Sunday, 1 December 2019

Jailing Of Homosexuals Sparks Zambia-US Diplomatic Row

By Paul Shalala
Chataba and Sambo talking to their lawyer Daniel Libati
last year. -Picture courtesy of The Punch newspaper

A diplomatic row has broken out between Zambia and the United States after two Zambian men were recently sentenced to 15 years each for practicing homosexuality.

The two men, 39 year old Japhet Chataba and 31 year old Steven Sambo, are the first Zambians to ever be convicted and subsequently sentenced for practicing homosexuality.

On 25 August 2017, a video of the two men dragging each other at a lodge in the central Zambian town of Kapiri Mposhi went viral on social media, sparking huge debate about homosexuality in this deeply conservative Southern African country.

In the video, Chataba was seen dragging Sambo back into the lodge where they allegedly had more sex.

The video formed part of the prosecution evidence during trial which was handled by Kapiri Mposhi Resident Magistrate Ackson Mumba who later convicted the two on August 3, 2018 and committed them to the Kabwe High Court for sentencing.

And last week, the High Court sent the two men to jail for 15 years, the minimum sentence people charged with “unnatural acts” can receive.  

This sentence resulted in a strongly worded statement by the United States Ambassador to Zambia Daniel Foote who brought in various issues to the debate.

“I was personally horrified to read yesterday about the sentencing of two men, who had a consensual relationship, which hurt absolutely no one, to 15 YEARS imprisonment for “crimes against the order of nature. Meanwhile, government officials can steal millions of public dollars without prosecution, political cadres can beat innocent citizens for expressing their opinions with no consequences, or poachers/traffickers can kill numerous elephants, barbarically chainsaw and sell their tusks, and face a maximum of only five years imprisonment in Zambia,” said Ambassador Foote.

The American envoy added: “Decisions like this oppressive sentencing do untold damage to Zambia’s international reputation by demonstrating that human rights in Zambia is not a universal guarantee. They perpetuate persecution against disenfranchised groups and minorities, such as people from other tribes or political affiliations, albinos, the disabled, our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) brothers and sisters, and anyone who is deemed “different.”

This statement led to a sharp reaction from Zambia’s chief diplomat.

“The Government of the Republic of Zambia takes great exception to the remarks made by the Ambassador on the decision by the High Court as well as his comparison of the homosexuality case to other cases of alleged thefts by government officials, political violence and poaching. The Ambassador may wish to note that all cases that are brought before the courts of law are adjudicated based on the available evidence.  It is extremely unfair and highly misleading to suggest that such cases are never brought before the courts of law,” said Zambia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Joseph Malanji.

Malanji added that Zambia is a signatory to major international and regional treaties protecting human rights and has several well-established institutions to promote and protect human rights. 
The sentence made it to the front pages of daily newspapers

At a press briefing in Lusaka, the Foreign Affairs Minister disclosed that he phoned the American envoy to express Zambia’s disappointment with his reaction to a matter he considers domestic.

And in a post sentence interview with foreign media, Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu said the Southern African country will not be bullied into adopting what he termed “foreign practices.”

“We cannot allow homosexuality in Zambia. We cannot be forced to allow men to marry men because even animals do not do so,” said President Lungu in an interview with British news channel Sky News a few days ago.

And one of Zambia’s prominent diplomats Emmanuel Mwamba says Ambassador Foote’s statement is in contrast with US President Donald Trump’s policy push that revises pro-LGBTQ rights and protection aggressively promoted by his predecessor Barack Obama.

Mwamba, a journalist who is currently serving as Zambia’s Ambassador to Ethiopia and the African Union, says President Trump promotes pro-family policies.

“The Trump administration has withdrawn special privileges fronted as "rights" granted to the LGBTQ community by the Obama administration in; healthcare, employment, housing, education, commerce, the military, and prisons. President Trump also issued an Executive Order to create obstacles for people seeking to enter the U.S. on the basis of LGBTQ alleged discrimination or harassment from conservative countries that ban or do not recognize these LGBTQ rights. The administration has also cut spending to the President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) for programs related to abortions and LGBTQ,” wrote Ambassador Mwamba in his opinion piece published by Mwebantu, an online news outlet.

Chataba and Sambo's  case has brought the issue of homosexuality back to the limelight.

Various interest groups, including churches have commented on the matter.

Because of the sensitivity of the matter, a few LGBTQ organisations operating in Zambia have not commented openly on the sentence for fear of the law.

In the past, about two cases involving homosexuality had been dismissed by the courts of law.

Coincidentally, the two cases were both held in Kapiri Mposhi, the same town where the recent case was tried too.

Kapiri Mposhi is a transit town in central Zambia which is located at an intersection of both rail and road junctions heading north to Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and south to Lusaka and other places in the south of the country.

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Ritual Killers Target Albinos' Body Parts in Zambia

By Paul Shalala
A poster the Albinism Foundation of Zambia
is circulating against killing of albinos
Parents of children born with albinism across Zambia are now employing extra security for their children following a number of cases in which albinos have been killed or brutally attacked by ritual killers.
Some Zambian fortune seekers believe that using albino body parts can make one rich.
This myth has led to many albinos being killed or their body parts being chopped off.
In the latest case, a seven year old female albino in the mining town of Kitwe lost her left arm and hair after three assailants broke into her family house.
Dorothy Mulenga, who is a Grade One pupil at Mutupa Primary School, was sleeping with her sister and parents on Tuesday night when the three men stormed their house in rural Kitwe and snatched her in the dead of the night.
“The three men were armed with machetes, they broke the window, jumped into our house and grabbed my daughter. They threw her outside and ran with her towards the bush,” said Joseph Mulenga, the 27 year father who watched the attack as it unfolded.
Mulenga says as he and his wife pursued the attackers, they sliced off her left arm and dropped her 100 meters away from the house.
“They ran away with my daughter’s arm. Am worried about our safety. They may come back and kill me so that they can get her. We are asking our government to guarantee our safety.”
Police said the motive of the attack was not known.
“The couple decided to shout for help and after realizing that the neighbours would come, the criminals immediately chopped off the left arm of the girl just slightly above the elbow using a machete and took away the piece to unknown destination,” said Police Commissioner Charity Katanga who presides over the Copperbelt region where the attack happened.
The house where three criminals abducted Dorothy Mulenga
A visit to the family house by this blogger revealed a trail of blood from the house to a nearby bush where the girl had been dumped by her attackers.
Four days after the attack, no one has been arrested.
But this case has brought a lot of good will from civic leaders, human rights activists and other well-wishers who have donated money and material things to support Dorothy and her family.
Dorothy spent three days in the Intensive Care Unit of the Kitwe Teaching Hospital and she was only moved to a general ward on Friday.
Due to worries about ritual killers striking again, the juvenile is being guarded while in hospital and access to her is strictly supervised.
Another recent case of an attack on an albino happened on 31 October when a 39 year old man was murdered in the eastern Zambian town of Nyimba in a night attack by ritual killers.
The attackers used a knife to cut his throat but before they could get any body parts, villagers pursued the attackers who were at the time dragging the albino to a nearby bush.
The attackers scampered in all directions upon seeing the villagers in pursuit.
“The deceased was attacked while he was sleeping in his grass thatched house and in the process his throat was completely cut and was stabbed twice on the left side of the chest’” said Zambia Police Service Spokesperson Esther Katongo.
After intense investigations, Police arrested four people, who included a married couple who are believed to be the masterminds of the murder.
They have all been charged with murder and are scheduled to appear in court in the coming week.
This case has brought anxiety in eastern Zambia especially among the albino community.
Chief Ndake of the Nsenga speaking people of Nyimba has immediately summoned all his Headmen in the area to sensitise them against the myth that albino body parts are a lucky charm.
In an interview with the Zambia News and Information Services which has been shared widely to all media house in Zambia, the traditional leader expressed shock that such a gruesome murder happened in his chiefdom.
And a clergyman in the region has called for citizens to protect all albinos from ritual killers.
“They (albinos) just have a deficiency of scientific attribute that makes them look the way they look but in terms of humanity, they are as good as anyone else and they should be left alone to do whatever they want,” said Bishop William Mchombo of the Anglican Diocese of Eastern Zambia.
And in northern Zambia, a 73 year old albino had her fingers cut off and a tooth removed by unknown people on 25 July this year.
Three suspects were arrested in this matter, who included a grandchild of the victim.
The three are still appearing in court while the victim was relocated from her village for her own safety.
Over the years, the Albinism Foundation of Zambia (AFZ) has been supporting and relocating many albinos who are attacked or those who do not feel safe.
John Chiti
The organization says most of these attacks are carried out by ritual killers and people who sale albino body parts to buyers both locally and abroad.
“Most of the cases where albinos are being attacked are happening in rural areas because there is lack of security. We note that these cases are increasing because there is trafficking of body parts from one country to the other,” said AFZ Executive Director John Chiti, who is a prominent Zambian musician.
He goes on to explain that in Chama, a town which borders Malawi, a young girl was attacked last year and one of her hands was chopped off.
Mr Chiti says with the help of the Police, the hand was recovered in Malawi and this proves that trafficking in albino body parts is an international activity.
“We are asking the Police to do their job and ensure that people attacking albinos are brought to book. To the families of albinos, please stay safe, take care of the children because our lives are in danger due to these ritual killers who are after us,” he added.
And a young parent who has two children living with albinism in the mining town of Kalulushi says he has started taking precautions for his children.
“I have two children who are albinos and we are worried now. Should we be guarding them everytime? When they are going to school, should we escort them? This is very worrying. Our children are now a target and for me, am now guarding them throughout,” said the parent who sought anonymity.
For years, albinos were living freely in Zambia and there was even a common adage that “Albinos do not die, they just disappear.”
However, now they are being killed or attacked for being what they are.

Friday, 11 October 2019

Curbing The Zambian Economic Leakage

By Kasuluba Mashonga

What is leakage?

Borrowing from the Keynesian economic theory, it refers to capital or income that exits a system(economy) as opposed to remaining within it. Wikipedia asserts that leakages are the non-consumption uses of income, including saving, taxes, and imports, yet other scholars simply postulate that leakage occurs when money leaves an economy. In other words, when funds are not used for their initial intended purposes or money is pushed out of a closed cash flow cycle, leakages are created.

If a pipe were to describe the Zambian economy and water being money, then a hole in that pipe causing water to ooze out would be a practical representation of leakage in that, a lot of water would constantly be lost if the pipe were not mended.

Effects of leakage

It is imperative to note that leakage is very common in almost all economies globally not only Zambia and does not necessarily hinge on bad governance. A leakage causes the exiting of money from an economy and results in a gap between the supply and demand chain. In the retail sector for instance, this would mean consumers spending money outside the local market, forcing businesses within such an economy to find other ways of drumming up revenue just so that they may avoid incurring losses and this may prove difficult.

Causes of leakage

There are several reasons that lead to leakage but only a few are going to be discussed. Firstly, capital that leaves an economy or system as opposed to remaining within results into leakage. This happens when proceeds from a Zambian or local investment venture are removed from the economy by investing in say real estate, supermarkets or other foreign projects.

In addition, money spent outside an economy for purposes of tourism, export funds that are not used within the area of their initial production or money spent out of the local market are all deemed to be leaked. This topic is broad, and it is vital to make mention that even funds that are saved for too long result into leakage. This is because if that money has no velocity within the economic system (no movement), there will be a shortage of funds in the country.

Compensation for leakage

In dealing with the problem that is detrimental to many systems such as the Zambian economy, a few suggestions will be provided by this literature based on research. As a depiction from the circular flow model of economic activity, the Zambian government might stimulate its economy through injecting cash into the financial system when leakage affects the flow or circulation of money.

However, injection does not entail borrowing from foreign financial institutions or other countries in the wake of austerity measures(reduction of money spent in the country by the government). That being the case we still cannot completely do away with borrowing. Hence, local financial institutions would be the best sources of extra funds because that money is still going to be kept within the Zambian economic system.

As narrated by one of the Oversees Development Institutes’ articles, they argue to say about 75% of tourism proceeds are taken out of the host nation. This is because international tour operators are paid huge sums of money which they spend in their native countries. For this reason, they propose that tourist destinations should invest in home grown tour operators, thereby keeping money locally.

The other solution to dealing with leakage lies in what USA and the UK do which is paying attention to little denominations of currency. These and other big economies have come up with ways to ensure that Cents and Pennies, respectively are in constant circulation and it has proven to be very beneficial.

These forms of currency are used when people visit rooms of convenience (Toilets), purchasing of refreshments and other foods via vending machines, including the other advantages being that they keep prices low and are depended upon by charity organisations. Zambia should also ensure that smaller denominations of currency such as 5 and 10 Ngwees are ploughed back into circulation. By so doing, this activates the multiplier effect leading to increased money by the central bank, which would then be injected back into the economy in the long run.

CONCLUSION

In a nutshell, it is quite impracticable to eliminate leakage completely but measures can still be taken to reduce it to the lowest possible level, if the measures discussed or even more are taken into consideration.