Saturday, October 27, 2012

(DAILY MAIL ZM) ‘Provide favourable financial terms for Zambians’

‘Provide favourable financial terms for Zambians’
October 26, 2012 | Filed under: Business | Posted by: web editor

GOVERNMENT has called on the banking sector to provide favourable financial terms that can support Zambians seeking to invest in housing.

Vice president Guy Scott says there is need for banks in Zambia to provide long term financing to Zambians to empower them invest in housing.

In a statement, issued by KPR consulting on behalf of Pam Golding properties Zambia and Habitat for Humanity Zambia, Dr Scott said the financial sector needs to address the challenges that Zambians face in accessing finance for home ownership.

“The current financing framework in Zambia is not favourable, hence most citizens have challenges in borrowing money to invest in housing. Zambians are spending their salaries to pay rentals,” he said.

Dr Scott said that despite reforms within the banking sector aimed at easing access to finance, Zambians are still faced with the challenge of accommodation due unfavourable terms within the banking sector.
And Pam Golding Properties managing director Inutu Zaloumis said there is need to address Zambia’s housing deficit.

Ms Zaloumis said the country’s rapid urban population growth may result in overcrowding and social instability in communities.

She said there is need to scale up the existing housing stock and provide affordable housing to address the housing deficit the country is facing.

“Zambia’s growing population faces an enormous challenge that if not dealt with quickly, will adversely affect the livelihoods of communities countrywide. With the country’s population growing at an average of 2.8 percent per year, access to housing for citizens pose the challenge of overcrowding and social instability,” she said.

She said the biggest challenge to Zambia’s rapid urban population growth is the housing supply that is not meeting the current demand.

Meanwhile, over K90 million was raised during the Habitat for Humanity fundraising dinner which was held recently with proceeds targeted towards delivering housing services for 120 families and 100 new units for the vulnerable in society over a period of one year.

Habitat for Humanity Zambia National Director, Joseph Munsanje said his organisation is excited to partner with Pam Golding Properties to contribute towards the construction of 200,000 housing shortfall required in Zambia annually.

Labels: , , ,


(DAILY MAIL ZW) CASH to train 5,000 rural farmers

CASH to train 5,000 rural farmers
October 26, 2012 | Filed under: Business | Posted by: web editor

COMMERCIAL Agribusiness for Sustainable Horticulture (CASH) has embarked on a project that will foster strategic alliances and improve the country’s delivery capacity to produce and market superior quality horticulture products.

The CASH is a global development alliance under the feed the future (FTF) initiative by the United States government and is being implemented by the Agribusiness in Sustainable Natural African Plant Products (ASSNAPP).

ASSNAPP information and communication officer Shuko Mazombwe said the CASH project will increase market shares and improve access to short term finance for the farmers in the programme by developing new and strengthening existing market opportunities.

This is according to a statement obtained by the Daily Mail in Lusaka recently.

“The project will foster strategic alliances and partnerships and improve the country’s delivery capacity to produce and market superior quality horticulture products there by addressing the challenges of food insecurity and rural unemployment levels in the country,” she said.

She said the project will benefit farmers by training them intensively in topics like entrepreneurship, record keeping, and increased quality vegetable production.

Ms Mazombwe said the project aims to increase the technical and operational capacities of 5,000 rural smallholder horticulture farmers in Zambia to efficiently respond to dynamic market requirements by increasing production, reducing postharvest losses and by improving access to short term finances.

She said farmers in the programme will be guided and trained to become commercial horticulture producers, to ensure year round income generation, to manage their agribusinesses efficiently.

Labels: ,


(TIMES ZM) Zim pays $15m towards CAPCO debt

Zim pays $15m towards CAPCO debt
September 12, 2012 |
By Maimbolwa Mulikelela

THE Zimbabwean Government has paid US$15 million towards the US$70 million it owes Zambia for the sale of the Central African Power Corporation (CAPCO) assets which were jointly owned by the two countries.

Recently, the Zimbabwe paid an instalment of US$5 million (about K25 billion) following an agreement which was made between the two countries in January this year.

Energy Minister Yamfwa Mukanga said in an interview in Kabwe that the Zimbabwean government had commenced payments towards the debt it owes Zambia and so far US$15 million has been paid.

Mr Mukanga said the Zimbabwean government would be making another installment soon.

“They have started making payment and they are expected to make another instalment by early next month. I know about their payments and I have been told that they are on schedule so we do not have any problems in as far as payments are concerned.

“I was even on a video conference with them last week on Thursday and we discussed with the minister of Zimbabwe the Batoka issue, and so everything is alright,” Mr Mukanga said.

He said they would soon be floating their advertisement in the national Press asking for would be contractors to bid for engineering services and construction services for the Batoka hydro power project.

“We want to do repairs on Kariba Dam so those advertisements will be floated soon,” Mr Mukanga said.

Recently, Zambia and Zimbabwe signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to jointly construct the 1,650 mega watts Batoka Hydro-power project which is estimated to cost in excess of US$4 billion.

The agreement was, however based on Zimbabwe’s commitment to pay off the debt it owed Zambia over the CAPCO.

It was agreed during the council of ministers which was held in Siavonga that Zimbabwe should settle US$70 million debt it owes Zambia for the sale of CAPCO asssets before the joint project commences.

Plans for the project were initially mooted in 1993, but the Zambian Government was reluctant because of the outstanding debts which it wanted Zimbabwe to clear first.

The debt was for the shared cost of the Kariba Dam construction and the associated infrastructure.

It also involved the sale of the CAPCO assets which both countries owned as members of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, which was dissolved in 1963.

The proposed Batoka Power project site is located below the Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River and once completed would boost power supply in the two countries.

Labels: ,


(TIMES ZM) HH lying about attempt on his life – State

HH lying about attempt on his life – State
September 10, 2012

THE Government has described as blatant lies claims being peddled by United Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema that he has uncovered a conspiracy to have him assassinated.

And Police in Kafue impounded two buses ferrying only male passengers from Southern Province suspected to have come to attend an aborted UPND public rally in Kanyama Township.

Reacting to Mr Hichilema’s disclosure at a media briefing in Lusaka yesterday, Defence Minister Geoffrey Mwamba has since appealed to Zambians to ignore such seditious information, saying people should instead preach messages of unity and love.

Mr Hichilema alleged that he had information that police officers and Patriotic Front (PF) cadres planned to assassinate him and other party officials at yesterday’s aborted public rally in Lusaka’s Kanyama Township.

“It is a dark today. We have information that Dr Solomon Jere and one Judge Ngoma, who has been given a job at ZESCO, held a meeting to disrupt the UPND rally in Kanyama, we further have information that some cadres were carrying machetes to attack us at the rally,” Mr Hichilema said.

The Kanyama rally was called off after scores of police officers in riot gear sealed off the venue at Kanyama grounds, as early as 04:00 hours.

But Mr Mwamba said the Government had no hatred for Mr Hichilema and that it was saddened to hear that the UPND leader and other party officials were peddling lies about a planned attempt on their lives.

“This is a very serious and seditious matter which will be thoroughly investigated. As Government, we have nothing to do with Mr Hichilema and maybe he is just scared of something or maybe it could be that letter of some Tongas under Oath group, who are threatening to kill more Bembas.

“He just wants to portray a bad picture about the Government because Government can’t waste time to eliminate HH…for what? We have serious issues to do, such as developing Zambia and not what Mr Hichilema is alleging,” Mr Mwamba said.

He said the Government was also saddened that Mr Hichilema could not come out in the open to condemn the letter authored by the underground group, ‘Tongas under Oath’, who stated that they had killed three Bembas and poisoned more.

He said Mr Hichilema’s silence on the matter could raise concern saying as a political leader who vied for the highest office, he needed to condemn such threats of a tribe wanting to rebel against another.

“If he doesn’t condemn authors of the letter going by the name Tongas Under Oath, people will wonder because we expected him to condemn it as a leader instead of talking about plots to eliminate him,” he said

Mr Mwamba said President Michael Sata had not marginalised the people of Southern Province and he had continued to embrace every citizen regardless of their tribe because the country was founded on the principal of One Zambia One Nation.

He described Tongas as hardworking and loving people and that those who wanted to cause division between them and Bembas trading on tribal lines, would face the wrath of the law.

Mr Mwamba said the late UPND leader Anderson Mazoka worked towards uniting all tribes in the country and when he pursued his education in Northern Province, he embraced all Bembas.

A check at the Kanyama grounds found scores of police officers, who were deployed, turning away UPND cadres, a situation which prompted, Mr Hichilema to hastily hold a press briefing.

He alleged that Dr Jere was working under directions from President Sata to disobey the Court order for UPND to hold the rally after police reversed its decision to allow the party to hold the rally yesterday.

Mr Hichilema said Police had stopped UPND cadres in the most cruel manner to hold the rally when the party went through all rightful procedures and wondered why the PF was scared of his party having a rally.

Mr Hichilema also accused Chief Government spokesperson Kennedy Sakeni of fabricating a letter allegedly issued by the ‘Tongas Under Oath’to accuse UPND of formulating it.

Mr Hichilema said UPND would review the legal process at the court today.

Alliance for Development and Democracy leader Charles Milupi accused President Sata of destroying democracy and that what the Head of State had done was a political persecution.

And police in Kafue impounded two buses ferrying only male passengers from Southern Province suspected to have come to attend an aborted UPND public rally in Kanyama Township.

The passengers told police at the check-point that they were travelling to Lusaka to attend a wedding ceremony, while others stated that they were coming for kitchen party.

“The statements about the reason for their visit to Lusaka raised suspicion that is how we impounded the buses and want to find out who the owners are. We turned the passengers back and impounded the buses, but we are highly suspicious that they were coming to attend a kitchen party,” Dr Jere said.

Labels: , ,


Friday, October 26, 2012

(MnG) Market responds positively to Carroll's resignation

Market responds positively to Carroll's resignation
26 Oct 2012 10:41 - Lisa Steyn

South Africa's markets have welcomed news that Anglo American's chief executive Cynthia Carroll has stepped down, with stock shooting up 1.8%. In a statement, the company said Carroll – at the helm of Anglo America since January 2007 – led the group through the global financial crisis when it achieved record profits in 2008 and again in 2011.

"The board is enormously grateful to Cynthia for her dedication, her hard work and all she has achieved."

But South African platinum analysts say Carroll's resignation is cause to celebrate.

"She has really blown it ... she was probably pushed out," remarked one analyst who asked not to be named.

The key areas of unhappiness around Carroll's leadership are said to include:

* The company's underperformance relative to its peers such as BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Vale.
* A high profile dispute where Anglo American Sur, its copper mining operation in Chile, fought over assets with Codelco – Chile's state-owned mining group.
* And iron ore project in Brazil, MMX Minas-Rio, which Anglo bought into but has been plagued by delays and high costs.
* Underperformance of the company's South African operations – especially Anglo Platinum.

But, in a statement, Caroll said she was stepping down simply because the time is right to do so.

"It is a very difficult decision to leave but next year I will be entering my seventh year as chief executive and I feel that the time will be right to hand over to a successor who can build further on the strong foundations we have created," she said.

Peter Major, platinum analyst at Cadiz Corporate Solutions said although Carroll had made mistakes, she was still a positive influence.

"Cynthia made some errors – mainly embarking on big acquisitions at the top of the cycle. Still, she performed better than Xstrata," he said.

Anglo American said: "Cynthia will remain in her post until a successor has been appointed and an appropriate transition has taken place".

Important to consider, said one analyst, was the new chief executive's attitude toward the company's South African operations and whether it was viable to continue them.

The process of recruiting Carroll's successor will commence immediately and will be led by Anglo American chairperson, Sir John Parker.

In stepping down, Carroll will also relinquish her roles as chairperson of Anglo American Platinum and De Beers.

Labels: , ,


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Don't patronise people, tell them the truth

COMMENT - I am very uncomfortable with government officials telling people there is something wrong with them, when they themselves are not pulling their weight. I would be much more impressed if the government reinstated the Windfall Tax, and started to channel money into easy loans for small and medium sized enterprises, and infrastructure.

That would both build the economy, and provide hundreds of thousands of jobs - far more than have or ever will be created by mining. Also, let's take an example from Japan and South Korea where it comes to both indigenising manufacturing and increasing social equality through free education and healthcare. There is a lot to be done, and blaming people's work ethic when the state has not made easy credit available to entrepreneurs to me sounds like shifting blame.

Don't patronise people, tell them the truth
By The Post
Thu 25 Oct. 2012, 14:00 CAT

There is no need for our political leaders to patronise the people, to patronise us. Just as they tell the people, just as they tell us what they would do, we feel they should also tell the people, tell us what they could not do.

Some people thought life would change overnight after last year's elections that brought Michael Sata and the Patriotic Front in power, but that is far from the case. Life will not change dramatically in a very short time, except that they now have a chance to work with a very hard working and honest President to change their country and thus their lives. Patience is needed.

They might have to wait for five years or so for some results to show. But also our people need to be challenged; they shouldn't be patronised by the political leadership. They should be told in no uncertain terms that if they want to continue living in poverty without adequate food and clothes, they should continue not working hard and spending their time drinking beer and other alcoholic beverages. But if they want better things, they must work hard. The political leadership cannot do it all for them; they must do it for themselves.

And Sylvia Masebo is right when she says "we must work hard, unite and have a vision; we need to change our mindset to work hard. I don't believe as a citizen that Zambians are working hard enough". And challenging the Zambian people, Sylvia asks: "What vision do you have for your country and yourself? What is your purpose on earth?"

Truly, as Sylvia demands, we need to change our attitudes and start to work hard.

Through work, we co-operate with the Creator in bringing to fulfilment the created world; we exercise our God-given abilities and talents as co-workers with God in the great task of transforming the material world.

Work is not simply an onerous necessity, coincidental with our physical existence, a burden which we should try to escape. It is a vital part of our humanity, the manifestation of our creativity, an opportunity for our growth and fulfilment. Indeed, work is nothing less than a constituent dimension of the purpose for which the world was created and for which we ourselves were brought into being.

To live is to be active; and for a human being this means the exercise of one's faculties of mind and body. Where this activity is directed towards winning a livelihood or improving one's mode of life, it normally involves fatigue and it's called work. In our present state, as children of Adam striving against odds to attain security and liberty, work is indispensable.

It is imposed upon us by God; since without fatigue a human being cannot now, as God decreed, fill the earth and bring it to serve the needs of human being; "All the days of your life, you shall win food…with toil" (Gen 3:17).

Work does not detract from the dignity of a human person; rather it increases the person's worth, for it is the means whereby the person overcomes the defects and limitations of one's fallen nature and reaches the goal that God has fixed for that person.

The true value of work is communicated to it by the worker, so that there is no such thing as degrading work since even the meanest chore is elevated and ennobled by the dignity of the person. Think, for example, of Christ in the humble workshop of Nazareth.

To work with a view of gaining greater security and freedom or to improving one's material state is a good and natural ambition. But to work with these sole motives is unworthy of a human being. It is only when we bring our labour and fatigue into relation with our origin and destiny that it is illuminated with the light of nobility and dignity. "In eating, in drinking," said St Paul, "In all that you do, do everything as for God's glory" (1 Cor 10:13).

And moreover, what is work? Work is struggle. There are difficulties and problems in those places for us to overcome and solve. We go there to work and struggle to overcome these difficulties. A good leader or citizen is one who is more eager to go where the difficulties are greater.

And it is said that hard work is the mother of all inventions. Be it Galileo or Archimedes or even Newton, it is their persistence to a particular theory or thought that gave rise to some of the highly valued and important inventions of all times in the world.

In normal day-to-day living too, it's hard work that counts. However in today's world, "smart work" or rather "no work" is the new mantra. Today's youth do not believe in working or maximising hard work in any activity of life. But as is aptly said, "easy it comes and easy it goes".

Today's world is one of instant gratification, but nonetheless, the importance and necessity of hard work cannot be overemphasised. A person may be a little bit farfetched when it comes to intelligence, but hard work and persistence may show him glory some day or the other. There are get-rich-quick scams galore in today's times. And they are cases of wealth creation by many visionary leaders in today's times that have been made possible by their sheer hard work.

Struggles are a very vital part of everyone's life and to sail through it, one needs to work hard. Youth is considered the best time to utilise on the pressures doled, be it at the workplace or otherwise. A person who works hard in his youth, has not much to worry about in his old age. And this fact indeed holds true.

Everything needs to have a purpose and so is the case with hard work. You need to be objective about why you are struggling so hard. The goal must be fruitful and motivating. Otherwise, slogging would just end up in donkey hours. There has to be a motivational drive behind all the hard work that one puts in.

Labour has to be utilised in a concrete way so as to give fruitful results.
But there is also the need to learn from mistakes. This lessens the chances of getting overworked. Thus, there is need always to keep the golden and age-old fact in mind that hard work indeed pays off. The results may show and vary but it will indeed come to you in some sort of manner some day.

In human affairs, there are efforts, and there are results, and the strength of the effort is the measure of the result. We know you have heard it a thousand times before. But it is true - hard work pays off. All growth depends upon activity. There is no development, physically or intellectually, without effort, and effort means work.

The one thing that matters is the effort. There is no substitute for hard work. Nobody can think straight who doesn't work. Idleness warps the mind. Any necessary work that pays an honest wage carries its honour and dignity.

Of course, hard work doesn't guarantee success, but improves its chances. We shouldn't forget that every good that is worth possessing must be paid for in strokes of daily effort. Much effort, much prosperity. Success is dependent on effort.

Hard work and togetherness go hand in hand. You need the hard work because it is such a tough atmosphere. You need togetherness because you don't always win and you have to hang on through together.

Hard work is painful when life is devoid of purpose. But when you live for something greater than yourself and the gratification of your own ego, then hard work becomes a labour of love.

Striving for success without hard work is like trying to harvest where you haven't planted. Hard work is the price we must pay for success. We think you can accomplish anything if you are willing to pay the price.

We urge all of you to hold your heads high now. We can overcome our challenges and problems. We must not lose ourselves to cynicism, pessimism and despair.

Even in the gutter, let's dream that one day we will be upon our own feet again. We shouldn't stop with the way things are; we should dream of things as they ought to be. Let's face the pain, but love, hope, faith, hard work and dreams will help us rise above the pain. Let's use hard work, hope and imagination as weapons of survival and progress.

Let's go forward and never surrender to malnutrition. We can feed the hungry and clothe the naked. We must never surrender to illiteracy. Let's invest in our children. We must never surrender to poverty in general. Let's not give up.

We know it's tough sometimes. But we shouldn't give up or surrender. It gets dark sometimes, but the morning comes. Suffering breeds character. Character breeds faith. In the end, hard work and faith will not disappoint. Zambia can get better and better if we resolve to work hard, very hard.

Labels: ,


Zambians not working hard enough - Masebo

COMMENT - Blaming a people's 'work ethic' is the same as blaming a 'lack of culture of saving' when there is a 20 point liquidity gap (2% savings rates and 24% lending rates), as well as a Negative Interest Rate Policy (between charges and inflation, you pay more to put money in and take money out of the bank than you can earn keeping it there). People don't make an individual choice to have these high unemployment rates.

Blaming the people is the cheap and easy way out, and abrogates the government's obligation to govern. Including collecting all the money that is due in taxes from the mining sector. So how about displaying some 'work ethic' in collecting taxes or reinstating the Windfall Tax?

Zambians not working hard enough - Masebo
By Edwin Mbulo in Livingstone
Thu 25 Oct. 2012, 14:20 CAT

SYLVIA Masebo says she does not believe that Zambians are working hard enough and has questioned some people's purpose on earth.

During the flag hosting Independence celebrations held at the Livingstone Civic Centre on Tuesday attended by Livingstone member of parliament Reverend Howard Sikwela, several UPND and MMD councillors, Masebo, who is tourism and arts minister said Zambians needed to change their mindset.

"It feels great to be a citizen of this great nation. However, we need to reflect on how we are today because there were some people with a unity of purpose at that time (pre-independence period). We must work hard, unite and have a vision. We need to change our mindset to work hard. I don't believe as a citizen that Zambians are working hard enough. What vision do you have? What is your purpose on earth?" Masebo asked.

She said it is sad that after 48 years of the independence, some Zambians were still living on less than a dollar (about K5,000) per day.

"We still have Zambians living on less than one dollar a day and children are dying out of preventable disease, is that what our forefathers fought for? We need to change our altitudes and start to work hard. My appeal to the people of Southern Province and Zambia is that we need to reflect on this independence and leave Zambia better than we found it," Masebo said.

She also said there was need to educate the youths on the significance of independence.

"There are those that do not see the value of independence, it's their choice. We need to be patriotic. Even hard work comes out of patriotism, those that do not work hard are criminals. Let us see how best we can give back to Mother Zambia. Come next year, Livingstone should have hosted a very successful UNWTO conference which will leave a legacy for every Zambian…," said Masebo.

And Redeemed Christian Church of God pastor in charge Humphrey Okereke said President Michael Sata needs an effective opposition for him to effectively serve the Zambian people.

Labels: ,


Sata may be fighting corruption alone - Namugala

Sata may be fighting corruption alone - Namugala
By Ndinawe Simpelwe
Thu 25 Oct. 2012, 15:20 CAT

CATHERINE Namugala says President Michael Sata may be fighting corruption alone while his ministers are doing the exact opposite. In an interview, Namugala who is Mafinga MMD member of parliament urged President Sata to ensure that all his ministers were in tune with his stance on corruption.

Namugala, who is former tourism minister in the MMD government, commended the President for taking a bold stance against corruption and asked him not spare anyone in his government regardless of their position.

"I think that the President needs to come up and put his position. He needs to assure the Zambians that what we are beginning to believe that, that is taking place in his government is not taking place. There should be no sacred cows in the fight that he himself has pronounced against corruption," Namugala said in relation to corruption allegations against defence minister Geoffrey Mwamba and justice minister Wynter Kabimba.

"He needs to assure us that indeed as he fights corruption, the rest of his team is behind him otherwise he may be fighting corruption alone while the rest of his team is doing the exact opposite of what he wants to achieve. I think that the President is the one we are all waiting to act."

Namugala said allegations of corruption against top government officials were dangerous to good governance, adding that people would start doubting the government.

"We need to appreciate that good governance is the cornerstone of economic development. If you don't practice good governance as an administration, then you cannot effectively develop the country. The issues that have emerged concerning honourable Kabimba and honourable GBM are to do with good governance of the state," she said.

"If indeed the President is to be taken seriously as one who is allergic to corruption then he has to show us that not even his ministers will be spared, if they are even perceived for a moment to be corrupt. No one from outside the PF has accused those two individuals; they have accused each other and we from the outside want to see action," said Namugala.

Labels: , ,


Mongu residents mob Kabimba

Mongu residents mob Kabimba
By Roy Habaalu in Mongu
Thu 25 Oct. 2012, 14:00 CAT

MONGU residents on Tuesday mobbed Wynter Kabimba when he arrived in the area to meet PF officials. And President Michael Sata phoned Kabimba, who was addressing party officials at Country Lodge, to find out how he had been received.

Kabimba, who is justice minister and PF secretary general, brought Mongu to a standstill after his entourage took over the two lanes of the Mongu-Lusaka road upon his arrival.

Taxis and private vehicles voluntarily joined the convoy honking as nearby residents shouted 'mwa mukolo! mwa mukolo mwa mukolu' (in the boat, in the boat).

Kabimba, who arrived around 17:45 hours, apologised for the delay and was met by party officials and ordinary citizens that sang praises in honour of President Sata and the PF.

Police had a tough time securing way for Kabimba who was mobbed by people for about 20 minutes before Western Province minister Obvious Mwaliteta pleaded with them to allow him to walk.

"Please people we know you have been waiting for a long time but allow the secretary general to walk with you. He has come here for you and he will address you at the lodge," said Mwaliteta while removing his jacket before joining the walk.

Kabimba, who disembarked from his ministerial vehicle, walked for about six kilometers before addressing the slogan-chanting supporters who kept cutting his speech with ululations.

"They are saying Mongu is not PF, who are you? Are you not our members? Don't be cheated, there is nothing like neglecting you. The PF government has put Western Province at its core of development. I am here because I am one of you and together we should develop Zambia, you're Zambians so we should work together," Kabimba said when he addressed scores of supporters that blocked Independence Avenue.

He said he would tell President Sata that the party had welcomed him and that people were waiting to see him.
While addressing party officials, President Sata phoned Kabimba to find out how he had been received.

And Kabimba responded: "Your Excellency, I have been warmly received. It was a warm and thunderous welcome. People were happy to see us. All is well, so I am just with the provincial chairman and the MCC. All is well, sir."
President Sata that the party had welcomed him and that people were waiting to see him.

While addressing party officials, President Sata phoned Kabimba finding out how he had been received.

And Kabimba responded: "Your Excellency, I have been warmly received. It was a warm and thunderous welcome. People were happy to see us. All is well, so I am just with the provincial chairman and the MCC. All is well, sir."

Labels: , ,


(NEWZIMBABWE) Biti freezes CDF, risks MPs' ire

Biti freezes CDF, risks MPs' ire
24/10/2012 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

FINANCE Minister Tendai Biti last night faced open revolt from MDC-T and Zanu PF MPs after stopping the disbursement of the $5 million Constituency Development Fund until after next year’s elections.

Biti, due to announce the 2013 budget on November 15, wants a tough new law passed to prevent the abuse of the fund before MPs receive the US$50,000 for each constituency.

Four MPs were arrested earlier this year after shocking details of how they abused the fund for personal benefit emerged during an audit.

The Finance Minister is determined to stop the abuse and a new Bill currently being drafted will see MPs who loot the fund jailed for five years.

Biti is supported by Constitutional Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga, who says there is less than six months before the current parliament is dissolved and disbursing the funds now could lead to a spending spree by some lawmakers who may not retain their seats, making it difficult to account for how the money was spent.

But Biti’s decision to delay disbursements until the next Parliament – expected after the March 2013 elections – has put him on a collision course with legislators.

Zanu PF chief whip Joram Gumbo said the move was “retrogressive”.

“The money should not be deposited in personal accounts but should go to a constituency account that must be properly accounted for by financial rules put in place,” Gumbo said.

He added: “Does it mean that all the ministries are not going to get their allocations because it is not certain that the current ministers will return to their respective ministries after elections?

“I don’t think that is a serious move, it’s retrogressive.”

MDC chief whip Innocent Gonese said: “The beneficiaries of CDF are the people in the constituencies. We must not punish them because of that issue [imminent elections].

“As a matter of principle, what should be done is to disburse the money to the MPs and put in place a mechanism to account for the money if one loses the elections.

“I think there is still enough time for the MPs to identify areas that need development in their constituencies and the money should be disbursed to them.”

Labels: ,


(NEWZIMBABWE) Tobacco exports to China top US$40m

Tobacco exports to China top US$40m
24/10/2012 00:00:00
by Business Reporter

ZIMBABWE exported tobacco worth US$40 million to China, representing about 40 percent of the overall crop produced this year, the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TMB) revealed this week.

TIMB chief executive Andrew Matibiri said exports to China attracted average prices of US$8.60 per kilogramme which was significantly better than the US$7.28 price achieved in 2011 when the country exported 57 million kgs.

“Our tobacco continues to be in demand the world over. China is not alone in the pursuit of our tobacco. This is so because of its good smoking flavour and very few cigarette brands globally are made without Zimbabwean components," said Matibiri.

Zimbabwe earned US$525 million for 144 million kgs of tobacco this season, a 46 percent increase from last year's US$360 million.

Overall output missed the 150 million kgs production target for the just ended season but tobacco farming continues to rebound after years of decline.

South Africa is the leading consumer of local tobacco in the region, importing 12 million kg last year and another 7 million kg this year. Elsewhere on the continent, Sudan imported one million kg last year and two million kg so far this year from Zimbabwe.

TIMB said Japan was offering the highest price for tobacco from Zimbabwe for the 2012 season at US$10,63 per kg. Britain, Belgium and the United Arab Emirates have also shown great interest in local tobacco, with the UK buying ten million kg last season and 11 million kg so far this year.

The UAE has so far imported five million kg from Zimbabwe, eight million kg shy of the figure it imported last season. Belgium last year imported nine million kg of local tobacco and has so far imported seven million kg.

Labels: , ,


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

(MnG) Experts: Zuma's land reform plans need ploughing

COMMENT - More recalcitrance from the usual corners. These people don't understand they don't have a lot of demands to make. Even if the people of South Africa get their land back, this is not restitution. What is the restitution paid for a century of foregoing a middle class? The lost harvests, cattle herds not built, capital not gathered or interest received? What is the compensation for that? But they want the 'full market price' for the land.

Experts: Zuma's land reform plans need ploughing
24 Oct 2012 06:00 - Nickolaus Bauer

Some industry experts say President Jacob Zuma's latest proposal for equitable land reform will need to be refined before it can be implemented.

President Jacob Zuma. (Felix Dlangamandla, Gallo)
Our Coverage

* Whites took their land, then the mines did the same
* Land Bank gets serious about loans
* SA's land reform policies are about to get heavier

More Coverage

* Zuma proposes five-step land reform plan

This is the sobering view of farmers, analysts and agricultural unions following the president's announcement on Monday, which proposes changes to the strategy, funding, and inclusivity of land reform in South Africa.

"Unfortunately, a lot of what is being said by the president is heavy on rhetoric and short on detail," Ruth Hall, senior researcher at the University of the Western Cape's institute for poverty, land and agrarian studies told the Mail & Guardian on Tuesday.

Key to the president's proposal is this five point plan:

* Establishing a district land reform committee where all stakeholders, both commercial farmers and those seeking land redress, work together to identify land readily available for reform;

* The state buying the land at 50% of its market value, or at a "fair productive value";

* Farmers gaining black economic empowerment status if they agree to the sale of their land at the proposed productive value;

* A stepped-up programme of financing involving the treasury, the Land Bank, and established white farmers; and

* Increasing investment in agricultural research and development.

While Hall commended the government's attempts to speed up land reform, she argued the process needed to be handled very carefully.

"Setting up localised partnerships is a vital ingredient to the process of equitable land reform," said Hall, who has written and commented extensively on land and agrarian reform.

"But, how exactly commercial farmers will become involved in a process that is encouraging them to accept below market value is the big question."

Farmer Charl Senekal, South Africa’s largest sugar cane producer, said any attempts to facilitate the sale of land below market should not be entertained. "It is enshrined in our Constitution that we will be paid a market value rate for our land," he told the M&G.

Senekal also warned about the possibility of food insecurity emerging in the country's agricultural industry if equitable land reform is not pursued.

"If farmers lose interest in this industry when they see the opportunity for success is dwindling, that will immediately lead to food insecurity and if you thought the disquiet in the mining sector was bad – you haven't seen the worst of what will come," he said.

Senekal's concerns were echoed by Johannes Moller, president of Agri SA – South Africa's largest agricultural trade association – who described the proposals for productive value-based land reform "dangerous and unworkable".

"We think we should stick to market value-based land reform. If not, the security needed for a replacement industry for farmers leading the sector will be lost and you will be faced with further unemployment and other related problems," he told the M&G.

Moller said this approach could also lead to banks and other investment institutions becoming wary of placing funds in agriculture.

But agricultural groups pursuing land reform on behalf of African farmers believe all options need to be explored.

"So far the programmes in place are not meeting the expectations,” Raphesu Mamabolo, President of the African Farmers Association of South Africa in Gauteng told the M&G.

"Any reasonable ideas that will expedite the redistribution of land should thus be considered."

Mamabolo argued that commercial farmers were in many cases receiving hefty pay outs from the state for land that is not immediately profitable.

"If the land is productive then it will be sold at a higher price. You can't pay a fortune for land that will take forever to get going, and unfortunately under present conditions this is exactly what's happening," Mamabolo added.

Land ownership is a thorny issue in South African politics, with government claiming up to 87% of South Africa's agricultural land is still in the hands of white farmers.

Government's original plan to have 30% of disputed arable land diverted back to the black majority by 1999 has failed.

Zuma's utterances are the first indications of firm plans to speed up land reform, following the formation of a green paper on the issue by the department of rural development and land reform.

But the exact details contained in the green paper are still unclear and apart from Zuma stating the willing buyer, willing seller system "not working" in his February State of the Nation address, government has remained mum on their exact mode of action.

"This is a fundamental issue: it's not about how to get the land transferred, but rather what is done with that land and how it used once the transfer takes place," said Hall.

This was also the primary concern for Senekal.

"I am convinced that because land reform is such a controversial and emotive topic, government is not about to do anything stupid that will lead to more harm than good," he said.

"But, this is done in the wrong manner, you'll end up having individuals who aren't entitled to the land and don't have the expertise to use it beneficially, while commercial farmers will be left out of pocket."

Labels: , ,


(HERALD ZW) Circumcision: Docs up in arms

COMMENT - Circumcision to prevent HIV infection is complete and utter fraud. The doctors in question should be prosecuted for violating their hippocratic oath - first do no harm.

Circumcision: Docs up in arms
Wednesday, 24 October 2012 00:00

Paidamoyo Chipunza Health Reporter
Government has failed to achieve set targets for male circumcision because a few selected individuals are carrying out the procedure which any doctor should have been allowed to do, provincial medical directors have said. The country’s provincial medical directors revealed this at an HIV and Aids meeting held by the National Aids Council in Kwekwe last week.

The provincial medical directors from across the country urged Government to incorporate male circumcision in the general health system to allow for easy access.
According to the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, 80 000 men had been circumcised as of September against a target of 1,2 million for the next five years.

This is the third year into the five-year target.
The senior doctors also urged Government to expedite initiation of neo-natal circumcisions.
“The problem is that male circumcision came as a programme where a few selected people were trained and put in charge. And yet this is a simple procedure which any medical doctor can perform,” said the acting PMD for Matabeleland North, Dr Nyasha Masuka.
“Teams are coming from Harare or Bulawayo into our provinces, pitch their tents under a tree, circumcise a few men, and get paid hefty allowances and then leave.”
Dr Masuka said the approach frustrated other doctors and patients.
“Some people hear of the programme when teams are long gone and the local doctor has to explain to them that the teams have left,” he said.
Mashonaland East PMD Dr Simukai Zizhou said male circumcision was a proven method in reducing HIV transmission from an infected partner to a circumcised man and there was no need for Government to have it implemented separately from other health services.
Dr Zizhou said the majority of doctors could perform the procedure and that there was no reason for Government to select a “chosen few” to carry out the circumcisions. “If an old man from the village can perform this procedure, then any doctor should be able to do that,” he said. Dr Robert Mudyirandima, PMD for Masvingo, said the programme should be available all the times just like any other health service within an institution.
Acting PMD for Mashonaland West Dr Solomon Mukungunurwa said circumcision services should be universally accessible.
“If we are to realise full benefits of this programme, circumcision should start as soon as a child is born.”
He said implementation of neo-natal circumcision should be expedited to avert possible new infections.
Responding to the PMDs’ concerns, preventive services principal director in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare Dr Gibson Mhlanga said Government would consider integrating circumcision into general health services.
“We have heard their concerns and we are going to consider them as soon as we can,” Dr Mhlanga said.
Male circumcision has been touted as an effective method of preventing HIV infections by 60 percent.
According to national male circumcision co-ordinator Mr Sinokuthemba Xaba, the country should have circumcised one million men after three years.

Labels: ,


(LUSAKATIMES) Sata leads hundreds in commemorating 48th Independence anniversary

Sata leads hundreds in commemorating 48th Independence anniversary
TIME PUBLISHED - Wednesday, October 24, 2012, 2:34 pm

President Michael Sata this morning led dignitaries, senior government officials and service chiefs in laying wreaths at the Freedom Statue in honor of the country men and women who died during the struggle for the country’s independence. The 48th Independence Day is celebrated under the theme “celebrating 48 years of independence with vision, hard work and unity”.

In attendance were Vice president Guy Scot and his wife Charlotte, acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda and deputy speaker of the National Assembly Mkondo Lungu among others.

And in delivering a sermon, Director of Chaplin at the Zambia Air Force Eugene Nyambe noted that there is no worse evil against national unity than citizens dividing themselves on political, tribal, regional and social economic grounds.

Fr. Eugene stated that the nation would be headed for doom if citizens start engaging themselves in acts against what the freedom fighters fought for.


Labels: ,


(HERALD ZW) The migrant to Malawi

The migrant to Malawi
Tuesday, 23 October 2012 21:41

Many years ago, when Harare was still called Salisbury my grandmother, Mbuya VaMandirowesa, used to say we should not go there. She said Salisbury was a jungle, musango, where you could be eaten by the lions, jackals and all kinds of snakes.

It was her way of telling us that people in the city behaved like animals without any respect for one another. Once you got off the village bus at Mbare Musika, some people changed.

They stopped greeting one another and they did not ask about each other’s health. They only cared for themselves. Aona kwake, aona kwake.
The people you met in the streets were neither your relatives nor your friends. They could befriend you and then steal from you. Salisbury was full of selfish and immoral people who only cared about making money.
Every time men in the village compound prepared to go back to work in Salisbury, Gwelo (Gweru) or to the coal mines in Hwange, (Wankie), mbuya spoke to the ancestors and told them to guide them all in the jungle.

She said lions roared in the city jungle and one was bound to be eaten away by modern life and forget where home was.
“Do not turn your back on the village in favour of the white man’s sweets. Usapire musha gotsi nekuda zviwitsi zvevarungu,” she would say.

Mbuya said in Salisbury there were places for white people only and other places for black people only and if you are caught using the toilet for white people you would end up in jail.

She knew a lot about toilet usage because one of our relatives worked in the toilet for Africans in First Street in the underground toilet.

Her job was to unlock the toilet, collect five pence, and then offer just enough toilet paper for the customer. When our relative came home for Christmas, she had very little to show that she was working everyday in a toilet.

Mbuya said that is what Salisbury did to you, you could spend many years working and in the end you come back to the village with nothing.

And yet mbuya had never been to Salisbury, Bulawayo or any of the big cities. The nearest towns she had visited briefly were Chivhu when it was Enkeldoorn. But we still listened to her when she told us about faraway foreign cities to be avoided.

When my father came back home from Salisbury for Rhodes and Founders Day, Christmas and Easter, Mbuya told him to make enough money to pay the Rhodesian government’s hut, cattle, land and dog taxes. Then he was to come home and work on the land.

My father talked about his Malawian and Zambian friends who were buying houses in the African suburbs of Highfield, Mufakose, Mbare and Kambuzuma. But mbuya said he should not buy a house over there because the city was not home.

“If you make it your home, one day it will spit you up, then what do you do?” she asked.

One Christmas my father came back with a gramophone. He set it up under the mango tree, on the edge of the village courtyard.

The most popular long play record that year was called “Aphiri Anabwela, kuchoka kuMalawi.” Everyone in the village came to dance to that song.

Years later, I learnt that the song was sung by Nashil Pichen Kazembe, a Zambian singer from Luapula Province near the Congolese border. In the 1970s, Kazembe was part of the Eagles Lupopo Band and he also sang with the band Super Mazembe singing in Zambian, Congolese and Kenyan languages.

It was a song about Phiri, a migrant worker in South Africa or Rhodesia who returns home to Malawi after many years with nothing.

He finds that his parents and all the relatives are dead, Aphiri anga wose wose anamwalila kudala. He brings home nothing except an empty suitcase and musuitcase kulibe chindu.

Pichen Kazembe was singing about the Malawians who worked for many years in Southern Rhodesia on farms, in houses and everywhere. Many of them did not go back home to Malawi. Vakarovera kuno. My father, my uncles and all the elders, men and women danced to the song. Even Mbuya VaMandirowesa danced to it as well, her cracked bare feet kicking the dust.

We children all joined in till the battery was dead. The next day my father placed the battery in the sun and it gave a bit more energy and we danced some more until it died completely. By then, we had memorised the song and we sang it everywhere.

The meaning of the song carried a lot of pain for mbuya’s heart. When the song was finished we sat down breathless and mbuya shook her head sadly. She reminded us that Salisbury was a jungle and people who went there, especially women, did not come back.

“Do not be like Nyika. He was like the dog that never came back when it chased after a rabbit, kwakaenda imbwa ndiko kwakaenda tsuro. If you are not careful, you will forget where you came from, the way Nyika did,” mbuya said. Then we saw tears in her eyes and we did not know what words to console her. The name Nyikadzino always gave her a heavy heart. Nyika.

She said one day the white man’s jungle was going to spit out Nyika and he was going to come back home in shame like a dog with a tail folded between his legs. By the time that happens, it would be too late. Mbuya would be dead and gone.

On her death bed, mbuya told my father that Nyika was still alive and one day, he would come home to see her grave. He did.

But by the time he came back, it was long after independence. Mbuya, sekuru, my father and many other relatives were already dead. Nyika came back to mourn at their graves. Why did he stay so long, only to come back after 30 years to paint their graves?

Babamunini Nyika was my father’s youngest brother. He left the village in the late 1950s or early 1960s. He went to look for a job in Salisbury to pay for the hut tax, cattle and bicycle tax.

He also needed a few pounds to pay the bride price for a girl he loved in another village. For years mbuya and everyone thought he was in Salisbury, but later on, they discovered that Babamunini Nyika had moved to Blantyre, Malawi. He had done completely the opposite of what Malawian migrants to Zimbabwe did.

He stayed there for more than 30 years and during that time, mbuya lamented the loss her son.

Once a year Babamunini Nyika wrote to my father to say he was doing well as a successful businessman. He sent a photo of himself wearing a suit, his foot resting on a stool.

He was tall, dark and handsome with a moustache, a walking stick and a hat with a feather. The photo was framed nicely and it hung in our corrugated iron roofed house. Mbuya saw it once, shook her head, shed a few tears and then she would not look at it again.

By the time mbuya died, babamunini Nyika had stopped writing.

We did not believe that babamuni Nyika will ever come back. But one day he did come back. The year was 1989 and my mother was on her rare visits to Harare. She happened to be sitting alone in our Glen Norah B flat in Harare. There was a knock on the door. Two men stood outside, one younger and the other older, taller and skinny, wearing a suit. The younger man said he was an Air Zimbabwe employee and a friend of my brother.

He said the visitor had been flown in from Malawi and he did not know where to go. Since the visitor shared the same surname as my brother it made sense to bring him over.

My mother welcomed the visitor and they asked about each other’s health. Then she recognised him, Nyikadzino, the lost one, muchoni. He cried and embraced her.

For years my mother told and retold the story of babamunini Nyika’s day of return after his deportation from Malawi. She said, “Nyika came with nothing, akauya ari munhu, a human being with nothing to show for his 30 years in Malawi.”

I met Babamunini Nyika only once after his return from Malawi during my visits to the village. Babamunini Nyika was different. He hated any cruelty to animals and made sure the entire village dogs were fed and not beaten or used for hunting the meat they did not eat.

Babamunini Nyika was always smartly dressed. On Sundays, he put on his suit and bow tie, went to church at St Columbus School and preached about repentance.

He often gathered wild flowers, put them in a cup and placed them on mbuya and sekuru’s graves. He was mostly alone and lonely. Sometimes he told my mother that he missed his ordered life in Malawi. He woke up early, washed from a bucket, shaved and then he put on his green work overalls and went to the garden.

He spent the whole morning there growing vegetables and potatoes, coming back for tea around ten. He kept time.
After lunch, he took a siesta under the mango tree and listened to BBC World News on the transistor radio. When the radio batteries were gone, Babamunini still sat quietly under the mango tree, dreaming. Was he thinking of his lost loves back in Malawi?

He did not smoke or drink nor did he chase after any women. Varoora, the wives of our cousins, teased him and asked if they could give him a woman to keep him company. If he was too lazy to do anything with her, they said they could get him one who was already pregnant to spare him too much work!

But babamunini Nyika smiled gently and ignored them.
He did not talk about his experiences as a migrant in Malawi nor did he ever tell us why he was made persona non grata by President Hastings Kamuzu Banda of Malawi. There was no correspondence between him and the wife or the children he left back there. Up to this day, we do not know why he came back with nothing like that.

One rainy season, he went to visit our other relatives in Muzarabani up in the flood plains of the Zambezi River valley. While over there, he contracted malaria.

Babamunini Nyikadzino died before they could take him to hospital. They buried him there. During my last visit to Muzarabani in March this year, I saw babamunini’s grave for the first time.

It was a plain cement grave on a very dry patch, in a thorny bush next to the big baobab tree where sometimes elephants rub their necks in the heat.

What boggled our minds was why all those years working hard for a better life in Malawi, only to come back with nothing? He did not even bring an empty suitcase, so we could have said musuitcase kulibe chindu.

Mbuya wanted to protect us from urban modern day living. She knew that in the city we shall always struggle to make money.

As the jazz singer Bob Nyabinde said in one of his songs, we work so hard but in the end we come out with nothing, chabuda hapana.

Babamunini Nyika came back because the village was still there. But he failed to fit in. Perhaps he should have stayed in Malawi, if he could. The migration from the village to the city was bound to happen. As the elders die and many homes are slowly being deserted, we keep going to the jungles, kumasango around the world. Some of us may never come back to the village because there is nothing left.

We are caught in the law of the jungle that is called the city.

Daily we fight a war to find the meaning of life, the past, the village and the present. With the village dying slowly along with the traditional moral values we learnt, we continuously seek a stable cultural and spiritual balance between the modern and the old within ourselves.

Dr Sekai Nzenza is a writer and cultural critic. She holds a PhD in International Relations and works as development consultant.

Labels: , , ,


(NEWZIMBABWE) Mugabe faces fight over constitution takeover

Mugabe faces fight over constitution takeover
New consitution ... Copac chairmen Edward Mkhosi, Douglas Mwonzora and Paul Mangwana
23/10/2012 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe faces resistance in his bid to wrest control of the new constitution from Parliament with Copac chairmen insisting that GPA Principals have no role in the process while leaders of other political parties accused him of trying to usurp the powers of the legislature.

Copac, a Parliamentary committee, has been steering the process to write a new constitution but Mugabe told delegates to the second all-stakeholders conference in Harare Monday that he, along with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy, Arthur Mutambara, would have the final say on the new constitution.

Said the Zanu PF leader: “Ivo vatatu vamuri kuona ava, tisu takanyora ichi chinonzi Global Political Agreement.

“Ndisu zvakare takati kumember dzedu dzeParliament hapana anoti kwete, mese munosungirwa kuvhota. Zvino idemocracy iyoyo? I am saying this because sometimes Parliament thinks that it is full of sovereignty that it should control the acts of the Principals, hazviite.”

Mavambo Kusile leader Simba Makoni said there was no basis for Mugabe’s claim in the GPA and accused him of trying to usurp Parliamentary authority.

“The GPA Principals have no mandate to finalise the country’s constitution. Nowhere in the GPA are the so-called Principals given a role, let alone final say, in the making of the new constitution,” Makoni said in a statement.

“The import of the President’s remarks is that the people’s views do not matter at all … the three GPA leaders are not the only people in Zimbabwe; the country has fourteen million citizens.

“But) this should not surprise anyone, since disregard of the will of the people has been President Mugabe’s hallmark for the past two decades.

Copac co-chair Douglas Mwonzora said Mugabe’s statement was an attempt to interfere in the affairs of the legislature.

“I don’t agree with the President,” Mwonzora said in an interview.

“It was just a statement and I didn’t actually get what he meant in terms of at what stage are the principals going to come in. The legislature is an equal arm of the State just like the judiciary and the executive.

“Copac will produce a national report after tabling the matter to Parliament that’s when our job end. The executive will only come into the fold when the document reaches cabinet.”

Mwonzora’s Zanu PF counterpart, Paul Mangwana, said the Principals could only intervene in the event of a deadlock adding: “There is always this structure - the principals have given us (management committee) . . . they can always come in on areas where the Select Committee cannot reach a consensus.

“If we are able to deal with those views, then there will be no need for them to come in but in the event that we have conflicting views, then principals will intervene.”

MDC leader Welshman Ncube, who boycotted Monday’s opening ceremony, claimed that Mugabe was planning to hand control of the process to a Cabinet committee chaired by Mutambara.

Meanwhile, the conference ended Tuesday with delegates still divided over proposed changes to the draft although Mwonzora insisted that no major changes had come up adding a referendum on the document would likely be held in January next year.

“There is no new thing brought up except minor terminology changes. Most delegates have expressed confidence in the COPAC draft,” he said.

“The delegates have also seen for themselves that there is no homosexuality in the draft, it was just propaganda, political grandstanding peddled by people who wanted to have this process abandoned.

“We have always said we wanted elections with a new constitution and now that the process has been a success, it is possible to have a referendum this year but logistically it might be impossible but by January we should have a referendum.”

Zanu PF’s Patrick Chinamasa added: “We are prepared to bend backwards just to have this process through.”

Labels: , , , ,


Leadership and Zambia at 48

Leadership and Zambia at 48
By The Post
Wed 24 Oct. 2012, 08:20 CAT

On this day, October 24, 48 years ago, our founding fathers brought joy and hope to the hearts of our people when they won independence for our great country. Zambia made a clean break with more than seven decades of colonial rule, and emerged as a truly independent nation. That turning point was a new beginning for our nation.

Those who witnessed the lowering of the British flag, the Union Jack, and the emergence of the green, black, red, orange and an eagle-in-flight flag continue to cherish the memory, because that ceremony was not just about the destiny of a nation, but the future of a people.

The future is here; we are the inheritors of a great legacy that goes even much farther into the past.

The worthy patriots who made this possible were young people in their teens, twenties and thirties. They worked and struggled together to restore dignity and honour to the Zambian people. Their resolve united a multi-cultural and multi-lingual nation of diverse peoples, with more than 73 tribes, that is if we include the Whites and Indians.

In 1964, our diversity became a source of strength, and the new leaders resolved to carry the flag of independence for the benefit of future generations. They had their differences, challenges and problems, but they placed a greater premium on the need to come together to build a new united, peaceful, just, fair and humane nation.

It is that resolve, and that glorious moment that we celebrate today. We also celebrate the patriotism and selflessness of our heroes past: Harry Nkumbula, Simon Kapwepwe, Reuben Kamanga, Mainza Chona, Fines Bulawayo, Arthur Wina, Mungoni Liso, Munukayumbwa Sipalo, Nalumino Mundia, and several others who made the case for our independence.

We remember, as always, their contributions to the making of the Zambian nation, and the efforts of their successors since 1964. We also celebrate the unfailing optimism and resilience of Zambians who remain proud of our national identity.

On this special day, we call on every Zambian to remain steadfast, because our nation is indeed making progress. We call on every Zambian to rediscover that special spirit that enables us to triumph over every adversity as a people.

Whatever our current challenges, problems, and even failures, we cannot afford to belittle the importance of our independence and the great sacrifices that were made by our leaders and our people to achieve or attain it. Whatever the challenges, problems and failures of the past and of the moment, we should always cherish the heroism and sacrifices of our freedom fighters and our people.

If our people had the money, the skyline of Zambia today ought to be littered with fireworks and other forms of spectacles. It has become our tradition over the last 47 years to commemorate the day Zambia got her independence from its British colonial masters.

In the early years of our independence, most citizens used to look forward to this annual ritual with suspense. It was a day of eating and dancing. But hard times, austere times have altered the general public attitude to the occasion that once had all the trappings of a cultural festival.

On this day, we should reflect and meditate deeply as groups, individuals and indeed as stakeholders on what needs to be done in order to push our country forward. As we celebrate the heroism and selflessness of our leaders and our people, we should revert our attention on what needs to be done in order for our people to see a reversal of fortunes. The leadership needs to do more for the country to overcome main challenges inhibiting national progress.

Most Zambian political leaders have been busy serving themselves instead of the country. They must be ready to change their ways and style for the country to move forward. Zambian political leaders should look at what they have made of the country in 48 years and answer in their hearts if they are proud of it. If they realised that they have messed up the years, they must turn a new leaf and have a new paradigm shift.

It is sad that despite its abundant resources, Zambia is still a toddler in many areas of human endeavour after 48 years of independence.

This year's independence anniversary should be an opportunity for our political leaders to embark on soul-searching for the purposes of avoiding the pitfalls of the past years. Let all our political leaders fear God and do what is right to the glory of God and the benefit of our people, of His people.

Let us all remember at all times that political leadership is a sacred trust that must be accounted for. Our political leaders must do the needful to justify the confidence of the Zambian people.

At 48 years of independence, the political immaturity is unjustifiable. Zambia is very well endowed and the citizenry, as a matter of right, must be beneficiaries. Political leadership at all levels must be honest, focused, sincere, service and result-oriented.

We would also wish to remind our political leaders that they should always remember that one day, they will be made to give an account of their stewardship in public office. It is an irony that Zambians could be going through a gruelling period primarily because of dishonest political leadership at different times and different levels of government.

Those, who have the opportunity to make things work in Zambia, should do so with all sincerity, because if they don't, they will meet the fruits of their insincerity waiting for them when they leave office.

Inept leadership has contributed more to our woes. This has led to the mismanagement of our immense human and natural resources and undermined the rights and dignity of our people as well as compromising our country's development and economic growth.

And we should ask ourselves: will the situation be remarkably different at the turn of Zambia's 50th Independence Day in 2014? Will it be close to what the founding fathers of the country and other nationalists envisaged?



FRA owes farmers K979bn

FRA owes farmers K979bn
By Gift Chanda
Tue 23 Oct. 2012, 16:10 CAT

THE Food Reserve Agency owes farmers K979 billion for the maize they supplied to the agency during the ongoing marketing season, a senior official said yesterday.

Chola Kafwabulula, FRA acting managing director, disclosed that the agency as at October 12 had bought 968,242 metric tonnes of maize valued at over K1.2 trillion.

He said the 968,242 metric tonnes, a bulk of which was bought from Southern and Eastern provinces, represents 97 per cent of the 1 million metric tonnes target to be purchased by the end of this month.

"FRA has since paid out over K279.5 billion on maize purchases while payments have continued to be made to farmers country-wide in order to offset the K979 billion outstanding balance," Kafwabulula said in an emailed statement.

He added that following reports of fraudulent activities, the agency had stepped up security measures to ensure that payments were only made to genuine farmers who supplied the maize.

Kafwabulula said all payments were being adequately screened with the help of experts in white collar financial crimes.

"The agency will continue to pay until all farmers receive their money for the maize supplied," he added.

"The agency hopes to pay all farmers by the first week of November, just after the close of the purchasing exercise on 31st October, 2012."

The FRA had targeted to buy one million tonnes of maize from small-holder farmers this year compared to the 1.3 million tonnes it bought last year.

Labels: , ,


Zesco halts pole supply contract

Zesco halts pole supply contract
By Mwala Kalaluka
Wed 24 Oct. 2012, 14:00 CAT

ZESCO has halted the final award of a one-year contract for the supply of wooden poles amounting to billions of kwacha following allegations that defence minister Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba solicited the same.

Zesco head of public relations and marketing Besty Phiri said in an interview yesterday that had the tender not been under investigations, the power utility would have gone ahead to award the contract to any of the six companies that were preliminarily notified.

"This is the tender that is a subject of investigations, isn't it?" Phiri responded when asked about the status of the tender following the expiry of the preliminary notification of award on October 19, 2012.

"It is very difficult to make a comment at the moment because it is subject of investigations. It is very difficult until the investigations have been concluded. It is halted until after investigations are concluded."

Phiri said if there were no issues around the tender in question, the whole process and the relevant procedures would have been exhausted.

"The whole process is transparent and that is why we gave a notice. We informed all the people that participated and even the people that have been awarded," said Phiri. "It is very open and transparent."

Sources told The Post that Mwamba who is PF member of parliament for Kasama commonly known as GBM, personally pressed Zesco management to award the wooden pole contract to his company, Arizona Marketing & Distributors.

Following The Post's revelations on the issue, the Anti-Corruption Commission ACC, through its public relations manager, Timothy Moono, said the Commission had launched a preliminary inquiry into the allegations.

Moono said a preliminary inquiry would determine whether full-fledged investigations into the matter would follow.

When reached for a comment over allegations, Mwamba said the fact that he was in government did not mean that his family should be stopped from engaging in business activities.

Labels: , ,


ZEC, PF govt relationship cordial - Samasumo

ZEC, PF govt relationship cordial - Samasumo
By Masuzyo Chakwe
Tue 23 Oct. 2012, 16:10 CAT

ZAMBIA Episcopal Conference spokesperson Father Paul Samasumo yesterday said ZEC's relationship with the government continues to be cordial.

And Fr Samasumo says the Catholic Church is presently unhappy about the deportation of Father Viateur Banyangandora, From front page and the constitution-making process.

Fr Samasumo said the Catholic Church and the government cooperate on many levels and fronts ranging from health, agriculture, provision of social services and through to health.
He said one of the concerns with the government was the constitution-making process.

"Our Bishops have urged the government to protect the constitution-making process in a legal framework. This has largely been ignored. Similarly ignored has been the call from ZEC and others for the appointment of a referendum commission that would already start preparations for the holding of a referendum."

Fr Samasumo said as things stand, ZEC would hesitate to endorse with confidence, the direction of the current constitution-making process.
"We still hope though that the end result will deliver to the people of Zambia a constitution that they have always yearned for - one that is all-inclusive and one that respects the basic minimums that have always come through in virtually all constitution review commissions," he said.

On the deportation of Fr Banyangandora, Fr Samasumo said: "We still do not have a satisfactory explanation about why such drastic action was visited on this priest. We still seek answers and the revocation of the deportation order. Our Bishops will be in Lusaka, in November, for their end of year meetings, and we expect they will find time (collectively) to engage with government on this issue."

And Fr Samasumo clarified media reports emanating from Parliament that the three Church mother bodies failed to submit views before the parliamentary select committee that was looking into the appointment of two new Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) commissioners.

He said the truth was that the internal inquiry at the Catholic Secretariat showed that no such invitation was received from the parliamentary select committee for them to make submissions.

On independence, Fr Samasumo said Zambians had many reasons to be grateful to God, who had journeyed with them, as a nation, from 1964 to date.
"As a nation, it is true to say that we have had our fair share of challenges especially in the areas of governance, constitution-making, nation building and even state management.

Yet, though school report card might read 'unsatisfactory', we still have cause to celebrate because there are many good things happening in this country. We can also point to many great achievements. Some of those good things to be found, in Zambia, include the Zambian people themselves. In spite of ourselves, we are a good people. We are a friendly, hospitable, God-fearing and peace-loving people," he said.

"With all these good attributes, where then do we go wrong? Why is it that, notwithstanding all the positive economic indicators, poverty in the rural areas is worse? Why is all this mining boom not showing in the lives of our people? Politically, why do we seem to be drifting towards our tribal enclaves?"

He said independence was and should be a time of giving account.
"As in the Gospel parable of talents, (Mt. 25:19) independence asks us to give account of how we have used our various gifts that are to be found within this great country. Have we used the gifts to bring development or division? This independence should also be used as springboard to begin preparations for the great jubilee year of 50 years which will be with us in two years time.

We must not wait until the fifty years. We must start now to prepare and to interrogate ourselves sincerely as a people. Where do we want to be in the next 10, 50 years? What kind of Zambia shall we leave for posterity?" he asked.
Fr Samasumo said the Catholic Church's covenant with the people of Zambia was total.

He said the church was rooted in the Gospel of Christ and Catholic Social Teaching.
"We are committed to our prophetic role and will always endeavour to be the conscience of society, regardless of which political party is in government," he said.

Labels: , , ,


Engilex denies links with GBM

Engilex denies links with GBM
By Mwala Kalaluka
Tue 23 Oct. 2012, 16:00 CAT

ONE of the companies that bid for a one-year tender for the supply of wooden-poles to Zesco, which defence minister Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba is alleged to have physically solicited for, says it has no links with him.

Engilex Limited was one of the companies included on the preliminary notification of contract award for the Zesco tender to supply and deliver 9m, 10m and 12m wooden poles on one-year running contract basis.

"This preliminary award has been issued pursuant to Part VI, Section 53 (1) and (2) of the Zambia Public Procurement Act No.12 of 2008. Furthermore, this notice does not constitute an award of contract and you have the right to appeal against the intention before the notice period expires on Wednesday 19th September 2012," Zesco acting senior manager procurement Tamara Ngulube notified the firms.

According to a certificate of incorporation obtained by The Post yesterday, Engilex Limited, whose bid price on the Zesco wooden poles tender was K14,345,256,250, is a private company whose shares are held by Bobi Nebwe, director/secretary and John Kombe director and not Mwamba.

One of the other six companies that Zesco preliminarily awarded the contract is Arizona Marketing & Distributors, which belongs to Mwamba, who is popularly known as GBM and who has since been subjected to a preliminary inquiry over the same tender by the Anti-Corruption Commission ACC.

Sources told The Post recently that Mwamba physically pressed Zesco management to award the wooden poles tender to his company, Arizona Marketing & Distributors and two other companies he was allegedly connected to.

Labels: , ,


(NYASATIMES) When a builder contradicts architect’s plan: Case of Malawi economic recovery plan implementation

COMMENT - An admission that state intervention is what neoliberal freetaders turn to when the going gets tough.

When a builder contradicts architect’s plan: Case of Malawi economic recovery plan implementation
By Gerald Mabveka
October 23, 2012

The Government’s initiative to put in place an initiative to rescue our economy is commendable. Whilst the Government should be commended for this it is saddening to note that it is making decisions that are in clear contradiction with the Economic Recovery Plan (ERP).

So far, there have been a number of shortfalls observed about the ERP. These include the fact that the ERP is short of tangible specifics1. Further to the shortfalls, are the contradictory actions being taken by the Government recently.

One notable contradictory action the Government has made so far is the intervention in the fuel pricing mechanism. On fuel pricing the ERP clear states that, “…Over the past years the Government has been controlling fuel pump prices. This meant subsidizing fuel when international prices rise and thus accumulating deficits in the Price Stabilization Fund (PSF) hence posing a risk to the budget. To eliminate this risk, the country returned to Automatic Pricing Mechanism (APM).”2

The forgoing statement is clear on the effect of controlling fuel price. It is sad to note that within the short term period of the implementation of the ERP the Government has chosen to contradict its own plan. As usual, the Malawi Energy Regulator Authority (MERA) was pressurised to find a reason for the fuel price hike reversal so that the power within the Government should not been to have remote controlled the professionals at MERA.

At the economic recovery launch, Vice President Khumbo Kachali and the economic planning minister Atupele Muluzi

One may indeed conclude that politicians do not necessarily learn from past mistakes. Rather, they try the same mistake and only try to create a reason for doing the same past mistake. This is a clear indicator that the Government has not yet made its mind on the path the country should take to the so lauded economic recovery path.

It is also sad to note that in the interest of keeping our jobs, the professionals do allow to make decision that they themselves know that is wrong. Then one questions whether we are really professionals.

The Malawi Confederation of Chamber and Commence and Industry (MCCCI) has warned the Government of contradicting with its own pronouncement on its plan on the sick economy. The MCCCI has defined this action a clear interference by the Government in our economy.

[The 'sick economy' is the result of economic sanctions and ending budget support, in retaliatio against President Bingu wa Mutharika, because he supported President Mugabe and extended a $20 million loan to Zimbabwe so they could buy Malawian maize. President wa Mutharika also proved the foolishness of the IMF's insistence on the state not aiding the economy, when he proved the success of a simple fertilizer support program to farmers. - MrK]

It is like a patient guardian who tapers with a drip of quinine in a hospital ward an action which threatens the patient’s life. What it means is that the Government’s action will bring more an uncertainty onto our business market which will make Malawi unattractive investment destination for the investors who this country badly needed forty five years ago than today. This interference in the fuel pricing is a carbon copy of what the Government was doing with the foreign exchange rate i.e. fixing the exchange rate.

[This is typical neoliberal pablum. At some point you have to admit was works and has worked, and that letting the market set the rates only leads to more inefficiency in service delivery and availability of goods to ordinary people. - MrK]

One may conclude that the Government interfere in the fuel price implementation was solely made on political grounds. The Government may have done this to gain popularity.

Oh no, they are doing what the people want, instead of what the IMF and World Bank (JP Morgan Chase, State Street Corporation, etc.) want. - MrK

However, one thing is known that the Government will only postpone the price implementation. But one day it shall be implemented and it shall bit ruthlessly the way the procrastinated decision on foreign exchange has bitten us.

The Weekend Nation of 20th October 2012 says come November 2012, we should expect a double pain. That is, if the expected price in October was to increase by 10%, we should expect that November price increase will be above 20%. It has been established that the fuel industry will lose MK 1billion in October alone as a result of the price hike reversal.3 This decision contracts with the ERP as it makes our business environment unattractive to our current investors and the much needed more investors. What picture or indictor the Government is giving to the investors it wants to attract to remain in business and to come in?

It is too soon to start making policies in conflict with the ERP that the Government is trying to make people believe that it is serious in recovering the economy. One can agree with the argument by Matchaya (2012)4 that our Government seems not to have a full comprehension of what the problems the country is facing. As a result, one may agree with those people who say the Government is not sure of what it wants to do is just in a trial and error business.

It is sad to note that the above discussion is only mainly on what it claim to be in the short term reforms. The EPR states that, “Benefits of implementing the short term activities outlined …, would flow into the medium term”. But with the way how the Government is or has been implementing the short term reforms of the ERP, one wonders if the pronouncement made at the start of a presentation ofmedium term reforms will be realised considering that so far Government has made decisions that are in conflict with its own aspirations outlined in the ERP.

The Government should demonstrate through its action that ERP is really is plan for the nation by ensuring that it accommodates suggestions aimed at making it a best tool for the recovery of our economy. Further to that, the Government must ensure that its actions do not contradict with its own plan. I believe that the intention for having the ERP is good what is missing is to actualise the intention through an improved ERP and walk the ERP.

*The author Gerald Mabveka is Principal Regulatory Officer (PRGO) in the Office of Director of Public Procurement but writing in his personal capacity.

Labels: ,


(NYASATIMES) Malawi Govt geared to adopt employment, labour policy- VP Kachali

COMMENT - They are backtracking from neoliberalism.

Malawi Govt geared to adopt employment, labour policy- VP Kachali
By Solister Mogha, Malawi News Agency
October 22, 2012

Vice President Khumbo Kachali has emphasized the need for Malawi to adopt and implement the employment and labour policy if the country’s economy is to be stabilized.

The Vice President said this on Monday in Lilongwe when he opened a two-day high level national policy dialogue workshop. He said in any country, the labour force plays a crucial role in accelerating the economy as well as development.

He said since independence, Malawi has had no employment and labour policy which posed a challenge in regulating the labour market.

“Just recently I launched the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MDGS11) and the Economic Recovery Plan, the whole idea of launching the two was to change our focus and concentrate on the sectors that would help in stimulating the country’s economy. In the MDGS11 we had mentioned of job creation as another area that could assist in bringing the economy of the country back on track.

“However, there can’t be progress if the labour market is not provided with the much needed attention and support. The policy workshop I am opening today will stimulate debate on what is needed to be done to create jobs that will promote and contribute towards improving the country’s economy,” Kachali explained.

Mohamed k Gassama International Labour Organisation Macro Economist with the VEEP at the official opening of high level national dialogue policy workshop at Cresta hotels -pic by Lisa Vintulla/Mana

The vice president noted that the employment and labour policy once adopted and implemented would enable the country achieve the middle income status by 2015.

Mohamed Gassama, International Labour Organization, (ILO) Employment Specialist said with the current economic crisis, Malawi needed reforms that would help in stabilizing the economy.

He said by creating new and decent jobs and adopting deliberate labour policies, the country is likely to recover from the economic mess.

Gassama then described the employment and labour high level policy workshop as important as would promote productive employment and decent work within the current context of economic and social reforms undertaken by the government of Malawi.

“Since 2005, Malawi economy has experienced reasonable robust Growth Development Product (GDP) growth rates averaging 6 percent per annum, which has led to the fall of the share of the population living below the poverty line from 52 per cent to 40 percent. This rise is mainly due to increased agricultural production.

“However, based on our analysis, while the share of the population living below the poverty line has fallen as a result of increased agricultural production, returns on labour in the agriculture sector constituting the major work force has fallen. Looking at this, we really need reforms that would benefit the public and enable them contribute toward the development of the country,” Gassama said promising that the ILO would help the country with both financial and technical support to ensure that the labour and employment policy is adopted and implemented by the Malawi government.

Chauluka Muwake, President of Malawi Congress of Trade Union, said Malawi as a country needed to have policies that should regulate the labour market so to open opportunities to every Malawian.

Malawi is one of the few countries that have not adopted and implemented the employment and labour policy. However, the policy workshop gives hope to many Malawians. It is expected that during the meeting, participants would discuss on the processes that could help in creating jobs.

Labels: , ,


(NYASATIMES) Malawi leader cancels Zambia visit: Send apologies to Sata

Malawi leader cancels Zambia visit: Send apologies to Sata
By Thom Chiumia, Nyasa Times
October 23, 2012

Malawian President Joyce Banda three-day state visit to has been cancelled, Nyasa Times learnt on Tuesday. President Banda was scheduled to arrive in Lusaka on Tuesday and was expected to attend Zambia’s 48th independence celebrations on Wednesday.

But she did not show up at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, where both Zambian government officials and Malawian Foreign Affairs Minister Mganda Chiume with High Commissioner to Zambia David Bandawe waited in vain, according to Zambia Reports.

President Banda instead will head home straight from Dubai where she attended the World Energy Forum.

Presidential Press Secretary Steve Nhlane confirmed to Nyasa Times that President Banda is not going to Zambia.

President Joyce Banda send apologies to President Sata

“She had a critical emerging meeting this morning in Dubai and that meant she could not make it for the Zambia for tomorrow’s celebrations,” said Nhlane on Tuesday.

He said the Malawian leader “sent her apology to Zambian President Michael Sata.”

Meanwhile, President Banda will be represented at the Zambia Independence celebrations by Malawi’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Ephraim Mganda Chiume.

Chiume is already in Zambia and according to Lusaka Times, he said Zambia and Malawi have continued to enjoy warm relations dating as far back as the pre independence times for the two countries.

He said nothing should ever come in between the two countries to deter them from enjoying the cordial relations.

Zambia gave Malawi several millions of litres of fuel to help with the fuel shortage experienced at the hands of former president Bingu wa Mutharika.

Labels: ,


(LUSAKATIMES) Katele Kalumba sues Fackson Shamenda for allegedly grabbing a piece of land from him

Katele Kalumba sues Fackson Shamenda for allegedly grabbing a piece of land from him
TIME PUBLISHED - Wednesday, October 24, 2012, 7:27 am

Former MMD National Secretary Katele Kalumba, has dragged Labour Minister, Fackson Shamenda to court for allegedly grabbing a piece of land from him.

Dr Kalumba who is a former Finance Minister has since asked the Lusaka High Court to grant him an injunction to restrain Mr Shamenda from carrying out any developments on the said land.

This is contained in a writ of summons filed on Monday before the Lusaka Principal Registry by Dr Kalumba of Lake View house, Natende, Chiengi district, Luapula province.

He has sued Attorney General Mumba Malila as the second defendant pursuant to the State Proceedings Act Chapter 71 of the Laws of Zambia.

He is seeking a declaratory that the re-entry by the Commissioner of Lands on the said plot was null and void and an order that Mr Malila should give back the said Certificate of Title L 318 to him or alternatively to Dr Kalumba and be the re-registered beneficial owner and issued with a Certificate of Title.

Dr Kalumba is further seeking damages, profit accrued, interests and costs from Mr Shamenda.

He contends in his statement of claim that he was the holder of Title number L318 relating to Plot number 9395/M situated in Lusaka province and that Mr Shamenda was purported to be the holder of Certificate number 185050 relating to Lot number 9395/M situated in the same province.

Dr Kalumba said he was at all material times ending October 19, 2012 the registered owner of the property situate in Lusaka and known as Lot Number 9395/M, Lusaka.

He said by October 9, 2012 the Commissioner registered in the Lands and Deeds Registry a Certificate of re-entry and on October 12, 2012, the Registrar of Lands issued a new Certificate of Title number L8550 to Mr Shamenda.

He said when he acquired the said property, he engaged Aquanova Limited to carry out construction of developments but the police had started using the same land as their recreation place and as such it was not available for development.

He said he approached the Commissioner of Lands and attempts were made to give him an alternative piece of land but the same never came to pass.

Dr Kalumba said when the Commissioner of Lands failed to give him alternative land, his wife delivered building materials to the place but was advised by the people he found at the site that the land belonged to Mr Shamenda.

He said this was done without any notice given to him adding that there were no lawful grounds which existed for forfeiture or re-entry of the said property before allocating it to Mr Shamenda.

Dr Kalumba said as a result of Mr Shamenda’s behaviour, he has suffered loss and damages the reason he was seeking relief from the courts of law.

He is being represented by Vincent Malambo and Company.

Labels: , ,


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

(STICKY) (NEWZIMBABWE) Zimbabwe: alarming disconnect between banks and customers

COMMENT - This disconnect is not unique to Zimbabwe, it exists in Zambia, Malawi, South Africa etc. And of course the banks are the same in every country - Stanchart, Barclays, etc. - it's policy. Their investment decisions seem to be driven by the IMF and World Bank, like only investing in tourism, leaving ordinary entrepreneurs without a source of funding. Add a massive liquidity gap (for instance a 2% savings rate and a 24% lending rate), as well as an effective negative savings rate (you pay more in fees than you receive interest on those savings) and there is ample room for reform, even drastic reform like nationalisation.

Zimbabwe: alarming disconnect between banks and customers
22/10/2012 00:00:00
by Chido Makunike

ZIMBABWEAN banks and their customers might as well be on different planets about their ideas about what is minimally acceptable service.

While banks have previously been firmly in the driver's seat in this regard, recent and growing political and public pressure on them is shifting the power dynamics somewhat, with the customers' concerns at least getting more of a public airing than before. However, the banks remain largely tone-deaf to the reasons for so much public disgruntlement with their levels of service.

Zimbabwean bank clients grumble about high service charges not matched by commensurate levels of service. The government complains that many of the banks have a sectoral mindset determined more by thinking from Britain than from the needs of the Zimbabwean economy.

Businesses accuse the banks of being too tight-fisted in extending credit. Lower level bank workers complain that they are under-paid while executives of even struggling banks live it up.

No one seems to love Zimbabwe's banks at the moment. It is hardly surprising that the banking sector feels put upon.

Let's examine some of the banks' responses to this onslaught of criticism. 'Catch your bank doing something right' was the cheer-leading heading of an opinion piece in the NewsDay of October 18. The writer sought to help counter what he considers to be "the bank-bashing bandwagon."

How? Unfortunately, not by cataloguing ways in which the heated current criticisms of banks might be wrong. That would have been a useful way of putting across the banks' point-by-point arguments about why and how the current criticisms of them might be excessive.

In fact, Omen Muza, the author of the article, side-steps addressing the substance of those criticisms entirely. He instead responds to what he labels 'bank-bashing' by relating the corporate social responsibility/public relations-type exercises a number of the banks are involved in.

He gives the example of a 'fun walk' sponsored by one bank. Another 'good work' done by a different bank was to sponsor eye cataract surgery for the underprivileged.

"Banks do not always make enough effort to inform the banking public about such good things," writes our banking sector defender.

It is all very well to publicise such public do-gooder efforts by the banks, but it is almost entirely besides the point of why the public regard for such banks by that same public is generally so low.

It is a wonderful example of corporate good-citizenship if Barclays, Standard Chartered or any other bank are sponsoring these sorts of activities. The banks (or their media defenders) have every right to 'inform the banking public about such good things.' Any fair member of that banking public will say 'well done for being so public-spirited, bank X.'

But in no way can these sort of 'good things' by the banks excuse or make up for bad banking practices or poor banking services. It is quite possible and entirely legitimate for the banking public to praise bank X for sponsoring various public 'good things' and yet criticise them for falling short of their banking mandate, which is after all their core business, not sponsoring walks or surgery.

It would have been far more useful to banks and the public alike if the NewsDay opinion piece had addressed the question of where and how the public is being unfair in their 'bashing' of the banks.

George Guvamatanga, president of the Bankers’ Association of Zimbabwe, made some statements that are not particularly flattering in what they reveal about the mindset of the sector, but that are also unintentionally helpful in explaining why there is such a large gap between banks and their customers.

Addressing a conference of tourism businesspeople, Guvamatanga said,
"If you walk into any bank you will see that you are not a priority. We need to hear your story as tourism players at the moment you have not sold your story and, to be honest, most banks do not know your story."

Perhaps Guvamatanga should be praised for being open about this, but it is also shocking that he suggests that the banks almost have to be coaxed into exploring the money-making potential of Zimbabwean tourism.

If tourism business people have not made their 'story' heard to the banks (if that is true), that is certainly a problem. But why have the banks not sought to search out opportunities for them to make money from lending to tourism projects? Do the banks only wait for business to walk into their doors, rather than going out to seek it, like every other business sector is required to do and does?

What Guvamatanga's statement suggests is that Zimbabwean banks are not particularly pro-active in looking for areas in which they can get involved for their own benefit. This is perhaps partly because of very conservative thinking about opportunity versus risk in particular, and about business in general.

It may also say that the banks have many relatively low-risk ways of making money that don't involve much real business skills, so have little incentive to actually go out and look for new opportunities.

Tourism will once again become a key foreign-currency earner in Zimbabwe, as it once was. In fact, even in the face of the western media onslaught depicting the Zimbabwe of the past 10 years as a virtual war zone, tourism has continued to be a below-potential but still important source of hard currency revenue.

Many reports over the last two years or so have indicated that Zimbabwe tourist arrivals are steadily going up, by as much as 16% in 2012 over 2011. If those kinds of figures of growth are not enough to impressive and attract the interest of the banking sector to investigate money-making opportunities in tourism, what on earth will?

So one way Guvamatanga's remarks are important is that they make it clear to businesspeople that banks don't see it as their 'responsibility' to 'support' any particular economic sector.

Nor should they. But it is surprising when they openly declare ignorance about one of the few economic sectors showing the potential to give relatively quick and significant returns -to them as well as to their tourism sector clients. One would not think there would be any need for any external pressure for the banking sector to show more interest in tourism than Guvamatanga's comments suggest is the case.

Guvamatanga does in fact explicitly come out to say that too much is expected of the banks by the public.

He said: "You need to find an equity financier or a venture capitalist because you can have a bright idea, but the nature of the financial industry we have in Zimbabwe today does not have venture financing.

“We used to have Venture Capital Zimbabwe. It was there for a reason. We had Sedco, it was there for a reason. Agribank was there for a reason. We now have IDBZ. It’s there for a reason. So there is actually an opportunity in banking for other institutions. Unfortunately everyone is converting their licences to commercial banking."

These are valid points Guvamatanga makes in defence of his embattled 'industry.' Commercial banks are not particularly well-equipped to play all the roles expected of them. As he points, various specialty, business-targeted banks have not faired well in Zimbabwe.

However, it must also be said that for decades, those same commercial banks have long had business sub-sections whose functions overlap with those of the specialty banks he mentions. So to say that most Zimbabwean banks are generalists rather than business-lending specialists is not a full defence of their perceived (and confirmed by Guvamatanga) lending stinginess.

Even at the peak of Agribank's existence, that specialty bank had only a fraction of the agriculture-lending potential and portfolio of the bigger 'generalist' commercial banks.

But Guvamatanga's comments in this regard are important to businesspeople in another respect. That is the reality that the conditions under which Zimbabwean banks considered it to be good business (for them) to lend to economic sectors like agriculture simply no longer exist.

Agri-businesspeople can bitch about this all they want, but it would largely be a waste of time. It is simply necessary to look outside the commercial banking sector for their finance needs.

As Guvamatanga himself confesses, 'it was much easier to borrow as an individual than as companies.' This is certainly the lament of many businesses in Zimbabwe. Yet groups like the Affirmative Action Group (AAG) keep knocking their heads against the wall trying to change this. In the process, they seem as deaf and blind to the reasons that this is unlikely to change soon as the banks are to why they are so reviled.

Guvamatanga is reported to have also said: "To really ask them (banks) to provide developmental finance is almost impossible because they are not designed that way.” What he may have meant by 'developmental finance' was concessionary finance (interest rates and/or other terms).

Indeed, some in government and in the private sector's 'empowerment groups' do naively talk as if they expect banks to give gift-finance, which is obviously unfair to ask of the banks, and unrealistic anyway.

Yet Guvamatanga's implication that 'developmental finance' and commercial, profit-making finance are necessarily and always contradictory must be interrogated. Decades of funding the development of Rhodesian (and later, briefly Zimbabwean) agriculture was certainly 'developmental' in national terms, but it was done on commercial terms.

A key challenge which the Zimbabwean economic/business environment of 2012 requires is for leading economic 'stakeholders,' including the banking sector, to come up with innovative new models of how unavoidable developmental and commercial imperatives can best be twinned. Guvamatanga's statements make it sound like the banking sector considers itself a mere bystander in this great challenge Zimbabwe faces, rather than a key driver/leader of thinking about how to overcome it.

The amusing, somewhat ambigious heading of the NewsDay article reporting on Guvamatanga's comments was 'Financial sector shallow.' A reading of the article makes it fairly clear that by 'shallow' the paper was referring to Guvamatanga's comments that Zimbabwe's banks were not as highly developed/specialised to meet the many demands on them as those in more sophisticated banking markets.

Unfortunately and no doubt unintentionally, the substance of Guvamatanga's remarks could also lead to a perhaps mischievous interpretation of 'shallow' to mean his weak defence of his industry against the current widespread 'bank-bashing.'

What is becoming more evident is the very large gap in mindset between banks and much of the 'banking public.' It is unfortunate that those differences are coming out in acrimonious, almost accidental ways rather than by the two sides really talking to (instead of at) each other. Nevertheless, this messy process is still useful in clearing the air about the very different ideas about what the banking public expects, and what the banks are willing to do or regard to be possible.

Zimbabwean banks, congratulations, thanks and 'good work' to those of you sponsoring fun walks and cataract surgery for the indigent. But that still doesn't excuse lousy, slow and sullen service in the banking halls. Surely a bank does not have to be 'developmental' in its thinking to give its customers that very minimal level of service?

A big part of the negative public attitude against Zimbabwe's banks is the perception that they are arrogant and unable to consider that there are indeed many areas where they under-perform. If there is now an element of unfair 'bank-bashing,' it is not so much that the banks fail to publicise their sponsorship of 'fun walks.'

It is that they so consistently, so rigidly refuse to consider that some/a lot of their customers' criticisms of them may have validity and need to be addressed not with propaganda, but with improved value-for-charges service.