Saturday 30 August 2014

VJ Says Ministerial Changes Give Hope For New Constitution

Vernon Mwaanga addressing delegates
By Paul Shalala

Veteran politician Vernon Mwaanga, who is popularly known as VJ, says the recent changes in the Patriotic Front-led government may just lead to Zambia finally having the final draft constitution which is yet to be released.

Dr Mwaanga, who was speaking in Lusaka during a general meeting held by the Grand Coalition for a People Driven Constitution, says these changes may just be the hope Zambians have been waiting for.

"You the Zambian people through the Grand Coalition have a constitutional right to demand for the constitution which is yours," said Dr Mwaanga.

On Thursday, President Michael Sata sacked his Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba who presided over the constitution making process from 2012 till last week.

Mr Kabimba's handling of the constitution making process made him an enemy of the civil society which has been critical of the way government has handled the process from its legality to the roadmap.

During the same meeting, Oasis Forum spokesperson Father Cleophas Lungu said the best gift government can give to the people of Zambia for the golden jubilee is a new constitution.

"This is the year of jubilee, a year of a new beginning, a year of justice. The best give government can give us is a new constitution," said Fr Lungu who is also Secretary General of the Zambia Episcopal Conference.

Meanwhile, Islamic Supreme Council of Zambia President, Suzyo Zimba, says no amount of suppressing divergent views will stop the grand coalition from pushing for the supreme law of the land.

"Kaunda came with his tactics and we kicked him out. Chiluba came with his third term, we kicked him out. Rupiah Banda came with his money, we kicked him out," he said.

And speaking on behalf of sixteen opposition political parties, Zambia Development Conference (ZADECO) President, Langton Sichone said political Parties will embark on a countrywide campaign of chants for a new constitution.

Mr Sichone asked all Zambians to start chanting and making noise about the constitution wherever they are adding that: "political parties have the numbers and we can do it."

He further disagreed with Mr Kabimba's recent statement before his dismissal that the final draft constitution had been tabled in cabinet before it is released for actual enactment.

"The constitution must be released simultaneously to the people of Zambia and President Sata. It is our document and it should be given to us, not cabinet," the opposition leader added.

Wednesday 27 August 2014

World Bank Insures US$124m For Private Sector Investment In Zambia

Michel Wormser addressing journalists
By Paul Shalala

The World Bank says Zambia's attractive investment climate has seen its Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) insuring one hundred and twenty four million dollars of investment from the private sector.

MIGA Vice President Michel Wormser (right)  says most of the investment guarantees are in the agriculture sector where the World Bank wants to promote diversification.

Mr Wormser says more than 80 million dollars has been guaranteed for the agriculture sector in Zambia where the Bretton Woods Institution is already supporting ranching.

He has revealed that the World Bank is currently in talks with Zesco, the Copperbelt Energy Corparation and government to increase power generation in Zambia.

Mr Wormser says increasing Zambia's electricity generation has the potential to supply power to both the Southern and East Africa regions.

He was speaking at a media briefing in Lusaka on Monday.

The MIGA Vice President wass on a 2 day visit to Zambia to meet government officials and the private sector to help mobilise money for capital projects in the mining, energy and agribusiness sectors.

Friday 22 August 2014

Zambia Lifts Ban On Safari Hunting But Maintains Ban On Hunting Lions

By Paul Shalala

Zambia has lifted the ban on safari hunting which was imposed almost 2 years ago.

Tourism Minister Jean Kapata told journalists yesterday during a press briefing that the lifting of the ban is aimed at sustaining the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) which she says was surviving on government grants to meet its operational needs.

"During the ban, we lost alot of money in potential revenue and we hope with the lifting of the ban, ZAWA can get back to its feet," said Kapata.

She added that the ban on hunting lions and leopards will remain in force as his ministry is yet to ascertain their numbers.

Ms Kapata also disclosed that she has forwarded names of the ZAWA board to Cabinet which is yet to endorse them.

Her predecessor Sylvia Masebo (above) imposed the ban which was received with mixed feelings by stakeholders.

Ms Masebo also dissolved the ZAWA board and appointed a new one which Ms Kapata dissolved upon being appointed Tourism Minister earlier this year.

Meanwhile, a safari hunter has welcomed the lifting of the ban, describing it as fantastic news.

"This is fantastic news. As safari hunters, we are now waiting to see how the ministry and ZAWA will allocate hunting areas," said Rowland Norton in a telephone interview.

Mr Norton appealed to government to quickly allocate the hunting areas to curb poaching which he says is increasing by the day.

Tuesday 19 August 2014

Donors Give Zambia $30m To Fight Abuse Of Funds

By Paul Shalala

Donors have offered Zambia a US$30million deal to reform its financial management regime and reduce abuse of public fund.

Finland, Germany,the United Kingdom and the World Bank have committed the funds through a trust fund to support the Public Financial Management Reform Programme (PFMRP).

World Bank Country Representative for Zambia Kundhavi Kadiresan (right) called the  of the programme as a milestone in Zambia's quest to have fiscal discipline.

"This programme must be embraced by all line ministries if it is to bear fruits. We have seen it succeed in other countries and here it must succeed too," said Kadiresan.

The launch of this programme in Lusaka this morning follows the continuous reports of massive abuse of public resources in every year's Auditor General's Report.

Under the five year programme, government is expected to tighten its internal controls to avoid misapplication and wastage of resources

During the launch of the Reform Programme in Lusaka this morning, Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda in a speech read for him by Secretary to the Treasury Fredson Yamba, said the programme will help in managing public finances.

Meanwhile, the Policy Monitoring and Research Center has called on government to utilise the Anti-Corruption Commission by prosecuting all those ciyed by the Auditor General's report in abusing public funds.

"The launch of the reform programme is a good thing but we need the ACC to start prosecuting people who abuse funds. We need to see a situation where people are jailed for abusing tax payers money," said Michelle Morel, Executive Director of the Policy Monitoring and Research Center.

And Economics Association of Zambia President Isaac Ngoma has called for an external institution to provide oversight on the reform programme.

"Government must engage an external institution that will audit this reform programme. we are already thinking as stakeholders that this programme can succeed if well supported," said Ngoma.

Monday 18 August 2014

Lusaka Accountant Forms 3rd Liberation Movement Party

By Paul Shalala

A 36 year old Lusaka-based accountant has formed a new political party called 3rd Liberation Movement.

Enock Tonga (right), who is the party president, says the party has been formed to give Zambia a third liberation from economic, political and social problems.

Mr Tonga, says Zambia had its first liberation from colonialists in 1964 followed by another liberation from the one party state in 1991.

He adds that his party wants to liberate Zambia through a third phase from man made sufferings when his party is ushered into government.

Mr Tonga has since thanked government for approving the registration of his political party without any challenges.

"I was born to serve and i feel its my right time to serve the nation. This is the first time am joining politics and am sure we can liberate this nation from its problems," said Tonga.

He says his party has not been formed for the sole purpose of contesting the 2016 tripartite elections.

"We, together with the people of Zambia will decide whether we contest the 2016 General Elections or not. But in forthcoming by-elections, we will field candidates," said the soft spoken opposition leader.

Acting Chief Registrar of Societies Kakoma Kanganja approved the registration of the 3rd Liberation Movement on June 4, 2014.

According to the certificate of registration, the political party met all requirements under the Societies Act Cap 119 of the laws of Zambia.

Sunday 17 August 2014

Lusaka Province Rejects Public Order Act, Homosexuality

The Legal and Justice Sector Reforms Commission in session

By Paul Shalala

Dozens of petitioners who have appeared before the Legal and Justice Sector Reforms Commission in Lusaka Province have called for the repealing of the colonial-era Public Order Act which has allegedly reduced people's freedoms of assembly and association.

Last week, the Justice Frederick Chomba-led Commission completed its one month tour of Lusaka Province to collect proposals from Zambians on the reform of the judiciary.

In the past four weeks, the Commission held over 10 public sittings in Lusaka, Luangwa, Chongwe, Chirundu and Kafue Districts where Zambians petitioned the commission on various laws and policies that need to be changed.

Nelson Simunji, a lecturer of History at the recently established Chalimbana University in Chongwe District told the commission that the Public Order Act was archaic and needs to be repealed.

"This law is old. It works against democracy. The Police are abusing it and trampling on the rights of the opposition. We need to repeal it and allow democracy to flourish," said Simunji who was the first petitioner on Friday last week in Chongwe.

Mr Simunji's submission was echoed by Zambia Development Conference (ZADECO) President Langton Sichone who also described the Public Order Act as an impediment on democracy in Zambia.

"This law is against the right of assembly. It is against the tenets of democracy. We need to urgently repeal this law and allow people to meet freely without being harassed by the Police," said Mr Sichone in his submission to the commission in Kafue on Thursday.

In every district the commission has held public sittings, petitioners  have demanded the repealing of the infamous law whose implementation by the Zambia Police Service has seen opposition rallies being cancelled and people being arrested for holding meetings.

On the controversial issue of homosexuality, both supporters and opponents of the practice presented their proposals to the sittings across Lusaka Province.

Kaimbo Katengo, a chairman for Zango Youth Consortium shocked commissioners when he spent 30 minutes condemning the Penal Code for discriminating against gays, lesbians and bisexuals.

Mr Katengo called for the review of the Penal Code to embrace homosexuality and allow people to practice their sexual acts without interference by the state.

"We feel the Penal Code is unfair and it is infringing upon people's rights. We need to reform this law and decriminalise the so-called unnatural acts. People should not be discriminated upon based on their sexual orientation," said Katengo at the Lusaka Civic Center during the first day of the commission's sittings.

But a few days later, Katengo tendered an apology to the nation saying his submission had received sharp reaction from stakeholders and he promised to appear before the commission and withdraw his statement but to date he has not done so.

In Chongwe, Luangwa and Kafue Districts, homosexuality was sharply criticised by petitioners.

Chalimbana Ward Councillor Charles Mumena called for a new law that would criminalise homosexuality acts and met stiffer punishment on pepetrators.

"Mr Chairman, we are a christian nation. We can not allow homosexuality here. Let us come up with a law that will stop this vice once and for all," said Mr Mumena who is also former President of the Local Government Association of Zambia.

In Kafue, the issue of homesexuality made commissioners laugh.

"If males marry each other and women marry each other too, we a re not assured of young people being there in 20 to 30 years from now. How will we have children when the whole country goes homosexual? Lets stop this foreign practice in Zambia, we do not need it, " said John Mwansa who addressed the Legal and Justice Reforms Commission at Kafue Civic Center.

Currently, the Zambian constitution does not allow homosexuality and perpetrators face upto 15 years when convicted.

Other issues that where very controversial in Lusaka where defamation of the President, land administration, appointment of judges, the construction of houses for former Presidents and allowing TV cameras in courts.

With the completion of Lusaka Province, the Legal and Justice Sector Reforms Commission is next month expected to start touring the remaining nine provinces to receive proposals from Zambians.

The commission was appointed by President Michael Sata in January this year and it was sworn in by Acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda in March.

The 20-member Justice Frederick Chomba-led commission is deputised by Solicitor General Abraham Mwansa and its secretary is Maria Kawimbe.

Prominent among the commissioners are National Prosecution Authority Chairman Mutembo Nchito, Law Association of Zambia President George Chisanga, Transparency International Zambia President Lee Habasonda and Women for Change Chairperson Emily Sikazwe.

Monday 4 August 2014

YALI Says Zambia Will Benefit At US-Africa Summit

By Paul Shalala

The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) says Zambia stands to benefit a lot from the US-Africa Summit in areas such as governance and youth empowerment.

YALI Governance Advisor Isaac Mwanza (left) says Vice President Guy Scott, who is representing Zambia at the summit, is expected to reap alot of benefits for the country if he opens up to President Barack Obama on Zambia's situation.

Mr Mwanza, who has just returned from the United States of America under the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, says America has a lot in store for countries like Zambia in improving governance.

He has revealed that President Obama is expected to announce three more good governance projects during the summits specifically for Africa.

Dr Scott has already arrived in the US and is expected to represent Zambia at this first ever summit.

Earlier this year, 27 young leaders from various sectors of Zambian society where in various states of the USA as part of the Washington Fellowship.

The youths were part of the 500 inaugural Washington Fellowship which President Obama has since renamed Washington Mandela Fellowship.

The Fellowship is a training ground for young African leaders who are expected to be inculcated with democratic skills aimed at improving governance on the continent.

HH Says UPND Forming Government In 2016

By Paul Shalala

Opposition UPND President Hakainde Hichilema (right) says the warm reception he was received with in Luapula Province when he attended the Ubwilile traditional ceremony on Saturday is an indication that UPND is forming government in 2016.

Mr Hichilema told journalists at a press briefing in Lusaka this morning that the whole nation has gone UPND and he has directed party members to continue mobilising the party.

He has asked UPND members to provide leaders at whatever level they are in society as a sign of an incoming government.

And Mr Hichilema has urged the church and civil society to revive their push for a people driven constitution.

The opposition leader says the people's silence does not mean they have submitted to the failure by government to give the nation a new constitution.

Mr Hichilema also said campaigns in the Mangango are going on well though he complained of malpractices by alleged civil servants.

Meanwhile, two former District Commissioners from the Copperbelt under the MMD government have defected to the UPND.

These include former Kalulushi District Commissioner, John Mutisa and former Mpongwe District Commissioner Rasford Bulaya.

Others who defected include former MMD Copperbelt Province Chairman Joseph Chilambwe, former Seceretary for Political at the Zambian Embassy in Egypt Austin Katunta, and former  PF members Simpito Chellah of Nakonde and Scholastica Mataka.