Saturday, November 07, 2009
By Kabanda Chulu
Sat 07 Nov. 2009, 04:00 CAT
PARLIAMENTARY committee on information and broadcasting services chairperson Mwansa Kapeya has said self-regulation as opposed to external regulation is the best form of regulating the media.
And Kapeya, who is also Mpika Central member of parliament, suggested that the Media Ethics Council of Zambia (MECOZ) must be given an opportunity to gain legitimacy from its stakeholders by ensuring that any type of regulation originates from the media practitioners.
And Bweengwa member of parliament Highvie Hamududu has said the threats of statutory regulation by the MMD government are a sign of inferiority complex and challenged the government to start its own newspaper if they are getting negative coverage.
Moving a motion in Parliament for the adoption of the report of his committee on Thursday, Kapeya said there was need to put in place measures that would enhance the positive contribution of the media to national stability and economic development.
“Mr Speaker, your committee were informed that there already existed a number of laws that restricted the media and these include the radio and telecommunications Act which sets very high fees at US $40,000 for a 3B licence for internet service providers and this undermines the development of non-traditional media (new media, blogs, audio and video streaming), the broadcasting Act, preservation of public security Act, the state security Act and official secrets Act and the Penal Code Cap 87 of the Laws of Zambia,” Kapeya said.
“Your committee recommend that the first step in enhancing the positive contribution of the media to national stability and economic development is to review these laws and bring them in tandem with the current political dispensation and worldwide media reforms.”
He proposed that MECOZ should work towards gaining credibility and acceptance among media institutions who must then give it the necessary mandate and means of enforcing professionalism.
“As regards strengthening MECOZ, your committee recommend that since international best practice on media regulation suggests that self regulation, as opposed to external regulation, is the best form of regulating the media,” Kapeya said. “Hence the MECOZ must be given an opportunity to gain legitimacy from its stakeholders by ensuring that any type of regulation originates with the media practitioners themselves.”
He said the media must play its watchdog role by exposing issues of corruption in public institutions and also highlight and expose developmental issues.
“Unfortunately, the media in general (public and private) has not done enough to contribute to the political stability and economic development of the nation due to lack of training and appreciation of the current political and economic landscape as well as undue influence exerted by shareholders on the editorial policy and content,” Kapeya said. “So we recommend that media houses must train their staff and shareholders must place national interests above those of their own and economic expediency.”
Kapeya said the media tended to get caught up in the political web of personal and petty accusations by the political players at the expense of providing in-depth analyses.
He said the perception of the media by the public during election campaigns was two-fold.
“There is this view that government-controlled media is used to portray a working government and to create that the opposition were just a bunch of noise makers who seize every available moment to stifle government operations. The other view is that the private media worked as a tool for unearthing certain unacceptable government activities, furthermore, the private media, had come to be viewed as an ally of the public which is relied upon to keep government in check,” Kapeya said.
“We therefore recommend that in order for the private media not to have an excuse for always reporting negatively about government, the public media should be seen to be balanced in their reporting. They should be willing to criticise and expose government weaknesses instead of leaving this to private media who may overdo it.”
He said from lessons learnt from what had transpired in the region, it was not entirely the media that directly instigated violence that occurred in some countries.
“It was actually the politicians who used the media, useful as it might be, is a dangerous tool if placed in the hands of non-professionals, especially during election time when political tensions are high,” said Kapeya. “Therefore, we recommend that the media, in reflecting events to society as they unfold, should be cognisant of the fact that it is not what they report that matters but how they report it.”
Debating the report, Bangweulu member of parliament Joseph Kasongo said the tendency by those in the private media who think they were above the law must be stopped since they even condemn Parliament and the Judiciary.
“In the eyes of those journalists, everything is rotten, including the Judiciary, Legislature and the Executive, does it mean those journalists are very wise to impose ideas on others? We should not use democracy to insult others and if those journalists cannot restrain themselves then they should be controlled because they should not continue calling others useless especially that we leaders are popularly elected,” Kasongo said. “In other countries, the media enhances peace and stability and not enticing people to rise against government through honking and other activities and when others got arrested, the people at this media institution ran away and hid in embassies of foreign countries.”
However, Mandevu parliamentarian Jean Kapata, wanted to rise on a point of order but Speaker Amusaa Mwanamwambwa ignored her and allowed Kasongo to continue debating.
Kasongo said this private media institution only wrote insults and politics and one could only find something useful in the 'Sangwapo' pages.
“From page one it is politics and insults, when you turn the pages, the Judiciary is rotten, useful things are only found in the 'Sangwapo' pages and you feel the pain when insulted as a human being especially when popularly elected,” said Kasongo. “Those calling for self-regulation should rethink because I will never support such media that incite people to rise against government since I am a great believer in peace.”
But Hamududu argued that media regulation would backfire on the government officials when they leave office.
“The same media they want to bring down they will need when out of power and this is a sign of inferiority complex by the MMD government and if they feel that only negative coverage is painted at them, let them start their own newspaper that can articulate their views and compete on the basis of ideas,” said Hamududu.
And Bahati parliamentarian Besa Chimbaka said some media institutions were just focused on insulting so that anarchy could prevail in the country.
Chongwe MMD member of parliament Sylvia Masebo said she supported self-regulation of the media as opposed to statutory regulation.
Masebo said while the media could sometimes be irritating, especially when they reported wrong information, statutory regulation was not the answer to the many challenges and shortcomings of the media. She said the media was a powerful tool that could build or destroy and urged journalists to practice responsible journalism.
She urged the government not to listen to some opposition members of parliament who were pushing for the statutory regulation of the media just because they had personal battles to wage with the media.
She said free media were important because they keep leaders on their toes.
“When we decide to become public figures, we open ourselves to the public scrutiny so we can't run away from the media. The media helps us to become better leaders because we do not want to attract wrong headlines because we have stolen or we are corrupt,” said Masebo.
Livingstone ULP member of parliament Sakwiba Sikota declared that he was “a blood relative” of the media and his contributions in defence of media freedoms had been consistent.
He said self-regulation was the only way out for the media and urged all media houses to support it.
He said all over the world, the media was regulated, either by self or statute.
Sikota said if some media houses would attempt to frustrate efforts by other media organisations in pushing for self-regulation, the government would have no choice but to impose statutory regulation to ensure that the fish that ran away from the pond was caught.
Sikota said in that case, the government would not be blamed because it will have given the media an opportunity at self-regulation.
Friday, November 06, 2009
By Stephen Gowans
November 3, 2009
It has become standard practice in many parts of the world for opposition candidates to decry as fraudulent election results that favor the incumbent. Charges of vote fraud are routinely levelled against governing parties that win elections contested by opposition parties backed by Western governments.
For example, after (and even before) Zimbabwe’s last set of elections, the governing Zanu-PF party was accused of vote fraud, but the evidence for the opposition’s claim was gathered by organizations funded by the United States, a major backer of the opposition movement.
Washington makes no secret of its desire to drive the incumbent president, Robert Mugabe, from power, by hook or crook, not because he’s corrupt, despotic or a human rights abuser, as Washington alleges, but because he has done what all foreign leaders back to Lenin have done who have fallen astray of Washington – failed to honor contracts and safeguard private property.
(That’s not to say Mugabe and Lenin are alike in any way other than having committed what in Washington’s view is the supreme crime.)
A cooked exit poll is not beyond the motivations and capabilities of US and British-backed anti-Mugabe forces, but that’s largely beside the point. Mugabe’s Zanu-PF did poorly in the election, and Mugabe, himself, failed to win a first round victory in the presidential election. If Zanu-PF rigged the vote, it blundered badly.
Similarly, the outcome of the last Iranian presidential election, which saw the return to power of the incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was denounced by the opposition as a fraud. The charge was taken up by Western politicians, journalists and a substantial fraction of the Western left, despite the opposition’s failure to produce a single jot of credible evidence that the election was stolen.
Worse, the sole methodologically sound public opinion poll taken prior to the election – funded by the international arm of the Republican Party, the IRI – predicted that Ahmadinejad would win by a wide margin – wider, it turns out, than the margin he actually did win by. This was a case of widespread distaste for Ahmadinejad and Iran’s Islamic Revolution leading to the collective dulling of critical faculties. To be sure, if one hated Ahmadinejad and fundamentalist Islam (or fundamentalist religion, period), witnessing Iranians embrace secular Western enlightenment values was bracing indeed. The only problem was there was no evidence it actually happened.
We might expect, then, that charges of vote fraud will be routinely levelled against governing parties that win elections contested by opposition parties backed by Western governments, and that the Western media will accept the charges uncritically. This happens regularly.
But what of cases in which the weight of evidence points to an incumbent, backed by the US government, winning an election by fraud? How might we expect Western politicians, Western media, and even the UN, to react? One would predict that they would try to cover it up, and failing that, minimize its significance. Conspicuously absent would be the indignant denunciations that attend the electoral losses of parties backed by Western governments.
In Afghanistan’s August presidential elections, the incumbent, Hamid Karzai, who had initially been installed in his position by the US government, failed to win a first round victory. This we know now, largely owing to the efforts of the UN’s former number two man in Afghanistan, Peter Galbraith, who blew the whistle on extensive fraud perpetrated by the Karzai-appointed Independent Electoral Commission.  Also involved in the fraud, according to a recent New York Times report, was the president’s brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai. 
Galbraith charged that the Karzai appointed electoral commission abandoned “its published anti-fraud policies, allowing it to include enough fraudulent votes in the final tally to put Karzai over the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff.” Galbraith estimated that “as many as 30 percent of Karzai's votes were fraudulent.” But when he “called the chief electoral officer to urge him to stick with the original guidelines, Karzai issued a formal protest accusing” Galbraith of foreign interference. Galbraith’s boss, Kai Eide “sided with Karzai”, effectively concealing the electoral fraud.  Eide told Galbraith that “the UN mandate was only to support the Afghan institutions in their decisions, not to tell them to hold an honest election.” 
At the centre of the fraud were ghost polling centres (1,500 inaccessible locations that were physically impossible to confirm the existence of), a corrupt election commission,  and the president’s brother. Ahmed Wali Karzai, “a suspected player in the country’s booming illegal trade” receives “regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency." He “orchestrated the manufacture of hundreds of thousands of phony ballots”  and “is also believed to have been responsible for setting up dozens of so-called ghost polling stations — existing only on paper — that were used to manufacture tens of thousands of phony ballots.” 
In other words, the UN was involved in an attempt to cover up vote fraud, while the CIA, through the president’s brother, was at least indirectly involved in perpetrating it.
Some US news analysts, dismissing the affair as of little consequence, insist the runner-up, Abdullah Abdullah, stood no chance against Karzai in a fair vote anyway. But an honest account of the initial vote “would have had Karzai at 41% and Abdullah at 34%,”  putting Abdullah well within striking distance of victory in a run-off election. Abdullah, however, refused to participate, arguing that there was no reason to believe the run-off would be any less corrupt than the initial vote. He has a point. While Karzai’s electoral commission was asked to eliminate “the ghost polling centres and to replace staff who committed fraud,” Karzai increased the number of centres and rehired the authors of the initial fraud. 
The sole concern of officials in Washington – who, when their favored candidates abroad fail to win elections, present themselves as champions of fair elections and lead the charge to have the allegedly fraudulent election overturned — has not been that the Afghan election was stolen, or that Abdullah withdrew because the prospects for a fair run-off were slim. On the contrary, with Karzai winning another term as president only because Abdullah withdrew over legitimate fears the run-off election would be unfair, the official US response has been to “congratulate President Karzai on his victory in this historic election and look forward to working with him.” 
Instead, Washington’s sole concern has been the exposure of electoral fraud, and its effect in undermining the legitimacy of their man in Kabul (who never had much legitimacy in the first place.)
Contrast the US reaction with the sharp Western criticism of Robert Mugabe after Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew from the run-off round of Zimbabwe’s last presidential election, claiming the conditions were not conducive to a fair vote. The difference is as wide as night and day.
Where are the stern lectures, the US-government and ruling class foundation-assisted nonviolent pro-democracy activists, the blanket mass media coverage of Afghanistan’s stolen election, the denunciations of Karzai as a dictator – all which attend the defeat of US-backed opposition movements in elections where the charges of fraud have become routine and the evidence for fraud bare to non-existent?
The reaction to electoral fraud, then, depends on the answer to a single question: Does Washington back the beneficiary of the alleged fraud or not? Or more fundamentally, does the beneficiary promote the sanctity of contracts, private property, free trade, free enterprise and free markets?
If the answer is no, the reaction will be one of indignation and outrage, even where the evidence of fraud is thin to absent.
If the answer is yes, the reaction will be muted, even where the evidence of fraud is voluminous and incontrovertible.
Between Zimbabwe and Iran on the one hand, and Afghanistan on the other, official outrage, and therefore the outrage of the media, and therefore the outrage of the people, including a substantial part of the left, has been inversely proportional to the weight of evidence that fraud has actually occurred.
Washington cares not one whit about democracy — only about the interests of the corporations, investors and banks that dominate its policy-making. If “democracy” comports to those interests, well and good. If not, there are no phoney allegations of electoral fraud Washington is not prepared to take a hand in propagating, and no genuine electoral fraud it is unwilling to live with.
1. Peter W. Galbraith, “What I saw at the Afghan election,” The Washington Post, October 4, 2009.
2. Dexter Filkins, Mark Mazzetti and James Risen, “Brother of Afghan leader is said to be on C.I.A payroll,” The New York Times, October 28, 2009.
3. Galbraith, October 4.
4. Peter Galbraith, “Karzai was hellbent on victory. Afghans will pay the price,” The Guardian (UK), November 2, 2009.
6. Filkins, Mazzetti and Risen, October 28.
8. Galbraith, November 2.
10. Statement of U.S. Embassy in Kabul, reported in Michael Muskal, “U.S. congratulates Afghan President Karzai on another term in office,” Los Angeles Times, November 2, 2009.
Fri, 06 Nov 2009 03:32:00 +0000
THE Zimbabwean unity government will encourage investors in its mining sector to beneficiate their products within the country as much as possible, senior politicians said this week in Harare as they forecast double-digit growth in their economy next year.
“Value addition is of critical importance. Not simply refining ore, but adding value to the product...there is no way out of value addition unless we want to remain underdeveloped,” Elton Mangoma, the minister of economic planning and investment promotion, told journalists and analysts in Harare.
“Our focus shouldn’t just be on digging holes and extracting ore...we have gold, so there’s no reason why we can’t have a jewellery industry. We have diamonds – why should we sell them rough and uncut?” he said.
Deputy mines minister Murisi Zwizwai confirmed that the mining ministry is looking at specific commodities that could bring in investment from beneficiation.
“Incentives for beneficiation in gold, platinum, coal, copper and other non-ferrous ores and concentrate are being considered. Investment opportunities are vast in the area of value addition,” he said.
The Zimbabwean government will not introduce any legislation banning exports, Mangoma said, emphasising the government’s desire to encourage fresh investment in the country following years of economy difficulty.
“Business cannot be forced – we are not going into a command economy. We have no inclination to be legislating or banning anything. Instead, we will reduce the royalty for the value added portion. Incentives are better than strong-arm tactics,” he said.
His comments came as local press reported that the Minerals Marketing Commission of Zimbabwe has lifted the ban on exports of chrome ore and chrome fines for the next 18 months.
The government will look to tighten up regulations on mining licences, he said.
“We’re going to review who should hold a licence and how much they should pay. Licensing is going to be much stiffer,” Mangoma said.
Using revenue from its minerals and mining industry, the government will set up a wealth fund, Mangoma said, without giving more details.
“We should be able to create a wealth fund out of the mineral wealth – that is something we’re going to do,” he said, forecasting a strong performance for the country’s economy in 2010.
“The economy will grow in double digits, starting from next year,” he said, before listing the debts Zimbabwe has incurred in the past few years.
“We owe the IMF, the World Bank and the African Development Bank close to $3 billion. We owe the Paris Club $1.6 billion. We owe the world $5.7 billion,” he said. “Our GDP was about $3.4 billion last year – we clearly don’t want to add to that stockpile of debt.”
The government is reluctant to accept more aid and is keener to encourage direct cash injections from private investors, he said.
“The best way of getting money in is via investors – via private investors...Our model is based on investment – not loans, but investment,” he said.
Zimbabwe will accept investment from any country and has no reservations about the potential for the heavy Chinese investment such as that seen in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
There is already some Chinese investment in Zimbabwe, including Sinosteel’s ownership of ferro-chrome producer Zimasco, but there are fewer migrant Chinese workers in Zimbabwe than in the DRC, African market sources said.
“We’re treating every country virtually the same,” Mangoma said.
Mangoma stressed the ease of doing business in Zimbabwe following the dollarization of the economy in January this year.
Ministers at the meeting ruled out a return to the Zimbabwean dollar or the launch of a new currency in the short term, saying that their decision on which currency to use would depend on the performance of the country’s economy.
“The exchange control regulations are very user-friendly...You can bring in and take out $10,000 – that’s more than you can do in [many] other countries,” he said.
The business environment has improved greatly since last year, Mwana Africa representatives said, pointing out that they were paid by the government within 16 days of delivering the gold from the newly reopened Freda Rebecca mine.
The company put the mine on care and maintenance in March 2007 because the country’s marketing arrangements for the yellow metal left the company no margin, Freda Rebecca’s general manager Tich Chivonivoni told MB.
There are also opportunities for investing in the country’s underfunded power grid and in its railways, ministers said.
Mining accounts for 30% of all Zimbabwean energy consumption, and the mining sector will struggle to expand and recover without investment in power, they noted.
Zimasco has given the government power utility Zesa a loan to expand the Hwange colliery and the government is also looking at opportunities in biofuels, wind and solar power, they said.
Domestic power demand of 2,100 MW outstrips supply by as much as 1,000 MW. With imports supplying another 300 MW, there is a shortfall of some 600 MW.
Mangoma also sought to reassure the meeting that the unity government will hold firm despite recent press reports of the MDC’s disengagement from the cabinet.
“The inclusive government is going to be there. The prime minister didn’t talk about disengagement with the government, he talked about disengagement from Zanu PF. Sometimes in the media here, it seems that Zanu PF confuses itself with the government, but the president does not have the powers that he purports to have.”
“We don’t see disengagement being a feature – the ministers here are from the MDC. We are doing our jobs and we will continue to do our jobs,” he said.
Fri, 06 Nov 2009 02:54:00 +0000
PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) have called off their boycott of the inclusive Government with President Robert Mugabe The suspension of their "disengagement" comes only a week after President Mugabe indicated that they will return to Government.
The Zanu PF party had described the boycott as "cheap propaganda" and "all sound and fury, signifying nothing". The MDC-T had been on strike since October 16 over the indictment of that party's treasurer and financier, Roy Bennett, on weapons charges.
PM Tsvangirai said his party will review their position after 30 days adding that they expected President Mugabe to deal with "the pertinent issues we are concerned about".
"We have suspended our disengagement from the GPA (Global Political Agreement) with immediate effect and we will give President Robert Mugabe 30 days to implement the agreement on the pertinent issues we are concerned about," he said.
He did not mention what course of action MDC-T would take if the issues he wanted addressed were not dealt with to his party's satisfaction at the expiry of the 30 days.
The prime minister was speaking after a regional Southern African Development Community (Sadc) summit in Maputo, Mozambique's capital.
Four heads of state from the regional grouping met to review the general political situation in the DRC, Lesotho, Madagascar and Zimbabwe.
PM Tsvangirai, deputy prime ministers Arthur Mutambara and Thokozani Khupe also attended together with negotiators to the all-party talks.
The Sadc heads had earlier indicated that the Zimbabwean problems were not insurmountable and the parties to the Global Political Agreement could resolve these issues internally.
Opening the summit, President Armando Guebuza, who chairs the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security (the Troika), said Zanu PF and the two MDC formations had shown commitment to resolving their differences and maintaining political stability for the country’s economic recovery.
He said indications were the parties "share more common views than disagreements".
President Guebuza said they should work on strengthening areas of convergence for the benefit of Zimbabweans and Southern Africa.
The Mozambican leader made similar observations on the political situation in Lesotho.
The summit's final communique urged the Zimbabwe parties to hold talks "with immediate effect within 15 days (and) not beyond 30 days" that would include all outstanding issues related to the implementation of the unity pact.
"The parties should not allow the situation to deteriorate any further," it said.
Opinion by Tendai Chambati (alias)
Thu, 05 Nov 2009 16:06:00 +0000
DEAR EDITOR - After the Afghan election fiasco, the US and the UK have no longer any moral authority to lecture Zimbabwe about its elections results. The US was the first off the block to congratulate Harmid Karzai followed by the UK.
Everyone knows that the Afghan elections were fradulent and for the US, UK and UN to endorse this typifies the double standards and hypocrisy of the West. Trying to impose democracy on other nations is not democratic at all. MDC-T represents the Karzais' of this world.
The West should now leave Zimbabwe alone to solve its problems. We do not want this western imposed democracy via its puppet MDC-T.
The disengagement of MDC-T from the government has shown all right thinking Zimbabweans that MDC-T is only there to serve western interests especially the foreign interests of the US and nothing else.
Life is still going on as usual in Zimbabwe despite Prime Minister Tsvangirai' disengagement and he should now be very aware that Zimbabweans will not come out to support his kind of action.
The big question on the minds of the majority Zimbabweans is whether PM Tsvangirai and his MDC-T party have any relevance in Zimbabwean politics.
Nobody has missed their absence from government. PM Tsvangirai is now busy digging his own grave to political oblivion.
Tendai Chambati (pseudonym)
Fri, 06 Nov 2009 02:29:00 +0000
FRENCH Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner hit out at the United States and Germany for failing to co-ordinate on Nato policy and branded Afghan President Hamid Karzai "corrupt", in remarks reported yesterday.
According to the New York Times, Kouchner complained that President Barack Obama’s US administration was trying to draw up a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan without consulting its European allies in Nato.
At the same briefing, according to the Financial Times, Kouchner told reporters that Europe had failed to agree its own policy on Afghanistan, partly because German soldiers "are not there to fight". "What is the goal? What is the road? And in the name of what?" Kouchner asked, according to the New York Times report.
"Where are the Americans? It begins to be a problem . . . We need to talk to each other as allies."
Asked about Nato policy, Kouchner said: "It’s not working at all."
"Even as Europeans, we are not talking to each other," he said, according to the Financial Times’ account of the meeting. "This is ridiculous. This is shameful because our soldiers are dying."
The French minister said any new strategy would involve working closely with newly re-appointed Afghan leader Karzai, despite concerns about ballot rigging and corruption at the heart of his regime.
"Karzai is corrupt, OK," he said, according to the Times’ report. "We have to legitimise him."
Karzai was named president for his second term on Monday after a chaotic election in which the first round was marred by massive fraud and the second round abandoned after his main opponent dropped out in disgust.
Nevertheless, Kouchner said the allies had no choice but to work with Karzai in order to get the mission in Afghanistan back on track and build a state capable of protecting its people and holding of the Taliban.
Kouchner’s spokesman Bernard Valero did not deny the frank comments had been made, but sought to put his criticism of allies in a broader context.
On Germany, whose forces in Afghanistan operate under tight rules which limit their ability to go on the offensive, he said: "Bernard Kouchner had the opportunity to talk on this subject with his German counterpart on Monday.
"They publicly reaffirmed their identical views and analyses. Each country sets its own rules of engagement. It’s a subject we talk about. These rules evolve to reinforce the coherence of our collective action." — AFP.
Thu, 05 Nov 2009 14:16:00 +0000
DEAR EDITOR - Can someone out there please explain how this works without being political please. The Kimberley Process insists that the army must leave Chiadzwa diamonf fields. If this happens, then who secures the area and what guarantee is there that there will not be a free for all in the area?
And why are outsiders so insistent on the army leaving the area? I am kind of confused by this whole saga. Last year when it was free for all and before the army secured the area, it resulted in chaos in the Eastern region.
So is this where the Kimberley Process wants us to go back to?
abel.mudi *** yahoo.com
Thu, 05 Nov 2009 17:42:00 +0000
KIMBERLEY Process Certification Scheme members Thursday decided against suspending Zimbabwe for alleged production of conflict diamonds. The members were wrapping up four days of annual plenary deliberations on Zimbabwe's diamonds, among other matters, in Namibia.
KPCS members decided instead to send a Kimberley monitor to Zimbabwe to supervise the country's diamond production, according to members who attended the meeting, as well as introduce a 12-month timeline for reforms.
"Its suspension could not come to fruition because it was held that we should give them an opportunity to address issues of compliance and removing the military and things like that," Bernhard Esau, KPCS chairman and Namibia's deputy mines minister said Thursday.
Instead, the KPCS, which has 49 members representing 75 countries, has drawn up an action plan with timelines which Zimbabwe would be required to follow, he said.
The country was accused by human rights groups of producing what are known as "blood" or "conflict diamonds" -- gems mined by force or to fund conflict, or both, in its Marange fields.
A KPCS review team, after visiting Zimbabwe in July and hearing "testimony" from alleged victims, had recommended that Zimbabwe be suspended from importing or exporting rough diamonds within the KPCS until it complied with its norms.
They interviewed businessman and conman Newman Chiadzwa who gave them "verbal evidence" of alleged atrocities. Newman later rescinded his statement saying it was motivated by greed.
Human rights groups alleged that miners have been organized into syndicates, forced to dig for the benefit of top military brass and senior government officials. The Zimbabwean government has denied these claims.
Thursday's decision was unanimous, as is required by KPCS rules.
The Zimbabwe Government sent a large delegation of about a dozen people to the meeting in Namibia to press its case.
They gave a lengthy PowerPoint presentation defending itself against the charges made by the Kimberley investigators.
In a recent interview, Murisi Zwizwai, Zimbabwe's deputy minister of mines and mining development from the MDC-T party, said that Zimbabwe was working hard to remain a member and that Zimbabwe's diamonds were not blood diamonds.
"The solution lies in us righting the wrongs at Marange, while remaining a KP member," he said. "We are committed to Kimberley Process values."
Meanwhile, Israel will adopt the position of KPCS chairman beginning in January 2010, with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) serving as vice chair.
Fri, 06 Nov 2009 03:02:00 +0000
THE Zimbabwe dollar, abandoned in March this year, will be back in circulation by year-end, President Robert Mugabe has said. Harare abandoned its dollar six months ago inorder to curb hyperinflation.
President Mugabe said multiple foreign currencies that replaced the local dollar were unavailable to Zimbabweans, thereby spiking deep poverty.
"The use of multiple currencies is not helping our people much as the money is difficult to secure," the president said while addressing villagers in Zhombe, in the Midlands province.
He added: "We will be reintroducing our own currency by end of the year. People are failing to board buses.
"This needs to be redressed. I do not hope to face similar problems next year. We would have failed as leaders if that is allowed to happen."
Finance minister Tendai Biti, from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T), has threatened to quit if forced to bring back the local dollar.
By George Zulu
Fri 06 Nov. 2009, 04:01 CAT
UPND president Hakainde Hichilema has said PF president Michael Sata and himself have been vindicated on their statements that President Rupiah Banda is corrupt.
Hichilema said the disbandment of the Task Force on Corruption by President Banda's government is aimed at encouraging corruption, theft, abuse of authority and protection of those in authority.
In an interview in Monze yesterday, Hichilema said it had become a source of concern to see how fast the MMD government under President Banda had scraped institutions created to fight corruption and corrupt government leaders.
He said it was evident enough that the current administration lacks political will in the fight against corruption, abuse of authority and has bent systems of governance which should not be accepted by the people of Zambia because it allows and promotes corruption.
“The PF-UPND pact was not surprised with the direction taken by Rupiah to disband the Task force on Corruption because we saw it coming. He had always wanted to benefit from corruption, it is easy to see the way he fired Mr. Nkole, and I am on record having said that 'the worst is yet to be felt by Zambians',” Hichilema said.
“Today Mr. Sata and myself have been vindicated. What we have been telling you about Mr. Banda is not a lie but facts; this man is corrupt and to have such a person for plot one it is dangerous. We saw all this coming... you remember the Dora Siliya RP Capital saga which led to the dismissal of Kapitolo, the dubious sale of Zamtel in total defiance of the demand from the people not to go ahead?
That is what has exactly happened with the Task Force on Corruption. They have disbanded it in order to protect his friend, the way he changed the Zambia National Tender Board to ZPA in a dubious manner to allow for more dubious deals but we have to warn him that the people of Zambia are watching and he should not be surprised of their action in 2011. He should blame himself for failure to govern this peaceful nation.”
Hichilema said President Banda had ill motives on the governance and the fight against corruption in the nation, adding that the fight against corruption was buried together with the late president Levy Mwanawasa.
Fri 06 Nov. 2009, 04:00 CAT
It doesn’t make sense for Rupiah Banda and his minions to blame The Post for his problems. Rupiah is responsible for what is happening to him and what is going on in the country.
Rupiah has to accept that what is happening to him and to the country is a product of the sins he has committed against himself and the nation. If he accepts it as such, he will understand that it is up to him to do something about it. Rupiah cannot blame The Post for everything bad that is happening to him and in the nation, not only because it would be untrue but also because it would blunt the duty that he faces today as president of the Republic to act reasonably and quickly.
And Ludwig Sondashi is right when he says that Rupiah should not use The Post as a scapegoat for his failures. How has The Post caused Rupiah’s failures? All that The Post has done is to expose and criticise the wrong decisions and doings of Rupiah and his minions. There can be no doubt, of course, that criticism is good for people and institutions that are part of public life. No institution should expect to be free from the scrutiny of those who give it their loyalty and support, not to mention those who don’t.
Blaming others for our faults and problems is unjust, cruel, and displeases God. When things go wrong, we tend to look around for someone that we can hold responsible for our difficulty. In the magnificent Book of Exodus, we read that the children of Israel did this in the wilderness shortly after their deliverance from the land of Egypt. When they encountered a shortage of water, and when they saw that they would not have enough food, they panicked and blamed Moses and Aaron for getting them into their predicament. “The whole Israelite community complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness” (Exodus 16:2). While God mercifully overlooked their lack of faith and unfair criticism of His servants in these two incidents, when the Israelites later committed the same sin, He judged them severely (Numbers 16).
We need to remember, however, that when we blame others for our own problems, we are not only hurting the innocent victims toward whom we point our accusing fingers, but ourselves as well. By blaming others, we fail to acknowledge our own personal failures, and thereby rob ourselves the opportunity to repent, to learn from our mistakes, and to ask for help. The moment we blame another for something which is our personal responsibility, we do nothing less than condemn ourselves to repeat our mistake.
When we see things more clearly, we come to understand that no person stands taller in the sight of God and his fellow man than does the one who acknowledges his error, who asks for forgiveness, and expresses a need for help lest the mistake be repeated. No person ever won a victory in the personal struggle for perfection by pointing a finger in the direction of another. We are told, however, that acceptance of personal responsibility for even a small error in judgment causes all the heavenly host to rejoice on our behalf. If we must point a finger, therefore, let it be at ourselves.
The tendency to fault others for our own failures can spread like a virus. We are all today worried about the H1N1 virus, so it is worth noting that researchers have found yet another unfortunate condition is highly communicable: blame.
Observing someone blame another for their failure or lack of success increased the likelihood that people would make subsequent blame attributions for their own, unrelated failures. Deflating responsibility, in other words, is infectious – but there appears to be an effective inoculation.
When people blame others for their mistakes, they learn less and perform worse.
Rupiah and his minions should realise that taking responsibility for mistakes sets a tone for accountability; blaming The Post for their mistakes, failures can start a cascade of castigation. In fact it has already started as can be evidenced by Sondashi and George Mpombo’s reactions or comments.
Rupiah may not be aware but it is true that he is responsible for his failures. He is the author of all that is happening to him, the creator of his reality, the master of his thoughts and the controller of his actions. Every event and every moment of his reality is created by him, through his own actions and thoughts.
If Rupiah thinks negatively, or indulges in negative actions, he should be assured that he will face negative forces in his political life. If he thinks positively and acts positively, he is bound to attract positive forces in his political life and enjoy the abundance of happiness. If one’s attitude is to do things which are going to please the community, the nation and human beings, then one is likely to go to bed every night feeling happy that one has done some service to the community. The important thing is to give happiness to people.
If one knows this, one accepts responsibility for everything that happens to him. One will not blame anyone or any force for one’s failures and disappointments. People have the tendency to blame others for the problems in their lives, in their work, little realising that others have no power over them unless they willingly permit themselves to be influenced by others. We have the capacity to guide our lives, our work and control our situations. If we do not exercise this power and allow ourselves to become helpless or lethargic, the blame lies with us but not with any external agent.
Rupiah’s life, work is his responsibility and not of The Post. Rupiah has the freedom to choose the best options he has in any given circumstances, to choose the correct response as well as the right action. So if something goes wrong, instead of blaming The Post, Rupiah should look within himself and find out what has gone wrong, what went wrong. Find out what decisions or actions of his caused it.
Failure, disappointments and despair are indications that there are some elements in Rupiah which are demanding self-correction and improvement. If Rupiah can identify the cause within himself, he will be likely to put a permanent end to the troubling factor. If Rupiah is failing mostly in his actions, he must realise that it is because of a deficiency in his decisions and actions.
When Rupiah starts to look into himself for possible causes of his failures and disappointments and stops blaming The Post, he will be likely to make them his allies in the drama of his political life.
Rupiah and his minion’s desperation may lead them to taking very desperate measures against The Post that will land them in more trouble than they already have. Desperate people do desperate things. It is desperate people that commit atrocities. Out of desperation, some have killed others. Desperation leads to personal enslavement. And this is why it is said that a free man, when he fails, blames nobody.
The problems that Rupiah is today facing are truly not a creation of The Post. Even if The Post was to be annihilated today, Rupiah’s problems will continue and probably even become worse. The only thing that can change the situation is for Rupiah to change his ways, to move away from wrongdoing and start to do the right things in an honest and transparent manner. If Rupiah does this even if The Post hated him, it will have serious difficulties criticising him because the people will come to his defence.
The Post is able to denounce or criticise Rupiah today simply because the public can see the justification for it; they can see the truth in The Post’s criticism. The only decent or honourable way out of this is for Rupiah to do that which is right and remove the cause for this dissention.
False accusations, unjustified criticism against Rupiah can never be sustained by The Post or anyone else for that matter. We do not enjoy haranguing Rupiah every day but we do so out of duty and not pleasure. We would be the happiest people if Rupiah changed his ways and started to serve the Zambian people heart and soul and proceeding on every issue on the basis of the people’s interests and not personal enrichment or glory.
Changing Rupiah’s leadership style to reflect this reality is certainly a worthy try. But if it proves disastrous, he shouldn’t again blame us.
By Fridah Zinyama
Fri 06 Nov. 2009, 04:00 CAT
A LUSAKA consultant John Kasanga has questioned the government’s long-term objectives for Indeni Petroleum Refinery. And Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary general Roy Mwaba advised the government to have a well thought-out plan for managing the country’s fuel reserves to avoid another fuel shortage next year.
The government on Thursday announced that it had acquired the 50 per cent shares in Indeni from Total at the sum of US $5.5 million. This move has sparked debate in the country as stakeholders are concerned about the government’s capability to efficiently run the refinery.
In an interview, Independent Management Consulting Services Limited consultant Kasanga urged the government to clearly state its long-term objectives for the refinery and what it hoped to achieve with its 100 per cent shares.
“There are certain issues which are pending at Indeni Refinery which need to be quickly addressed,” he said. “The issues of Indeni only refining a particular grade of crude oil should be looked at.”
Kasanga explained that Indeni Petroleum Refinery only processed semi-processed crude oil, which meant that other kinds of crude oils could not be processed.
There have been several calls from stakeholders to recapitalise Indeni so that it has up to date machinery which can process any particular grades of crude oil, including the one from Angola.
Kasanga added that measures needed to be put in place to ensure the delivery of crude oil or fuel at an economic cost to the country.
“We need to reduce the landed costs of fuel into the country,” he urged. “A decision should be made that will permanently deal with the issue to supplying the country with fuel at an economic rate.”
Kasanga said the government could permit other stakeholders to put up another plant that would refine crude oil.
“If this is not done, then government should allow oil marketing companies to bring in already processed fuel products into the country,” he said. “But whoever would be given this task should ensure that there was no back handling.”
Kasanga said the issue of the government contracting briefcase companies to import fuel into the country had worsened the fuel situation.
Kasanga said if fuel imports continued at this rate, the country could experience increased production costs that would make Zambian products uncompetitive in the region.
And Mwaba said traders on the black market had taken advantage of the fuel shortage and were selling fuel at exorbitant prices.
“This is a clear case of mismanagement by those who have been entrusted to run the affairs of the energy sector,” he said.
Mwaba said it was sad that fuel supply had continued to be erratic on the market while those entrusted to manage the resources continued to give contradictory statements over the same situation.
“Different sectors of the economy like agriculture will be adversely affected if the fuel crisis continues as farming inputs will not be able to reach them on time,” he said.
Mwaba said the government should realise that the continued fuel shortage would have a spill-over effect in that prices for other commodities would also be affected.
By Kabanda Chulu
Fri 06 Nov. 2009, 04:00 CAT
UNITED Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) director Pradeep Monga yesterday advised the government to put in place policies that will attract private sector investments in renewable sources of energy to supplement the national power grid.
In an interview after laying a foundation stone for the development of the Shiwang'andu mini hydro-power project in Chinsali, Dr Monga said the energy sector was important in achieving the millennium development goals (MDGs) and the attainment of national economic development.
“The future in renewable energy is bright and Zambia stands to benefit in improving lives and the capacity is readily available in biomass and solar aspects and this sector can supplement the national electricity grid but most importantly is to have good policies in place to attract the private sector,” Dr Monga said. “National power grid is important and it is a requirement but we need to develop alternatives to supplement it.”
He said UNIDO was working to address industrial competitiveness and developing renewable energy-based mini hydro power stations that would replace the diesel powered generators.
“Zesco Limited and the Rural Electrification Authority (REA) are our major partners and together we are developing the Shiwang'andu project that will produce one mega watt, the Bio Mass project in Kaputa also will generate one mega watt and the solar project at Samfya which will also produce one mega watt,” Dr Monga said. “We are also looking at building capacity in the Ministry of Energy, Zesco, REA and other institutions in order to ensure that projects are successful.”
Dr Monga urged the private sector to utilise the US $2 million financing facility being disbursed by the Development Bank of Zambia for the purpose of developing renewable energy projects.
The three mini hydro projects would cost over US $8 million with US $3 million being a grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) while the remainder will come as co-financing from the project partners.
The Shiwang'andu project would be commissioned during the first quarter of 2011 and then, the projects would be implemented across the country.
By Patson Chilemba
Fri 06 Nov. 2009, 04:01 CAT [
LUSAKA lawyer Ludwig Sondashi yesterday charged that President Rupiah Banda is the most useless President, who wants to use The Post as a scapegoat for his failures.
And Kafulafuta MMD member of parliament George Mpombo echoed Sondashi's statement, adding that he would vote against machinations to introduce draconian laws aimed at suppressing the operations of the vibrant press in the country.
Commenting on information minister Lieutenant General Ronnie Shikapwasha's statement that the media should be regulated because the bad reporting by The Post was painting a bad picture to the outside world such that investors were not coming into the country, Sondashi said President Banda was a useless President who wanted to suppress The Post so that he could conceal thefts.
“No, he should not use The Post as a scapegoat for his failures. I said at a meeting yesterday that Mr Banda is the most useless President this country has ever had, and all the insinuations against The Post newspaper, what they are planning to regulate the media is being done so that they can bury the corruption that has hit the country; the corruption which is being organised by Mr. Banda and his children, and his close friends,” Sondashi said. “Shikapwasha also is just a microphone of Mr. Banda.
He wants The Post to be silenced so that he can continue stealing public funds from this government, because this fuel crisis was created by Mr. Banda. Mr. Banda was told that there will be fuel problems but he didn't take steps to order fuel, energy minister Kenneth Konga knows. He did not order fuel so that he can create shortages to enable him to ask his children to import fuel when there was a crisis.”
Sondashi said it was not The Post, which was stopping investment from coming into the country but President Banda's corrupt government.
“Investment cannot come when they investors know that there is a corrupt government, and the President is high handed in these issues. He is using a lot of powers to intimidate people, right now he has pumped in a lot of money in Solwezi, but this will not help him. FDA have put up a fight and is going to win this election,” Sondashi said. “Once the press is intimidated, investment cannot come because investors would like where there is a free press.”
Sondashi advised members of parliament not to support the statutory regulation of the media, saying such draconian laws should not be entertained.
“This is why every day, we are fighting against such; and this is why we are saying that all these things Parliament is failing to control the President. That is why…once we take over we are going to reduce these excessive presidential powers,” said Sondashi. “I will tell you that Mr. Banda is the most useless President.”
Sondashi said enacting laws targeting individuals and institutions only portrayed that the government had failed to deliver and the only thing they could do was to cripple their critics.
And Mpombo said the era for draconian laws aimed at suppressing the press belonged to the 20th century. He said the press was an important partner in national development.
“So you know when one looks himself into a mirror, if you don't look well, don't break the mirror, improve your dress,” Mpombo said, adding that the MMD should adhere to good governance.
On Lt Shikapwasha's statement that investors were not coming into the country because of bad reporting by The Post, Mpombo said the problem was because of the poor policies government was putting in place.
“This government has veered off the main path of robust economic policies, so they shouldn't blame The Post on their failures. The donors have their representatives here, so if The Post says something which is untrue, these local representatives will rebut those, you know that The Post just lodged a psychological warfare,” Mpombo said. “But you know these are things that are seeing, the way we are handling issues like the recent fuel crisis which was being created by greediness.”
Mpombo said plans by the government to regulate the media were an exercise in futility and he would not support them.
“That will just be giving a licence to sweeping the dirt under the carpet, and that will not help the nation at all. I think this time we are seeing the desperation. So Mr Shikapwasha should not be allowed to get away with his desperation,” Mpombo said. “You know my position is that these issues must be analysed critically and very carefully because they intend to even cripple the country's image further. You know people in this particular era do not support governments that impose draconian laws on the press. So that would be suicidal to allow such regulation given the desperation that government is showing.”
Mpombo said members of parliament should think twice and not support draconian measures to stifle the press in the country.
“It will just inflict more international damage on the country and also affect virtues of good governance. So we members of parliament should stand firm against such machinations that are aimed to cripple the operations of a vibrant press in the country,” said Mpombo.
By Larry Moonze in Havana, Cuba
Fri 06 Nov. 2009, 04:01 CAT
FIDEL Castro has said Cuba will continue fighting without rest unmasking the infinite hypocrisy and cynicism of the United States. And Fidel on Tuesday mourned the passing of Carmen Nordelo, the mother of Gerardo Hernandez Nordelo one of the Five Cubans in US prisons.
Hernandez is serving two terms of life imprisonment plus 15 years for alleged espionage. Carmen died on Monday after a long illness.
“We will not just lay flowers on the grave of Carmen Nordelo,” said Fidel in his message of condolence. “We will continue the fight without rest to free Gerardo, Antonio, Fernando, Ramon and Rene, unmasking the infinite hypocrisy and cynicism of the empire, and defending the truth. That is the only way we can honour the memory of the legion of mothers and women like her in Cuba who have sacrificed the best and most precious in their lives for the Revolution and socialism.”
Fidel condemned US President Barack Obama’s administration for freeing Santiago Alvarez Fernandez-Magrina from prison for terror activities against Cuba including being in possession of military weapons, explosives and other materials meant for terrorist attacks on Havana.
“It is impossible to lay a flower on her Carmen coffin without denouncing, once again, the repugnant cynicism of the empire US,” he said.
Fidel said another atrocious news was the official signing of the agreement by virtue of which the United States was imposing seven military bases in the heart of South America.
He said those bases in Colombia threatened not only Venezuela but also all of the peoples of the central and southern part of the hemisphere.
“It is not an act by the George W Bush government; it is Barack Obama who signed that agreement violating legal, constitutional and ethical norms, when the fruits of the disastrous yanki military base in Palmerola, Honduras, are still being exhibited to the world,” Fidel said.
He said the military coup in that Honduras against Manuel Zelaya was carried out under the President Obama administration.
“Never have the Latin American peoples of this hemisphere been treated with greater contempt,” Fidel said. “A country like Cuba knows very well that after the United States imposes one of its military bases, it leaves if it likes, or it remains by force, as it has done with Guantanamo for more than 100 years. There, it set up the hateful torture centre whose dungeons, with numerous prisoners, our brand-new Nobel laureate President Obama has not yet been able to eliminate.”
He said the US used the war on drugs as pretext to the bases in Colombia.
Fidel said just like the terrible scourge of paramilitarism, it emerged from the gigantic US market for cocaine and other drugs.
He said American military bases in Latin America emerged long before drugs with interventionist purposes.
“Cuba demonstrated for half a century that it is possible to fight and resist,” said Fidel.
“The President of the United States is wrong, and his advisors are wrong, if they follow that sordid and contemptuous course with the peoples of Latin America. Our sentiments, without any hesitation whatsoever, are inclined towards the Bolivarian people of Venezuela, their president, Hugo Chavez, and his Ministry of Foreign Affairs, denouncing the despicable military pact imposed on the Colombian people, one with expansionist clauses that its authors have not even had the courage to publish.
Cuba will continue cooperating with programmes for health, education and social development in our sister nations, which, despite the obstacles, advances and setbacks, will be increasingly and irreversibly free.
As Abraham Lincoln said: “you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”
By Zumani Katasefa and Speedwell Mupuchi
Fri 06 Nov. 2009, 04:00 CAT
MMD cadres on Wednesday allegedly disrupted a UPND and PF pact campaign rally at Chisalala Middle Basic School in chief Kapijimpanga’s area in Solwezi.
UPND vice-president Richard Kapita complained yesterday that it was not fair for the MMD to disrupt the meeting when UPND had already obtained a police permit for the venue.
“We had obtained a police permit for that venue and the MMD were very much aware about that. These are some of the things that encourage violence,” he said.
Kapita said the head teacher of Chisalala Middle Basic School where the meeting was supposed to take place told UPND leaders that they were not supposed to hold the meeting at that school because the venue was reserved for MMD.
He said people who had gone to attend the meeting were turned away and that the meeting was only held after MMD left the area.
“But only a few people attended the meeting, most of them turned away because they feared that violence may break out,” he said.
Kapita said the UPND had complained to relevant authorities over the behaviour of the police.
He said UPND was aware that the MMD planned to bribe villagers in Kyabakanga and Kainamfumu with bags of fertiliser so that they could vote for MMD candidate Albert Chifita.
“But we are not going to allow them, we are going to stop that,” Kapita said.
He said UPND cadres were on alert, adding that they would fight any electoral malpractices by the MMD in the Solwezi Central by-election.
Meanwhile, UPND Copperbelt Province youth vice-chairman Kelly Jibinga said UPND and PF youths from the Copperbelt on Tuesday left for Solwezi to beef up their campaigns.
“We sent a group of 60 youths, we are yet to send more on Friday today,” he said.
Four candidates are taking part in the Solwezi Central by-election.
The aspiring candidates are Albert Chifita from MMD, UPND’s Watson Lumba, Muhhamed Kalela of Forum for Democratic Alternatives and an independent candidate Thomas Kafula.
And suspected MMD cadres in Solwezi’s Kyawama Township on Sunday allegedly assaulted two UPND cadres.
Kapita said a medical report had been obtained.
He said the cadres were attacked when they were campaigning for the party’s candidate, Lumba.
“I can confirm that two of our members were attacked and assaulted by MMD thugs, this happened in Kyawama township where they were doing their campaigns. You know Kyawama has 10,000 registered voters, so it is a battle ground,” he said.
Kapita said despite the violence from the MMD, the people of Solwezi were geared for change.
“Mangani home affairs minister issued a wrong statement that the opposition was perpetrating violence in Solwezi, yet it is the MMD thugs who are behind this violence. Mangani should understand that people of Solwezi have decided to bring change in Solwezi,” he said.
He said the move by the government to deploy about 70,000 police officers from Kamfinsa would not intimidate the people of Solwezi who he said would go ahead and vote out the MMD.
“We are reliably informed that the MMD have brought four buses of MMD youths from Lusaka to come and cause violence here in Solwezi. This must not be encouraged. We are going to defend ourselves in the field,” he said.
Kapita further alleged the MMD want to use chiefs from Mwinilunga, Zambezi, Kasempa and Chavuma and district commissioners to help in campaigning for Chifita.
He advised chiefs to stay away from politics adding that they should not allow themselves to be used by politicians.
“We respect our chiefs, they should not allow themselves to be used by politics, so we advise them to stay away,” said Kapita.
North Western Province police commanding officer Fabian Katiba said he was not aware about the assault of the UPND cadres.
MMD campaign manager Kabinga Pande said the MMD campaign was in full swing.
“We have deployed our people in the campaign, nothing like money has not been sent,” Pande said dispelling reports that the MMD campaign had suffered a setback because State House had not sent money for the campaign. “Everything is in full swing. We are happy with the response from the voters who have assured us of votes. We trust the people of Solwezi, they are the same people who have been voting for us, we have been with them.”
Pande said campaigns were going on peacefully and believed such atmosphere would continue into the polling day, on November 29.
By Patson Chilemba
Fri 06 Nov. 2009, 03:59 CAT
MWATA Kazembe of the Lunda people of Luapula Province has said he rates President Rupiah Banda's performance very highly because of several developmental projects in the province.
And Mwata Kazembe said some people who were criticising the acquittal of former president Frederick Chiluba were themselves acquitted by the courts but no one demanded for their cases to be appealed against.
Asked how he rated President Banda's performance in the last one year he has been in State House, Mwata
Kazembe responded: “Very high, when you look at development issues especially in the Province, I don't know elsewhere.”
Asked to specifically mention President Banda's developmental achievements in the Province, Mwata Kazembe responded: “Ba Chilemba, find time to visit, then I will be pointing at one or two things.”
However, Mwata Kazembe said it was up to the people to tell whether or not President Banda should be voted for in 2011.
“That is up to him if he wants to continue in office. It's not me to tell the people that President Banda has performed. People will be able to tell whether he has performed or not,” he said.
On Chiluba's acquittal on corruption charges by the magistrate's court, Mwata Kazembe said it was just that people were forgetful because late president Levy Mwanawasa mentioned that if the courts were going to acquit Chiluba, he would bury the cases.
On the calls by people for President Banda's government to appeal against Chiluba's acquittal, Mwata Kazembe said Chiluba's acquittal was not the first to have ever happened in the nation.
“In your own knowledge and understanding, is this the first acquittal that government hasn't appealed? You have been asking me but I will be answering by asking you questions,” Mwata Kazembe said. “Is this the first acquittal, and definitely would it be the last acquittal that government won't appeal? Ba Chilemba, you are a Zambia isn't it? As far as I know, treason, a treason case I think is the highest in the land. All the treason cases that we have had, I think from Dr Kaunda, Dr Chiluba, has any trial taken seven years? Why did the case involving theft take seven years?”
Mwata Kazembe said the “system” could only appeal looking at the merits and demerits of the case.
He also, in apparent reference to Patriotic Front (PF) president Michael Sata, said those who were condemning Chiluba were acquitted but no one demanded for an appeal.
On the individual attacks involving Sata and Chiluba, Mwata Kazembe said he had not heard anything from Chiluba.
“The best option is let me find out what it is that is making them differ then I will have a better answer,” he said.
Asked if what he implied having a meeting with Sata and Chiluba to discuss their differences, Mwata Kazembe said: “No, I know how to talk to politicians. It is not just a matter of meeting them.”
By Zumani Katasefa
Fri 06 Nov. 2009, 04:00 CAT
KAPOTWE Puta, a member of chief Puta’s royal family, has advised the traditional leader to stay away from politics or face the wrath of the people. Commenting on chief Puta’s decision to ban all Patriotic Front (PF) activities in his chiefdom, Kapotwe said the chief’s move was not fair.
“I don’t know why the chief took that decision, he is just against the PF, he must stop talking about politics. There is no sense, he must keep quiet. He must leave politics to politicians,” he said.
Kapotwe said people should never fear chief Puta.
He said by banning the PF activities from taking place in Chienge, chief Puta had clearly shown that he was an enemy of the people.
“He is an enemy of the people and why should he say that it was the headmen who resolved to ban the PF activities? … The chief should stay away from politics. I know why he has done that,” he said.
He said if chief Puta continued to be against the PF, he would face the wrath of the people.
Kapotwe said chief Puta would not manage to deny the people of Chiengi their right to belong a political party of their choice.
Chief Puta banned PF activities in the chiefdom and, when contacted for comment, said the decision was made by the headmen.
Chambishi Metals to resume operations
By Staff Reporter
Fri 06 Nov. 2009, 04:00 CAT
Operations at Chambishi were suspended in December last year and placed on care and maintenance due to losses the company suffered owing to the global economic slowdown. Chambishi had forecast output at 3,400 tonnes of cobalt in 2009 from 2,500 tonnes in 2008 before it suspended operations.
Chambishi, which was previously owned by LCM, then a joint venture of Bein Stein Group Resources (BSGR) and International Mineral Resources (IMR), is now owned by Enya Holdings of the United Kingdom.
According to mining weekly, company chief executive Derek Webbstock said output was supposed to have started in October but was delayed awaiting the arrival of raw materials.
“We have received enough cobalt concentrates from Congo and we will start processing cobalt this week,” Webbstock said. “We initially expect about 300 workers to resume working and more will probably be engaged as production increases.”
Webbstock said the company would start processing copper concentrates after China Nonferrous Metals Mining Corporation (CNMC)’s unit, Luanshya Copper Mines (LCM), restarted output.
“The copper we processed before came from Luanshya and we can only talk about restarting the processing of copper after Luanshya starts production,” said Webbstock.
Chipata man in jail for cultivating marijuana
By Christopher Miti in Chipata
Fri 06 Nov. 2009, 04:00 CAT
THE Chipata Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday sentenced a 53-year-old man to six months imprisonment with hard labour for unlawful cultivation of marijuana. Before principal resident magistrate Collins Lundah was Joseph Sakala of Kazembe village in chief Kapatamoyo’s area.
Sakala who readily admitted the charge said he used to smoke marijuana when working in the garden but that he had no authority to do so. According to particulars of the offence, the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) received a report October 31, 2009 that Sakala was cultivating marijuana.
The DEC then went to search Sakala’s house but did not find anything. The officers, according to court records, found the marijuana in the garden.
In mitigation, Sakala said he was the first offender and that he was looking after his four children and some orphans.
Sakala said he had a responsibility to look for food for the children and that one of them was epileptic.
In passing judgment, magistrate Lundah said being an elderly person, Sakala was supposed to lead an exemplary life so that young ones could learn from him.
“Chamba (marijuana) destroys people. You see how people who smoke behave. I’m sentencing you to six months imprisonment with hard labour so that’s how lenient I can be,” said magistrate Lundah.
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Government will this year make farming inputs available to farmers at reduced prices for the summer cropping season in a bid to end donor dependency, President Mugabe has said.
Speaking at a ceremony where Chief Ntabeni’s people in Zhombe handed over 65 tonnes of maize to the Head of State and Government yesterday, President Mugabe said the Government had slightly shifted from its policy of providing all inputs to farmers following the formation of the inclusive Government.
The farmers gave the President the maize as a "thank you" gesture for his leadership that had seen them get land and farming inputs in recent years.
President Mugabe, who is also Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, told hundreds of villagers that farmers should work hard to end the culture of begging and donor dependency.
"We are approaching that season of farming when we need inputs like seed and fertilizer.
"The way we helped you last year is not going to be the same with how we will assist you this year.
"The inputs will be provided at very low prices which the Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Joseph Made will explain to you," he said.
President Mugabe said the change in the provision of inputs by the Government was prompted mainly by the formation of the inclusive Government.
"This Government came about as a result of the elections held last year, which failed to produce an outright winner.
"We are different parties and people politically. MuZanu-PF tiri vanhu vevhu rinodai kutipa kudya.
"We are fighters. Tiri vanhu vevanhu uyezve tiri veChimurenga. Tinoda kukwidziridza vanhu, hutano hwavo pamwe nedzidzo. Madzishe edu anorukudzo tinoda unhu hwedu kuhuchengetedza," he said.
"On the other hand, our friends in the MDC-T are bent on reversing the gains we made in culture and other areas in favour of the white man’s ways.
"Hatizive zvavanomirira. Hongu tiri vanhu vatema tese asi veMDC-T vanoda kubvisa VaMugabe nemhuri yavo because they think they can be better leaders. Kana mukarasika hameno zvenyu," he said.
President Mugabe warned the villagers that although independence had been attained in 1980, the country was still fighting imperialist forces that wanted to reverse the gains made thus far.
He said Western influence in MDC-T became evident when the party decided to "disengage" from Government over the arrest and appearance of Roy Bennett in court.
President Mugabe said the inclusive Government was meant to last for one-and-a-half to two years to allow the healing process and amendment of the Constitution.
The arrangement, President Mugabe said, was beginning to affect Zimbabwe’s values including respect for its traditional leaders.
"We grew up knowing that chiefs and other traditional leaders were to be respected always.
"That’s our culture. Now tell me what kind of respect is there when you are paying chiefs US$70 to US$80 as allowances?
"We have been watching our friends in the MDC-T and we discovered that they were working on reversing what we have worked for, our economic gains and our culture," he said.
President Mugabe said the national flag captured the essence of his address as it reminded detractors that the owners of the land were blacks.
"Some people were killed or maimed and a lot of blood spilt. The colour red represents this.
"The white shows we are a forgiving people. Anyone who tries to lower that flag after what we went through will be asking for trouble even from those long departed comrades," he said.
Last year, President Mugabe donated seed and other inputs to communal farmers, including those in Chief Ntabeni’s area.
The Zimbabwe Defence Forces co-ordinated the distribution of inputs under the Champion Farmer Programme.
The donation to President Mugabe yesterday was a show of appreciation by beneficiaries of the programme.
The people from the area donated two bags per family.
"It is touching to realise that there are still people among us who do not forget when they receive assistance.
"It is good to see people working so hard and producing. If we all do that, we will get rid of the donor dependency syndrome.
"Getting aid is not bad, but it should be on our own terms. NGOs should not decide who to give or not to give food. That should be our responsibility," he said.
President Mugabe also handed over three tonnes of maize seed donated by Seed Co, Pannar and Pioneer to the villagers.
Present at the occasion were Cabinet ministers Made, Francis Nhema (Environment and Natural Resources Management), Zanu-PF Politburo member Cde Rugare Gumbo, Midlands Governor Jaison Machaya and his predecessor Cde Cephas Msipa among other senior Government and party officials.
A delegation from Tanzania is in Zimbabwe to study the model of the Rural Electrification Agency for possible adoption in their country, an official said on Tuesday.
REA business development director Joshua Mashamba told New Ziana that the Tanzanian delegation, which arrived on Sunday, was on a week-long visit during which they would tour projects in the country.
"We are having a delegation from the Tanzanian Ministry of Energy who want to form their own REA and want to learn from Zimbabwe," he said.
Mashamba said the five-member delegation on Monday toured projects in Mashonaland Central and was expected to tour Mashonaland Central Province yesterday.
He said the delegation comprised an assistant commissioner in the Tanzanian Environment and Energy Ministry who was leading it, an official from the country’s Attorney General’s Office, a legal officer in the ministry and a technical manager in the water and energy regulatory authority.
Zimbabwe is the only country in the region with a dedicated agency to spearhead rural electrification.
Although other countries are implementing programmes to take electricity to rural areas, they are doing it through national power utilities, whose attention is sometimes more focused on urban areas where there are consumers that pay.
The Zimbabwe government established REA in 2002 through amendments to the Electricity Act which provided a legal framework for collecting an electricity levy to be used in funding rural electrification.
Previously a unit in the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority was charged with electrifying rural areas.
It is the second time that the Tanzanians have visited Zimbabwe as they came again in 2004.
Zambia also sent a delegation on a similar mission early this year while the Namibian government also sent one two years ago. — New Ziana.
The information peddled by hostile Western media about the situation in Zimbabwe is false, Vice President Joice Mujuru said yesterday.
Speaking after a courtesy call by the visiting Malawi Foreign Affairs Minister, Professor Etah Banda, at her Munhumutapa offices yesterday, VP Mujuru said the Western media was painting a false picture about the situation in Zimbabwe.
"Most of the things propagated about Zimbabwe by some Western countries through their media are falsehoods. The situation in Zimbabwe is not like what they want the world to believe.
"They (Western countries) should let us solve our problems because right now every country has its own share of problems. They should take a cue from our neighbours and Sadc.
"Sadc and the AU understands us and they are the right people to assist as African brothers."
VP Mujuru urged the Malawi delegation to go and tell the world the true Zimbabwean story, adding that Malawi as a neighbour understood Zimbabwe better.
She said Zimbabwe was a peace-loving country and what it required was respect of its sovereignty that was acquired after bloodshed.
VP Mujuru commended the mutual relations existing between Zimbabwe and Malawi dating back to the days of the liberation struggle.
"Zimbabwe and Malawi are one family and we are proud of the cordial cultural relationship that exist among our people that have also seen our people inter-marrying," she said.
Addressing journalists after a closed door meeting with VP Mujuru, Prof Banda who was accompanied by her Zimbabwean counterpart, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, said the VP had encouraged them to continue working for the benefit of the people of the two countries.
She reiterated that Zimbabwe and Malawi were one family. "Zimbabwe and Malawi are one family, what only separates us are boundaries," said Prof Banda.
She said they had agreed with Minister Mumbengegwi to implement all the resolutions of the recent Joint Permanent Commission.
Minister Mumbengegwi said the communique they signed was a binding document that reflected the relationship between Zimbabwe and Malawi.
"What we have signed here is a reflection of what we have done during the past three days. We have made a lot of changes to the original document and this shows how we understand each other in a sisterly and brotherly manner," he said.
Cde Mumbengegwi said Zimbabwe was willing to learn more in the agriculture sector from Malawi to boost the country’s food reserves.
EDITOR — Ever since MDC-T "disengaged" from the inclusive Government more than 10 days ago it’s still not clear even to the top leadership as to what they want to achieve with this move which President Mugabe attributed to the party’s reliance on "little emotional" rather than rational thoughts.
I came to this conclusion after Nelson Chamisa, the MDC-T spokesperson, was at pains to explain what MDC-T’s "disengagement" from Government means.
Chamisa, who had an interview with a local journalist, was incoherent and equally confused as he was quoted as saying: "We are not disengaging from the Government. There is no pullout from Government because we are Government ourselves. It is impossible for one to pull out of ourselves."
Then can the party please explain to the layman on the street in plain Shona, as we cannot talk of English what to "disengage" means? The party is not attending Cabinet meetings and the Council of Ministers where I am sure Government business is discussed and direction as to the operations of the ministries is given. On the other hand, Chamisa was quoted as saying:
"Our ministers are going to their offices and executing their duties diligently as ministers of excellence."
Can MDC-T please stop insulting the intelligence of the masses, more so their supporters who indicated that the party should stay in the inclusive Government during their consultative meetings.
Which takes us back to the question of whose interest are those in MDC-T serving as reports are that a day before making the decision to ‘‘disengage’’ Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC-T leader, met with officials from the US, Britain, Canada, Sweden, Denmark, France, Norway, Switzerland, Holland and Australia, who overwhelmingly pressured him to announce a "collapse of the inclusive Government".
People are tired of MDC-T antics, which for a long time are exposing their naivete and gullibility, which borders on the ridiculous. There seems to be no exceptional strategic advisers to this embattled party as time and again they have found themselves in the deep end when they can’t even swim.
MDC-T leaders should be told in no uncertain terms that these childish antics will not move Zanu-PF, a party of seasoned politicians, to give in to the regime change agenda.
BRITAIN and its Western allies’ hypocrisy in dealing with Zimbabwe has once again been exposed.
Last week, British Immigration Minister Phil Woods announced that London was looking at resuming enforced returns of failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe because the country was now safe following the formation of the inclusive Government.
Zimbabwe has always been a safe place to live even before the inclusive Government came into being.
What has improved under the inclusive Government is the economy following the introduction of the multi-currency system but the security of citizens and visitors in Zimbabwe has always been guaranteed.
Zimbabwe is safer to live in than certain countries where some of its citizens have fled to seeking asylum on trumped-up allegations of political persecution.
As we have argued before the so-called asylum seekers are economic refugees who were fleeing the meltdown in the local economy spawned by the illegal sanctions imposed by the West at the behest of the MDC.
Is it not ironic that most of the failed asylum seekers claim to be MDC supporters who are running away from a harsh environment created by their own party?
It is also a fact that some of the asylum seekers were not even members of the opposition but just Zimbabweans who were so determined to leave home and try their luck overseas where the pastures have turned out to be not that greener after all.
Others were criminals who skipped the country to evade the long arm of the law.
More than 6 500 Zimbabweans have applied for political asylum in Britain over the last three years. Around 925 were granted refugee status, while around 4 500 had their applications for asylum rejected.
It is estimated that in the past decade almost 11 000 Zimbabweans have sought asylum in Britain but the majority of the applications have been rejected.
This high rate of rejections simply shows the majority of the asylum seekers were faking persecution at home just to live in Britain.
This bids Zimbabweans not to speak ill about their country or exaggerate certain situations for personal gain.
Illegal diamond dealer and businessman Newman Chiadzwa’s apology to the nation for peddling falsehoods about activities at the Chiadzwa diamond fields should be a lesson for those bent on soiling the country to line their pockets.
Newman lied to a Kimberley Process fact-finding team that there were State-sponsored human rights violations at the Marange diamond fields.
At a KP meeting in Namibia on Tuesday, he bemoaned the fact that despite his retraction, still the so-called human rights activists, Western media and the NGO sector that ran with his story when he made the falsehoods would not believe him.
We hope he realises how difficult it is to undo such damage.
EDITOR — Blood diamonds, also known as ‘‘conflict diamonds’’, are diamonds that come from war-torn parts of Africa, mined under circumstances that violate basic human rights.
Arguments are that since diamonds are so valuable, they can be used to fund illegal and unethical practices, for example rebel movements attempting to overthrow legitimate governments.
Reports say that by knowingly and/or unknowingly purchasing blood diamonds, Westerners may be enabling horrific practices.
This is my question to African governments under the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme: when actually did the issue of blood diamonds start? Is it a yesteryear issue or this is an issue whose genesis should be revisited?
Shouldn't we go back to colonisation when the true conflict on Africa’s mineral resources started? And who was responsible for that? Were Africans involved?
Blood diamonds are also like prostitution. If those who seek services of commercial sex workers stop, then this will eliminate prostitution. That these blood diamonds end up on the market in the West, is where the real problem is.
Both dealers in blood diamonds are equally guilty, and should receive the same penalties. It is unfair that only Africa is seen as the one driving this evil act, which in the first place never started with them. We cannot just criminalise the miners without criminalising those who illegally purchase these precious stones.
Labels: BLOOD DIAMONDS
Keynote address by H.E President Joseph Kabange Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo at the Dag Hammarskjold Commemo-rative Seminar at Africa University in Mutare on Tuesday.
Mr Chancellor, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Africa University, Bishop David Yemba, Mr Vice-Chancellor, Professor Fanuel Tagwira, Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and representatives of International Organisations, Distinguished Professors, and members of the academic community, ladies and gentlemen, dear students, I wish to thank Africa University for inviting me to deliver this keynote address on "The State of the Congolese Nation following the Peace Negotiations".
I am also thankful for the high interest this academic institution is demonstrating towards my country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country that epitomises both the tribulations and the hopes of our continent, a country whose history is a sounding and rallying call against despair, no matter the odds.
Indeed, the theme of your 2009 Dag Hammarskjold Commemorative Seminar is "The DRC — The Road to conflict Transformation and National Reconstruction".
If anything, it shows your faith in the future of the DRC which was on the brink of total collapse a few years ago, but is hailed today for being on a promising road to recovery.
Located at the very heart of the African continent, the Democratic Republic of Congo shares borders with nine countries, and is by far the largest country in the Southern Africa region.
Endowed with enormous resources, both human and natural, the Congo should, can, and shall be the economic engine of the Sadc and ECCAS states, and play a major role in stirring African development.
Yet, for a while, this looked totally impossible.
In order to appreciate where we stand today, allow me to briefly take you through the political history of the Democratic Republic of Congo over the last forty-nine years.
Congo attained its independence on June 30, 1960, winning a courageous political struggle waged under the leadership of some of her best sons and daughters, the eminent, and most promising among them being our beloved National Hero, the late Patrice Emery Lumumba.
His commitment to the genuine political and economic liberation of Africa in general, and the Congo in particular, was a source of inspiration for freedom fighters worldwide, but a cause for concern among the forces of darkness.
He was perceived by the latter as a major threat to their rule. He had to die if they were to continue enjoying their dominant status, and the ensuing privileges.
Patrice Emery Lumumba was thus brutally assassinated on January, 16, 1961, crushing nascent Congo self-determination drive.
The people of Congo, led by some nationalists like Pierre Mulele, Antoine Gizenga, and Laurent Desire Kabila, decided not to give in, and organised the liberation struggle to salvage the country.
Unfortunately, this took place at the peak of the cold war, and their efforts got strangled in the East-West rivalries.
They could not succeed at the outset.
It is in this context that a military coup was orchestrated in 1965 by General Joseph Desire Mobutu, replacing all elected officials with a clique of generals and colonels, and leading to 32 years of autocratic rule and mismanagement.
As the saying goes, however long the night is, the sun will always rise.
In 1997, the tireless efforts of the Congolese people and nationalists finally got rewarded.
Mobutu was defeated by Laurent Desire Kabila; an end brought to the predatory regime he personified, and what was meant to be a new era of freedom and democracy opened for the people of Congo.
But, this was without counting the enemies of peace and stability in the Great Lakes region.
As if history was repeating itself, no time was given to the new revolutionary regime to organise, and put people back to work.
Just a year later, the Democratic Republic of Congo was dragged into a long and protracted war of aggression by her eastern neighbours.
This war lasted no less than five years, and claimed directly or indirectly, millions of innocent Congolese lives.
It will be recalled as the costliest war in human loss after the Second World War, and for having almost succeeded in redrawing Congo’s border lines.
Not a man to ever give in on questions of the country’s sovereignty, and territorial integrity, Laurent Desire Kabila organised popular resistance, and rallied friendly countries around the Democratic Republic of Congo.
He eventually managed to save the country.
He however, could not save his life, and was assassinated on January, 17, 2001 by the same evil forces that were behind the assassination of Patrice Emery Lumumba.
During these dark days, the Democratic Republic of Congo received heroic support from the governments and people of the Sadc region, especially those of Angola, Namibia, and Zimbabwe, with the latter playing the leading role.
I wish to seize this opportunity and, once again, pay tribute to these sister countries. As a nation, we will never forget the blood shed by their gallant sons and daughters to help us preserve our independence, territorial integrity, and national sovereignty.
Irreplaceable as it were, the might of the Congolese soldiers and the Sadc allies cannot solely account for the rebirth of the DRC as a State and a nation.
Political dialogue, entailing compromise and give and take had to be brought to bear in order to defuse misunderstandings, build confidence, mend the social fabric, and induce reconciliation.
When in 2001, I ascended to the Presidency, the country was divided in as many self-administered parts as there were warring factions, de facto transforming the Democratic Republic of Congo in as many autonomous territories.
Although recognised worldwide as the Head of State, and in effective control of nine provinces out of eleven, including the capital, this situation was intolerable to me as a nationalist and the Congolese people at large.
We could not stand the idea of a divided Congo, let alone the perspective of even an inch of Congo being under foreign rule.
We chose to give peace and the unity of the country a chance through negotiations on the internal front, clearing the way for peace talks between Congolese in Sun City, South Africa.
Equally, we directly engaged the aggressor countries and the forces behind them on the diplomatic front.
As a result, foreign troops pulled out, and a Global Inclusive Agreement was signed in 2002 between the government representatives, all Congolese belligerent groups, civil society, and non-armed political groupings.
Thanks to an unprecedented power sharing formula a President, and four vice presidents, this Agreement helped put an end to the war, and extended state authority to the entire country.
It re-allowed the free movement of people and goods, and paved the way, four years later, for the first free and fair elections in the country’s history.
Not to tire, the dark forces took us to task again, trying our resolve in preserving the gains of the electoral process.
Late in 2008, fighting broke out again in North and South Kivu Provinces.
But, once more, dialogue, diplomatic engagement, and political settlement have been our preferred options.
And through them, unfailingly, peace is progressively being restored to these provinces.
It takes a bullet to start a war. But it takes time to effectively end it, and mend wounds.
Similarly, the seeds of dialogue and political engagement are usually slow to blossom, but growing them is by far more cost effective than carrying out military action which, in my opinion, should always be the very last option.
Dialogue and political engagement call for just as much, if not more sacrifices, but the dividends they produce are longer lasting than those of the latter.
Indeed, accepting to share power with adversaries, or granting amnesty to rebels is seldom an easy decision. It can be politically painful, and even dangerous.
It takes vision, wisdom, and above all courage.
Looking back, we do not regret having ridden that at times bumpy road.
It led us where we stand today. Strong and tall again, as it was meant to be.
Congo is back from the doom years of autocratic rule and institutional human rights abuses, back from decades of economic recession, social destitution, and moral depravation; back and in the fighting mood for its development, and the development of the region and the continent.
My vision for the future stems from the creed enshrined in our national anthem: "We shall build a country better than ever before"!
To achieve this objective, and resolve the contradiction of an exceptionally endowed country on one hand, and an extremely poor population on the other, we need to further consolidate peace, security, stability, and democracy.
We need to maintain national unity, cultivate patriotism, brotherhood and solidarity.
We need an efficient State, a vibrant private sector, and well-educated, physically fit and work dedicated human resources.
We need also, and are open to mutually beneficial partnerships with all countries across the globe.
We are prepared to creatively use our natural resources in order to mobilise the capital and technology we need for our development.
We intend to capitalise our endowment in rain fed forest and hydro generated energy to help Africa and the world meet the growing need for environmentally sound development strategies.
These are the challenges we face today, and the two-prong good governance five-pillar programme is our response.
We seek political, economic, and social good governance through institutional reforms in the security sector, i.e. the military, the police force, and the judicial system; in public service delivery, and in the business environment.
We are working tirelessly to develop infrastructures in all sectors, transport, telecommunications, energy, mining, agriculture, health and education.
Roads, schools and hospitals, water and electricity, housing and employment are the visible benchmarks by which we have decided to measure the success or failure of our strategy.
So far, so good!
We have embarked on the most ambitious reconstruction programme ever, aimed at building highways between major cities, and transforming old dirt roads into modern, tarmac ones.
On the institutional front, in order to consolidate the democratic gains, following the successful organisation of elections in 2006, we are determined to hold local elections before the next general elections.
This should empower the Congolese people and give them a say on the policies and the management of public affairs at the grass root level.
All in all, as we speak, the state of the Congolese nation is better than it was a few years back, and it is improving by the day.
Yet, the road to prosperity is still long, and the odds are many; climate change, global food crisis, world economic meltdown, the debt burden, etc.
Nevertheless, the confidence in our collective capacity to get there is proportionally strong.
We believe it can be done. We are convinced it will, and for us, failure is not an option.
May the experience of the Democratic Republic of Congo and her re-birth, thanks to resistance, dialogue, reconciliation, democratic rule, and hard work inspire all the countries of our region and beyond for a better future.
And may God bless each and every one of us.
I thank you.