December 2007


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one-zambia-one-nation.jpgThere are times when duty calls and you know you just have to attend to it.

That’s exactly what it was for us here at the Zambian Chronicle.  We looked at what was available out there in terms of correct dissemination of information about the Zambian Enterprise. 

We were disappointed to find that a lot of avenues that started as repertoires of knowledge, think tank resources were overtaken by special interest thus subduing the actual interests of the Enterprise. 

A cadre phenomenon we later came to call bwembwarism had taken over in many cases spamming sites with myriads of unverifiable misinformation. Data integrity was compromised in many cases and lies, innuendos and gossip where taken at face value as gospel. 

And the Zambian Chronicle was born. Here we pride ourselves as real patriots first because Zambia is greater than any single one of us. Secondly we are the “Gold Standard” of a Zambian interactive site and will forever remain that way. 

In light of the above we are only interested in credible sources of information and we cite all our sources if originality of content does not comes from us, we screen all comments posted on our site and have since deleted almost a thousand spam comments so far. 

We would rather have a few reasonable verifiable pundits than the whole world of bad ones out there. No other site carries the veracity of content, video clips, entertainments modules, and interactive comments like we do. 

We started in 2007 and yet we have won the “blog of the minute” twice with WordPress, the Wall classy-daddy-3.gifStreet Journal Online have cited Zambian Chronicle’s content three times this year and so have many other world renowned sites.  

Our time is now … this has been a great year for us and we know 2008 is going to be even greater; so we wish you all many blessings, we wish you all prosperity and may all your dreams come true – Happy New Year Zambia … thanks a trillion.

Brainwave R Mumba, Sr.

CEO & President – Zambian Chronicle

Copyrights © 2007 Zambian Chronicle. All rights reserved. Zambian Chronicle content may not be stored except for personal, non-commercial use. Republication and redissemination of Zambian Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Zambian Chronicle. Zambian Chronicle shall not be liable for any errors, omissions, interruptions or delays in connection with the Zambian Chronicle content or from any damages arising therefrom.

Zambian Chronicle is a wholly owned subsidiary of Microplus Holdings International, Inc.

Copyrights © 2007 Microplus Holdings Int., Inc.        

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NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) — Kenya’s incumbent president Mwai Kibaki has been re-elected, beating his rival by a margin of only 230,000 votes among almost 9 million cast, the electoral commission announced Sunday.

art.kenya.sunday.afp.gi.jpg Opposition supporters march at the entrance to the Mathare slum in Nairobi on Sunday.

Kibaki narrowly defeated Raila Odinga, of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement, winning 4,584,721 votes compared with 4,352,993 for Odinga, the chairman of the electoral commission, Samuel Kivuitu, said in an address broadcast by the Kenyan Broadcasting Corporation.

The television station later showed footage of Kibaki being sworn-in at a ceremony at the presidential palace.

The closest fought election in the country’s history threatened to descend into chaos after supporters of Odinga earlier disrupted a press conference where the electoral commission was expected to announce the results.

Kivuitu was escorted out of the room after shouts broke out from supporters of Odinga who accused the government of election fraud. He was taken under armed guard to his private offices where he announced the result in an address later broadcast on state television.

Following the swearing-in, Kibaki insisted the elections were “free and fair” and called upon opposition parties to set aside their differences and to “let us all work together to build consensus.”

Odinga’s party earlier had accused the government of “doctoring” the results.

Amid chaotic scenes, Odinga claimed the official counts from 48 out of a total 210 constituencies were flawed, saying that around 300,000 votes were in dispute.

He also introduced an official from the commission who said he witnessed vote-rigging by staff going on at the commission’s headquarters.

The official said he had been asked to sign off returns from polling stations from Kenya’s eastern coastal region that he claimed had been deliberately altered by commission staff.

Odinga said earlier that if the president was announced winner “it will do the biggest injustice to the people of this country.”

“The consequences are too grave to consider,” he said at a press briefing.

The election has been plagued by violence as some supporters of Odinga went on the rampage angry at the delay in announcing a result.

CNN staff witnessed gangs looting and then burning several stores.

According to Associated Press reports, at least 14 people have been killed in election-related violence since Thursday’s voting in Kenya. Nine died Sunday in the Mathare shantytown, AP reported.

Protesters waving machetes were shouting “Kibaki must go!” as buses and shops burned in Mathare, AP reported.

Kibaki’s slim margin of victory is a marked difference from his win five years ago, in a landslide election. He had run on promises to fight corruption.

Since, he has seen his authority erode amid a number of high-profile corruption scandals in his government.

He faced a serious challenge from Odinga, a flamboyant politician who hails from the minority Luo tribe and has won support from rural and urban voters after promising to share the wealth among all the people.

A peaceful election and a smooth transition of power were seen as crucial for Kenya, a stable country in an otherwise-volatile region.

The international community expressed concern at the tide of rioting and looting that had accompanied the election.

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In a joint statement released Sunday, British Foreign Minister David Miliband and International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander called on the leaders of the two main parties to “act responsibly,” and called for an end to the violence.

The U.S. State Department congratulated the people of Kenya for “largely peaceful and orderly voting,” but repeated the calls for calm while the count occurred. 

Copyright 2007 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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LUSAKA (AFP) — Zambia’s international reserves hit over a billion dollars this year, the highest figure in the country’s history, the central bank governor announced on Saturday.
Caleb Fundanga said Zambia had recorded 1.1 billion dollars in foreign reserves up from 706 million dollars that the country accumulated in 2006.

“Zambia has continued to record favourable external sector performance resulting in an accumulation of gross international reserves of 1.1 billion in December 2007,” Fundanga said in a statement.

“This is the highest the country has ever accumulated,” he added.

He said Zambia’s economy is expected to grow by 6.2 percent in 2008, while the country’s inflation will remain at the single-digit level.

“The overriding objective of monetary policy in 2008 is to consolidate the gains made in establishing price stability by achieving a third consecutive year of single-digit inflation,” Fundanga said.

Zambia’s inflation rate stands at 8.9 percent.

He said the country will face major challenges next year due to the projected rise in prices of petroleum products at the international market and the higher electricity tariffs in the southern African region.

Copyright © 2007 AFP

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By Joseph J. Schatz The Associated Press

LUSAKA, Zambia: Resurgent global interest in nuclear power has made Zambia, a country better known for its vast copper reserves, into a hotbed of uranium exploration.

The search for uranium in Zambia is part of a larger wave of uranium exploration and mining across mineral-rich Southern Africa that is raising hopes of new jobs and tax revenue, but also sparking debate over safety and security.

Many countries are looking for cleaner and less-costly alternatives to oil and coal power, and uranium prices are high after a decades-long slump.African Energy Resources, an Australian-owned mining outfit, is drilling on the southern border with Zimbabwe.

Equinox, a Canadian-owned company, said in November that there was high-grade uranium in the Lumwana open pit copper mine in northwestern Zambia; it hopes to begin stockpiling it next year.

Zambia’s government is now completing new regulations to cover the mining, processing and export of uranium products, said Maxwell Mwale, Zambia’s deputy minister of mines and mineral development for large scale mining projects.“We are assured of a market in the sense that demand for nuclear power is increasing,” Mwale said.

“Now there are these global warming concerns and issues of reducing carbon emissions, so nuclear power is attractive.” Mwale added, “We had to put in place regulations that conformed to International Atomic Energy Agency standards.

Elsewhere in Africa, exploration is ramping up across the border in Botswana. Namibia’s uranium exporting industry has seen a revival, with a $112 million expansion of the long-running Rossing open mine and the opening of a new mine in 2006 by Paladin Energy in Australia.African Energy Resources has poured $8 million into its exploration project with Albidon Mining in southern Zambia over the past three years.

The exploration is the “biggest push on uranium exploration since the late ’70s,” said Alasdair Cooke, executive chairman of African Energy. With the global energy market coming under so much pressure from new economies, “uranium has become part of the mix.

Faced with domestic energy shortages, the government of South Africa released a draft nuclear energy policy in August pledging a rebirth in the country’s uranium mining, processing and enrichment industries, and the construction of new nuclear reactors over the next decade.

The region’s economic powerhouse, South Africa gave up its nuclear weapons program following the end of apartheid in the 1990s, but still has two nuclear reactors that produce 6 percent of the country’s power.

The scramble for uranium marks a stark turnaround after an industry slump brought on by the 1986 disaster at Chernobyl that made nuclear power a dirty phrase, and by the end of the nuclear arms race of the Cold War.

Concerns over climate change and pollution created by coal, along with high oil prices, have sent uranium prices from less than $10 a pound at the start of the decade to a current price of $88 a pound.

Many countries, including the United States, are planning to build new nuclear reactors, and China is looking to imported uranium for the many nuclear reactors it will use to help propel its rapid economic growth.Mining companies are looking to countries across Africa.

In Western Africa is a leading uranium supplier and produced 3,434 metric tons in 2006.In Southern Africa, the search focuses on the uranium-enriched crust of what geologists call the Karoo Basin.

Namibia and South Africa are believed to hold 6 percent and 7 percent, respectively, of the world’s recoverable uranium resources, trailing only Australia, Kazakhstan, Canada and the United States, according to the World Nuclear Association, a nuclear power industry advocacy group.Up-to-date estimates of Zambia’s potential are hard to pin down.

Here, long-standing uranium exploration started by Italian and Japanese investors ground to a halt in the 1980s.

“With the price increase we’ve seen in the last couple of years, the uranium resource is now quite economical” to mine, said Harry Michael, chief operating officer of Equinox Minerals, an Australian and Canadian venture that is running Lumwana Mine, along Zambia’s border with Congo.

At Lumwana, uranium deposits mingle with copper, and will be mined as part of the same process.Uranium mining could create valuable jobs in mining, transportation and other sectors in a country where about 20 percent of the work force is formally employed, Mwale, the deputy minister in Zambia, said.

Other than more developed South Africa, most nations in the region will remain, for the moment, suppliers of uranium rather than users of it. How much those countries will benefit from their exports will be a crucial question for policy makers.

The issue is sure get attention in Zambia, where the government has been promising for more than a year to increase taxes on foreign copper mining companies that secured minuscule tax rates early in the decade when copper prices were low, and are now reaping huge profits.

Even though nuclear power is seen by many as the environmentally friendly energy source of the future, industry officials still face opposition from some environmental groups and other skeptics.Just east of Zambia, in Malawi, the government’s grant of a uranium mining license to Paladin sparked complaints from the Center for Human Rights and Rehabilitation.

The Malawian government has a 15 percent stake in the project.While the group acknowledged that the almost $200 million mining project could create jobs and profits, in a recent press statement it questioned its effect on the environment and whether “the economic benefits to Malawi through the introduction of uranium mining operations outweigh the social concerns and hazards associated with them.

Experts in the industry say that while radon gas emitted by uranium presents some radiation risks, modern technology makes them negligible to workers and the public.

Radiation exposure is low in open cut mining, and can be further lessened by enforcing strict hygiene regulations on miners using uranium oxide concentrate, according to the World Nuclear Association.In an underground mine, modern ventilation systems are needed to keep miners safe, the association said.

In some regions, the increased demand for uranium has prompted security concerns, especially amid reports of illegal uranium mining across the border in Congo – the same area that produced some of the uranium used in the atomic bombs dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.

Counterterrorism experts worry about extremists getting radiation materials through a black market for nuclear components that operates despite attempts to tighten security. Growth in mining and processing could make security even more crucial.Mwale, of the Zambia mining ministry, said that Zambia was being cautious.

“We are very particular, as a country, that there will be no lapses at any stage of the handling of the uranium product,” he said.

Source: International Herald Tribune  

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By Shapi Shacinda

LUSAKA (Reuters) – Zambia plans to raise electricity tariffs for its copper and cobalt mines after the southern Africa nation increased domestic power charges by 27 percent, officials said on Thursday.

Hanson Sindowe, chairman of the Copperbelt Energy Company (CEC), the sole distributor of power to Zambia’s vast copper and cobalt mines, said tariff rise negotiations were almost concluded with various foreign mining firms.

“We are currently negotiating with the mines and we are almost there,” Sindowe told Reuters.

He declined to say how much the tariffs would rise.

Officials say that plans to raise power tariffs were aimed at making state power utility Zesco economically viable and to ensure Zambia reaped greater benefits from profits foreign mining firms were reaping from higher global metals prices.

CEC purchases power from Zesco and distributes it to the mines.

Industry analysts say the copper and cobalt mines pay lower rates compared with most industries after they negotiated lower tariffs at the time Zambia was privatizing its copper mines in a bid to keep them running, after decades of under capitalisation caused some mines to be on the brink of closure.

Last week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Board proposed that Zambia should raise electricity tariffs in its end of year review of the country’s economic performance.

The IMF said raising tariffs would enhance the development of the energy sector.

Zambia agreed with the IMF and the World Bank in the early 2000s to reduce state participation in the state-run power utility Zesco in order for the country to continue to receive financing from multilateral institutions.

“They (IMF board) emphasized the importance of raising electricity tariffs to levels consistent with full cost recovery, and of strengthening the corporate governance and efficiency of the public utility,” the IMF said in a statement.

The state Energy Regulation Board (ERB) said separately that it had allowed Zesco to raise power tariffs for domestic users by 26.8 percent and by 1.3 percent for other industrial users, state media reported on Thursday.

“The ERB would approve a further increment in residential tariffs by 16.6 percent and 11.9 in 2009 and 2010,” respectively, the state Zambia Daily Mail quoted ERB chairman Sikota Wina as saying.

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PAKISTAN'S BHUTTO ASSASSINATED // Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto attends rally in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Dec. 27, 2007 (© Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images)RAWALPINDI, Pakistan – Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated Thursday in a suicide bombing that also killed at least 20 others at a campaign rally.

The death of the charismatic former prime minister threw the campaign for the Jan. 8 election into chaos and created fears of mass protests and an eruption of violence across the volatile south Asian nation, which has nuclear weapons and a support base for Muslim extremists.

Pakistani troops were put on “red alert” across the country as President Pervez Musharraf blamed terrorists for Bhutto’s death and said he would redouble his efforts to fight them.

“I want to express my resolve and seek the cooperation from the entire nation and we will not rest until we eliminate these terrorists and root them out,” he said in a nationally televised speech. He announced three days of mourning for her across the country.

In the United States, President Bush demanded that those responsible be brought to justice, calling them “murderous extremists who are trying to undermine Pakistan’s democracy.”

Bhutto’s supporters erupted in anger and grief after her death, attacking police and burning tires and election campaign posters in several cities. At the hospital where she died, some smashed glass and wailed, chanting slogans against Musharraf.

“At 6:16 p.m. she expired,” said Wasif Ali Khan, a member of Bhutto’s party who was at Rawalpindi General Hospital where she was taken after the attack.

“She has been martyred,” added party official Rehman Malik. Bhutto was 54.

A party security adviser said Bhutto was shot in the neck and chest as she got into her vehicle, then the gunman blew himself up. No group has claimed responsibility.

An Associated Press reporter at the scene of the bombing could see body parts and flesh scattered at the back gate of the park where Bhutto had spoken. He counted about 20 bodies, including police, and could see many other wounded people.

The road outside was stained with blood. People screamed for ambulances. Others gave water to the wounded lying in the street.

The clothing of some of the victims was shredded and people put party flags over their bodies.

Security had been tight, with hundreds of riot police manning security checkpoints with metal detectors around what was Bhutto’s first campaign rally since returning from exile two months ago.

Bhutto had planned an earlier rally in the city, but Musharraf forced her to cancel it, citing security fears. In October, suicide bombers struck a parade celebrating Bhutto’s return, killing more than 140 people in the southern city of Karachi.

Musharraf mulling elections
Parties across the country were stepping up campaigning for the Jan. 8 elections after a Muslim holiday late last week and a holiday on Tuesday for the birthday of Pakistan’s founder and revered first leader, Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

Musharraf convened an emergency meeting with his senior staff where they were expected to discuss whether to postpone the elections, an official at the Interior Ministry said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks.

Western allies had hoped the elections will restore stability in a nuclear-armed country vital to their battle against Islamist militancy. The three-way race had pitted Bhutto against the party of another former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, and a party that backs Musharraf, who took power in a 1999 coup.

Sharif and Bhutto had talked of an alliance, and Sharif on Thursday spoke to Bhutto supporters outside the hospital, saying: “Benazir Bhutto was also my sister, and I will be with you to take the revenge for her death. Don’t feel alone. I am with you. We will take the revenge on the rulers.”

The elections are for provincial parliaments and for a National Assembly from which a prime minister and a government will be drawn. It was not clear if they would still be held on schedule.

In recent weeks, suicide bombers have repeatedly targeted security forces in Rawalpindi, a city near the capital where Musharraf stays and the Pakistan army has its headquarters.

Before the rally, scheduled for Thursday afternoon, Bhutto had met with visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the end of his two-day visit here.

“We too believe that it is essential for both of our countries, and indeed the larger Muslim world, to work to protect the interest of Islamic civilization by eliminating extremism and terrorism,” she said after their meeting.

U.S. heavily invested in Pakistan
Bhutto’s return to the country after years in exile and the ability of her party to contest free and fair elections had been a cornerstone of Bush’s policy in Pakistan, where U.S. officials had watched Musharraf’s growing authoritarianism with increasing unease.

Those concerns were compounded by the rising threat from al-Qaida and Taliban extremists, particularly in Pakistan’s largely ungoverned tribal areas bordering Afghanistan despite the fact that Washington had pumped nearly $10 billion in aid into the country since Musharraf became an indispensible counter-terrorism ally after Sept. 11, 2001

Irritated by the situation, Congress last week imposed new restrictions on U.S. assistance to Pakistan, including tying $50 million in military aid to State Department assurances that the country is making “concerted efforts” to prevent terrorists from operating inside its borders.

Under the law, which provides a total of $300 million in aid to Pakistan and was signed by President Bush on Wednesday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also must guarantee Pakistan is implementing democratic reforms, including releasing political prisoners and restoring an independent judiciary.

The law also prevents any of the funds can be used for cash transfer assistance to Pakistan, but that stipulation had already been adopted by the administration.

Despite the congressional move, Richard Boucher, the assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs who had been instrumental in engineering the Bhutto-Musharraf reconciliation, said he had little doubt that the administration would get the money.

Bush, in his comments Thursday, expressed his deepest condolences to Bhutto’s family and to the families of others slain in the attack and to all the people of Pakistan.

“We stand with the people of Pakistan in their struggle against the forces of terror and extremism. We urge them to honor Benazir Bhutto’s memory by continuing with the democratic process for which she so bravely gave her life,” he said.

Family targeted over the years
Bhutto’s family is no stranger to violence.

Her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was Pakistan’s first popularly elected prime mister. He was executed in 1979 after being deposed in a military coup.

Bhutto became the first female prime minister in the Muslim world when she was elected in 1988 at the age of 35. She was deposed in 1990, re-elected in 1993, and ousted again in 1996 amid charges of corruption and mismanagement.

She said the charges were politically motivated but in 1999 chose to stay in exile rather than face them.

Both of her brothers died in mysterious circumstances and she had said al-Qaida assassins tried to kill her several times in the 1990s.

Intelligence reports have said al-Qaida, the Taliban and Pakistani jihadi groups have sent suicide bombers after her.

In an interview on Oct. 22 with NBC’s TODAY show, Bhutto said returning to Pakistan and politics was worth the risk to her life. “It was no secret to me that I could be attacked,” she said. “I chose to return and put my life on the line to defend a principle I believe in.”

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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Good news from Nakonde

We have a success story to share with you about the Nakonde Area Development Programme (ADP).

.
Construction of classrooms and provision of
school materials has improved students’
education in Nakonde.

An ADP begins with a small group of communities and grows to cover a wider geographic area. As communities begin to reach their goals and are able to fund initiatives on their own, World Vision gradually reduces its financial help by reducing the number of sponsored children in those communities.

The good news is that after many years of hard work, with your help, the Nakonde community where your sponsored child lives is increasing in capacity and will soon be able to continue its development work without World Vision’s direct assistance.

This report lists some of the changes that have happened in Nakonde over the past few years – changes that have made a huge difference to people’s lives, bringing them hope for the future.

A selection of achievements in Nakonde

Health
World Vision’s support has greatly improved the health of people in Nakonde. A clinic and a staff house have been constructed to provide local medical services. Awareness campaigns about malaria and immunisation have helped the community to understand the importance of disease prevention in order to save lives. More than 70 per cent of children are now immunised; a significant increase from a base of 24 per cent.

HIV and AIDS

Through anti-AIDS clubs, children find out
about HIV and AIDS and learn to tell
their friends, here reciting poems
they have written.

The Nakonde community is severely affected by HIV and AIDS, and World Vision has established systems to educate people about preventing the spread of HIV and to care for affected community members. Together with World Vision, they have:

  • Formed anti-AIDS clubs for children and youth
  • Provided study guides and HIV and AIDS literature
  • Trained community-based HIV and AIDS counsellors
  • Established a home-based care programme and trained more than 230 people to support chronically ill people, orphans and vulnerable children
  • Trained teachers to incorporate HIV prevention and values-based life skills into their teaching programmes
  • Assisted households caring for orphaned and vulnerable children to increase their incomes
  • Formed support groups for people living with HIV and AIDS
  • Supported local government to improve the policies of its district HIV and AIDS taskforce

Education

“When we were told World Vision was
going to support the rehabilitation work
at Kantongo Middle Basic School, we
quickly mobilised parents. When people
heard the good news, they pledged their
very best efforts to help ensure the project
succeeded,” said Mr. Mwanji Siwanzi, chair
of Kantongo parent-teacher association.“When I was in grade 7, I dreaded being
selected for grade 8 because the nearest
school that offered upper basic education
was over 7km away from Kantongo. I am
indeed very thankful to World Vision and
all the parents for their hard work in
extending the education offered at
Kantongo,” said Alinani Sichalwe, a
grade 8 pupil at Kantongo.

World Vision helped the Nakonde community to construct and renovate classrooms at Kantongo
Middle Basic School. Because of this work, the Ministry of Education has upgraded the status of the school to an Upper Basic School, allowing it to teach senior high school classes. This makes it much easier for local children to continue their education to higher levels and is really exciting for the community!Food security and conservation
World Vision has trained more than 150 farmers in modern agricultural techniques and on topics such as livestock management, crop management, conservation and agroforestry. These farmers have disseminated information to others in their communities through 21 farmers groups.

Farmers have learned to set up small fish farming operations to provide a ready source of protein and increase household incomes. Farmers have also been trained to grow vegetables and set up fruit orchards to help address malnutrition.

Reforestation of the Nakonde area has been an important activity and farmers have been taught to raise seedlings so they can continue reforesting the area.

During 1998/99 and 2001/02, excess rainfall destroyed crops. World Vision worked with the World Food Programme to distribute food to affected households. In the following years, World Vision trained the community and local government to prepare for disasters.

Leadership development
Community members have learned about leadership, project management, auditing, community mobilisation, entrepreneurship and credit management.

The Nakonde community has established a community-based organisation called Tulemane Development Trust, to continue development activities.

World Vision has trained the community in gender issues and encouraged the participation of women in development activities. This has had an influence on local government gender policy and practice.

Special thanks to World Vision of New Zealand … thanks a trillion

Brainwave R Mumba, Sr. CEO & President – Zambian Chronicle

Copyrights © 2007 Zambian Chronicle. All rights reserved. Zambian Chronicle content may not be stored except for personal, non-commercial use. Republication and redissemination of Zambian Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Zambian Chronicle. Zambian Chronicle shall not be liable for any errors, omissions, interruptions or delays in connection with the Zambian Chronicle content or from any damages arising therefrom.

Zambian Chronicle is a wholly owned subsidiary of Microplus Holdings International, Inc.

Copyrights © 2007 Microplus Holdings Int., Inc.         

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HONG KONG –

China’s first home-built airliner was set to meet the world Friday.

The state-controlled China Aviation Industry Corp. I, or AVIC I, the nation’s biggest plane manufacturer, was scheduled to roll out its first completed regional jet, the ARJ21-700, at a 600 million yuan ($81 million) assembly facility in Shanghai.

China hopes that the ARJ21, or Advanced Regional Jet for the 21st Century, will be competitive with regional jets made by Canada’s Bombardier and Brazil’s Embraer (nyse: ERJnews people ).

China is in the midst of a major expansion of its air network, and it would like to make sure that a good chunk of the spending stays in the country.

The government is currently carrying out a five-year plan to buy 500 jets and build 48 airports. Boeing projects that Chinese carriers will spend $340 billion over the next two decades to buy 3,400 planes. (See: ” Boeing Raises Forecast For Chinese Plane Demand“)

The ARJ21-700 is designed to carry 78 to 90 passengers on flights of 1,200 to 2,000 sea miles, making it capable of serving on more than 98% of domestic routes.

After an online vote by 400,000 Chinese netizens, the model has been named xiangfeng, which means flying phoenix, AVIC I said Friday.

The maiden flight of the short-haul plane is scheduled for March. AVIC I has received 73 orders for the plane from domestic carriers and aircraft leasing companies, including Shandong Airlines Co., Shanghai Airlines Co. and the government of Laos. The state-run aircraft manufacturer plans to begin delivering planes to customers in September 2009.

At the Paris Air Show earlier this year, Bombardier Aerospace, the world’s No. 3 aircraft maker, entered into an agreement to help the Chinese company develop an extended 90- to 149-seat version of the ARJ21-700 that will meet certification standards for use in the West. The Canadian aviation behemoth will help its Chinese partner to market the jet overseas, receiving royalties on sales. (See ” Bombardier To Help China Reach Skies“)

China’s state-controlled aviation industry also is working to produce jumbo jets by 2020, aiming to challenge Boeing (nyse: BAnews people ) and EADS (other-otc: EADSYnews people ) unit Airbus.

Source: FORBES.COM AIRLINES NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 25, 2007

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ben-ali.jpgZine El Abidine Ben Ali was born on September 3, 1936 in Hammam-Sousse, to a family of moderate means, which brought him up to respect tradition and imbued him with a sense of dignity, patriotism and respect for others.

From these values he developed a propensity for simplicity, hard work and rigor, as well as a sense of moderation and tolerance. While still in the Sousse secondary school, Ben Ali responded to the call of patriotic duty.

Outraged by colonial oppression, he became active in the nationalist movement, acting as liaison between the regional structures of the Neo-Destour Party and the armed struggle. As a result, he was imprisoned and excluded from all educational establishments in Tunisia.

Yet he did not give up his studies and soon resumed them with enough energy and determination to persevere into tertiary education after completing high school. Recognizing Ben Ali’s outstanding qualities, the party sent him abroad to pursue his higher training as part of a group that was to form the nucleus of the future national army.

He first graduated from the Special Interservice School in Saint-Cyr (France), then from equally prestigious schools: the Artillery School in Châlons-sur-Marne (France), the Senior Intelligence School (Maryland, USA) and the School of Anti-Aircraft Field Artillery (Texas, USA).

He also holds a degree in electronic engineering.“My interest in computer science,” he was later to say, “has had a considerable impact on the way I work, giving me a definite taste for Iogic, rigorous analysis and long-term planning which shuns improvisation.”

The second stage in Ben Ali’s career was marked by a steady increase in responsibilities, due to his sense of duty, his readiness to Iisten to others and his capacity for rigorous analysis. Prior to making any decision, he would carefully consider available information, analyze situations and compare results.

Once the decision is made, he personally sees it through to a successful conclusion thanks to diligent action and close follow-up.Summarizing this process to an American newspaper, he said in a nutshell: “I listen, I ponder, I act.”

In 1964, while still a young staff officer, he created the Military Security Department which he directed for 10 years. ln 1974, he was appointed military attaché to Morocco and Spain. He was then assigned to the office of the Defense Minister before becoming Director General of National Security (December 1977).

In April 1980, he was appointed Ambassador to Warsaw. At the end of his tour of duty in Poland, he returned to Tunisia in 1984, to serve, first, as Director General, then as Secretary of State (October 29, 1984), then as Minister of National Security (October 23, 1985). On April 28, 1986, he became Minister of the Interior, and in June of the same year a Member of the Political Bureau of the Socialist Destourian Party (PSD).

He was soon appointed Assistant Secretary General of the PSD. Promoted to the rank of Minister of State in charge of the Interior in May 1987, he was appointed as Prime Minister on October 2, 1987, at the age of 51, while keeping the Interior portfolio.

By the same token, he became Secretary General of the PSD.President Habib Bourguiba at the time was weakened by old age and illness, and was surrounded by seraglio intrigues. Ben Ali, however, remained above rivalries, and acted rather to ease the political climate, to promote openness to organizations such as the Tunisian League of Human Rights and to establish contacts with opposition parties.

This won him the sympathy and respect of the entire political class, which considered him a man of dialogue and openness.As Prime Minister, Ben Ali took charge of a country in crisis. He confronted the situation with determination, foiled intrigues and took endless calming measures.

He strove to restore confidence, advocated logical and realistic solutions, and invariably made the higher interests of Tunisia prevail. During that disturbing period, President Bourguiba was increasingly subject to frequent lapses and was eventually disconnected from the realities of the country.

On the strength of a medical report drawn up by seven specialists treating President Bourguiba, attesting to the latter’s incapacity, and by virtue of Article 57 of the Constitution, Prime Minister Zine El Abidine Ben Ali assumed the highest executive office on November 7, 1987.

The ensuing transition went smoothly and in full respect of constitutional legality, and the former president was treated with all due respect.From the moment of his investiture, President Ben Ali has made every effort to honor the commitments contained in his Declaration of November 7th: rule of law, sovereignty of the people, national reconciliation, respect for fundamental freedoms, democracy, pluralism, social justice, solidarity, hard work, openness and modernity.

This program received the support of the overwhelming majority of Tunisians as it met their expectations.First of all, Ben Ali restored the vitality and credibility of the old Socialist Destourian Party (PSD), which had fallen into lethargy.

Renaming it the Democratic Constitutional Rally (RCD), he renovated its structures, modernized its action methods and reformulated its discourse. The RCD opened up to the young, renewed its cadres, and restored free debate and a sense of initiative for the rank-and-file. This reinforced its credibility and its grassroots outreach, and widely enlarged its constituency.

On the political plane, a climate of détente and national concord set in and numerous measures were taken to establish true democracy and lay the groundwork for the rule of law. The Constitution was amended to do away with lite presidency and automatic succession.

The Economic and Social Council was re-structured, its prerogatives extended and its representation broadened to promote national consensus on major development options. A Constitutional Council was created soon after the Change of November 7th to guarantee, in both letter and spirit, the constitutionality of the laws.

In 1998, a constitutional law provided that the opinions of the Constitutional Council be binding on all powers and all authorities.Freedom of expression was guaranteed, and the Press Code amended three times to modernize and liberalize public reporting conventions, and to provide journalists with adequate conditions to exercise their profession.

Specific measures were taken in favor of the opinion press. A new reform of the Press Code was announced in 1999.A new law on parties was adopted in 1988. It redefined the procedure governing the establishment of political groups, giving pluralism a new impetus and an irreversible character. The early presidential and general elections of April 2, 1989 were the first in the country’s history to take place in absolute transparency and perfect conformity with the law.

As a candidate of all Tunisians, across party fines, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was elected that year President of the Republic. The consensus in support of President Ben Ali was confirmed by his re-election on March 20, 1994, and on October 24, 1999, with a very large majority.

The amended Electoral Code also promoted the multi-party system in the 1994 general elections, as it enabled, for the first time since Tunisia’s independence, the entry of the opposition into the Chamber of Deputies.

The introduction in 1998 of new amendments into the Electoral Code allowed the opposition to win 20% of the seats in the Chamber of Deputies after the legislative elections held on October 24, 1999. The opposition won the same proportion of seats in the municipal elections held in the year 2000.

Other amendments lowered the minimum age of candidates for the office of Deputy and guaranteed the right to run for office for all electors born of a Tunisian mother while, previously, only the elector born of a Tunisian father could be a candidate.

The Constitution was also amended to allow for several candidates to run in the country’s presidential elections. For the first time in Tunisia’s history, the incumbent president was challenged by opposition candidates, during the elections held on October 24, 1999.

President Ben Ali made Tunisia a pioneer country in the protection of human rights, seeing to the implementation of a comprehensive policy combining economic, social and cultural rights with civil and political rights.Just two weeks after the Change, a bill laying down the rules for pre-trial custody and preventive detention was adopted.

The State Security Court and the office of State Prosecutor were abolished and so was hard labor.The 1984 United Nations Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Punishments or Treatments was ratified without reservation. The rights of the child are now protected by law, and the culture of human rights is promoted and widely disseminated.

A new law was enacted in 1999 with the aim of reducing the period of pre-trial custody, instituting public service work as a sentence instead of imprisonment (provided that the convicted person accepts it freely); and defining torture according to international standards.

The purpose of the law was to harmonize national legislation with the relevant United Nations Convention which Tunisia had ratified unreservedly. Moreover, a bill was submitted to the Chamber of Deputies to establish the rule of dual jurisdiction in criminal cases and to create the position of magistrate in charge of the implementation of sentences.

Authority over detention facilities and their administration were also transferred to the Ministry of Justice. Since November 7, 1987, President Ben Ali has expressed his unwavering commitment to the emancipation of women and his determination to further women’s rights.

The National Pact, a culmination of the national reconciliation drive engineered by Ben Ali, was endorsed by all the country’s political and social tendencies and currents, thus sanctioning national consensus. A general amnesty law was decreed.

President Ben Ali announced, on February 13, 2002, the introduction of a major constitutional reform bill aimed at consolidating the bases of the republican system of government, further anchoring democracy and promoting human rights and public freedoms. The proposed reform is considered the broadest and most far-reaching in the history of post-independence Tunisia.

The reform bill gives a high profile to human rights and freedoms within the body of the Constitution, consecrates pluralism in presidential elections, and introduces a greater role of Parliament in the oversight of government activity, while preserving the characteristics of the presidential system of government.

Among the other provisions of the reform bill is the creation of a second legislative body beside the Chamber of Deputies. The reform bill broadens the role of the Constitutional Council, consolidates its independence and entrusts it with the task of monitoring presidential and legislative elections at all stages.

Based on his deep belief in the will of people as an over-riding imperative, President Ben Ali decided to submit the bill, after its adoption by Parliament, to a popular referendum, so as to make sure that the intended reform truly reflects the people’s choices and aspirations.

To put the country back to work, President Ben Ali succeeded in clearing the social climate by rehabilitating the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT), instituting dialogue between management and labor, and making labor a cardinal value.

This was done out of the conviction that there cannot be any social justice or progress without the creation of wealth and without a concerted effort to ensure production and creativity.The economic reforms introduced against this background have enabled the country to achieve a sustained economic growth rate of about 5 percent and to lower the inflation rate to 2.7 percent.

A national program for modernization and upgrading of the industrial fabric has been developed in collaboration with the European Union, with which Tunisia signed an association and free-trade agreement in 1995.

The country’s modern infrastructure, favorable legislation and climate of stability and growth have attracted an increasing number of foreign investors. The economic success of the Tunisian model is recognized all over the world and some observers have even called it “the Tunisian miracle.

In June 2000, Tunisia was ranked as the most competitive country in Africa by the World Economic Forum 2000-2001 Report. in 2006, it reiterated the,feat by being ranci ed.as the most competitive country in Africa and in the Arab world by the same WEF. For period 2007-2008 Tunisia still took first place in Africa.

No doubt the humanistic approach to social realities will prove to be one of the dominant features of President Ben Ali’s personality and record. A man of the people, he constantly listens to citizens, and espouses their concerns and expectations. What he has accomplished in this respect is based on a genuine sympathy with the underprivileged and a rejection of exclusion, together with investing in disadvantaged regions and creating equal opportunities for all.

As a result, the poverty rate has been lowered to 4.2 percent and the middle classes now account for 80 percent of the population. Thus it is deep appreciation, even affection, that Tunisians feel when they see their president making impromptu visits to deprived districts, steep mountain areas or social, educational and economic institutions.

Ben Ali strives to give concrete expression to the concept of national solidarity, which is the foundation of his social policy. His visits are invariably followed with immediate action, sometimes in the form of a cabinet meeting the same day, which he chairs in person, to make appropriate decisions.

It was after such a visit to one of the remote areas of the country in December 1992 that the president decided to create the National Solidarity Fund, commonly known as “26-26 Fund” after its bank account number.

This decision was warmly welcomed by Tunisians, who demonstrated their solidarity by responding to the appeal of the president with generous donations to the fund.The mission of the “26-26 Fund” is to end isolation, improve living conditions in deprived areas and enable their inhabitants to undertake income-generating projects.

Building on the exceptional success of this fund in fighting poverty, a new fund, the National Employment Fund, also known as the “21-21 Fund”, has been launched for the purpose of creating job opportunities.In addition, the creation of the Tunisian Solidarity Bank and the establishment of a micro-credit system have made it possible to finance thousands of small projects every year, create jobs for young graduates and promote enterprise.

The educational reform which made school attendance compulsory until the age of 16, has raised the schooling rate for 6 year-old children to more than 99 percent, fostered openness, tolerance and innovation, and has further promoted equality between men and women.

Such equality has been reinforced by a host of avant-garde measures taken by Ben Ali. The Code of Personal Status, one of the most advanced in the world with respect to women, has been strengthened and gender equality is now a feature of daily life. After the 1999 legislative elections, the number of women in the Chamber of Deputies has virtually doubled.

As a result of the numerous presidential initiatives in favor of women, and particularly the measures of August 13, 1992, Tunisian women, more than just having their gains and basic rights guaranteed, became full partners to men in all fields of development.On the foreign plane, President Ben Ali has instituted an active and dynamic diplomacy.

Working for the integration of the entire Maghreb, the establishment of an inter-Arab consensus and the creation of a Euro-Mediterranean area of co-development, Ben Ali is actively contributing to the search for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. His chairmanship of the Organization of African Unity highlighted his commitment to seeking negotiated solutions to the conflicts afflicting the continent and to preventing new ones.

In September 2000, the UN General assembly adopted this humanitarian project, paying tribute to this initiative which aims at establishing a mechanism for the consecration of universal values and ensuring a better future for the whole mankind.

UNESCO’s designation of Tunis as Regional Cultural Capital in 1997 marked Tunisia’s growing cultural influence and its ability to contribute to dialogue among civilizations. At the instigation of its president, Tunisia’s entry into the arena of new communication technologies has been facilitated by numerous government incentives.

All universities and high schools are connected to the Internet. A program has been launched to connect public libraries to the worldwide web.In 1998, upon an initiative of Tunisia’s President, the International Union of Telecommunications( ITU), an organization affiliated to the United Nations, decides to hold a World Summit on the Information Society.

The Summit took place in two distinct phases, being hosted by Geneva in 2003 and Tunis in November 2005. By many accounts, the Tunis Summit which is also known as the ” Summit of solutions” was a tremendous success both at the organizational and the conceptual levels. It will be crowned by the adoption of two major texts: the ” Tunis commitment” and the ” Tunis Agenda”.

President Ben Ali is married and is the father of six children. His wife, Mrs Leila Ben Ali, is active in a number of Tunisian and international charities, working to promote the causes of women, families and children.

The other presidents in the running included Zambian President and current Chairperson for SADC nations, Dr. Levy P Mwanawasa, SC. who came in second, Namibian President Nifikepunye Pohamba in third place, President Armando Guebuza of Mozambique in fourth place, President Mamaduo Tandia of Niger for fifth classy-daddy-3.gifplace, President of Botswana Dr. Festus Mogae in sixth and President John Agyekum Kufuor of Ghana as seventh …

Special thanks go to our friends at Tunisia Online, the World Economic Forum, The Global Peace Index Group, Global Competitive Index Group, Economic Times, Time Magazine, Financial Times, CBS, WSJ Online and many others too numerous to mention … thanks a trillion. Brainwave R Mumba, Sr.

CEO & President – Zambian Chronicle

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MPIKA, Zambia

Hammer Simwinga in Mpika, Zambia, where he works with the North Luangwa Conservation Project.

IT is easy to dismiss this part of the world as hopeless. Sub-Saharan Africa has some of the highest mortality rates, the lowest literacy rates, the worst unemployment, the most tenacious, soul-eroding poverty on earth. The problems are so vexing, so widespread, that the question is not so much what to do as where to begin.

Hammer Simwinga began here, in remote northeast Zambia, in a village that is little more than a gas stop for big semis plying the Cape-to-Cairo truck route. When Mr. Simwinga arrived in Mpika in 1994, farming was struggling, and poaching had supplanted crops as a money-earner. Nearby North Luangwa National Park had lost more than 15,000 elephants, thousands of antelope and buffalo, and all its black rhinos — slain for their tusks, their meat, their horns.

Mr. Simwinga was an itinerant agronomist, drifting from agricultural extension agent to commercial farm manager to volunteer gardening adviser for Catholic parishioners. To his job in Mpika, with the North Luangwa Conservation Project, he mostly brought a big heart and a grab bag of farming tips.

“There was an office, some computers and a few trucks outside,” Mr. Simwinga, 45, said recently. “And I said, ‘Hey — I think this is an opportunity for me.’ ”

That it was. In May, Mr. Simwinga became one of six winners of the 2007 Goldman Environmental Prize, a $125,000 award recognizing “sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment, often at great personal risk.” It is the world’s largest and most prestigious environmental award.

Thirteen years of work by Mr. Simwinga have turned around the lives of 2,000 families around Mpika, touching perhaps 35,000 people. He has helped hold poaching in North Luangwa park, once rampant, to a near standstill.

“There are few people in Zambia who understand the value of conservation and have the commitment,” said Rolf Shenton, a former member of Zambia’s Parliament. “Hammer really dedicated himself to the equation of getting people happy and reducing their antagonism toward wildlife.”

DESCRIBING Mr. Simwinga’s work is easy: He shows rural Zambians that there are better ways to get ahead than by killing animals. Doing it well is another matter.

Zambia’s Luangwa Valley, the southernmost tip of Africa’s Great Rift Valley, was a wildlife paradise until the 1970s, when economic distress and a booming ivory trade turned it into a killing field. In the 1980s, 100,000 of the valley’s elephants perished; the number in North Luangwa National Park, a 2,400-square-mile preserve, dropped from 17,000 to 1,300.

In 1986, two American zoologists, Mark and Delia Owens, came to Luangwa to study lions, and found poaching so pervasive that elephants were being shot almost nightly within earshot of their camp.

“The poachers were shooting 1,000 elephants a year,” Ms. Owens said in a telephone interview from her Idaho home. “We said, ‘How can we study lions with this going on?’ ”

They set up a project to give local residents alternatives to working for the area’s many commercial poachers. A German zoological society financed antipoaching units to patrol the park, and helped establish the North Luangwa Conservation Project, which offered medical care, schooling, job training and loans to start farming.

And slowly, poaching began to ebb. By 1994, poachers were taking fewer than 15 elephants from the North Luangwa park annually.

Enter Hammerskjoeld Simwinga — his name derived from that of Dag Hammarskjold, the United Nations secretary general killed in a 1961 airplane crash in northern Zambia. Hammer’s father, a medical aide, had worked in mission hospitals across Zambia, leaving his son fluent in seven local languages. In the late 1980s, Hammer earned an agriculture degree, then took a job as an extension agent.

“This is where I first encountered a lot of poaching,” he said, “but I could do nothing because it wasn’t in mandate to control it.”

Frustrated, he quit his government post, and worked several farming jobs before coming to Mpika, and the Owenses. Having reduced poaching, the Owenses needed someone to help would-be poachers toward a better life.

“After we hired Hammer, the program just took off,” Ms. Owens said. “He had a way of communicating the concept to the villagers — a way of letting them understand that we were working for them as much as we were for the wildlife.”

Mr. Simwinga formed “wildlife clubs,” co-ops that lent cash to villagers to open stores, run grinding mills or grow crops. He taught farmers tricks, from digging fish ponds to planting hedgerows, that increased crop yields and provided new food sources.

BUT for his perseverance, the effort might have collapsed. In 1996, corrupt Zambian officials involved in poaching raided the Owenses’ operations while they were abroad, seizing the assets. The assets eventually were returned, but the Owenses, advised to stay away, did not come back. The Owenses’ German financiers dropped their support — and suddenly, the project lay in Mr. Simwinga’s hands. “That’s when he became a real hero,” Ms. Owens said. “Hammer had no money; they took his bicycle, everything. He had to walk to these villages” — often 20 miles at a time — “to see people.”

Said Mr. Simwinga: “I didn’t want to lose the history and the name we’d made for ourselves. That’s why I continued.”

Six of the project’s 14 villages dropped out when the Owenses left. But with donations from the Owenses, Mr. Simwinga sustained the rest.

In 1999, his efforts were noticed by Harvest Help, a British charity that promotes environmentally friendly solutions to African poverty. With its help, Mr. Simwinga has expanded his wildlife clubs to 56 villages. He teaches sustainable farming, offers business advice, supports conservation education and even supplies medical necessities to traditional midwives. The Goldman Environmental Foundation, which sponsors the prize, estimates that Mr. Simwinga’s work has increased participant incomes a hundredfold and doubled family food supplies.

A few miles from Mpika, Mr. Simwinga stood one morning in the cornfield of Emeldah Mweemba, a 36-year-old mother of four, and explained how a reedy plant there improved production.

Partly by growing the plant, Mrs. Mweemba figures to increase her corn harvest to 8,800 pounds this year, up from 5,000 in 2005. But that is not all: her farm has a compost heap, two fish ponds, a beehive and coriander bushes that provide animal feed and nectar and hinder soil erosion. She no longer clears fields by burning, which wastes nutrients, and she recycles chicken and cow manure for fertilizer.

All this comes courtesy of Mr. Simwinga, who enrolled her seven years ago in one of his wildlife groups. The Mweemba farm has since added acreage and grown its cattle herd to 30 from four.

With her profits, Mrs. Mweemba now sends three of her children — the fourth is grown — to school, at a cost of $100 each.

Multiply the Mweemba farm by 2,000, and one gets an idea of Mr. Simwinga’s influence. Indeed, Harvest Help is curtailing its support, betting that the farmers can sustain themselves.

Mr. Simwinga says he is a bit awed by his $125,000 prize, and besieged by new friends who want to share it. He is uncertain how the money will be used.

Poachers now come to him, he says, seeking business strategies and sustainable farming tips. “They’re seeing that their friends are doing better than they are stealing meat from the bush,” he said, grinning.

Copyright (c) 2007  New York Times MICHAEL WINES

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