Saturday, February 06, 2010
Friday, February 5, 2010, 7:39
IRATE Lusaka residents have blamed their area councillors and Members of Parliament (MP) of failing to address the perennial floods in the city and have warned that politicians risked de-campaigning themselves if nothing was done.
Mr David Mkandawire of Chaisa Township said the problem of floods in Lusaka needed urgent attention and threatened to de-campaign politicians who had taken the electorate for granted.
He said politicians were failing to deliver on their election promises and had not met the people’s expectations.
Mr John Phiri of Mandevu said it was sad that the issue of floods had continued despite promises from politicians who had not done much to resolve the problem.
Mr Phiri called on the area councillor to find ways of resolving the problem and claimed that in the last few days, most schoolgoing children had not been able to go to school because the roads were impassable.
He said it was saddening that despite paying land rates to the council, little improvements to their livelihood had been made.
“We are disappointed because no one seems to be in a position to help us. We have not seen any improvement either on our roads or other necessities and worse still, when it is rainy season, you cannot even pass,” he said.
And a marketeer at City Market Jane Sakala who spoke on behalf of other women blamed the council of failing to work out a programme on how to address the floods in the city.
Mrs Sakala said in the last few days, because of the heavy rains, there was little business because customers shunned the market.
She called on the law enforcement agencies to investigate how the council was using the levies collected from the marketeers.
But Kanyama Patriotic Front (PF) MP Gerry Chanda blamed the Government for failure to release grants for nearly all the councils rendering them unproductive.
Col Chanda said currently, most councils had no source of revenue because all the houses and other sources of income were sold.
He said calls for him and other councillors to resign were not genuine but politically motivated, as people wanted to gain political support over the situation.
But Local Government and Housing Minister Eustarkio Kazonga said councillors should be sincere because the Government had been releasing all the grants for the capital projects to all the 72 councils.
Dr Kazonga said last year for instance, the Government had released all grants and other entitlements by December for the councils to undertake various projects including drainages.
He said that the Government was doing its part but the councils were failing the people because they were not delivering the service to the residents.
Dr Kazonga called on all the councils countrywide to put to good use funds they were receiving so that the residents could be served.
He said the Government had also released the Constituency Development Fund, which the councils could use to mitigate the effects of the floods and work on things like drainages.
Chief Government Spokesperson Ronnie Shikapwasha said that PF councillors in Lusaka should resign because they have failed the residents following the floods that the city has experienced after the heavy rains.
Gen Shikapwasha said the people were paying rates but wondered where the funds were channelled to. He challenged the councillors to explain where the funds were going to saying there was a possibility that it was channelled to PF activities. “Mr Sata should concentrate on helping the councillors to solve the drainage system instead of him talking about the NCC which he refused to be part of,” Gen Shikapwasha said.
Speaking in an interview in Lusaka yesterday, Gen Shikapwasha said the poor drainage system in
Lusaka should be a concern of the councillors considering that residents were paying too much in the form of rates.
Gen Shikapwasha said the people were paying rates but wondered where the funds were channelled to. He challenged the councillors to explain where the funds were going to saying there was a possibility that it was channelled to PF activities.
“Mr Sata should concentrate on helping the councillors to solve the drainage system instead of him talking about the NCC which he refused to be part of,” Gen Shikapwasha said.
He said that Zambians wanted to see development and as a result, he said that councillors should show that they could deliver rather than continuous politicking.
Gen Shikapwasha said the issue of drainage was about life and the councillors should therefore look at the matter with a sense of urgency.
Kitwe District Commissioner (DC), MacDonald Mtine said one needed not to be told that most drainages in the city were blocked because it was clear for anyone to see.
Mr Mtine said the problem of poor drainage system in the city was a straight and direct responsibility of the council and that the local authority should account for it.
Copperbelt Provincial Local Government Officer, Solomon Sakala also expressed concern at the poor state of drainages saying his office had noted how the problem was causing most streets to flood after heavy rains.
[Times of Zambia]
Saturday, February 6, 2010, 15:26
First Lady Thandiwe Banda has called upon traditional ceremonies committees to expands their membership by having members who do not reside or hail from one Province.
Mrs. Banda observed that if the Committee succeeds in having members who hail from other provinces, the Committee would also have succeeded in making the ceremony more popular
Mrs. Banda made the call in Lusaka last evening at the fund raising dinner dance for the Kuomboka-Kufuluhela Lusaka Committee. This was in a speech read on her behalf by wife of the Vice President George Kunda, Irene.
She said the Kuomboka-Kufuluhela Lusaka Committee should consider having members who do not come or hail from Western Province because a number of non-Lozis have increasingly taken pride in wearing the Msisi, a traditional attire for the Lozi speaking people even during other national events.
The First Lady said having a balanced membership is vital to accerating national development thereby marketing Zambia’s rich cultural gheritage home and abroad.
Mrs. Banda said this would also assist in uniting the country through the popularization of the common heritages irrespective of the origin of the traditional attire as well as other cultural deeds; cultural music and expressions.
Meanwhile, the First Lady also called upon Zambians from other regions to become members of the Kuomboka-Kufuluhela Lusaka Committee.
Mrs. Banda added that this would assist the ceremony acclaim its elevated status not only at its organizational level.
And Kuomboka-Kufuluhela Lusaka Committee Chairperson Oliver Saasa urged government and other stakeholders to continue rendering support to the Kuomboka ceremony.
Professor Saasa said this year’s Kuomboka would be different from last year’s in that the Organizing Committee is doing everything possible to make it more colourful.
The Kuomboka traditional Ceremony is an annual event held in April by the Lozi people of Western Province. It symbolizes coming out the waters by the Lozi Chief Litunga.
Saturday, February 6, 2010, 11:46
The Centre for Policy Dialogue (CFPD) has expressed doubt at the possibility of Zambia having a new Constitution ready before the 2011 tripartite elections.
CFPD Executive Director Dr. Simutanyi told ZANIS in an interview in Lusaka today, that there are a lot of things remaining for the National Constitution Conference (NCC) to put in place a new constitution that can be ready before 2011.
He explained that after the current deliberations, the draft constitution is supposed to be made available for public scrutiny before a final report is done.He said that this is to ensure that the document is made inclusive and reflect the diverse views being expressed by people around the country noting that it can be done through a plenary session.
Dr.Simutanyi said that only an amended constitution can be ready for use in the 2011 general elections. He however, advised Zambians to give the conference sufficient time for it to come up with a good document that will have the support of the majority and be able to stand the test of time.
He said the NCC is a legally established body that should be given enough time for it to reach its conclusion.
Dr. Simutanyi, who is also a political analyst, has further advised the NCC to concentrate on debating issues that are aimed at benefiting many people in the country rather than their individual interests.
He pointed out that the recent payment demands dating back as far as 2007 are not justified as there are many areas that need government’s support.
Dr. Simutanyi expressed sadness at the delegates demands to be paid over K5 billion saying that this will compromise their work.
By Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Sat 06 Feb. 2010, 04:00 CAT
ZAMBIA has lost an estimated US $600 million in mine tax revenues following the government’s abolition of the windfall tax last year, Luena independent member of parliament Charles Milupi has observed.
Milupi said it did not make economic sense for President Rupiah Banda to propose to borrow commercial loans from the World Bank for infrastructural development for mining activities when the country was not deriving corresponding economic benefits.
Milupi, who is also former chairperson of the parliamentary public accounts committee (PAC) was commenting on revelations by President Banda to World Bank president Robert Zoellick that Zambia was trying to seek higher interest loan facilities from the Breton Wood institute to finance the repair of roads damaged by mining activities in the country.
President Banda said Zambia was considering borrowing from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) window for financing crucial infrastructural projects.
Borrowing from IBRD, a non-concessional window, attracts interest rates of between three to three and half per cent while disbursement of financing for projects by World Bank through the International Development Association (IDA) window is done through grants and soft-loans.
Milupi said if the country had maintained that popular windfall tax, the Treasury coffers would have been boosted enough to fund infrastructural development in mining activities without borrowing from the World Bank.
He wondered the logic behind lowering taxation rate to the mining firms when key Western donors were trying to increase revenue, through taxation, from banks that were bailed out using public funds at the height of the global financial crisis.
“Specifically they are talking about infrastructural development in mining areas,” Milupi said.
“That is good because if you look at roads on the Copperbelt, they require to be tarred, most of the towns like Mufulira, Kitwe are like ‘ghost towns’, the state of the roads is deplorable and they need to be improved upon. But this is the government that is now going to ask for commercial loans, higher interest loans, when not too long ago, despite well reasoned arguments that we gave them, they gave up on raising money from using country’s resources – the windfall tax. For this year 2010, if you look at the planned production figures and also where the copper price is, we are talking about having lost in the range of US $600 million.”
“Now, this is the government that is giving up on collecting our own money because the concept of windfall tax is acceptable world over, Western countries like America, even as we speak now, are putting in place measures to try to gain windfall tax in as far as bonuses of banks are concerned.”
He said key donor countries had always backed the country’s plan to raise mine taxes.
“Now this is the government that gave up windfall tax on mining and now they have to go and borrow commercial loans to develop infrastructure in an area where the mines are making these huge profits,” he said.
“It does not tie up. By using our own money, you see the people who give us donor aid are saying ‘why should we give you our tax payers’ money when your own money is going elsewhere outside the country?” We could have avoided borrowing by using revenues from our own resources.”
He warned that the country risked slipping into another debt trap for as long it did not grow capacity to pay back the fresh loans being contracted.
Milupi said the country should look more towards the grants as well as concessionary loans for infrastructure development.
“Loan contraction is very serious business of a country because Zambia was almost sunk by the US $7.2 billion debt until the lenders decided to forgive us,” said Milupi.
“But already from the time they forgave us, we are now back to over US $2 billion which is a very worrying trend. So, we thought that after that forgiveness, loan contraction will be with extreme care, that is why some of us are insisting on parliamentary oversight before loans are contracted, it’s for the reason that we understand that the loans are going to be used for intended purposes and that they have been contracted at acceptable interest rates.”
Sat 06 Feb. 2010, 04:00 CAT
A society which values its future affords the highest priority to providing its young people with the best possible education.
The statistics of figures of secondary school leavers who access higher education given by Dr Patrick Nkanza tell a very frightening story. We are told that only six per cent of the total number of pupils who complete Grade 12 are able to access a higher education. We are also told that only three per cent of this six per cent access technical, educational, vocational and entrepreneurship training, two per cent go to universities and one per cent pursue other tertiary programmes. And this leaves 94 per cent of our school leavers in limbo, waiting for the dice to roll.
Dr Nkanza further observed that there was need for the government to formulate the national skills development plan, so as to increase the number of training institutions in the country. Are we being told that our country doesn’t have a national skills development plan? If this is so, how can we seriously talk about development? Is there a country in the world that has developed without such high skills among its people? Is there a country that has developed with 94 per cent of its young people, of its school leavers not accessing tertiary education?
Good tertiary education policy is very critical to the development of our country. And it is time our policy makers recognised that tertiary education is a major driver of economic competitiveness in an increasingly knowledge-driven global economy which has made high quality tertiary education more important than ever before. The imperative for our policy makers, for those who manage the affairs of our country is to raise higher-level employment skills, to sustain a globally competitive research base and to improve knowledge dissemination to the benefit of society.
It is criminal to deny 94 per cent of our school leavers access to tertiary education. Tertiary education contributes to social and economic development in many ways – the formulation of human capital, primarily through teaching; the building of knowledge bases, primarily through research and knowledge development; the dissemination and use of knowledge, primarily through interactions with knowledge users; and the maintenance of knowledge.
Of course, the scope and importance of tertiary education have changed significantly over the years. Over 40 years ago, tertiary education, which was more commonly referred to as higher education, was what happened in universities. This largely covered teaching and learning requiring high-level conceptual and intellectual skills in the humanities, sciences and social sciences, the preparation of students for entry to a limited number of professions such as medicine, engineering and law, and disinterested advanced research and scholarship. These days, tertiary education is much more diversified and encompasses new types of institutions such as colleges, university colleges, or technological institutes. These have been created for a number of reasons: to develop a closer relationship between tertiary education and external world, including greater responsiveness to labour market needs; to enhance social and geographical access to tertiary education; to provide high-level occupational preparation in a more applied and less theoretical way; and to accommodate the growing diversity of qualifications and expectations of school leavers.
As participation in tertiary education is expanding, tertiary education institutions are expected to assume responsibility for a far wide range of occupational preparation than in the past. And as the result of a combination of the increased knowledge base of many occupations and individual’s aspirations, not only doctors, engineers and lawyers but also nurses, accountants, computer programmers, teachers, pharmacists and business managers now receive their principal occupation qualifications from tertiary institutions.
Furthermore, tertiary institutions are now expected to involve themselves in a wider range of teaching than their traditional degree or diploma level courses. It is also increasingly becoming more common for tertiary education institutions not only to engage in teaching and research, but also to provide consult services to industry and government and to contribute to national economic and social development.
Clearly, what is needed here is not only to increase access to tertiary education but also to encourage institutions offering tertiary education to be more responsive to the needs of society and the economy. This calls for a reappraisal of our tertiary education and the setting of new strategies for the future.
Knowledge and advanced skills are critical determinants of a country’s economic growth and standard of living and learning outcomes are transformed into goods and services, greater institutional capacity, a more effective public sector, a stronger civil society, and a better investment climate. Good quality, merit-based, equitable, efficient tertiary education and research should be essential parts of whatever social and economic transformations we undertake. Our country will certainly benefit from the dynamic of the knowledge economy. The capacity for our country to adopt, disseminate, and maximise rapid technological advances is dependent on an adequate and efficient system of tertiary education. Improved and accessed tertiary education and effective national innovation systems can help our country progress toward sustainable achievements in the Millennium Development Goals, particularly those goals related to all levels of education, health and gender equality.
There is need for us to be very clear when we talk about tertiary education. When we talk about tertiary education broadly, we are referring to all post secondary school education, including but not limited to universities. Universities are clearly a key part of our tertiary system, but the diverse and growing set of public and private tertiary institutions in our country – colleges, technical training institutes, nursing schools, distance learning centres, and many more – should be developed to form a network of institutions that our country needs to support the production of the higher-order capacity necessary for development.
As we have already stated, it will not be possible to develop this country without a good system of tertiary education. But our politicians, our policy makers don’t seem to see this as a priority area, a key result area. The amount of money that they spend on their own personal allowances for attending political meetings far outweighs what they spend or are willing to spend on tertiary education.
It seems to be such an easy thing for George Kunda to ask for an additional K5 billion to cater for an increase in allowances of Lusaka-based members of parliament attending the National Constitutional Conference. It also seems so easy for the Minister of Finance to mobilise such money for allowances of members of parliament, which include himself and George. But if any of our tertiary institutions – the University of Zambia, Copperbelt University, Evelyn Hone College, among others – ask for a smaller amount of money than this, it can’t be found, it’s not there, it wasn’t budgeted for. This is how our country is being run. When one looks at the amount of money that has been spent and is being spent on allowances for those attending the National Constitutional Conference, one wonders if this really is a poor country. Why should ministers of government be paid additional allowances for attending to public duties within the normal working time when they are on full time salary? Ministers are paid a salary for being full time servants of the people, why should they be paid an allowance for going to Parliament or for sitting on the National Constitutional Conference during the time they should be sitting in government offices and are being paid for that? This is banditry! This is corruption! They are collecting double pay for one job, for the same job from the same employer! They can’t say they are being paid overtime because there is no such a thing in that job. They are simply stealing public funds.
This also applies to other public workers, whatever their description, who are in full-time employment and are salaried, who leave their offices to go and collect allowances from the National Constitutional Conference or the boards of other public institutions on which they sit.
This money is needed for tertiary education. And all those receiving such money as double pay should in future, when there is change of regime, be asked to return it. It is needed for tertiary education.
By George Chellah
Sat 06 Feb. 2010, 04:00 CAT
CARITAS Zambia executive director Sam Mulafulafu yesterday called for more commitment towards the broadening of vocational training institutions in the country. And Mulafulafu said the nation has been very slow to respond to the increasing demand of youths' need for vocational training.
Reacting to Technical Education, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training Authority (TEVETA) director general Dr Patrick Nkanza's revelation that only six per cent of the total number of pupils who complete Grade 12 are able to access higher education, Mulafulafu said the system was churning out Grade 12s who could not get into colleges.
“It's a problem to get a child into a college now. Now they are being at the mercy of exploitation by these private colleges which have mushroomed then TEVETA itself is not monitoring the standards,” Mulafulafu said.
“So we have most of them just being exploited, they pay to these private colleges they get the qualifications but the job market does not accept them because of those qualifications.
“They want them to go into the traditional government colleges or better recognised colleges. So it's really a problem because it's aggravating the problem of youth unemployment and we need to see more commitment to broadening vocational training institutions.”
He stressed the need for institutions to equip youths with skills that would make them self-sustaining.
“But I think those institutions must also ensure that they prepare the youths not only for employment maybe in the formal sector and so forth. They should be skills that should be able to make them live on their own if they can't get employment into the industry or other formal sectors,” he said.
He said the current situation as far as tertiary education is concerned was a matter of serious concern.
“They should invest more in education, there is more demand for vocational institutions than the infrastructure which is available. We can hardly pinpoint at new colleges that have been constructed since the ones which where constructed by Dr Kenneth Kaunda,” Mulafulafu said.
“And yet the schools have expanded. The number of secondary schools, the number of basic schools have grown so where are all these youths going to be trained?"
Mulafulafu said the nation had been very slow to respond to the increasing demand by youths for vocational training.
Making a presentation during a familiarisation meeting on the operations of TEVETA at the Ministry of Science and Technology, Dr Nkanza noted that out of over 300,000 pupils who complete Grade 12 every year, only six per cent - translating into 14,000 - were able to access tertiary institutions.
"On the issue of training support, there is need to improve access to training because when you look at the figures here, from the schooling Grade 12 we only have three per cent accessing TEVET institutions, one per cent access other tertiary institutions, for instance education colleges, and two per cent are able to go to universities, but you see here 94 per cent of school leavers do not go anywhere," he said.
Dr Nkanza said the scenario had led to a number of pupils enrolling at unregistered institutions.
By Patson Chilemba
Sat 06 Feb. 2010, 04:01 CAT
NG'ANDU Magande yesterday charged that former president Frederick Chiluba is breaking the law by engaging in active campaigns for President Rupiah Banda and risks having his presidential benefits stripped.
And Magande said holding the MMD national convention would be a waste of time if President Banda has already been declared the party's Republican presidential candidate.
Commenting on Chiluba whose recent trip to the Copperbelt was recently bankrolled by State House to campaign for President Banda, Magande, who is former finance minister and currently the MMD's Chilanga member of parliament, said this was the same Chiluba who refused to give Dr Kenneth Kaunda benefits on grounds that he was engaging in active politics.
He asked Chiluba to stay out of active politics and enjoy his rest now that he had healed and stopped frequenting South Africa for medical treatment.
“He is breaking the law, and he has to be very careful,
Parliament is opening on 23 rd of February; and someone could read the Constitution in Parliament, and we end up now not removing his immunity which others did for some reasons, but stripping him of his presidential benefits,” Magande said. “It is not allowed by the law, by the Constitution, and he knows it. He is the one who didn't pay Dr Kaunda because he said Kaunda, by making comments, he is actually participating in politics. This is what some of us are trying to do, let's give everybody a fair playing field. Don't say ‘do what I say and not what I do’.”
Magande said everybody remembers how Chiluba mistreated Dr Kaunda.
“This is what people are saying, let president Chiluba know that he is no more going to court, his health also has improved, he is not going to South Africa, let him enjoy his rest, not getting in these compounds in Chifubu, in Ndola,” Magande said. “He is just now getting to the cadres, and cadres can say anything. Let him just continue enjoying his respect.”
Magande wondered why Chiluba had gone to campaign for President Banda when the party had not yet decided on the presidential candidate.
“Perhaps he has been given that information that President Banda is the candidate. But you know who you should ask? Ask RB himself, 'are you the candidate?' If you can't ask RB, then ask the secretariat,” he said.
Magande said he would start serious campaigns for the convention because that was the channel through which one would eventually become presidential candidate.
“And you know these are the same people who are in control. He is acting president, what does he feel the ordinary members will understand; that we will go to these elections where he has already decided he will be the presidential candidate? Why would we then go there?” asked Magande. “He should start asking those questions, why would anybody go to the convention if they have already decided he will be the candidate? So it just brings a lot of uncertainty in some of our minds.”
MMD national secretary Katele Kalumba on Thursday said whoever would be elected president at the convention would not be an automatic Republican presidential candidate for the party.
Kalumba said the MMD national executive committee (NEC) had endorsed President Banda as the party's Republican presidential candidate.
By Florence Bupe
Sat 06 Feb. 2010, 04:01 CAT
THE Southern African Centre for Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD) has urged the Electoral Commission of Zambia to institute a code aimed at ensuring that former presidents do not participate in active politics.
Making a submission to the parliamentary committee on legal affairs, governance, human rights on Thursday, SACCORD programmes manager Boniface Cheembe said ECZ had not been carrying out this task.
“The ECZ has not done enough to minimise the participation of former presidents in active politics. For example, the involvement of former president Frederick Chiluba in the Kasama Central by-election was something that the public took note of,” he said.
SACCORD was asked to make a submission on the Zambian electoral process and institutions.
Cheembe said SACCORD desired former heads of state to be impartial in their approach to national politics.
“SACCORD is of the view that impartiality should be maintained when it comes to the involvement of former presidents in active politics,” he said.
Cheembe said it was vital for electoral processes and institutions to be strengthened if the country’s democracy is to be enhanced.
“It is important that institutions that support the electoral process are strengthened and are given enough resources to undertake their mandate,” he said.
Cheembe said ECZ was faced with a number of challenges in handling the country’s electoral system, and called for necessary measures to be taken in addressing these challenges.
“The ECZ tends to suffer from lack of preparedness for the election process. The institution also seemingly does not have the muscle to enforce the Electoral Code of Conduct which governs the conduct of all stakeholders in an election,” he said.
Cheembe said ECZ was not reactive to violation of the Electoral Code of Conduct because of the weak regulatory framework.
He said there was need to undertake capacity building to make the commission more effective.
By Mutale Kapekele
Fri 05 Feb. 2010, 04:00 CAT
ZAMBIA, Tanzania and Kenya will next year start work on a 400 MW power line, four years after the project that is aimed at boosting trade in electricity among the three countries and ensure security of supply was announced.
Ministry of Energy and Water Development permanent secretary Teddy Kasonso said officials in the three countries were preparing formal proposals for funders and donors for the project, which would begin in the first quarter of next year.
Kasonso said other energy ministers from Kenya and Tanzania had been authorised to sign the Heads of States Agreement and letters of introduction to formally present the project to potential lenders and donors.
He said commissioning of the inter-connector, initially planned for next year, had now been pushed to 2014 due to delays caused by slow government approval procedures in Kenya and Tanzania.
Kasonso said letters to potential lenders and Western donors, which were initially drafted in 2007, also needed to be revised, taking into account the new requirements.
"Our current estimates, which will need revising, are that this project will cost in the region of US $860 million," he said.
The project would enhance trade in electricity between the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) and the East African Power Pool (EAPP), which includes Ethiopia and Sudan.
"The project may also benefit the three countries by carrying a fibre optic cable thereby opening up an information highway," Kasonso said. “It will also help in addressing the problem of power shortage which has been precipitated by the high demand for power in Africa due to increased economic activities.”
Kasonso said the project company and project management unit with staff drawn from all the three countries Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya would be established in Lusaka this year.
The 400 Mega Watts (MW) of power line would run from a sub-station in central Zambia through Kasama in the Northern Province to Mbeya and then Arusha in Tanzania en route to Nairobi.
Kasonso said the project would encourage investment in new hydropower generation projects in Zambia because surplus power could be exported to east Africa.
By Fridah Zinyama
Fri 05 Feb. 2010, 04:00 CAT
EARTH Organisation Zambia has expressed disappointment with the remedial measures that Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) has put in place following the spillage of unknown chemicals in Chitukula Mutima stream on Sabina-Mufulira road late last year.
On 20th December last year Mopani Copper Mines spilled some chemicals into the Chitukula Mutima stream on Sabina-Mufulira road.
The mine's failure to quickly respond to their spillage prompted Earth Organisation Zambia to ask them to pay an amount that would allow the environmental Non-Governmental Organisation to carry out some remedial measures for the affected community.
In a press statement, Earth Organisation Zambia executive director Lovemore Muma stated that Mopani Copper Mines only came up with the mediocre remedial measures following the organisation's demand that they Mopani pay US $298,550.
“We wrote to them asking them to pay US $298,550 in order for the organization to restore fauna and flora and continuously assess the PH level in the water and the acidity in the stream bed and the banks, as well as compensating the affected members of the community,” he stated. “We further gave them a 14-day ultimatum in which to respond failure to which we would take legal action against them.”
Muma was concerned by the mine's failure to explain to the community on the type of chemical that had been spilled in the stream and its effects on the people.
“Since we are not told the type of chemicals that went into the stream, we can only speculate that since it was coming from Mopani in Mufulira then it should be sulphuric acid,” he stated. “Now if you check up the Safety Data Sheet for sulphuric acid spill into the ecosystem and domestic water body, Mopani's remedial action is not anywhere near that.”
Muma stated that Mopani had shown a lack of regard not only for the community in which they spilled those chemicals but the entire country, as they had failed to follow proper procedure following such a spillage.
“We are very disappointed with MCM non-regard for human life,” he stated. “In the same vain we have written to Glencore International AG which holds 73 per cent share in MCM, complaining about the company's response to the spillage which had affected an entire community.”
Muma stated that Glencore International AG claims to have an environmental management system in place at each of its current operations and that its procedures and protocols form the operating framework of the company's environmental management systems which are in line with ISO 14001 requirements.
“We have written to them so that they could account for their subsidiary company's non-regard for the environment,” Muma stated.
By Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Fri 05 Feb. 2010, 04:00 CAT
KENYAN oil marketer KenolKobil which trades in the country as Kobil Zambia has acquired 10 service stations in Burundi as part of its regional expansion programmes. Last month, KenolKobil through Kobil Zambia raised its stake in Ndola-based lubricants blending firm Lublend through acquiring the 10.5 per cent stake previously owned by Chevron.
KenolKobil public relations manager Charles Njogu said KenolKobil had acquired the service stations previously owned by Societe d'Importation et de Commercialisation de Produits Petroliers (SICOPP).
Njogu said the acquisition through a long-term lease came barely after four months after the subsidiary, Kobil Burundi, took effective control of the assets KenolKobil acquired from Oil Burundi S.A.
He explained that the newly acquired stations which were spread across the country including three major towns of Bujumbura, Gitega and Ngozi would raise Kobil Burundi service stations to 14 following earlier acquisitions of three service stations from Sonitra Limited and another from an independent player.
“KenolKobil maintains its long-term positive outlook for the Burundi economy and its political instability and further will continue to explore growth opportunities in this market and other markets in Africa,” said Njogu.
Last month, Kobil Zambia said its lubricants business in Zambia had grown by 47 per cent since 2008, fueled by increasing demand from the mining, industrial, transport and construction sectors.
Kobil Zambia's stake in Lublend had increased to 25.5 per cent from the initial 15 per cent acquired from Total Zambia in 2008.
KenolKobil stated that the increase of its shareholding in Lublend fitted in its strategy of diversifying its business in the region adding that the move would strengthen the company's market share in the robust lubricants business in the country.
By George Chellah
Sat 06 Feb. 2010, 04:00 CAT
THE UPND/PF pact yesterday said the MMD have falsely convinced themselves on the degree clause that they have managed to block PF leader Michael Sata from contesting the general elections.
During a press briefing by UPND spokesperson Charles Kakoma who was flanked by PF secretary general Wynter Kabimba, at the UPND secretariat, Kakoma said it should be understood that the MMD led constitution-making process was not people-driven.
“The constitution will not stand the test of time because it is championed by the wrong people. A few years ago the MMD wrote a constitution primarily to bar Dr Kenneth Kaunda from contesting the general elections. Recently, MMD were agitating that the constitution should bar anyone over 70 years from contesting the presidency,” Kakoma said. “Now that this clause does not favour them anymore, they have gone to the issue of degrees falsely convincing themselves that they have managed to prevent Mr Sata from contesting the general elections. It should be known to all that either Mr Sata or Mr
Hichilema will be fielded on the pact ticket and win the presidency as long as Zambians want it whether MMD like it or not.”
He said the pact would field any person that the Zambian people want.
“The pact is not about Mr Sata or Mr Hichilema, it is about you, the Zambians and your wishes will prevail," he said.
He said the pact was resolved and not shaken at all.
“We also extend our gratitude to you all for your steadfastness and composure to remain focused on the vision to remove the MMD government and replace it with a responsible, corrupt-free and listening pact government,” he said.
Kakoma said the enemies of the pact had felt the unstoppable force.
“And have gone out of their way to try and stop the pact. They have tried to use members to sow seeds of discontent amongst PF and UPND followers. Some of the lies they have been peddling are that Mr Sata is not committed to the pact and thus UPND want to look elsewhere for support from Northern Province,” Kakoma said. “Next they begun printing campaign posters reading Hichilema for 2011 while others read Sata for 2011 and went on to announce to the nation that both leaders were selfish and would both contest the 2011 general elections. This was meant to cause confusion among our supporters.”
“Now they are insinuating that Mr Hichilema and the UPND are pushing for a degree clause in the constitution which should block Mr Sata from contesting the 2011 election, what nonsense!"
He said they would use 2010 as a year for consolidating the pact.
“In order to achieve this, we have decided to form nine committees to help in consolidating the pact. The nine committees are the manifesto, mobilisation, finance, legal, women, youth, publicity, security and elections committee. Members to these nine committees have been appointed representing both parties to develop guidelines and policies for the pact,” he said.
Kakoma said the pact would be officially launched by March or April this year.
And Mazabuka Central UPND member of parliament Garry Nkombo dismissed chief Mwanachingwala's remarks that senior chief Bright Nalubamba misled Hichilema over the pact with PF.
Nkombo advised chief Mwanachingwala of Southern Province to be a little bit more consultative.
Nkombo said the traditional leader required to be counseled.
By Abigail Chaponda in Ndola
Sat 06 Feb. 2010, 04:01 CAT
Former defence minister George Mpombo with Father Frank Bwalya (l) at Ndola Magestrates’ Court yesterday - Picture by Abel Mambwe
FORMER defence minister George Mpombo has said President Rupiah Banda is stiff-scared of losing elections to the extent of even fearing his own shadow.
And Mpombo yesterday pleaded not guilty to the charge of dishonouring a cheque contrary to section 33(1) of the National Payment Systems Act.
In an interview yesterday after he appeared before the Ndola magistrates' court over the case of a bounced cheque, Mpombo said President Banda had sensed the mood that his leadership had not been positive following his consistent assault on the legacy of the late president Levy Mwanawasa.
He said President Banda as a guest member of the MMD must do things the right way by facing the convention on square ground.
Mpombo's remarks come in the wake of MMD national secretary Katele Kalumba's statement that anyone to be elected at the MMD convention would not be the automatic presidential candidate for the party.
He said Kalumba's statement was against the spirit and practices of the MMD constitution where the candidate chosen by the convention automatically became the person to stand as presidential candidate of the nation since 1991.
He advised the MMD not to subvert the party constitution because doing so would divide and plunge the party into further political recession.
Mpombo said once a person was elected at the convention, that was a massive sign of confidence in that person's leadership.
He said Kalumba wanted to implement the national executive committee's endorsement of President Banda as the candidate for the ruling party in next year's elections.
“People must think, there must be honour in doing things. Why does he President Banda want to contest the presidency through the back door?” he asked. “Three years is enough for him, which other body has authority than the convention? We can't relegate the convention to a clique of individuals most of whom are appointed, he has been appointing people without credibility.”
Mpombo said President Banda was stiff-scared of losing elections and he had surrounded himself with political sycophants.
And after taking a-not-guilty-plea at the magistrates court, Mpombo said he felt stateless because of what his party was doing to him.
“I feel like I am stateless, if my party can take me to court, then I don't think I belong there. If they can evoke such evil on me, I don't think they regard me as their member. I m ready for them, I am not scared of anything. As I said I will cooperate throughout this trial,” he said.
In court, Mpombo, 55, a farmer of Five Katonte Farms said he understood the charge and pleaded not guilty.
Particulars of the offence are that on December 18, 2009, in Ndola Mpombo with intent to defraud paid Colywn Company K10 million on cheque number 000014 on an insufficiently funded account at Standard Chartered Bank, which rendered such cheque dishonoured.
The matter was adjourned to March 5, 2010 for mention and March 17 for commencement of trial.
Mpombo is being represented by Lusaka lawyers Wynter Kabimba and Bonaventure Mutale.
Several Ndola residents thronged the court to give Mpombo support.
By Speedwell Mupuchi
Sat 06 Feb. 2010, 04:01 CAT
COPPERBELT Patriotic Front (PF) chairperson Mwenya Musenge has said Kalulushi Municipal Council should have conferred President Rupiah Banda with the status of free man of the air.
Commenting on Kalulushi Town Clerk Maxwell Kabanda’s announcement that the council at a meeting on Monday February 1, resolved to confer the status of free man of the city on President Banda, Musenge described as foolish the decision by the council. Musenge said PF councillors did not support such a position.
He said although he had not been informed about a full council meeting that made the resolution, the decision was shameful.
“In Kalulushi council, MMD members are more by one councillor, so they MMD are using the arrogance of numbers to come up with that foolish position. Otherwise no single person in Kalulushi is supporting that position,” Musenge said. “We should try to move away from such appeasement, appeasing someone who is doing literally nothing. He should have been conferred as a free man of the air because he is always flying and it could have been accepted.”
Kabanda said the local authority conferred the status on President Banda for the positive economic policies he had made in the development of the town.
Kabanda said without President Banda’s political will, Kalulushi town would not have seen the emergence of the National Pension Scheme Authority (NAPSA) housing scheme at a cost of K220 billion and that of Mukuba Pension Trust.
About 438 houses are expected to be built under the NAPSA housing scheme while another 500 houses under Mukuba Pension Trust.
But Musenge said the construction of houses by NAPSA and Mukuba Pension were programmes initiated by late president Levy Mwanawasa.
“He was actually supposed to commission the construction of those houses but unfortunately, he passed on. It’s unfortunate that the town clerk lied to people in Kalulushi that these are developmental projects brought to the district by Rupiah Banda. If the town clerk is soliciting a promotion, he should come out properly, this is not the type of leadership we want,” said Musenge.
“Construction of houses, for how long has that project been idle for them to confer such a status on RB? There is no single foundation apart from two brick pillars in preparation of laying the foundation stone. As PF on the Copperbelt we shall not accept to be fooled by cheap propaganda to try and sell MMD on the Copperbelt.
“If these are the schemes they are working with Chiluba because he portrays himself as political dribbler, they are wasting their time. Chiluba, there is no way he can sway the thoughts of people on the Copperbelt.”
According to sources in Kalulushi, the proposal to confer the status on President Banda was moved by deputy mayor, Robby Machai.
According to the sources, there was no counter proposal but merely an observation by a PF councillor, Agnes Bwalya, that the move was aimed at getting political mileage.
The source said Bwalya wondered why a person who had just taken over the presidency should be conferred with such big title and that the response was that “if we have him President Banda, he will help us”.
By Peter Sinyangwe in Kawambwa
Sat 06 Feb. 2010, 04:01 CAT
PRESIDENT Rupiah Banda is expected to visit Mwansabombwe on February 9. This is according to a proposed programme by the Luapula Province administration released to Kawambwa district commissioner, Gershom Tanga and made available to heads of government departments.
The proposed programme indicates that President Banda will also visit Mansa, Chiengi and Samfya districts. President Banda is also expected to pay a courtesy call on Mwata Kazembe of the Lunda people.
The President is also expected to have a meeting with Lunda and Chishinga chiefs to be led by senior chief Mushota of the Chishinga people.
Meanwhile, heads of government departments of Kawambwa have complained that the President may not visit Kawambwa Boma according to the proposed programme.
The heads made the complaint in Kawambwa during the preparatory meeting for the expected President’s visit to Luapula.
They said it was better that President Banda visits Kawambwa Boma because he had never been to the area since he was elected Republican President.
The government officials observed that if President Banda visited the area, he may also help solve some problems workers at Kawambwa Tea Company (KTC) have been facing with their investor for a long time now.
KTC workers have not been paid their salaries and wages for over 15 months.
Your insistence that economic sanctions 'do not hurt ordinary Zimbabweans' is only more evidence of your complete cowardice and lack of character. Of course economic sanctions hurt ordinary Zimbabweans - that is the idea. How else could they be moved to overthrow their own government? Economic sanctions killed upto 500,000 Iraqi women and children because of lack of access to basic medication. Why would economic sanctions somehow exempt the ordinary Zimbabwean citizen when it comes to Zimbabwe? We all know the extent of the cholera outbreak - well most of those deaths would have been prevented if the local councils had access to imported chemicals for water purification. Those deaths are directly on your head. And you dare come onto a public forum and state that economic sanctions that have destroyed the national currency 'do not hurt ordinary Zimbabweans'.
You are a coward, a hypocrite and a liar.
British High Commissioner responds
By British High Commission,Lusaka
Sat 06 Feb. 2010, 04:00 CAT
Your editorial on Sunday January 31, 2010 focused on Zimbabwe and the UK and EU "sanctions."
As the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, made clear in Parliament on January 19, the most important factor influencing the United Kingdom's views on lifting EU restrictive measures will be evidence of actual change and reform on the ground in Zimbabwe. These are not MDC-T measures. These are not ZANU(PF) measures. They are the EU’s, and we will make our own judgements as to when they should be reinforced or eased.
But the key to having restrictive measures eased, or lifted, is for those in Zimbabwe who are currently resisting progress to implement the commitments to reform they agreed to in the Global Political Agreement (GPA).
The EU measures currently impose restrictions on 203 key figures involved in the violence and human rights abuses of the Mugabe regime and 40 companies associated with these individuals and their sources of finance. They do not hurt ordinary Zimbabweans. They do not affect the development of legitimate trade or business. They do not have any adverse effect on humanitarian assistance.
Indeed, levels of British aid - $100 million this year - to Zimbabwe and ordinary Zimbabweans have never been higher.
British High Commission,Lusaka
By David Chongo in Solwezi
Sat 06 Feb. 2010, 04:00 CAT
A Solwezi Technical High School Grade 12 has died while six others are nursing injuries after a Toyota light truck registration number ACJ 7115 belonging to JC Bousfield of Chingola rammed into them as they were on a road run along Kansanshi Road near Kansanshi Mine main gate.
Meanwhile, police led by North Western Province commanding officer Fabian Katiba, had to be swiftly deployed to the school to cordon off the area and quell the disturbance in which five JCB trucks including the van that had hit the pupils were extensively damaged.
The trucks with damaged windscreens, deflated tires, smashed head lights and indicators and shattered side mirrors, were all stoned in front of the school as the passed.
The deceased girl, Beatrice Malisawa, was part of a group of pupils who had left the school around 04:00hours on a road run to prepare for inter-house athletics for the upcoming provincial inter schools event in March.
According to Treaty Lupeto, one of the pupils admitted to the hospital, the incident happened when one of the girls fainted and a group of colleagues surrounded her to try and help her into a vehicle the pupils had asked help from to ferry their friend back to school.
Treaty narrated that in the process they saw a light truck from about 10 metres flashing headlights in full beam heading towards the mine.
“When we were helping our friend who had fainted somewhere about 200 metres from the Kansanshi main boom (main entrance), we just saw a vehicle approaching our direction with headlights in full beam. The lights were flashed suddenly from about 10 meters, so we had little time to move, because if we had seen the lights from a good distance we could have stayed away. So this vehicle came and hit into us. Myself, I was not hit directly but I fell from the impact of the vehicle on others”, he said.
He added that after the accident, the driver of the vehicle ran away, but left the van with a running engine. The pupils then reorganised themselves and put their injured friends in the van and one of them then drove it to the hospital (which is within 2 kilometres) on the same road as the school before driving back to the school.
One teacher, who sought anonymity and was present at the time the pupils returned from the hospital, said the students then brought the light truck into the school premises and started stoning it while others wanted to set it ablaze.
They then decided to move it out and parked it across the road, blocking traffic from both sides.
It was at this point that they started stoning the loaded trucks coming from Kansanshi mine.
Initially, the pupils had resorted to only stoning vehicles belonging to JCB, in the process sparing a FQM bus, ABL 6517 which eventually got stuck on the side track after the driver took flight and bolted to avoid the rampaging pupils.
But after calm had, apparently, been restored around 08:00 hours, another group of pupils mobilised themselves in the school football pitch, went behind the school and ambushed a First Quantum Minerals bus, ABL 6495 with mine workers on it near Mushitala Basic School, smashing almost all the windows.
Police had to fire warning shots and teargas to disperse the pupils.
And police have instituted investigations to identify the ringleaders of the riot that ensued after the accident.
Friday, February 05, 2010
January 31, 2010
RECENTLY Kate Hoey, a British Labour Party MP, wrote an opinion in which she intimated that she didn’t understand why regional leaders such as Jacob Zuma would not just tell President Robert Mugabe to go. Her statement implies that Zimbabweans are weak and docile, and need an outsider to tackle Mugabe for them. There are a number of factors that she completely overlooks in her analysis of the Zimbabwe situation.
Hoey should not forget that people did massively support Mugabe for his role in getting rid of racist colonial rule. Many Europeans like to fool themselves that colonial rule was not hated that much. Yet even the likes of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai were card-carrying members of Zanu-PF. Musicians who are now self-exiled like Thomas Mapfumo were busy singing songs in praise of Mugabe.
The truth is that Mugabe, despite all his warts and moles, is still considered to be more beautiful than colonial rule. That is why there has been no violent uprising against him. Do not forget that the very same people who are accused of being docile, now fiercely fought against colonialism twice.
The First Chimurenga was a military conflict that lasted almost two years despite the massive technological mismatch. Not even the Zulu lasted that long in their battles against colonial invasion.
The Second Chimurenga was again a very fierce conflict. By some accounts it was the fiercest fight for independence in Africa, eclipsing by far the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya and the Algerian liberation war. It is simple logic to deduce that such fierce wars are not fought by docile people. We Zimbabweans are definitely not docile.
As I write this my brother was expelled from a Zimbabwe university for student activism. He is now on an MDC arranged scholarship in the Netherlands. Yet my father is an open supporter of Mugabe’s land policies. A cousin was at one time proposed as an MDC candidate in parliamentary elections. Yet my aunt was an elected Zanu-PF councillor at the time.
If Zimbabweans were to abandon the so called docility, whom would they fight? Would anyone of them ever be able to lay a hand on Robert Mugabe or even his son, Chatunga Bellamyne? Would the fight not be about son facing father, mother facing daughter and brother facing brother? What would be the result of such a fratricidal conflagration?
The run-up to the June 27 election was very violent. While controlling all the levers of power, Zanu-PF unleashed unprecedented violence on the community. The MDC tried to retaliate, but they were simply strategically outmatched in terms of controlling the instruments of violence.
What many outside observers may not know is that the parties did not manage to set people living in the same area upon each other. It may have happened here and there but most of the violence involved transporting truckloads of youths, plied with liberal amounts of beer and cash to areas they did not live in. Even the soldiers used in the violence were never deployed to their home areas. In cases where violence involved people living in close proximity one can almost always trace it to long standing feuds.
In the 1970s people left school and gainful employment to join the liberation struggle with absolutely no promise of any kind of reward, except liberating the country. That today’s ‘activists’ have to be plied with money and beer is a clear indication that they are opportunistic and not passionate about their cause.
The second fact is that most Africans, including many black Zimbabweans in opposition circles, are not quite as incensed by the plight of white farmers as the Europeans are.
That Zimbabwean society doesn’t seem to care much about the fate of white farmers, is a product of colonial segregationist policies. Segregation bred a ‘them and us’ mentality. Privilege was reserved for whites during colonial times. As a result, many black Zimbabweans simply don’t think whites can ever come to a point of needing succour from the community. They are perceived as always being wealthy. There is also a perception that they can always fly off to England while the blacks largely have nowhere else to go and live comfortably.
Hence the strong feelings about ‘our’ land, ‘their’ land being in England.
True the situation is dire for white farmers. Many are losing lifetimes of hard work and dedication. However, what is not true is that their workers are now much worse off than they were before. The wages they earned amounted to nothing and the opportunities they had to improve themselves amounted to nothing. So if the white farmer goes his departure is not such a big impact for the worker.
They just join their peasant cousins. The lifestyles of their cousins were actually better off. So in a way one can say farm workers are finally going to be better off by being forced to become peasants. I am not being cynical, that is how bad the conditions of farm workers were.
Apparently Hoey believes that it us up to outsiders, namely President Zuma, to tell Zimbabweans what to do. The problem we have in Zimbabwe right now is that the Zimbabwean population cannot agree among themselves and this is reflected in how leadership has evolved in the country.
A substantial number of people support Robert Mugabe and a substantial number support Morgan Tsvangirai. More precisely a substantial number oppose Robert Mugabe and Tsvangirai seems to be the only viable alternative at the moment. The ideal solution to Zimbabwe’s problems is to get these two sides to work together without violence. To think that outsiders can simply tell one of them to simply disappear is not only impractical, but reeks of an ill-informed colonial mentality.
Both sides in the Zimbabwe situation spew propaganda. The trouble with the likes of Hoey is that they swallow hook line and sinker the propaganda of only one side. One of my A-level science teachers taught me a very important lesson. When conducting experiments never ignore your directly observed results if they don’t conform to conventional theories. Least of all never try and force your results to conform to conventional theories.
Rather seek the explanation of why they differ.
Despite conventional thinking, Zuma cannot tell Mugabe to disappear. Even if Mugabe were to openly declare a coup, Zuma has absolutely no power to intervene. Any adventures he might try would definitely disrupt the entire region. The results will not be a quick and clean disappearance of Mugabe, but a regional conflagration with no predictable outcome.
Zimbabwe might have sprung from Rhodesia but Zimbabwe is not Rhodesia. The people who claim that Zuma can do to Mugabe what John Vorster did to Ian Smith are simply not using their logic. Ian Smith was hemmed in on all sides by hostile neighbours. Mozambique was hosting Mugabe’s ZANLA forces. Zambia was hosting Joshua Nkomo’s ZIPRA forces. Incidentally ZIPRA and the ANC’s Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) were sharing the same camps, both being sponsored by the Soviets. Botswana was an important transit point for MK as well as ZIPRA.
Rhodesia was also under United Nations sanctions sponsored by the British. Only South Africa was friendly with Rhodesia to the extent of sending soldiers to fight with the Rhodesians. In short Rhodesia was mortally dependent on South Africa. The Harold MacMillan winds of change had become hurricanes of change buffeting Rhodesia from all directions except South Africa.
Ian Smith had no other friends in the region except John Vorster.
People like Hoey who think Zuma can snap his fingers and Mugabe will then just fall, like a bug off the woodwork, are simply too ignorant to be taken seriously.
Firstly, Mugabe is not hemmed in on all borders. In fact, governments like those of Frelimo in Mozambique and Kabila in the DRC owe Mugabe a debt of gratitude for saving them from demise. Mugabe’s army fought off the apartheid South Africa sponsored RENAMO to stop them from overrunning Mozambique. Frelimo is ruling today because of that critical Mugabe intervention.
Mugabe’s army again drove away Rwanda and Uganda sponsored rebels from the outskirts of Kinshasa to save Laurent Kabila from overthrow. Today his son, Joseph, is still ruling. Only a preposterous fool will believe such bonds tied in blood can easily be broken because someone in London says they should be broken. Only a fool can believe that Zuma can completely ignore such regional bonds, and even ignore the history of his own ANC and their close ties with Zanu-PF.
When Zuma has tea with the Queen, I am sure he will make every effort to make the right noises for the Queen’s and her subjects’ ears. However, I also know that it will never go beyond noises.
Not only do leaders like Hoey hopelessly misread the situation, but they allow themselves to be led up a creek by people who claim to be fiercely opposed to Mugabe but are merely opportunists after making money from Western sponsorship. Zimbabweans have shown in the past that they can fight for their freedom. Yet parties like the MDC seem totally incapable of organizing a real fight. People like Hoey should understand the reasons pretty well.
In 1965 the British would not fight the Rhodesians militarily because they were kith and kin. Today the MDC have no stomach to fight Mugabe militarily because of the kith and kin factor as well. While Tsvangirai himself has made so much money from opposition politics that he no longer needs a piece of land to grow his own food, I do not think his peasant relatives in Buhera are in the same position. I know they will eventually persuade him to get some land for them. It might take years but it will come.
The solution to Zimbabwe’s problems does not lie in merely giving Mugabe the red card. The biggest threat to Zimbabwe right now is corruption. Zanu-PF are masters of the game, having been in there for some time. The accusations flying around in the MDC over corrupt ministers, councilors and branch leaders suggest that the MDC have quickly seized the ropes of corruption as well. Giving one fox a red card to make room for others will not make your chickens safe.
Mugabe’s red card will never be handed to him.
Fri 05 Feb. 2010, 04:00 CAT
One of the most serious impediments to the system of democratic governance in Zambia is the unduly long time it takes to determine election petitions. Undoubtedly, the earlier elected persons can, after an election, occupy the positions to which they have been elected, the healthier for the democratic system.
This should be after all the petitions pertaining to their election have been concluded. But in Zambia today, elected persons occupy their positions, are sworn into office even before the petitions against their election have been heard.
In 2008 we had a situation where the winning presidential candidate was sworn in shortly after the results were announced, leaving no time for any petition challenging his election to be heard before he could become president of the Republic. This is not a recipe for peace and stability; it is a recipe for instability and veritable chaos in the nation.
Our system as it stands today does not leave any time for a proper and fair determination of potential election petitions.
While this does not lead to an upheaval in government work, the long drawn-out court challenges may lead to a long period of uncertainty about government and governmental actions.
It is therefore important to pay a lot of attention to the issues being raised by Reverend Pukuta Mwanza, the executive director of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia, on the weakenesses of our electoral system and what needs to be done to remedy the situation.
He proposes that the returning officer in the presidential election declare the winning candidate but not swear him in until all contentious issues raised by contenders are cleared by the courts.
This is a very important proposal that those involved with the constitutional review processes should not ignore. We say this because the existing situation where the winning candidate is not only declared but is sworn into office before any petition is concluded amounts in reality to a technical denial of the right of contenders to effectively challenge the results of election they disagree with.
While it is true that there are indefeasible delays in determining election petitions by the judiciary, yet it should be said that even with the best of intentions on all sides, the hearing and determination of election petitions require a considerable length of time in order to achieve proper and fair hearing.
In practice, litigants deliberately slow up trial processes and unduly prolong court proceedings whenever it suits their interests to do so.
We need to find a way out of this constriction in the smooth running of democratic processes. To start with, it is clear that if election timetables are to allow sufficient time for the filing and determination of election petitions, the provisions relating to the dates of elections will have to change.
Moreover, amendments will need to be made to directly curtail the period it takes to determine election petition cases.
There is need to find a balance between statutory provisions that will allow the judiciary to perform its functions properly and, at the same time, eliminate the problem of long drawn-out proceedings in court.
The aim of the electoral system should be to have all election disputes finally resolved well in advance of the date fixed for the commencement of the tenure of those elected.
The setting of the dates for holding elections under our current system makes it impossible to achieve this idea. It is therefore suggested that the Constitution should be amended for the holding of elections not earlier than say 180 days and not later than say 150 days before the commencement of the tenure of those elected.
As for the time it takes to determine election disputes, a reasonable balance must be struck between the present situation where the cases may go on for years before final determination on the one hand and, on the other, unduly constricting the individual’s right to fair hearing.
This will enable the ideal to be achieved, of finally resolving all election disputes at least a week before the commencement of the tenure of those elected. A period of say 120 days would also give the parties sufficient time to adequately present their cases and for the courts to give sufficient consideration to those cases.
The legislation will have to guard against respondents who might try to cause unnecessary delays. Fortunately, under our current system the presidential election petition is heard by the Supreme Court itself so there is no appeal. And other election petitions are heard by the High Court so there is only one appeal in these elections if there is a dispute.
And because of the seriousness of the potential danger which inordinate delays in the determination of election disputes pose to the political stability of the country, the suggestions made by Rev Mwanza should be considered seriously.
Indeed, if Zambia is to operate a meaningful and workable electoral system, these amendments are mandatory. We can well imagine what could happen where an election petition goes against an incumbent president who is in the middle of his term of office and therefore has had a lot of time to entrench himself in that office.
Obviously, the process of removing him and replacing him with another person may lead to a major political crisis, if not worse.
The other issue raised by Rev Mwanza is that of determining the date for elections. This issue has for a long time been a source of concern. Opposition political parties, civil society organisations and the Church have argued that it was difficult to create a sense of preparedness for elections when the date and timetable was only known by those in power, precisely by the president alone.
Some have argued that the president keeps the election date a secret with a view to taking the electorate by surprise. Others perceive the failure to make the election date known as a winning strategy for those in power.
In an effort to address these concerns which were also strongly voiced in submissions to the Electoral Reform Technical Committee (ERTC), a number of recommendations were made.
The ERTC was empowered to solicit the views of stakeholders and concerned citizens and examine and recommend whether the date of general elections, time when or the season during which such elections should be held be specified in the law.
Since independence, the date of elections in Zambia has always only been known by a sitting president until the last minute. Each and every election year, the date of elections becomes a hot issue, raising questions even as to who should announce the date.
The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has even been accused of surrendering its mandate of setting the date to the president.
Clearly, the date of elections if announced well in advance as part of the law could serve to promote transparency and fairness in the electoral process.
It would also increase confidence in the process and thereby probably increase voter participation. The suggestion by Rev Mwanza for the election day to be a public holiday may remove the problem workers find in leaving their work stations to go and vote.
And to this effect, the ERTC recommended that the determination of the date of elections be made by the ECZ; the month and week within which presidential and general elections are to be held be enshrined in the Constitution; and that the election day or days be declared a national holiday to allow more people to vote.
It is important to recognise that the more democratic we become, the more conflicts we will have about everything, including elections. This is why it is said that democracy is in many ways nothing more than a set of rules for managing conflict.
At the same time, this conflict must be managed within certain limits and result in compromises, consensus or other agreements that all sides accept as legitimate. An overemphasis on one side of the equation can threaten the entire undertaking.
There is also need for us to realise that democracy is not a machine that runs by itself once the proper principles and procedures are inserted. A democratic society needs the commitment of citizens who accept the inevitability of conflict as well as the necessity for tolerance, for accommodation, for resolution of conflicts.
It is for this reason that the culture of democracy is so important to develop. Democracy is pragmatic. Ideas and solutions to problems are not tested against a rigid outlook but tried in the real world where they can be argued over and changed, accepted or discarded.
By Sututu Katundu
Fri 05 Feb. 2010, 04:00 CAT
THE Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) has proposed that the president-elect should not be sworn in until all contentious issues raised by participating parties are cleared by the courts.
Appearing before the parliamentary committee on legal affairs, governance, human rights and gender matters chaired by Mazabuka Central member of parliament Gary Nkombo on Tuesday, EFZ executive director Reverend Pukuta Mwanza recommended that the returning officer in the presidential elections should declare the winning candidate but the winner should not be sworn in until issues raised by participating parties are sorted out by the courts within 90 days.
He said in case of a petition against the results, the winning candidate should not be sworn in and the Chief Justice should not preside over the petition but his deputy.
Rev Mwanza said this would help to reduce post-election violence in the country.
He said it would lessen suspicions with delays in releasing election results and the rushed declaration and swearing in ceremony of the perceived winner.
Rev Mwanza said the date for general elections should be determined by the Constitution.
He said the Election Day should also be declared a public holiday in an election year to maximise voter turnout.
He urged the government to show political will in improving the country's electoral system and allow the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to be independent to enable people develop confidence in the electoral system and subsequently enhance their active participation in elections.
Rev Mwanza said ECZ should be adequately funded by the Ministry of Finance and National Planning and the donor community.
He said there was need for a new constitution which could guarantee free and fair elections and make it easier for the new legislation to be enacted.
He said the monitoring of elections should begin the moment campaigns start, which is usually three weeks from the announcement of the election date.
He said in the event that the election date is not enshrined in the Republican constitution, the ECZ should announce the election date for presidential, parliamentary and local government, rather than the president.
Other recommendations include the fact that the 50 per cent plus one threshold must be adopted for the presidential candidate to win an election to ensure that he is popularly elected.
He said it was imperative that ECZ devises a system of getting results quicker and in a transparent manner using air transport where rural constituencies were inaccessible due to bad road networks and inaccessibility during the rain season or that results be transmitted directly from the counting centres.
He proposed that elections be held in October before the rain season to avoid problems associated with bad terrain in most parts of the country.
Rev Mwanza said there should be consensus on appointees to sit on the electoral commission in terms of institutions such as the church, civil society organizations, political parties, the House of Chiefs and eminent persons to ensure wider participation of key interest groups.
He said state security forces like the police and army should play a non-partisan role and provide security to all participating political parties.
Rev Mwanza said issues associated with holding and conducting public rallies should not be biased against the opposition.
He called for a review on the conduct of elections and election laws to ensure an acceptable system and avoid loss of credibility by the public, which had resulted in apathy during elections.
He said political party campaigns should be issue based as opposed to attacking personalities.
He proposed that punitive measures be imposed on candidates that personalised campaigns.
Rev Mwanza urged the government and Parliament to use recommendations from the Electoral Reform Technical Committee (ERTC) before enacting the new constitution.
On the need for delimitation of constituencies, Rev Mwanza said the process should coincide with the census 2010 to match geographical population by location.
He said the voter registration exercise should be continuous to enable Zambians who reach voting age participate in an election and registered voters who may have lost their cards to have them replaced.
He said the option of using National Registration Cards (NRC) may provide a better alternative to the use of voters cards in an election.
He said the buying of voters cards from those perceived as supporters of other political parties should be criminalised and legislation should provide punitive measures to ensure no one is disenfranchised.
Rev Mwanza recommended that a more decentralised system with mobile facilities be made available at community level to reduce time spent to get NRCs and the dangers associated with alleged malpractices.
Rev Mwanza added that the issuance of NRCs would be easier if the issuance of birth certificates was decentralised so that mothers received their children's certificates from the clinics they delivered from to minimise the difficulties in getting additional birth details.
By George Chellah
Fri 05 Feb. 2010, 04:00 CAT
GEORGE Mpombo has vowed that he will not be silenced because he is prepared for President Rupiah Banda's intentions.
Commenting on events surrounding his arrest and subsequent charge for allegedly issuing a cheque on an insufficiently funded account, Mpombo, who is Kafulafuta MMD member of parliament and former defence minister, said he would continue being an independent-minded person.
“I will not be silenced and all these things which are happening now are an added impetus to my resolve to be independent minded. Efforts aimed at trying to intimidate me are an exercise in futility because I have no intention to do that,” Mpombo said.
“And I am really determined to remain where I am and most of my stance is based on principle so I am prepared to bite the bullet. I am prepared to go to jail for my principle. So far my family supports me and therefore I am prepared for anything Mr Banda may want to do.”
He insisted that he had no intention whatsoever of compromising his stance on a number of issues that had been raised.
“These things are just adding fuel to my resolve and I will not be cowed. I am not the type to recoil my head into a shell. I remain determined. Funny things happen in this country,” he said.
Mpombo said the current situation was just hardening him.
“And I will go all the way. I’m prepared for anything so long as I stick to my principles,” he said.
He criticised the double standards that were being exhibited in the country.
"I was initially charged for something else and then new charges are framed. Funny things happen, there are people who have been receiving... former teachers receiving government money going into her account and they basically just looked at them, you remember what I am referring to,” Mpombo said.
“Where somebody retired as a teacher but went on receiving government money and they kept quiet. This is a society which must not have double standards. But for me, I am really determined. I am not cowed, I am not intimidated, I will forge ahead.”
Mpombo pledged to cooperate with the system in his matter.
“I am a law-abiding citizen and I am a legislator. I know the police will be just doing their work and therefore I will cooperate with them,” said Mpombo.
On Tuesday, police in Ndola arrested and charged Mpombo with an offence of issuing a cheque on an insufficiently funded account contrary to the national payment systems Act.
Mpombo is today expected to appear before the Ndola principal resident magistrate to take plea after which trial dates will be set.
By Mwala Kalaluka
Fri 05 Feb. 2010, 04:00 CAT
AUDITOR General Anna Chifungula yesterday described as unethical the decision by Indeni Petroleum Refinery to engage their auditors, Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) as share valuators prior to the government’s assumption from Total of a hundred per cent shareholding in the refinery.
During a submission by energy permanent secretary Teddy Kasonso on audit queries cited by the Auditor General against Indeni for the 2007 financial year before the parliamentary public accounts committee (PAC), Chifungula said the engagement of Price Waterhouse Coopers on the valuation of Indeni in view of Total’s pullout from the contract management arrangement with the government had created a conflict of interest.
“Price Waterhouse Coopers are your auditors. How then can they go and value your shares when they are auditing your books of accounts? That is unethical,” Chifungula said.
Committee chairperson Emmanuel Hachipuka said what had happened was a very big problem given Indeni’s insolvency at the time.
“There are serious issues of professional integrity,” he said.
When Indeni chief accountant Thomson Chikumbi tried to respond to the observation, Hachipuka curtailed him on the basis that he was not the right person to give a response.
In his submission, Kasonso said the K29 billion that was queried in the Auditor General’s report was a government grant to the company to help in undertaking rehabilitation works.
He said this money was one of the four installments towards recapitalisation of the company.
Kasonso said the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the government and Total where it was agreed that each partner should pay US $22.5 million towards rehabilitation works, was signed pursuant to the company Act.
“The liquidity of the company was very poor and management used its discretion to settle debts,” he said.
On the Auditor General’s query that Indeni did not comply with tender regulations in awarding a contract to a US-based company to carry out works at the refinery, Kasonso said the decision must have been made at the shareholder level.
But he said the contractor was a specialised and internationally reputed company and had a proven track record in the kind of work they were engaged to do.
“This therefore, technically is not a single source procedure,” said Kasonso.
However, Hachipuka said it was clear that Kasonso’s answers were not satisfactory as he was trying to justify why certain regulations were flouted.
“You are a monopoly in your operations. Unfortunately, you have to operate within procedure. If you look at the answers here, you are taking advantage of the fact that you are a monopoly,” he said. “There is no board that is beyond procedure. The Auditor General said you flouted procedures… we will show you item by item that your answers are not satisfactory.”
Hachipuka said compliance to the public financial regulations when undertaking procurements at Indeni should be seriously adhered to now that it was under total government ownership.
Hachipuka also asked Indeni acting managing director Maybin Noole and Chikumbi to explain why the company got a high interest loan of US $4.7 million to pay for salaries during the time the refinery was gutted.
Noole said after the plant was gutted the company management made a pledge to maintain all the employees and during this time AGIP from Italy were the ones managing the company before Total took up 50 per cent shareholding of the parastatal.
“Total MD offered to talk to Total head office to give us the loan,” he said.
Chikumbi assured the committee that the remaining balance on the loan would be liquidated within twelve months.
Following the response, Hachipuka said the Indeni management had given the committee sufficient information to use against the Secretary to the Treasury.
“Clearly these were bad decisions,” said Hachipuka.
By George Chellah
Fri 05 Feb. 2010, 04:00 CAT
THE degree clause will disadvantage more women, Inonge Wina said yesterday. Commenting on the National Constitutional Conference's recommendation that a presidential candidate must be a holder of a first degree, Wina, who is former Nalolo member of parliament, explained that the recommendation was not feasible.
“A degree holder clause for an aspiring president is not a feasible preposition in our country now, especially that the levels of higher academic achievement is still confined to a minority,” said Wina who is also Patriotic Front (PF) national chairperson.
“So in as much as I regard education especially higher education as a prerequisite for enhanced knowledge, you cannot make a better qualification a conditionality for presidency.”
She said the degree clause was discriminatory.
“It certainly defeats the whole democratic tenet of opening up chances for many Zambians to aspire for high positions in the governance of their country,” Wina said. “The clause is discriminatory and under the current political environment in our country, it looks as though the degree holder clause was meant to disadvantage some politicians and this will not work.
“And by the nature of such laws they always end up in failure because they are discriminatory, they penalise a group of people.”
She said this was not the time for the country to adopt such laws.
“The levels of literacy are very low and the levels of understanding and acceptance... The whole idea of confining the presidency to those who hold degrees is not possible,” said Wina. “I fear that more women will be disadvantaged because there are very few of them in universities particularly the University of Zambia (UNZA) and the other universities in the country.
“So at what point shall we have a woman president for this country if we had to base everything on university qualification? So that's why I consider this clause as discriminatory. It will definitely result in failure because it's discriminatory.”
Recently, the NCC unanimously recommended that a presidential candidate must be a holder of a first degree.
The delegates also resolved that members of parliament and councillors should have a minimum academic qualification of a grade twelve-school certificate.
By Patson Chilemba
Fri 05 Feb. 2010, 04:00 CAT
MMD national secretary Katele Kalumba yesterday said he will first consider his family and health before he decides to defend his party position because he has suffered a lot over the last 10 years.
And Kalumba said whoever will be elected president at the MMD convention will not be an automatic Republican presidential candidate for the party.
When asked in an interview yesterday if he would re-contest the position of national secretary at the MMD convention, Kalumba said he had gone through rough times in the last 10 years.
“What is important for me right now is my health. The second most important for me is my family. I think my family and I have suffered a lot in the last 10 years, and I really wouldn’t want to put my family through these kind of stresses that I have gone through,” Kalumba said. “But I have to consult them to tell me what they feel, and therefore as far as I am concerned, I have not taken a decision.”
And Kalumba said the MMD national executive committee (NEC) had endorsed President Rupiah Banda as the party’s Republican presidential candidate.
Asked to clarify if the one who would be elected president at the party convention would not be the party’s automatic candidate for the Republican presidency, Kalumba responded: “It is never like that, as you know. But the party president must be elected by the convention.”
Kalumba said the NEC would present its recommendation on President Banda to the convention.
He said rules would guide the convention on how to handle the two positions, party and Republican presidencies.
Kalumba said the convention previously elected president Levy Mwanawasa and endorsed him as the party’s presidential candidate.
“The other year in 2001, they elected president Chiluba as party president but they left open the candidature of the Republican presidency,” he said.
Asked on what would happen if the convention decided otherwise by endorsing the person who would be elected to contest the Republican presidency, Kalumba said the statement was presumptuous.
“What is factual is that the convention is the supreme organ, but it has to receive the decisions of NEC, because NEC acts on behalf of the convention, in between conventions. The convention will have to be very violently against its own body by removing the powers it gives it in between conventions,” Kalumba said.
He asked aspiring candidates in the MMD to stop campaigning until the party issued directives for them to start doing so.
Asked if Lusaka Province MMD chairperson Chris Chalwe and his colleagues would be disciplined by the party for threatening to gang-rape FDD president Edith Nawakwi, Kalumba said police were handling the matter.
Fri, 05 Feb 2010 02:17:00 +0000
TEL-One last week cut services to MDC-T's Manicaland provincial offices in Darlington medium-density suburb of Mutare over an unpaid bill, which is almost US$10,000, as accusations of financial embezzlement and corruption continue to swell in the party's Manicaland executive.
Party supporters said it was high-time the party's national executive sent auditors to check the party's books at the Darlington offices.
They said the unpaid bill was a result of the many financial mishaps happening at the provincial offices, alleging that some people were pocketing party funds for their own use.
When asked for a comment, the party's provincial spokesman, Pishai Muchauraya, said the party had since purchased contract mobile lines for its workers, hence the land line was unnecessary.
“What is US$10 000? That's little money and we shall pay it. Our workers at the office are now using contract mobile lines and anyone who wants to phone the offices knows the numbers," he said.
Inside party sources said some heavyweights in the provincial executive were diverting party funds for their own use hence the financial discrepancies that were resulting in crucial services like telephones being cut due to unpaid bills.
“There are people who are stealing money. For as long as the people from Harare do not take action about what is happening here, the party will bleed to death,” said the source.
Corruption has since reared its ugly head within the MDC-T, with most local authorities under the MDC-T leadership making the headlines for fraud.
The corruption tide within the opposition party has also swept across the borders with oversees offices of the party in the UK facing a £57,000 corruption probe.
The party's treasure general, Roy Bennet, revealed recently that the British Branch — second only to the South Africa office of the party in importance — had been suspended in the wake of what he described as a problem the party faced "everywhere".
Ambassador-designate for Germany Hebson Makuvise is implicated in the corruption.
Bennett said although a formal instruction had yet to be given, all other overseas branches would be disbanded.
He said the party's branches across the world faced rogue elements.
“They are bleeding us. I would hate to know the amount of money that has been raised by Zimbabweans in exile purporting to represent the MDC. They have used the MDC name and pocketed the money,” he was recently quoted as saying.
The MDC-T secretary-general and Finance Minister, Tendai Biti, also described the unfolding corruption charges as “shocking” financial irregularities.