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The Times of Zambia (Ndola)
Posted to the web 10 December 2007

THE United Party for National Development (UPND) has decided to attend the National Constitution Conference (NCC) and fight for a better Republican Constitution within the conference.

UPND President Hakainde Hichilema said in Lusaka yesterday although the party was not happy about the Government’s refusal to amend the NCC Act and address various concerns, it decided to attend the NCC in the interest of the nation.

Speaking during a Press briefing at the UPND secretariat, Mr Hichilema said the UPND National Management Committee (NMC) resolved that the party should continue fighting the battle of the Constitution within the NCC, the referendum and finally in Parliament.

“At the level reached in the Constitution making process, our party’s NMC which met on Friday December 7, 2007 decided to carry the fight into NCC.“As a party, the UPND will continue to act as a whistle blower in the Constitution making process and fight any machinations to make a bad Constitution for the people of Zambia,” he said.

Mr Hichilema said when the NCC Bill went to Parliament, UPND moved amendments to take into account stakeholders’ concerns.He said the concerns were, among other things, the need to increase the composition of the NCC and include those who decided to stay away.

“In our attempt to achieve amicable resolution of outstanding issues which many stakeholders felt were not addressed in the NCC Act, we also held meetings with the Ministers of Justice, Information and Lands. “Subsequently we wrote letters to the Head of state dated October 9 2007 and a reminder dated November 18 both of which were not responded to,” he said.

Mr Hichilema said the UPND members of Parliament (MPs) and councillors would fight for the interests of the Zambian people.He said the UPND had been consistent on the Constitution making process and that it wanted a Constitution that would stand the taste of time.

Mr Hichilema said at the NCC, the party would fight among many other things, that the republican president should be elected by 50 per cent plus one of the valid votes.The election date, Mr Hichilema said, should be enshrined in the Constitution and that the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) should be independent.

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He said stakeholders such as the Church and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) should be represented on the ECZ, as was the case in South Africa and Mozambique.

“The Chief Justice should not be the returning officer for the presidential elections, but the chairperson of the independent electoral commission,” he said.

The UPND also recommended that there should be a mixed proportional representation system of elections to Parliament.

Mr Hichilema said MPs defecting to other political parties and creating unnecessary by-elections should not be allowed to re-contest their seats for the remaining life of that Parliament.

Chief Government spokesperson Mike Mulongoti welcomed the decision by the UPND.Mr Mulongoti said, however, it was sad that the UPND had taken a confrontational stance on the NCC by saying that it would give the MMD a good run in the Constitution making process.

“For us as Government we welcome the participation. The spirit should be for people to go to the conference. It is about making a law and the MMD is going there just like any other party,” he said. 

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Published:Dec 07, 2007



Zambia’s government has begun renegotiating fixed tax agreements held by international mining firms with a view to effecting the new tax measures early next year.

Zambia’s finance minister announced plans to increase taxes paid by copper mining firms so that the Zambians can also reap the benefit of high copper prices and the commodity boom.

Revenues from copper, which is currently trading at about US$3.00/lb on the international market, make up more than half of Zambia’s gross domestic product.

Most big mining firms in Zambia signed legally binding development agreements with the government, allowing them to operate at a fixed tax rate for a period between 15 to 25 years.

According to The Times of Zambia, these agreements for lower taxes were signed with investors at a time when the prices of copper on the foreign market were very low.

The concessions were granted to the mining investors in 2000, but their tax contribution no longer corresponds with their revenues following soaring metal prices on the international market.

Announcing plans to increase the royalties paid by copper mining firms, Zambia’s finance and national planning minister Ng’andu Magande said it had become apparent that there was a need for further reform in the country’s fiscal and regulatory regime if the people of Zambia were to benefit equitably from their natural resources.

Magande said copper mining firms in Zambia were expected to earn US$3.5 billion in revenue this year, but would only pay a tax contribution of US$198 million to government, “which is low”.

“It is therefore important that mining companies should contribute more to the government,” Magande said.

He said a lot of work had already been done towards developing an optimal fiscal and regulatory regime for the mining sector, and he expected to be able to provide a comprehensive statement on the new mining tax regime in the country’s 2008 budget address.

However, he warned the planned optimal fiscal and regulatory regime when implemented might render the current and future development agreements irrelevant.

Zambia’s mineral royalty is pegged at 0.6%, which is said to be one of the lowest in the world, but government intends to increase it to around three percent.

Source: The Times – RSA

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lpm.jpgLUSAKA (AFP) — Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa has urged the British prime minister to continue speaking out against Zimbabwe until a solution is found to the country’s crises, media reported Sunday.

Mwanawasa, who heads the southern African regional bloc SADC, welcomed the pressure Gordon Brown was putting on Harare but expressed disappointment at his boycott of next weekend’s EU-Africa summit in Portugal, reports said.

The British premier has said he would not attend the meeting if Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is there.

“I have said the nation faces a lot of challenges. Now, he (Brown) shouldn’t get tired of speaking and he must continue until the harvest (of his efforts),” privately-owned The Sunday Post newspaper quoted Mwanawasa as saying.

“I appeal to Brown and the entire British nation that they should continue with their efforts until the situation in Zimbabwe has been resolved,” he was quoted as telling reporters on Saturday in Lusaka.

State-owned newspapers such as The Sunday Mail and The Sunday Times also reported the story. “Do not give up on Zimbabwe”, wrote the Mail’s headline.

Zimbabwe is currently in the throes of an economic crisis.

sadcmap.jpgIt has the world’s highest rate of inflation — about 8,000 percent — while four in every five people are unemployed and 80 percent of the population live below the poverty threshold.

Mwanawasa, who spoke as he was leaving for Germany, en route to Portugal for the summit, welcomed the fact that Brown has agreed to send a representative to the Lisbon meeting.

The Zambian leader, who heads the 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC), once likened the situation in neighbouring Zimbabwe to that of a ‘sinking titanic’ where citizens were jumping out to seek refuge in other countries.

Copyright © 2007 AFP. All rights reserved

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Boxer Esther Phiri (l.) weighed in Friday before defending her title by defeating Belinda Laracuente of the US (r.) in Lusaka, Zambia.Lusaka, Zambia – The surge of young Zambian girls chanting “Esth-ah, Esth-ah, Esth-ah!” told the story Saturday night as Esther Phiri waved triumphantly to the crowd at Woodlands Stadium in the Zambian capital of Lusaka.

Moments earlier, Ms. Phiri had successfully defended her Global Boxing Union super featherweight world title, winning against Belinda Laracuente, a more experienced and polished American fighter, and adding another victory to her improbable run as the first female boxing champion from this southern African nation.

To many observers, Phiri – a single mother and former street vendor with little education who is now a household name – could strike a large blow for women in a country where major gender inequalities remain in everything from sports to politics to HIV/AIDS.

That’s a tall order for a young woman who only recently emerged from Mutendere – the impoverished area that many of Lusaka’s urban poor call home – and who is now grappling with the confusion of newfound fame. But with encouragement from her corporate sponsor, the National Milling Corporation Ltd., the soft-spoken Phiri is beginning to use her celebrity to set an example for Zambian children.

Phiri says she sees herself as a role model for Africans. “It’s not good to be staying idle,” she says, explaining that young girls in Zambia’s hardscrabble neighborhoods often fall prey to drinking and prostitution. “I just give them encouragement. “Everything has changed because of boxing,” Phiri adds.

Before, “I lacked something to do with my life. God blesses me through boxing.” After her father died when she was in sixth grade, Phiri – one of eight children – was forced to leave school and sell vegetables on the street. Then, at the age of 16, she became pregnant.

How Phiri got her start as a boxer

But after taking up boxing as part of a local initiative promoting HIV-awareness and participation in sports, Phiri was introduced in 2003 to Anthony “Preacher Man” Mwamba, a retired Zambian boxer who advanced to the quarterfinals of the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul and now works as a trainer.

“When we met that time she was just a novice, but she had heart,” says Mr. Mwamba, who took Phiri under his wing. “She didn’t even know she could be someone.” By July of 2005, Mwamba had Phiri in the ring. Her early fights included a draw and a series of losses, and there were no frills – they traveled long distances by bus.

Male boxers didn’t make things easy. “They used to insult me,” says Phiri with a laugh, recalling how they said she just came to the ring because she wanted to be near the men.

But in late 2006, Phiri stepped into an unscheduled fight in Nairobi, Kenya, with the the reigning Women’s International Boxing Federation (WIBF) Intercontinental Junior Lightweight titleholder, Kelli Cofer of Ohio, and won an eight-round decision. The win and the resulting publicity made Phiri a household name.

Billboards with her picture line streets and the government television broadcaster carries her fights live. Newly rich by Zambian standards, Phiri, her daughter, and her mother now live in a bigger house in a middle-class Lusaka neighborhood. National Milling is paying for Phiri, who was previously illiterate, to complete her education and to learn to drive her new car.

The champ gives back

Phiri has donated money and clothes to a local orphanage and visits with players in a youth soccer league. In talks with kids, Phiri stresses the importance of sports as a way to boost confidence for young Zambian women and help them avoid the pitfalls of sexually transmitted infections and early pregnancy.

“She’s ventured into ground that was a domain for men,” says Mwiika Malindima, chairman of the Gender and Media Southern Africa Network in Zambia. “I think she’s a role model for many women.” But Mr. Malindima and others would like to see her do more community work with women.

And Zarina Geloo, a local newspaper owner, says that the largely uneducated Phiri, surrounded by men in the world of boxing, is still not fully aware of just how influential she could be in her new role as a prominent female citizen. Navigating the challenges of fame has not been easy, Phiri says.

She’s receiving advice from all corners, including Zambia’s president, Levy Mwanawasa, who met with Phiri and counseled her to be wary of men and not to squander her newfound fame and fortune. Aside from boxing, Phiri wants to finish school and says she has a “business mind.”

Phiri’s next fight is in March, and her promoters are dreaming of securing a bout in Las Vegas. Still, while Phiri now holds two world titles, finding other sponsors for a female boxer in the region remains a challenge. But many Zambians, including males, are just happy to have a champion.

As one young Zambian man shouted with a smile upon seeing an American leave Phiri’s Saturday night victory – “Zambia is strong!”

Source: Christian Science Monitor

 

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(Moscow) — Vladimir Putin’s party won more than 60 percent of the vote with nearly half of precincts counted Sunday in a parliamentary election that could pave the way for him to remain the country’s leader even after he steps down as president.

The vote followed a tense Kremlin campaign that relied on a combination of persuasion and intimidation to ensure victory for Putin’s United Russia party.

With ballots from 47.1 percent of precincts counted, United Russia was leading with 63.2 percent, while the Communists — the only opposition party to win seats — trailed with 11.5 percent, the Central Election Commission said. Exit polls seemed to corroborate the early results.

The Kremlin has portrayed the election as a plebiscite on Putin’s nearly eight years as president — with the promise that a major victory would allow him somehow to remain the country’s leader after his second term ends next year.

Putin is constitutionally prohibited from running for a third consecutive term, but he clearly wants to stay in power. A movement has sprung up in recent weeks to urge him to become a “national leader,” though what duties and powers that would entail are unclear.

Source: Time Magazine

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Photo

U.S. President George W. Bush greets Bridget Michelo Chisenga of the Catholic Relief Service of Zambia after a World AIDS Day meeting at the Calvery United Methodist Church in Mount Airy, Maryland, November 30, 2007.   

Meanwhile, President Bush is urging Congress to approve the doubling of the U.S. commitment in the global fight against HIV and AIDS.

 

 Bush announced his intent to double America’s commitment to fighting global HIV/AIDS with the addition of $30 billion for the next five years.  

Mr. Bush Friday said he was confident that U.S. lawmakers would show leadership by authorizing his proposal to spend $30 billion over the next five years.

Mr. Bush spoke after meeting in a Maryland church with AIDS activists from various religious communities. He said World AIDS Day is a time of both sadness and hope. The day is marked around the world each year on December 1.

He said those who have lost their lives to HIV/AIDS are mourned, while there is hope for improvements in the lives of those who are infected, and in eradicating the infection.

Mr. Bush also announced he and his wife Laura Bush will travel to sub-Saharan Africa early next year, possibly including Zambia in his itinerary. Should that happen, Mr. Bush would be the first sitting US President to ever visit the Zambian Enterprise.

classy-daddy-3.gifIn a statement for World AIDS Day, the head of UNAIDS, Peter Piot, said there is still a serious shortfall in resources for AIDS, and stigma and discrimination surrounding the disease continue to prevail.

UNAIDS last week lowered its estimate of worldwide HIV infections, saying 32.7 million people were living with the virus in 2006 – nearly seven million fewer than previously estimated. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS … thanks a trillion.

Brainwave R Mumba, Sr.

CEO & President – Zambian Chronicle

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