Headlines 20 March 2012

ZR Comment:  The end of March is looking increasingly complicated for the Sata administration.  First, the bungled attempt to ban the main opposition party MMD is backfiring in a very negative way for the country, with Fitch Ratings once again coming forward to note that such a measure would contribute to additional downgrade of Zambia’s credit over political risk concerns.  Further adding fuel to the fire, the telecom LAP GreenN has announced their are filing lawsuits in Zambia and are willing to take the government to court internationally over what they describe as the illegal expropriation of Zamtel by the Sata administration.  We will continue to monitor how the State House manages these twin crises to get back on track.

MMD de-registration worries Fitch over governance quality

Fitch Ratings says that additional strain could be placed on Zambia’s (‘B+’/Negative/’B’) government finances and its relatively strong governance undermined if the Registrar of Societies’ decision to de-register the country’s official opposition party is not overturned by the courts.

On 14 March, the Registrar of Societies announced that the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), the party that lost last September’s election after two decades in power, would cease to operate as a political party due to the alleged non-payment of dues over the past 20 years. The registrar called for by-elections for the 53 parliamentary seats held by the MMD.

In Fitch’s view, it is too early to tell if this is simply the actions of an over-zealous official, or whether the decision was politically motivated, with negative consequences for democracy and governance, factors which Fitch has traditionally regarded as amongst Zambia’s rating strengths.

However, the agency’s revision of Zambia’s Outlook to Negative on 1 March 2012 reflected Fitch’s concerns about some of the government’s early actions and announcements, which have brought into question the direction of government policy. This latest development only increases the agency’s concerns over policy direction and governance quality.

It is not obligatory under the Act for the Registrar to suspend a society that has not paid its dues. Furthermore, a society should be given at least 21 days to respond to any allegations. In addition, the Registrar does not have the authority to dismiss elected parliamentarians and call for by-elections. The Registrar may therefore have overstepped its mandate. The high court has subsequently halted the suspension and ruled that by-elections to fill the party’s seats in parliament must await the outcome of a legal challenge to the suspension.

Source: Reuters News Agency

LAP Green demands $480 million in Zamtel compensation

LAP Green Network, the Libyan Investment Authority’s international telecommunications arm has challenged the Zambian Government’s action to seize its 75% stake in Zamtel.

In the petition filed in the Lusaka High Court today, LAP Green outlines it right to financial compensation for the value of the asset at the time of seizure should the shareholding not be restored to it, which is calculated to be US$480 million.

The Libyan firm is additionally claiming for substantial losses it has suffered as a result of the seizure of the shares.

LAP Green Network disputes the legality of the Zambian Government’s claim that LAP GreenN’s shares were taken for ‘public purpose’.

Wafik Al-Shater, Chairman of LAP Green Network, contends that it is very clear that the seizure of LAP Green’s shareholding in Zamtel by the Zambian Government was illegal and unconstitutional, and to the detriment of both Zamtel and its customers.

Source: Exclusively written (other sources)

Henry Banda’s lawyer questions police alert

THE lawyer representing former president Rupiah Banda’s son, Henry, has written to Inspector-General of Police, Stellah Libongani, asking why the security agencies have issued a red alert for his client.

Sakwiba Sikota wrote to the inspector-general last month demanding reasons why the Zambian security wings wanted to interview Henry.

Mr Sikota said in an interview yesterday that he wanted to be furnished with proper reasons to allow him respond to the issues police had with Henry.

But Ms Lingobani declined to comment on the matter, saying the issue was being handled by the combined team of security personnel.

The former president says his son is not a fugitive but had been living in South Africa even before he became president.

Henry has been on the police wanted list for several months with recent reports indicating that he was in Kenya but that country’s government has denied his presence.

Source Times of Zambia

Rupiah Banda’s statement irks Vernon Mwaanga

Africa elections strategist and veteran politician Vernon Mwaanga says he has forgiven former president Rupiah Banda for charging that his character was questionable.

Banda on Sunday said he fired Mwaanga as his campaign manager prior to the September election because the “questionable character” which he discovered after consultations.

The former head of state further complained that Mwaanga was peddling negative statements about him when he (Banda) helped him in many ways, including getting a job when he was vice- president under the late Dr Levy Mwanawasa.

But Mwaanga says he followed Rupiah Banda’s utterances with interest and carefully weighed the matter before deducing that his long time friend needs prayer.

“Every word Mr Banda “uttered about me and against me. I have come to the reasoned conclusion that it would be undignified and inappropriate for me to respond.

I would like to ask all Zambians of goodwill as well as the Banda and Mwaanga families to pray for Mr Banda and to forgive him for what he said,” said Mwaanga.

Source: Times of Zambia

Sata calls for better teachers’ conditions in Botswana

President Michael Sata says there is a need for teachers to be remunerated properly to motivate them to produce quality students who can compete confidently on the global market.

Speaking when he officially opening Mogoditshane Senior Secondary School in Gaborone, Sata who is in Botwana on a three-day state visit said the development of human resources was the most significant tool for tackling the socio-economic challenges in the SADC region.

He said education was essential in the attainment of sustainable development as it empowerd a nation through the creation, application and spreading of knowledge. He noted that it is a great equalizer through career development.

He went on to call for collaboration in the education sector between Zambia and Botswana. President Sata says this can be done through twinning of schools, exchange visits between institutions of learning and regular participation in educational fairs in the two countries.

Source: Zambian Watchdog

MMD, UPND wins back parliamentary seats

THE Lusaka High Court has dismissed election petitions against former Finance minister, Situmbeko Musokotwane for Liuwa, and United Party for National Development (UPND) Member of Parliament (MP) Hastings Sililo for Mulobezi.

Dismissing the Liuwa Constituency petition Judge in-charge, Jane Kabuka said the evidence fell short of meeting the required standards of proof to have the seat nullified.

Losing Patriotic Front (PF) candidate, Kaneta Simuyawa and UPND’s Mundia Sikufele had petitioned Dr Musokotwane’s election, while Mr Sililo was petitioned by Albertina Pota Mwanamwalye of the PF.She said allegations ranging from threats, bribery, distribution of campaign materials and public resources, to vote buying had not been proved.

And Lusaka High Court Judge Anesi Bobo-Banda threw out with costs the Mulobezi election petition that was seeking to nullify the parliamentary seat for Mr Sililo.

Ms Pota had asked the court to nullify Mr Sililo’s seat on grounds that his victory was characterised by bribery, threats and all other electoral malpractices, contrary to the electoral laws.

But Ms Justice Bobo-Banda said Ms Pota and her 11 witnesses failed to prove all the allegations that were levelled against Mr Sililio.

Source: Times of Zambia

Russian thugs beat up Zambian students

Three Zambian students aged between 23-24 years, were severely beaten in Saint Petersburg Russia on the night of 18th March leaving one of the students in a Coma. Two of the students are studying at St. Petersburg State University of Economics and Finance (FINEK), and the third at St.Petersburg State Engineering and Economic University (ENGECON).

The students whose names are Lenard,Christopher and Crispin were at an entertainment club, the “City”, located at number 113 on Ligovsky Avenue.

There are reports that was a quarrel and the guards at the Club are said to have severely beated the Zambian students breaking Christopher jaw and inflicting him with severe head injuries that has left him comatose.The other two also have severe head injuries.

Police are studying records of CCTV cameras to establish the circumstances of the incident which many believe was a racist attack.

Racist assaults are frequently committed by skinhead gangs, which have grown in number in recent years in Russia and specifically Saint-Petersburg.

Source: Lusaka Times

Government denies soldiers have been deployed to Mongu

Defence deputy minister Colonel Panji Kaunda has refuted unconfirmed reports that government had deploying soldiers to Mongu, Western Province, ahead of the Barotse National Council.

Col Kaunda said there are no troops being deployed to Mongu as is being suggested.

He said the soldiers being mistaken for Zambians are from neighboring Angola.

There had been speculations that the PF government was sending troops to Mongu ahead of the Barotse national council which is expected to take place there soon.

The Colonel said the situation in Mongu was calm.

Source Qfm Radio

Chongwe queries Rupiah’s US invite

DR Rodger Chongwe says he is surprised at Boston University’s decision to engage Rupiah Banda on various lectures on democracy and political issues when the former president was a failure at them.

In an interview, Dr Chongwe said: “I know he has said he is going to the USA at the invitation of Boston University. I personally don’t know what type of democracy Mr Banda is going to lecture at that university, the country known for democracy and the home of Abraham Lincoln who coined the phrase that ‘democracy is a government of the people, for the people and by the people.’ These are not tenets that were practiced by Mr Banda when he was president of Zambia. One wonders why the Americans are spending so much money on a person who in fact they should have paid him to go and study at a school of politics and democracy in America so that he could learn something.”

Source: The Post Newspaper

Mutesa urges government to address investor concerns

THE government should spell out its plan of action on repossessed companies in order to mitigate the current negative investor concerns on Zambia’s economy, says Fred Mutesa.

In an interview yesterday, Dr Mutesa, who is president for the Zambians for Empowerment and Development (ZED), said the lack of clarity and inconsistency on major national issues by most government leaders was creating anxiety among investors.

“Government should come out clearly and state its position on repossessed companies such as Zamtel. Is it nationalisation, or off loading of shares at Lusaka Stock Exchange or seeking another investor?” asked Dr Mutesa.

“On Zanaco, uncertainties are still there and these are some of the negative concerns which investors have on our economy resulting in depreciation of the kwacha, among other issues. So government should spell out its plans and provide leadership by channeling resources especially on some programmes that were started by the previous regime but are of national importance such as the SNDP (Sixth National Development Programme) and other national documents.”

Source: The Post Newspaper

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