ZR Comment: President Michael Sata has had a brutal week, politically speaking. Following the visit of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to Lusaka, the divisive issue of gay rights has subsumed the nation, with many among Sata’s supporters voicing their disapproval of what is seen as a change of position by the president. Rumors on the street say that Sata arranged for Moon to introduce the topic of gay rights to initiate the debate, and while this is not true (Moon has a consistent record of speaking out on gay rights dating far back), opponents have been capitalizing on these suspicions of Sata’s maneuvering. The other issue that has damaged the president’s support base was the restoration of the Barotseland Agreement of 1964 following the publication of the Commission of Inquiry report on the Mongu riots, which left 19 dead in 2010. Sata’s approval of extra self-governing authority to the separatist Western region is seen as deeply unpopular in other parts of Zambia, and opposite his campaign promises.
Sata’s ‘Anti-Corruption Drive’ Denounced as Political Persecution
Members of the former ruling party MMD have come out to criticize President Sata’s use of Commissions of Inquiry and false investigations to punish opponents, wiping out political competition. Some have gone as far as to accuse the President of wanting to return Zambia to a one-party state.
“They have used massive propaganda in newspapers such as The Post to give the Zambian people the impression that there was fraud or corruption in relation to these companies, and now they have used that as an excuse to nationalise the assets,” said former Finance Minister Musokotwane of the MMD. “And for investors, both in Zambia and from abroad, they read beyond propaganda and see the details contained in the report, and now they are legitimately worried that anyone’s investment can be taken by this government without the protection of the law.”
“There is no doubt that there is a need to fight corruption, nobody questions that,” said Hakainde Hichilema, head of the United Party for National Development (UPND), another opposition party which formerly held a pact with Patriotic Front. “But what we want is a professional and transparent fight against corruption; a fight that will ensure that there is no selectiveness, and no vindictiveness. Unfortunately, at the moment it is very clear that the fight against corruption is being used to settle political scores.”
Speaker rules on Rupiah’s benefits
SPEAKER of the National Assembly Dr Patrick Matibini yesterday ruled that Rupiah Banda had been violating the benefits for presidents Act by continuing to engage in active politics and told Parliament that the onus of forfeiting his emoluments and other benefits he was entitled to was on the Executive.
The Speaker’s ruling comes in the wake of a point of order raised by Chongwe Member of Parliament Sylvia Masebo last Friday on the government’s failure to implement the law in relation to Banda over his continued involvement in active party politics.
Dr Matibini ruled that the legislation on benefits and conditions which apply for one to benefit as a former president was very clear.
“To this effect, the benefits of the former presidents Act chapter 15 of the Laws of Zambia as amended by Act No 21 of 1998 or rather as follows, section 85: (1) The pension and other benefits conferred by this act shall not be paid as assigned or provided for the former president who (A) is in receipt of a salary from government, or (B) engaged in active politics.
Banda recently told members of the former ruling party at a card renewal exercise that he would remain in charge of the party until it found a replacement.
Only bad eggs in MMD should apologise – Kavindele
ONLY the bad eggs of MMD should apologise for stealing from Zambians when they served in government and for tarnishing the party’s image, says former vice-president Enoch Kavindele.
Kavindele said it was wrong for former MMD national secretary Dr Katele Kalumba to issue a “blanket statement” that the entire fallen party was engulfed in unbridled corruption.
Dr Kalumba said Zambians were upset about corruption and other wrongdoings of the MMD, resulting in the fall of the once glamorous ruling party.
But Kavindele said members with cases before the courts for corruption should not drag MMD into their personal problems with the law.
“Those that are being probed are being investigated in their individual capacities; the MMD as a party, we are not facing any corruption charges,” Kavindele said in an interview.
“We should expect that those that were corrupt, in their individual capacities, they should apologise and own up, and they will be saving everybody’s time, including the court’s time.”
Kavindele advised all corrupt elements of the former ruling party to own up, return the plundered national resources, and subsequently apologise to the country.
Government workers to get no more than 4% pay rise
SECRETARY to the Treasury Fredson Yamba has directed all controlling officers to ensure that grant-aided and government institutions only award a maximum four per cent in salary increments for this year.
But Civil Servants and Allied Workers Union deputy director research, information and public relations Kennedy Sichinsambwe has described the development as a blow in the face of Zambians who were promised more money in their pockets by the Patriotic Front government.
According to a circular minute to all controlling officers dated February 1, 2012, Yamba stated that due to a number of commitments that the Treasury has this year, they should ensure that all grant-aided and other institutions that depend on government funding for their operations are only authorised to award a four per cent salary increment to their workers.
The awards are conditional on funds provided for in the 2012 budget being adequate. This is in accordance with the powers vested in the Treasury under the provisions of Section 35 of the public finance Act no. 15 of 2004.
VEEP explains why he doesn’t act as President
Republican Vice President Guy Scott has explained why he does not act as president in the absence of republican President Michael Sata.
Dr. Scott whose parents are British, revealed that the constitution does not allow him to stand for the republican presidency or act as president because of his ethnic background.
During the vice president’s question time, Dr. Scot recalled that in 1996, under the late former president Dr. Frederick Chiluba, parliament passed an amendment that forbids Zambian residents whose parents are born outside the country to act or stand as president.
He stated that the amendment is discriminatory as agreed by most legal experts in the country.
Dr. Scott was responding to a question from Mpongwe Member of Parliament Gabriel Namulambe who wanted to know why he does not act as president in the absence of the president.
Fitch revises Zambia outlook to negative
Fitch revised Zambia’s rating outlook to negative from stable on Thursday, citing concerns about the direction of economic policy in the southern African state.
“The revision … reflects the agency’s concerns about some of the government’s recent actions and announcements, which bring into question the direction of economic policy,” Fitch said in a statement.
The agency affirmed Zambia’s short-term issuer default ratings at ‘B’ and the country ceiling at ‘BB-‘.
It said Zambia’s recent decision to reverse a privatisation deal could undermine property rights, while planned reforms of the mining and banking sectors could negatively impact investment and consequently macro-economic stability.
“The government’s decisions to reverse the privatisation of Zamtel and investigate the privatisation of Zanaco represent perhaps the most worrying recent development,” Fitch added.
The new government of President Michael Sata is investigating the 2007 sale of a 49 percent stake in state-owned Zanaco Bank to Rabobank, in a case that could lead to a reversal of a deal involving foreigners.
World Bank to loan Zambia $50m for Livestock
THE World Bank has agreed to lend Zambia US $50 million (about K250 billion) for development of livestock production in the country.
The money which smallholder producers in Eastern, Southern and Western provinces would help to improve productivity of key livestock production systems for female and male smallholder producers.
“The World Bank Board of Directors today approved a US $50 million credit to improve the productivity of key livestock production systems for targeted female and male smallholder producers in Eastern, Southern and Western provinces of Zambia,” the World Bank stated.
“The project will also cover the implementation of Disease Free Zones in Central, Lusaka and parts of Copperbelt provinces. The livestock development and animal health project comes at a time when the new government of Zambia has embarked on a campaign to diversify its economy, so that it shifts from a heavy reliance on copper mining and maize production alone.”
The World Bank stated that the broadening of support towards agricultural diversification and livestock production specifically would help address attempts at diversification.
Production at First Quantum ground to a halt as miners strike
Production at Canada’s First Quantum Minerals Zambia flagship copper mine has ground to a halt due to a strike over wages, the labour minister said on Friday.
Workers at the Kansanshi mine, Zambia’s largest copper mine which produced 231,000 tonnes of the red metal in 2010, downed tools on Thursday, Fackson Shamenda said in a statement.
Kansanshi mine company spokesman Godfrey Msiska separately said workers had blocked the entrance to the mine and nobody was allowed to enter the premises.
“There is nothing happening,” he said about the operation.