Saturday, April 03, 2010

(PROGRESS.ORG) Foreigners deprive people of land they used for eons

Foreigners deprive people of land they used for eons
Owners enjoy the harvest, Farmers die from famine
by John Vidal

Facing food shortages, rich countries are turning to poor African countries to cultivate vast swatches of fertile land to guarantee supplies for own peoples.

"Foreign companies are depriving people of land they have used for centuries,” Nyikaw Ochalla, an Ethiopian from the Gambella region. “There is no consultation with the indigenous population."

Ochalla, now living in Britain but in regular contact with farmers in his region, said, “People now have to work for an Indian company. Their land has been compulsorily taken and they have been given no compensation.

Haile Hirpa, president of the Oromia studies' association in Ethiopia, wrote UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon: “The Saudis are enjoying the rice harvest, while the Oromos are dying from man-made famine as we speak."

Addis Ababa (Ethiopia’s capitol) has granted at least three million hectares of its most fertile land to foreign investors.

The Ethiopian government declares, “They bring badly needed technology, they offer jobs and training to Ethiopians, they operate in areas where there is suitable land and access to water.”

A government spokesman said, "Ethiopia has 74m hectares of fertile land, of which only 15% is currently in use -- mainly by subsistence farmers. Of the remaining land, only a small percentage -- 3 to 4% -- is offered to foreign investors. Investors are never given land that belongs to Ethiopian farmers.”

Ethiopia is one of the hungriest countries in the world with more than 13-million people needing food aid, but the government is offering at least 7.5 million acres of its most fertile land to rich countries and some of the world's most wealthy individuals to export food for their own populations.

About 2,500 acres are leased for 99 years to an Ethiopian-born Saudi, Sheikh Mohammed al-Amoudi, one of the 50 richest men in the world. His Saudi Star company plans to acquire 1.25 million acres in Ethiopia in the next few years.

Ochalla said: " It is a myth propagated by the government and investors to say that there is waste land or land that is not utilized.” Michael Taylor of the International Land Coalition: "If land in Africa hasn't been planted, it's probably for a reason. Maybe it's used to graze livestock or deliberately left fallow to prevent nutrient depletion and erosion."

In Africa, up to 125 million acres of land -- an area more than double the size of the UK -- has been acquired in the last few years or is in the process of being negotiated by governments and wealthy investors working with state subsidies.

In many areas the deals have led to evictions and civil unrest. Before it fell apart after riots, a proposed 3 million acres deal between Madagascar and the South Korean company Daewoo would have included nearly half of the country's arable land.

Devlin Kuyek of Grain, said, “Food shortages and riots in 28 countries in 2008, declining water supplies, climate change, and population growth have together made land attractive. Africa has the most land and, compared with other continents, is cheap."

"Farmland in sub-Saharan Africa is giving 25% returns a year," said Susan Payne, chief executive of Emergent Asset Management, a UK investment fund seeking to spend $50-million on African land.

Saudi Arabia, along with other Middle Eastern emirate states such as Qatar, Kuwait and Abu Dhabi, is thought to be the biggest buyer. In 2008 the Saudi government, which was one of the Middle East's largest wheat-growers, announced it was to reduce its domestic cereal production by 12% a year to conserve its water. It earmarked $5-billion to lend at preferential rates to Saudi companies for investment in agricultural countries.

China has signed a contract with the Congo to grow 7-million acres of palm oil for biofuels. European biofuel companies have acquired or requested about 10 million acres.

Nowhere is now out of bounds, even Sudan, emerging from civil war. South Korean companies last year bought 1.75 million acres of northern Sudan; the United Arab Emirates have acquired 1.875 million acres. New York investment firm Jarch Capital, run by a former commodities trader, Philip Heilberg, has leased 2 million acres near Darfur.

Indian ecologist Vandana Shiva said in London, “The small farmers of Africa are the basis of food security” and that large-scale industrial agriculture required chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, intensive water use, which turned landscapes into enormous mono-cultural plantations.

In Ethiopia, flower farms and other large intensive farms were not being charged for water. The deal was made by central government. One farm uses as much water a year as 100,000 Ethiopians.

JJS: You can tell nature has not been niggardly with humanity. The problem is not one of natural fertility, perhaps not even human greed or government interference on behalf of the wealthy. Instead, it’s the dim consciousness that allows absentee ownership of land, water, and all natural resources in general.

What Africans and Earthlings everywhere need is to understand that the “fruit of the land belongs to us all”, that natural value is the biggest part of the commonwealth.

Were we to implement geonomics, and recover the worth of Earth instead of tax one’s earnings, while sharing the “rents” equitably instead of subsidizing insiders, then all of society could benefit from modern, ecological farming practices.

Yesterday, people celebrated St Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland (although if given a choice, I might’ve driven the lawyers and kept the ecosystem in balance). Perhaps we should raise a pint of green beer in toast to owner occupancy. Centuries ago, starving Irish watched food they grew hauled away on carts and ships to absentee owners in England. More recently, famished Ethiopians watched their crops set sail for markets abroad even as ships in harbor unloaded food aid from Europe. This 2010 article appeared Mar 7, truncated at & Newspapers and elongated in the Mail & Guardian.


Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.

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(NYASATIMES) Prioritise health, education, water, agriculture in 2010-11 budget—economic watchdog

Prioritise health, education, water, agriculture in 2010-11 budget—economic watchdog
By Nyasa Times
Published: April 3, 2010

Health, education, water and agriculture deserve priority in the 2010-2011 National Budget to achieve more economic growth, an economic rights watchdog in Malawi has warned.

Economic Justice Network (MEJN) Executive Director Andrew Kumbatira told journalists in Lilongwe during a forum his organisation held with members of the civil society players to share notes on what to present to government budget preparatory team.

Finance Minister Ken Kandodo has started the customary pre-budget consultations with different interest groups like captains of industry. He has already met several important functionaries to firm up his views about the budget to be presented in June.

According to MEJN most Malawians wanted urgent attention in the areas of health, education, water and agriculture.

“We were trying to validate at national level whether indeed those are the issues that are worthy presenting to the minister of finance,” said Kumbatira referring to a survey his organisation conducted in 15 districts.

MEJN will present their budget contribution to Ministry of Finance officials on Tuesday 6 April 2010.

Finance Minister told the first Budget Consultative meeting in Mzuzu City on Thursday that the 2010-2011 National Budget will see government cut spending on non-core sectors.

“We will focus resources on the core sectors such as education, health and agriculture, among others, in the 2010-2011 budget but we expect maintained levels of performance in non-core sectors,” Kandodo said.

“In the education sector, there is need to build classroom blocks and teachers’ houses, among others. In the agriculture sector, there is need to support the Greenbelt Initiative which is among the key government priority areas,” he said.

Kandodo, who will be presenting his second budget since he was appointed overseer of the national kitty replacing the superb economic engineer Goodall Gondwe, has also disclosed that the Sector Wide Approach (Swap), credited for revolutionalising the health sector, will be extended to the Ministry of Education Science and Technology where it is expected to take effect at the beginning of the new financial year.

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(ZIMBABWE GUARDIAN) MDC-T shaken by Malema visit

MDC-T shaken by Malema visit
By: Floyd Nkomo
Posted: Thursday, April 1, 2010 4:19 am

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party says it will give firebrand ANC Youth President Julius Malema a resounding welcome when he arrives in Harare on Friday for solidarity meetings with his Zimbabwe counterparts.

But the rival Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T), led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, is running scared and has chosen to downplay Malema's visit because they view it as a threat to their party.

Malema, who will lead an eight-member delegation, said he was visiting Zimbabwe to defend the gains of the liberation on the continent.

He told Independent Newspapers on Monday he did not intend to meet the MDC because they had nothing in common with the ANC.

He expressed concern with what he called efforts to replace liberation movements with puppets governments - who exploit the mineral wealth of Africa.

Yesterday the MDC refused to comment officially on the Malema visit for fear of compromising its relations with the ANC.

A MDC-T official, speaking on condition of anonymity, was quoted by a South African newspaper as saying: "Malema's visit means nothing to the MDC because we are aware that some Zanu-PF people want to use the ANC clout to prop ... the Indigenisation and Empowerment Act.

Zanu-PF deputy secretary for external affairs, Tongai Kasukuwere, said Malema was more that welcome to visit Zimbabwe and said his visit would help strengthen relations between his party and the ANC.

"Malema's visit gives us a platform to share ideas on development in Africa and the best way to fight those who want to reverse the gains of independence.

"Zanu-PF and (the) ANC have a lot in common and that is why he is visiting us," Kasukuwere said.

"The point is that Malema is coming as the leader of the ANC youth wing and not as a GPA negotiator," he said, referring to the Global Political Agreement which underpins the inclusive Government.

ZImbabwe's empowerment group, Affirmative Action Group (AAG), will host a lavish dinner for Malema at a five star hotel in Harare, among other events.

Malema is expected to address indigenous businessmen on his vision on nationalism.

He will also meet President Mugabe and visit the Zanu-PF headquarters.

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(ZIMBABWE GUARDIAN) Zanu-PF youth sing ANC anti-Boer song

Zanu-PF youth sing ANC anti-Boer song
By: SS-tzg
Posted: Saturday, April 3, 2010 5:06 pm

AFRICAN National Congress' youth president Julius Malema flew in to a hero's welcome in Harare on Friday. A crowd of Zanu-PF supporters and Zimbabwean government officials sang a song called 'Dubula Ibhunu' (kill the boer) banned by the Pretoria High Court, as a sign of support.

Flanked by his delegation and hordes of Zanu-PF officials and businessmen, Malema looked surprised on hearing the song from Zanu-PF supporters, but smiled, clapped his hands and started nodding in approval as members of his delegation joined in.

He was then whisked away in a Mercedes-Benz ML owned by President Mugabe's nephew, Patrick Zhuwawo, as part of a 30-vehicle cavalcade.

Right wing white organisation AfriForum brought the interdict against Malema in the Pretoria High Court on Thursday night - the second time Malema had been gagged in less than a week - in a bid, it claimed, "to protect his life".

A viral SMS, which the ANC has deemed a "declaration to kill", spread across the country this week, putting a R2 million bounty on his life.

Meanwhile, 20 000 people have joined an Afriforum Facebook site, paying R10 a time to help fund its court actions in its "Stop Malema" campaign.

Yesterday, an incensed ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu warned AfriForum and the Freedom Front Plus of the "unintended consequences" of the campaign, saying "apartheid propaganda" like this had led to the assassination of SACP legend Chris Hani. The ANC has approached Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa to investigate who is behind the SMS.

Last Friday, the Johannesburg High Court indirectly silenced the firebrand leader when it ruled that the use of the words "dubula ibhunu" was unconstitutional and unlawful.

Malema is now also expressly forbidden from uttering any song of a similar nature.

Yesterday, Malema received a boost from the Azanian Youth Organisation (Azayo), which said singing Dubula Ibhunu was a reminder of what remained to be done in South Africa.

Azayo spokesman Sibongile Somdaka said the song formed part of South Africa's collective history and could not be abandoned to please "the liberal media and white right-wing groups for the sake of reconciliation".

"So long as there is still a lack of ownership of our land by blacks and fair distribution of resources... Azayo will continue to sing "shoot the boere/dubula ibhunu" in all our gatherings... to remind the coming (sic) of where we come from, and what still needs to be done in the country," he said.

AfriForum youth leader Ernst Roets told the Saturday Star this week that the ruling actually protected Malema.

"People are really frustrated and scared by the statement.

He is putting fuel onto a potential fire. People want to... stop him.

"We are protecting him from himself. If he continues to sing this song he will... make more enemies. He can't continue to... incite racial violence and polarise the country," Roets said.

The ANC yesterday said it was disappointed at Judge Bertelsmann's "lack of consideration" for the song's historical context. "We will now concentrate our efforts in challenging the application... at the Equality Court," said Mthembu.

Earlier this week, the uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association said it was becoming frustrated by the efforts of "untransformed judges" to subvert its history.

Association president Kebby Maphatsoe said on Wednesday he would use the ANC's September gathering to push for transformation of the judiciary.

"The people sitting there to judge were produced by the apartheid regime," he said.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) is downplaying Malema's visit, claiming it is a propaganda visit aimed at promoting failed Zanu-PF policies.

Malema was due to address a Zanu-PF youth rally in the Mbare township before attending a dinner hosted by a Zanu-PF pressure organisation, the Affirmative Action Group.

He is in the country to study the country's nationalisation programmes, which he wishes to implement in South Africa, especially on the mines.

The firebrand leader is tipped to be the next ANC leader and President of South Africa.

After his trip to Zimbabwe, Mr Malema and his entourage will continue their research with visits to China, Chile, Venezuela, Brasil and Cuba.

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(NEWZIMBABWE) Hero’s welcome for Malema

Hero’s welcome for Malema
03/04/2010 00:00:00

ANC youth leader Julius Malema arrived in Zimbabwe to a hero’s welcome late Friday with hordes of Zanu-PF supporters gathered at Harare airport chanting his "Dubula ibhunu" song which is now outlawed in his native South Africa.

The firebrand politician, flanked by his delegation as well as several Zanu-PF officials and businessmen, looked surprised but immediately beamed with delight on hearing the song.

He then joined in the singing and clapping along with the chanting crowds before being whisked away to his five star hotel in central Harare in a 30-vehicle convoy.

The ‘Dubula ibhunu’ (kill the boer) antiapartheid song was outlawed in South Africa last week after a civil rights group argued in court that it could incite racial violence.

However, the ANC has since indicated that it will appeal the court decision.

Meanwhile Malema is in Harare at the invitation of his Zanu PF counterparts to exchange views and share experiences on empowerment, land reform and nationalisation.

The 29 year-old is a vociferous proponent of nationalisation of South Africa's mines and other key industries.

He arrives in Zimbabwe at a time when the government has effected regulations requiring foreign-owned businesses worth at least US$500 000 to cede 51 percent of their equity to locals.

Zanu PF youth secretary, Absolom Sikhosana said Malema’s visit would help further the cause of indigenous economic empowerment on the African continent.

"We want African countries to fight the war against imperialism together, just like what the Europeans and the Americans do.

"We are excited that our guest shares the same beliefs with President (Robert) Mugabe who wants to see the wealth of our countries in the hands of indigenous people,” Sikhosana was reported as saying ahead of Malema’s arrival.

The ANC youth boss is expected to have an audience with President Mugabe on Monday but indicated he would not be meeting other members of the country’s coalition government in a decision that has outraged Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T party.

"Is Mr Malema saying that the ANC does not respect democracy and is willing to ignore the millions of Zimbabweans who sent Zanu-PF packing in the corridors of power?" asked Austin Moyo, chairman of the MDC-T in South Africa, at a media briefing in Johannesburg on Thursday.

The ANC youth league says Zanu PF is a fellow liberation movement adding ties between the two parties date back to the struggle against colonialism.



Rupiah’s vote in Lambaland is in great danger – Mpombo

Rupiah’s vote in Lambaland is in great danger – Mpombo
By George Chellah
Sat 03 Apr. 2010, 04:02 CAT

GEORGE Mpombo yesterday said President Rupiah Banda is courting a political earthquake of a huge magnitude in Lambaland because of Terence Findlay's insults. And Mpombo said President Banda and the MMD leadership must respect Lamba chiefs and stop harassing them.

Reacting to former Copperbelt Province MMD chairperson Findlay's refusal to apologise to Lambas, Mpombo wondered what President Banda had found in Findlay, who openly exhibited hatred for the late Levy Mwanawasa and the Lamba-speaking people.

“Findlay is a cheap political scumbag who has no morals and a misguided political flibbertigibbet who is puffed up with cheap pride and self-destruction. The chap is almost an illiterate and I don't know what Banda finds in this gentleman because his social record in the province is nauseating. And there is no way a reasonable person can align himself with a person like Findlay,” Mpombo said. “When he talks about exaggeration, Emmanuel Chenda and Wynter Kabimba were there, so a question of exaggeration doesn't arise. It is actually petty people like Findlay who should not be allowed to roam the streets. He should actually be chained! Findlay's failure to apologise to the Lambas is a very, very serious development. This chap…. Lambas are not pleading for his apology, Findlay is nothing! He should not think Lambas will go down on their knees to plead for his apology.”

He requested the government to stop harassing chiefs on the Copperbelt Province.

“You know it's not good, each time there is anything they must arrange a crew of government newspapers to go and harass chiefs, that one we cannot allow. They must respect our chiefs. There is no way they can be calling chiefs, summoning chiefs to their offices. Government must respect Lamba chiefs,” Mpombo said. “They must ask Dr Kenneth Kaunda how he managed Ndola rural Ndola rural is a very, very difficult district politically. President Banda himself must respect chiefs. The MMD leadership and President Banda must respect chiefs because when we were campaigning, I was provincial campaign manager, Mr Banda portrayed a humble attitude when we met chiefs at the Bank of Zambia.

“We met all the chiefs and Mr Banda was so humble and said he was their son just because the late president Levy Mwanawasa was their son. He humbled himself but not this kind of arrogance we are getting.”

He observed that President Banda's vote in Lambaland was in great danger.

“This is more or less like…government is creating deliberately a very serious political earthquake for Mr Banda and the MMD of huge magnitude because people feel insulted that little chaps like Findlay should insult people, responsible people,” he said.

He warned that the ruling party was playing with a political dynamite.

“The current provincial chairman although he is what we could call a political half-sense…Joseph Chilambwe he is a political half-sense because he hasn't got what it takes. But Findlay will be the worst option because they will just plunge the party into an irretrievable political mess from which they will never be able to recover,” Mpombo said. “And tell Findlay that he can jump into the sea, no one is pleading for him to apologise. We thought he was going to use his conscience to tell him to retract his stupid statement but if he thinks he is a tough nut to crack he can go hang! He can go hang but consequences will fall on his head.”

Findlay recently revealed his hatred for Lambas and late president Mwanawasa following his prosecution for defilement but some sections of society expressed concern over his remarks. MMD national chairman Michael Mabenga distanced the party from Findlay's remarks whom he said remained a suspended member of the party. However, Findlay said he could not apologise because he never uttered the words “Lamba” and “president Mwanawasa”. However, Kabimba, who initially broke the story and Patriotic Front member Emmanuel Chenda maintained that Findlay made the remarks on the Lambas and president Mwanawasa.

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Mpombo has simply been charged and not suspended, says Katele

Mpombo has simply been charged and not suspended, says Katele
By Patson Chilemba
Sat 03 Apr. 2010, 04:01 CAT

MMD national secretary Katele Kalumba yesterday observed that he is worried that some people who are speaking about late president Levy Mwanawasa's legacy risk transforming him into a tribal icon.

And Kalumba said Kafulafuta member of parliament George Mpombo has simply been charged and not suspended from the party. In an interview, Kalumba said president Mwanawasa's legacy risked being undermined by some people.

“Levy's legacy and history may be undermined by some people who are trying to say what they are saying because of defending Levy's legacy as a Lamba. It may be misunderstood from transforming him from a national icon to a tribal icon,” Kalumba said. “He was a Lamba and Lenje, I think we should remember him as a national leader, I am worried.”

Kalumba said it would be improper to undermine what president Mwanawasa did.

“It is equally immoral and wrong to cover yourself in the cloak of president Mwanawasa and what he did in order for one to defend his wrongs. I think it's not right. I think each one of us is supposed to be held accountable for their own actions. So somebody makes a mistake and he wants to go and wear the cloak of the late president and say 'I am being victimised because I belong to the tribe of president Mwanawasa,'” Kalumba said.

“I think that is not fair. I think that is going too far, sometimes you take away from the legacy. You know that you have sold yourself and you want to smear it on the cloak of late president Mwanawasa, thereby attracting criticism to a name, which is innocent.”

Kalumba explained that the letter from his office did not say that Mpombo had been suspended.

“He Mpombo asked that the letter be delivered to him in Ndola. It is very clear, suspension is something that comes after somebody has been charged and been found wanting. The letter that was delivered by my office to him does not say that he has been suspended. It says he has been charged,” Kalumba said.

“And when you are charged you have an opportunity to exculpate yourself. Now if you are not satisfied, the disciplinary organs responsible for your charges they may mete out different kinds of punishment. They can either write a reprimand, a warning, or suspend you, or recommend for your expulsion.

“If it is in NEC, they might decide to expel you pending ratification by the convention if you do appeal. Now all those channels are available to honourable Mpombo. There was some kind of technical problem in the communication with him earlier. I think a wrong letter got to him but the right letter has been written to him.”

On Magande's statement that the action against Mpombo was unfortunate, Kalumba said Magande should be the last one to say that Mpombo had been treated unfairly in terms of giving him opportunity to channel his grievances through appropriate party organs.

He described Magande as a reasonable man of integrity who would be able to agree that Mpombo had been allowed to air his grievances through the office of the national secretary.

Kalumba said he has had opportunity to speak to Mpombo on several occasions, but the former defence minister had violated his word of honour many times.

“He Mpombo has been very kind in his description of my office, so I have no reason to believe that there was an obstacle,” Kalumba said. “My good friend Ng'andu should also exercise leadership role and I hold him to account on the very statement he has made. Why has he not advised honourable Mpombo not to burn the house while his friends are in? I sat with honourable Magande at some point and no one can complain today that honourable Magande acted in any way irresponsibly.”

Kalumba said he had been tolerant to Mpombo such that some of his colleagues had suspected him of being in connivance with Mpombo's utterances.

Asked on the concerns that Mpombo was not a small figure who could be pushed around, Kalumba said there were greater stakes than appears to be evident.

“I have said on many occasions because of my concern as national secretary and also through the national executive committee, we have considered the interest of Kafulafuta and because of it we have been very tolerant of some of the injuries he has visited on the party,” Kalumba said. “Our consideration is not driven by such motivations. Our consideration is driven by justice, the need to be just to his concerns but at the same time to protect the party when he begins to injure it in a manner that affects not only Kafulafuta but our standing as a party in the country. So we have to balance those interests carefully. For us it is not whether or not we can defeat him if we went to an election. That is not really our consideration. I have to be very emphatic at that. It is looking in the specific offences my office is accusing him of having committed.”

Kalumba said politics was about numbers, but the kind of numbers the party had also mattered.

He said the party had acted where it felt that the consideration of the factor of numbers may not be to its greater good.

Asked if MMD would win if there were to be a by-election in Kafulafuta, Kalumba said should the disciplinary committee view that the charges against Mpombo should stand, the party would take measures to gain the support of the people.
Kalumba said nothing in politics was easy, saying MMD had defeated some people who were much stronger.

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PAC castigates office of Accountant General

PAC castigates office of Accountant General
By Florence Bupe
Sat 03 Apr. 2010, 04:00 CAT

THE Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Thursday castigated the office of the Accountant General for seconding Ministry of Education accountants to the Copperbelt provincial office.

PAC chairperson Emmanuel Hachipuka expressed disappointment that the Accountant General’s office decided to send education ministry accountants to the Copperbelt office, which he said needed special attention.

Hachipuka argued that the accounts department in the Ministry of Education leaves much to be desired and it was unacceptable to have accountants who had performed below expectations to be placed at an office that had a serious problematic background.

About three years ago, almost the entire accounts staff at the Copperbelt provincial office was dismissed for misappropriation of funds and were currently facing charges in court.

“Why should the office of the Accountant General send accountants from the Ministry of Education to the Copperbelt provincial office when they education ministry accountants also have a poor performance record,” Hachipuka wondered.

“The Ministry of Education is not a ministry where you can source accountants from, even if they have a surplus of staff.”

Hachipuka said it was unfortunate that the office of the Accountant General had used numbers and not performance as a criterion for recommendation of accounts staff to the Copperbelt Province.

“You cannot afford not to use performance as a yardstick for appointment of staff. Sending the wrong people to the Copperbelt office will result in a similar recurrence where money will just go to benefiting officers instead of alleviating poverty through various projects,” he said.

Hachipuka said the committee would summon the Secretary to the Treasury to try and resolve the problems that were still rampant in the Copperbelt office.

He also suggested that the Ministry of Finance should come up with measures to prosecute culprits of resource abuse as opposed to leaving the task to controlling officers alone.

And Copperbelt Province permanent secretary Villie Lombanya appealed for additional staff in the accounts department as a way of enhancing performance.

Lombanya disclosed that currently the office operated with 13 accounts staff, against a requirement number of 30.

The office is also faced with challenges in the procurement and planning departments.

“The current situation is not helping me put things back in order. I only have 13 staff members in the accounts department instead of the required 30 and this is making operations very difficult,” said Lombanya.

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Peace greatest value of development – Girasoli

Peace greatest value of development – Girasoli
By Masuzyo Chakwe
Sat 03 Apr. 2010, 04:01 CAT

GOOD FRIDAY: Lusaka’s St Ignatius Catholic Church yesterday joined several other denominations in commemorating the death of Jesus Christ - Picture by Collins Phiri

VATICAN Ambassador to Zambia Archbishop Nicola Girasoli has said there can be no development without peace.

In his Easter message, Archbishop Girasoli said peace was the supreme and greatest value.

“Without peace there is no development, without peace everything is lost. Our personal views should be always surrender to the good of the society. As Christians the most important is to be close to those who suffer, to be concerned and to help the poor, to struggle for improving those who are in need,” he said.

Archbishop Girasoli said Easter was the most important feast and spiritual event for Christian faith.

“The death and the resurrection of our Lord helps us to reflect on how we are living our faith and we all at Easter are encouraged to look forward with hope and joy. Life always prevails and through the Resurrection of our Lord, death is definitively over. In the first preface of Easter we proclaim that ‘Christ by dying He destroyed our death, by rising he restored our life’,” he said.

“Peace is the first and most important gift of Easter. Soon after His Resurrection, Jesus manifests Himself to the Apostles with the beautiful words ‘Peace be with you John 20, 21’.”

Archbishop Girasoli said Christians would always be promoters and defenders of peace.

He said promoting peace means to put in place even in the small circle of families, friends and communities those actions which overcome divisions, like gestures of forgiveness and speeches which help to look forward and not to the past.

Archbishop Girasoli said defending peace means to be ready to sacrifice or to give up to some of the personal and social expectations in order to keep the unity of families and society.

“Pope Benedict XVI, in the final Message of the Second Synod for Africa, celebrated in Rome last October, referring to the pastoral ministry, wrote that: ‘Priests should know how best to offer your services in a non-partisan, pastoral and evangelical way’ (N. 21). The Holy Father underlines that our ministry in order to be more effective should be non-partisan, which concretely means that we shall always be on the side of the Gospel, and on the side of God,” he said.

He said this concretely means that priests and more in general Christians were called not only to serve and help the poor, but also to speak about justice, peace and reconciliation as well as to give a voice to the voiceless and to the poor.

“But we shall do it always in God’s perspective and not according to our own views. May the peace given by the Risen Lord inspire in our beloved country of Zambia a common effort to overcome divisions and to privilege an open dialogue as the way to share and discuss different views promoting and defending always the unity and the peace that, thanks God, Zambia has always enjoyed,” stated Archbishop Girasoli.

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DC urges ZRA to sensitise people on need of paying tax

COMMENT - The Zambian government has no moral basis for asking marketeers and farmers to pay taxes, when it is their own corruption and cowardice that prevents them from collecting over a billion dollars a year from the mines. I say - no one should pay a single cent of taxes, until that happens.

DC urges ZRA to sensitise people on need of paying tax
By Ketty Zulu in Nakonde
Sat 03 Apr. 2010, 04:00 CAT

NAKONDE district commissioner Billy Silwimba has said there is urgent need to sensitise people on the need and benefits of paying tax.

During a workshop organised on Thursday by Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) to mark this year’s Taxpayers Appreciation week whose theme is ‘Recognising and encouraging voluntary compliance in revenue collection,’ Silwimba said the government could do much better in its service delivery if people were fully sensitised on the need to pay tax.

He said the country needed tax so as to improve the economy and the living standards of the people by meeting its obligations.

Silwimba said ZRA should ensure that they collected tax from goods entering the country and from all business houses and individuals who were supposed to pay tax.

“The government needs this money to do various projects such as construction of schools and roads that benefit the people in the end,” he said.

Silwimba commended the ZRA Nakonde office for the strides it had made in collecting revenue despite various challenges such as the porous border that encouraged smuggling of goods.

And ZRA provincial manager Charles Shapi called on business houses and other stakeholders to conduct their business in a transparent manner to avoid paying fines or being prosecuted once caught.

Shapi said tax evasion was a serious offence punishable by law and penalties included fines and custodial sentences for those found guilty.

Shapi called on stakeholders not to fear ZRA staff but consider them as partners in development and contribute favourably to the national treasury.

ZRA senior collector of customs at Nakonde border Stephen Mwansa said the construction of a multi-billion kwacha one-stop–border post at Nakonde once completed would enhance efficiency in the clearing of goods and traffic and boost revenue collection.

The government is expected to construct a one-stop-border post at Nakonde border post at a cost of K31 billion and works are expected to be completed next year.

Participants who attended the ZRA sensitisation workshop asked the government to urgently work on the Great North Road especially the stretch between Mpika and Serenje.

The participants said the current state of the road between Mpika and Serenje was a big threat to both property and human life.

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Zambia Sugar hikes prices

Zambia Sugar hikes prices
By Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Sat 03 Apr. 2010, 04:01 CAT

Zambia Sugar Plc head of corporate affairs Lovemore Sievu presenting a donation of sugar to first lady Thandiwe Banda at State House recently - Picture by Collins Phiri

ZAMBIA Sugar Plc has upped local sugar prices by 13 per cent owing to the recent increase in fuel prices and inflation rate which accelerated to 10.2 per cent in March from 9.8 per cent in February.

The hike is exclusive to domestic customers as industrial clients benefit from economies of scale and their price structure is via negotiations with concessions embedded in them.

Zambia Sugar head of corporate affairs Lovemore Sievu told The Post that the country’s largest sugar producer had seen its cost of production surge, forcing it to revise upwards the consumer prices for sugar.

Sievu stressed that the price hike, which triggered on April 1, 2010 was meant to preserve the value of the company’s earnings, which had been eroded by the recent movements in the economic fundamentals.

“I can confirm that there has been an increase of 13 per cent for the year,” Sievu said. “This is due to the increase in the packaging cost and to take into account the consumer price index (CPI) which has increased and other costs such as other materials…and of course the fuel costs. But, in real terms, there is no price increase if you factor in the increase in inflation and other costs, we just want to preserve the value of our earnings. We don’t profiteer and our financial statements are available so that people can see…this price is a shelf price.”

Sievu said Zambia Sugar Plc annually revises its prices in line with inflationary trends and other related costs.

He said most sugar cane growers who get more than 50 per cent of the revenues from total sugar sales had also been hurt by inflationary pressures as their costs of doing business such as inputs and husbandry services had surged.

“Our price increase is within the inflationary range and also considering the wage increase for the workers this year,” he said.

Zambia Sugar Plc this year awarded all its unionised employees between 12 to 13 per cent salary increments.

Sievu, however, said the 13 per cent price hike was unique to the local market as sugar exports were subjected to international market dynamics both within the region and the European market.

The local market consumes about 30 per cent of Zambia Sugar’s total output, which currently is estimated to be in excess of 300,000 metric tonnes.

The remainder is exported.

“In Zambia, we apply a national delivered price, meaning as Zambia Sugar, we pay for the actual cost of transportation of sugar to all parts of the country, be it in Kasama or Livingstone,” said Sievu. “But for exports, we do the (FOB) free on board, meaning the buyers have to take care of logistics for the sugar they buy from Mazabuka.”

Last week, Central Statistical Office (CSO) director Efreda Chulu explained that inflation has increased by 0.4 of a percentage point due to the increase in fuel in January.

The Energy Regulation Board (ERB) last January announced a 15 per cent increase in fuel prices, citing the rise in international crude oil prices which doubled since the last increment in December 2008 and the Treasury’s three per cent increment in excise duty on diesel this year.

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Friday, April 02, 2010

There’s a real threat on my life – Sata

There’s a real threat on my life – Sata
By Patson Chilemba
Fri 02 Apr. 2010, 04:02 CAT

THERE is a real threat on my life, Patriotic Front (PF) president Michael Sata (right) charged yesterday. In an interview, Sata said those in government were trying by all means to eliminate him because he was a very big threat to their hold on power.

“As I have said, there is a real threat on my life. I am aware there is a real threat on my life. I have to be extremely careful. They would like to fake an accident, that Michael Sata has died in an accident. So this one I am very much aware, that is why you find everybody can jump up and speak. People are just talking. Anyhow, they are so scared,” he said.

Sata said even yesterday's “fools-day rumour” that he had died was just a tip of an iceberg of the intentions by those in government to eliminate him.

“They are doing everything; they go to the chief in hospital, now they say because 'Sata is quiet, you didn't write what he said in Monze'… I am at home. It is MMD spreading death rumours. Who else? All this because of the Mufumbwe and Milanzi by-elections,” Sata said.

“You remember even in 2008 presidential by-election when I was in Katete, they said 'Michael Sata has died in South Africa'. But then they said 'no, no, no he has not died in South Africa, he has been hospitalised'. Then they said 'no, no, no, he has been evacuated'. Tell them I am not dead. You see they have been trying to use the Constitution, use the law, use everything, and they have failed.”

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What’s ‘good’ about Good Friday?

What’s ‘good’ about Good Friday?
By Editor
Fri 02 Apr. 2010, 04:00 CAT

Today, on Good Friday, Christians commemorate the passion, or the suffering, and death by crucifixion of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Many believers spend this day in fasting, prayer, repentance and meditation on the sacrifice and agony of Christ on the cross.

So, you might wonder then, why is Good Friday referred to as “good”? What the Jewish authorities and Romans did to Jesus was definitely not good (Matthew chapters 26 – 27). However, the results of Christ’s death are very good (Romans 5 : 8), “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring to you God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the spirit.” Many Christian churches celebrate Good Friday with a subdued service, usually in the evening, in which Christ’s death is remembered with solemn hymns, prayers of thanks giving, a message centered on Christ suffering for our sakes, and observance of the Lords Supper. Whether or not Christians choose to “celebrate” Good Friday, the events of that day should be ever on our minds because the death of Christ on the cross is the paramount event of the Christian faith.

In Romans 14 : 9 we are told: “For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so He might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.” It is “Good Friday” because it is the day God accepted Jesus Christ as the perfect sacrifice for our sin. And in Acts 10 : 14 we are also told: “…everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.”

Why did Christ have to suffer? It is because he lived for certain values, the values of the kingdom. Vested interests who found these values troublesome wanted to put him to death. Christ seems to say that unless we live our lives courageously and lovingly, accepting all the pain involved in it, even to the extent of accepting a death by crucifixion, we will not be able to do God’s will our lives.

It is significant that in his teaching on self-denial, he asks each one to take up his cross, implying the crosses of daily life. Those who have exploited the weak for centuries, and who wish to keep doing this, use de facto violence against them. This violence is often veiled under the guise of a fallacious order and a fallacious legality, but it is violence and injustice nonetheless.

It is not human, and hence, it is not Christian.

But the diagnosis is not enough. By his example, Christ taught us to live what we preached. Christ preached human solidarity and proclaimed that love should configure all our social structures. Even more importantly, he lived out his message of liberation to its ultimate consequences. He was condemned to death.

The power brokers in his nation saw his message of liberation, and the real-life love to which he bore witness, as a serious threat to their economic, social, religious and political interests. Today, as always, the spirit of Christ is actively giving impetus to history. It shows up in solidarity, in the unselfish commitment of those who struggle for liberty and evince authentic love for their oppressed brothers and sisters.

The structures of our society must be transformed from the roots up. The task is more necessary today than ever before because those who benefit from the unjust order in which we live are defending their interests in an aggressive way. They use all the means at their disposal – the police, the Anti-Corruption Commission, the Drug Enforcement Commission, the Zambia Revenue Authority, the entire judicial process and other state agencies, lies, propaganda, repression and dictatorship if necessary – to prevent a just, fair and humane transformation in which everyone will have the same possibilities for human fulfillment from taking place.

Authentic charity cannot gross over the struggle unleashed by those who exploit the people and seek to defend or increase their own privileges.

Fidelity to the gospel of Jesus Christ today requires Christians to commit themselves to thoroughgoing and urgently needed social transformations. Any and every effort to fashion a more just, fair and humane society, to eliminate poverty by promoting the common good over selfish interest and greedy, demands the support of those who are committed to human liberation as Christians are.

This support can and should be offered through serious minded criticism with a genuine concern for the common good.

The problem of injustice is one of the most central issues in our country today. To work justice is to know, that is, to love God (1 John 2 : 29). When justice does not exist among humans, God is ignored. Where unjust social, political and economic inequalities are found, there is a rejection of the Lord’s gift of peace, and even more, a rejection of the Lord himself. Justice, understood as holiness, a gift of the Lord, is the basic foundation of social justice.

Situations of grave injustice require the courage to make far-reaching reforms and to suppress unjustifiable privileges. The fight against injustice is meaningless unless it is waged with a view to establishing a new social and political order in conformity with the demands of justice. Justice must be ready to mark each stage of the establishment of this new order.

We need to reform our unjust structures in order to replace those which have been corrupted. This demands a readiness to accept the sacrifices necessary for the common good. This is what is demanded by the present moment and above all by the very dignity of the human person, the indestructible image of God the creator, which is identical in each one of us.

Lets us not forget that the kingdom of God, the heart of Christ’s message, is at the same time a requirement for social commitment which incorporates a critical judgment of history and refuses to deny change. It is open to human creativity and to the outpouring of the Lord’s grace.

The situation in our country today offers an exceptional opportunity for announcing and for bearing witness to God’s kingdom. If, through fear and mistrust, or through the insecurity of some in the face of any radical change, or through the desire to defend personal interests, we neglect this crucial opportunity to commit ourselves to the poor we would be in serious violation of the gospel’s teachings.

This commitment implies the renunciation of old ways of thinking and behaving.

Indeed, the day when we, as Christians, fail to present the appearance of poverty and to act as natural allies of the poor, will be the day we have betrayed our divine creator and the coming of God’s kingdom. Never before has Zambia been faced with such an urgent need to persuasively confirm this commitment to the poor.

The poor to whom Jesus speaks and who surround him are the truly poor, the hungry, the afflicted, the oppressed and all those for whom society has failed to provide a place. Through this solidarity with the poor, Jesus proclaimed his father’s love for all human kind, was persecuted, crucified and died on this Good Friday that we today celebrate. Let’s meditate deeply over Christ’s death, its meaning and purpose and live it.



Govt orders police to kill karavinas on sight

Govt orders police to kill karavinas on sight
By Namatama Mundia
Fri 02 Apr. 2010, 04:00 CAT

NORTH-Western Province permanent secretary Dr Eustern Mambwe has disclosed that the government has instructed police officers to kill on the spot karavinas hired killers that attempt to shoot them.

Making a submission to the parliamentary committee on security and foreign affairs on Wednesday, Dr Mambwe said the government through the district police division had intensified measures to stop the increase of karavinas in the province.

“Instructions have been given to police officers to kill on the spot those karavinas attempting to kill police officers using weapons and arrest those karavinas found to be causing havoc on the citizenry,” he said.

Dr Mambwe said the government had also intensified the gun amnesty programme by rewarding with cash those that surrender illegal weapons.

“So far the programme has been going on well as more than 100 different weapons have been handed over to the police during 2009 period. Government through the Ministry of Home Affairs has been paying K500,000 for each surrendered weapon,” he said.

However, Dr Mambwe said there had been isolated cases of karavinas in February in Chavuma and Zambezi districts.

“It’s worth to mention that of late there have been very few reports of karavina existence in the province,” he said.

Responding to concerns by members of the committee on whether the 100 people who surrendered their weapons had been paid, Dr Mambwe said payments had been made.

“From information I get through the intelligent reports, all the 100 who surrendered their weapons were paid, money is paid through the chiefs because the weapons are surrendered to the state through the chiefs,” he said.

Dr Mambwe said statistics on karavinas showed that most of them were foreigners.

“These are insurgents fighting government in their own country Angola; they are crossing over to earn a living. Out of the people captured, there is nothing to suggest they karavinas are locals and the majority of those are from Angola,” he said.

And Dr Mambwe called on the government to set up more border posts along the borderline in order to maximise security presence, by law enforcement agencies.
“The borderline must be clearly marked to avoid people moving from one country to another using bush road,” he said.

Dr Mambwe said the government should find resources to improve and construct border inspection lines on the Zambian side like it was done on the Congolese and Angolan sides.

He said it was imperative that security was enhanced on the Zambian border areas and that radio communication facilities must be procured and installed at selected checkpoints.

“This will not only facilitate quick responses to danger but also provide the security with self confidence that they would immediately receive support and immediate back up in case there arose a situation where they were overpowered by karavinas hired gunmen,” said Dr Mambwe.

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CSPR urges govt to eliminate supplementary budget requests

CSPR urges govt to eliminate supplementary budget requests
By Kabanda Chulu in Kitwe
Fri 02 Apr. 2010, 04:01 CAT

CIVIL Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR) has challenged the government to eliminate or considerably reduce the level of supplementary budget requests and diversion of funds from original intentions to other purposes.

According to the sectoral analysis of Zambia’s fiscal policies and trends between 2006 and 2010 that was conducted by consultants Robert Sichinga and Isaac Ngoma on behalf of the CSPR, actual expenditures had always been under expended against the original budgets leading to unfulfilled programmes and budgets.

“Expenditure budgets have always had supplementaries, for example, in 2009, government had a projection of K15.2 trillion but by the end of the year, K1.6 trillion was approved as supplementary budget. The projections have always risen in total, year on year, from a figure of K10.8 trillion in 2006 to a projected K16.7 trillion in 2010,” it stated.

“However, the nominal increases have not kept pace with the level of inflation which at the end of 2008, stood at 16.4 per cent and 9.9 per cent at the end of 2009 hence government must eliminate or at least considerably reduce the level of supplementary budget requests and diversion of funds from original intentions to other purposes.”

It stated that combined personal emoluments 33.2 per cent and recurrent departmental charges 24.9 per cent, consumed 58.1 per cent of the entire 2006 budget, which rose to 70.9 per cent in 2008.

“The 2009 and 2010 budgets have similar levels of expenditure for running the administration of the government and this level is excessive and leaves very little for the development of capital projects,” stated the report.

It is hoped that the outcomes from the study conducted by the CSPR, which was released in Kitwe, will generate urgent responsive action by the authorities concerned and stimulate civil society to get more involved in matters of budget implementation and parliamentary oversight.

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Chifuwe calls for free press

Chifuwe calls for free press
By Moses Kuwema
Fri 02 Apr. 2010, 04:01 CAT

WORLD Press Freedom Day organising committee chairperson Sheikh Chifuwe has called on people in the country to start demanding for a free press and free speech, without which there can never be justice in any society.

Addressing the press yesterday at Tecla Lodge ahead of the World Press Freedom Day, which falls on May 3, Chifuwe said the challenge was also on the media industry to ensure that people understood the need for a free press.

”If we successfully meet this challenge, and our citizens understand that freedom of expression and that of the media form the foundation of their freedom and wellbeing, then they will defend it, and enjoy the fruits of a just and a free society,” he said.

“Our conviction is that developing democracies such as ours should allow people to choose between good and bad. And such choices can only be guaranteed if our people are allowed to choose between ignorance under a legal regime that allows free access to information. We do believe that the enactment of the freedom of information law and our efforts to uphold media freedom shall re-enforce the need for public accountability.”

Chifuwe said media freedom had been a constant topic for discussion in the country because its existence was under threat either by statutory impositions, physical violations, social, political and economic challenges.

Chifuwe said this year's World Press Freedom Day celebrations under the theme Access to Information: Right to Know, befit the local situation.

”We believe this will afford us an opportunity to climax our advocacy efforts for the re-introduction of the Freedom of Information Bill to Parliament during this sitting as promised by the minister," he said.

Chifuwe also said the World Press Freedom Day provincial organising committees had already been set up and media organisations in the provinces would commemorate the day in their respective areas.

”Let me reiterate our commitment to the introduction of a national media freedom prize which honours a person, organisation or institution that has made an outstanding and courageous contribution to the defence and promotion of press freedom in Zambia. We hope this will motivate local media personnel to perform to the public's expectation in the media reforms," he said.

Chifuwe said the organising committee had also received overwhelming response from organisations that wanted to participate in the media freedom soccer tournament slated for April 24 and 25 at the Barclays Sports Complex.

He thanked organisations that had offered financial support to the committee such as Zambezi Airlines, Zambeef Zambia, Zain, Zambian Breweries, Manzi, Hotel Intercontinental and LASF among others.

Meanwhile, Chifuwe who is also Press Freedom Committee of The Post general secretary said the process towards media self regulation had taken shape and was hopeful that the mechanism would be launched on May 3 this year.

He said media bodies would hold a stakeholders conference on April 12 to 13.

”We have invited people from South Africa, we shall have Joe Thloe from the South African Press Council and Linus Gitali who is the chief executive officer of the Nation Group from east Africa, so you can see how rich this conference will be in terms of sharing ideas,” Chifuwe said.

Chifuwe urged media personnel to look at the draft code of ethics, which he said had been distributed to all media outlets, so that they could acquaint themselves with its provisions.

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Rupiah commends ZRA’s increased revenue collection

Rupiah commends ZRA’s increased revenue collection
By Fridah Zinyama
Fri 02 Apr. 2010, 04:01 CAT

PRESIDENT Rupiah Banda has said Zambia’s tax revenue collection measured as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has moved from 13 per cent at the inception of Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) to an average of 18 per cent.

And ZRA and Access Bank have signed an e-payment solutions agreement which will allow tax payers to pay their taxes with the bank.

During the ZRA second Taxpayers Appreciation Day at Mulungushi International Conference Centre yesterday under the theme ‘Recognising and Encouraging Voluntary Compliance in Revenue Collection’, President Banda, who was represented by commerce minister Felix Mutati said the current Authority’s revenue collection contributed 70 per cent to the national budget.

“It is thus evident that ZRA has managed to increase revenue collection and has performed above the set targets in most of the years of its existence,” he said. “The critical role ZRA plays in the provision of the resources for the budget and thereby in national building cannot be overemphasised.”

President Banda said the government recognises and appreciates the various initiatives that had been implemented through reforms and modernisation efforts at ZRA.

“I can confirm that my government works closely with ZRA on matters of tax law reforms and on the simplification of tax laws to enable officials apply tax laws in a fair, equitable and transparent manner,” he said.

President Banda noted that ZRA had continued on the path to integrating its operations and segmenting taxpayers according to size.

“Proof of this is in the establishment of the Large Taxpayers Office (LTO) last year and also in the Medium and Small taxpayers offices launched today,” he said, adding that it was a pleasing development as government had been looking forward to the successful establishment of the Medium Taxpayers Offices (MTO) and Small Taxpayers Office (STO).

President Banda said there was no doubt that ZRA needed to focus attention on the taxation of the informal sector.

“We are alive to the fact that taxing the informal sector is a challenge that calls for concerted efforts; but are confident that ZRA will rise to the occasion,” President Banda said. “ZRA must focus on this category of taxpayers as it also has the potential to contribute significantly to the national treasury and possibly mitigate the burden of the formal sector.”

President Banda said apart from enhanced taxpayer education services, ZRA should build capacity to administer the integration of tax operations at the district and regional levels for small and medium taxpayers.

And ZRA Commissioner General Chriticles Mwansa said in an effort to improve their service delivery, the authority would introduce a new product in partnership with Access Bank.

“We have discussed with all the banks and floated this idea to them to participate and Access Bank has already met the requirements,” he said. “Other banks will join on this platform as and when they fulfil the requirements.”

Mwansa explained that through this facility, taxpayers would be able to effect payments of customs duties though banks or through the internet.

“We hope that we shall increase revenues and create a predictable expectation of our contribution to the provision of resource to government,” he said. “It is against this background that we will continue with our efforts to modernise our tax administration systems and procedures, enhance corporate governance, improve professionalism and productivity of our staff as well as make our work environment not only safe but also conducive to production.”

Mwansa added that ZRA had embarked on strategies to reduce the cost of doing business in the country in line with the government policy.

“The authority remains resolved in its determination to improve service delivery and implementation of legal provisions relating to tax administration,” he said.

Mwansa said simplified systems and partnerships with taxpayers and the general public were critical to encouraging taxpayers to dutifully discharge their tax obligations.

“We have in place a modernisation programme aimed at improving our overall service delivery to the taxpayers and implementing policies and procedures to ensure effective tax administration and an overall expansion of the taxpayers base,” said Mwansa.

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Kazonga challenges councils to improve service delivery

Kazonga challenges councils to improve service delivery
By Zumani Katasefa in Kitwe
Fri 02 Apr. 2010, 04:00 CAT

LOCAL government minister Dr Eustarckio Kazonga has challenged councils countrywide to improve on their service delivery to the people. Dr Kazonga said most councils in the country were not providing adequate services to the people.

“Most of our cities and towns are today filled with heaps and heaps of uncollected garbage. These heaps of garbage found mostly at markets, stores, cemeteries, backyards, along streets and open spaces continue to increase in height and size due to high generation of garbage that does not match the collection and disposal to designated places,” said Dr Kazonga when he officially opened the newly constructed Zambia National Marketeers Association (ZANAMA) offices at Kitwe’s Chisokone market on Wednesday.

“The mountains of garbage have become not only unsightly, but also a source of diseases and a breeding ground for houseflies, mosquitoes which are major vehicles in the spread of diseases.”

Dr Kazonga also directed local authorities to implement measures such as strictly monitoring all developments in markets and establish permanent fire safety committees in liaison with the local fire brigade.

“Fire protection and fire-fighting equipment should be deployed accordingly as part of fire disaster preparedness and the council, in liaison with water utility companies, should provide fire hydrants in all markets and other designated areas with adequate water supply,” Dr Kazonga said.

He said there was need to have high standards of hygiene in the markets.

“Therefore, designated refuse disposal points should be established and quick disposal measures be effected to avoid unnecessary piling of unwanted garbage,” he said.

Dr Kazonga said markets should not be used as grounds for political campaigns but that marketeers should strive to maintain peace in the trading places.

“Let me take this opportunity to remind all of us that the new markets and bus stations Act No.7 of 2007 is now in force and that the public and local authorities are required to comply with the provisions of the law. Let us maintain peace and security in all our markets in the country. We want our marketeers to trade freely so that people also buy from these markets freely,” he said.

Dr Kazonga appealed to street vendors to leave the streets and trade from designated places.

“I expect the Kitwe City Council to guide the traders to designated places. With such measures in place, I expect those vending in the streets to co-operate so that streets become safe streets once again,” Dr Kazonga said.

And ZANAMA chairman general Elvis Nkandu said the association would continue working and supporting the government.

“If the government changes, we are going to support that particular government that will come in. But as for now we are supporting this government,” he said.

Nkandu urged the government to take extra care of the informal sector, which was growing daily.

Nkandu also asked the government to ensure that council officers in senior position were transferred from one town to another.

He said if council officers overstayed in one position, they intended to abuse their authority.

“We know that here in Kitwe some people’s contracts will come to an end on 12 April, so we appealing to government not to renew these people’s contracts,” Nkandu said.

About K157 million was spent to construct the new offices after the old offices were burnt by some marketeers who were protesting against the alleged beating of their colleague by ZANAMA security neighbourhood officials last year and his subsequent death.

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(HERALD) Julius Malema arrives today

Julius Malema arrives today
Herald Reporter

ANC Youth League president Cde Julius Malema’s arrival in Zimbabwe today will take the continental economic emancipation agenda further, Zanu-PF secretary for youth Cde Absolom Sikhosana has said.

Addressing journalists in Harare yesterday, Cde Sikhosana called for unity of purpose among Africans in fighting neo-colonialism.

"We want African countries to fight the war against imperialism together, just like what the Europeans and the Americans do.

"We are excited that our guest shares the same beliefs with President Mugabe who wants to see the wealth of our countries in the hands of indigenous people.

"We have to strengthen our relations in defence of our resources and that means we have to take the liberation struggle further," he said.

Cde Sikhosana said ANC youth secretary for international relations Cde Abiner Mosaase was already in Zimbabwe. "The leadership of the youth will receive Cde Malema and his delegation at the Harare International Airport at 12:30 pm," he said.

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(HERALD) Claim stakes in big mines: Kasukuwere

Claim stakes in big mines: Kasukuwere
Business Reporter

Government is moving at full speed to implement the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act with calls for locals to claim stakes in big mines that are wholly owned by foreign investors.

Addressing senior officers of the uniformed forces attending Joint and Staff course number 23 at the Zimbabwe Staff College in Harare yesterday, Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere said local people should have shares in big mines like Murowa Diamonds which he said is entirely owned by Australians.

He said Government was irked by much talk about the mining of diamonds at Chiadzwa by Mbada Holdings when the exploitation was for the public benefit yet other firms were mining without contributing anything to the country’s economy.

Mbada Holdings is a joint venture company between Government and South African investors.

"We want local participation in all sectors of the economy and in the mining sector we are saying our people should have a stake in companies like Murowa Diamonds which is 100 percent owned by Australia.

"Every day tonnes of diamonds are being ferried to South Africa with Government getting nothing and there is continued talk about Mbada.

"As for Mbada, we know that the diamonds will be auctioned and that way we will be able to raise funds to pay our civil servants, but Murowa is milking our resources daily without contributing to the country’s economy.

"It is better for us to close such mines if the foreign investors are not prepared to partner locals," said Minister Kasukuwere.

He said Government would not let the economic imbalances continue unchecked when the majority of Zimbabweans were living in extreme poverty.

Minister Kasukuwere said the country had scored notable achievements in addressing the issue of land ownership but little had been done in the economic sector.

He dismissed proposals by the Chamber of Mines that locals should get a 10 percent stake in foreign-owned mines as unguided and futile.

"The proposals by the Chamber of Mines is not serious because they have to understand that in this case we mean business.

"We need to protect our national interests and we want our people to be empowered in all sectors of the economy," said Minister Kasukuwere.

He said the indigenisation and empowerment process was a fulfilment of the goals of those who fought for the liberation of the country.

The minister said the process was not only about ownership, but also about determination of where Zimbabweans want the economy to go.

"Through this process, we are saying we have to decide our destiny as a nation without any outside influence," he said.

The indigenisation of the economy is in line with the recently gazetted regulations under the Indigenisation and Economic Empower-ment Act, which stipulates that locals should own 51 percent of shares in all companies with a share capital value of US$500 000 and above.

The companies were given a deadline of April 15 to make submissions to Government on how they intend to regularise their businesses in line with the regulations.

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(HERALD) SA defends Zim assets

SA defends Zim assets
By Lloyd Gumbo

THE South African government has appealed against a ruling by a Pretoria High Court judge last month upholding a Sadc Tribunal judgement ordering Zimbabwe to compensate white farmers for land acquired for resettlement.

The appeal effectively stops the farmers, represented by a body that calls itself Afriforum, from attaching Zimbabwe Government property in South Africa.

Chief Director for Public Diplomacy in South Africa’s Department of International Relations Mr Kgomotso Molobi on Wednesday told The Herald that they had appealed against the ruling.

Justice Garth Rabbie’s ruling sought to enforce the Sadc Tribunal judgement in South Africa and white farmers were preparing to attach what they said were Zimbabwe Government properties in that country.

"The South African government has studied the judgement and it is appealing against it. However, we can’t comment further because the matter is before the courts and it would be sub-judice," Mr Molobi said.

Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to South Africa, Simon Khaya Moyo, on Wednesday said: "The whole effort by this Afriforum organisation is to push a racial agenda.

"It is a well-known racial organisation represented only by white people," Ambassador Khaya Moyo said.

"They only serve the interests of white former Rhodesian farmers who do not appreciate the land reform programme but we cannot be bound by their wishful thinking.

"This push to attach Zimbabwe Government property is absolutely nonsensical."

In a recent interview with The Herald, Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa said all Government properties were protected by diplomatic protocols and could not be attached.

"Any judgement cannot be enforced and it is a matter of what the South African government would do to protect our properties.

"They cannot touch any of our properties because they are under diplomatic immunity. If they think they can get anything through the South African courts, they are just daydreaming," he said.

Online news reports on Tuesday indicated Afriforum was trying to attach three properties on the Cape Peninsula after identifying about 11 others, including four houses in Cape Town.

Zimbabwe’s High Court has already refused to register the Sadc Tribunal ruling here saying it is against the national interest.

Government has said the ruling seeks to reverse the revolutionary land reform programme.

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Thursday, April 01, 2010

(NEWZIMBABWE BLOGS) Indigenisation and curse of land reform

Indigenisation and curse of land reform
Posted By Joram Nyathi on
1 Apr, 2010 at 5:11 pm

IN HIS intriguing book, The Problems of Philosophy, British philosopher Bertrand Russell criticises “absolute sceptics” who claim nothing can ever be known with any certainty.

While criticism is the hallmark of philosophical inquiry, he brands the sceptics’ approach as “destructive criticism”. This form of criticism is meant to destroy the spirit of inquiry after the truth. We have something akin to that kind of criticism in the current controversy over indigenisation in Zimbabwe.

Debate presupposes rational discourse where people try to balance their views. In our case, the discourse has shifted from the merits and demerits to outright opposition to indigenisation as a policy. Those who debate have become so dogmatic about methodology that this has become an end in itself, like the parallel debate on the constitution-making process. The process has become an end in itself with Lovemore Madhuku campaigning against a constitution which doesn’t yet exist.

The “destructive criticism” of Zimbabwe’s indigenisation policy revolves around at least three disempowering pillars:

• Only Zanu PF fat-cats will benefit;
• It will fail like the fast-track land reform;
• It will chase away foreign investors.

The conclusion is that it cannot be done.

To tackle the issue of Zanu PF first: Suppose it was true, why is it so repugnant for say 50,000 indigenous people to control 50% of the economy but it is politically and morally correct for 4,500-6,000 whites to control 75% of the same when the mode of coming by such control is the same — usurpation?

To me the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act seeks merely to reverse that order. Nobody said people should not be compensated for their investment.

Second, Zanu PF fat-cats can only benefit alone if the rest of us miss the vision and become obsessive about methodology. That is how the land reform was turned into a Zanu PF affair.

Already, ordinary people are being deceived to shun indigenisation as another devilish scheme by Zanu PF for self-enrichment. Beware of these cheap divide-and-conquer tactics. We risk being bitten twice in the same argument.

Third, the real debate should be on how to make it almost impossible for the rich to get super-rich after benefiting from previous affirmative action programmes. The idea is not to take from a white minority to give to a black minority. The debate is how Mr & Mrs Allofus can mobilise resources to be part of the 50,000 imaginary Zanu PF beneficiaries of indigenisation.

Fourth, the racial overtones in the debate have clouded the overall vision of indigenisation and turned the discourse into an ideological contest between political parties. There are hundreds of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora who want to leverage their resources to benefit from the 51% to be ceded by the huge conglomerates. Instead, they are being made to fight over a policy initiative meant to benefit the majority if properly articulated and executed.

I find it pointless to respond to proponents of another willing-seller, willing-buyer model. I wonder whether such people are aware of how farmers paid only lip-service to supporting the same approach on land in the 1980s and early 1990s and how it failed because those who “owned” land believed it was “private property” to be sold at the grotesquely inflated “market price” because they didn’t want to share fertile land. The major difference this time is that short of insider dealings, the “market price” for most listed companies is in the public domain.

Another errant argument is that everyone should start their own companies. Even the Bible acknowledges that the poor shall always be with us. It is the duty of every responsible government to try and reduce their number or at least ease their suffering. That is why Barack Obama is passionate about health policy in the US. That is why there are unemployment benefits in the UK. That is why the welfare doctrine is so strong among in Nordic and Scandinavian states.

In Zimbabwe, you will be told all this is about cronyism, patronage, corruption or downright mismanagement. We can’t all be self-sufficient, let alone entrepreneurs.

Indigenisation will fail like the fast-track land reform, so we are told. To start with, most of the people advancing this argument don’t want to visit the tobacco sales floors to witness the riches farmers are reaping from the land and the properties they are buying in town.

They are also not interested in talking to the new farmers themselves to hear their side of the story. How can a one-sided tale about the SADC Tribunal ruling and the plight of 79 white farmers be the whole truth? What about Justice Bharat Patel’s landmark January judgement on the land reform policy?

Second, what is needed are not louder prayers for indigenisation to “fail” like the land reform. What is needed is debate on how it can be made to succeed without avoidable dislocations in the economy. There is no disputing that to a large extent, the land reform was chaotic. But that is not the only reason it “failed”.

Land reform “failed” mainly because there were “interests” which didn’t want it to succeed. Most such interests controlled finance, technical skills, the manufacturing, storage and supply of fertiliser and seed production. They had the connections to markets for the produce and sources of equipment and machinery. Above all, they had a voice which could be heard far and wide.

Suddenly all banks closed their agro-business sections which were dedicated to supporting farmers because without title, land had become “dead capital”. In their headlong rush to grab what was on the farms, those who responded to the fast-track land reform forgot about tomorrow – that they didn’t control the whole supply chain. Left on barren lands with neither skills, fertiliser nor financial resources, they vandalised some of the irrigation infrastructure.

Indigenisation will “fail” if the debate is not focused on financing the various small-scale enterprises already in existence to enable more people to purchase shares in big companies. Resistance will be immense.

Niccolo Machiavelli quickly comes to mind: “It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has, for enemies, all those who have done well under the old.” Who is resisting change?

Third, closely linked to the land reform were sanctions to make sure it “failed”. Normal human behaviour is that once someone gets into trouble, regardless of however foolhardy their behaviour leading to the present calamity, we assist them by, if necessary, putting them on a life support system. In Zimbabwe’s case, not only was the life support system withdrawn, an albatross was tied round its neck to punish the “innovator”. Sanctions became the United States’ Marshall Plan.

It is tempting to speculate that the maintenance of sanctions on Zimbabwe is to make sure the economic recovery takes long and is as painful as possible. As early as 2005, we were already being told by “experts” it would take at least 15 years for the economy to recover to 1997 levels. By 2008, it must have been 25 years. But Zimbabwe’s dramatic stabilisation with the introduction of the multicurrency regime in January 2009 demonstrated that this could be wild speculation.

The recovery period can be shortened even with the economy and infrastructure supporting more people than in 1997. Zimbabwe needs a humane Marshall Plan as originally conceived for Europe’s recovery from World War II by General George Marshall, that is to restore people’s confidence in the future of their own economy!

Investor flight is another favourite scare-crow. But for me that is the more reason why indigenisation is vital so that we are not perpetually held to ransom by the threat of withdrawal or withholding of investment money by aliens. Once indigenous people control 75% of the economy they constitute a formidable bulwark against the fickleness of international capital.

There is a limit to how far Philip Chiyangwa, Trevor Ncube, Strive Masiyiwa, Shingi Mutasa, Shingi Munyeza or Mutumwa Mawere can run away with their investments because they object to certain government policies. Even more, once they are the dominant group, their financial muscle should give them clout over those policies as key stakeholders. An alien only has an interest in our resources but his loyalty lies with his capital whereas a Zimbabwean owes loyalty first to his country.

We need investment, yes, but not at our own expense.

Second, it is not clear what figures are involved when we talk about investor flight. The Indigenisation Act is a fairly new law. Why were we not getting a deluge of investment before it was enacted? What guarantee is there that stopping indigenisation will bring huge foreign investment when this is tied to nebulous benchmarks which are interpreted subjectively? Who will pass us the test?

The trouble with Zimbabweans is that we have been taught self-contempt, and not only have we internalised it but have turned it into a fetish and a source of national pride. Matters of bad governance and corruption plague all nations and solutions to local problems can never be outsourced to foreigners. God gives every nation enough brains to match the problems it creates.

Third, Zimbabwe has a lot to commend it for the serious investor, from a vast variety of minerals to excellent soils, road and rail networks, natural attractions and a fabulous weather. No long-term investor will run away because of scare-mongering by those who have become slaves to the experience of past failure.

Serious investors mainly need explicit and consistent policies so they can hedge their bets. Have people stopped climbing Mt Everest because there is a possibility of dying? Can investing in Zimbabwe be more treacherous than trying to climb Mt Everest?

We are also told that investors need special treatment because they create employment. That might be true but what is the value of that employment? How is this better for me than owning a big stake in the company? One investor here in Zimbabwe often advises people to buy a company, not shares. That is, when you decide to invest in a company do it in a big way; try to indigenise it if you have the resources.

Still on employment creation, AFP news agency recently did a feature on the plight of garment factory workers in Bangladesh. These are produced for giants such as Wal-Mart, H&M, Correfour and Levi Strauss.

Quote: “Bangladesh’s 4 500 garment factories are the country’s largest employers providing jobs to 2,5 million people or 40% of the industrial workforce. Last year the country was one of the world’s top three garment exporters, with shipments up 10% to US$12,3 billion – around 80% of the country’s total exports.”

Impressive, you think. The working conditions are appalling while the wages are a scandal. Workers are paid US$25 a month which they say can’t buy food or pay rent. While exports last year hit a staggering US$12,3 billion for the Western companies, the 2,5 million employees together got a measly US$750 million in wages. That has been the situation on Zimbabwe’s farms since before Independence, even after the black government set minimum wages for the sector.

The destructive criticism against newly-resettled farmers for low productivity is largely unmerited given the lack of skills and resources in addition to the forces ranged against the land reform programme. It is not a secret that farming is heavily subsidised by the state in much of Europe and the US.

Closer to home in South Africa, white farmers recently threatened to quit if the government removed subsidies. They have been at it since Jan Van Riebeeck was governor of the Cape Colony in 1653 — using slave labour, yet Zimbabwe’s new farmers are supposed to be weaned off and self-sustaining in just 10 years, failing which black empowerment must be stopped!

We all learn something from open debate and criticism. It need not be destructive criticism.

Joram Nyathi is Jomic communications manager. He writes here in his personal capacity and the views expressed have nothing to do with those of Jomic.

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(ZIMBABWE GUARDIAN) Of insulting black people who lost their land

Of insulting black people who lost their land
By: Frank Banda
Posted: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 8:12 pm

MR Ben Freeth has spoken on SW Radio saying that "justice has eventually been made after 10 years" when news of the seizure of Zimbabwe Government properties in South Africa broke. We hope that Mr Freeth will extend the same right to many Zimbabweans who for over 120 years have lost their property to his kith and kin.

The Chegutu farmer should also know that the properties attached in South Africa do not belong to Zanu-PF, but to the government of Zimbabwe, regardless of what party is in power.

Surely, when Mr Freeth speaks about property rights, I hope he realises that the Liberation Struggle in Zimbabwe is about property rights, specifically black property rights.

The same arrogant tone was also sounded by Roy Bennett, MDC-T treasurer facing terrorism charges.

Speaking on the same station on the same day, he laughed off the fact that he was being charged, albeit after nine years, for hoarding maize in 2001. Mr Bennett always talks about the rule of law in Zimbabwe, he should be the first to submit himself to the rule of law.

If he had more grain than he was supposed to have, then he has to be charged. Many other people have been charged under the same law, why should Bennett be spared? It does not matter whether he was facing other charges or not. He possessed 92,289 tonnes of maize that he did not declare, and that is a crime.

Who is he trying to fool saying he was keeping that much maize for his staff?

Rightly so, Bennett was charged for contravening Section 40(a) of the Grain Marketing Board Act Chapter 18:14 as read with Statutory Instrument 240(a) of 2001.

Ben Freeth should know that his move is an insult to all black people who have lost property, life and limb fighting for their rights and their land; some of which was spiritual land grazed to open up farming for the white commercial farmer.

Using the same logic, I would like to think that Freeth will not complain when his farm is taken by those who claim it's their sacred land.

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(ZIMBABWE GUARDIAN) The anti-Zimbabwe cookie crumbles

The anti-Zimbabwe cookie crumbles
by Basil Mutoti

POLITICS is very unpredictable. An hour in politics is a long time. Fortunes can change overnight. Who would have thought Zimbabwe would be off BBC or CNN and the anti-Zimbabwe lobby would look so discredited and so confused? Talk of extending Zimbabwe sanctions now sounds more like pub talk; and those who advocate sanctions look more confused as each day passes.

British prime minister Gordon Brown cannot handle this hot potato called Zimbabwe.

Former avowed critics of President Mugabe like Lord Malloch-Brown and others left in the British government have gone completely silent, or are secretly reciting the Lord's Prayer wishing for a miracle to happen. Infact Malloch-Brown stood to lose his credibility as a leader, because of Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwean story is too tight to mention. People simply need their land and wealth back and they need to self-determine; no more, no less.

Just like thousands of British people who throng the City in their Saville Row suits "to run things in Britain", Zimbabweans need to do the same, in their own country, and they don't need lectures from the west. The west is discredited. It should start by lecturing itself on economics, human rights and public diplomacy. They are printing money (masking it as quantitative easing) at a faster rate than Reserve bank Governor, Dr Gideon Gono. Their Attorney Generals are more discredited as they fail to prosecute warmongers who killed and maimed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

PM Brown is so discredited he had to bring in a warmonger, Tony Blair, to help turn around his fortunes. Blair was red-faced recently at the Chilcot Inquiry. One has to be really desperate to call in such a man. John Prescott was on telly trying to convince people that Blair was still relevant. Like President Mugabe, British voters simply don't like Blair.

Dr Rev John Sentamu! Oh boy. We don't know whether he's decided to wear his collar now that President Mugabe looks like he's going to run for office again. The collarless Rev has to rethink his strategy. Grandstanding will not work. Ideas work. You cannot win against a man who's trying to uplift his people.

Now even Nick Griffin is expressing support for Dr Sentamu. What a tragedy! It's all political correctness gone mad. The British National Party frontman, ironically, was on Revelation TV and said: “I’m an Anglican. By blood, by decent, by the way I was brought up, by my schooling and so on. I’m an Anglican, and really therefore I find myself without a church."

The Archbishop Desmond Tutu has retreated to his hole. Zimbabwe is no playfield. Last we heard of him he was on US's CBS. The programme was dubbed: "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson: An Evening with Archbishop Desmond Tutu". Infact it was a replay. That episode won the George Foster Peabody award and had Archbishop Desmond Tutu as the sole guest. Whenever we hear the name Bishop Desmond Tutu, there's an award of some kind. Interesting!

The question asked by President Mugabe on Bishop Tutu was never answered. Talking to CNN's Christianne Amanpour, the president asked: "Do you know what that man amounts to in the ANC?"

Raila Odinga. Where art thou brother? 1,300 Kenyans died in election violence and 300,000 uprooted during weeks of bloodletting in early 2008. Remember that statistic? The aftermath should keep you busy at home. Where is the new constitution promised by elder Annan? Son of the Soil, where are the legal, political, social and economic reforms to promote stability, equity and peace in Kenya? Ruling is not a joke. Look at the log in your eye first Sir, before you call our president an 'embarassment to Africa'.

Obama is your relative you claimed, but he acts more American than Kenyan. Has he deserted you brother? What was the National Holiday all about? Are you still friends with our PM and our Finance Minister?

To our friends and relatives in Botswana, we are ever so grateful. African solutions to African problems, that was what the meeting in Vic Falls was all about. No grandstanding in the media. We come from the same place, and we love each other.

As the anti-Mugabe lobby remains discredited, journalists have taken over the sacred role. But their task is no walk-in-the-park. As Commissions are appointed, ambassadors appointed and violence subsides, they are left with little bad news to report. Concocting stories has become the new way of gathering news. Not for long though. They can't keep bringing documentaries like BBC's "Zimbabwe's Forgotten Children", shot in 2006 as a stop-gap measure or Hopewell Chin'ono's "A Violent Response" to lie about the present. If recycling old violence had any impact, the British would not have had a day in Zimbabwe. People move on and forgive each other, and learn from each other. The EU is made up of former warring parties. Those who silently wish for the worst in ZImbabwe in order to feed their dubious careers always get left by the wayside as the tide turns.

The axiom that "politics is local" rings true for our country. Know the local politics first before you grandstand. Unfortunately few people heed the call, and they get embarassed and discredited in the process. Zimbabwe is simply on the mend, but definitley not for sale.

*Basil Mutoti is a new columnist for The Zimbabwe Guardian.

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(ZIMBABWE GUARDIAN) Zimbabweans thriving in spite of sanctions

Zimbabweans thriving in spite of sanctions
By: Patson Tsodzo
Posted: Thursday, April 1, 2010 2:02 am

DEAR EDITOR - When I visited Zimbabwe last month, I learnt a few lessons and would like to share them with your readership.

I was one of those people who woke up and switched on my computer reading news about Zimbabwe all day in my little room and little secluded world and thinking the worst of Zimbabwe.

The news I read about Zimbabwe was very depressing to say the least, such that when I got on the South African Airlines plane to go home after years of indecision, I wasn't sure what to expect. I feared the worst. I had been told that I would be arrested at the airport for "simply living in England" for 15 years.

I was shocked when I arrived at Harare International Airport and the CIO were out of sight. I was even more shocked when I got to my parents' house in Mabelreign without any incident.

I spent four weeks in Zimbabwe touring many places including Kariba, Victoria Falls, Masvingo (Great Zimbabwe) and could not believe that this was the same place I was reading about on the internet.

Just like any other country, there are pockets of poverty and pockets of affluence. The gap between the rich and poor is increasing, but the same is happening all over the world.

When I visited my rural home in Buhera, I was even more shocked to see communal farmers doing well, although the drought had dealt them a huge blow this farming season and complained that the government should give them more support. On average, they were all optimistic about the future. Their major concern was getting the seeds and the implements to work the soil and produce.

I was glad to take off my shoes and just walk barefoot on the land of my ancestors. I visited my father's grave which was well looked after and paid my respects. I saw old friends and relatives who killed a chicken for me and we drank traditional beer.

I also went to South Africa where my brother lives, and saw a different country from the one I was reading about. In South Africa, since my last visit three years ago poverty, at least among the black population was on the increase and unemployment rife. My brother told me that there is a homicide every hour in Johannesburg and tens of thousands of black South Africans live in absolute poverty in Soweto.

In Zimbabwe, I saw a new breed of entrepreneurs who are doing well, buying houses and starting big businesses. This breed of young entrepreneurs is a resilient lot. They fight hard day and night to succeed; and they do. They are not gullible to cheap politics and they are sharp.

These young people are excited at the prospect of becoming big businessmen and the indigenization programme has got them excited.

I am sorry to say that the propaganda that is spread by our own people outside Zimbabwe is so far removed from the reality. Yes, there is political conflict, but that is not unusual in a country that is coming out of a decade of sanctions and sanctions-driven poverty.

I hope that journalists who are lying daily to the people of Zimbabwe and to the world, are able to one day go home and see for themselves. Being in this country (Britain) will give one a blinkered vision and you start believing your own lies and your own propaganda. I now know that some of those people who spread these falsehoods are making a living out of these lies. Otherwise why are they doing that?

I am already making plans to go back home, not to settle, but to invest and establish a second home. My wife and kids are excited at the prospect of going back to our Motherland every summer and whenever we can afford it, on holiday.

Shame to all those who cannot go back because they have spent decades lying and spreading propaganda to a point where they are almost discredited and no-one in Zimbabwe wants to know them. The worst nightmare one can ever have is not being able to go back to their place of birth, or where they grew up, just to reconnect and restrategize.

As for me and my family, we are currently planning our next vacation in the beautiful country called ZImbabwe.

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