Editor's Note: Issue 320, Week 20, 2017

Why can't we get our roads right the first time?

I’m literally jumping up and down with joy. My road, the Mungwi Road in Lusaka West, is finally about to be rehabilitated, to the delight of everyone but our many self-appointed pothole-mending teams. The sad part is that the Mungwi Road has undergone its transformation from a-little-rough-around-the-edges road to let’s-just-stay-at-home road in a lot less than 10 years. And it is not the only one. Infrastructure Permanent Secretary Charles Mushota has just lamented the fact that many new township roads in Lusaka are developing cracks within years of being constructed. He put the problem down to shoddy work, and I agree. However, the buck doesn’t stop with the contractors. It stops with government! Government is to blame for rushing through a myriad of projects that were badly planned and poorly executed using overpriced contractors. We are now paying the price. Has anyone thought about what the cost is of not doing it right the first time?

camilla
Camilla Hebo Buus, Editor Zambia Weekly


HH acquitted of using insulting language

Magistrate Greenwell Malumani has acquitted opposition UPND party president Hakainde Hichilema (HH) of using insulting language, ruling that the prosecution failed to prove its case. HH stood accused of calling police officers “dogs”, “mother fuckers”, “idiots” and “assholes” when he was arrested on 11 April. However, the magistrate pointed out that using insulting language is [...]

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Zambia responds to Ebola in DRC

The Ministry of Health has intensified surveillance in provinces bordering the DR Congo after Ebola broke out in the country’s northern Bas Uele Province. The World Health Organisation has confirmed the outbreak, so far involving 11 suspected cases and 3 deaths. Thermal scanners at entry points: Government has installed 14 thermal cameras at the three international [...]

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How many election petitions are still pending?

A total of 145 election petitions were filed after the 2016 general elections, divided between local government (58 petitions), parliament (86) and president (1). Local government: Out of the 58 petitions, 11 were withdrawn or discontinued, while tribunals dismissed 35 and nullified 12. Nine cases are still pending on appeal to the Constitutional Court. Parliament: [...]

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This week’s comment: Where is UPND’s evidence?

One online commentator – Michael Chishala – has taken a lot of flak in the past few weeks after publishing a comment in which he told the opposition UPND party to move on after last year’s election. Irrespective of one’s stand on this issue, he highlights an interesting matter in his online reply: How solid [...]

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The policy rate drops for the second time

The Bank of Zambia is further loosening its grip on the monetary policy by lowering the policy rate for the second time since its introduction in March 2012, this time from 14.0% to 12.5%. The policy rate was lowered for the first time in February 2017. The central bank also lowered the Statutory Reserve Ratio [...]

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Zambia strengthens cyber security

The Zambia Information and Communication Authority (ZICTA) has stated that it is aware of the on-going global cyber attack (see Fact Box): “ZICTA continues to closely monitor the sector, working with other government agencies to ensure maximum national security”. It encouraged the public to report any problems to ZICTA by calling 7070. Some commentators suggested [...]

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Hail turns Lusaka white

Several provinces have experienced unusual pre-winter rains recently, including hail storms in Lusaka on 14 May, leading to an avalanche of pictures being posted online of excited people posing in the “snow”, throwing “snow” balls and building “snow” men. The Zambia Meteorological Department explained that the unusual weather was due to a cold front over [...]

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Seven men rape 71-year-old

Seven men have allegedly raped a 71-year-old woman in Luapula Province, breaking into her house while she was asleep. The woman was unconscious when admitted to Mansa General Hospital.

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Keith Mukata charged with murder

His case highlights a problem with our constitution: The police have charged UPND Chilanga MP Keith Mukata and his wife Charmaine Musonda with the murder of security guard Namakau Kwenda at Mukata’s law firm, AKM Legal Practitioners in Lusaka. The pair was warned and cautioned last week. Some reports claimed the couple was having a [...]

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Prophet Bushiri dares Zambia

Malawian prophet Shepherd Bushiri has challenged Minister of National Guidance and Religious Affairs Godfridah Sumaili, reminding her that she is not minister for life, and declaring that he would enter Zambia, with or without the authorities approval. Bushiri responded to last week’s episode, when Zimbabwean prophet Uebert Angel was denied entry into Zambia at the [...]

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This Week’s Exchange

Nic Cheeseman, professor of democracy and international development, Birmingham University, UK, stated:

“Until now, Zambia’s progress under multi-party politics has been quietly impressive. Over the last year, though, things have changed. (…) According to the Conference of Catholic Bishops – one of the most influential bodies in the country – Zambia doesn’t deserve to be called a democracy (…) it has become a dictatorship – or getting there. Many Catholic leaders were seen to be sympathetic to the PF, when it won power under Michael Sata in 2011, so what has changed? This is not the first time that a Zambian president has sought to consolidate his authority by manipulating state institutions. Nor is it the first time that opposition leaders have been arrested, or civil society groups intimidated. In the recent past, these moments of high political tension have often been resolved peacefully, (…) but it’s unlikely that Lungu will cede his quest to remain in office. First, key civil society groups such as the trade unions have been weakened by privatisation, informalisation and unemployment. Second, the Constitutional Court, that’s responsible for interpreting the constitution, was handpicked by Lungu. Third, Lungu’s case is more complicated than Chiluba’s. In 2001, the second president had served two full terms in office and wanted one more. Today, Lungu is arguing that he should be allowed to have a third term because his first period in office did not count, as he was just serving out the final year of Sata’s term. All of this means that Lungu is likely to get his way. (…) Opposition protests are inevitable, as is some civil society criticism. If past form is anything to go by, Lungu’s government will respond with threats and intimidation.”

Ruling PF party deputy secretary general Mumbi Phiri reacted:

Cheeseman is nothing but an attention-seeking professor, who thinks he can lecture us about democracy. The people of Zambia spoke through the vote, and their wishes must be respected by all, including Cheeseman. Cheeseman creates the impression that there was a letter authored by all Catholic bishops, which labelled Zambia as a dictatorship. For the record, that was an opinion expressed by the archbishop. (…) It is irresponsible for Cheeseman to compare ours with late President Frederick Chiluba’s third-term bid. The view that the current constitution allows President Lungu to seek re-election (…) is before the courts of law. (…) the PF will respect the outcome of the court system. President Lungu’s good governance record remains solid. It was President Lungu’s administration that took the referendum on the proposed Bill of Rights to the people. (…) it was UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema who campaigned against it. It is President Lungu’s administration, which allowed for the 50%+1 clause in the constitution, the running mate clause, and reduction of presidential powers. President Lungu believes in an independent judiciary. (…) Today, Zambia has a Constitutional Court, something that was unheard of in the history of our nation. While the opposition petitioned the Constitutional Court, President Lungu remained calm until the matter expired. We wish to correct the view that human rights of politicians in trouble with the law are being violated. Citizens, who are also politicians, and on trial, have appeared in court within a week of being charged, and (…) for continued trial. The due process of the law is clearly being followed to the letter. Professor Cheeseman‘s daydream, that Zambia is falling from grace because of HH’s arrest, is a lie. Zambia remains a shining example of democracy not only on the African continent but world over.”



This week’s exchanges: PF defends the arrest of HH

Government continued to respond to international criticism of its arrest of opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema (HH) for treason. Last week, it was Raila Odinga, leader of the opposition and former prime minister of Kenya, a country with its share of electoral violence, who commented on 19 April: “Treason for a traffic incident – this speaks [...]

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Prayers for HH

Supporters of the opposition UPND party have held a prayer service for UPND president Hakainde Hichilema and his five co-accused. The service was organised by Pastor Kangwa Chileshe of the City of Refuge Ministries at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Lusaka. It attracted UPND members, their political partners, supporters and other government-critical people, [...]

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ZRA freezes more bank accounts

The Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) is increasingly confiscating its dues directly from taxpayers’ bank accounts, without their knowledge, irrespective of whether or not the outstanding dues are in dispute. ZRA spokesman Topsy Sikalinda confirmed this, after the public reacted to a leaked notice from ZRA to Finance Bank and Barclays Bank, asking the two banks [...]

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Social media trolls beware!

Government will table four bills in parliament’s next sitting to enhance cyber security, namely the Cyber Security Bill, the Cyber Crime Bill, the Electronic Commerce Bill and the Data Protection Bill. Minister of Transport and Communication Brian Mushimba explained: “The four bills are going to enhance the existing tools in terms of making sure there [...]

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Lungu in Equatorial Guinea

President Lungu has been in Equatorial Guinea to attend the Summit of Heads of State of the African Union (AU) Committee of Ten (C10) about reforms to the UN Security Council. The AU wants to increase Africa’s influence in the UN organ responsible for maintaining international peace and security. The C10 comprises Algeria, Libya, Congo, [...]

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Wage freeze in public sector?

Government has announced that there will be no salary increments for civil servants until the economy has fully recovered. “If we are going to channel the revenue that we are collecting at the moment to increased salaries, we will not reach our target for recovery. We are currently trying hard to reduce the pressure of [...]

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Link Zambia 8,000 crawling along

Government has spent K2.67 billion on roads since the launch of its ambitious Link Zambia 8,000 road programme. The programme, which is also known as the Accelerated Roads Construction Programme, is meant to transform Zambia from being land-locked to being land-linked. It involves the upgrade of at least 3 trunk roads in each province – [...]

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Zambians arrested in SA over gold deal with Bushiri

Four Zambians are appearing in court in South Africa in connection with a gold deal with Malawian prophet Shepherd Bushiri. Bushiri, who is based in South Africa, has accused the four of defrauding him of 0,000 by pretending to be precious metals dealers. According to Bushiri, he paid 0,000 for 500 kg of gold to [...]

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10 arrested in Kitwe

Police have arrested 10 people in Kitwe for assault and conduct likely to cause breach of peace, after street vendors encroached on an area at Chisokone Market usually used by minibuses. The clashes between the two groups resulted in several women being undressed.

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New capital city in Ngabwe?

The Ministry of National Planning will “soon” submit a proposal to build a new capital city in Ngabwe, west of Kabwe, in Central Province to alleviate Lusaka, which is bursting at its seams. Minister of National Planning Lucky Mulusa explained that Ngabwe is ideal, as it is central, located between Lusaka and Ndola and their [...]

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Cost of living falls

The Basic Needs Basket for an average family of five living in Lusaka fell to K4,973.03 in April 2017, from K5,017.09 in March. The reduction was driven by food items such as dry fish, beans, tomatoes and onions, and non-food items like charcoal. The basket is compiled by the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflections. It [...]

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Who is heading the UPND?

More and more people are wondering who’s in charge of the opposition UPND party, with its president Hakainde Hichilema (HH) in prison, and its vice-president Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba nowhere to be seen. In fact, the ruling PF party went to the extent of suggesting that one of UPND’s alliance partners, the opposition ADD party’s president, [...]

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Government to repossess high-rise building in Lusaka

Authorities have given the owner of the unfinished Mususu Kalenga Building at the Freedom Way-Katondo Road junction until July 2017 to start working on the 11-storey building, or “we will write to the President to have the building repossessed by government,” Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Development Ronald Chitotela stated. The building has been standing [...]

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Two die of rabies

Two people have died of rabies, while 28 others are being treated, after being bitten by stray dogs in Nchelenge, Luapula Province. Police swung into action to put down stray dogs, as well as dogs without rabies vaccination certificates.

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Lusaka clamps down on bars

Authorities have arrested around 250 people in connection with a nightly raid on bars and nightclubs operating beyond their hours in six townships in Lusaka, including Emmasdale, Matero, Zingalume, George, Chunga and Garden. A total of 15 clubs had their licences seized. The Lusaka City Council explained that other townships would be visited soon. A [...]

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This week’s charity: Limapela Foundation

The Limapela Foundation was established in 2008 to support children at Limapela Cedric’s School near Kitwe on the Copperbelt. The school was founded by the late Cedric Whittemore in 1979 to provide education for the children of his farm employees, but it has since grown to serve the wider community. The Foundation is motivated by [...]

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Zambian killed in South Africa

Chanda Field Mwila, a Zambian truck driver, has been found dead in Benoni in Johannesburg, South Africa. Mwila worked for African Cargo Management. Initial investigations suggest that Mwila was murdered during a hijacking when he was shopping for groceries during his turn-around stay in South Africa.

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Electricity lifeline reduced to 200 kWh

Authorities have clarified that the so-called lifeline for electricity consumption has only been increased to 200 kWh, and not to 300 kWh, as announced by ZESCO in connection with last week’s increase in electricity tariffs by 51%. The lifeline was previously set at 100 kWh. ZESCO had applied to increase it to 300 kWh, but [...]

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Ballots to be printed in Zambia?

Government has installed a new printing machine at Government Printers with the capacity to print ballot papers and other election materials. Minister of Works and Supply Mathew Nkhuwa gave the impression that the machine would be ready for the 2021 general elections. Ballots were last printed by Government Printers for the 1991 general election. Since [...]

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Now you can fly to Kalabo

Proflight has re-launched a twice-weekly Lusaka-Kalabo route with an 8-seater Cessna Caravan. The airline sees Kalabo as a gateway to Western Province for both business and leisure travellers, ideal for accessing Liuwa Plains and its wildebeest migration. Proflight has tried the route before, but had to stop it in 2014 due to low demand. Proflight [...]

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130,000 teachers in Zambia

The Teaching Council of Zambia has registered over 130,000 teachers in Zambia at the close of its deadline, but believes there may be more. The registration exercise was meant to ensure that quality education is provided across Zambia as all qualified teachers will be issued with practicing licences.

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Another loan

The World Bank has approved a 0 million credit facility to Zambia for improvement of rural roads (The Improved Rural Connectivity Project). The money is coming from the bank’s International Development Association (IDA) under its IDA17 Scale-Up Facility Credits. The money is earmarked for roads in six provinces, while government will fund the other four [...]

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Thermal scanners at entry points

Government has installed 14 thermal cameras at the three international airports in Lusaka, Ndola and Livingstone and at all major border posts. The cameras will help detect infectious diseases such as epidemic influenzas, yellow fever and Ebola. Thermal infrared cameras will detect people with signs of fever.

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Police stop UPND demonstration

The main opposition UPND party has been stopped from holding a peaceful demonstration. One media report said that the UPND wanted to protest against the police’s “brutal attack” on UPND president Hakainde Hichilema’s residence, and his continued detention. Another said it was meant to offer solidarity to HH, and to protest against him being transported [...]

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