ZR Comment: Confusion continues to reign at State House in Lusaka. Just one day after the Chief Registrar Clement Andeleki, allegedly acting upon orders of the president, ordered the dissolution of the opposition Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) party and the stripping of all their seats in parliament, the Lusaka High Court has intervened to stay the motion while the MMD has presented full receipts proving payment of registration fees. The government’s brazen attempt to obliterate a political party that just six months ago won 36% of the vote and 53 parliamentary seats wasn’t just illegal (see statement from LAZ below), but also very poorly considered – what would happen, for example, with the odd dozen of MMD members that President Sata appointed to government positions, and what would happen to the 50 odd cases being contested before the election tribunals? Others here in Lusaka point out that the holding of this many by-elections at once so close to a presidential election would shatter the economy and bankrupt the treasury. Did the Patriotic Front expect the forced de-registration to be successful? Some say that it didn’t matter, that the measure was more about sending a message to the opposition.
UPND: Rupiah Banda Should Be Honored
After weeks of being slammed in the government-controlled media, the deputy spokesperson for the United Party for National Development (UPND) has come forward to complement former Republican President Rupiah Banda, arguing that the former leader deserves to be honored for his contribution to the country and his graceful departure from the political scene.
UPND deputy Spokesperson Cornelius Mweetwa told QFM news that Mr. Banda has proved to be a selfless leader who also ensured that there was a peaceful transition of power after last year’s elections. Mweetwa said that Banda has set a powerful precedent by voluntarily stepping down as party president, and adding that Mr. Banda should be looked upon as a reservoir of knowledge by the up-coming politicians as he has not only been a politician but also a veteran diplomat who served the country well.
During Banda’s farewell speech to the MMD, the former president remained firmly confident of his administration’s policies, especially with regard to the privatization of Zamtel – an issue which has been the focus of the Patriotic Front’s campaign, leading up to and following the forced re-nationalization of the company. “If we were wrong in privatising Zamtel, history will prove us, if Zamtel will succeed, there will be more money in people’s pockets. And if they (PF) fail, the people we’ll tell them that. But I believe that we made the right decision to privatise Zamtel,” he said.
High Court Blocks Suspension of MMD
The High Court of Lusaka has stayed the motion from the registrar’s office which sought immediate suspension of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy party and removal of its 53 parliamentary seats pending the outcome of a legal appeal against the decision.
“Upon reading and considering the application for leave to apply for judicial review, statement of facts filed herewith and the affidavit verifying the statement of the said facts, it is hereby ordered that leave to apply for judicial review be and is hereby granted and is to operate as a stay of the decision of the Registrar of Societies made on the 14th day of March 2012, pending the hearing and final determination of these proceedings,” Mr Kabuka said.
And MMD legal chairperson, also former Republican Vice-President George Kunda, said the party had commenced a court action for judicial review.
“…the MMD will continue with its normal operations. Our 53 Members of Parliament will continue to enjoy their rights and privileges and powers, which they enjoy in the National Assembly,” Mr Kunda said.
The Patriotic Front has 63 elected and eight nominated members of parliament. By-elections could enable it to take an outright majority, although MMD’s core voters are the rural poor, who may react badly to the party being taken off the register.
Registrar has no powers to de-register MMD – LAZ
THE Law Association of Zambia says the decision by the Chief Registrar of Societies Clement Andeleki to de-register the MMD is excessive and not a proper exercise of his discretionary powers.
LAZ president James Banda stated in a press release yesterday that the de-registration of the former ruling party by the Registrar of Societies pursuant to Section 13(2) of the societies Act was irresponsible and improper.
“The aforesaid Section 13 does not make it mandatory for the Registrar to de-register an erring organisation. The section gives the Registrar discretion to deal with such organisations,” Banda stated.
“The long established principles of the law are that those who yield and use discretionary power must use such power in the public interest and not to achieve narrow interests.”
Banda was however quick to state that LAZ does not tolerate any breach of the law and that if indeed the MMD failed to pay the statutory fees, then that was wrong.
Dissolve parliament, call fresh elections – Miyanda
Brigadier General Godfrey Miyanda says President Michael Sata should dissolve Parliament and call for fresh general elections if the MMD remains de-registered.
“If MMD remains de-registered, then the President must dissolve parliament and call for fresh presidential and parliamentary elections. But of what benefit will this be other than to satisfy the PF’s desire to increase their numbers in Parliament?” he wondered.
Brig Gen Miyanda wondered whether a mere department of government could have the power to abridge or take away guaranteed fundamental rights of assembly and association.
And in an interview yesterday, Chief Registrar of Societies Clement Andeleki said he would leave it to the Zambian people and the courts of law to judge him.
“I would leave that to the Zambia people. My job is to collect revenue on behalf of the Zambian government and what I have always said is that I would engage any erring society, asking for the said money to be paid. That is what I would do and I will continue to do that. That is exactly what I have done to the MMD, I am a revenue collector, I am a law enforcement officer,” he said.
Andeleki urged the public to study what was contained in the Societies Act Chapter 119 of the Laws of Zambia.
MMD women threaten to protest over de-registration
Speaking at a briefing in Lusaka, an emotionally charged MMD women’s affairs chairperson Catherine Namugala, who was flanked by several women clad in party regalia accused the PF of attempting to obliterate opposition political parties.
“We do not want our country to go back into a one-party state. We refuse that. We will not allow the country that belongs to our children, the future generations to go back to a one-party state,” Namugala charged.
“We, therefore, call on our President to immediately reinstate the registration of MMD as a political party,” she said.
It will be interesting to see MMD women naked – VEEP
Vice President Guy Scott says it will be interesting to chance naked protesting MMD women led by their Women Chairperson Catherine Namugala.
Dr. Scott sent Parliament into laughter when he was responding to a question by Kanchibiya Member of Parliament Davies Mwaango during the vice president’s question time.
Mwaango wanted to know government’s position on planed protests by MMD women tomorrow against the deregistration of their party.
“According to the law, undressing in public is a criminal offence which falls under indecent exposure and would attract Police action against them, warned Scott.
Editor’s note: the MMD women’s group never stated they would march in the nude, but rather the story was spun for the media. A clarifying statement was issued today stating that there was never any intention to remove clothing in public.
Musicians unite against Sata
About 13 Zambian musicians have confirmed their involvement in a 10-minute collaboration single currently under production which aims to highlight their frustrations with the PF government over its failed promises.
According to the Zambian Watchdog, Slap D and his rap crew XYZ, Petersen, Dambisa, Dalisoul and popular comedian Diffikoti among other artistes have joined hands to denounce President Michael Sata over what they termed as poor governance.
The musicians told The Independent Post that the PF had also failed to address issues affecting them like music piracy.
“We were promised that once we put the PF into power, they would help us by addressing the issue of music piracy. But nothing has been done yet,” said one singer anonymously.
Zambia copper output to hit 1.5 million
COPPER production output is expected to hit 1.5 million tonnes per year by 2016 following increased expansion of mining activities in the country, the Chamber of Mines of Zambia has said.
Chamber of Mines of Zambia chief executive officer Fredrick Bantubonse, however, said the increase is dependant on Government setting the correct environment framework for the industry to flourish.
Mr Bantubonse said last year’s copper production was over 700,000 metric tonnes and has continued to increase.
Speaking at a four-day workshop on governance of the extractive industries in Zambia organised by the World Bank in Lusaka, Mr Bantubonse said following successful privatisation of the mining industry, over US$ 5 billion new Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has been injected in mining projects that saw new processing plants and new mines.
He said several projects are under construction, citing Konkola Deep Mining Project, Mindola Synchlinorium, Konkola North project, Chambishi south ore body, Kalumbila and the expansion of Lumwana Mine.
State ponders waiver on iron roofing sheet materials
GOVERNMENT is likely to remove import duty on materials used in the manufacturing of galvanised and corrugated iron roofing sheets to help the industry from collapse.
And M.M. Integrated (MMI) Steel Mill Limited has injected US$55 million in the manufacturing of iron roofing sheets and the new project is under construction.
Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Bob Sichinga said Government is keen to resolve challenges manufacturing firms are facing with regards to the cost of doing business.
“We are working with Ministry of Finance so that we can remove duties (on imported raw materials) at import levels because we need to provide production and employment,” he said.