for urging the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) delegates to make the constitution within the stipulated period.
He said the work the NCC was doing was far much little compared to what had been done by the Mung’omba Constitutional Review Commission.
“I remember that at his press conference last week, President Banda touched on the issue of the NCC deadline. We support him on that score because our money should not be spent beyond the given deadline.
The President was right in reminding our colleagues at the NCC that they should meet the deadline amid the global credit crunch,” said Bishop Mambo. “In fact these people should speed up the process so that we can quickly start reacting to their report. I’m aware that so far they have covered four committees and they are remaining with four.
As they reconvene, let them know that they will be dealing with the most contentious clauses. I have in mind the 50 plus one threshold and the issue of an elected Vice-President. There are also critical issues from the human rights committee, so they should be more open-minded this time.”
Written by Editor
It is surprising that where there is pain and death, Rupiah Banda and those prostituting themselves with him see obscenity and pornography.It is difficult to understand how one can see pornography in those pictures of death, of a child dying in birth and a mother in serious pain and suffering.
If people do not want to take the responsibilities of leadership but are more eager to take the rewards of leadership, they should simply say so. Those pictures with the pain and suffering they carried cannot be said to be pornography.
And they were not sent to people whose morals could easily be corrupted. They were sent to people who have accepted and carry themselves as leaders of our people, as leading fighters on issues concerning the pain and sufferings of women. Leaders have a duty to know what is going on in the communities they lead.
And this includes both pleasant and unpleasant things, palatable and unpalatable things. We have a duty to bring to the attention of our leaders both pleasant and unpleasant things. Those pictures were sent to the highest political, religious and civic leadership of our people. But some opportunistic elements saw in this an opportunity to try and settle whatever scores they have with The Post, political or otherwise. They saw it as an opportunity to embarrass The Post on issues of morality. We know Rupiah has been insulting us for a long time, insinuating all sorts of things, calling us queer, morbid, peculiar. If a president of a country chooses to deal with citizens he doesn’t like in this manner, he becomes a danger to himself and to the nation. Rupiah has been peddling lies, rumours and all sorts of malice against us. We say this because there is no single person Rupiah can claim to have evidence about them being queer, morbid or peculiar at The Post. He doesn’t have that. It’s sad that an entire President of our country can choose to engage in such cheap, loose talk and expect to be respected. What would happen if we decided to insult him back?
Rupiah may be President but he is not President of this country because of his high morals. He is actually a man of highly questionable morals. And if he wants to debate this issue with us, let’s open up the debate and discuss everything. We don’t have anything about our lives that can’t be discussed. His insinuations against us only go to show the low levels of his morality, fairness and justice. We say this because a person with high morals and a high degree of self-respect cannot make such insinuations against citizens when he doesn’t have any truth to back them with.
If it is issues of morality, we can confidently say Rupiah doesn’t stand anywhere near us. And we ask him to open up this issue and let it be debated openly. We have nothing to hide. The issue of the pictures, if it is a crime as Rupiah and his friends allege, is now in the hands of the police. Let’s go to court and see if anything that we did in connection with these pictures constitutes a crime.
As for those friends of ours who decided to prostitute themselves with Rupiah, history or time will be the judge. In the future it will be clear who – we or them – betrayed public trust. Today they can enjoy the protection of Rupiah and the state machinery that is at his disposal; they can enjoy the positive and unlimited coverage of the state media. But this won’t last forever. They shouldn’t forget where we are coming from. For us, these are not issues of ego or to be seen to be doing this or that. They receive funding from donors who they have to show that they are doing something, we don’t. So for us the question of appeasing anyone is not there. In the future, people will know everything about what happened: what we did and what they did, what goals we sought and what goals they sought, and who was right – we or them who are today trying us together with Rupiah, who acted dishonestly in discharging a public trust, who abandoned their mission and were serving a corrupt and deceitful regime. We are challenging them, absolutely convinced that we are defending something more dignified than the deceitful actions of these paid activists.
The lies they have tried to concoct over these pictures will one day come to haunt them. They don’t know that there is no better tactic, no better strategy than to fight with clean hands, to fight with the truth. These are the only weapons that inspire confidence and dignity. These are the weapons we have been using to deal with all the adversities we have faced over the last 18 years.
Our concern with the plight of women in this country cannot be questioned even by our worst adversaries. And there is no serious women’s organisation in this country that has never counted on our support. Very few organisations in this country treat women better than we do. All that one can do is to come and see the respect and support women employees enjoy at The Post. And if Rupiah wants to take up the issue of women with us, we are more than ready. And these pictures will not help him much. If he really cared about the plight of women as he tried to pretend at the press conference of his, he wouldn’t have allowed so many of them to die in childbirth as a result of that strike that could have been easily avoided. Rupiah has done more damage to women than he claims those pictures did. His government is responsible for the deaths of so many innocent women and children. And there is no amount of prostituting with those opportunistic women that will make these deaths and his record on this score any better. But the problem with this old man is he lives on the street and feeds on its rumours and lies and tries to use that to run the country.
Whereas we can back every claim we make with evidence, Rupiah can’t. And that’s probably why he resorts to innuendos, to insinuating that we are queer, morbid and peculiar. If actually we examined these words carefully, we will find that it is Rupiah’s actions that are queer, morbid and peculiar. We will not go far. Let him provoke us further on this score and then he will fully realise that we are able to defend ourselves with truth, with facts and indeed with words.
As for the charges they want to bring against our news editor, Chansa Kabwela, let them go ahead. We will highly welcome them to a court contest with us. They can call as their witnesses NGOCC and Women for Change so that both can learn from the court what constitutes pornography and be made to live to regret their treacherous prostitution and betrayal.
Again, as Chansa correctly told the police, for us this is nothing but a continuation of the abuse of our country’s judicial process by Rupiah and his friends. There is nothing we can do but to simply submit ourselves before the court in the hope that justice will prevail. That’s all we can hope for. We are not criminals or lawbreakers. We are law-abiding citizens with clean criminal records. Chansa is not a criminal and it doesn’t make sense for anyone to insinuate that she is engaged in circulating pornography. But that’s what opportunists do.
They always try to side with the powerful. And that’s why we say an opportunist, by his very nature, will always evade taking a clear and decisive stand, he will always seek a middle course, he will always wriggle like a snake between two mutually exclusive points of view and try to agree with both and reduce his differences of opinion to petty or pious arguments. What they should just accept is that they have hired themselves out to Rupiah because there are greater benefits in doing so. They can go ahead but the fruits or gains of their treachery will not last forever. Rupiah will not rule this country forever. Anyway, all said, we wait to have our day in court.
Written by George Chellah
Friday, July 03, 2009 3:27:50 PM
PATRIOTIC Front (PF) leader Michael Sata on Friday said the police are now a vigilante committee of the ruling MMD, which is being used to harass and intimidate journalists from The Post.
Commenting on the warn and caution statement recorded by the police from Post news editor Chansa Kabwela, Sata said there are many institutions in the country today that were conducting their affairs like MMD committees.
"The police and the Judiciary are some of them. The police and the Judiciary are behaving like they are committees of MMD. It's clear by now that The Post didn't take those photos. The police is being used to divert attention from the government's failure to govern," Sata said.
"The police is now a vigilante committee of the MMD, which is being used by the government to harass and intimidate journalists. On real cases they don't arrest people, the only criminals we have in Zambia today is The Post and PF cadres. MMD cadres have been harassing and beating up people and they have not arrested them."
Sata said this sort of state intimidation must be stopped.
"That's state intimidation, which is very common in Communist countries, we will see more of that," Sata said. "This MMD political security committee you will see them very shortly, they are going to round up [former local government minister] Sylvia Masebo. Their interest is to protect MMD, they have even forgotten that they get our taxpayers money."
And Press Freedom Committee (PFC) of The Post secretary general Sheikh Chifuwe said it was not surprising that the police had recorded a warn and caution statement from Kabwela for allegedly being in possession and circulating obscene pictures.
"We are not shocked because the directive came from the head of state, Mr Rupiah Banda although the police officers seem not to know where to find the fish," Chifuwe said.
"It is clear that the action is not intended to investigate the so called pornographic materials as claimed by Mr Banda at his press conference, but an attempt to silence the independent media, particularly The Post newspapers."
He said President Banda had consistently failed to subdue his hate for The Post newspapers due to its criticism of his governance and commitment to the development of the country.
"We wish to remind Mr Banda that press freedom is the umbrella under which all essential freedoms in democratic societies are strengthened. Where it does not exist the state can selectively undermine and destroy fundamental freedoms without public debate or sometimes even knowledge," Chifuwe said. "From the actions of Mr Banda, we have no doubt that his intention is to curtail public debate so that they can continue governing over a people who lack information to make informed decisions."
He urged Kabwela, other journalists and all employees of The Post to remain steadfast and continue doing what was in the best interest of society.
"Politicians come and go. It is clear that Mr Banda is alive to this fact and is possibly concerned about his personal wellbeing before he exits the Presidency of the Republic of Zambia," Chifuwe said. "We, however, urge him that the harassment of journalists or indeed the citizens he claims to be leading will haunt him when the curtains of his exit are drawn and the clapping audience is all gone."
On Thursday, Police recorded a warn and caution statement from Kabwela. This is after she was summoned for interrogation at Lusaka division police headquarters. But Kabwela told the police that she awaits her day in court, saying it was foolish and ridiculous to suggest that The Post deals in obscenities and pornography.
The allegation is that of being in possession and circulation of obscene pictures tending to corrupt the morals of society and that the said pictures were circulated to Vice-President George Kunda, Secretary to the Cabinet Dr Joshua Kanganja, minister of health Kapembwa Simbao, Women for Change (WfC), Non-governmental Organisation Coordinating Council (NGOCC) and the Archbishop of Lusaka, contrary to section 177 1 (a) of the Penal Code.
Section 177 1 (a) of the penal code states that: "Any person who- (a) makes, produces or has in his possession any one or more obscene writings, drawings, prints, paintings, printed matter, pictures, posters, emblems, photographs, cinematography films or any other object tending to corrupt morals is guilty of a misdemeanour and is liable to imprisonment for five years or to a fine of not less than fifteen thousand penalty units nor more than seventy five thousand penalty units."
The police are acting on instructions from President Rupiah Banda, who last week during his press conference at State House called for the arrest of those allegedly distributing pictures of a woman in labour.
President Banda said The Post was a malicious newspaper, which had even gone to the extent of publishing 'pornography'.
According to sources within the police, the investigations on the labour pictures have been intensified following President Banda's directive.
"The investigations have continued and we hear there were even plans to go and search madam Kabwela's house to check if she has those pictures at home," the sources said.
The sources revealed that there were plans to slap another allegation of money laundering on Kabwela.
"They are trying to charge her with money laundering as well because they suspect that she was paid money by the photographer or a politician to publish those pictures in order to discredit the government," the source revealed.
"We hear there were even plans to screen her bank accounts because they suspect that the money from the politician must have been transferred using the bank. So they want to monitor the movement of money in her accounts with the banks."
Written by Patson Chilemba
Friday, July 03, 2009 3:26:31 PM
PATRIOTIC Front (PF) president Michael Sata has asked Vice-President George Kunda and his friends in the MMD to stop panicking over the PF-UPND pact if they have any belief in their party. In an interview on Wednesday, Sata said the panic emerging from the MMD over the PF-UPND pact was very alarming and people like President Rupiah Banda, Vice-President Kunda and several MMD officials were now more preoccupied with talking about the pact than addressing the many problems that had blighted the nation.
He said the question of who would be adopted presidential candidate for the pact in the 2011 general elections should not be President Banda or Vice-President Kunda's concern.
"I heard George Kunda talking about the pact that Mr Sata and Mr Hichilema are too ambitious for the presidency and they will fail to come up with a president, and that because of that they are going to split. But is it not George Kunda's boss who was telling us recently that we were focusing on the MMD presidency as if we are MMD members?" Sata asked. "So why is George Kunda preoccupied with talking about the president for the pact? If he is saying that we shall have elections next month, we shall convene quickly and choose a president. Why is George Kunda panicking? They should not panic if they still have belief in their party. He [Vice-President Kunda] should wait until we appoint him our party spokesperson because at the moment he doesn't qualify."
Sata said PF and UPND were moving systematically and the concern now was to develop trust between the two parties.
He said the presidency of the pact would be addressed later.
Sata said he was in good health and those trying to use his health to campaign against him were just wasting their time.
"The MMD used that and it cost them 338,000 votes. So whoever uses that it will cost them the elections," said Sata.
Vice-President Kunda on Wednesday said the pact between PF and UPND could not last because both Sata and Hichilema were ambitious for the presidency and that they would eventually fail to agree on who leads the pact during the elections - thus leading to a split.
Written by Patson Chilemba
Friday, July 03, 2009 3:24:49 PM
UPND president Hakainde Hichilema on Friday charged that Benny Tetamashimba is being inconsistent in his arguments over the hearses, saying the man is confused. Commenting on the squabbles involving former local government minister Sylvia Masebo and her successor Tetamashimba, Hichilema said those who had followed the debate could tell that Tetamashimba was confused and inconsistent while Masebo backed her arguments with facts.
Hichilema said Tetamashimba initially said he would take responsibility over the hearses but when the public began questioning the transactions, he quickly changed positions.
He wondered what had happened to Tetamashimba's statement that he paid for the hearses in December last year.
Hichilema said he found it difficult to understand Tetamashimba's reasoning over the hearses.
"From what Tetamashimba is saying you can see that Tetamashimba is very inconsistent. Confused Teta, directionless Teta, Masebo is backing her arguments with documents. You can see Tetamashimba is confused and he's confusing himself, and I am asking him not to confuse the nation. He is just a mouthpiece of a failing government. Local government is too important to have a poor quality minister," Hichilema said. "On what President Banda should do, I have stopped advising President Banda because when I do, he accuses me of insulting. The MMD and the poor quality ministers like Tetamashimba can only be taken out by voting in the UPND/PF pact."
Hichilema said Zambia would not go anywhere with poor quality ministers like Tetamashimba.
He said Tetamashimba was a reflection of the MMD government's incompetence.
"Sheer incompetence, you can't even write a decent letter. He can't even write a sensible letter. In fact he must stop embarrassing himself by writing letters. Letters whose English in un-discernible," Hichilema said.
And an official in the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) said ZRA should explain why they allowed Top Motors to bring hearses into the country using government vouchers.
"At the border they used the Code CPC 405 and 405 is a Code which waives duty. The Customs procedure code for goods imported for the government, and duty is waived. So Top Motors used that because they did not want to pay tax, they did not import in their capacity as Top Motors, they imported as government. And it was not for Top Motors to do the correct thing, it was ZRA," the source said. "Top Motors might have hoodwinked ZRA into thinking that it was government which imported. Tetamashimba's argument is based on ZRA papers where they used the code we use for importing government things."
On whether the price for the hearses was US $9,000 or US$29,000, the source said Top Motors could have bought the vehicles at US $29,000 from China, saying that made business sense if issues like insurance and transportation were included.
"Or it could be that Top Motors bought those vehicles at US $9,000 and then they sold government at US $29,000. And what is wrong with Top Motors buying those vehicles at 9,000 and selling them to government at 29,000? This is just a business venture government entered into. If you remember, honorable Masebo said they bought 16 boats from the manufacturer, and that they would have bought only three from Auto World. Unless government is buying from the manufacturer, it would make sense that government bought those hearses at US $9,300. But they were buying from Top Motors," said the source. "Tetamashimba is just being malicious because he is taking it that government bought them at US $9,000, but it is not government that was importing. There is a contract that Top Motors must supply government with hearses. You don't expect Top Motors to import at US $9,000 and sell to the government at the same price. It doesn't make business sense. But people should ask ZRA why Top Motors used the Code for government, which is 405?"
The source said Top Motors should tell the nation if they used a government voucher or their own voucher when the hearses were brought into the country.
Meanwhile, Hichilema said there was no need for government to start firing striking workers.
He said government should instead concentrate on finding a lasting solution to the workers' demands.
Hichilema said President Banda's government should have anticipated what would happen in future when they refused to listen to people's concerns by increasing their salaries.
On the statement by University of Zambia Lecturers and Researchers Union (UNZALARU) general secretary Dr Fenson Mwape that education minister Dora Siliya should rebuild her tattered image by showing leadership over the lecturers' go-slow, Hichilema said the lecturers were right to reject the five per cent increment.
He said Siliya had no moral right to be minister in the first place and should have a sense of embarrassment. Hichilema said Siliya's clearance by High Court judge Philip Musonda did not take away the fact that she disregarded the Attorney General's legal advice and flouted tender procedure.
"She doesn't carry any respect of any decent Zambian," said Hichilema.
Written by Patson Chilemba
Friday, July 03, 2009 3:19:34 PM
FORMER local government minister Sylvia Masebo yesterday charged that her successor Benny Tetamashimba is an evil man. And Masebo said Tetamashimba had damaged her image in the eyes of the public.
Featuring on 5 FM's Burning Issue programme, Masebo said people told her to be careful with Tetamashimba when he was appointed her deputy by late president Levy Mwanawasa.
"You know he's an evil man I can tell you. Even when he was appointed and brought to my ministry, everybody called me, 'be careful with that man, he's already undermining you'. I called him to my office to say 'listen, this is what people think about you. So can you try to prove them wrong'. I told him myself, I never hid him," she said.
Masebo said it was sad for Tetamashimba to be digressing the nation from real issues such as strikes, high poverty levels to a situation which was becoming embarrassing. She charged that Tetamashimba was a liar, who constantly changed positions on issues.
Masebo said she operated on an open-door policy towards her officials in the ministry and that there was never a time she declined to see Tetamashimba.
"I said to them, there is nothing, these are public offices. 'I don't have any secrets in my office. So let them see me'. And I made a joke, I said once to them, 'unless the secretary tells you that she's with her husband or she's with her boyfriend, and may be at that stage, you can give me five minutes to kiss my husband. So don't come in the office.' I made that joke to them,"
Masebo said. "Of course, Tetamashimba was not as committed to his work like Dr Kazonga, no. You know he was a person who had so many things. You know, these are people who when they are in office, they don't concentrate. They are doing so many things using public office."
Masebo said she received a phone call recently from someone who served with Tetamashimba in the UPND and was told that the minister of local government was a very dirty schemer.
She said Tetamashimba destroyed the UPND by alienating hard working people who were close to the late party president Anderson Mazoka.
"She said to me 'be careful, don't underrate him, and he will keep confusing you people in MMD. By the time you realise it, the party would have been divided, the party would have been destroyed'," Masebo said. "I can tell you that today the party has problems because of Tetamashimba. He does not respect anybody. He undermines everybody."
Masebo said she explained everything to Vice-President George Kunda and even on why she initially refused to speak over the transactions during her tenure.
She said Vice-President Kunda was handling the matter before Tetamashimba went to seek President Rupiah's Banda's involvement.
"I explained everything to the Vice-President, and the Vice-President had directed Tetamashimba that he be the one to deal with the matter. I cannot be the one to deal with the matter because I am out of government and that would be setting a bad precedence, a wrong precedence," Masebo said.
"But the man, and I know that the man went to the President to tell him, 'no, let her speak because she knows something. She's guilty'."
And Masebo said those who were in office were abusing their ministerial positions, just to make a name that they had reported others to the investigative wings.
She said this made ordinary members of the public start to think that people like herself had been involved in some corrupt actions.
"It's unfortunate because then, it's not possible for me to clear my name in an effective way, you know to destroy somebody's name is very easy, to build is very difficult. So Tetamashimba has made very damaging [statements], he's really damaged my image in the eyes of the public, and I am sure some people there think there is something wrong that I have done," she said.
Masebo said she would instruct her lawyers to seek legal redress since there were allegations that she acted corruptly.
However, Masebo said she would give some documentations she had to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the Auditor General's office to assist them in their investigations.
Asked if she had received a call from ACC, Masebo said she was still waiting to receive one.
Asked if President Banda had called her, Masebo responded: "He hasn't called me. He's very busy."
Written by Patson Chilemba
Friday, July 03, 2009 3:17:59 PM
UNIVERSITY of Zambia Lecturers and Researchers Union (UNZALARU) general secretary Dr Fenson Mwape yesterday asked education minister Dora Siliya to rebuild her tattered image by showing leadership over the lecturers’ go-slow.
Commenting on the go-slow by lecturers, Dr Mwape said it would be extremely important for the newly-appointed education minister to take the first step in addressing the demands by lecturers and not allow the situation to deteriorate further.
"I do understand what she's going through. There are many questions surrounding her appointment. Many are not worried at Dora as a person but her appointment. She has no choice, she has to rebuild her image which has been tattered and this [addressing the current go-slow by lecturers] is the best way to do that," Dr Mwape said. "She should clear the negative perception by showing leadership over UNZA lecturers' go-slow."
Dr Mwape also joined calls for members of parliament to suspend their mid-term gratuity and channel those funds towards addressing the workers' demands, in a country that had been blighted by industrial unrest.
He said it would be immoral for members of parliament to receive their gratuity when the government had given an excuse of the global economic crunch over the workers' demands.
"The three to five per cent increment offered to us cannot be accepted. If money can be sourced by members of parliament demonstrating their leadership, that will be welcome. If there are serious concerns, it would be immoral if members of parliament are paid their midterm gratuity," said Dr Mwape. "It is important that they suspend that and meet the immediate needs. They can suspend those until the end of their term. Others get their gratuity at the end of the term and not midterm."
Unionised lecturers at UNZA on Monday resolved to start their go-slow with immediate effect until their demands are met.
Dr Mwape said the lecturers had rejected the three or five per cent salary increment given to them earlier and demanded that they be awarded a minimum of whatever percentage would be awarded to public service workers.
"Meaningful negotiations for new salaries and conditions of service should be concluded, the collective agreement implemented immediately and all outstanding contractual obligations should be paid immediately," Dr Mwape said.
Dr Mwape said the members observed that the 2008/2009 collective agreement expired on March 31, 2009 and negotiations for the new agreement could not continue because of serious impediments created by both UNZA management and the Ministry of Finance and National Planning circular of 2009 which restricted grant-aided institutions such as UNZA to adjust their 2009 salaries by up to a maximum of five per cent which has resulted in the institution offering only three per cent.