LUSAKA (Reuters) – Zambian inflation rose to 14.7 percent year-on-year in May but the government remained optimistic it could meet a target of 10 percent in December with annual GDP growth at 5.8 percent, officials said on Thursday.
The Central Statistical Office (CSO) said the annual rate of inflation increased from 14.3 percent in April.
“The (rise) in the annual inflation rate in May was due to the increase in some prices of some food and non-food products,” the CSO said in a statement.
The CSO also said Zambia recorded a trade deficit of 135.5 billion kwacha in April after imports came in at 1.56 trillion kwacha, compared with exports of 1.43 trillion kwacha.
Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane said the Treasury was optimistic that inflation would begin to decline and end the year at 10 percent following a bumper maize crop, which was likely to push food prices down.
“I am quite optimistic that the larger crop harvest this year will help to bring down inflation,” Musokotwane told a news conference.
LUSAKA, 27 May 2009 (PlusNews) – Foreign aid for government health projects in Zambia, where most of the national health budget is donor-funded, was frozen last week after allegations of corruption.
The governments of the Netherlands and Sweden announced they had suspended aid after a whistleblower alerted Zambia’s Anti-Corruption Commission [ACC] to the embezzlement of over US$2 million from the health ministry by top government officials.
“The misuse of Dutch taxpayers’ money is unacceptable,” said Development Cooperation Minister Bert Koenders in a statement, adding that Dutch aid would be put on hold until the ACC and Zambia’s Auditor General released the findings from their investigations.
Donors fund 55 percent of the country’s health budget. The Dutch government, the largest supporter of Zambia’s tuberculosis (TB) programme, contributes about 13 million euros (US$18 million) annually to rural healthcare, preventing malaria, TB and HIV, and training medical staff.
The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) had earmarked 88 million kroner (about $12 million) for Zambia’s health ministry before the scandal broke, but will now await the ACC’s findings before releasing the funds.
“SIDA will not accept any abuse of development money,” Charlotta Norrby, head of SIDA in Zambia, told local media.
Nkandu Luo, a former health minister, told IRIN/PlusNews that the suspension of funding could compromise the health of many Zambians: “This decision by donors is a crisis and it’s important [to] address the concerns of the donors … and restore support to the Ministry of Health.”
But government spokesperson Ronnie Shikapwasha said it was still not clear whether the money in question included donor funds. “Government is currently engaging donors on the revelations concerning the plunder of public resources in the Ministry of Health,” he told IRIN/PlusNews. “We want to ensure that operations go on smoothly and the poor people, for whom that aid is meant, do not suffer.”
He said the government was working hard to make certain that all the culprits were brought to book and the stolen money recovered, and urged the donor community to “help us to make our system more transparent … to ensure that this sad development does not repeat itself in the future.”
About 14 percent of Zambia’s 11.7 million people are HIV positive, and about half the estimated 300,000 people in need of antiretroviral (ARV) medication obtain it from government clinics and hospitals.
“HIV/AIDS is one of the biggest challenges that we have in the country, and the programmes will be affected – there is very little money coming from our government,” said Luo.
“The suspension of donor aid … will affect service delivery,” agreed Swebby Macha, president of the Zambia Medical Association. “Especially in the areas of drug supply and equipment, preventive programmes of HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB, and the rural retention scheme for our health workers. As things stand … the government will have to run the health sector with 45 percent funding.”
Shikapwasha said it was too soon to say what impact the suspension of donor funding would have on the health sector, but Georgina Mutila, an HIV-positive widow in the capital, Lusaka, said she was “very much afraid” that the supply of free ARV and TB drugs would be affected. “Our friends who have money might afford to buy ARVs, but for some of us that will be a problem.”
President Rupiah Banda, who was voted into office in October 2008 after the death of his predecessor, Levy Mwanawasa, has repeatedly been accused of being soft on corruption.
COPENHAGEN (AP) — The U.N. chief said Monday that a second nuclear test by North Korea would represent “a clear violation” of a United Nations Security Council resolution.
The 15-nation council has called an emergency session on the matter for later Monday at U.N. headquarters in New York.“I sincerely hope that the Security Council will take necessary corresponding measures,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told The Associated Press, declining to specify what further measures, or sanctions, he would urge the council members to take.
Ban, who was in Copenhagen for a global business summit on climate change, said he would closely monitor the meeting in New York.
New testing by North Korea would undermine peace and security in the region, Ban said, and he urged the communist nation “to refrain from taking any actions which will deteriorate the situation.”
“I’m deeply disturbed by a report of nuclear testing,” he said. “If it is confirmed, it is a clear violation of Security Council resolution 1718 of 2006. And it runs counter to the ongoing international community’s efforts to curb nuclear proliferations.”
Ban also said the announcement from the nation’s official news agency that it carried out an underground nuclear test Monday far bigger than one conducted three years ago “will create negative impact to ongoing negotiation on nuclear disarmament.”
“They should have come to the dialogue table and resolved all the issues through peaceful means,” he said. Nuclear testing by North Korea “creates tensions in the region and it creates negative impact to regional peace and security.”
An underground nuclear test, along with a series of test-firings of ground-to-air missiles claimed by North Korea on Monday swiftly drew international condemnation.
European Union Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said he “strongly condemns that provocation from the North Korea regime.”
“I hope the international community will be very clear in its reaction. I also encourage the North to refrain from all kinds of provocation,” Barroso said at a news conference.
Russia’s Defense Ministry has confirmed that an atomic explosion occurred at 9:54 a.m. local time (0054 GMT) in northeastern North Korea. It also estimated that the blast’s yield was 10 to 20 kilotons — similar in strength those that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki and hastened the end of World War II.
Pyongyang’s regime also test-fired three short-range, ground-to-air missiles later Monday from the same northeastern site where it launched a rocket last month, the Yonhap news agency reported, citing unnamed sources.
The U.N. Security Council rebuked North Korea for that rocket liftoff, which many nations saw as a cover for testing its long-range missile technology.
Associated Press Writer Jan M. Olsen contributed to this report.
WILSMLOW-BASED CHARITY NAMES SINGER AS NEWEST PATRON
– Dance diva Rozalla speaks out for Africa’s street children
Dance diva Rozalla Miller has pledged her support to the Wilmslow-based charity All Star Kids by becoming their latest high profile patron.
Rozalla Miller - New Patron For All Star Kids
Rozalla, who was born in Zambia, and brought up in Zimbabwe, was catapulted into the world club scene when her famous dance anthem ‘Everybody’s Free’ stormed the UK charts in 1991.
Now the new ambassador for All Star Kids, Rozalla says she is privileged to be a part of the work that the charity is doing to help make a positive change to the lives of children in Africa by providing a safe place to live, health care and education.
Commenting on her new role, Rozalla says: “As somebody who was born in Zambia and raised in Zimbabwe, the fact the charity works in those two countries made it of great interest for me to get involved. Also I’ve always had a view that education is the most important thing in any child’s life.
“I will be raising its profile wherever possible in the UK, and whenever I travel to see my family in Zambia and Zimbabwe I will make sure I do whatever possible to visit and see some of the children the charity is helping.
“Everyone is aware of how difficult things are in Zimbabwe, but beyond this, having grown up in both countries I think I will understand some of the cultures and national characteristics, which in turn will help me be a better patron.”
Chris Clarke, Chairman of All Star Kids, says: “It’s fantastic to have Rozalla on board, she is totally committed to do anything she can to help the charity.”
“We are certainly privileged to have her support and we look forward to seeing the difference we can make together to the lives of children in Africa, helping to ensure that every child grows up in a safe, productive and loving atmosphere where they can reach their full potential.”
The charity, which supports and offers hope and an education to street children in Africa, also saw international runway model Rosemary Chileshe and Sky World News reader Lukwesa Burak become patrons earlier this year.
All Star Kids was originally founded in 2000 as the Andy Cole Children’s Foundation. More recently the charity has re-launched and has changed its name to “All Star Kids” to better reflect its focus – on children – the real stars who they work with.
All Star Kids has launched a number of innovative fundraising projects to help support its work including a search to donate website at www.fightthefamine.com and a video sharing website for all charities at www.madtube.org
Rozalla is best known for her smash dance anthem ‘Everybody’s Free’. The track rocketed her into the world club scene, a scene she continues to enjoy and thrive in, regularly performing for her strong fan base. She has recently released her debut single ‘For Lovers’ from her latest album ‘Brand New Version’, which features 10 beautifully written and crafted tracks.
The Zambian Chronicle has learnt that two Patriot Front Youth members named Frank Lombe and Alex Mulenga sustained injuries after being beaten by the cadres on Friday at the Party Secretariat.
The two had gone to the Secretariat attempting to present a petition to Party President Michael C Sata not to contest the 2,011 Presidential Election. After the ordeal, Mr. Lombe pleaded with the Zambian youth not to support leaders who support hooliganism.
The Zambian Chronicle has been running a poll to collect the actual sentiments from the voting public and the results have been shocking for a while. We continue to encourage every one to participate below.
Meanwhile, the MMD in Eastern Province has supported calls from various party organs for President, Rupiah Banda, to contest the 2011 Presidential polls. MMD Eastern Province Chairman, Kennedy Zulu, says President Banda has demonstrated that he is a mature leader and level headed.
He said President Banda has continued to address problems facing the nation, despite some people insulting him. Mr. Zulu disclosed that the MMD in the Eastern Province will support the president and ensure that he wins in 2011.
And Mr. Zulu has commended President Banda for his tough stance against corruption. He said a recent directive issued by President Banda that all ministries be investigated should be supported by all.