Sunday, 17 February 2019

Zambia Implements Ban On Plastic Carrier Bags

A customer collecting a recyclable plastic bag
at Pick N Pay Mukuba Mall store in Kitwe
By Paul Shalala

Several multi-national chain stores countrywide have started implementing government's ban on the sale and distribution of carrier plastics bags to customers.

So far, Shoprite, Pick and Pay and Game Stores have started providing alternative plastics to their customers.

Shoprite, which is one of the largest retailers in the country, has supplied recyclable plastic carrier bags to all it's 35 stores countrywide.

The recyclable plastics are still yellow but clearly labelled for customers to distinguish them.

The chain store has even placed huge sign posts at the entrance and exits of its stores to sensitise its customers on the use of recyclable plastic carrier bags.

Shoprite Zambia General Manager Charles Botha has told this blogger that in line with the Ministry of Water Development and Environment, the chain store has started supplying recyclable plastics to it's customers.

Mr Botha says Shoprite is proud to be involved in creating a better environment for the country by sensitising consumers on the use of alternative plastics.

"My advise to the customers is that these recyclable plastics can be used up to four times. By reusing them, we will reduce the number of plastics in the environment," he said.

And a check at Shoprite stores at Mukuba Mall and Matuka Avenue in Kitwe, found the recyclable plastics being offered to consumers at a fee.

The small one is being sold at five ngwee while the big one is going at K1.

However, the old plastics are still being given for free as Shoprite still has old stock.

And at Game Stores and Pick And Pay branches at Mukuba Mall and in town center, management has placed notices on the use of recyclable plastics and alternatives.

Pick N Pay is giving out white plastic bags though for now they are not yet labelled.
Irene Lungu

The recyclable plastic bags are being sold at K1 and the chain store is not giving out the old stock.

Meanwhile, the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) says it is legal for supermarkets to charge customers for the recyclable plastic carrier bags.

ZEMA Corporate Affairs Manager Irene Chipili has told this blogger that the Extended Producer Responsibility Regulations allow chain stores to provide alternative plastics which are environmentally friendly at a fee or for free.

"Chain stores supplying plastics below 30 microns to customers are legally allowed to provide alternative carrier bags at a fee. So those who are selling are allowed, it is not illegal," she said.

 And an environmentalist says the Statutory instrument has brought some business to those who wish to invest in sustainable products.

"This also is a chance for local designers and tailors make cloth bags and let those dominate our market so that eventually we completely deal with Carrier Bags and begin to use and reuse cloth bags," says Geoffrey Daka.

He adds that plastic has not be banned but plastic below 30 microns is what has been banned through the SI.
Mr daka says: "The beauty with 30 microns thickness plastic is that it can be recycled. In an event that chain stores move a step further, they can have more alternative bags to plastic bags so that there is encouraged reuse of the alternative bags."

In December 2018, the Ministry of Water Development and Environment issued Statutory Instrument number 65 of 2018 which banned the use of plastic carrier bags.

The statutory Instrument outlined a number of alternatives and prescribed February 14, 2019  as the start of the implementation for the ban on plastics.

The Statutory Instrument (SI) on carrier plastic bags is aimed at discouraging the public from using plastics which are non biodegradable.

For companies that do not comply with the SI, they face a fine of K90,000 on three years imprisonment.

Monday, 31 December 2018

Zimbabwe’s Smugglers Bring Relief, Trouble As Prices Triple

 Children after helping smugglers mile in a computer shop
 at the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border
 By Ray Mwareya in Chimanimani, Zimbabwe

Mozambique´s vast porous borderwith east Zimbabwe is now a boon for beverages, medicines, used car tyres, and combustible fuelsmugglers who are out to dodge Zimbabwe´s punishing prices and a biting cash shortage crisis.

An illustration: a crate of Coca Cola soft drinks costs a whopping18US$ here. Just ten miles across the border in Manica, Mozambique, the same sells for 10$. The price of a two-litre bottle of cooking oil, used daily by the majority of Zimbabwe´s households, has recently tripled to 10$. In Mozambique, 4$ would fetch the same.

This disparity has become both a curse and blessing for businesses and smugglers in Chimanimani, a district in east Zimbabwe. Chimanimani sits alongthe granite peak mountains and thick forests that loosely act as the demarcation line with the neighbouring republic of Mozambique.

Here, local Zimbabwe businesses, communities, and smugglers unite in a scheme where lorries, river canoes and motorcycles are cranked up mainly at night and in the mornings, and rumble by without any immigration checks—no border, frankly speaking—into Manica or Espungabera towns in Mozambique to scoop consignments of beers, clothes, medicines and soft drinks for onward posting to Zimbabwe.

Foreign syndicates thrive by paying bribes to Mozambique border police to gain passage. Their consignments flow back to Zimbabwe by same route – totally avoiding paying customs duty and in the end helping to ground somelawful Zimbabwe beverages sellers who cannot match the artificially low prices of illegal imports.

On Haroni River, I meet Isaiah. He says he is 36. “I´m the border king here in Chimanimani,” he boasts, his hands oily from hauling 20-literjerry cans of petrol onto a wobbling motorbike. He lives in a rural village outside Espungabeira, on the border of Mozambique and Zimbabwe. He dumps fuel, cartons of flour and a crate of beers into a small wooden canoe. He then rows the canoes acroass the muddy Rusitu River that buffers Zimbabwe and Mozambique in Chimanimani. He has to be steady.

“But, look, diesel and petrol costs 60 US cents a litre in Mozambique. In Zimbabwe fuel is charged $1,40 a litre,” he reveals. “There is a high demand for smuggled fuel. I earn 75 US cents for each illegal run. In a good hour I make $6.”

“My smuggling is a good deed. I keep my community going,” he adds.After all, scores in Zimbabwe are sleeping in fuel queues as shortages leaves gas stations empty.

Lorries come from Chimoio town, 130 kilometres away, loaded with 30-litre drums of petrol. Isaiah and a friend, Gondai, 33 – also a “river sailor” – transfer the petrol into sub-divided ten-litre jerry cans and load them into their canoes. Minibus and van drivers across the river on Zimbabwe side stand in anticipation, smoking cigarettes as the operation sneaks towards them.

It is a five-minute trip by canoeto the Zimbabwean side. Here, there is a frenetic effort to get the petrol into trailers as fast as possible. Drivers live in fear of raids, fines and seizures that may be conducted by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra).But so far, no customs officers from the Zimra have visited the river site. “Chimanimani district is too dusty and forgotten,” laughs Major, a minibus driver who receives goods on the Zimbabwe side. 

Once safely back in Mozambique, Isaiah and Gondai scrape the river mud from the soles of their gumboots.

This is December. Their operations get a jolt in the arm. Lorries coming from Johannesburg, South Africa, are locked in their own smuggling trick. “Their real destination is Zimbabwe. But they head to Mozambique here instead, and lie to customs that they will offload their goods here in Mozambique. They proceed to Zimbabwe border to dump their wares across the river by canoe and quickly drive back to South Africa,” says Gondai. 

This three-country smuggling racket is an act of necessity because customs duty at Zimbabwe borders are so expensive. In October, Zimbabwe’s finance ministry declared that all customs duty on imported stuff will be paid in hard currency greenbacks.

Smugglers’fortunes are also helped by beliefs that car fuel manufactured in Zimbabwe is sub-standard. “Diesel, petrol produced in Zimbabwe burns 30 percent faster inside engines because it is blended with sugarcane ethanol. Mozambique´s fuel stays longer in vehicle tanks,” claims Major. 

School children ditch classes for smuggling

Profits are so tempting that some primary school-going children on both the Mozambique and Zimbabwe sides of the border are forfeiting their studies to become river canoe handlers.

Promise* says he is 15. He lives on the banks of the smuggling river.

“When I gave up school, it took me four days to learn how to steady a wooden boat,” he says, proud. He smuggles 20 litres of diesel and an assortment of beers at a time.

“School is boring, uneventful,” he grins. “Smuggling earns me money. Mother and I went hungryuntil I left school to work with smugglers.”

Promise maneuvers the river and this time successfully brings a consignment of dangerously worn-out tyres.

Adozen minibus smugglers on the Zimbabwe side mill around him, inspecting the load. He is paid in US dollars. Isaiah says the tyres are polished with black wax to fool customers that they are new. They are fitted onto used Japanese cars and sometimes used to make rubber soles. Brand new tyres in Zimbabwe cost US$100 each, so there is a thriving market for run-down tyres from Mozambique, which sell for US$20. But this causes dire road mishaps, he admits.

Local economist Wallace Hlobo says that, “Zimbabwe´s dysfunctional economy means we not only harm out our thin tax collection base by smuggling, but we also sell around substandard clothes, machinery, and even dirty smuggled fuels.”

Antonio Gama, Secretary for Public Schools in Manica Mozambique National Organization of Teachers union, says that, “In this province bordering Zimbabwe, up to 10,000 children never finish primary school. Smugglers are stealing school time for child workers.”


But although business is booming on the Mozambique side of the border, the knock-on effect is creating a bad outcome for Zimbabweans. Counterfeit beers, and toxic or dubious medicines are flowing in the smugglers consignments.

In Zimbabwe, many people cannot afford the fees charged at hospitals.Doctors are on job action. On 5 December, the Pharmaceutical Society of Zimbabwe president, Portifa Mwendera, told parliament that their members charge forproducts in U.S. dollars, which most locals don’t have. This is because, “The crisis that we are in is critical. We have shortages for painkillers, anti-diabetes medicines,” he said[KT1] [RM2] .

One popular brand carried by smugglers from across the border in Mozambique is called Tsunami.The yellowpills have flooded the streets of Mutare, Zimbabwe´s biggest border city with Mozambique. Tsunami is hawked as a multipurpose treatment for flu, skin pimples, malaria, migraine headaches, and even syphilis. “It´s such a dangerous joke. None of us medics knows the origin of this street pill,” says Dr. Laxton Majoni, an infectious diseases expert in Mutare.

But buyers don’t care. "Lawful hospitals need $5 up front. Then they reveal to you they don't have drugs," said Charity Kanyekanye, a diabetes and cholesterol patient in Mutare. "Here, I just pay $2 and I can drink my medicines without a hassle."

At one street-side stall, the most expensive items are smuggledpills that the seller claims are "cancer drugs". They cost around $2.50 but the price is negotiable.

"All my medicines are for a dollar, except for those ones that treat cancer," says Bla John, the smuggler."My tsunami pills are for stomach problems. They came from afar: India,” he claims. "If you crush my tsunami pills and drink with hot milk, this could triple your sperm count. If your gearbox is down.”

People like Bla John say they are small runners who get various goods from Mozambique, clothes, food, fuel and medicines and sell it forward on the streets of Zimbabwe. They don’t see themselves as sophisticated organized crime syndicates although, without knowing it they are, in a small way, enabling the transnational movements of counterfeit and unchecked medicines.

They are not so keen to tell us the source of the medicines. “We buy our pills from back street traders in Manica town, Mozambique, for a marked up price. This pill is for malaria, this for STIs, this for flu, colds, is all they say and send us away back to Zimbabwe,” says Bla John.

They say it could be that some of the medicines are stolen from public clinics and charity stockrooms in Mozambique or originate from the many Asian (mainly Indian and Chinese) import businesses that flourish in sea-connected Mozambique.

Nearby, revelers are gulpingKarango, a popular illegal intoxicating whiskey. Itis smuggled from Mozambique. Its alcohol contents are not listed, butBla John gives a clue: “We´ve lost five friends who finisheda cup of Karango without diluting it with water.”

This story was produced by The Zambia Analyst News site as part of theReporting Transnational Organised Crime, a media skills development programme run by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in partnership with the EU funded ENACT programme. . More information at The programme funders are not responsible for the article’s content. The content remains the editor’s sole responsibility.

*not his real name

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Jerabo Commander Chile One Jailed Five Years

Chile One in black shirt
By Paul Shalala

The Kitwe High Court has sent prominent Jerabo Commander Richard Chileshe, who is popularly known as Chile One, to jail for five years after he lost his appeal in his copper theft case.

Chile One, who was convicted by the Kitwe Magistrate’s Court with two others in 2016, appealed the five year sentence in the Kitwe High Court.

Jerabos are illegal miners who have in the recent past been trabsformed into small scale miners after their work was legalized by the Ministry of Mines.

Chile One happens to be among the top few leaders known as commanders who own huge tipper trucks and employ dozens of youths who work for them at the copper rich dumpsite called Black Mountain in Kitwe.

With this decision by the High Court, he is now a convict, serving a five year jail term at the Kamfinsa Correctional Facility in Kitwe.

Chile One, together with John Mapoma and Danny Ngosa, are alleged to have stolen 30 copper blisters valued at K1.7 million, the property of Chambeshi Copper Smelter.

After being stolen, the copper blisters were buried at Chile One’s garage.

After their conviction in 2016, the three decided to appeal the matter in the Kitwe High Court on four grounds.

However, on Friday, Livingstone High Court Judge-In-Charge Chilombo Maka-Phiri sitting in Kitwe, dismissed all the grounds of appeal.

Justice Phiri said the appeal had no merit and she upheld the five year sentence slapped on the three by the lower court.

She added that the appellants would serve the five year sentence effective Friday.

After the ruling, Chile One and Ngosa were immediately led to a holding cell, en route to the Kamfinsa Correctional Facility.

The judge later issued a bench warrant for Mapoma who wasn’t in the court room.