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By ZamChro Correspondent

Algeria beat hosts Zambia 2-0 Saturday (June 20th) at Konkola Stadium in Chililabombwe to take the lead in Group C of the African/World Cup combined qualifiers and prove that the historic win over Egypt was just the beginning of a spectacular run. 

From Bechar to Batna, Saida to Skikda, cities across Algeria turned into a sea of green and white. Streets which had been empty while the match was televised were suddenly filled with jubilant fans. 

The dream of seeing the national side make it through to the World Cup – for the first time since 1986 – is now a real possibility. 

Despite a whirlwind start from the Copper Bullets, the Algerians skilfully fended off Zambia’s attacks. Hervé Renard’s players banked on their ability to surprise the Algerians right from the start of the match, but Algeria’s defenders stood their ground and gained in confidence, while their forwards began threatening Zambia’s defence. 

The pressure culminated in the 21st minute when a free kick taken by Marseille midfielder Karim Ziani led to a goal by Glasgow Rangers defender Majid Bougherra. The breakthrough came at just the right moment for Rabah Saadane’s men to deal a body blow to their opponents. 

Zambia’s attacks became more spirited but were all thwarted by the Algerian defence, where goalkeeper Lounes Gaouaoui reigned supreme and made decisive saves, including one where he used both fists to deflect a powerful shot by Given Singuluma in the 34th minute. 

Algeria scored again during the second half, stunning their opponents in the 66th minute. Lorient midfielder Rafik Saifi, who had only just returned to the pitch in a substitution, took advantage of a great pass from Rafik Djebbour to make it 2-0. 

The Algerian players then rallied in defence to fend off the ensuing counter-attacks. The strategy paid off; Zambia were visibly affected by Algeria’s advances and all their attempts missed the target. 

The win confirmed the Greens’ pre-match confidence. They were determined to come back home from Zambia with a serious shot at qualifying for the World Cup. 

“We now have an opportunity to take pole position in the race to the World Cup,” newly-selected Rafik Halliche commented before the match. “We basically have everything it takes to win,” he predicted, drawing inspiration from the team’s stunner over Egypt. 

Zambia coach Renard [which means ‘fox’ in French], joked about his name and said that the difference between him and Saadane was that only one of them was a real fox (Saadane had previously claimed to be a “fox and a half”). Renard said Algeria would “come up against a dead end in Zambia”. 

He was wrong. 

Algeria now have seven points from three matches, three more than Zambia. The other Group C squads, Rwanda and Egypt, each have one point from two games. The group winners will qualify for the World Cup in South Africa. 

Copyright © 2009 Zambian Chronicle. All Rights Reserved.

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By Shapi Shacinda 

LUSAKA, June 21 (Reuters) – Several Zambian hospitals have shut their admission wards and sent hundreds of patients home because of a crippling strike by nurses over pay, the country’s biggest labour federation said on Sunday. HospitalThe nurses’ strike entered its 17th day on Sunday, with the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) saying the situation in many hospitals had become a “national disaster”. 

“Some wards are completely deserted while in other wards there is a skeleton staff. We are trying to impress upon the workers to return to work as we continue to dialogue with the government,” ZCTU General Secretary Roy Mwaba told Reuters. 

Operations at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH), one of the largest referral hospitals in southern Africa, and several hospitals across Zambia have been paralysed since nurses and some paramedics rejected a 15 percent pay rise from the government last week. 

Mwaba said patients were dying and bodies lay uncollected in the few wards that were still treating patients in a critical condition. 

“I have been to 15 wards and I have seen 10 (uncollected) dead bodies. This is a crisis and I urge President Banda to visit the UTH and get first hand information about what is going on and to act quickly to save the situation,” he told reporters. 

Nurses have been demanding a 25 percent wage hike, but the government has only offered them an increase of 15 percent. 

The average monthly salary of junior nurses is $300, while senior nurses are paid around $400 per month. 

Health Minister Kapembwa Simbao has said the strike was illegal and called on the striking nurses to return to work. But the workers’ representatives have urged President Rupiah Banda to intervene and seek dialogue with the nurses. 

© Thomson Reuters 2009. All rights reserved.

Ethiopian Review

The U.S. Secretary of State’s assistant for African affairs told VOA’s Tizita Belachew today “the door is open” to improving relations between the United States and Eritrea.

In his second month on the job, Secretary of State for Africa Johnnie Carson today discussed issues confronting several African countries including Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Somalia and Zimbabwe. Carson has previously accused the State of Eritrea of shipping arms and fighters to Somalia to support the insurgency of al-Shabab. Today, the assistant secretary revealed a surprising twist in his efforts to engage Eritrea.

Carson, who has served as a U.S. diplomat in six African countries, told Tizita, “I met with the Eritrean ambassador and asked to meet with President Isaias Afwerki. If he will give me a visa, I will be there.” However, after Carson left his passport with the Eritrean embassy “for an extended period” he was surprised to find it returned “without a visa in it.”

“If relations are not improved it will not be because we’re not trying to act as a respected partner.”

Carson said the Obama administration seeks to normalize strained relations. “This administration seeks a better relationship with Eritrea,” Carson said. The most recent difference is over Eritrea’s support for the insurgency against the Transitional Government of Somalia.

President Afewerki told VOA’s Tigrigna service in Asmara two weeks ago that he looks forward to meeting Carson, but Afewerki repeatedly denies flying weapons to al-Shabab in Somalia.

“There is a growing volume of real and circumstantial evidence of continuing relations between Asmara and al-Shabab,” Carson said today. “We encourage Eritrea to cut off relations” with the insurgents, he said. “There should be no transit for foreign fighters through Eritrea.”

“The door is open if they are transparent on Somalia.”

ZANIS.

President Rupiah Banda has with immediate effect reappointed former Communications and Transport Minister Dora Siliya to cabinet following the High Court Judgment which has cleared her of any wrongdoing.

In a media statement made available to ZANIS by Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations Dickson Jere, Ms Siliya will now serve as Education Minister.

President Banda has since moved the Education Minister Geoffrey Lungwangwa to the Ministry of Communications and Transport.

Yesterday , the Lusaka High Court cleared Ms Siliya of the Dennis Chirwa lead tribunal’s findings which stated that the former minister of Communication had breached the constitution in the manner she handled the RP Capital Partners issue.

High Court Judge Philip Musonda quashed the tribunal’s findings that Ms Siliya breached the constitution when she ignored the Attorney General’s advice over RP capital partners.

Ms. Siliya resigned from her ministerial position after the judgment of the tribunal findings.

Meanwhile, President Banda has constituted a five-Member Cabinet Committee to find a lasting solution to the ongoing financial and technical problems at the state-owned Zambia Telecommunications Corporation (ZAMTEL).

The committee comprises Finance and National Planning Minister Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane, Communications and Transport Minister Geoffrey Lungwangwa as well as the Mines and Mineral Resources Minister Maxwell Mwale.

Others are Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Felix Mutati and his Energy and Water Development counterpart Kenneth Konga.

Mr. Banda has further directed all Permanent Secretaries serving under the ministries in the Cabinet Committee to form a technical committee which will serve the Cabinet Committee.

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By ZamChro Correspondent

Government says it will not review its position on the windfall tax because a formular is already in place to collect mineral tax.

Finance Minister, Situmbeko Musokotwane, says the country will benefit from rising copper prices through a profit based tax formular.

Zambian Chronicle learnt about government’s desire in Lusaka that mines will continue to pay tax based on their profitability.

And Dr. Musokotwane said part of the money raised through the windfall tax has been included in this year’s national budget.

He said people are already benefiting from the windfall tax revenue through various budgetary disbursements.

Government withdrew windfall tax on minerals and replaced it with a profit based tax formular.

This was part of the measures to help the mines sustain operations following the fall in metal prices.

Copyright © 2009 Zambian Chronicle. All Rights Reserved.

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LUSAKA, June 17 (Reuters) – Lumwana Mining Ltd. lost $1.8 million in revenue equivalent to 500 tonnes in copper production following a national power blackout in Zambia that affected its operations for 18 hours, its chief executive officer said.

“For us the loss in revenue is $1.8 million (equivalent to) 500 tonnes of copper,” Lumwana’s chief executive officer Harry Michael told Reuters on Wednesday by telephone from Solwezi, more than 700 km northwest of Lusaka.

(Reporting By Shapi Shacinda) 

© Thomson Reuters 2009. All rights reserved

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By ZamChro Correspondent

The Zambian government expects a one hundred percent teacher turn-out on Monday.

This follows the successful conclusion of bargaining between government and three teacher-unions, out of which teachers have been given a 15 percent pay rise.

Ministry of Education Permanent Secretary, Lillian Kapulu says teachers that will NOT report for work on Monday, will be doing so at their own peril.

Mrs. Kapulu has warned that labor laws will apply for teachers that decide to stay away from classes BUT hoped the situation will NOT reach that level.

She says there is NO justification for teachers to continue with their strike action after being awarded a 15 percent pay rise.

And Mrs. Kapulu says the ministry of finance will soon release K15 Billion as part payment of fixed band allowances for teachers.

The Ministry of Education Permanent Secretary said government is aware that teachers are owed K42.5 Billion in fixed band and is determined to off-set the arrears by August this year.

And the three Teacher unions in Lusaka say there is NO need for teachers to continue with the strike action.

And the unions have challenged those within the teaching profession inciting teachers to continue with the strike to leave the profession.

This was said by Lusaka province Basic Teachers Union of Zambia (BETUZ) Chairman Ian Miyoba, flanked his Secretary Clifford Chirwa.

Mr. Miyoba thanked national leaders from the three teacher unions for their courage and determination in reaching at the 15 percent pay rise with government.

And Zambia Union of Teachers (ZNUT) Provincial Secretary Lillian Nshinga, said teachers should report back for work on Monday.

Copyright © 2009 Zambian Chronicle. All Rights Reserved.