August 2008

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LUSAKA, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) — Zambia’s biggest opposition party, the Patriotic Front (PF), has unanimously nominated party leader Michael Sata as its candidate for the forthcoming presidential by-elections following the death of President Levy Mwanawasa, according to Sunday Mail.

    Accepting the nomination on Saturday after a central committee meeting held in Lusaka, Sata said the task ahead of him and the party was not easy, according to the Zambian newspaper.

    He said “I totally accept and will not let you down. We have to scrub this country and wash it.

    Sata said he do not want to behave like other politicians who have started campaigning even before Mwanawasa is laid to rest.

    The by-elections will be held within 3 months after the death of Mwanawasa.

    Mwanawasa died on August 19 in a French hospital, where he was evacuated to on July 1, after suffering a stroke in Egypt on June 29 this year.

Editor: Gao

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By Meluse Kapatamoyo

Lusaka. — The ruling Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) is headed for a major split following the death of Mwanawasa and the forth coming presidential by-elections. So far, it is unclear as to who the party will nominate for the presidency but opposition political parties have already announced their candidates. 

The MMD held its National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting on August 21. The NEC resolved that since the nation will be holding presidential elections soon, it’s imperative that a presidential candidate be immediately picked without necessarily going to the national convention, the body mandated to elect party office bearers, including the president who in turn stands on its ticket. Suffice to say that even President Mwanawasa was not chosen through the laid down MMD electoral process but was merely chosen by the NEC when he contested the 2001 general elections.

The party has found itself in unfortunate circumstances where both the position of MMD President and Vice-President is vacant. These positions, in accordance with MMD constitution, can only be filled by its convention. The NEC has opted to pick only a presidential candidate for the November elections. The position of president and vice will remain vacant.By September 5, 2008, the party would have chosen a person who they think would carry on Levy Mwanawasa’s legacy. Several statements, arguments and suggestions are being made throughout the country and so far, Finance Minister Ngandu Magande, former Works and Supply Minister Ludwig Sondashi, Health Minister Brian Chituwo, Constitution Review Commision (CRC) former chairman, Willa Mungomba, and former Vice-President Enock Kavindele have filed in their documents for consideration. Others being speculated include the Acting President Rupiah Banda and the former First Lady Maureen Mwanawasa.

Former minister in Mwanawasa’s cabinet, Dipak Patel, told the media recently that Magande was more capable to carry on Mwanawasa’s vision and this seemed to swing the balance of power with more voices coming in to his support.

In the midst of this uncertainty, who has a greater chance of being the MMD presidential candidates?

Rupiah Banda, 70, Acting President.

RB, as he is fondly called, was called out of retirement by Mwanawasa. Banda is said to have delivered an electoral bequest of Eastern Province for Mwanawasa and the MMD. He was rewarded with the position of Vice-President after the 2006 elections. He has wide influence among chiefs in eastern province although he still has some connection with the United National Independence Party of the Kaunda era.

An experienced diplomat and businessman, time has found him where he ought to be. He has guided the nation during the illness and death of Mwanawasa and remains instrumental during the transitional period.

If he won the MMD presidency, he could be a strong candidate against PF leader Michael Sata. He is courting a seemingly political lightweight Bwalya Chiti, a royal from the Bemba Royal Establishment to be his vice.

Bwalya Chiti is said to be a vicious backroom that has resources at his disposal from ICT companies that he recently sold.

The combination is already being referred to as The Dream ticket. This ticket is aimed at creating a formidable force against the resilient Patriotic Front (PF) leader, Michael Sata who commands wide political support in Northern, Luapula, Copperbelt and Lusaka based on the 2006 general elections.

If selected by the NEC, Rupiah Banda can legally use extensive state resources such as ZAF helicopters, media coverage and government motor vehicles in the campaign, without repercussion, since he is Acting President.

The leverage of the advantage of incumbency can widely benefit him. He has shown ability to deal with issues in an independent manner. Many are saying that UNIP trained its leaders well and Banda is such an example who promotes good, over blind loyalty and private agendas. Government spokesperson Mike Mulongoti, Mbita Chitala, former Zambian ambassodor to Libya and MMD spokesperson Benny Tetamashimba have since openly supported Banda and are said to have influence in the party.The First Republican Dr Kenneth Kaunda (KK) has allegedly been paying Banda regular “visits”. So are Banda’s former colleagues from UNIP. It is said that in the event that the MMD does not pick Banda as a candidate, UNIP or a new party will adopt him to ensure that Eastern province’s realistic chance at the presidency is sustained.

The MMD on the other hand regards RB as an outsider. He is yet to renounce his UNIP membership and some argue that he does not qualify to be an MMD presidential candidate.

He is termed as a UNIP member. He has no constituency since he was only nominated and his popularity remain untested. He was born in Gwanda, southern Zimbabwe , where his Zambian parents were migrant workers.

In one of his last meetings, Mwanawasa stated that he wanted a younger leader than himself to succeed him. This “disqualifies” Banda and 61-year old Magande against Mwanawasa’s wishes. Mwanawasa was 59 years.

Banda is a mere trustee in the party and his juniors in government are his party seniors. He seems to be reacting terribly slowly by remaining mute to events happening around the campaign from his opposing camps such as the First Lady, Maureen Mwanawasa, Magande and others.

Maureen Mwanawasa

Despite the odds pitted against her, Maureen seems resolute to contest the position though party spokesperson Benny Tetamashimba argues that the First Lady will not rescind her earlier position that she would not contest the elections. She seemingly wants to use a sympathy vote by claiming that she is best suited to take-over from her husband and complete the vision she shared with her husband. She is most likely going to put together Mwanawasa’s vision as “theirs”. A privately owned newspaper, The Post of 24 August, 2008 carried an editorial praising her and urging her

to respond to the call to honour her husband’s legacy by sharing what the late president envisaged for Zambia.

”If for a moment, she thinks that she is going to mourn, weep and cry like the rest of us and then attend to her husband’s legacy later, there will be no legacy…Maureen has no choice but to make herself available, whenever needed, to make clear what her husband’s legacy is,” The Post said.

Despite the tradition and culture sensitivity surrounding Maureen as widow, there is an attempt by some sections of the MMD to continue “milking” the Mwanawasa family, a common practice among cadres who do not believe that there is an end to everything. They see the First Lady as a saviour — nothing else.

Ngandu Peter Magande

He is seen as an establishment candidate with support from a wider section of the society especially the business sector. The finance minister and former Africa Carribean and Pacific countries (ACP) economist is credited with stabilising the exchange rate, bringing down inflation rate and has helped bring in foreign direct investments and shore up donor support to Zambia.

He has aligned well with his long-time colleague and friend from the UNIP government, Bank of Zambia Governor, Dr Caleb Fundanga, to manage the economy. Magande’s deputy and Mwanawasa’s nephew, Jonas Shakafuswa has publicly supported him.

Magande joined Mwanawasa as his Finance Minister, when Emmanuel Kasonde was fired. Magande was the late United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Anderson Mazoka’s economic advisor and has suffered the tag of “outsider”.

His constituency seat is in Chilanga, Lusaka , and it is doubted if he can bring an electoral win even to his area of origin– Southern Province.

His past attempts to stand as an MP in the Southern Province failed but his win of Chilanga seat in 2006 was strongly disputed by his opponents. Evidence of serious and glaring acts of rigging and fraud were cited. The Supreme Court has, however, recently ruled that Magande was duly elected.

It is feared that the support he received from Dipak Patel, a non-MMD member, but a very influential person especially among the business elite, merely represents a powerful but unelected clique known to control and shape policies of this country in the Mwanawasa presidency.

The other presidential aspirants will certainly contest but it would be a difficult decision by the MMD to choose either of them other than the above.

The opposition

Michael Chilufya Sata

He remains the clear front-runner to win this election although his age, health and his foreign policy will deter him from winning the presidency.

His decision to reconcile with Mwanawasa, when he returned from South Africa from his medical treatment, has put him in good stead and as a leader with far sights.

Despite being popular in the urban setting of Lusaka and the Copperbelt, it remains unclear if he would win in Southern, Central, Western, Eastern and North-western provinces and for him to concentrate on the Copperbelt, Lusaka, Luapula and Northern provinces may not give him a clear victory.

On the foreign policy, after those alarming statements by his policies on China , Zimbabwe, Taiwan, and his other central policies seem to have received subtle revision. He has since dropped public rhetoric of “anti-Chinese and anti-Indian” approaches seemed to have gone under revision.

His harsh treatment of the 26 MPs that rebelled against him has earned wide criticism. Many wonder how he is capable of forgiving and reconciling with his arch-rival and arch-enemy, Mwanawasa and yet refuse to bring to the fold his own MPs, in the name of discipline. This has sent a chilling effect and reinforced the fear of dictatorial tendencies.

The 26 MPs have, however, no effect on the coming elections since no constituency is under election. This is a presidential election that can allow Sata to use party structures other than MPs.

His strong relationship with the Catholic is beneficial as he quickly picks the church social struggles and issues them as his. Sata, Mwanawasa and other leaders were the architects of the National Constitution Conference, but when the Catholic opposed it, he quickly joined in and rescinded his earlier position.

Zambia is currently in the process of enacting a new constitution that is expected to address important issues missing in the current document through a delegated body, acting through a piece of legslation, drawn from a wider selection of society.

With more than 400 members, the NCC will deliberate and formulate a draft constitution that will later be passed on to parliament for further debate and scrutiny before adoption.

Hakainde Hichilema

HH recently cooperated with Sata and held a joint and well attended public rally against salary increments for constitutional officers. They were joined by civil society groupings and trade unions. At this rally, Sata presented HH as his running mate and showed as though an electoral pact had been sealed. There was a wild cheer from the crowd. The alliance presented itself as sure winner with safe guards to beat and insulate against state riggings.

Many held their breath. Sata did not seem to treat HH as his colleague and partner. He kept on referring to HH as “calculator boy”, “computer boy”, “under five” combined with good praises for HH’s decision to join hands to defeat the MMD.

Many feared that the alliance would not hold. It wasn’t founded well like the Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD), UNIP, and UPND which formed United Democratic Alliance (UDA) in the 2006 elections. It was preceded by shallow discussions without depth and wide consultation. The alliance that never was, quickly collapsed.Many saw that this was the quickest way for HH to raise his profile and have a fair chance to be president some day.

With the demise of Mwanawasa, the UPND quickly announced that HH would contest the elections and so far campaigns by his party cadres have started. Many people think that HH is a reasonable leader who at one time Mwanawasa had invited to run government together but he declined. He is seen as a potential young leader who may just surprise many if the MMD disintegrates. There is absolutely no reason why he can’t be a good president but the stigma that surrounded his coming into politics, when Mazoka died still haunts his party, which is sometimes referred to as tribal.

Godfrey Miyanda

He is respectable politician whom most people hold in high esteem. However, because he has failed to run the Heritage party and also has not opened up to work with other politicians, he is seen as a loner. He, however, has a great chance of becoming a president if he worked with parties like the MMD and the UPND. He also has a following among Christians and teachers whom he associates with at different levels. He is also seen as a Mr Clean.

Although it would be too early to predict the outcome of the presidential by-elections, history is being rewritten in the Zambian political scenario. There is likely to be a surprise but looking at the past, one of the above candidates may scoop the post. We just have to wait and see.

Source: Southern Times

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LUSAKA, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) — Eleven African heads of state are expected to arrive in Zambia on Tuesday to attend the late President Levy Mwanawasa’s burial, Minister of Foreign Affairs Kabinga Pande said in an interview in Lusaka Thursday.

    The heads of state would arrive in the country on Tuesday, except for South African President Thabo Mbeki, who would be in Lusaka on the actual burial day Wednesday, according Zambia Daily Mail.

    Pande said African Union (AU) Commission chairperson Jean Ping and former Malawian president Bakili Muluzi had also confirmed that they would come to Zambia.

    Pande said Lesotho would send their Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.

    The heads of state expected include Seretse Ian Khama of Botswana, Chadian leader Idriss Deby, Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    Others are Rwandese President Paul Kagame, Armando Geubuza of Mozambique, Marc Ravalomanana of Madagascar and Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba.

Editor: Wang Hongjiang

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By Times Reporter

HOME Affairs Minister, Ronnie Shikapwasha and former Republican vice-president, Nevers Mumba have joined the race to become the MMD candidate in the forthcoming presidential by-elections.

Lieutenant-General Shikapwasha confirmed the development from Kabwe where he was awaiting the arrival of the body of Dr Mwanawasa while Dr Mumba confirmed his application in Lusaka yesterday.

The duo joined other contenders, who include acting President Rupiah Banda, former vice-president, Enoch Kavindele, former Works and Supply minister, Ludwig Sondashi, businessman, Sebastian Kopulande and former Constitution Review Commission (CRC) chairman, Willa Mung’omba.

Gen Shikapwasha, who is Keembe member of Parliament (MP), said he decided to join the race after wide consultations with party members.

“I can confirm that I am going for the position because this has been done after wide consultation. I cannot say much but I hope I will be given a chance to serve the nation,” he said.

He said the fight against corruption had to continue following the death of President Mwanawasa, and that was the only way of honouring him.

In an interview, Dr Mumba confirmed that he had presented his application to the MMD secretariat but refused to comment further.

Asked when he rejoined the MMD after having been Reform Party (RP) president, Dr Mumba said the MMD secretariat had all those details.

“I have applied but for further details you can contact the secretariat,” Dr Mumba said.

Dr Mumba, 48, was a presidential candidate in 2001 and he lost to the late President Mwanawasa, who in May 2003 appointed him vice-president, the position he held until October 2004 when he was dropped.

He holds an honourary doctorate from Flint and an associate degree from Christ for the Nations Institute in the United States of America.

The MMD presidential candidate would be chosen by the party’s national executive committee currently comprising 55 members on September 5.

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LUSAKA, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) — The World Bank has said fuel taxation in Zambia should be reviewed more periodically, Times of Zambia reported on Thursday.

    World Bank country manager for Zambia Kapil Kapoor was quoted as saying that periodic reviews would enable the country to check if the resulting domestic price harms the competitiveness.

    Kapoor said if such an analysis shows that petroleum costs are too high compared with other countries, particularly those which compete with Zambia, the government must review and reduce fuel taxes as many other countries have done.

    Kapoor said several countries are already reviewing their petroleum tax structures and that India, Pakistan and Ghana have reduced customs duty on petroleum products.

    He said a review of the levels of petroleum taxation is very important for a landlocked country like Zambia, according to Times of Zambia.

    Zambia has one of the highest fuel prices compared to other economies in the region, a factor which has been cited as one of the major contributing factors to the high cost of production.

Editor: Wang Hongjiang

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LUSAKA, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) — The Financial Markets Association of Zambia (FMAZ) expects a short-term volatility in Zambian currency, Kwacha, before Zambia holds fresh presidential by-elections, Zambia Daily Mail reported Wednesday.

    Kwacha lost 225 points (or 6.6 per cent) due to anxiety and uncertainty in the market following the death of President Levy Mwanawasa on Aug 19.

    FMAZ president Carmen Hachandi said news of the death of President Mwanawasa affected negatively the local currency last week.

    However, she was quick to point out that the Bank of Zambia had pledged to support the foreign exchange market with any large orders on a need basis.

    Hachandi said on Aug. 18 that the inter-bank rate traded at 3,390 and 3,410 kwacha for buying and selling.

Editor: Wang Hongjiang

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LUSAKA (AFP) — Zambia’s Vice President Rupiah Banda and two other cabinet ministers have announced bids to succeed President Levy Mwanawasa who died last week, a ruling party official said Wednesday.

“Three from cabinet have applied so far,” said the official, adding that Banda, currently the acting president, will slug it out with Finance Minister Ngandu Magande and Health Minister Brian Chituwo.

Three other senior figures, former vice president Enock Kavindele, former works and supply minister Ludwig Sondashi and former Africa Development Bank president Wila Mung’omba have also announced their candidature.

“The closing date for application is Friday. So we may have a lot more candidates,” said the official of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), who declined to be named.

Banda, 71, is seen as a front-runner for the position as many believe he can offer stability and continuity in the southern African country.

“Yes, I am standing,” Magande told AFP when asked about his candidacy.

The National Executive Committee of the MMD will meet on September 5 to pick a candidate for the poll, the date for which is yet to be fixed.

Under the constitution, presidential elections must be held within 90 days of Mwanawasa’s death.

Mwanawasa died in a Paris hospital last week after suffering a stroke. He will be buried after a state funeral on September 3. The government said nine African heads of state have confirmed they will attend the funeral in Lusaka.

Copyright © 2008 AFP. All rights reserved

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Indo-Zambia Bank limited has contributed K45 million towards the expanses for the State funeral of President Levy Mwanawasa.

The contribution which has already been handed over to the Bank of Zambia is the first by a commercial bank after the central bank requested various banks to open accounts for the State funeral expenses.

And speaking after receiving the cheque, Bank of Zambia Governor, Caleb Fundanga commended Indo Zambia Bank for the gesture.

Dr. Fundanga said government alone could not meet the state funeral expenses because they were enormous.

He said the gesture is also in line with the Zambian tradition of contributing and gathering resources for the funeral to ease the burden of the mourners.

Dr. Fundanga has urged Zambians to contribute towards meeting the state funeral expenses by depositing their money in commercial banks.

The commercial banks in turn will transfer the money to an account at Bank of Zambia.

The Central Bank will later hand over the money to cabinet office.

And Dr. Fundanga said his institution has also opened a book of condolences in honour of President Mwanawasa.

Earlier, Indo Zambia Bank Managing Director, Cyril Patro commended the Bank of Zambia for calling upon commercial banks to contribute towards meeting President Mwanawasa’s funeral expenses.

Mr. Patro said the bank’s initiative would help sustain government’s expenditure during the national mourning period.

Source: ZNCB

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By Shapi Shacinda

LUSAKA (Reuters) – The widow of late Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa chased chief opposition leader Michael Sata away from a funeral gathering on Monday following what the government described as Sata’s provocative behaviour.

Sata and Information Minister Mike Mulongoti both confirmed the incident in Chipata, 580 km (360 miles) east of the capital Lusaka, where Mwanawasa’s body was taken for review ahead of burial on September 3.

“I have been chased from the funeral,” the privately owned Radio Phoenix quoted Sata as saying via telephone.

“I have not come here for campaigns, but to mourn my closest friend,” Sata told journalists from state media in Chipata.

Mulongoti told journalists in Lusaka: “I have been told by officials on the ground that Mr Sata said provocative words to the first lady.”

“I would like to appeal to all politicians to behave in a manner that is dignified. No one should use this funeral to be provocative. People should not start to use this funeral to campaign (for the presidential) elections,” he added.

Maureen Mwanawasa and Sata have had a longstanding rivalry, stemming from statements made by the opposition leader a few years ago. Sata was quoted in local media as saying she lacked respect and required the advice of marriage counsellors.

Sata and the late Mwanawasa, who also had a bitter rivalry for many years, reconciled in May.

Secretary to the cabinet Joshua Kanganja separately said Mwanawasa’s burial would now take place in Lusaka and not his Palabana farm near the capital as announced earlier.

“The late (Mwanawasa) will be put to rest at the Embassy Park … it has been resolved to change the venue where he shall be put to rest,” Kanganja said in a statement.

Mwanawasa died in Paris last Tuesday, after suffering his a stroke in late June.

Vice President Rupiah Banda is acting as president until new elections are called. Under Zambia’s constitution an election must be called within 90 days of the presidential office becoming vacant.

The presidential term is five years, but the next president will complete the remainder of Mwanawasa’s term before seeking re-election for another five years in 2011.

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LUSAKA, Aug. 26(Xinhua) — The Zambian government will establish farming blocks in all districts by 2010, Times of Zambia reported on Tuesday.

    Agriculture and Cooperatives Deputy Minister Albert Mulonga was quoted as saying that inadequate funding had delayed the program that is aimed at promoting crop diversification and enhancing output from the agriculture sector.

    Mulonga said there is need to encourage crop diversification in order for the country to realize full growth in the agriculture sector. He explained that currently there are less than 10 farming blocks in the country.

    Mulonga also stressed the need for farmers to develop canals in areas where there are natural water bodies like rivers and streams for the purpose of sustaining agriculture during the dry season.

    He urged farmers to seriously diversify crops instead of relying heavily on maize, adding that diversification is vital to the performance of the agriculture sector.

Editor: Wang Hongjiang

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