Monday, September 1, 2014

Climate Change Response: A Priority Or Option for Zambia?

By Lubasi Wachata 

The 21st century has witnessed the emergence of climate change as one of the world’s greatest developmental challenges. Reliable assessment reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have alerted nations to the inescapable impacts of climate change in the near term and raised the need to respond to climate change impacts through adaptation and mitigation efforts. In Zambia, evidence of climate change impacts can be noted particularly in land-based activities. The Zambia Meteorological Department analyzed climate variability in the last four decades and established that there has been an increase in frequency of extreme events such as floods and droughts, and increases in temperature both cool and warm seasons particularly in the valleys. 

Delayed onset of the rainfall and earlier cessation, resulting in shorter rainy seasons with more intense rainfall has also been noted. The most serious of these have been the 1991/92 droughts and 2006/07 floods in which the latter affected over 1 million people in 41 districts across the country. Though not as severe as the 1991/92 drought, the 2004/05 drought also caused irreversible damage to crops in two thirds of the country and forced Zambia to import food. On the other hand, the 2009/10 floods affected 238,254 people about 39,709 households.

Such climate change related problems are expected to continue to manifest in future thereby calling for adaptation and mitigation measures to abate the situation. The National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA-2007) on Climate Change has been developed in an effort to provide reliable and timely data necessary for adaptation measures. In addition, the National Climate Change Response Strategy (NCCRS-2010) has also been formulated to support and facilitate a coordinated response to climate change issues. Its key recommendation is the establishment of the National Climate Change and Development Council (NCCDC) to be a new institutional framework for overseeing climate change activities nationally. This led to the formation of the Interim Inter-Ministerial Climate Change Secretariat whose main objective is to facilitate the establishment of the council and strengthen national coordination of all efforts intended to respond to the climate change crisis among others. 

Zambia is making efforts to respond to climate change impacts through adaptation and mitigation interventions. With respect to mitigation, Zambia’s contribution to the regional greenhouse gas emission level is relatively small although emissions from land use change are on an increase due to deforestation and conversion of forests to other land uses. Thus, the country’s primary mitigation interventions lie in halting deforestation. Studies show that Zambia’s forests cover roughly 66 percent (about 49.9 million ha.) of the total landmass of which 9.6 percent are protected forests under the Forest Department. This is an extensive carbon sink with great potential for carbon sequestration. However, there is a problem to climate change mitigation as forests are under threat from deforestation. Studies show that between 1990 and 2000, Zambia had the highest deforestation rate of about 851 000 ha in Southern Africa. This made the country account for almost half the deforestation in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region.  

While forests offer a great potential for climate change mitigation, forestry programmes related to climate change get the lowest budgetary share compared to other departments. Available statistics show that between 2007 and 2009, Water Affairs Department received the largest budget share of (ZMK 38.57 billion) followed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives with (ZMK 13.194 billion). The Forestry Department was the least funded at (ZMK 2.56 billion), with its sister department the Environment and Natural Resources receiving (ZMK 2.949 billion) during the same period. There is need for the government to increase its budgetary allocations to the Forestry Department if the country is to fully utilize its great carbon sink potential. 
 With respect to adaptation, the Zambian Strategic Programme for Climate Resilience (SPCR) has emerged as a key programme in the planned development assistance to climate change adaptation at both the strategic and local level. The SPCR is funded through the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR). The programme is administered by the World Bank in collaboration with the African Development Bank and other partners. Currently, two pilot projects are being implemented in the Kafue and Barotse sub-basins of the greater Zambezi basin. The program seeks to integrate climate resilience into development strategies and local plans, strengthen institutional collaboration and partnerships among others.

 While all these mitigation and adaptation efforts should be applauded, it is clear that climate change is not a “Priority” on the agenda for political elites in Zambia. The Zambian government does allocate some funds to the various programmes that deal with climate change but indeed more efforts are needed. For example, ZMK 4 000 has been allocated to the PPCR in the 2014 budget. Climate change financing currently depends to a large extent on external funding from multilateral and bilateral donors namely the World Bank, UN agencies and the Finnish Government among others. This, however, does not mean that the government has no interest in the issue at all. On the contrary, national political interest in the climate change agenda is apparent on climate change adaptation through disaster risk reduction and disaster management. 

The government established the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit as a permanently established statutory government agency forming part of the Office of the Vice President. The frequent occurrence of natural hazards such as droughts and floods has usually triggered disasters in Zambia. Their striking and explicit nature makes them not only attractive to the media, but also creates a perfect opportunity for local politicians to show their importance. Responding to natural disasters is thus a matter of priority for the political leadership in an effort to secure support from voters.

Until recently, Zambia had lagged behind in addressing climate change issues. However, the picture is gradually improving. Indeed, the government has made several efforts in formulating climate change policies and institutional frameworks. However, addressing climate change challenges will certainly require financing. Most of the impediments to effective national climate change response are rooted in the inadequate budgetary allocations to climate change related interventions by the government.  Left unabated, climate change has the potential to reverse the well-deserved developmental gains the country has achieved over the decades. Thus, the need for climate change to be at the top of the agenda for the political elites in Zambia can never be overemphasized.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

VJ Says Ministerial Changes Give Hope For New Constitution

Vernon Mwaanga addressing delegates
By Paul Shalala

Veteran politician Vernon Mwaanga, who is popularly known as VJ, says the recent changes in the Patriotic Front-led government may just lead to Zambia finally having the final draft constitution which is yet to be released.

Dr Mwaanga, who was speaking in Lusaka during a general meeting held by the Grand Coalition for a People Driven Constitution, says these changes may just be the hope Zambians have been waiting for.

"You the Zambian people through the Grand Coalition have a constitutional right to demand for the constitution which is yours," said Dr Mwaanga.

On Thursday, President Michael Sata sacked his Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba who presided over the constitution making process from 2012 till last week.

Mr Kabimba's handling of the constitution making process made him an enemy of the civil society which has been critical of the way government has handled the process from its legality to the roadmap.

During the same meeting, Oasis Forum spokesperson Father Cleophas Lungu said the best gift government can give to the people of Zambia for the golden jubilee is a new constitution.

"This is the year of jubilee, a year of a new beginning, a year of justice. The best give government can give us is a new constitution," said Fr Lungu who is also Secretary General of the Zambia Episcopal Conference.

Meanwhile, Islamic Supreme Council of Zambia President, Suzyo Zimba, says no amount of suppressing divergent views will stop the grand coalition from pushing for the supreme law of the land.

"Kaunda came with his tactics and we kicked him out. Chiluba came with his third term, we kicked him out. Rupiah Banda came with his money, we kicked him out," he said.

And speaking on behalf of sixteen opposition political parties, Zambia Development Conference (ZADECO) President, Langton Sichone said political Parties will embark on a countrywide campaign of chants for a new constitution.

Mr Sichone asked all Zambians to start chanting and making noise about the constitution wherever they are adding that: "political parties have the numbers and we can do it."

He further disagreed with Mr Kabimba's recent statement before his dismissal that the final draft constitution had been tabled in cabinet before it is released for actual enactment.

"The constitution must be released simultaneously to the people of Zambia and President Sata. It is our document and it should be given to us, not cabinet," the opposition leader added.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

World Bank Insures US$124m For Private Sector Investment In Zambia

Michel Wormser addressing journalists
By Paul Shalala

The World Bank says Zambia's attractive investment climate has seen its Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) insuring one hundred and twenty four million dollars of investment from the private sector.

MIGA Vice President Michel Wormser (right)  says most of the investment guarantees are in the agriculture sector where the World Bank wants to promote diversification.

Mr Wormser says more than 80 million dollars has been guaranteed for the agriculture sector in Zambia where the Bretton Woods Institution is already supporting ranching.

He has revealed that the World Bank is currently in talks with Zesco, the Copperbelt Energy Corparation and government to increase power generation in Zambia.

Mr Wormser says increasing Zambia's electricity generation has the potential to supply power to both the Southern and East Africa regions.

He was speaking at a media briefing in Lusaka on Monday.

The MIGA Vice President wass on a 2 day visit to Zambia to meet government officials and the private sector to help mobilise money for capital projects in the mining, energy and agribusiness sectors.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Zambia Lifts Ban On Safari Hunting But Maintains Ban On Hunting Lions

By Paul Shalala

Zambia has lifted the ban on safari hunting which was imposed almost 2 years ago.

Tourism Minister Jean Kapata told journalists yesterday during a press briefing that the lifting of the ban is aimed at sustaining the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) which she says was surviving on government grants to meet its operational needs.

"During the ban, we lost alot of money in potential revenue and we hope with the lifting of the ban, ZAWA can get back to its feet," said Kapata.

She added that the ban on hunting lions and leopards will remain in force as his ministry is yet to ascertain their numbers.

Ms Kapata also disclosed that she has forwarded names of the ZAWA board to Cabinet which is yet to endorse them.

Her predecessor Sylvia Masebo (above) imposed the ban which was received with mixed feelings by stakeholders.

Ms Masebo also dissolved the ZAWA board and appointed a new one which Ms Kapata dissolved upon being appointed Tourism Minister earlier this year.

Meanwhile, a safari hunter has welcomed the lifting of the ban, describing it as fantastic news.

"This is fantastic news. As safari hunters, we are now waiting to see how the ministry and ZAWA will allocate hunting areas," said Rowland Norton in a telephone interview.

Mr Norton appealed to government to quickly allocate the hunting areas to curb poaching which he says is increasing by the day.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Donors Give Zambia $30m To Fight Abuse Of Funds

By Paul Shalala

Donors have offered Zambia a US$30million deal to reform its financial management regime and reduce abuse of public fund.

Finland, Germany,the United Kingdom and the World Bank have committed the funds through a trust fund to support the Public Financial Management Reform Programme (PFMRP).

World Bank Country Representative for Zambia Kundhavi Kadiresan (right) called the  of the programme as a milestone in Zambia's quest to have fiscal discipline.

"This programme must be embraced by all line ministries if it is to bear fruits. We have seen it succeed in other countries and here it must succeed too," said Kadiresan.

The launch of this programme in Lusaka this morning follows the continuous reports of massive abuse of public resources in every year's Auditor General's Report.

Under the five year programme, government is expected to tighten its internal controls to avoid misapplication and wastage of resources

During the launch of the Reform Programme in Lusaka this morning, Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda in a speech read for him by Secretary to the Treasury Fredson Yamba, said the programme will help in managing public finances.

Meanwhile, the Policy Monitoring and Research Center has called on government to utilise the Anti-Corruption Commission by prosecuting all those ciyed by the Auditor General's report in abusing public funds.

"The launch of the reform programme is a good thing but we need the ACC to start prosecuting people who abuse funds. We need to see a situation where people are jailed for abusing tax payers money," said Michelle Morel, Executive Director of the Policy Monitoring and Research Center.

And Economics Association of Zambia President Isaac Ngoma has called for an external institution to provide oversight on the reform programme.

"Government must engage an external institution that will audit this reform programme. we are already thinking as stakeholders that this programme can succeed if well supported," said Ngoma.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Lusaka Accountant Forms 3rd Liberation Movement Party

By Paul Shalala

A 36 year old Lusaka-based accountant has formed a new political party called 3rd Liberation Movement.

Enock Tonga (right), who is the party president, says the party has been formed to give Zambia a third liberation from economic, political and social problems.

Mr Tonga, says Zambia had its first liberation from colonialists in 1964 followed by another liberation from the one party state in 1991.

He adds that his party wants to liberate Zambia through a third phase from man made sufferings when his party is ushered into government.

Mr Tonga has since thanked government for approving the registration of his political party without any challenges.

"I was born to serve and i feel its my right time to serve the nation. This is the first time am joining politics and am sure we can liberate this nation from its problems," said Tonga.

He says his party has not been formed for the sole purpose of contesting the 2016 tripartite elections.

"We, together with the people of Zambia will decide whether we contest the 2016 General Elections or not. But in forthcoming by-elections, we will field candidates," said the soft spoken opposition leader.

Acting Chief Registrar of Societies Kakoma Kanganja approved the registration of the 3rd Liberation Movement on June 4, 2014.

According to the certificate of registration, the political party met all requirements under the Societies Act Cap 119 of the laws of Zambia.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Lusaka Province Rejects Public Order Act, Homosexuality

The Legal and Justice Sector Reforms Commission in session

By Paul Shalala

Dozens of petitioners who have appeared before the Legal and Justice Sector Reforms Commission in Lusaka Province have called for the repealing of the colonial-era Public Order Act which has allegedly reduced people's freedoms of assembly and association.

Last week, the Justice Frederick Chomba-led Commission completed its one month tour of Lusaka Province to collect proposals from Zambians on the reform of the judiciary.

In the past four weeks, the Commission held over 10 public sittings in Lusaka, Luangwa, Chongwe, Chirundu and Kafue Districts where Zambians petitioned the commission on various laws and policies that need to be changed.

Nelson Simunji, a lecturer of History at the recently established Chalimbana University in Chongwe District told the commission that the Public Order Act was archaic and needs to be repealed.

"This law is old. It works against democracy. The Police are abusing it and trampling on the rights of the opposition. We need to repeal it and allow democracy to flourish," said Simunji who was the first petitioner on Friday last week in Chongwe.

Mr Simunji's submission was echoed by Zambia Development Conference (ZADECO) President Langton Sichone who also described the Public Order Act as an impediment on democracy in Zambia.

"This law is against the right of assembly. It is against the tenets of democracy. We need to urgently repeal this law and allow people to meet freely without being harassed by the Police," said Mr Sichone in his submission to the commission in Kafue on Thursday.

In every district the commission has held public sittings, petitioners  have demanded the repealing of the infamous law whose implementation by the Zambia Police Service has seen opposition rallies being cancelled and people being arrested for holding meetings.

On the controversial issue of homosexuality, both supporters and opponents of the practice presented their proposals to the sittings across Lusaka Province.

Kaimbo Katengo, a chairman for Zango Youth Consortium shocked commissioners when he spent 30 minutes condemning the Penal Code for discriminating against gays, lesbians and bisexuals.

Mr Katengo called for the review of the Penal Code to embrace homosexuality and allow people to practice their sexual acts without interference by the state.

"We feel the Penal Code is unfair and it is infringing upon people's rights. We need to reform this law and decriminalise the so-called unnatural acts. People should not be discriminated upon based on their sexual orientation," said Katengo at the Lusaka Civic Center during the first day of the commission's sittings.

But a few days later, Katengo tendered an apology to the nation saying his submission had received sharp reaction from stakeholders and he promised to appear before the commission and withdraw his statement but to date he has not done so.

In Chongwe, Luangwa and Kafue Districts, homosexuality was sharply criticised by petitioners.

Chalimbana Ward Councillor Charles Mumena called for a new law that would criminalise homosexuality acts and met stiffer punishment on pepetrators.

"Mr Chairman, we are a christian nation. We can not allow homosexuality here. Let us come up with a law that will stop this vice once and for all," said Mr Mumena who is also former President of the Local Government Association of Zambia.

In Kafue, the issue of homesexuality made commissioners laugh.

"If males marry each other and women marry each other too, we a re not assured of young people being there in 20 to 30 years from now. How will we have children when the whole country goes homosexual? Lets stop this foreign practice in Zambia, we do not need it, " said John Mwansa who addressed the Legal and Justice Reforms Commission at Kafue Civic Center.

Currently, the Zambian constitution does not allow homosexuality and perpetrators face upto 15 years when convicted.

Other issues that where very controversial in Lusaka where defamation of the President, land administration, appointment of judges, the construction of houses for former Presidents and allowing TV cameras in courts.

With the completion of Lusaka Province, the Legal and Justice Sector Reforms Commission is next month expected to start touring the remaining nine provinces to receive proposals from Zambians.

The commission was appointed by President Michael Sata in January this year and it was sworn in by Acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda in March.

The 20-member Justice Frederick Chomba-led commission is deputised by Solicitor General Abraham Mwansa and its secretary is Maria Kawimbe.

Prominent among the commissioners are National Prosecution Authority Chairman Mutembo Nchito, Law Association of Zambia President George Chisanga, Transparency International Zambia President Lee Habasonda and Women for Change Chairperson Emily Sikazwe.