Saturday, August 22, 2009
Written by Editor
There is anger in this country over magistrate Jones Chinyama’s decision to acquit Frederick Chiluba in what they see as the most questionable circumstances. But strangely, that anger is mixed with despair, a feeling that their Judiciary is rotten and the whole state machinery is gone.
And that feeling seems to be deepening. We disagree with it. There is no need to despair. There are problems in our Judiciary but it is not totally rotten. The quality of work is poor in many respects and some of the decisions are unquestionably suspect.
We also believe that despair, anger and confusion are not the best ways to respond to this. If we give the impression that just because we are angry, then Rupiah Banda’s walls of Jericho will fall down, he is not going to treat us very seriously at all – and we won’t deserve to be treated very seriously.
What is needed is a rational response to all these clearly corrupt schemes. We need to know how to fight back because people like Rupiah will only respect those who know how to fight back when wrong has been committed against them.
There are many things the Zambian people can do to make their institutions responsive. In a democracy, there is no alternative to protest. And protest takes many forms. When people keep quiet, no amount of anger from them will change anything. They must begin to show their unhappiness in rational ways. It is their right.
Although we say our people should not despair, this feeling is not entirely negative. It is a sign of progress. At least it shows that our people are moved with indignation every time a wrong is done. The public has taken a clear stance against corruption. It is not going to be condoned.
It does not matter who is behind it. This is what the anger people are feeling about Chiluba’s acquittal demonstrates. We do not believe our people are hateful. On the contrary, our people are tolerant, loving and accommodating. The anger they have at Chiluba’s acquittal has nothing to do with hatred, it has to do with injustice and justice.
Our political culture has developed to a level where many of our people are rightfully demanding accountability from their leaders. They elected Chiluba in their masses but he betrayed them. Instead of improving the lot of our people, Chiluba determined to retire rich at their expense. He was not going to retire like poor Dr Kenneth Kaunda who was going to depend on the people he had served for 27 years to look after him. Chiluba decided he was going to make his own pension in addition to what the people were going to give him.
This is what disappoints our people, this is what is generating the anger, this is what annoys them. The president of this country commands a lot of power. His actions or inactions could mean life or death for a lot of people. This is the kind of power that the president wields in trust for the people. When a president turns rogue as Chiluba did, his misdeeds are not private mistakes but public wrongs which demand public accountability.
It is only in countries like ours where a president can publicly admit receiving bribes and keeping them in a government account for his personal use and get away with it. In a normal country, such a president would not even dare open his mouth. But today, we hear Rupiah saying Chiluba is entitled to fight for his immunity. If Chiluba can break the law and be supported by the government, why do we have prisons?
Why should someone who steals a bag of mealie-meal to assuage hunger be sent to jail for many years and yet somebody like Chiluba is free to steal from the people? Anyway, this can only come from a person like Rupiah. We have not forgotten what he said in Kabwe on Monday before even Chiluba’s judgment was completed. Rupiah said today it is Chiluba, tomorrow it can be me or you. If one has stolen, yes they should be treated in that manner. The best way to avoid that is not to steal; it can’t be by immunities from justice, by questionable acquittals that mask corruption in every pore.
And they should never be absolute immunity accorded to anyone. The immunity provided to a president in our Constitution is not absolute and that is why it was possible in the end to have Chiluba prosecuted for stealing public funds. Going the line Rupiah is advocating, a line of absolute immunity, would be incompatible with the rule of law; the very essence of the rule of law is that no one is above the law. As a result, the immunity we give to our president is limited to the minimum level required in the performance of official duties. If this was the opposite, it would mean that a person who becomes president would be bound by no law, he could steal and abuse public resources and office as he wishes.
It is unfortunate that the person who has sworn to defend the law of the land is at the forefront of championing its violation. It is quite clear from Rupiah’s utterances that he does not think Chiluba should be held accountable for the wrongs that he has done. The question is why? Why is Rupiah jittery about the office of president being held to account? Is he doing things he shouldn’t do? A decent and honest man need not fear the law. Instead, he should embrace it. This is the behaviour we expect from Rupiah.
It seems Rupiah is a throwback to a bygone era where presidents were equivalent to absolute monarchs who were above the people and the law. This is the impression Rupiah gives. He is not a servant; he is not a leader, he is a ruler. To him, presidency is synonymous with absolute control and absolute immunity to the exclusion of any accountability.
This is why Rupiah never accepts any public criticism. Even when people tell him that something is wrong, he has to defend it. We have seen this on the Zamtel privatisation where his government is ready to break the law. This is similar to the way Chiluba used to behave. Chiluba was insular to criticism. Look where it has ended him! Instead of defending Chiluba’s misdeeds, Rupiah must make sure that his own conduct while in office is above board. If he works in the interest of the people on every issue that comes to his desk, he will have nothing to fear. Rupiah will have no need to defend thieves and scoundrels since as he said ‘it could be me or you tomorrow’.
What Chiluba has done can never be covered by any amount of propaganda. Our people demand accountability. This is one of Rupiah’s responsibilities to ensure that there is accountability in government and in the management of public affairs. But the confusion that is emanating from Rupiah should not surprise us. This man is consistent in his wrongdoing. He does not seem to care about anything that matters to the people. To him, it is the question of ‘me, myself and I and also my children’. That is what matters to him. Anyway, Chinyama has told us that a president of this country is not a public servant, so Rupiah can do as he pleases, he can take whatever he wants as long as he keeps it in a government account, it’s okay! What nonsense is this? This can only happen in Zambia. Clearly, Chinyama’s acquittal of Chiluba has brought shame not only on our judiciary but on our whole country. People are not only making jokes about our judiciary, they are also joking about us as a nation, as a people.
Rupiah does not seem to realise that as president, there is a lot on his shoulders. He is supposed to represent the aspirations and hopes of our people. And yet he represents despair and hopelessness. At one point, we thought that our country was in auto pilot. Although this is a fearful thing, at least auto pilot directs you somewhere. We are now realising that our country is not on auto pilot, it is in free fall and Rupiah, the captain, is dozing. This is disaster indeed. It can lead to a disastrous crash. We are not saying this just for the sake of criticising Rupiah. The evidence is all around us. What has Rupiah been doing when the economy has nose-dived? It seems to him, this is not part of his job. He has no duty to ensure that the economy is running well. If a president can ignore the economy except to the extent that he has some specific deals that he is pushing, what hope is there for our people? This is why to him, getting justice for our people is nothing. Chiluba can steal and keep the loot. Rupiah is not bothered. Shame on him!
Written by George Chellah
Saturday, August 22, 2009 6:05:21 AM
PATRIOTIC Front (PF) leader Michael Sata has said former president Frederick Chiluba is rushing to Parliament for the restoration of his legal immunity in order to protect himself from the enforcement of the London judgment.
Commenting on the letter by Chiluba's lawyers - Simeza Sangwa and Associates - where they have demanded that Speaker of the National Assembly Amusaa Mwanamwambwa convenes a special session of the National Assembly to consider restoration of Chiluba's legal immunity, Sata said the London judgment case had not been disposed of.
"Chiluba is rushing to Parliament to get his legal immunity restored because he is trying to protect himself from the enforcement of the London judgment," Sata said. "If I was Chiluba I would have waited for this thing [London judgment] to be diluted as well."
He said it would be very interesting to see how President Rupiah Banda's government would act on the matter.
"If the matter goes to Parliament, it will be interesting to see how Vice-President George Kunda who is the leader of government business in the House will handle this matter. Don't forget that he is the one who was representing the Zambian government in the London High Court and they secured this judgment on behalf of Zambians," Sata said.
"What is George Kunda going to talk about in Parliament? How is he going to push for the lifting of Chiluba's immunity knowing fully well what transpired in the London High Court? All the facts in this matter were provided by George Kunda and that's how they ended up securing that judgment.
"It will be very difficult for George Kunda to go to Parliament. That's why he should either resign or let a new person go and present this matter in Parliament because it will not be proper for George Kunda to present this matter to Parliament."
Sata said the government could not have it both ways.
"George Kunda was telling the people of Central Province that Rupiah will uphold Levy's legacy, what legacy? The Zambian government is being very dishonest to its people," Sata said.
"The MMD members of parliament were the same people who argued for the lifting of Chiluba's immunity, so we will see how they will again debate or behave in reverse to restore it."
He said President Banda was simply telling Zambians that under his leadership, corruption must be tolerated.
"So let him pardon all those languishing in prison so that they can come and celebrate together with Chiluba. All those generals they have convicted should be pardoned. It will be very difficult to fight corruption in this country anymore," Sata said.
And featuring on Joy FM radio, Sata said he would defeat both President Banda and Chiluba in the next elections.
"In Rupiah's own lopsided opinion he thinks Chiluba can upside PF. Last year, he tried to use him and he lost Luapula and Copperbelt. He [Chiluba] tried to form PUDD and he failed," he said.
He said Chiluba has been very free.
"Last year he went to campaign against me in Luapula, Copperbelt and Northern province but I defeated him because he had no truth," Sata said.
In a letter dated August 18, 2009 to the Speaker, which was also copied to Chiluba and President Rupiah Banda, Simeza Sangwa and Associates called for the restoration of Chiluba's immunity.
"Dear Sir, Restoration of legal immunity for second Republican president Dr Frederick Jacob Titus Chiluba. We act for Dr Chiluba who has instructed us to contact you in connection with the above stated subject matter. Kindly therefore note our interest," the law firm stated. "You will recall that following the late president Dr Levy P Mwanawasa SC's address to the special session of the National Assembly where he made several allegations of criminal conduct against our client, the National Assembly did on 16th July 2002 resolve to remove our client's legal immunity to make him amenable to the criminal jurisdiction of the courts in Zambia and to allow Law Enforcement Agencies fully investigate allegations made against our client.
"The decision by Parliament was immediately followed by our client's arrest and prosecution, which he endured for the last 7 years. As you no doubt should be aware, our client has now been cleared of all allegations brought against him following his acquittal by the Subordinate Court of the First Class."
The law firm stated that there is thus no longer any criminal charges pending against their client in any court's of Law in Zambia.
"Our reading of the National Assembly resolution together with Article 43 of the Constitution would appear to suggest that the removal of our client's immunity was not infinite as its scope was limited to prosecution for offences alleged by late president Mwanawasa in his address to the National Assembly," they stated. "Indeed a perusal of the debate by Honourable members seems to show that their understanding of the motion for removal of Dr Chiluba's legal immunity was to facilitate, or give Dr Chiluba an opportunity to clear his name amidst specific allegations made by his predecessor to the House. We in the premises would respectfully demand that you immediately, convene a special session of the National Assembly to consider restoration of our client's legal immunity since the purpose for which the immunity was lifted has been fulfilled.
"The removal of our clients' legal immunity was not intended to last forever. If convening the House at short notice will pose logistical difficulties, we would instead request that you table the matter before the standing orders committee, which in turn will report to the National Assembly its decision for ratification. We hope you will accord this matter the urgency it deserves considering that we are dealing with accrued constitutional rights of a former head of state. We await your urgent response."
Written by Chibaula Silwamba and Ernest Chanda
Saturday, August 22, 2009 6:02:12 AM
THE British government has said it is following the civil case against former president Frederick Chiluba in which the London High Court ordered him to pay back US $46 million to Zambia.
And United States Embassy deputy public affairs officer Veldhuizen Stealy has said Chiluba's appearance in court over the last seven years for alleged abuse of public funds shows that no one is above the law.
Commenting on the acquittal of Chiluba, the British High Commission in Zambia on Thursday said it had followed Chiluba's case with great interest.
The High Commission said it was carefully studying the judgment where the Lusaka magistrate court acquitted Chiluba on corruption charges of stealing US $500,000.
"We have followed this case with great interest, as it is an important case for Zambia and the Zambian people. We will need to study this judgment very carefully before commenting further on it," said the British High Commission in response to a press query.
"We are also following the civil case against former President Chiluba, which was concluded in favour of Zambia in the London High Court in May 2007 with the court ordering former president Chiluba to pay back US $46 million to Zambia. This case is in the process of being registered in Zambia for the judgment to be enforceable.
"It is the Zambian authorities who brought both the criminal and civil cases against Mr Chiluba, in Zambia and in the UK [United Kingdom]. The fact that this was done shows that no one is above scrutiny by the law. The UK looks forward to the continuing commitment by the government of Zambia and the President to fighting corruption. We look forward to a further institutionalisation of the fight against high level corruption in Zambia."
The British High Commission pledged that the UK would continue to actively support the government of Zambia in its efforts to combat corruption.
"The UK through DFID has provided financial and technical support to the wider investigative capacity of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the Task Force on Corruption," said the British High Commission.
On Monday, Ndola High Court registrar Jones Chinyama, sitting as a magistrate in Lusaka, acquitted Chiluba on all counts of embezzling public funds amounting to US$500,000 but imprisoned his co-accused Access Financial Services Limited (AFSL) former directors Faustin Kabwe and Aaron Chungu for five years with hard labour.
Soon after his acquittal, during a media briefing at his Kabulonga residence, Chiluba accused the British government of instigating his prosecution and said he would later talk more on corruption in Britain.
"We shall talk about many things, how governments have been run, particularly in Africa, because we are poor therefore every foreigner must bring his dollars and orders you to arrest your president. I am just waiting for a list from England of MPs who stole money but the papers do not write about the British thieves. So we shall talk about that because the Speaker of the House of Commoners resigned because he was trying to protect the thieves. It is only in England where an MP takes money to the Church as an offering and claims it from Parliament. Oh, yes only there. So what moral high ground are they on?" Chiluba asked.
And in a statement, Stealy said true hard work depended on responsible governments that reject corruption.
"The fact that former president Chiluba was brought to trial in Zambia for corruption shows that no one is above scrutiny by the law. As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton stated recently in Kenya, 'true economic progress depends not only on the hard work of millions of
people who get up every day and do the best they can, often under overwhelming circumstances; it also depends on responsible governments that reject corruption, enforce the rule of law, and deliver results for their people,'" stated Stealy.
Written by Chibaula Silwamba in Kasama
Saturday, August 22, 2009 6:00:52 AM
PRESIDENT Rupiah Banda yesterday declared that the MMD will fight hard for Kasama Central Constituency because the Patriotic Front (PF) had failed the constituency.And Northern Province MMD chairperson Griever Sikasote revealed that the party in the province will petition the party's national executive committee (NEC) to postpone the MMD national convention until after the 2011 general elections.
Meanwhile, President Banda has urged civil servants to wear the MMD attire in their homes.
Addressing MMD members and government officials at Kasama airport, President Banda said the PF had failed the people of Kasama Central Constituency.
"I want to thank our party workers, please and ask you to be ready for the forthcoming by-election. The people of Kasama gave the parliamentary seat to the PF and the PF has refused it; they have resigned, they have said they have failed so it is our chance now to speak to all the people of this province particularly here in Kasama where the by-election will take place," President Banda said. "I don't want to hear that our leaders are shy to speak to everyone. You must speak to the household, house-to-house. You must speak to the marketeers, you must speak to the vendors, the people in the shops, you must speak to the teachers, you must speak to the policemen, you must speak to the civil servants. Everyone you see has an influence in ensuring that we win this election and I am publicly asking everyone to help us in this because we have programmes which we want to carry out here in Kasama and it will be easier if you gave us the candidate for MP for Kasama to the ruling party."
He observed that during elections everybody wanted to contest even when they did not have developmental programmes for the constituency.
"You see when you are going for the elections, everybody wants to stand and everybody wants to make promises [but] they don't want to answer the question. The question is: 'how are you going to deliver development to the people of Kasama?' They don't want to answer that question because they cannot answer it," President Banda said. "Only the candidate for this party, which is the ruling party, it is a ruling party because all the people of Zambia chose that the MMD will constitute the government of this country until 2011. Only the candidate of MMD can tell you the truth about development. Only him or her can say to you, 'we shall continue building schools for you, we will continue to fix your roads, we shall continue to supply fertiliser, we shall continue to do this and that for you' because he knows that he can do it."
He urged the MMD to start campaigns immediately.
"So we will be coming back to you as soon as the Electoral Commission [of Zambia] announces the date for the elections but I just wanted to say to you that we are coming, we are going to fight very hard. I like one of the songs that says, 'Banda witina [Banda don't fear]. Banda tatina. [Banda does not fear]'. Perhaps you have forgotten that I am a Ngoni and I look down upon cowards," President Banda said. "I would like to cross the whole of Kasama in blue; if we can afford it, our party can afford it, we would like to see everyone, our children, if you are a civil servant, you can wear it on your head in your house. The public of course they might say you are civil servant don't wear it but blue is a beautiful colour and our chitenje is a lovely chitenje. I would like to see the whole of Kasama blue. It's a royal blue."
President Banda also assured the people here that the government would buy all their maize.
He urged maize buyers to be dedicated and ensure that they pay the farmers on time.
"We are going to buy all the crops from our farmers. I think the honourable minister of agriculture is with us. Honourable [minister of agriculture Brian] Chituwo has witnessed to this announcement; they are making frantic arrangements to ensure that money is made available to buy the crops from our hard working farmers here in the province," President Banda said. "I just wanted to assure you about the purchase of maize. Let me ask those of us who are involved in this purchase of the maize, please let's be dedicated to our people. I feel very sad when I hear that farmers have come and they have given their maize and they are not attended to quickly. For all of us who are working in that sector let's show devotion and care for the farmers and make sure that as soon as the money arrives we pay them, let them go back and prepare themselves for the next season."
President Banda said the Northern Province had been a role model even before independence.
Meanwhile, Zambia News and Information Services (ZANIS) reported that President Banda said he had not yet considered restoring former president Frederick Chiluba's immunity.
Speaking to journalists in Lusaka shortly before departure for Kasama for a two-day working visit, President Banda said Chiluba was free to seek legal redress just like any other person.
President Banda said he respects the Judiciary, Parliament and the Executive because the separation of powers made government and the country a peaceful nation.
Chiluba's lawyers have asked Speaker of the National Assembly Amusaa Mwanamwambwa to consider the restoration of his immunity because he had been cleared by the courts of law.
This follows the decision by Ndola High Court deputy registrar Jones Chinyama last Monday to acquit Chiluba of corruption charges.
Earlier in Kasama, Sikasote assured President Banda that the party in the province had endorsed him as the sole candidate for the MMD presidency and presidential candidate in 2011.
"The MMD in the province will this week petition MMD NEC to postpone the MMD national convention until after the 2011 general election," Sikasote said.
Sikasote said President Banda had the potential to make the MMD win the 2011 presidential, parliamentary and local government elections.
Sikasote said the MMD was confident to win the Kasama Central parliamentary by-election.
MMD national chairman Michael Mabenga said so far Southern Central and now Northern Province had petitioned NEC to postpone the MMD convention.
Mabenga, who is also lands deputy minister, said once the number of provinces petitioning the NEC to postpone the convention reaches six, then the NEC would oblige with the members’ decision and would postpone the convention.
Northern Province minister John Chinyanta asked the government to help resolve the problems of Kateshi Coffee Plantation, which is under receivership.
Chinyanta said the coffee plantation at its peak used to have 3,000 employment places and he hoped the government would quickly help revamp the institution.
Written by Mulimbi Mulaliki in Solwezi
Saturday, August 22, 2009 5:31:12 AM
CONGOLESE emperor of the Lunda people Mwat Yanv Mushidi III has described late president Levy Mwanawasa as a great lawyer who wanted to develop Zambia.
And Mwat Yanv has urged traditional leaders to continue holding their annual traditional ceremonies as a way of uniting people.
Speaking to journalists in Solwezi on Thursday enroute to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mwat Yanv, who came along with 13 chiefs and 200 subjects, paid glowing tribute to president Mwanawasa whose first memorial was held on Wednesday, August 19.
Mwat Yanv, who was in the country to grace the recently held Lunda Lubanza ceremony of the Lunda people in Zambezi district, said his people in the DRC shared the same memories of president Mwanawasa with Zambians.
"President Mwanawasa was a great lawyer like I was a lawyer too. He was a leader who really wanted to develop Zambia. He will not only be missed by Zambians but the whole region as well," he said.
Mwat Yanv expressed happiness with his brief stay in the country and called upon Zambians to continue maintaining peace and unity.
"It's important for Zambians to learn how to solve their differences through dialogue as failing to do so may be disastrous for the country," he said.
Mwat Yanv said Congo was a country which had experienced war, displacing a lot of people and that it was prudent for Zambians to remain united in the face of any differences.
And Senior chief Ishindi who invited Mwat Yanv thanked the Zambian government for receiving the Congolese traditional leader.
Chief Ishindi said Mwat Yaav was the core dynasty of the Lunda speaking people and that Zambia's Lunda Lubanza ceremony was a copyright of the emperor.
Chief Ishindi said the recently held ceremony would remain the most colourful of all previously held as it attracted over 54 chiefs from Angola, DRC and Zambia.
Written by Kabanda Chulu
Saturday, August 22, 2009 5:25:11 AM
ROAD construction graduates at the National Council for Construction (NCC) yesterday challenged the government to create a deliberate policy to compel large international firms to sub-contract a fraction of their contracts to local emerging contractors.
During a graduation ceremony of small scale labour based road rehabilitation contractors in Lusaka at the NCC training school and speaking on behalf of the graduates Litemo Limited of Kaoma director Kenneth Chinganzi said most advertisements for construction jobs disqualify the last two grades [five and six] where most new companies were categorised.
"We are aware that most jobs are beyond the capability, scope and management of these grades and such works can only be managed by competently by those in higher grades, who are predominantly international firms," Chinganzi said.
"However, government should create a deliberate policy to compel international companies to sub-contract a fraction of such complex jobs to the local emerging contractors so that the country can benefit in technology transfer and build of financial bases of those emerging contractors."
He said the recent acquired equipment from China was underutilised.
"Government should allow us access the pieces of equipment it recently acquired from China at affordable rates and within five years local contractors will be financially sound to be able to import such equipment instead of the state," said Chinganzi.
And DANIDA technical adviser Mike Knowles said the Danish government was committed to support the road sector in Zambia and would provide K369.8 billion [DKK 400 million] for rehabilitation of selected main and district roads in Luapula and Western provinces.
And director of buildings Whiteson Ngulube said the construction sector had a major influence on Zambia's development whose economic activities depends on the state of infrastructure, especially the road network.
Written by Ernest Chanda
Saturday, August 22, 2009 5:23:21 AM
The Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) in Lusaka has arrested a branch manager of a micro finance lending institution for money laundering involving over K60 million kwacha.
According to a statement released yesterday by DEC press and liaison officer, John Nyawali, Godfrey Kapito, 24, a resident of Lusaka’s Avondale area was arrested by the Anti Money Laundering Investigations Unit of the commission.
Kapito, on dates between November 28 and December 10, 2008 did launder a total of K67, 060,772 which was wrongly credited to his account and he made a number of withdrawals.
The Commission has since seized one of his bank accounts.
Kapito has been released on police bond pending court proceedings which will commence soon.
Written by Pride Bwalya in Monze and Frederick Mwansa in Itezhi-tezhi
Saturday, August 22, 2009 5:07:17 AM
SOUTHERN Water and Sewerage Company (SWASCO) has disconnected water supply to Moomba police station in Monze due to nonpayment of bills by the Ministry of Home Affairs amounting to K10 million.
And Zesco Limited in Itezhi-tezhi has defied home affairs minister Lameck Mangani's request on Monday for the utility company to restore power to police camps following his assurance that government will settle the bill soon.
The disconnection of water supply to Moomba police station came to light when Monze district commissioner Emmerson Machila toured the camp yesterday to familiarise himself with the situation which he described as critical and unhealthy.
Machila found that there was no running water in police cells putting about fifty detainees and convicts who were found at that time at a very high risk.
He said in an interview that 44 housing units accommodating police officers in the camp had also been affected by the disconnection.
Machila said SWASCO disconnected water supply to Moomba police station two weeks ago, forcing families of the police officers to be fetching water from Monze open air prison which is about four kilometres away from the camp.
He has since appealed to the Ministry of Home Affairs to intervene immediately before the outbreak of water-borne diseases both in police cells and the rest of the camp due to lack of running water.
Machila also called on SWASCO to consider reconnecting water supply to the camp on humanitarian grounds while the Ministry of Home Affairs seeks to settle the water bill to save lives from diseases.
And Machila noted that transport and accommodation was another major challenge faced by Zambia police service in Monze district.
Machila said senior officers at district level had completely no accommodation as they were sharing one house while some junior officers were accommodated in a junior police club.
He said there was need for the government to consider improving accommodation for the officers in Monze in order to motivate them to continue working hard.
Machila said the government must do everything possible to correct the situation at Moomba police camp before it got out of hand.
And a check at the police camp in Itezhi-tezhi yesterday revealed that the camp was still disconnected from power. This is despite Zesco and water utility companies in other parts of the country restoring supply to police camps after Mangani on Monday requested them to do so.
Mangani assured Zesco and water utility companies that the government would soon settle the outstanding debt.
The police officers wondered why ZESCO in Itezhi-tezhi could not restore power to their homes for close to a month now despite the minister's plea to them to restore power after an assurance that government would soon settle the huge electricity bill owed to the utility company.
“Our friends on the Copperbelt and Lusaka had their power and water restored after the minister requested them to do so but we are still wondering why Zesco in Itezhi-tezhi cannot do so here,” said one of the police officers.
When contacted for a comment, Zesco officials in Itezhi-tezhi referred all queries to their superior in Choma.
And police officers in Itezhi-tezhi have welcomed the government's decision to start paying police officers allowances for settling their electricity and water bills, saying the move was long overdue.
They said this would save them from the inconvenience of being disconnected from electricity and water supply.
“The government's move to pay us allowances for electricity and water is the best that they have done because now we will be able to settle our utility bills on time and avoid embarrassments associated with power and water disconnections,” said one police officer who sought anonymity.
Last Monday, the government announced that it would from next year directly pay police officers allowances for the settlement of their electricity and water bills to save them from being disconnected from water and electricity supply.
Mangani was reported as having said the move to pay utility allowances to police officers which would be introduced in the next budget was aimed at ensuring that police officers took responsibility of their bills instead of being inconvenienced over long-standing government debts.
He also said the Ministry of Home Affairs had entered into an agreement with the utility companies to re-connect water and power supply to the affected police camps with a view to settling the huge amounts owed by government.
Friday, August 21, 2009
For decades Zambia's copper mines attracted foreign investors. Local miners put up with the atrocious working conditions and pollution because they were promised development. But the financial crisis now threatens to scupper those hopes.
By Jean-Christophe Servant
Peter and Irene, both 30, are engineering graduates of Lusaka university and have been working since 2006 in Chingola, a small Copperbelt town in Zambia in southern Africa (1). The couple are employed by Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), the biggest mining company in a country which earns more than half its gross domestic product from mineral extraction. KCM produces 70% of the country's copper and provides its employees, the children of neoliberalism, with a decent lifestyle: a net salary of 5m kwachas ($876) a month, plus shares they can cash in in 2010. They also enjoy professional status in a sector whose 400,000 employees earn an average monthly income of 3m kwachas ($350) while 68% of the population of 11 million live on less than two dollars a day.
Of course PEter and Irene have to make sacrifices. Irene's job is to look after the chemicals used to treat copper ore, and in 2007 she had to leave her husband and young child to go on a traning course in India. The Indian multinational Vedanta has been the majority shareholder in KCM since 2004. The sale was the latest in a series of privatisations that began in the late 1990s, and in which 257 of Zambia's 280 businesses left the public sector.
Nearly 100,000 people lost their jobs over this period, 40,000 of them from the country's flagship Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM), which was carved up into as many pieces as there were buyers. Vedanta got its hands on the biggest slice when it bought up the Chingola mine.
Irene has nothing but happy memories of her time in India. But when she returned to KCM she foundsome of her Zambian colleagues had been dismissed and replaced with young expatriate Indians "who are no more qualified, but better paid, housed in custom-built accomodation and given a company car". While she was away, Peter ahd to deal with the sudden rise in the price of essential goods, petrol and rent: their three-room flat and kitchen, infested with cockroaches and subject to regular power cuts, now cost them 2m kwachas ($350).
Then, on Christmas Eve last year, the rent fell to 1.7m kwachas ($298) - in tandem with a record fall in the price of copper, which dropped to $2817 a tonne from more than $8675 in July. The spectre of mine closures re-emerged. It was a glum Christmas for the 20,000 or so permanent employees of the mining sector - three times fewer than the state sector had employed at the end of the 1970s. Employers and employees both had to economise to ride out the approaching financial storm: for workers, so they could maintain their comfortable profit margins.
A river of acid
Vedanta's Zambian subsidiary declared a turnover of nearly $122m in the final trimester of 2008 - almost half what they earned in the previous one. First they reduced their contracts with the mainly South African temping agencies, which had flourished after privatisation. Thousands of underpaid and non-unionised workers, who had done the riskiest jobs, were laid off. Vedanta then resorted to other 'sacrifices', in order to maintain maximum input (its goal, written in large letters above the entrance to its Zambian complex). Suppliers had to wait a little longer to be paid - some went out of business. Working hours became longer: "four 12-hour days followed by two days off," according to a local member of the largest union in the sector, the Miners Union of Zambia (MUZ). Even Peter, a model employee, says they are being pushed to the limit: "We have to be on call 24 hours a day. If this carries on, there will be more accidents."
"Who benefited when the price of raw materials went up?" asks the economist James Lungu who teaches at Copperbelt University in Kitewe. "Mining companies and their shareholders. And who is suffering now the price is falling? Miners, their families, and the environment. We are on the verge of a social catastrophe."
It takes 100 tonnes of ore to produce one tonne of copper. On 6 Nobnember 2006 the people living on the banks of the Kafue - which flows down towards Lusaka before joining the Zambezi further south - were confronted with a strange sight: the river had turned turquoise. Vedanta had accidentally discharged its toxic waste into it. Two million inhabitants of Chingola district - 100,000 of whom draw water directly from the river - were deprived of drinking water for at least wo days. Thousands went for hospital checkups after eating fish from the river. Analyses of the Kafue's water showed it contained 38.5mg manganese, 10mg copper and 1mg cobalt per litre: concentrations 1.7 times, 10 times and 10.7 times higher respectively than the limits set by the World Health Organisation. With a ph of 1.5, the Kafue had become a river of acid (2).
The Vedanta employee who admitted the company's responsibility was sacked on the spot. The multinational threatened to withdraw advertising from the state-owned daily Times of Zambia if the incident was reported. But the editors stood firm, and the scandal erupted. On the orders of the Environmental Council of Zambia, a public body charged with maintaining standards, Vedanta called a brief halt to its mining activities in Chingola. The company was indignant at losing $2.5m Then business started up again. The price of copper continued to rise, and with it, the pollution.
An unauthorised visit to the massive Vedanta site during the rainy season revealed a vision from Dante's Inferno: 3km from the mines, the pollution control dam was overflowing, spewing copper-coloured water, reeking of acid, into a tributary of the Kafue. "Of course we pollute," said an employee, "but all the mines do." "It was worse in the ZCMM's days," retorted Sampa Chita, director of KCM's social responsibility programme. "We are fed up being blamed. You cannot run a mine without causing pollution."
Vedanta is the only mineral extraction company in Zambia to have a department devoted to "the community". In her empty office, devoid of even a computer, Chita estimated her budget, with some hesitation, at "$12 or $13m". The money is used to fight malaria and HIV/Aids, fund orphanages, pay university fees, dig wells and support the local cricket team - but not the football team. Chita refused to say if this is because Indians prefer cricket to football. But now, for the first time it it's 60-year history, the Chingola copper mines' football team, Nchanga Rangers, has been relegated to the second division.
Chita claimed not to know what her company's profits are. When pressed, she admitted only that her department's budget is tiny given the scale of the problems. "ZCCM had a social outlook - perhaps too social," she added. "We are more focused on results. But is it wrong to want to make money? MInes need a lot of investment, and investors want to make a profit. You have to be realistic." Three months after taking over 51% of KCM's shares in 2004, Vedanta had already made a profit of $25m.
A LACK OF TRANSPARANCY
Lungu is co-author of an astounding report on the privatisation of the copper mines (3). The sale was orchestrated by the International Financinal Institutions (IFIs) - including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund - under the government of President Frederick Chiluba (4). "ZCCM's privatisation was carried out with a complete lack of transparancy, no debate in parliament, and with one-sided contracts which few of us have ever seen," explained Lungu. "It has never profited the inhabitants of the Copperbelt. Nor its environment."
His view is shared up by Edith Nawakwi, Zambia's former Finance Minister, who oversaw the privatisations. Her testimony says a lot about the behaviour of the IFIs: "We were told by advisers, who included the IMF and World Bank, that not in my lifetime would the price of copper change. All the production models that could be employed were showing that, for the next 20 years, Zambian copper would not make a profit. Conversely, if we privatised, we would be able to access debt relief, and this was a huge carrot in front of us - like waving medicine in front of a dying woman. We had not option to go ahead" (5).
In recent years international media attention has focused on the social responsibility of Chines companies in the Copperbelt. More than 40 years after building the Tanzam railway, linking Zambia to the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam, China had made a comeback. The nationalist third worldist ideology of the past (6) has given way to a more pragmatic approach. Beijing is now the third biggest investor in sub-Saharan Africa. But the initial good feelings engendered by China's "win-win" discourse faded in April 2005, when the Chinese dynamite factory (BGRIMM) (7) near Chambishi exploded, killing 52 people. The factory had been contracted out by Non-Ferrous Company-Africa (NCFA), itself a subsidiary of the China Non-Ferrous Metal Industry's Foreign Engineering and Construction Company. Anti-Chinese sentiment hit the roof. The Chinese president Hu Jintao, on an official visit in February 2007, even had to cancel a tour of the mining belt.
Employees of the Chinese mining companies are denied union rights and their conditions are probably worse than for tose working for Canadian, Swiss or South African multinationals. But for all that, Sam Mulafulafu, head of the Catholic Charity Caritas Zambia, says: "It is important to remember it wasn't the Chinese companies who privatised copper." The new globalised Zambia is pursued by companies from every corner of the globe, but in the Bench Marks Foundation, based in South Africa, notes that many of these multinationals apply muchlower standards in terms of health, security and respect for the environment in Zambia than they do in the developed countries where they are based (8).
In January 2008 acid waste from Chingola's mines reached the ground water at Mufulira, around 40km away. More than 800 people in the township adjoining the Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) complained of diarrhoea, abdominal pain and vomiting. The mine is co-owned by teh Swill group Glencore and the Canadian company First Quantum, and the joint venture wasset up with the help of the European Investment Bank.
Accidents like these increase what two young Zambian researchers call the "ecological debt". Economist Nachilala Nkombo and legal expert Brenda Mofya say the environment has been sacrificed on the altar of privatisation: "Unlike the finacial debt, the ecological debt is far larger than Zambia's $7bn financial debt was at its peak" (9).
The mining townships of Mufulira are stark reminders of this ecological debt. One of the worst is Kankoyo, home to 30,000 people, and a canker on an otherwise fertile and verdant landscape. Only two things grow here: avocado trees and cactus. Open sewers, dillapidated shacks with tin roofs corroded by acid rain, abandoned pharmacies, grocers shops with broken windows - the local population maintain these vestiges of the ZCCM's social programme as best they can.
THEY DON'T LISTEN TO US
Kankoya also lies downwind of the smoke spewing out of MCM's blast furnace: on some days the township is smothered in a choking fog. Every year nearly 700,000 tonnes of sulphur dioxide is released into the air. Cholera is common. And unrest grows as unemployment rises. MCM's armed guards sit on plastic chairs on top of the slag heaps, watching out for illegal miners searching for minerals among the waste.
A heavy contaminated air envelops the former hospital where Percy Chanda, MP for Mufulira district and member of the opposition party, Patriotic Front, has his office. "I am not against foreign companies, we need them," he said. "But the way they have behaved on the Copperbelt is very regrettable. Tey don't listen to us. Imagine if you came to my house, and I made you a meal. You would probably offer to help me with the dishses. But here they just sit still at the table, without lifting a finger, waiting for the next course." A former miner, Chanda remembers "the good old days" of ZCCM: a state within a state that looked after every aspect of workers' lives from birth to death. Everything from housing, education and healthcare, to evening classes and sports clubs was run by ZCCM - they would even change your light bulbs, people used to joke.
Chanda was still a miner when Zambia - caught between ZCCM's losses of $713,000 a day and the offer of debt relief - accepted the advice of the IFIs. At that time copper was worth $2500 a tonne (actually it was between $1000 and 2000 per tonne - MrK). A militant member of the mining union during the post-privatisation cutbacks, Chanda finally hung up his miners hat in 2006 when he became an MP: "I have never been able to find out anything about the agreement that was reached on privatisation. Nor about what profits have been made since. I feel I am banging my head against a brick wall."
When copper prices began to rise, Chanda tried to negotiate a pay rise for miners. "They told us we couldn't benefit from the price rise, because they had sold their copper in advance at the previous year's prices. Now they tell us they have to lay us off because of the price drop. But they are still selling at September's priceswhen they were at their peak! But you know it's not safe being in hostile territory, surrounded by your enemies. One of these days they'll regret what they did to us."
EVERYTHING IS FOR SALE
The financial storm has hit the Luanshya copper Mines (LCM), an Israeli-Swiss joint venture registered in the Netherlands, which has just sacked its 1,300 permanent staff. LCM's director, Derek Webbstock, says business will resume when the price of copper goes back up. The atmosphere is gloomy in the mining town. Around 60 policemen have been sent to guard the entrance to the complex, but LCM has already sent its mining equipment - sawhorses and piping cut up into pieces - to South Africa by lorry. Nothing is wasted - it can all be reused and sold.
It is rumoured the Chinese may take over the mine. At the mini-market, customers count their pennies, and worry about Christmas. The local union representative, Boniface Kabwe, has four children. The abruptness of the closure knocked him sideways. "In October some miners tried to borrow money from the local bank, but they were told they didn't have enough security. The bank seemed to know the mine would close before the government did! In fact [the government] was the last to know."
Up to now relations between LCM and the local population have been reasonable. Unlike other mining companies, LCM had kept the road to Luanshya in good repair. In fact the town was voted the cleanest in the Copperbelt last year, in a competition dating back to ZCCM days. Two-thirds of the local council's revenue - more than 1.2bn kwachas ($210,000) in the last six months of last year - came from local taxes paid by LCM. "They told us recently that they had enough funds to stay open despite the financial crisis," says Mutakela Kayonde, a Luanshya town planning official. "It's not just the miners who are affected by the closure. With eight people to a household, it's the whole community." Like an increasing number of people in the Copperbelt, including local correspondents from the national press, Kayonde is beginning to wonder what's going on. Has the collapse in the price of copper given business another opportunity to blackmail Zambia's government?
Last spring the Zambian government finally decided to review its mining contracts. It raised corporate tax from 25% to 30% and tax on profits [turnover/revenue - MrK] went up from a miserable 0.6% to 3%. The World Bank - forced to recognise how modest the Zambian treasury's share had been upto then - supported the measure. Zambia was getting nothing out of the exploitation of its copper reserves, while the multinationals were making a handsome profit. The mining companies had even set up sophisticated systems to avoid paying taxes by channelling their profits through offshore companies in islands like Mauritius. In 2006 Zambia earned $133m from copper exports estimated to be worth $3bn.
Mining companies made $3bn from copper extraction last year. But of the $421mn that should have found its way into Zambian state coffers, only $200mn was actually collected. Even though Zambia has some of the lowest taxes in Southern Africa, the multinationals contested them, threatening to take their disagreements to a commercial court - in their home countries. That was before the risk of redundancies, on the back of falling prices, offered them a new way to put pressure on the Zambian government.
It seems they have achieved their objective. After winning a narrow victory at the end of October 2008, following the death of his predecessor Levy Mwanawasa (10), President Rupiah Banda announced that his government was having discussions with the mining companies - on cutting taxes: "We must ensure that we do not kill the goose that lays the golden egg. There is little point in taking in a few million dollars in tax if thousands of jobs are lost as a result" (11).
Fred M'Membe runs the main Zambian opposition daily The Post, which started up in Chiluba's day. Sporting a South African communist party cap, and going around in a Hummer 4x4, he is now one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the country, both from his editorials and his stake in the new Zambian economy. "Our government opened the doors wide to foreign businesses, but didn't leave itself the possibility to close them again. The economic policy of a country cannot be dictated by agreements made with private businesses," said the business magnate. "It's true privatisation did create a certain amount of hope. But now the Hollywood movie is over and reality has hit with the global financial crisis. The only solution is for the state to move back into the mining sector. Cooperatives or nationalisation, it doesn't matter. People should be first to profit from the mines."
Kabwe's zinc and lead deposits used to be the richest in Africa. After almost a century of exploitation by the South African giant Anglo-American they were finally abandoned, almost exhausted, in the mid-1990s. Now, despite a campaign to clean up the site funded by the World Bank, this town of 300,000 inhabitants is one of the ten most polluted industrial towns on the planet, according to the Blacksmith institute (12). The average level of lead in the blood of children is reported to be between 5 and 10 times higher than the limit set by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
(1) Their names have been changed.
(2) pH is a measure of how acid or alkaline a solution is. An acid solution has a PH of below seven. [PH goes from 14 or very alkaline/salty, to 1 or extremely acidic - MrK]
(3) Alastair Fraser and John Lungu, "From Whom the Windfalls? Winners and Losers in the Privatisation of Zambia's copper mines", Report for Civil Society Trade Network of Zambia, Lusaka, January 2007
(4) Frederick Chiluba was Zambia's second head of state, between 1991 and 2001. He has been charged with embezzling $500,000 of public funds, and his trial is due to resume this year. [He has just been acquitted of these charges, with others pending unless the present President restores his immunity - MrK]
(5) See "Undermining Development? Copper Mining in Zambia", a joint report by ACTSA, Christian Aid and SCIAF, October 2007.
(6) In the late 1960s President Kenneth Kaunda encouraged the nationalist guerillas fighting white rule in Rhodesia, who were financed by China and the Soviet Union. He nonetheless maintained good relations with the West.
(7) The Beijing General Research Institute of Mining and Metallurgy.
(8) "Mining Companies neglecting social responsibilities," ?22 September 2008.
(9) Ecological Debt owed to African countries, a case of the Zambian mineral extraction industry," September 2008. This report should be available shortly at Afrodad.
(10) The Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa, who was re-elected in 2006, died 19 August 2008 in a Paris hospital. The opposition candidate Michael Sata, popular in the Copperbelt, again lost his bid to be president in the election of October 2008. Now much less critical of Chinese businesses than in 2006, he told me he planned to stand for a fourth time in 2011.
(11) "Zambia may cut mining taxes, President says", Reuters, 16 January 2009
(12) Blacksmith institute.
(NYASATIMES) Malawi’s labour market imperfections, tribal inequality – Open letter by concerned citizensMalawi’s labour market imperfections, tribal inequality – Open letter by concerned citizens
By Nyasa Times
Published: August 20, 2009
We have read with interest the unpublicised reports on the findings of research that seeks to find out the composition of labour markets in terms of regional and tribal affiliations in Malawi. This open letter does not seek to divulge the organisation that undertook the survey for fear of putting them in the line of fire.
Of particular interest among the results are the tribal composition differences that seem to exist within the NGOs and the multilateral sector (FAO, World Bank, USAID, UNDP, WFP etc).
The reports do show that the World Bank (Malawi office), FAO, UNDP and many other such multilateral institutions are dominated by people of the Northern Region and, mainly those from the Tumbuka tribe.
The reports go on to show that, although the Lomwe tribe has also improved its share of the labour market over the years since Bingu wa Mutharika came into power, the overall composition is nothing, or negligible compared to the share enjoyed by the Northern Region Tribes, which stands at 80 % in top or senior management positions.
The Yao’s, Sena’s and Ngoni’s of the Central region seem worse off owing to their mediocre composition in both the civil service and the private sector.
The reports also do show that although the Chewa are the dominant tribe in the country, accounting for over 59 % of the population, they constitute less than 3 % of influential positions in the country.
Although they enjoyed leadership for thirty years under the first head of state, the reports argue that it seemed Dr Banda was more concerned with getting grip of power, unfortunately at the expense of his tribesmen educational advantage and hence future labour market participation.
Together the reports cover 400 pages and have more details, too much to be included here, but some of the major findings are as included above. The reports have the following recommendations to the President and to the multilateral organisation working in Malawi.
The President must intervene and at times must question NGOs and multilateral sector recruitment especially in very high positions as it seems that Northern bosses are constantly using insider information advantages to recruit fellow Northern people.
For example now that the Malawi’s Senior World Bank economist (Khwima Nthara- a Northerner) is leaving the country, the probability is 100 % that the country economist position and the senior country economists position (which are vacant) will be filled by a Tumbuka (e.g any Kumwenda, Mkandawire, Munthali, Mwene—ujeni etc), which is fine until we appreciate that Malawi is not Tumbuka only and hence the multilateral organisations that work here must be able to recruit anyone, be they Lomwe, Sena, Yao, central Ngoni or even Chewas.
It is obvious that someone trying to sweep this under the carpet would argue that the World Bank conducts its interviews in a manner that is transparent etc, but the reports do show further evidence that while the White/ None-Malawian staff at the Bank are professional, in the final analysis, they rely too much on the existing staff, which of course is more northern than anything, as a result, recruitment is skewed towards cronies and northern souls.
The President must help put an end to this by devising a mechanism for transparent recruitments everywhere, failing which, it will be the Lomwe’s who will lose out as they are less aggressive and less, if not, NOT arrogant than the Tumbuka’s. It is like a battle of the Tumbukas and Lomwes (a battle of minorities), where the latter enjoy a head start in education owing to early missionary work and the latter enjoy leadership effects.
The World Bank as well as other multilateral organisation must ensure that their senior and non Malawian staff have a say in who should be hired and at times should take a step further to use other means to see whether newly recruited staff are just friends of the incumbent local bosses or whether, most likely, they are relatives.
One could think that this is not necessary as we are all Malawians, but this is not true, because if it was, Tumbukas would never think it was wise to help each other and not to help those external to the Tumbuka tribe.
This problem exists even in the Northern region, between tribes and the few non Tumbuka tribes are suppressed in various ways, at work place, school among other places. The World Bank especially, which claims to want to reduce inequality and contribute to stability Must view this as an urgent need, for to fail to do this, is to sow seeds of future ethnic disaster.
The President of Malawi should see beyond the smiles of his alleged friends from the Northen region in his dealings with them.
For instance, we know Mr Cuthbert Kachale of Zimbabwe, who claims to have run away from MCPs rule decades ago, is aggressively trying to look as though he was working for the good of the DPP.
The fact of the matter is that this secretary general of the fake Zimbabwe wing of DPP is a tribal expansionist working for the Tumbuka and Northern tribes even if it means, at the expense of the Lomwes themselves.
He is a man who has been rewarded well as his brother is now a minister and he has free time on Malawi TV as long as he talks ill of the Yao and the Chewa. What the President need to know is that Kachale is longing to make the Northern cause more dominant than ever and is seeking means of glooming the youth of the Tumbuka and Northern tribes to think the same way.
Should the president not take steps to check these people (and this is why the president MUST question Bright Malopa’s insistence to weaken Chewa DPP leaders and Yao DPP leaders though his unpopular TVM programs), before everyone know it, the labour market in Malawi will be unreachable (except for substandard positions) for non Northern people.
That implies, poor consultancy opportunities, poor everything etc poor schooling for the majority. The reports have detailed information of people at the World Bank, Fao etc who have benefited from insider information to get jobs albeit through an interview process.
As for the few non Northern people who think the reports and the interpretations are wrong, it is because they find themselves in a position where they cannot question Tumbuka motives because they fear them or they owe them some favour.
If Bingu wants to appreciate how expansionist Northern ideas are, let him assign a Lomwe, Yao, Sena or Chewa to monitor what is discussed on Nyasa Times, Nyasanet or Malawi talk. He will appreciate that this country is in fire.
So, please do the something on this Bingu.
Something foreigners, we don’t want a future Rwanda
Proud citizens of Malawi
Fri, 21 Aug 2009 11:11:00 +0000
VICE PRESIDENT Joice Mujuru has slammed the Movement for Democratic Change for calling for the axing of Reserve Bank Governor Dr Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana saying their appointments were constitutional and made before the signing of the all-party agreement.
Speaking at a Zanu PF Mashonaland Central Provincial Women’s League meeting in Guruve on Wednesday, the vice president dismissed MDC-T claims that President Mugabe erred in appointing the reserve bank governor and the attorney general, saying everything had been done constitutionally.
She said the appointments were made before the signing of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) between the two formations of the MDC and Zanu PF which paved the way for the formation of the inclusive Government.
PM Tsvangirai disputes President Mugabe's appointment of new Attorney General Tomana and the re-appointment of reserve bank governor Gono for another five years, after his first term. He argues that the appointment shows lack of faith in the GPA. The GPA, however, is silent on these appointments which are made by the president.
"Those appointments were made before the formation of the inclusive Government," said VP Mujuru.
"Everything was done constitutionally and the president reserves the right to make those appointments," she added, saying that "MDC calls (for the removal of the two) are completely misplaced."
The VP also criticised the MDC-T party for making noise about "oustanding issues" in the implementation of the GPA when they have failed to call for the lifting of sanctions and the ban of "foreign-based pirate radio stations that illegally broadcast in Zimbabwe."
"There are many issues that the MDC-T party is yet to recognise, that are enshrined in the global political agreement.
"The (Zanu PF) politburo is not happy with the progress of the implementation of the GPA and they are concerned about the MDCs failure to call for an end to illegal sanctions imposed by Britain, America and their allies, among a host of other issues," said the VP.
"President Mugabe wants peace in this country and we should support him in that call," she added saying there was need for all Zimbabweans to discuss their differences in a mature manner rather than waste time on rumours.
Mashonaland Central province on Wednesday joined a growing list of Zanu party structures endorsing President Mugabe as the party’s leader and candidate ahead of the December national congress.
VP Mujuru paid tribute to the province for retaining faith in the current presidium's leadership.
The province became the sixth province after Manicaland, Midlands, Bulawayo, Masvingo and Mashonaland West to endorse President Mugabe.
According to the Zanu PF constitution, to get into the Presidium a person needs the support of at least six of the 10 provinces.
This means that President Mugabe automatically becomes Zanu PF party's candidate at the next presidential elections.
Written by Chilufya S. Chanda
I was not surprised by the judgment passed in the Chiluba theft case because any human being worth his salt should have read between the lines when President Banda told the nation that Chiluba was a damn good president.
The challenge for most Zambians is to understand what it is that President Banda has seen in Chiluba that his former boss, Levy Mwanawasa, did not. Unless there is something that must be hidden from the people of Zambia, President Banda should tell the nation how Chiluba was a damn good president.
My intention, however, is not to contest the judgment but the suspicious relationship between the Executive and Judiciary. When the Executive makes leading statements and what citizens interpreted comes to pass, it can never be treated as mere coincidence. Separate the Executive and Judiciary in order for this institution to regain the confidence of the people of Zambia.
Zambians know about the London judgment against Chiluba in which the man has been found liable. The Zambian judgment will not change anything about the London judgment.
Chiluba must tell the people of Zambia where he got his millions of dollars which were held in the Zamtrop account when Zambian people were and are still wallowing in poverty.
Written by Editor
It is now very clear why Frederick Chiluba wants to quickly, and by any means necessary, get his presidential immunity restored. Task Force on Corruption chairman Maxwell Nkole, who on Monday received the acquittal of Chiluba with a lot of humility and honour, yesterday told the nation and the world that this man hasn’t been cleared, he still has a number of pending charges for which he could be arrested and prosecuted.
There is nothing today that stops Nkole and the Task Force from arresting Chiluba on all these other things that Nkole has disclosed and take him back to court. And indeed this should happen. If it doesn’t happen, Nkole should in the same way explain to the nation and the whole world why it is not happening.
There are two things that can stand in Nkole’s way: Rupiah Banda can stop Nkole from going ahead with the arrest and prosecution of Chiluba by either directly ordering him not to do so or simply removing him from the Task Force, and also by facilitating the restoration of his immunity.
Rupiah has shown enough propensity for behaving in that manner. When it comes to protecting friends, corrupt allies, Rupiah has shown that nothing stops him from doing so if he values them. The nation saw what happened in the Dora Siliya tribunal and the High Court matter that followed. The nation has also seen how Chiluba’s acquittal has been secured and how quickly Rupiah has tried to force the nation to accept it.
What is Chiluba so scared of? Why is he in such a hurry to demand immunity? Immunity from what? If he has done no wrong, he has nothing to worry about. This is the whole point. We all know that Chiluba has many skeletons in his cupboard. This is why he is desperately crying for immunity.
Chiluba knows that he was running a criminal enterprise. In his unsworn statement in court when he refused to swear on the Bible to tell the truth and nothing but the truth, he cleared admitted receiving money from sources that he could not disclose. If the money was clean and not stolen, why was Chiluba scared to disclose where it was coming from and swear to tell the truth? People who were engaged in legitimate transactions do not have any problems disclosing their activities.
Chiluba knows he was engaged in crime. This is why he did not want to disclose the source of his money and open himself to cross examination on it. What normal parent earning honest money would give a child 40,000 pounds cash to play with? And for that matter, one who is not a businessman but a humble former accounts clerk and trade unionist who had become president.
We should not be surprised, Chiluba has reason to be scared of the London High Court judgment. It exposed him and showed the many ways in which he and his tandem of thieves turned government coffers into personal wells. They took time to plan how to move government money to their friends overseas who pretended to give it to them as gifts. This is not fiction. These are matters that are documented.
Chiluba behaving like a pimp used to collect cash from London lawyers who were receiving it from Xavier Chungu. This was money laundering made simple. Chiluba knew that he was not entitled to government funds. This is why they went to the lengths that they did to try and disguise their stealing and abuse of public resources.
If the money that Chiluba claims to have been his was legitimately acquired, why was it not put in his bank account? Why didn’t he open a bank account? It is clear that Chiluba thought that as president, he was entitled to help himself to the national treasury. Chiluba did not see any difference between his pocket and state funds.
But today, Chiluba knows that he walked on slippery ground. He now understands that he is not invincible. Chiluba knows that he has a lot to answer for which is why he is desperate to close all the doors, all the avenues to making him accountable for his deeds or rather misdeed.
This is why our people will not allow Chiluba to continue to abuse them. He might think the people don’t care and are not interested in what has happened to their resources. But he is wrong.
Today Chiluba can try to cheat our people that it is the donors that were fighting him. For what? This is laughable, it is ludicrous. He even suggested that the British government was fighting him because he refused to be bribed over the sale of the mines. What kind of nonsense is this? Chiluba even claims to be a dedicated anti-imperialist when it suits him.
But our people know that his corruption and careless pursuit of pro-imperialist, neoliberal policies he scarcely understood threw many out of employment and into abject poverty. When our people complained, Chiluba would sarcastically talk about the market economy and how it would sort out all our economic woes. Chiluba says these things because he has no respect for our people.
He thinks they do not care about the abuse of their resources and can easily be cheated, manipulated to act against their own interest in support of his selfish and corrupt personal interests. Now Chiluba wants the same people he abused, the same people he robbed, to come to his defence. He is cheating himself. It is said that you can fool some people sometimes but you cannot fool all the people all the time. This is simple for him to understand and act accordingly.
Chiluba’s time for deceiving the Zambian people is over. The Luapula or Bemba-speaking people vote he is promising to deliver to Rupiah won’t come. And Rupiah is allowing himself to be deceived when everything is clear that Chiluba does not have any standing in Luapula to deliver on such a score. The people of Luapula and Northern provinces don’t belong to Chiluba, are not owned by Chiluba and Chiluba never stole to share with them, to enrich them. The scars of poverty that Chiluba brought on the people of Luapula are there to be seen by all. Zambians should not be deceived by anyone that Chiluba had delivered anything special to the people of Luapula or that these people are tribalists who will support anybody simply because he hails from that area.
It is clear that Chiluba’s excitement is coming from his knowledge that he has Rupiah’s support. This is why it is impossible for any honest person to accept Rupiah’s claim that Levy Mwanawasa’s legacy is alive and intact when everybody knows that Rupiah has been working to massacre the legacy. If everything was left to Rupiah alone, none of the gains that our people have scored under the relatively honest leadership of Levy would survive.
Rupiah has not demonstrated any meaningful commitment to fighting corruption. Rupiah is running a traffic light policy on corruption: one moment it is green, the next it is red, then amber – depending on who is at the traffic lights. There is no consistency in what he is saying or doing. The man is a living contradiction where these matters are concerned. But lip service, he knows it. Rupiah can even claim to love when he hates. When he was talking about Chiluba’s acquittal on Monday – before the judgment was even completed – Rupiah spoke eloquently about one being innocent until they are proven guilty in defence of Chiluba.
But this same Rupiah forgot that when it comes to us, he doesn’t hesitate to charge and convict without trial. Zambians remember very well how on that day at State House, he convicted us without even hearing a word from us of having pocketed US $30 million from state institutions. And just a few weeks ago, he also convicted us of pornography. Does this man really believe in what he says or think before he says anything? Can what Rupiah says be trusted, be respected? Does Rupiah ever tell the truth about anything? It must be clear to all why Rupiah is today a close friend, ally, defender, supporter, admirer of Chiluba. It is clear what is in common between them.
If Rupiah was keeping the legacy, he would not be sending the kind of mixed messages that he is churning out every day. His government has a judgment against Chiluba which says he defrauded the people of Zambia from an English court of law. This judgment came out of a matter that was started in the name of his now Vice-President, George Kunda, when he was Attorney General and as he still is today also Minister of Justice. But Rupiah’s government appears confused on how to deal with Chiluba and they are starting to tell lies even about themselves, forgetting who they are and where they are coming from. This is why they are even trying to find procedures for which there is no precedent in the Constitution to help their friend. There is nothing in the Constitution which says once the privilege of immunity which the president enjoyed has been taken away, it can be given back. Chiluba’s immunity was rightly taken away. Many of his wrongdoings have, as a result of the removal of that immunity, been demonstrated. On what basis would anyone give Chiluba immunity today? And moreover, immunity is not a right per se, it is a privilege. Is there anyone in our country today who genuinely and in all honesty believes that Chiluba did not abuse his position as president? This is the man who admits giving another man’s wife, Mr Mwanza’s wife at the time, US $300,000. For what? There is no basis upon which Chiluba can claim an entitlement to immunity, or claim to be clean. Their propaganda will not work. They are busy working round the clock trying to deceive, misinform the Zambian people about their crimes, it won’t work. They are busy every day trying to malign innocent people – Levy, the British government, the leadership of the Task Force on corruption, and so on and so forth. It won’t do; it won’t save them from their impending Armageddon.
Written by Patson Chilemba
Friday, August 21, 2009 5:07:55 PM
TASK Force on Corruption chairperson Maxwell Nkole yesterday said it does not make sense for former president Frederick Chiluba to ask for the restoration of immunity when he has several corruption cases pending against him.
But Chiluba's spokesperson Emmanuel Mwamba said the former president would be making an official request to President Rupiah Banda for the disclosure and publication of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that was signed by late president Levy Mwanawasa, the Task Force on Corruption and a few donors to secure the conviction of Chiluba.
Commenting on the request by Chiluba to have his immunity restored, Nkole said it was premature for Chiluba to do so because there were several cases that were still pending against him.
He said even the acquittal of Chiluba by the magistrates court was purely based on technical considerations and that did not spell innocence on his part.
"It doesn't mean that he is innocent. The acquittal we have accepted. For us it was because of contradictions in the prosecution. We have several cases that are still outstanding with the Task Force. I have cited the arms case involving 20 million United States Dollars, for the arms that were not delivered because he was commander-in-chief," Nkole said.
"His lawyers are taking us to court that the Task Force is illegal, so these cases are on a hold. So we don't support calls for his immunity to be lifted. The privatisation of ZCCM; there are issues. I don't think logically it makes sense that someone with outstanding cases should claim that he has been cleared. Who cleared him? There are so many cases where he has not been cleared."
Nkole asked Chiluba and his friend to stop trying to block the Task Force from carrying out its mandate, by trying to prevent arrests and challenging the legality of the institution.
But Mwamba wondered why the Task Force had failed to prosecute the "so-called" high profile cases involving US $20 million in the last eight years.
He said Chiluba was prosecuted and acquitted and there was no pending criminal case involving the former president.
"The reference to the court action by Faustin Kabwe and Aaron Chungu is a very recent matter. It's about three months old, and we are used to propaganda by the Task Force to use high sounding cases to justify their existence. This is a lie and a drawback on national resources, and will not hold anymore. The registration of the London judgment case, this is a civil matter and has no effect on Dr Chiluba's request to have his immunity returned," Mwamba said. "The resolution of the National Assembly and provision of Article 43 are very clear. Dr Chiluba's immunity was lifted to make him amenable to criminal investigations and prosecutions. To use the London judgment as reasons why the immunity should not be restored is founded in legal ignorance. The London judgment is a civil case, and even the finality of it will remain civil. So it has no sanctions."
Mwamba said Chiluba believed that the reasons advanced before the High Court against the registration of the London judgment would suffice.
He said even the "so-called" pending cases were weak and mostly fictitious and they would have already been brought up before the courts if they were serious.
Written by George Chellah, Maluba Jere and Mutuna Chanda
Friday, August 21, 2009 5:05:32 PM
CHILUBA’s acquittal is a slap in the face of poor Zambians, Women for Change (WfC) executive director Emily Sikazwe has said. And Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) president Reuben Lifuka has said former president Frederick Chiluba's acquittal is a mockery to the Zambian people.
Reacting to Monday's outcome of the eight-year case in which Chiluba was separately charged with former directors of Access Financial Services Limited (AFSL) Aaron Chungu and Faustin Kabwe, Sikazwe described the former president's acquittal as a setback in the fight for social justice and the equal distribution of wealth in the country.
"Women for Change as an organisation expresses its disappointment over the outcome of the Chiluba case and as it is a slap in the face of the many poor Zambians whose property and money was plundered by him and his lieutenants," she said.
Sikazwe called on those celebrating this seeming victory to tone-down their celebrations.
"Allow the due process of the law to conclusively deal with the issue. We find it disturbing that Chiluba has been acquitted on a technicality but the fact remains that plunder of our country's resources took place during his term in office," Sikazwe said. "As an organisation, Women for Change demands that government must appeal against this acquittal on behalf of the millions of Zambians whose wealth was plundered and have been left poorer and more desperate in the poverty situation while others have died."
Sikazwe demanded that the appeal must be done urgently to save time and ensure that justice prevails.
"Women for Change stands with the people of Zambia in this regard to once again demand for government to quickly appeal on behalf of the many Zambians who have been robbed by this judgment," Sikazwe said. "And for us, the struggle against plunderers of our resources yesterday, today and tomorrow will continue."
And Lifuka said TIZ was disappointed with the whole judgment.
He said the verdict by Ndola High Court deputy registrar Jones Chinyama was confirmation that African leaders were not ready to be held accountable for their actions.
"They [leaders] will use everything in their possession including political patronage to avoid being held to account for their actions in office," Lifuka said. "It is our conviction that the weight of the evidence adduced does not correspond with the verdict of the court. It is a pity, if not a mockery to the Zambian people most of whom continue to wallow in abject poverty due to high levels of corruption, that Chiluba today walks out a free man."
He said it was a shame that although the court acknowledged several instances where Chiluba used a public account for his personal gain including what he termed the lavish spending on designer clothes and shoes, it still failed to arrive at an inevitable conclusion that Chiluba was guilty.
"It is such verdicts that embolden unscrupulous public servants to continue plundering national resources. Clearly, the turnout of events will make several whistleblowers with potential evidence of wrongdoing, to shy away and Zambia will continue to be weighed down under the stress of wanton public corruption," Lifuka said.
He said the verdict was a severe blow to several people and organisations in Zambia and the world over who closely followed the case and were convinced that enough evidence had been adduced against Chiluba.
"Our preliminary statement as Transparency International Zambia is that we are deeply disappointed with the outcomes of the case against former President Frederick Chiluba," Lifuka said.
He said Chiluba's acquittal on all six counts was a setback for the fight against corruption in Zambia and that it equally negated all that late president Levy Mwanawasa fought for.
"It should be recalled that president Mwanawasa went to Parliament with what he termed as prima facie case against Chiluba, leading to the lifting of the immunity of the former president," he said.
Lifuka said TIZ would issue a comprehensive statement later after studying the judgment and comparing a number of other judgments particularly that of Chiluba's wife Regina who was found guilty as well as the London High Court judgment among others.
And Chingola Patriotic Front (PF) member of parliament Dr Joseph Katema said it was clear that President Rupiah Banda was embracing everybody who smells of corruption.
Dr Katema said President Banda prepared ground for Zambians to accept the acquittal of Chiluba through his praises for the former head of state ahead of his judgment in his corruption trial.
"It is clear that he's [President Banda] a complete opposite of president Mwanawasa," Dr Katema said. "Every move he makes is contradicting the principles of president Mwanawasa... he brings back into his fold the people whom Mwanawasa had rejected; people like [Michael] Mabenga, Vernon Mwaanga. President Mwanawasa's government led the process of lifting Chiluba's immunity and prosecution but President Banda came and started saying 'he was a damn good president'. That was in preparation for people to accept the verdict. It is clear that he's embracing everybody who smells of corruption, proven or not proven."
He said examples abound of President Banda's liking for corruption.
"Everyone who smells of corruption is a darling of Rupiah Banda," he said. "We had the Dora Siliya saga and Rupiah Banda fought tooth and nail to ensure that Dora was back."
He said unlike late president Mwanawasa who bowed to public pressure in matters of national interest, President Banda did not listen to anyone.
"Late president Mwanawasa in the case of [Kashiwa] Bulaya heeded to the pressure of the people but Rupiah Banda no matter what the pressure, he listens to no one," he said.
However, Dr Katema said Zambians were watching President Banda's actions and would kick him and his government out in the 2011 elections.
On Monday, magistrate Chinyama acquitted Chiluba on all counts of embezzling public funds amounting to US $500,000 but convicted Chungu and Kabwe and sentenced them to five years imprisonment.
On the same day in Kabwe during the 28th general conference of the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) at Mulungushi University, President Banda said nobody could deny that Chiluba did a lot of good things for the country.
President Banda said he had avoided commenting on Chiluba's cases before the judgment but that he had been criticised by many people, saying he was condoning whatever Chiluba did.
However, President Banda said everyone was presumed innocent before being proven guilty and that whatever verdict would come out, there was a human being involved.
He said today it could be Chiluba, tomorrow it could be him [President Banda] or any other Zambian.
On Tuesday at State House during a swearing in ceremony, President Banda thanked and congratulated Zambians for accepting the acquittal of Chiluba on corruption charges.
He said: "I want to thank the Zambian people, your honour the Zambian people today, for having accepted the decision of the Judiciary. I congratulate them because all of us were anxious; we wanted to know what will happen to one of our former presidents. The Zambian people really have to be congratulated for respecting the Judiciary, for respecting this noble institution."
Recently in Mansa on Radio Yangeni, President Banda said he would not treat Chiluba as a leper even if he were convicted for corruption by the courts of law because he did a lot for the country.
President Banda said he had a lot of respect for Chiluba who he described as having been "a damn good president."
Written by Ernest Chanda
Friday, August 21, 2009 5:03:53 PM
PRESIDENT Rupiah Banda is today expected to leave for Northern Province on a two-day working visit. According to a statement released yesterday by special assistant to the President for press and public relations Dickson Jere, President Banda would be accompanied by tourism minister Catherine Namugala, agriculture minister Dr Brian Chituwo and lands deputy minister Michael Mabenga.
President Banda is expected to commission the recently constructed Kalungu Bridge in Kasama and inspect rehabilitation works on the Kasama-Mbala and Mpulungu roads.
He is also expected to pay a courtesy call on Paramount chief Chitimukulu of the Bemba people before the start of his official business.
President Banda is also scheduled to hold meetings with church leaders, headmen and senior MMD officials in the province before returning to Lusaka.
Written by Margaret Habbuno
Friday, August 21, 2009 5:01:52
FIRST lady Thandiwe Banda has said the global economic crunch has severely affected the performance of many companies in Zambia.
During a donation of various items for charity works by Indo-Zambia Bank in Lusaka yesterday, Thandiwe said the multiplier effect of the state of affairs was that many people were struggling economically.
“The multiplier effect of this state of affairs is that most of our people especially in struggling economies like ours are going through untold suffering,” Thandiwe said.
She said companies like Indo Zambia Bank had chosen to identify themselves with the disadvantaged people in the country.
Thandiwe said corporate social responsibility initiatives such as giving back to the community were important.
“Such initiatives such as the one Indo Zambia has done must be encouraged because they supplement all our tireless efforts in addressing the plight of the less privileged in our society,” she said.
Thandiwe said it was prudent that other corporate entities endeavour to emerge as true partners of government by rendering support for the country’s development.
“Economic priorities for the sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, tourism development and citizens’ empowerment are sectors that the corporting partners should always help,” said Thandiwe.
And Indo Zambia Bank managing director Satish Shukla said Indo-Zambia Bank was delighted to be associated with charity works as they were consistent with the values the bank promoted through its corporate social responsibility programme.
“I am happy to announce that Indo-Zambia is donating 200 blankets, 50 mattresses and 50 bed sheets.The total amount is valued at K40 million for dispensing to deserving causes identified,” said Shukla.
Written by George Chellah
Friday, August 21, 2009 5:00:24 PM
FORMER Church of God overseer Bishop John Mambo yesterday said information minister Lieutenant General Ronnie Shikapwasha's attack on the Catholic Church was uncalled for.
Commenting on Lt Gen Shikapwasha's ministerial statement to Parliament on the violence against journalists by MMD cadres in which he accused the Catholic Church of having perpetrated the Rwanda genocide of 1994, Bishop Mambo said the minister should apologise to the nation as it would help the born again movement.
"That ministerial statement was uncalled for. Why should we be reminded of what happened in Rwanda, the genocide of Rwanda? That's totally uncalled for. Zambia was declared a Christian nation and when we go to Parliament we must be mindful of our language because people are not docile, they are just God fearing," Bishop Mambo said. "But when you attack one body of Christ you attack all and that came from someone who is also a reverend in the born again set up, that's not right. You don't attack other movements whether you have the same doctrine or not. That was not right."
He said Lt Gen Shikapwasha should have addressed the matter at hand.
"I followed the statement myself, what the Honourable Speaker called the minister to give a statement on was the battering of innocent journalists. And the Speaker was in order, he must be appreciated because that's the House, which makes laws. What Hon Shikapwasha should have done was to address the nation through the House on what the Speaker had raised," Bishop Mambo said. "What had taken place we are all asking, are we coming back to Chachacha days? We shouldn't because cadres are there really to spearhead the grassroot. But not to rough up accredited journalists more especially when the head of state is there. We are setting a bad precedent for our country Zambia. It's not our culture, it's unheard of."
He said Lt Gen Shikapwasha should apologise to the nation.
"He owes an apology to the nation of Zambia because when you talk about the Catholics they are the nation, they are in majority, I am from the born again myself. They are in majority whether we like it or not. They are in power to spearhead good leadership that will embrace everybody," he said.
Bishop Mambo said Lt Gen Shikapwasha should apologise to journalists as well.
"Because it's not only you who have been roughed. Now it's becoming a vicious cycle. He should apologise and say maybe I was misquoted... at the end of the day it will help us the born again because he is a reverend. A reverend like myself, I must always be careful of what I say whether I join politics or outside politics because it's a chain reaction on us born agains," said Bishop Mambo. "The problem that we are facing in this movement is that the new bishops of the born again, they cannot sit me down and say this was wrong, because he belongs to a church which is his family. By now they would have called him. The problem of politics whether it is a clergy who goes in or a good democrat and so forth once you enter it, it changes us."
Giving a ministerial statement, Lt Gen Shikapwasha accused the church of trying to jostle for who they should put into State House.
Lt Gen Shikapwasha said the church in Rwanda took sides with newspapers and radio stations, which were fanning out falsehoods and propaganda that led to the genocide.
"The church blindly took sides in opposing camps such that it is reported Mr Speaker that after a century of Christian proselytisation the country was catholicised but not Christianised. Ritual was generally followed but the spirit was missing. This became tragically evident for the church, only after April to May 1994, when its people slaughtered their brethren wholesale inside the churches on orders from civil authorities and priests. This Mr Speaker is because the church took sides with men. The church must take sides with God," said Lt Gen Shikapwasha. "I see that the Church in Zambia is taking sides with man rather than taking sides with God. We see the church in Zambia taking no stand against the things that God abhors. Where is the church when the newspaper is insulting the head of state? Where is the church when young men are insulting old men? Is it not the church to reconcile God's people in the country?
"The church is busy with trying to jostle for who they should put into State House, forgetting their mandate. Others are dishing out second hand clothing in the campaign for the pact. Others feel if a person does not belong to a certain political party, they are not Christian enough. Mr Speaker, all this used to happen in Rwanda before the genocide. The church failed in Rwanda, 25 priests have so far been imprisoned for genocide. The church in Zambia must learn from the lessons in Rwanda, the Spirit of God must rule in the lives of people. If there is any pact, that one should be packeted with it is Jesus. Therefore, my appeal to the church through you Mr Speaker and through this August House is seek ye first the Kingdom of God and Zambia shall be saved from calamities.”