Saturday, April 10, 2010

(ZIMBABWE GUARDIAN) Mpofu sues The Standard newspaper

Mpofu sues The Standard newspaper
Posted: Sunday, April 11, 2010 12:20 am

MINES and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu is suing The Standard newspaper for defamation over a story they published claiming that he was looting Marange diamonds to enrich himself. Mpofu says the source of his wealth is legitimate and he has not in any way abused his office to acquire it.

Recent newspaper and online publication reports queried the minister's financial dealings and the source of his riches after he reportedly bought properties in Victoria Falls. Minister Mpofu said he could account for everything he owns.

He said he purchased the houses in question after securing a US$1 million loan from CBZ Bank while the other funds came from his safari business.

The Standard newspaper and other online publications, like SW Radio Africa claimed that the minister was looting diamonds at Chiadzwa.

The newspaper reported that an “alleged property-buying spree by Minister Mpofu had attracted the interest of a parliamentary committee investigating the plunder of the controversial Chiadzwa diamond fields”.

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The newspaper further reported that Mpofu had splashed thousands of dollars on high-value properties in Victoria Falls and Bulawayo.

“Information gleaned from various sources indicates that the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy is sweating to establish how the minister allegedly acquired at least 27 properties in Victoria Falls alone over the last few months,” read part of The Standard article.

Mpofu’s lawyer, Advocate Farai Mutamangira, however, refuted the report, saying his client was a “reputable business person presiding over profitable businesses dating back to the first decade of Zimbabwe’s independence”.

“Our client runs a successful tourism and safari business called Khanondo Safaris and Tours (Private) Limited, which holds hunting concessions and tour operations worth millions of United States dollars.

“Khanondo purchased five pieces of immovable property situated in Mkhosana, a high-density suburb in Victoria Falls.

“The purpose of the acquisition of the aforementioned immovable property is to provide housing for Khanondo’s employees. It is not unusual in Victoria Falls for safari operators to purchase immovable property for the purposes of providing housing for their employees,” said Advocate Mutamangira.

“He is also the majority shareholder in the company called Trebo and Khays (Private) Limited, which also owns York House in Bulawayo purchased several years ago from Old Mutual.

“In any event, Zimbabwe is predominantly a cash economy and there is nothing unusual about persons effecting payment through cash,” explained Mr Mutamangira.

Documents reveal that Minister Mpofu’s company, Trebo and Khays (Private) Limited, in October last year was granted a US$1 million loan by CBZ Bank Limited.

It is this loan that Minister Mpofu says he used to acquire houses for his employees in Mkhosana, Victoria Falls.
“I have not even exhausted the facility,” said Minister Mpofu.

“The purpose of the loan facility was to purely finance capital expenditure requirements.’’
In a letter to the minister advising him of his successful loan application, CBZ stated:

“Funds should be used strictly for the purpose of financing capital expenditure requirements and the bank reserves the right to call up the entire facilities where it is ascertained that the funds are not being used in line with the stated purpose.’’

Security for the loan was supported by a mortgage bond for US$1,3 million over Stand 12265A Bulawayo Township in the name of Trebo and Khays.

Minister Mpofu said: “It only takes a corrupt person to see that another person is corrupt.

“I have been in business for years and I am a very successful businessperson in my own right. What is unusual about me buying houses for my employees?

“Most companies in the safari business do that.

“I will not be moved by such allegations and I will ensure that The Standard retracts its allegations.”

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(TALKZIMBABWE) Terreblanche 'killed in gay orgy'

COMMENT - Usually I leave the salacious stuff to the tabloids, but... damn! This is why no one should be above the law. And why apartheid (or slavery) is such a sick system. It is almost a running joke that the most anti-gay people are themselves gay. However, how much closeted behaviour is going on behind these exponents of racism? We know Strom Thurmond had a bi-racial daughter, and Joseph Goebbels had a Polish mistress. But how much of it is really gay attraction and subsequent repression of that attraction, expressed as racism? (Not that I'm a psychiatrist, but you have to wonder.)

Terreblanche 'killed in gay orgy'
by Staff Reporter
09/04/2010 00:00:00

SOUTH African police investigating the murder of white supremacist leader Eugene Terreblanche have heard claims that he met his death after a booze-fuelled GAY sex orgy with his two black workers, New can reveal.

Investigators have heard how Terreblanche, who was leader of the right wing Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) which campaigned for an independent white homeland, led a secret double life.

The new revelations will come as a blow to Terreblanche’s AWB movement which survived a split in the late 1980’s when he was caught having an affair with an attractive, blonde journalist, Jani Allan – an affair seen as a terrible betrayal within the organisation because he was married, and she was English. As one commentator put it, the affair “exposed Terreblanche’s extremism for what it was – a giant paper tiger.”

South African police have charged two farm workers, aged 15 and 28, with murder, four counts of housebreaking and robbery with aggravated circumstances, attempted robbery and crimen injuria after Terreblanche’s NAKED body was found prone on his bed just after 5PM on April 3, 2010.

Although initial reports suggested Terreblanche was killed following a pay dispute, the farmer’s neighbours in Ventersdorp, a town situated in South Africa’s North West Province, have questioned this version of events.

A local liquor store owner has told detectives Terreblanche frequented his store in the company of the two men now accused of killing him. Their last visit was just HOURS before his murder – and Terreblanche, who drank whiskey, had bought a six-pack of the cider, Savanna.

A police source said: “These workers were fairly new on Terreblanche’s property, and we have heard claims that he may have been killed in a turf war between his former partners and the two workers now arrested.

“That doesn’t appear likely, but what we have not discounted is that this was a sex orgy gone wrong.”

Detectives have also interviewed several of Terreblanche’s former employees, including one youthful member of the AWB pulled out by his family over rumours of an affair, to test the various theories surrounding his death.

Defence lawyers, meanwhile, are said to be preparing a case centred around the bombshell revelations.

Terreblanche’s supporters have sought to use his death to project what they say is a bigger crisis –the alleged targeting of white farmers by poor blacks either for criminal reasons, or in Terreblanche’s case, alleged racism which they blame on the singing of an anti-apartheid song which has the lyrics “kill the Boer” by the ANC’s Youth League.

But the AWB retracted earlier calls to avenge his murder, it is believed after learning of the true circumstances of his killing.

Terreblanche, jailed for three years for assaulting a black petrol station worker and the attempted murder of a black security guard in 1996, was buried in racially-charged scenes on Friday.

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(ZIMBABWE GUARDIAN) Nothing to apologize for: Malema

COMMENT - Everybody wins. :) Julius Malema gains name recognition and cements his militant image and position in the ANC Youth League, by getting maximum free publicity. President Zuma gets to look like a moderate on the international scene. Jonah Fisher is lifted from obscurity for acting like an ass. The BBC of course looks like it employs jerks, but then their credibility in Africa can hardly be lower after their decade long stance on Zimbabwe anyway.

Nothing to apologize for: Malema
By: Philip Murombedzi
Posted: Saturday, April 10, 2010 5:36 pm

AFRICAN National Congress Youth League chief Julius Malema said on Friday night that he was not "remorseful" about chasing BBC journalist Jonah Fisher from a media briefing, as President Jacob Zuma issued a statement saying Malema's comments did not reflect the thinking in the party.

"We are not remorseful on our stance (sic) and will never be remorseful about disrespectful journalists; particularly [those] from countries whose media always undermine the credibility and integrity of African leaders," Malema said in a statement. Malema said he had been provoked by Fisher's comments.

"In the process answering to questions, a white guy, whom we later discovered is a reporter from the British Broadcasting Corporation, interjected when we were expressing the disgust over the fact that [Zimbabwe's] Movement for Democratic Change is throwing insults at the ANC Youth League leadership from air-conditioned offices in Sandton, whilst the masses are on the ground in Zimbabwe."

"He, in a very scornful way, responded by saying 'but you stay in Sandton'."

Malema said he became "agitated" when Fisher did not back down. He said, though, that the ANCYL would be willing to talk to Fisher if he wanted to apologise.

"Our doors are, however, open for engagement with the journalist if he intends to render an apology and we will from there decide what will happen."

Malema also lashed out at the way the media reported on the incident. "We are disturbed on how most media houses have portrayed a distorted picture on what exactly happened. They presented a picture that we just responded to the journalists without provocation and that is mischievous."

He said the ANCYL would defend free speech and media freedom, but that it "should be expressed within certain confines".

"We respect the rights of journalists to openly engage on whatever issue they deem suitable, but they should not be disrespectful."


Meanwhile, SA President Zuma intervened Saturday to try to rein in the outspoken youth leader of his African National Congress party but did not suspend him from his position.

Zuma said his party's leaders should "think before they speak, as their utterances have wider implications for the country."

Zuma said he spoke to Malema about the incident involving the BBC journalist.

The telephone discussion apparently took place Thursday, soon after Malema expelled the journalist from an ANC Youth League news conference. The next day, Malema defended his own behavior and called on the journalist to apologize for interrupting him.

"The manner in which a BBC journalist was treated at an ANC Youth League press conference is regrettable and unacceptable, regardless of any alleged provocation on his part," Zuma said Saturday.

Zuma will find it difficult to suspend or expel Malema from the party or from his position. The Youth League is known for getting voters to the polls, and local elections are coming.

"We do recognize that we have a responsibility to act in a way that reduces the potential for tension, and encourages unity," Zuma said Saturday.

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(ZIMBABWE GUARDIAN) Terre'Blanche death exposes media hypocrisy

Terre'Blanche death exposes media hypocrisy
By: Comment by Philip Murombedzi
Posted: Saturday, April 10, 2010 7:42 pm

ANYONE who lives in Britain would have been shocked by the way the murder of Eugene Terre'Blanche -- the white supremacist and racist leader of Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) -- was portrayed in that country's media. It was almost unbelievable!

Terre'Blanche was an undefiant, divisive person who never repented. After his release from prison for killing a black person, he quipped: "I was never wrong to honour my heritage and to love my people, and to be there when they called me!"

I hear the world's media descended in droves on Ventersdorp ahead of Terre'Blanche's funeral on Friday, with guest houses in the normally sleepy North West town inundated with bookings.

"We have never experienced anything like this, we have had bookings from journalists in France, Spain, Germany," said the owner of the Ruimte Guest House on the edge of Ventersdorp.

"I am sending all my bookings to the other guest houses in town. It's all journalists and they may have a problem because many of them can't speak Afrikaans. They'll need translators to help them get around Ventersdorp."

Terre'Blanche, the evil, racist, far Right Boer was beaten and hacked to death on his farm outside Ventersdorp on Saturday after a wage dispute, apparently.

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The status he was accorded was unbelievable and made a lot of people cringe. Sky News and BBC even substituted the return of golfer Tiger Woods and the election campaigns of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg to televise the death of a man who advocated division in South Africa and the perpetuation of Apartheid.

What was more interesting was that there was another story running concurrently with the burial of that racist Boer: the story of ANC Youth League president Julius Malema kicking out a British journalist, Jonah Fisher, out of the ANC headquarters for constant interruption as he gave his brief on a recent trip to Zimbabwe. The BBC almost crucified Malema for that incident, and remained quiet about Fisher's uncouth and unbefitting conduct.

Interestingly, the BBC reported that: "Terreblanche's killing has unearthed racial tensions in the small town - tensions which are a rarely spoken fact of life in many South African rural farming communities."

Where was the BBC over the last 10 or so years? It wasn't Terre'Blanche's killing, but his life, that encouraged "racial tensions" in South Africa.

One commentator wrote: "The tone of BBC journalists in Africa has always been to undermine and patronize ... If you follow the reports of Eugene Terre'Blance on the BBC website, there is almost a sadness, a sense of regret from his death by the BBC. Suddenly the brute is sanitized and spoken of in almost reverent terms."

British newspapers also warned of "an impending race war ahead of the 2010 Soccer World Cup", because of Terre'Blanche's murder. Unbelievable! Do they think this man was so loved that his killing would almost spark a national crisis? What exactly do they think about South Africa that we do not know? We thought Zimbabwe was the worst country in their eyes.

The British Daily Star newspaper, under the headline "World Cup machete threat", warned of "machete gangs roaming the streets" of South Africa after Terre'Blanche's murder. The newspaper warned that a "civil war" could erupt and threaten South Africa's hosting of the World Cup.

Unfortunately calm returned to Ventersdorp despite the BBC and other media's scaremongering.

The racism of the media in Britain has gone unchallenged, unquestioned leaving many minorities without any faith in the media or any voice with which to counter the racial stereotypes it perpetuates. One need only glance at the daily British papers to read reports of Yardie drug gangs, fraudulent asylum seekers, foreign prostitute rings, and the perpetually negative portrayal of entire ethnic communities by the media.

The UK Commission for Racial Equality chair Trevor Phillips talked about tackling the snowy peaks of industry. In the media, particularly the mainstream printed press, there are snowy lowlands with almost all-White newsrooms. These newsrooms have fostered a distorted and pernicious public perception of Africans and African countries, especially Zimbabwe.

President Mugabe spent almost all of his political life called names by the BBC media. From day one, he was called a terrorist for fighting imperialism and colonialism.

The history of Africans is a centuries old struggle against oppression and discrimination. The BBC and international media have played a key role in perpetuating the effects of this historical oppression and in contributing to Africans' continuing status as second-class citizens on their own continent.

As a result, many white people have suffered from a deep uncertainty as to who Africans really are. This has raised doubts, amongst many Africans, about the white man's value system. Indeed, it has also aroused the troubling suspicion that whatever the "white media" reports on Africa is untrue.

The social, political and economic factors of racism have become more than just a bias. They are also a profitable industry, in which the West will continue to suppress the developing world in order to maximize profits.

One fact remains: international, especially British media is not as impartial as it claims to be. The world is still a "white, white world".

*Philip Murombedzi is the editor of the Zimbabwe Guardian. He can be reached via philipmurombedzi ***

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(DISPATCH SOUTH AFRICA) ‘Only for cadres!’

‘Only for cadres!’

DRAMA erupted in villages around Alice on Friday when ANC members attempted to stop local youth from signing up to take part in a government learnership programme. The drama unfolded in Upper Gqumashe, Golf Course, Lower Gqumashe and Dyamala villages.

When journalists arrived on the scene in Upper Gqumashe, ANC members ran away and locked themselves in a house – but not before tossing buckets of dirty water at a Dispatch photographer and also the youth who were being denied participation in the programme.

“We don’t care, the ANC won’t do anything about us. We are defending the struggle. Just leave before we call the police,” one ANC member shouted from behind a closed door.

In recent weeks unemployed youth in the Nkonkobe region had been invited to sign up for a Nkonkobe Youth Imbizo that will take place at the University of Fort Hare’s (UFH) Alice campus this Friday. The imbizo will involve a number of government departments and all Skills Education Training Authorities (Setas), which will offer some opportunities for learnerships and other skills.

Since last month, community meetings have been held in all 158 villages in the Nkonkobe region, calling for all unemployed youth to be part of the coming imbizo.

But it appears that the event was hijacked in some villages.

One of the youth, Amanda Mabandla said she was told by a known ANC member, “it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and if I want to be part of the programme I must join the youth wing (ANC Youth League).

“I refused to join and he refused to put my name and ID number on the list,” Mabandla said.

Lindikhaya Dywili , who was also told to sign up said: “We seem to be having no choice, this ANC rules and we just have to follow what they do. I was told that they are the ones who are coming up with these opportunities,” he said.

Neliswa Baliso from Upper Gqumashe said she decided to blow the whistle because many youth were being denied participation in an event that was supposed to be to the benefit of all, purely because they were not seen as being in the inner circles of the local ANC Youth League.

“We are forced by these ANC people to join their youth wing to qualify for the learnerships,” said Baliso.

Seta consultant Vicky Nkomana, who is organising the imbizo this weekend, said she had been shocked to learn that some youth were being prevented from having the opportunity to be part of the coming event.

“This is shocking. Different Setas will be (at the Alice campus) this Friday to give support to the youth. There is no way that it is politically linked. We don’t look at one’s political affiliation for one to be part of this.

“Those who are (stopping all youth from participating) are killing this programme,” Nkomana said.

A number of community leaders were approached by Nkomana to identify young people who might be suitable to take part in the learnership.

But some people who were tasked to do the job took the opportunity to convince the youth to be part of the ANC Youth League to be considered for learnerships.

The Dispatch accompanied some youths who tried to sign up with Nomsingathi Makapela .

She refused to sign them up for the programme “saying you must come with your money” (R12 to sign up for the ANCYL). She also refused to sign up two others saying “these two must go, they are Cope members”.

With her were three other ANC members, Nontathu Myoli, Thembisa Mantambo and India Nzoyi.

When the Dispatch returned a second time to confront Makapela and two others, they ran away and locked themselves in Makapela’s house.

Mantambo said she did not report to the Dispatch. “You are not ANC and I am not reporting to you. Whatever I do is not for you to write about,” she said.

ANC sub-region secretary and Nkonkobe Municipality Speaker, Joe Ndlebe said: “ As the ANC in this region we distance ourselves from this.” — By BONGANI FUZILE, Crime Reporter, bonganif ***

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(ZIMBABWE GUARDIAN) ABC puts micro-finance for Zim on hold

ABC puts micro-finance for Zim on hold
Posted: Thursday, April 8, 2010 5:39 pm

ABC Holdings Limited has put on hold plans to extend micro-finance business into Zimbabwe citing the sub standard salary scale for government employees. The Group’s micro-finance project has a loan book with 40 000 customers in 17 outlets across Zambia.

“In Zimbabwe we have been given a deduction code. When government employees start getting real salaries, we will start operating there,” said Doug Munatsi the Group’s chief executive in Gaborone last month.

Zimbabwe’s economic turnaround process ignited by the inclusive Government and the use of multi-currencies, after sanctions-induced inflation eroded the value of the Zimbabwean dollar, has boosted the Group’s confidence in Zimbabwe market where they recorded a 4% growth after a ten year slump.

“We expect Zimbabwe to grow and grow aggressively particularly in 2010,” said Munatsi.

He highlighted that because of the good operational performance exhibited by the Group’s microfinance division in Zambia, the Group is reluctant to open the same operations in Botswana, Tanzania and Mozambique.

“We would have wanted to go to all the markets but there is a lot more legislation activism. We have put those markets on ice,” he said.

Following South Africa’s National Credit Act of 2007, neighbouring countries have been active on regulating the credit sector.

In Botswana to tighten the micro-finance market government has set off the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA) a regulatory authority responsible for the regulation and orderly market conduct of all non-bank financial institutions.

Meanwhile the Group’s outlook indicates that ABC Holdings will launch new products in Zambia and Tanzania to boost non-income interests. In 2009 the Group managed to record high non-income interest compared to 2008 following a notable rise from forex trading income and currency revaluation.

The figures rose from 29 448 million pula to 115,786 million pula.

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Equinox announces 37% rise in copper production

Equinox announces 37% rise in copper production
By Mutale Kapekele
Fri 09 Apr. 2010, 04:00 CAT

Equinox Minerals, the holding company of Lumwana Mine has announced a 37 per cent increase in copper production in the first quarter of this year as compared to the same period in 2009.

In a statement released by Equinox Vice President Kevin van Niekerk yesterday, Lumwana Mine is said to have improved its production and mined material by 70 per cent in preliminary production.

“Production for Q1-2010 totalled 30,471 tonnes (67 M lbs) of copper in concentrate, a 37 per cent increase when compared with the corresponding 2009 period,” Niekerk stated.

“The Company also reported significant improvements in every area of production relative to Q1-2009 with both total material mined and ore mined improving by about 70 per cent.”

He stated that Equinox was pleased with the result as they were achieved at the time when the country was experiencing heavy rains.

“Following on from the steady production growth through 2009, the Q1-2010 results are particularly pleasing as they were achieved during the wettest part of the year, reflecting a solid continuation of mine and mill ramp up at Lumwana,” he stated.

“These results establish a sound base for Equinox to meet its full year 2010 guidance of 135,000 tonnes (300 Mlbs) of copper.”

Equinox president and chief executive officer Craig Williams stated that the first quarter results were “solid for the team, reflecting the continuation of ramp up and placing us on track to deliver production targets for 2010 of 135,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate."

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Stop this anarchy by William Banda

Stop this anarchy by William Banda
By Editor
Sat 10 Apr. 2010, 04:00 CAT

THE rule of law is the foundation upon which every civilised nation is supposed to be built. There can be no peaceful co-existence amongst the various interest groups that are represented in a nation without clear rules and regulations upon which that co-existence is based.

The rules that govern our belonging to a nation must be clear, unambiguous and capable of equal application to every citizen.

Anarchy is the likely result of a situation where the rule of law is undermined and laws and regulations meant to govern our relations are applied inequitably.
Democracy by its very definition requires that the players in it are subject to the same laws, enjoying similar rights and responsibilities. In other words, equality before the law is the cornerstone upon which democracy is built.

Rupiah Banda and his government claim to believe in the rule of law. But judging them by their actions, one has difficulties in believing that they mean what they say. It is very clear to any keen observer that Rupiah has bullied all those who work around him into silence and unquestioning conformity. Anyone who dares express a view that is not acceptable to Rupiah is dealt with firmly.

This is what explains why most of his Cabinet ministers are sheepishly trying to keep their jobs by being silent. No one dare say anything that will make the emperor unhappy. Rupiah’s ministers have defined a new rule of law for themselves. It is clear that Rupiah’s wishes are the law – it does not matter what the law says, what matters is what Rupiah wants. There is no dignity in serving Rupiah’s government. Anyone not prepared to be a minion has no place in Rupiah’s government.

Not too long ago, we saw a minister comparing himself to a dog in an apparent attempt to illustrate his undying loyalty to Rupiah. The uncomfortable parallel that his illustration created was nothing to him. But this did not surprise us nor should it surprise anyone. At that time, the minister involved was responding to a public attack levelled against Cabinet ministers in Rupiah’s government by MMD Lusaka Province chairman William Banda. This unelected party cadre had the audacity to dress down ministers for what he called their lack of loyalty to Rupiah publicly. One would have expected that a minister who has his personal dignity to protect would have protested the nonsense of William Banda’s attack. But that was not the case. Community development minister Michael Kaingu decided to debase himself completely by comparing his loyalty to that of a dog to its master in an effort to please Rupiah.

It is clear that Mr Kaingu’s reaction to William Banda’s insulting belittling of ministers had nothing to do with the respect that he has for William Banda, it had everything to do with his fear for Rupiah. We say this because if Mr Kaingu criticised William Banda, it would have been taken that he was criticising Rupiah himself. This is so because they all knew that William Banda was not speaking based on his own authority, he was speaking under the protection and auspices of Rupiah. In other words, William Banda is a mouthpiece for Rupiah meant to sow fear in Rupiah’s opponents and those considering the possibility of holding views different to what Rupiah holds. It seems William Banda is Rupiah’s chosen enforcer of ‘party discipline’. William Banda has the necessary history and experience gained in the one party state to do this kind of job.

It now appears that there is no limit to the powers that William Banda can exercise. No minister or MMD party functionary seems prepared to cross swords with this man however ridiculous his actions are. The only reason for this must be that William Banda is Rupiah’s mouthpiece.

It seems that Rupiah and William have forgotten that the one party state died 19 years ago. The people of this country decided that they wanted a new order.

They chose a multiparty system of democracy. This meant that they did not accept the vigilante politics that had come to characterise the one party system. The kind of hegemony that people like William Banda enjoyed is gone forever. They might think that they can repeat the same tactics of intimidation and abuse that they once enjoyed but they need to know that this will not work.

Our people are decided and clear about the type of governance that they want.

The menace that William Banda wields is also demonstrated by the shameful reaction by the minister of lands Gladys Lundwe. Lundwe has decided to defend William Banda’s extra-judicial ‘law enforcement’ activities in a Lusaka land dispute.

This newspaper has reported the activities of William Banda and some other MMD cadres who have violently harassed Ng’ombe township displaced residents.

Instead of condemning the activities of William Banda, Lundwe decided to tell the nation through this newspaper that William Banda was working with her ministry for simple reasons.

“You know, it has been very big talk in this country that MMD cadres are illegally allocating land yet they could not be the ones doing that. This is why you have seen that Mr William Banda and other people have taken it upon themselves to prove to the nation that these people who are doing that are not MMD cadres and this is why you have seen that they have created a task force going round Lusaka to arrest people to help the police actually who must not have been doing it.”

What kind of nonsense is this? What power does William Banda have to start arresting people? How can a minister sink so low as to condone such lawlessness? If all of us decided to start going around harassing people we suspect are doing wrong, what is going to happen? Isn’t this a recipe for anarchy and lawlessness? Why should it take MMD cadres to arrest people who are illegally allocating land? Do we not have state functionaries who are supposed to perform these duties?

It is clear that Lundwe is scared of criticising William Banda because she knows that he is well backed. Like Mr Kaingu, Lundwe has given in to a nonsensical position. How can a minister suggest that private citizens have formed a task force to arrest those giving plots illegally? How was this task force created? Isn’t this the creation of a private militia meant to harass poor people who cannot run to the police because the people behind this militia are government agents? This kind of abuse of power that Rupiah is tolerating is too dangerous for our country and should stop. It is wrong for people to believe that anything done by the MMD is correct. Although the MMD is the party in power, it is a party just like any other party and should respect state institutions and state authority. What Lundwe is defending is indefensible.

Rupiah should stop this anarchy or else this William Banda will cause him more problems than he can imagine.

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Kapata demands arrest of William Banda

Kapata demands arrest of William Banda
By Chibaula Silwamba
Sat 10 Apr. 2010, 04:01 CAT

MANDEVU PF parliamentarian Jean Kapata yesterday demanded the arrest of MMD Lusaka Province acting chairperson William Banda and his land-grabbing cadres for harassing Ng'ombe displaced people in an attempt to confiscate land from them.

Commenting on the revelations by leader of the former Ng'ombe residents Stephen Ludaka that Banda and his cadres violently harassed the displaced residents in Lusaka over the weekend in an attempt to grab land from them and lands minister Gladys Lundwe's defence for William Banda and MMD cadres, Kapata said William Banda must not be allowed to be going round with activities which are in conflict with the law.

“He should just concentrate on his party but not to destabilise people where they are. He must be arrested, the President must have William Banda arrested because whatever he is doing is not right,” Kapata said.

She said William Banda was not the right person to be going round to address land allocation issues because he was not an official from the Ministry of Lands or the council or the police.

“William Banda is not a police officer; we want police officers to act. We have reported to the police on several occasions, even in Mandevu where the MMD cadres are allocating land but the police have not done anything. I challenge Lameck Mangani as Minister of Home Affairs, let him do something about the people of Ng'ombe,” Kapata said. “The displaced people of Ng'ombe are destabilised by MMD cadres and Mr William Banda knows and let him tell the truth. Those are cheap politics which he is playing. I challenge him to bring out the MMD cadres that are illegally allocating land.”

Kapata attributed the problem of land allocation in Lusaka to MMD cadres.

“The displaced people of Ng'ombe have suffered for a long time. By now they could have settled but because MMD cadres are harassing them and they MMD cadres think they can go anywhere and start allocating land. I am not going to accept that,” said Kapata.

But lands minister Lundwe has defended William Banda's lawlessness.

“Mr William Banda and other people have taken it upon themselves to prove to the nation that these people who are doing that are not MMD cadres. And this is why you have seen that they have created a task force going round Lusaka to arrest people to help the police actually who must have been doing it,” said Lundwe. “The cadres themselves, they are saying they are the people illegally allocating land. They have started arresting and reporting or taking those people to police. So we want to clear it from the nation that it would not be MMD cadres as such, so when they are arrested, we will prove to the nation where they are coming from.”

However, MMD lands chairperson Judith Kapijimpanga has condemned William Banda and party cadres for grabbing land from Ng'ombe displaced people.

Last Friday, Saturday and Sunday, William Banda and MMD cadres went to harass Ng'ombe displaced people on Kabwe Road, confiscated their cement, shovels and other tools in a bid to compel them to surrender the land to the MMD.

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World Bank to boost private agro-sector

World Bank to boost private agro-sector
By Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Fri 09 Apr. 2010, 04:00 CAT

THE World Bank has led other key financial institutions in launching a major initiative to boost private sector agriculture in southern Africa to meet a growing demand for food and support economic growth.

And agriculture minister Peter Daka has said broader access to agriculture finance will require both the private sector and governments to bring together public and private finance to high impact interventions.

The initiative, launched in Livingstone on Wednesday, will be spearheaded by International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector wing of the World Bank and supported by the European Union (EU).

The European Union hosted a regional agricultural and food security forum from April 6-9 in Livingstone and gathered industry leaders, private and public sector partners, financial institutions, farmer organisations, and civil society groups to discuss ways to support agriculture projects in the region.

And Daka said finding a formula for sustainable partnerships between public and private finance was key to stimulate private sector led agriculture growth in southern Africa.

”Broader access to agriculture finance will require both the private sector and governments to bring together public and private finance to high impact interventions,” said Daka. “Finding a formula for a sustainable partnerships between the two, is what is going to stimulate private sector led agriculture growth in the region.”

The forum, supported by Rabobank from Netherlands and Zambia National Commercial Bank and facilitated by Dalberg focuses on enabling access to finance for emergent and small-scale farmers and on finding ways to improve both the productivity and the quality of goods produced.

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Polish president, govt officials die in air crash

Polish president, govt officials die in air crash
Sat 10 Apr. 2010, 12:20 CAT

Lech Kaczynski, the Polish president his wife and top government official, killed when the presidential plane crashed in western Russia. Image from video footage shows a firefighter working to extinguish the flames from the wreckage of a Polish government Tupolev Tu-154 aircraft that crashed near Smolensk airport today.

A plane carrying Lech Kaczynski, the Polish president, has crashed near Smolensk airport in western Russia, killing all 135 passengers on board, Russian and Polish officials say.

Polish officials also confirmed on Saturday that Kaczynski was on board the flight with his wife, as well as Slawomir Skrzypek, the head of Poland's central bank, Andrzej Kremer, the deputy foreign minister and the army chief of staff.

The Tupolev Tu-154 plane crashed on approach to Smolensk airport in thick fog.

Sergei Antufiev, the governor of Russia's Smolensk region, told official media there were no survivors from the crash.

"It clipped the tops of the trees, crashed down and broke into pieces," Antufiev told Russia-24 television.

Polish 'shock'

Rafal Kiepuszewski, a journalist monitoring the situation in Poland, said the news came as a shock to the Polish people.

"The fact that much of the Polish political establishment appears to have been wiped out on this single flight has really come as a profound shock to the Polish nation," he said.

The Polish government delegation was on its way to the city of Smolensk to take part in the 70th commemoration of the Katyn massacre - where Russian forces killed more than 20,000 Polish soldiers.

Kaczynski has served as president of Poland since 2005. Prior to that, he was mayor of Warsaw, the Polish capital.

An emergency government session was being called in Warsaw to discuss the situation, while a crowd could be seen gathering in front of the presidential palace.

Crash investigation

Smolensk local authorities investigating Saturday's crash said that pilot error may have been the cause of the crash.

"The pilot was advised to land in Minsk, but decided to land in Smolensk," Andrei Yevseyenkov, a spokesman for the local government said.

Chris Yates, an aviation expert, told Al Jazeera the the Tupolev Tu-154 is capable of operating in extreme weather conditions and able to land on unpaved airstrips.

"These things are built like thanks," he said via email correspondence.

"From early reports, it would seem to be a fluke accident, with the aircraft clipping trees in the descent."

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

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Habasonda demands govt explanation over student’s death in Russia

Habasonda demands govt explanation over student’s death in Russia
By Florence Bupe and Chibaula Silwamba
Sat 10 Apr. 2010, 04:01 CAT

SOUTHERN African Centre for Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD) executive director Lee Habasonda has demanded that the government give a comprehensive explanation into the death of Lance Mate, a Zambian student in Russia. But Russian Ambassador to Zambia Boris Malakhov said the death of Mate was an isolated case.

Commenting on the matter, Habasonda said the government could not afford to continue downplaying the suffering and loss of lives of Zambian students abroad at the hands of racists.

“Our government should ensure that they get to the bottom of what happened regarding our student in Russia. Being lukewarm about the issue in the name of diplomatic etiquette will not help anyone,” he said.

Habasonda said it was not worth it for the Zambian government to continue being passive when innocent lives were being lost just because the country gets some form of donor aid from Russia.

“It’s apparent that the matter is not being picked up rigorously by government. People deserve to be told what happened, we are getting concerned with our people’s welfare in that country,” he said.

Habasonda challenged the Zambian Embassy in Russia to take the matter seriously.

“I wonder whether we even have an Embassy in Russia. That office should be taking this matter more seriously than they are. What happened is unacceptable and should not be allowed to recur,” said Habasonda.

Mate, 21, went missing in the Russian city of Kazan on November 6, 2009 and his body was only discovered on April 4, 2010 in the local Kazanka River.

He was last seen alive with friends around 04:00 a.m leaving a nightclub on Balmon Street.

Surveillance cameras had earlier captured Mate being beaten by a native Russian but local Police claim the assailant left the Zambian student, who ‘went in an unknown direction’ and disappeared.

Foreign affairs acting permanent secretary Alfred Chunda, who once served in the Russian diplomatic service, admitted that racism was strife in that country and advised Zambian students going to study there to exercise care.

“I personally demand that I talk to Zambian students intending to study in Russia on the dangers they are likely to face. It is true that there are high levels of racism, and during my stay there I actually brought back bodies of two Zambian students who were killed,” said Chunda.

And in an interview following the retrieval of Mate’s body, Ambassador Malakhov said the first examination of Mate’s body showed no signs of physical violence but a criminal case had been opened with suspicion that it was murder.

“We regret very much and we express our deepest sympathy to the parents, relatives and friends. We believe that this case will not be repeated. As you know, nowadays all foreign students are very safe in Russia and such cases are very rare. If there is anyone guilty about this case, if there are killers our justice will find them and punish them according to the law,” Ambassador Malakhov said.

When asked further about the growing fear among Zambians that Russia was unsafe for African students, Zambians in particular, Ambassador Malakhov argued that Russia was safe for foreigners.

“I don’t think that you are right. There is no fear among those who want to go to Russia. To tell you, we provide, starting this year 103 scholarships to Zambian students to go to Russia and there are more than 1,500 applicants and the candidates for bursaries are selected by the bursaries committee of the Ministry of Education of Zambia. There is a great number of those who want to go to Russia. There is no sense of fear,” Ambassador Malakhov said.

He said the fact that some Zambian students were on self-sponsorship studies in Russia meant that they wanted that country’s education.

“There are no fears and quite justifiably because there must not be any fear because such accidents happen to Russian citizens because crime still exists in Russia as in every other country there are criminals which have to be either prevented from killing or severely punished for the death of innocent people,” said Ambassador Malakhov.

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Rupiah isn’t president for MMD – Magande

Rupiah isn’t president for MMD – Magande
By Patson Chilemba
Sat 10 Apr. 2010, 04:02 CAT

NG'ANDU Magande yesterday argued that President Rupiah Banda is not the president of the ruling MMD. But MMD national secretary Katele Kalumba said President Banda is president of the party because the MMD constitution does not provide for the position of acting president.

Commenting on President Banda's claim that he was party president and not acting president, Magande - who is MMD Chilanga member of parliament and former finance minister - said President Banda was just an acting MMD president.

“He is not president, no! By the constitution he is just acting. He has to present himself to the convention and then the convention will decide. So that is what the constitution of MMD says. And in the past we had others who were acting until they went to the convention,” Magande said.

He said previous leaders like late president Levy Mwanawasa was referred to as acting president until he was elected at the convention.

“Because it is the convention that confirms a president of the party, it just shows, if he says so that he is president then there are some decisions that perhaps he can make which we are not aware of, and therefore it would be difficult then to start reversing decisions made by somebody who is already substantive president,” Magande said.

But Kalumba argued that President Banda was president of MMD.

“He is president of MMD, the president of the party. No, not acting, he is the president of the party. We don't have a position in the constitution called acting president, no, no such constitution position,” said Kalumba.

Addressing a press briefing at State House on Wednesday, President Banda said he was MMD president and not acting president.

On President Banda's action to retire and replace Zambia Army commander General Isaac Chisuzi, Zambia Air Force (ZAF) commander Lieutenant General Samuel Mapala and Zambia National Service (ZNS) commandant Major General Raphael Chisheta, Magande echoed General Malimba Masheke's observation that it appeared there was some crisis somewhere.

“There is a national defence council made up of all these people retired commanders, and if you remove all the people that are in the operating wing, who is going to advise the other on the past? You need continuity. At least if others were left, or even juniors were promoted up,” said Magande. “But I think that is his prerogative as Head of State. He is Commander-in Chief, he can remove anybody. But we as spectators, we just wonder what has happened to all the command which was there before.”

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Don’t threaten my life, Sata warns Rupiah

Don’t threaten my life, Sata warns Rupiah
By George Chellah and Christopher Miti
Sat 10 Apr. 2010, 04:01 CAT

Sata addressing a rally at Kagoro Basic School after the PF-UPND candidate Albert Banda filed his nomination for the Milanzi by-election in Katete on Thursday - Picture by Thomas Nsama

PATRIOTIC Front (PF) leader Michael Sata yesterday warned President Rupiah Banda against direct attempts on his life. In an interview, Sata described the Thursday incident in Milanzi where he was almost run-over by an MMD vehicle as a conspiracy.

“I am more than convinced that what happened in Milanzi constituency where a vehicle carrying an MMD candidate deliberately reversed and hit into a stationary vehicle which I was standing next to was a conspiracy. I am 100 per cent certain that it was conspiracy because if you look at the MMD team in Milanzi, there wasn't any senior national executive committee (NEC) member, there were no ministers or deputy ministers present except probably the campaign manager who was also hiding,” Sata said.

“Not even Dora Siliya MMD spokesperson, Chembe Nyangu MMD deputy national secretary or Lameck Mangani, who has of late been projecting himself as the voice of Eastern Province in the MMD was present. No wonder I am saying that it was a conspiracy because all these people I have mentioned knew what they were going to do to me or what was to happen in Milanzi. That's why they didn't show up.

“They basically didn't want to witness that heinous act they MMD had planned. They knew that if that vehicle had rolled over me in their presence, it would have been very difficult for them to explain themselves out of that act, that's why they opted to stay away and let the young ones execute the operation. But I want to warn Rupiah Banda that let us just do politics and not threaten my life and other people’s lives.”

Sata challenged home affairs minister Mangani to speak out about the Milanzi incident.

“Mangani instructed the police to investigate me and Hichilema over the statement that they want to begin eliminating opponents. I want him to speak now because this incident in Milanzi happened in full view of the police. I personally complained to the police after I survived that deadly encounter. I told the police officer who was at the scene that 'you are here can you arrest that one' but the police were just looking at me,” Sata said. “The police witnessed this incident right from beginning when the MMD vehicle was deliberately reversing up to the end but they couldn't even arrest the culprit. I hear the MMD tried to change the story by bringing in the usual 'gun' story they talk about at every by-election. I am told they tried to cheat that a PF member produced a gun, which is all rubbish. The police were at the scene when that happened why didn't they arrest the person who produced the gun?”

And MMD campaign manager Dr Eustarckio Kazonga later claimed that Sata's vehicle hit into the MMD vehicle, which was carrying their candidate Whiteson Banda when it was reversing.

He further claimed that there was commotion when a PF security officer produced a gun during the incident. Dr Kazonga said the MMD reported the incident including the production of the gun.

And Eastern Province MMD chairperson Kennedy Zulu said the production of the gun by a PF man was an attempt on the life of their candidate.

But Sata first reported the matter to Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) chairperson justice Florence Mumba and ECZ commissioner judge Esau Chulu and was advised to report the matter to police.

Meanwhile, UNIP campaign manager in the Milanzi by-election Archangel Mbewe said his party had put in place measures that would prevent MMD from rigging elections.

Mbewe, who is also Kazala ward councillor, said his party could not lose in Milanzi.

Asked as to why UNIP lost the last by-election despite having nine councillors out of the total of ten wards in the area, Mbewe said UNIP did not lose the last by-election in Milanzi.

“We did not lose the previous elections but there were some sort of rigging. This time we have put in place people who will be able to trace out whatever the MMD will bring out,” he said.

UNIP candidate Musa Banda who was the second candidate to file in his nomination papers said he was confident of scooping the seat.

And MMD candidate Banda said once voted into office, he would continue from where late Reuben Chisanga Banda stopped and ensure that roads were worked on.

Banda urged voters to vote peacefully without any violence.

PF-UPND candidate Albert Banda said it was unfortunate that Milanzi had remained underdeveloped since independence.

He pledged to work with the people once elected member of parliament.

“I am not someone who after being elected will go forever. I want to work close with the people of Milanzi. I want them to send me just like what we are doing now so that whatever message they give me I take it to parliament and in return I get back to them,” Banda said.

He said it was bad that most members of parliament did not get back to the people who sent them to Parliament.

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Cuba accuses US of financing a counter revolutionary group

Cuba accuses US of financing a counter revolutionary group
By Larry Moonze in Havana, Cuba
Sat 10 Apr. 2010, 04:00 CAT

CUBA has accused the USAID of financing a counter revolutionary group in Cuba with some US $20 million.

In a front page editorial on Thursday, the Granma - an official organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, alleged that the US and its European allies were drawing up plans, coordinating the work of their special services, sending their diplomats onto the streets to monitor the work of their paid agents on the island and increasing funds for subversion in Cuba.

“The USAID alone has a budget of US $20 million this year to supply counterrevolutionary group and finance the media attack on Cuba,” the Granma reported. “They are currently focusing their cynical campaign on another hunger striker Guillermo Farinas– whose common crimes and counterrevolutionary acts were exposed in Granma last March 8 – and who is being offered all the qualified medical treatment he requires. They are internationalising his show while maintaining a cynical silence concerning his cruelty and criminal record, his aggression and death threats to a doctor, the director of the hospital where he worked, and his attack on a defenseless elderly man who had to undergo emergency surgery as a result of the injuries he received. They are likewise kicking up a fuss around the self-denominated Damas de Blanco (Women in White), who are lending themselves to the enemy’s game while supporting themselves with dollars stained with Cuban blood, supplied among others by the terrorist Santiago Alvarez Fernández Magriá, who attempted to blow up the Tropicana Cabaret and is the Miami benefactor of Luis Posada Carriles. Thus it is not surprising that the mastermind behind the sabotage of a Cubana de Aviacion passenger plane and other execrable acts should have come out a few days ago in Miami to show his support for these "damas," whose only sanction to date has been the overwhelming and energetic repudiation of our people in the streets.”

The Granma stated that in the United States receiving money from a terrorist organisation was a felony that was severely punishable.

It stated that in the same vein acting in the service of a foreign power was a crime in the US.

“The crimes of the so-called "dissidents" have nothing to do with freedom of expression but are related to paid collaboration with the enemy superpower in its conspiracies against our nation,” the Granma explained. “It is proven that all of them were in direct or indirect receipt of funds from the US government and more than a few European foundations collaborating with the policy of war on Cuba.

What would happen to these "dissidents" if they acted in the country of their master in the same way they are in Cuba? The US Penal Code sets out a sentence of 20 years for those who advocate the defeat of the government or the established order; 10 years for persons who make false statements with the aim of threatening national interests in relation to another nation, and three years for those who maintain "correspondence or relations with a foreign government" with the intention of influencing its conduct in relation to a conflict or controversy with the United States."

The Granma charged that Cuba’s enemy was using all its weapons of pressure.

“It is using political coercion and ordering the media annihilation of those wishing to show their solidarity with Cuba,” it stated. “It is attempting to silence any voice that is in discrepancy with its dictate. It has even forgotten the much-trumpeted freedom of expression by obliging Google to close the digital blog of a Cuban intellectual who has exposed with irrefutable arguments the real political propositions of the campaign against our homeland.
Nothing surprises us. They are the same perverse methods as those put into practice 50 years ago when President Dwight Eisenhower passed the Covert Action Plan against Cuba.”

The Granma stated that the more than half a century of permanent combat had taught Cubans that vacillation was synonymous with defeat.

“We will make battle with our ideas in our streets and in all international scenarios,” stressed the Granma. “We will defend the truth with our ethics and our principles.”

It stated that the US and European allies were cynically invoking human rights issues that they themselves had disregarded and were still disregarding with impunity today in diverse parts of the world.

The Granma argued that despite the continued US policy of hostility and constant aggression ranging from armed invasion, terrorist acts and attempts on the lives of Fidel Castro and others including the 50-year-old embargo the Cuban administration had never murdered, tortured or displaced even one of its enemies.

“Can the governments of the United States and the European countries that are shouting their heads off criticising Cuba and condemning it as if they were vestal virgins say the same thing?” posed the Granma. “What can they say about the million dead in Iraq and the tens of thousands of victims in Afghanistan as a consequence of the illegal wars executed there? How can they explain the secret prisons and the torture of alleged terrorists? What is the legal basis for the selective assassinations that the United States has perpetrated against its enemies in various parts of the world with a special force headed during this period by the very same general who is now commanding the troops in Afghanistan? How can they justify the death in the last five years of more than 100 immigrants who were in the custody of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement?

What human right sustains the brutal blows dealt to representatives of social movements protesting during the Climate Summit in Copenhagen or Californian students demanding a larger budget for and less money taken out of education?

Who is supervising the humiliating treatment meted out to immigrants in hundreds of detention centers scattered throughout Europe? Have the US Congress or the European Parliament and the right-wing parties of Europe, currently so concerned about Cuba, responded with alarm to, denounced or condemned these scandalous violations of human rights? What is really making them concerned is the moral fortitude of the Revolution, its fidelity to principles, its growing prestige in our region, where it has become an important actor in promoting the integration process; its intelligent and serene response to confronting the harsh consequences of the international economic crisis and the blockade; and its clarity in terms of having to change what has to be changed in pursuit of attaining full justice for our people, as we have been asked by Fidel and Raul.”

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Govt, Total incur $16.7m debt for importing crude oil

COMMENT - All government debt is paid by the Zambian taxpayer and consumer. When debt increases, the Zambian Kwacha depreciates relative to foreign currencies, meaning that the price of imported goods (captial goods, fuel) increases. So when the Zambian government chooses to borrow instead of tax the mines, they are cheating the Zambian consumer twice, by making them pay for what they should not be paying for in the first place.

Govt, Total incur $16.7m debt for importing crude oil
By Abigail Chaponda in Ndola
Sat 10 Apr. 2010, 04:00 CAT

INDENI Oil Refinery has revealed that the Zambian government and Total incurred US $16.7 million about K78 billion debt for importing crude oil from a foreign country.

And Indeni refinery managing director Maybin Noole said if US $40 million was pumped into the refurbishment of the Bitumen plant that has been lying idle for the past five years, it would reduce on the importation of Bitumen by 60 per cent.

Addressing the parliamentary committee on government assurances chaired by Roan member of parliament Chishimba Kambwili at Indeni on Thursday, Noole said Indeni needed US $5 million to modernise its control system.

“When Total pulled out of Indeni last year, there was a debt of US $16.7 million, and the reason is that government was importing crude oil through TAZAMA and the cost of importing the crude oil was higher than the cost of selling,” Noole said. “We are unable to liquidate that debt for the next three years. And we also want to work on the refurbishing of the Bitumen plant because it has not been in operation for the past five years and we need US $4O million.

“And we want to modernise the instrumentation which is the control system. This project was parked when Total was there, it was not cancelled but just parked but we want to unpark it because it is a good project and it will make work easier for the plant and we need US $5 million.”

Noole said the plant was working well and it would run without any upsets through to September when it closes for maintenance works that would last for 45 days.

He said Indeni Oil Refinery had the expertise to run the refinery and meet national demand.

However, he said crude oil needed to be consistently available to meet this demand.

“The refinery has improved over the years. We as Indeni can improve but if the pipeline that the oil passes through is not well then we too can’t work well. So TAZAMA must also be looked at. We operate together and can’t do without each other,” Noole said. “What we need is recapitalisation and saving. We are able to meet national demand and we want government to give us a chance.”

And Kambwili said it was unfair for the new Indeni management to liquidate the US $16.7 million debt incurred by the Zambian government and Total.

He said the government should instead liquidate the debt.

He said he was impressed with Indeni Oil Refinery management and their role in the country’s economic development.

However, Kambwili cautioned management against unnecessary closures of the refinery.

“We are happy with the work that you are doing. But we don’t want to hear of unnecessary closures. We are going to support you and make sure that we lobby government to give you the necessary finances that you need for the plant. We are impressed that Zambians are running the plant,” said Kambwili.

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‘MPs loiter during NCC proceedings’

‘MPs loiter during NCC proceedings’
By Mwala Kalaluka
Sat 10 Apr. 2010, 04:00 CAT

SOME parliamentarians attending the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) have allegedly stopped contributing to the conference’s debates and are just waiting for the final document to go to Parliament where they will shoot it down.

And NCC chairperson Chifumu Banda said delegates that are fond of loitering outside Mulungushi International Conference Centre premises during proceedings are not being paid allowances to loiter around.

During clarification time in the NCC on Thursday afternoon, NCC delegate Reverend David Masupa said he had a pertinent clarification to make.

“This is my observation and maybe the secretariat can confirm that there are groups of some commissioners that are sitting outside and in the bar while the deliberation of the conference is going on,” Rev Masupa said. “And we have heard that some MPs will not debate any further here but they are waiting for this document to go to Parliament so that they shoot down what has been agreed.”

In response, Banda said since he did not have evidence, it was extremely difficult for him to make a ruling.

“Parliament in passing the NCC Act thought in its wisdom that including MPs at this stage will assist in garnering consensus,” Banda said. “As you will see many honourable MPs have been participating actively and I hope honour will demand that decisions that have been agreed here can be respected. I don’t think honourable members of parliament can become like turn-coats. I do not think they will be dishonourable.”

And during debate on the report of the NCC committee on human rights, Banda asked for a moment’s indulgency to deal with a note from a concerned member about some delegates that were loitering outside the conference hall.

“Before I call Mr Phiri, some concerned member of the NCC has sent me a note telling me that some members of the NCC are just chatting outside,” Banda said.

“I have sent somebody to go and get their names to see what could be done. I don’t think they get allowances just to be chatting outside. Some it’s habitual. There is no consultation at all.”

Those found outside the conference immediately after Banda’s directive included, works and supply minister Mike Mulongoti, who was conducting an interview with a journalist in the lobby. Local government deputy minister Moses Muteteka was seen chatting with his permanent secretary Timothy Hakuyu and Mkushi North MMD parliamentarian Sydney Chisanga on the lawn in front of the conference centre.

Zambia Direct Democracy Movement (ZDDM) leader Edwin Sakala was also standing on the lawn with two other persons, chatting. Other NCC delegates were seen chatting in the car park or attending to visitors.

Local government deputy minister Elijah Muchima was spotted arriving late for the deliberations and when commerce deputy minister Dr Lwipa Puma told him that he was fond of coming late, he replied that he was busy.

“Busy, in fact I have left a meeting. I am going back,” said Muchima as he rushed into the conference room before emerging out of it a few minutes later.

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(ZIMBABWE GUARDIAN) Praise be to Malema

Praise be to Malema
By: Dr Chiparanyanga Gwangwawa
Posted: Friday, April 9, 2010 10:07 pm

A BLACK person who criticizes Malema is incapable of appreciating the workings of this world. Granted, there are moments Mr Malema become a bit aggressive and maybe insensitive to minorities. But when everything is said and done, he is a true champion of black emancipation.

Should the serious matters which affect the nation be subject to the resolutions of the majority? If it was so, then America and its allies had not bombed Iraq, for the greater population saw no justification in such an endeavour.

Let the revolutionaries like Malema forge ahead to obliterate any ruminants of racial discrimination, intolerance, and prejudice targeted against the black race in an unapologetic manner.

Racial harmony is what everyone desires but it ought to come from both sides.



(ZIMBABWE GUARDIAN) West should recognize President Mugabe: Tsvangirai

West should recognize President Mugabe: Tsvangirai
Posted: Friday, April 9, 2010 9:33 pm

PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has urged the West and the international community to recognize President Robert Mugabe as the leader of Zimbabwe and accept that the inclusive Government has made significant strides in ending polarisation, violence and divisions in the country.

Addressing delegates at the Zimbabwe Africa Business Opportunities Day commemorations in the capital Harare on Thursday, PM Tsvangirai said the three political parties in the country signed the Global Political Agreement (GPA) with the intention of saving the country from "the turmoil that it was experiencing".

“If there are sceptics in the United States who think and wish one day President Mugabe will wake up dead then they are mistaken,” he said.

The comments by PM Tsvangirai came aganist a background of Western countries refusing to support the inclusive Government, saying they would only do so when President Mugabe was removed from office.

President Mugabe has criticised the West for trying to effect regime change in Zimbabwe.

Mr Tsvangirai urged the international community to recognize the progress that the inclusive Government has made so far. “We need to be rewarded for the progress,” he said. “We are not where we are supposed to be, but certainly we are where we never thought we would be sometime last year.”

Meanwhile, PM Tsvangirai said the government was about to finish revising the Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Act regulations which would see equity being bought and not ceded.

He said the new regulations would ensure that there was broad-based empowerment and not for a few people to benefit. “Under these regulations shares will not be ceded but instead they will be purchased and they will be open for anyone,” he said.

He said the government was working towards the creation of an environment which attracts foreign investment. Investment opportunities were limited and the country should compete to attract them, he added.

“As government we are working on creating an investment climate that will result in our natural assets being used for economic growth,” said Mr Tsvangirai, who urged the business community to interact positively with foreign counterparts to promote international investment.

“If you go out there and paint a bad picture no one will come to invest in the country,” he said. “We are struggling to create a conducive investment environment so give us the support and be patient with us.”


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Friday, April 09, 2010

(LUSAKATIMES, VOA) Britian Deals Legal Blow to ‘Vulture Funds’

Britian Deals Legal Blow to ‘Vulture Funds’
Friday, April 9, 2010, 20:09

Campaigners have called on the United States to outlaw “Third World Debt profiteering” after the practice was banned in Britain on Thursday. The British Debt Relief bill is the world’s first law that restricts so-called Vulture Funds, which buy up poor country’s debt at a cheap price and then take the country to court to recover the full amount.

Nick Dearden, director of the Jubilee Debt Campaign, a Britain-based group that campaigns for the complete cancellation of poor country debts, says over half of “vulture” cases are tried in the United States and Britain.

“If both Britain and the United States manage to pass legislation on this it will make a huge difference to the ability of vulture funds to extract profits from the poorest countries in the world so that’s what we hope will happen next,” he said.

“Vulture funds” buy the debts of poor countries at a knock-down price. Often the country has defaulted on that loan and, after the debt has been written off by Western governments, the “vulture” sues for the full debt along with interest and additional costs.

If the country refuses to pay, the “vultures” threaten to sue anyone who deals with the country.

Dearden says it’s the world’s poorest that are hit the hardest.

“They end up making extortionate profits off the backs of countries as poor as Liberia, Zambia, Cameroon, Nicaragua and so on,” he said.

The law passed in Britain this week applies to the debt of the 40 countries in the World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative.

“Vultures” suing these countries will now have to accept a steep discount on the amount that they can claim – up to 90 percent, says Dearden.

“What in effect this will mean is that vulture activity becomes impossible in these cases. So hopefully it’s a real attack on the vulture model in these cases of the very poorest countries,” he said.

But Dearden says the law needs to be passed elsewhere in the world and not only affect the very poorest.

“We see this as a step towards making the lending system and third world debt a little more just, a little more responsible but there’s a long way to go in terms of cleaning up the financial system and the way that it works,” he said.

The law comes into force later this year. It will block a move to extract around $20 million from Liberia for a debt dating back to the 1970s.

[Voice of America]

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(MARXIST.COM) Debate on Nationalising the Mines in South Africa

Debate on Nationalising the Mines in South Africa
Written by David van Wyk
Saturday, 06 February 2010

A storm erupted in policy circles in South Africa after Julius Malema the leader of the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) boldly proclaimed the need for the mining industry in South Africa to be nationalized. The demand was predicated on fulfilling the vision of the Freedom Charter, which was adopted at Kliptown in 1955 as the ‘manifesto’ of the liberation struggle. According to the Charter “The wealth of the country shall be shared among all who live in it!” (Note: the full ANC YL document on nationalisation of the mines can be read here in a PDF version)

Not surprisingly Malema has faced a barrage of criticism from free marketers and other apologists of capitalism. What was surprising, however, were the attacks he had to face from Ben Turok and Jeremy Cronin, leading figures of the Communist Party. Both Turok and Cronin quickly claimed that the notorious Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act [28 of 2002] (MPRDA) brought mineral rights under state control, therefore it is not necessary to nationalize mines, as this piece of legislation means that all South Africans through state ownership of the mineral rights already share in the wealth of the mining industry.

The attack on Malema from the leading SACP cadres was so vicious and unexpected that Malema responded by promising that he will defend the ANC against communist takeover with his life, reflecting his and the ANCYLs ideological confusion. However, it is important to note that Malema felt it necessary to pose such a radical demand as mine nationalization, possibly due to pressure from the ANCYL ranks. This also shows that the YCL, basing itself on radical socialist demands, can gain a wide layer of support amongst youth in the alliance organisations. Malema has taken it a step further by demanding the progressive nationalisation of the entire commanding heights of the economy, starting with mining and then moving on to banking. Malema reiterated his demands on the eve of the Mining Indaba in Cape Town. This is an annual event for mining capitalists planning their scramble for African minerals. Susan Shabangu the Minister of Mineral Resources publicly backtracked on Polokwane Resolutions by stating that nationalisation is not ANC policy, and that the nationalisation “will not happen in her lifetime!”

Not surprisingly the Chairperson of De Beers, Nicky Oppenheimer jumped to the defence of Susan Shabangu. Julius Malema’s response to the head of the capitalist family which has dominated the mining industry for close to a hundred years, manipulated colonial, apartheid and post apartheid governments in the interest of private profit, shows a high level of class consciousness permeating the ANCYL and its leadership. Malema is reported to have said, “Who is Nicky Oppenheimer? We don’t respect him. He has never been a leader of our people. Ours is to take from his family what belongs to the people of this country.” The leader of the Youth League demonstrated that his level of revolutionary consciousnesss is light years ahead of that of the leadership of the SACP through comments directed at Susan Shabangu. “Her pronouncements show that she has committed her own life to capital; capital continues to take care of her. What she is saying is that in her lifetime our economy will never be decolonised. She leads the most untransformed sector in our economy and should know better.” He accused the mining minister of “sucking up to monopoly capital” (Mail and Guardian, Feb 5-11, 2010.p.10).

The ANC Youth league and its young supporters are running miles ahead of the leadership of the South African Communist Party, and even COSATU. The SACP slogan of “build socialism now”, is meaningless without a detailed programme and strategy for doing exactly that. Malema and the ANCYL are putting forward the content of what the building of socialism actually requires, and it certainly does not require a deepening of capitalism. Especially now that global capitalism stands exposed and naked in its bankruptcy. Jeremy Cronin’s defence of the MPRDA ignores the fact that the minerals mined are privately owned and disposed off by multinational mining companies, and that the value of the minerals are realized in London, New York, Tokyo, and Toronto where these companies are listed or based. While South Africa sits with the enormous costs of mining, the profits of mining is realized in the First World. The costs include costs to communities surrounding mines, including being pushed off their land; of the destruction of their traditional economies and culture, the destruction of their natural environment, the consumption and pollution of their water sources and the destruction of their health.

The parliamentary offices of Turok and Cronin are situated in the fairest Cape a thousand miles south of the misery and destruction wrought by the mining industry on the land of rural peasants, well removed from the scourge of HIV/Aids associated with mining. HIV/Aids infection levels in mining towns are double the national rates. Mine workers reside in “informal settlements” or squatter camps similar to the one depicted in the Sci-Fi movie District Nine. The tragedy is that the real life aliens are migrant workers from Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Swaziland and the Eastern Cape.

The Mining Industry in Southern Africa
Surface workers on South African mines earn roughly R1 500 (US$200) per month, while underground workers earn R3 000 (US$400) per month, figures which have not changed much since 2005 (Hlekiso & Mahlo, 2006). In 2005 the average wage of a Canadian mine worker was US$ 2607 per month ( Canadian mine workers therefore earned 6.5 times more in 2005 than South African mine workers in 2009. Gold is currently trading at around US$ 1200 (SAR 9 000) an ounce, which translates into US$ 38,400,000 per ton, while platinum is trading at US$ 1450 (SAR10 875) an ounce, which translates into US$ 46,400,000 per ton for platinum.

South Africa, like most of the other countries in the SADC region is highly dependent on minerals. Since the late 19th century, South Africa's economy has been based on the production and export of minerals, which, in turn, have contributed significantly to the country's skewed industrial development. Most industries that developed are interlinked with the supply side of the mining industry, with little diversification away from mining. In 1952 the Trade Union organiser and champion of the working class Solly Sachs noted that, “It is abundantly clear to anyone who has the welfare of South Africa at heart that the future of the people and the whole country depends on extensive and intensive industrial development, and that the mining of precious minerals can serve the interests of the country only as a stimulus for the development of other branches of the national economy.“ Yet he concludes that “It has always been the policy of the Chamber of Mines to subordinate the entire economic life of the country to the selfish interests of the mine owners” (Sachs, 1952, pp. 102-103).

In 2000, mineral commodities accounted for 47% of the $30.8 billion in total exports. Gold, diamonds, platinum, and other metals and minerals were the top export commodities in 2002. The total value of sales of primary minerals was $14.2 billion in 2000 ($12.3 billion in 1999); $11 billion worth was exported ($9.5 billion in 1999). Processed mineral materials added another $2.98 billion to sales in 1999 and $2.43 billion to exports. The leading export earners in 2000 were PGMs [platinum group metals] ($3.9 billion), gold ($3.4 billion), coal, ferroalloys, aluminum, iron ore, vanadium, and copper. The year 2000 was the first in which the value of PGM exports exceeded that of gold. The recent sharp increase in PGMs has helped compensate for the declining role of gold (Encyclopedia of the Nations). Given these staggering export figures one is left with the uncomfortable question as to why in such a wealthy country have the issues of unemployment, poverty, disease, homelessness and crime assumed such equally staggering proportions?

A number of myths have emerged about the South African economy, much of these stem from the ideological desire by the ruling class, particularly during the Mbeki terms in the presidency, to perpetuate neo-liberalism, to reverse the gains by the working class and to commodify even the most basic services such as health, education, electricity supply, water, transport and housing. Thus Wikipedia repeats some of these myths “South Africa has a two tiered economy; one rivalling other developed countries and the other with only the most basic infrastructure. It is therefore a productive and industrialised economy that exhibits many characteristics associated with developing countries, including a division of labour between formal and informal sectors and an uneven distribution of wealth and income. The primary sector, based on manufacturing, services, mining, and agriculture, is well developed” (Wikipedia, -) A well developed primary sector is surely indicative of an extractive economy which is typically Third World, Extractive economies depend on abundant supplies of cheap labour, hence the country has a large pool of unemployed lumpen proletarians, who are absorbed into the informal sector, which sector acts as a safety valve against revolution. The two Southern African countries, lauded for being democratic, capital friendly and responsible, South Africa and Botswana are also two of the most extractive industry dependent countries in the world, with the between them the worst gaps between the rich and poor world in the world, the worst HIV infection levels in the world and both suffering massive unemployment levels. There is no second tier in the South African economy. Those classified to be in the “second tier” are the working class, the poor, the unemployed, the excluded, the majority black African part of the population i.e. they are a product of the form that capitalist development has taken in South Africa since the discovery of minerals in the late 19th century.

In 2000, Anglo Platinum spent $193 million on expansions and two new mines, and $450 million was spent in 2001 (Encyclopedia of the Nations). If we consider than one ton of platinum currently sells at US$ 46,400,000 and multiply this with Anglo Platinum’s proven reserves of 145.56 million tons the astronomical income of this multinational corporation from South Africa’s platinum reserves is realised once more begging the question – why are the majority of South Africans faced with poverty, unemployment, ill health, poor education, homelessness and crime?

Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. (Implats), South Africa's second-largest producer, operated 13 shafts within the Merensky and UG2 Reefs, and planned on investing $486 million by 2004 to maintain its capacity at 31,110 kg per year until 2030—from 112 million tons of ore reserves. Lonmin PLC, the third-largest PGM producer in the world, divested its nonmining interests in 2000, restructured itself as a focused PGM producer, and announced plans to increase production by 43% within a 7-year period, to 27,060 kg per year of platinum, at a cost of $550 million. The country's total reserve base of PGMs (metal content) was 62.8 million tons (Encyclopedia of the Nations). Freedom Park is situated in the shadow of Implat’s Rustenburg operations. It is a sprawling informal settlement and a festering sore of HIV/Aids, STIs, sex work, alcohol and substance abuse and crime – it is also where Implat’s workforce resides.

Primary gold output in 2000 was 430,778 kg, down from 491,680 in 1997 and the 1970 peak of 989 tons. Anglogold Ltd. (the gold division of Anglo American) accounted for 37% of output; Gold Fields Ltd., 25.7%; and Harmony Gold Mining Co., 15.3%—the three companies had capacities of 161 tons per year, 125 tons per year, and 87.1 tons per year, respectively. Gold, discovered in 1886, occurred along a 430-km arc that stretched across Gauteng, the North-West, Mpumalanga, and the Free State. Production of gold rose steadily through the 1960s and 1970s, as newer mines opened to keep pace with burgeoning world-market demands. Gold production declined in the 1990s, because of reduced ore grades, increased mining costs and industry restructuring. In 1996, production reached its lowest level (496,846 kg) since 1956, although South Africa was still the world's largest producer. The world's deepest mine (3,777 m) was the Western Deep Levels gold mine, at Carletonville (Gauteng).

Natural gem diamond output in 2000 was 4.75 million carats; and natural industrial diamond, 6.06 million carats. De Beers mines produced 10.29 million carats, from 23.3 million tons of material treated. Alluvial diamonds were discovered along the Orange River in 1867, and surface diamonds, at Kimberley, in 1870; both types were later discovered in other parts of South Africa. The Big Hole Mine, at Kimberley, was the world's largest hand-dug mine; by the time it ceased production, in 1914, 14.5 million carats of diamond had been extracted from 22.6 million tons of earth (Encyclopedia of the Nations). Diamonds from Southern Africa made Great Britain the biggest exporter of rough diamonds for more than a century. Southern Africa diamonds give employment to 2 million cutters and polishers in India, whereas in South Africa there are roughly 2000 cutters and polishers, 50% of whom are unemployed because they cannot access rough diamonds. Southern African diamonds make a significant contribution to the GDP of both Belgium and Israel. Southern African diamonds partly fund the oppression of Palestinians. Southern African diamonds contribute to non-unionized child labour in India.

The wealth derived from the sale of diamonds provided the initial capital for the development of the Witwatersrand gold mines. The market created by the gold mines, in turn, provided the impetus for coal mining, and, later, for the development of the iron and steel industry, which, in its turn, required the development of other minerals. Taxation of mining enterprises has supported South African agriculture, and financed many of the country's administrative and social needs.

The South African minerals industry operates on a free-enterprise, market-driven basis. Government involvement was primarily confined to ownership of the national electric power supply and the national oil and gas exploration company; under the MPRDA, mineral rights reverted to the state. The bulk of mineral land holdings and production has historically been controlled by five mining investment houses. Since 1994, the industry has undergone a major corporate restructuring, or "unbundling," aimed at simplifying a complex system of interlocking ownership, at establishing separate core-commodity-focused profit centers, and at creating an entry point for the aspirant comprador bourgeoisie, that native bourgeoisie which is dependent on and serving in the interest of imperialism, into the mining industry. The move from Johannesburg to London of two major corporate financial headquarters, Anglo American PLC and Billiton PLC, caused concern over "capital flight," and the government in 2000 blocked the $3 billion merger of Gold Fields Ltd. and Franco-Nevada Mining Corp., of Canada; in 2001, though, the government approved a $19 billion takeover of De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd. by Anglo American. The leadership of the SACP should be careful that is is not found defending the interests of a comprador bourgeoisie instead of advancing the class interests of the working class. It should also be careful that the lack of substance of its strategies and tactics do not cause it to be marginalised by the much more dynamic and forceful shift to the left in the ANCYL.

For the nationalization of mining under the control of the working class
The MPRDA was designed to release the monopoly stranglehold of five mining investment houses and allow entry by the aspirant black middle class, mainly ANC leadership figures, into the mining industry. Thus instead of benefitting the population as a whole this limited ‘nationalization’ has benefitted only a small comprador elite. This elite has entered mining in alliance with financial and mining interests from the USA, Canada, Australia, Russia and China. This elite faction of the capitalist ruling class sees Malema’s call for a more comprehensive nationalization as a threat to their attempts to accumulate capital. Malema will face significant opposition from the bourgeois elements within the ANC. The SACP needs to stand only for the interests of the working class, both the miners and masses of South Africa as a whole. It must not feel pressured by the mining companies and the class interests of the bourgeoisie. Instead it should enter a constructive debate with the ANCYL on the important issue of nationalization.

Malema’s call for nationalization represents a step forward. However, in the face of massive bourgeois opposition the ANCYL has retreated, claiming that South Africa should emulate the Botswana model. The Botswana model is not really the answer to the key questions that arise from the need to build a socialist economy and society in South Africa. However, Malema is a step ahead of Cronin and Turok in this regard. The events of the last week, particularly the remarks by Shabangu at the mining indaba and Oppenheimer’s defence of her is pushing the Youth League into an increasingly more radical position. It also shows that Oppenheimer is not even prepared for the limited nationalisation represented by the Botswana model, thus contradicting his oft quoted lofty praise for the relationship between De Beers and the government of that country. The SACP leadership needs to back Malema’s call, but also point out the limitations of mine nationalization in isolation. It is important therefore to note the positive development in the thinking of the ANCYL in its realisation that nationalizing the mining sector would be an important gain for the working class, but should be accompanied with nationalizing banking and major industry in the interests of the masses. This would be the only way to realise the Freedom Charter’s demand that “The mineral wealth beneath the soil, the Banks and monopoly industry shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole.”

Botswana is a poor example, and it is important that we reiterate this. The fact that the Botswana government has a 50% share along with DeBeers in Debswana does not mean that the people of Botswana are benefitting from the fabulous wealth produced in that country’s diamond mines. Botswana has an unemployment level ranging between 25% and 30%, it has the highest poverty gap in the world, it has after South Africa and Swaziland the highest HIV/Aids infection rate, almost half of households in Botswana live below the official poverty datum line, and most households do not have water borne sewage. At the same time it has had one of the highest economic growth rates in Africa over the past two decades. Given that it is a capitalist country the economic wealth generated in the country is usurped by a comprador bourgeoisie and international capital. The state’s role in the economy is to police the Botswana public in general and the working class in particular – “creating favourable conditions for investment”. State ownership is not the answer if the state is an instrument of the capitalist ruling class. Only when the state becomes the instrument of the working class intent on abolishing class exploitation and oppression, and redirecting the income generated by the economy in general and mining in particular to address the challenges of poverty, unemployment, disease, illiteracy, environmental destruction will the socialization of the mining industry be useful.

If we are going to demand socialization then we need to fill this vague term out with concrete demands. Mining in South Africa will only benefit the majority of South Africans if it is placed under the control of the working class, along with banking and the commanding heights of the economy, as nationalized concerns planned in the interest of the masses. In the final analysis the bourgeois state is unable to do this. By putting itself at the head of the working class with a bold socialist programme the SACP can struggle to bring about a real transformation of society. Instead of condemning the ANCYL for its progressive vision, the SACP should take up the challenge and provide revolutionary leadership to the working class. Smashing the bourgeois state machinery and replacing it with a socialist planned economy is the only genuine road to socialism in South Africa.

Works Cited

Encyclopedia of the Nations. (n.d.). South Africa - Mining. Retrieved December 2, 2009, from Encyclopedia of the Nations

Hlekiso, T., & Mahlo, N. (2006, October). Wage trends and inequality in South Africa. Retrieved December 2, 2009, from South African Reserve Bank

Matuma letsoalo, Malema Strikes Again, Mail and Guardian Feb 5 to 11, 2010. p.10

Sachs, S. (1952). The Choice Before South Africa. LONDON: Turnstille Press.

Wikipedia. (-). The Economy of South Africa. Retrieved December 2, 2009, from Wikipedia.Org (n.d.). Canada Average Salaries & Expenditures. Retrieved December 2, 2009, from World Salaries

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(MnG) Malema: 'We want the mines'

Malema: 'We want the mines'
HARARE, ZIMBABWE Apr 04 2010 08:11

South Africa's fiery ruling party youth leader on Saturday vowed to overhaul ownership of the country's key mining industry.

"We hear you are going straight for the mines, that is what we are going to do in South Africa," Julius Malema, the African National Congress Youth League president, told a rally in Zimbabwe's capital Harare.

"They have exploited our minerals for a very long time. We want the mines, now it's our turn."

Zimbabwe last month put in operation a law that requires foreign companies valued at over $500 000 to divest 51% of shares to non-white locals within five years.

Malema has repeatedly called for South Africa's mines, a cornerstone of the economy, to be nationalised but President Jacob Zuma's government has brushed off the demands as not being official policy.

The controversial youth leader, who is being hosted by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's ruling party youth chapter, also echoed South Africa's backing of the lifting of Western sanctions against the veteran leader and his inner circle.

At the rally, Malema sang Ayesaba Amagwala [The Cowards are Scared], which a South African court this week banned him from using after outrage that it incited violence against whites.

Malema will also visit Brazil, China, Chile, Cuba and Venezuela in a tour of nationalisation programmes. - AFP

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A nation in hopelessness

A nation in hopelessness
By Editor
Fri 09 Apr. 2010, 04:00 CAT

There is nothing more defeating in life than hopelessness. It is hope that makes us wake up in the morning. It is also hope that gives us the strength to face the challenges that every day throws at us.

It is difficult to imagine how one can live without hope or an expectation that things will get better. But hope does not materialise in a vacuum. It is born out of a clear understanding of the circumstances that we face and the chances of us being able to surmount those circumstances. Hope which is helpful must be born out of an honest analysis of the circumstances that surround us.

When there are problems, the first step in building hope of having those problems resolved must be an honest and sincere acknowledgement of the problem.

Such an acknowledgement will force us to start weighing the alternatives and possibilities that exist. It is this exercise that will most likely lead to the development of solutions and hence hope.

Hope is an important ingredient in life. By the same token, hopelessness is a serious assault on one’s ability to live a meaningful life. This is true at an individual level, but it is also a very true and important principle in a nation. A hopeless nation, one which has no better expectations for tomorrow is a doomed nation. This is why we should never give in to hopelessness, to a belief that our lot is to wallow in meaninglessness and lack of direction.

A loss of hope quickly leads to a loss of dignity and a loss of dignity , will degenerate to self-destruction. As true as this is for an individual, it is also true for the nation.

We all know that our country has been going through many difficulties. We have suffered, from a critical failure of leadership. The people that we have put in office to show the way and lead us to the realisation of our full potential have failed us. People who should be working for the common good have chosen to work for their personal and family aggrandizement. This irresponsibility has condemned a lot of our people to a perpetual state of hopelessness. This is what happens when leaders abdicate their responsibility to lead and allow the country to drift.

We have said before that it would have been better if our country was on autopilot. We say this because the autopilot machine on a plane is able to steer the aircraft in the right direction. What we have is not a government running on autopilot, it is a government in free-fall. In fact, if it was a fighter jet, one would be excused for suspecting that the pilots had ejected and were allowing the plane to fall. This is what we see in the way Rupiah Banda and his minions are running this country. They are not truly interested in giving hope to our people that things will get better. In their elitist detachment from the people, they have no clue what it is to identify with the people and win their confidence.

Their strategies for retaining power have no connection to serving the people. They want to retain power for its own sake and therefore instead of fostering hope, they engender despondence. This is what explains the arrogance with which they deal with national issues.

We continue to be amazed by Rupiah’s relative and Minister for Home Affairs Lameck Mangani who, as minister responsible for internal security, has continued to threaten perceived political enemies with trumped-up criminal charges. He is so intoxicated with power that he doesn’t realise just how ridiculous he looks when he continually threatens this one or that one with police action for imaginary criminal wrongdoing.

Our people are faced with real crimes on a day to day basis which are not always attended to because of lack of resources and yet all Mangani can do is use the platform that his ministerial job gives him to threaten political opponents.

Indeed, the MMD as a ruling party is sending very clear signals that it will do everything within its power to cling to power. Democracy and its dictates seem to be an inconvenience to MMD and Rupiah.

We are not surprised that even lowly-placed MMD functionaries are threatening that they will retain the Mufumbwe and Milanzi constituencies whether in peace or in chaos.

There are so many issues in our country today that require serious attention from a head of state. When Rupiah announced that he would be addressing a press conference, many people thought he would be coming to deal with substantive issues and help to address some of the hopelessness that is in our country. But that was expecting too much. Rupiah is not one to disappoint when it comes to meaningless public engagements. He always delivers. And he did the same on Wednesday. Since Rupiah has not addressed the nation to discuss any important issues in a long time, not least his holiday in China and many other issues, one would have expected that Rupiah would take the time to inform the people who pay his salary and have allowed him to use the beloved Presidential jet, about what he has been up to. There are many issues in the nation that require explanation. But Rupiah chose to reduce himself to a level of master-of-ceremonies. He chose to make announcements that could have been made through a statement.

We are not saying that the removal of all defence chiefs is not an important matter deserving Presidential attention. But what is troubling is that Rupiah’s press conference was devoid of any meaningful and coherent policy pronouncements. If anything, his conduct was contradictory and embarrassing for a head of state. By his actions yesterday, Rupiah raised more questions and did not offer any answers to the many challenges that we face as a country.

In one breath, Rupiah told the nation that he was retiring the service chiefs because they were serving on contract as opposed to permanent and pensionable basis because they had reached retirement age. But the same Rupiah has recalled Brigadier General Andrew Sakala from retirement, promoted him to Major General during the press conference in the morning and promoted him further to Lt General later in afternoon at the swearing-in ceremony.

The question is, if you want to retire people from the armed forces, why bring back Lt General Sakala? This is a legitimate question that Rupiah needs to address honestly. We hope that these appointments have nothing to do with procurements of military equipment. We will not be surprised if in a few days we start hearing that the defence forces are in the process of procuring military hardware. We say this because Rupiah’s interest in procurement is something which is now well understood and it is something that is likely to land him in trouble.

The changes that Rupiah announced do not give our people much reason for hope that Rupiah means well for them. If anything, it tells them that this is a President who is all about giving jobs to friends and relatives. Rupiah wants to control government contracts to support the tenderpreneurs that surround him, including his rapacious sons whose appetite for government business is boundless.

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