Thursday 25 October 2012

Obama-Romney Final Debate and the 6 November Elections

By Paul Shalala

When Democrat Barack Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney sat down for their last debate on Tuesday morning before they face-off in the November 6 Presidential elections, many pundits wondered who would take the credit in the debate. In the two previous debates, Romney won the first one and the US President snatched the second one.

The third one was very divisive as it dealt with foreign policy. On the table were issues such as China, Iran, Afghanistan and Military spending. President Obama was coming to this debate with an upper hand because he had led the world's most powerful nation for the previous four years and he had dealt with most of the world's most difficult diplomatic engagements. These include Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Al Qaeda, Climate Change, Guantanamo, Africa and many others.

In terms of credentials, the US president was joining the debate with a track record of foreign policy. His republican challenger was entering the debate without any track record at all apart from his recent visit to the UK and Israel which some how was abit of a failure after he was reported to have failed to properly address UK opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband and ended up calling him "Mr Leader." This is why during the debate, Romney kept on agreeing with Obama on almost all of the US president's foreign policy decisions.

As commander-in-chief, Obama also had another advantage of having first hand information on US military engagements worldwide. It is this privilege that Romney didn't have, leading him to embarass himself when he wanted to lie that the US Navy has more ships today than it had in 1916, a point that Obama later clarified as being the opposite.

All in all, Obama has won the third debate on foreign policy. These debates have a considerable impact on the way US voters choose their presidents due to the opportunity the platform offers in terms of policy proposals. From today on wards, US presidential candidates are expected to criss cross the country and campaign in the so-called "swing states" like Ohio and Florida which usually decide the occupant of the White House.

However, there are other US presidential candidates aside of Romney and Obama. These are usually not covered by the mainstream media but they eventually run for the White House.

Friday 12 October 2012

MUFUMBWE BY-ELECTION: Parties, Statistics and Geo-Politics

By Paul Shalala

Mufumbwe is one of the most famous constituencies in Zambia. Unfortunately the area's popularity is not for good reasons, its actually for bad reasons. Mufumbwe shot to prominence in April 2010 when at the height of campaigns for a parliamentary by-election, violence engulfed the whole constituency as political cadres fought in bloody battles which resulted in heavy casualties on either side. Then Police Chief Francis Kabonde was one of the people caught up in the violence. He was shown on TV running away from cadres in Mufumbwe when his base was invaded by cadres.

As voters will be trooping into various polling stations to vote for their new parliamentarian on 8 November 2012, the fear of violence will be high on their minds as its not too long ago when the previous by-election was held.

Why the by-election?
A few months ago, opposition MMD expelled its Mufumbwe MP Stephen Masumba for gross misconduct. This action came after Masumba accepted a presidential appointment in the Patriotic Front government as a
Deputy Minister He further campaigned heavily for the ruling party and delivered a ward in his constituency during by-elections held in July this year. Masumba appealed his expulsion to the courts but the MMD
won the case hence the by-election.

Mufumbwe is a relatively rural constituency. The constituency has 15 wards with a total of 27, 027 voters. According to the latest voters register, Mufumbwe has more women voters than men. In terms of representation among political parties, the MMD and UPND both have 7 councillors each while the PF has one councillor. On 11 October 2012, three candidates from the MMD, PF and UNIP successfully filed in their nominations to contest the vacant Mufumbwe parliamentary seat.

Mufumbwe is one of the 12 constituencies in North-Western Province. This is a region that is historically a fluid province that usually votes as a block. Voters in this area change their voting pattern from one election to another. At the moment, MMD has 8 seats, UPND has 3 and Mufumbwe (which was MMD) is the 12th seat which is currently vacant.

Strength of Parties

MMD is coming into this November by-election as a party that has held the seat since the 20 September 2011 general elections. The party has declared that it will contest the seat whether its alliance partner
UPND also fields a candidate or not. It will campaign on a promise of discipline and try hard to get back the seat. MMD is not new to Mufumbwe, it held the seat for many years and voters in the area know it very well. The party will boast a lot of the developmental projects the party brought to the region when it was in power, developments such as mines.

The Patriotic Front comes into the by-election with memories of its fresh victory in Shukwe ward of Mufumbwe. PF snatched Shukwe ward from MMD 3 months ago. The PF will also use its strength of incumbency to scoop Mufumbwe which will be its first ever seat in North-Western Province. Just like it won its first ever seat in Eastern Province through a by-election, PF will also try to win Mufumbwe and announce
its grand entry into the province. PF will count on its candidate Stephen Masumba, the immediate past MP to scoop the seat. Added to that, the PF also has Elliot Kamondo, the man who won the seat in 2010
and lost it last year to Masumba by 59 votes. According to some PF insiders, the two are likely to form a deadly campaign squad to ensure an easy victory for the ruling party.

Other Parties

The former ruling party UNIP is one of those courageous political parties that field candidates in almost all by-elections. Despite having a nationwide appeal, UNIP has declined and only has 3 councillors countrywide and no MP in Parliament. It has contested Mufumbwe to try and bring back its fortunes which keep declining everytime its candidates are on the ballots.

UPND is not contesting the seat, it has decided to back its alliance partner MMD. UPND shocked many when it snatched Mufumbwe in April 2010 from MMD in a by-election that was necessitated by the death of area MMD MP Misheck Bonshe who was also Home Affairs Deputy Minister. The party held the seat from 2010 till 2011 when Elliot Kamondo was beaten by MMD's Stephen Masumba through a difference of only 59 votes. Therefore, UPND still stands a chance if it contests.NAREP is another party that has a youthful appeal but has so far failed to send any of its candidates into an elected body. It may contest to get its first ever seat in parliament since its establishment in April 2010.

Campaign issues
Infrastructure development is likely to top the campaign speeches. Like any other rural constituency, Mufumbwe lacks good roads, good schools and health facilities. Both the ruling and opposition parties
are likely to use the campaign trail to emphasise the need for good infrastructure. Peace is another issue that is likely to feature highly in the campaign. Coming from the background of violence two years ago, politicians are likely to call for peace and ensure a smooth campaign.

Who wins?
Only the people of Mufumbwe will decide. Violence or no violence, apathy or no apathy, the verdict will be passed and a new lawmaker will enter Manda Hill courtesy of the votes from Mufumbwe.

Mufumbwe is likely to be heavily contested due to its strategic position in the North-Western Province. We are likely to see big guns from all contesting political parties setting base in the area to heavily campaign for their respective candidates. We are also likely to hear allegations of malpractices but what most Zambians wouldn't want to see is the repeat of the 2010 violence where then Police Chief Francis Kabonde was captured on TV hiding in a room from cadres who invaded the area where he was sheltering.

Monday 27 August 2012

HH’S UPND: Recent Defections and 2016

By Paul Shalala

In Zambia, being aligned with the ruling party or the elite is the desire of many. This status is usually attained when citizens join the ruling party, befriend those in government or offer favours to those in the corridors of power.

In every general election the country has had since it reverted back to multi-party politics in 1991, politicians have been crossing from one party to the other in search of acceptance, security, change of status and opportunities.

In the first five months following the triumph of the Patriotic Front (PF) in the September 2011 General Elections, various politicians both from the former ruling Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) and other political parties left their respective parties to join the PF. Some of those defecting included senior MMD leaders like Goodward Mulubwa who was the party’s National Treasurer and others from the party’s provincial executives who joined the now ruling party which they had fought tooth and nail and successfully beat in the past 10 years till it dislodged them in 2011.
But in the last three months, the defections seem to have taken a different direction. This time politicians are leaving the MMD and joining the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) which despite being smaller in size and having fewer numbers of members of parliament than MMD, has swallowed many influential defectors. Three time presidential elections loser Hakainde Hichilema has been at the core of these defections as he hosts press briefings to welcome these new members.

One reason that can be cited for politicians ditching the MMD is the fact that some Zambians do not usually like to associate themselves with a losing party. Just like UNIP which lost elections in 1991, MMD is suffering defections due to its loss of elections last year. Most people who have left MMD are claiming that the party is divided hence its future being bleak.
Despite the MMD and UPND being in a loose and unofficial alliance both in parliament and on the campaign trail, defectors have continued exiting the former ruling party and spilling filth on it when joining the UPND. In recent months, a number of prominent MMD big wigs have left the embattled party to join Hichilema’s UPND.

Edwin Lifwekelo, Edward Mumbi, William Banda and ‘popular’ comedian Thomas Sipalo (Diffikkoti) are some of the eminent figures who have joined the rank and file of Hichilema’s organisation whose motto is to move Zambia forward. Some of these have even been offered senior party positions.  

But why are all sorts of people now flocking to UPND? Why are former MMD members being embraced in UPND, a party they called all sorts of names in the past decade? And why is UPND accepting them and further offering party positions to some of them? The following passages will try to bring out the possible reasons why the status quo is like this.

Like any other game, politics has its own rules. One of these rules is numbers. In politics, the more the numbers you have, the more votes you have and the more power you acquire. It is this premise which to some extent has led UPND to accept all those defecting from the MMD despite some of them being controversial figures.  UPND is convinced that by accepting everyone who knocks at its Rhodespark secretariat for membership cards, it will grow a mass movement which will help it wrestle power from the PF’s ‘Donchi Kubeba’ machine in 2016 when the next general elections are held.

Project a certain image and win elections
By holding press briefings to unveil ‘big fish’ who defect from other parties to join UPND, the opposition party is very much convinced that it’s a better strategy to win hearts and minds of voters and make them believe that UPND is the only alternative to the ruling PF. This image being projected by the UPND does not go unchallenged because some of the people unveiled by party president Hichilema at his numerous press briefings are controversial politicians who still have issues of credibility in people’s minds.

Greener pastures, opportunism and convenience
It has been said by many that most people who defect in Zambia are opportunists. Some politicians are known to have moved from one party to the other without regard for the ideologies of the political parties they are joining. For example, William Banda was in UNIP, he joined MMD where he served as Lusaka Province Chairman before resigning early this year to join UPND. Despite UNIP being socialist in nature, he left it and joined UPND and MMD which are capitalist in nature. Another example is that of Edward Mumbi who served as Secretary General of the PF, a seemingly socialist-inclined party. Mumbi later joined capitalist MMD and now he is in UPND. Other examples include Edwin Lifwekelo and others who have crossed parties in search of greener pastures, opportunism and convenience. Lifwekelo, who was an outspoken and pro-MMD ‘civil society’ activist, is now deputy spokesperson of the UPND following his defection earlier this year. All these defections seem not to be based on policy or principles but opportunism or convenience because one can clearly see that the defectors leave a party with a totally opposite ideology to the other they later join.

Quality and credibility
When people defect to another party, they are expected to bring value to that party. This is exactly what many UPND leaders expect to get from their allies who are joining them. However, the credibility of some of the defectors is questionable. Their quality too is questionable as some of them have well documented backgrounds which do not earn them respect in society. Therefore, their credibility is questionable. Some are known to be violent even when they talk about peace in society.

Towards 2016 Elections
Despite the next general elections being four years and a month away, the ground is already being set for a showdown. For the UPND, defections are one of the signs that it is preparing for the next polls. However, defections on their own are not enough to warrant an outright victory. Some people are known to have defected today and tomorrow they are back to their former party. The case of Paul Monga is one such example which I can cite, the man has been in and out of UPND for at least three times. In the 2011 general elections, many politicians from the PF defected to the MMD but the then ruling party ended up losing. Therefore, Hichilema and UPND shouldn’t bank too much on the defections. They should campaign not only in the media but also on the grassroots.

Defections or no defections, UPND has a high chance of giving a good run to the PF in 2016. However, Hichilema and his lieutenants should strictly scrutinize all those joining them as defectors. It is true that HH needs these numbers to win as president after losing the past three presidential elections but he needs to ensure that none of these people damage his image to the voters. Appointing some of the controversial defectors to the opposition party’s National Management Committee can have a negative impact on the way his party may perform in 2016. Hichilema’s warm reception to controversial characters like William Banda may have a negative impact on the way people look at his credentials on the rule of law and respect for divergent views due to the man’s history of violence. Just like the example seen in 2011, defections don’t usually count in general elections. Their effect is usually minimal which means the UPND should not spend more time celebrating the defections but spend more time organizing the party on the grassroots.

Friday 17 August 2012

Zambia'a dilemma in SADC and COMESA

By Paul Shalala

Zambia’s continued membership to two regional trade blocks has the potential to maximize the country’s external trade, says a Zambian academic specialized in social sciences.
Dominic Liche, a lecturer in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Zambia, says both the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) have good trade regimes that are of benefit to Zambia.

Mr Liche said Zambia should maximise the provisions of COMESA on trade and also try to harmonise them with trade agreements she has signed with SADC.

“I personally think that it should not be a dilemma for Zambia tobelong to both SADC and COMESA. Of course there are certain areas wherethere are similarities and sometimes dublications but the objectives and mandate of SADC and COMESA are diverse. The question should not be about whether or not Zambia should have many trade agreements,” he said.
He further said Zambia should continue working with the two blocs because they are already working together to harmonise their trade regimes.

“And when it comes to trade, SADC works with COMESA and other African regional bodies to ensure free trade works across Africa. It is therefore inadequate to treat the two as though they have the same mandate for this can lead to a misunderstanding that leads us to think there is or could be a possible dilemma in belonging to both groupings,” added MrLiche.

But some civil society organisations have questioned Zambia’s continued stay in the two regional trade blocs.

This is despite government insisting that duo membership benefits the country and that the country cannot leave SADC due to its historical involvement in the liberation of Southern African countries.
According to a research conducted by a consortium of Zambian Civil Society Organisations, Zambia’s implementation of the SADC Free Trade area since January 2012 has cost the country a lot of revenue in terms of tax through complete tariff liberalization.

Further, the research findings have also revealed that the overlapping membership of Zambia to SADC and COMESA poses a challenge because it forces the country to be in an unease position as it will always be grappling with the possibility of dumping one of the two blocs.

Despite these research findings, the Zambian government is unlikely to pull out of any of the two blocs due to the fact that it hosts the COMESA secretariat and it feels it has an obligation on the welfare of the region due to its history.

Tuesday 24 July 2012

Why Sata Poaches MMD MPs Only

By Paul Shalala

In the past two months, the Zambian media has been dominated by the debate on whether President Michael Sata has the moral right to appoint opposition Members of Parliament to serve in his government as Deputy Ministers.

On Monday, one MMD MP who was serving as a Deputy Minister resigned from his ministerial position after pressure from his party. The following day, President Sata appointed two more MMD MPs to serve in his government and on Wednesday, the MMD’s National Executive Committee is set to meet and decide the fate of all its MPs who are serving in the PF government, possibly expelling them.

Legally, the 1991 Zambian constitution as amended in 1996 allows the head of state to appoint MPs from within the legislature. The constitution does however not state from which party the president can appoint making it easy for Mr Sata to appoint across the board. Therefore, the president does not break any law by appointing opposition MPs.

But why is Mr Sata targeting MMD MPs only? Below are some of the points which could be behind the president’s continuous appointments from within the MMD.

The ruling Patriotic Front does not have the numbers to pass laws on its own. The opposition actually has the power to bring a deadlock in the house, they have the numbers. The PF has less than the two thirds majority (106 MPs) which is needed to control parliament without any problem from backbenchers. It is this lack of the two thirds majority which somehow is pushing the PF to continuously court MMD MPs. 

Once these opposition MPs are appointed as Ministers, they shift seats to the right of the Speaker and subsequently change their pattern of voting in parliament, giving an advantage to the PF which has few seats. Therefore, its all sweet for Dr Guy Scott, leader of government business in the house, when an opposition MP shifts camp in Parliament.

The other reason why MMD MPs are easily appointed by President Sata is the fact that the head of state is seen as a product of the MMD, a party he led as National Secretary before ditched it and formed the Patriotic Front. This realization makes it easy for MMD MPs to become loyal to the President than UPND MPs who would not accept such an offer. Loyalty to the system makes it easy for the PF to have it easy in the house.

By appointing opposition MPs into his government, President Sata is ensuring PF’s dominancy over the political scene. Dominancy for the PF is necessary as every ruling party needs it to suppress the opposition. But in cases where it’s a coalition government, this dominancy is not counted as an opposition party fully agrees to join government. By having opposition MPs within his ranks, President Sata will continue to dominate politics both nationally and within the party.

Divisions in MMD
President Sata seems to be appointing only MMD MPs after realizing that the MMD seems to be the most divided opposition political party in the country. The UPND with its 29 MPs seems united against any of its MPs serving in the PF government, it has actually made it clear it would not tolerate such a move and would instantly expel any of its MPs who would ‘go to bed’ with the ruling party. But the MMD, the major opposition party in the house, is divided on this matter.

Some sections of this former ruling party agree to their MPs sharing power with the ruling PF due to the party’s own legacy which stems from the Levy Mwanawasa era. However, another section of MMD is publicly opposed to those MPs who are serving in government. It is this YES and NO situation in MMD which to some extent has convinced the president to use MMD as a leverage for his control of Manda Hill.

As long as the Zambian constitution allows ministers to be appointed from within parliament, this horse trading will continue. Ruling parties will continue dominating the opposition in a bid to control the house and pass critical laws. However, with the new draft constitution suggesting the appointment of ministers from outside parliament, this culture of ‘poaching’ opposition MPs is likely to end as only technocrats will be serving in ministerial portfolios.

Saturday 7 July 2012

My Ugandan Experience

By Paul Shalala

Attending a Thomson Reuters Foundation training course was one of those things I had always wished to do in the past four years I have been practicing journalism in Zambia.

In a space of 2 years, i had applied at least four times to attend the trainings but to no avail. To make matters worse, my colleagues from the same media institution were being successful in having their applications accepted and the more I lost out the more I got more determination to try again.

I sent my last application for a Reuters training in Economic and Financial Reporting in May 2012 and it turned out to be success which became an eye opener for me to international standards of business journalism. The training was to be held in Uganda, a country that describes itself as the ‘pearl of Africa.’

When the big day Sunday 24 June, 2012 came, the day I was supposed to leave Lusaka the city of my birth, my mind was bombarded with imaginations of how the training will be, how the Ugandan capital Kampala looks like and what kind of people I will interact with at the training.

With wild imaginations of Uganda, a country portrayed by the media as the former base for rebel LRA’s Joseph Kony and a former home for the late dictator Idi Amin, I was excited to see the beauty of the resort city of Entebbe from the air as we were landing at its airport which is located a few meters away from the world famous Lake Victoria. 

Driving from the airport in Entebbe to Kampala brought me fond memories of the usual traffic I had seen in the Kenyan capital though the scale of the traffic congestion was half that of Nairobi. I was fascinated with the size of Kampala and the good infrastructure it has which was completely contrally to my own imaginations. I had in mind a small and poorly organized city but to my surprise, I found Kampala to be a live city which never goes to sleep as business goes on day and night.

The following day, our five day training which attracted 14 business reporters from six African countries got under way. To be precise, the course ran from 25-29 June 2012 at the African Center for Media Excellence in Kampala, Uganda.

David White, a TRF trainer with more than four decades experience in the media, conducted the intense training which aroused a lot of interest, debates and smiles among participants. In some sessions, David brought up thought provoking situations to help the trainees think wider and understand the business concepts. David was joined by Teddy Nannozi, a Ugandan journalist who co-facilitated the course.
Of all the topics under discussion, reporting on stock markets seemed the most interesting to the African journalists as it kept them busy asking questions on the process and activities related to stocks trading in markets.

To me, the most interesting part of the training was on Wednesday when we were split into four groups making up ‘news agencies’ and we were bombarded with press statements, press briefings and news updates which we were supposed to be report simultaneously in real time.

This exercise, which lasted an hour, kept all participants under pressure from the ‘news editors’ who kept demanding for news stories every five minutes. In this way, participants were kept on their toes as they moved from one ‘news event’ to the other, asking questions, taking notes from speeches given by ‘sources’ and later writing the stories. 

On Tuesday, the group visited the World Bank offices in Kampala where it met the country manager Moustapha Ndiaye who gave a 30 minutes presentation on the economic situation in Uganda as well as an assessment of the situation in East Africa. Journalists being usual inquisitive human beings, asked Mousstapha a lot of questions which he answered without hesitation.

On Thursday, Nairobi-based Dr Dereje Alemayehu gave a presentation on capital flight. Dr Alemayehu, who is chairman of the Tax Justice Network Africa, revealed how billions of dollars are being lost in Africa due to the existence of tax havens in the world. And participants were surprised to learn that most tax havens are islands belonging to developed countries which champion transparency around the world but allow their territories to syphon such large amounts of money from developing countries.

Our stay in Kampala would not have been complete without ‘sampling’ the city. A bus full of participants toured the city and spent most of their time at the Vision Media Group where they saw how some of the leading newspapers, radio stations, magazines and TV stations in Uganda are run. To me who comes from a country (Zambia) where the law does not allow a citizen or a company to own various media institutions by one owner, I was surprised to see a vibrant multimedia company which owned a spectrum of media all housed in one place. This visit showed me how liberal, plural and free the Ugandan media is to operate.

During the five day training, participants expressed happiness at the capacity building they had received through the Thomson Reuters Foundation. To some of us, this was the first time we were getting specialized journalism training in business reporting, despite having been reporting on business for more than four years.

The end of every training programme is always exciting because participants receive certification and in Kampala, 14 African journalists were excited to be certified by Reuters, a world class media institution whose credentials are worth being attached to. This certification also meant that the participants automatically became alumni of the Thomson Reuters Foundation which keeps in touch with its former trainees and keeps track of their progress in their career.

Thereafter, David took the participants to a hotel located a stone throw away from the iconic Lake Victoria for dinner. The event was meant to be a farewell one and participants took advantage of the dinner to watch the lake and take memorable pictures. The most exciting part of the dinner was a mini ‘parliament’ which participants formed. Each participant, including trainers, represented their respective countries as a members of parliament and Julius Sakala from Zambia acted as the Speaker and he had tough time moderating proceedings of the ‘legislature’ which at some point became uncontrollable as MPs’ debates became heated.

On Saturday 30 June, 2012 as I flew out of Entebbe airport, leaving behind the hospitable Ugandan people, I reminded myself of two things which I would forever miss in the land of the Buganda. Firstly, bodabodas (motorcycle taxis) were a complete new phenomenon to me as we don’t have them in Zambia. Their numerous numbers, speed on the roads and the drivers’ skills in meandering through the usual heavy traffic made my stay in Uganda the most memorable. I happily left Kampala having boarded a bodaboda for only a hundred meters as I was too scared to go on a long distance due to over speeding by the drivers.

Secondly, matooke (cooked bananas) was another new experience to me. If you ever visit Uganda and don’t taste matooke, then you would have not tasted the best of ‘the pearl of Africa.’ For any visitor to Kampala, matooke is readily available in markets, shops and even in five star hotels. As the saying goes, ‘when you go to Rome, do what the Romans do,’ I made sure I ate matooke on a daily basis. Really, my experience in Uganda was one of fascination and capacity building.  

I will miss Kampala, I will miss my colleagues from across the continent but I will ensure I up my game in business reporting. 

That’s my Ugandan experience, the 'Pearl of Africa.'

Friday 29 June 2012

New World Bank report rates Zambia among most improved on policy environment

By Paul Shalala in Kampala, Uganda

Zambia is among 13 Sub-Saharan countries which have been commended by the World Bank for showing a stable and improved policy environment for development.

According to the 2012 CPIA Index  which is an annual assessment of how countries are performing with their development policies to reduce poverty and spur opportunity, Zambia scored well in the last 12 months.
World Bank Chief Economist for Africa, Shanta Devarajan has launched the report today in the French capital Paris.

This latest World Bank review of policies and institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) shows an improved policy environment for growth and poverty reduction in 13 of the continent’s poorest countries.

The 13 countries which have showed improvements comprise: Comoros, Congo Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Togo, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

More broadly, most African countries show a stable or improved policy environment for development. This positive trend is especially important given the more severe economic climate being weathered by other countries, most notably in the developed world. 

Three people die in separate road accidents

The Zambia Police Service has confirmed the death of three people in separate road accidents which happened in Western, Eastern and Copperbelt Provinces on 27 June, 2012.

In Eastern Province, a driver of a motor vehicle Nissan Hard Body registration number ABV 3359 died on the spot leaving the two passengers with serious injuries while one passenger escaped unhurt when the vehicle he was driving overturned 20 kilometers east of Nyimba  Boma on Great North East Road around 1700 hours.

The deceased has been identified as Rabson Tembo aged 58, of bauleni Compound, Lusaka and he was driving from Lusaka to Chipata.

The accident happened when the driver of the motor vehicle hit into a pot hole hence losing control of the motor vehicle and over turned.

The body of the deceased is lying in Nyimba District Hospital Mortuary awaiting postmortem while the injured are admitted at the same Hospital.

In Western Province, a cyclist died on the spot after he was hit by a Higher Bus registration number ALD 2488 belonging to Red Bomber Travellers limited around 00: 10 hours at Kande Bridge  on Mongu- Lusaka Road.

The deceased has been identified as Nyambe Nyambe aged 35, of Kande area, Village Likoka of Chief Kandula in Mongu District.

The accident happened when the dirver of the bus, Evans Kafula aged 42 of House number 501 section 22 in Luansya’s Mpatamatu township hit the cyclist who was moving in the same direction as the bus whilst pushing a bycycle.

The body of the deceased is lying in Lewanika General Hospital mortuary while the driver is detained in Police custody Charged with Causing death by dangerous driving.

And on the Copperbelt, an unidentified man died on the spot after he was hit by a Nissan Hard Body registration number ABG 6791 along Kitwe Chingola Road in an accident which happened near Kitwe Zesco around 18 30 hours.

The accident happened when the pedestrian was crossing the road and was in the process hit by the motor vehicle which was driven by Stephen Kunda aged 44, of house number 94 Mukwa Natwange in Kitwe.

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Livingstone By-Election: Campaign issues & statistics

By Paul Shalala

On 5 July 2012, registered voters in Livingstone Central Parliamentary Constituency in the Southern Province will be voting for the new member of parliament. This follows the nullification of incumbent MMD MP Lukolo Katombora's election a few months ago.
The nulification followed a successful petition by losing contestants who cited malpractices in the 20 September 2011 poll.
On 5 July, voters in Muchinga Constituency in Central Province and Chama North Constituency in newly created Muchinga Constituency will also be voting for their new MPs.

Of the three by-elections, Livingstone Central is likely to be the hotly contested due to its influence, strategic position and huge number of registered voters.

In this article, I will bring out the campaign issues, possible candidates and the statistics on the ground.

Possible Campaign issues
Like any other urban area in Zambia, Livingstone suffers from high unemployment, crime and poverty. In this tourist capital of Zambia, most young people are unemployed while a few who may have opportunities drive taxies or are involved in the hospitality industry which is heavily attached to the tourism industry. Therefore, employment creation is likely to feature heavily in the forthcoming campaigns.
Secondly, crime is another issue in the town. A few weeks ago, gunmen killed a European pilot, the following day they broke into a bureau de change and blew up a safe to have access to money. It is not long ago when Livingstone was terrorised by the infamous "batunsimbi" gang which went on the rampage beating, stealing and assaulting people. Therefore, security is also likely to be another campaign issue.
With poverty being everyone's cry in this country, voters in Livingstone will also be looking for an MP who will bring development to the area and ease the resident's suffering. Things like roads, construction or rehabilitation of schools and clinics are some of people's expectations in the area.

According to the latest voters register, Livingstone Central Constituency has 67,000 registered voters and 41,000 of them voted in last year's General Elections while more than 20,000 of them abstained from the polls. The constituency has 17 wards, 13 of whom are in the urban area.
With the realignment of Itezhi-Tezhi Constituency to Central Province, Livingstone Central is one of the 18 remaining Constituencies in Southern Province. With these lucrative statistics, the battle of Livingstone Central is likely to be a heated one considering that the stakes are high and whichever party wins on 5 July, it will carry prestige in the tourist capital.

PF Chances Of Winning
The Patriotic Front will undoubtedly field a candidate in this by-election considering that its losing candidate Joseph Akafumba is one of the people who successful petitioned the election of the MMD MP last year. The PF will ride on its incumbency, its access to mass media and its traditional support among taxi and bus drivers to bolster its chances of winning its first ever seat in Southern Province, an area which has been an opposition stronghold for 11 years now. 

The PF is also likely to capitalise on the urban vote to win this seat, remember 13 of the 17 wards are in town, so PF strategists are likely to work on this formula as they have done in most urban areas along the line of rail. By winning Livingstone Central, the PF will announce its arrival in a province which has been a headache for President Michael Sata who has had trouble getting votes in this area. In terms of a possible candidate, the PF is likely to field its losing candidate Akafumba who is a local lawyer and PF's provincial Chairman.

UPND Chances Of Winning
The UPND currently has all the 17 seats in Southern Province except Livingstone Central. This seat has eluded the UPND for a long time. This seat was previously held by ULP's Sakwiba Sikota before it shifted hands to MMD last year. The UPND has had a bulk of councillors in the Livingstone Municipal Council but the parliamentary seat has not been easy to grab. Therefore, the UPND is likely to use its grassroot support, its regional role as the sole power broker to get Livingstone Central. 

By winning this seat, the UPND will send a strong message that it has consolidated its support in the Southern Province, an area which has produced the bulk of its 29 MPS who are currently sitting in the 150 seat Parliament. A few weeks ago, rumours emerged linking Sakwiba Sikota to a UPND bid for Livingstone Central. Indeed Sakwiba may give the PF a good run for their money as he is a former MP in the area. Last year, Sakwiba didn't contest his seat but heavily campaigned for the MMD candidate in Livingstone Central.
Other Parties
The former ruling party MMD has publicly announced that it will endorse a candidate its parliamentary ally UPND will adopt, therefore we don't expect any MMD candidate in Livingstone.
Parties such as NAREP, ADD and as usual UNIP are yet to state whether they will take part in the by-election.

This by-election is likely to be heavily contested and many hope the evils of violence that has characterised recent by-elections will not manifest itself. Campaigning on issues will also help to level the playing field in order for a credible and democratically elected candidate to represent the people of Livingstone at Manda Hill (Parliament). The people of Livingstone need security, jobs, development and a good leader who will facilitate their access to the national cake.