Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Kariba Dam Safe, Declares Zambia And Zimbabwe

By Paul Shalala in Kariba, Zimbabwe

Energy Ministers from Zambia and Zimbabwe on Tuesday held a two hour closed door meeting at the Zambezi River Authority offices in the Zimbabwean town of Kariba.

The meeting followed a week of media reports indicating that the Kariba dam which is shared by the two countries, was at the risk of collapsing due to cracks which had developed on the dam wall.

After the two hours closed door meeting, the two ministers, accompanied by another minister and a deputy minister from Zimbabwe, toured the dam wall where they were briefed on efforts being made to protect the facility.

They later entered entered the underground tunnels for more tours.

Several cracks where found on the wall which extended for several meters.

In some areas, water was even licking into the tunnel.

The two delegations where also taken to the plunge pool were re-shaping works are expected to take six years.

After the tour, the two delegations went to Kariba Town in Zimbabwe were they briefed the media on the state of the dam.

At Carribea Bay Hotel, Zimbabwean energy Minister Dzikamai Mavhaire declared the Kariba Dam safe to the public.

He however said maitenance works were needed and they would cost the two countries US4230 million.

His Zambian counterpart Christopher Yaluma assured the media that cooperating partners were ready to fund the the rehabilitation works.

But Zambezi River Authority Chief Executive Officer Munyaridzi Munodawafa downplayed the cracks on the dam wall describing them as "superficial."

He said they were not dangerous or a threat to the stability of the dam.

The two neighbouring countries have since constituted a committee to scout for funds to refurbish the Kariba Dam and its headed by Zambia's Finance Permanent Secretary Felix Nkulukusa.

The Kariba Dam is a regional source of energy for the Southern Africa region as the Zambezi river which passes through the Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique is a source of energy for these countries.

If indeed the Kariba Dam is to collapse, an estimated 3.5 million people would be affected in the southern Africa region.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

PF Shoots Down Opposition Motion On Constitution

By Paul Shalala

The stakes were high and tempers were also high.

The atmosphere in parliament on Tuesday night was heated as members of parliament debated a Private Members Motion which was aimed at urging government to provide a roadmap for the constitution.

Newly elected Katuba member of parliament Jonas Shakafuswa was chased from the house after he kept passing running comments despite being warned by the speaker on three occassions.

His Katombora counterpart Derrick Livune was almost chased also from the house after he got two verbal warnings for running comments.

Debates on the motion moved by Mazabuka Central Member of Parliament Garry Nkombo started on Friday last week and ended last night at 20:00hrs.

Opposition members of parliament debated in support of the motion.

But Ministers and ruling Patriotic Front Backbenchers debated against the motion.

At around 20:48hrs, Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Patrick Matibini called for a vote by acclamation.

The executive won it but immediately, all UPND MPs stood up and called for a division.

Dr Matibini later called for electronic voting but for 15 minutes minutes, Clerk of the National Assembly Doris Mwiinga and her staff tried unsuccessfully to activate the electronic voting machine which malfunctioned.

The Speaker later called for physical voting and at 21:26hrs last night, Dr Matibini announced the results.

The PF amassed 69 votes while the opposition only managed 42 votes.

Two MPs abstained from voting.

Despite losing the motion, opposition MPs mostly from the UPND, celebrated the results.

At 21:28hrs, the second sitting of the third session of the Eleventh National Assembly adjourned sine die.

This sitting opened on 11th February this year and sat for a total of 17 days.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Brave Luano Woman Fights And Defeats Crocodile Underwater, Saves Daughter

By Paul Shalala

A woman of Luano Valley in Central Province has shocked neighbouring villagers after she single handedly fought a huge crocodile under water and retrieved her five year daughter away from the beast's jaws.

Mwamba Ndelenga, who was standing by the shores of a stream on Sunday 16 February, 2014, watched helplessly as the crocodile snatched her first born daughter and made its way to the stream.

In an interview, Mrs Ndelenga told me that she did not fear the crocodile and immediately secured her last born away from the stream and dived straight into the deep waters were her daughter Rebecca Mwanza was about to be eaten by the beast.

Ms Ndelenga says she found the crocodile in the water at knee level and held the legs of her daughter.

They fought in control of the girl as they dragged each other deep into the water.

Mrs Ndelenga says the fight took them to the deepest part of the stream were water reached her nose.

Just when Mrs Ndelenga was about to lose hope, the crocodile gave up the fight and swam away.

"Just after realising that the crocodile had given up, i lifted my daughter and put her on my back. I swam back to the shore and realised she was still alive. I even smiled because her survival was a miracle," she told me.

On Thursday, 20 February, 2014, Mrs Ndelenga and her daughter were safely evacuated to Lusaka for medical attention by a Zambia Air Force helicopter.

The girl is currently admitted at the University Teaching Hospital were she is receiving treatment.

Rebecca suffered injuries on her right leg from the crocodile bites.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Opposition Parties Shun Women's Day

By Paul Shalala

They came in their large numbers to commemorate the day in which they honor and celebrate the female folk.

These are women from all walks of life who today spent a large part of the morning marching in support for women's rights.

Soldiers, Police officers, teachers, pupils, civil servants, activists and men all joined in the march-past.

The women marched through several parts of Lusaka and ended their journey in the Showgrounds where Vice President Dr Guy Scott and Gender Minister Inonge Wina stood in a saluting dias.

Entertainment by Zambia's women's rights musician Sista D charmed several Zambians who could not resist but join the dance.

Later, President Michael Sata, in a speech read by Dr Scott called for the empowerment of women through loans and land access.

He urged the Ministry of Lands and the Ministry of Gender to work together and increase access to land among women.

President Sata also urged the Ministry of Gender to also work towards the easy access of loans by women.

Gender Minister Inonge Wina and Non-Governmental Organisations Coordinating Council (NGOCC) chairperson Beatrice Grillo paid tribute to the role women are playing in society.

This year's Women's Day celebration were shunned by almost all opposition political parties.

The former ruling party UNIP was the only one that showed up at the event.

The ruling Patriotic Front had over 500 women from its Women's League who formed a long queue while marching past the saluting dais.

This year's International Women's day was commemorated under the theme:  INSPIRING WOMEN, CELEBTRATING GOD'S FAVOUR ON 50 YEARS OF WOMEN'S EXCELLENT ACHIEVEMENT.

ZIPAR Proposes Review Of CDF

By Paul Shalala

Every year each constituency is entitled to a fund: the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) which amounts to K1.4 million per constituency.

This fund is allocated to every constituency irrespective of the size, population and developmental level.

The Zambia Institute for Policy Analysis and Research (ZIPAR) has in the last few months conducted a research on the effectiveness of CDF.

In this report ZIPAR has serious recommendations which include the realignment of CDF to be given to constituencies according to their needs.

ZIPAR Research Fellow Gibson Masumbu says the new formula for CDF disbursement will promote equality and development.

This view is shared by Choma Central Member of Parliament Cornelius Mweetwa whose constituency is one of the poorest in Zambia.

Mr Mweetwa says rural constituencies have been neglected for a long time and there is need for an increment on the CDF allocation for rural constituencies.

But Kabwata Member of Parliament Given Lubinda, whose constituency is the richest, says the current criteria for CDF must continue.

He says government must operationalise the Equalisation Fund in the Decentralisation Policy which can cater for each and every need in the 150 constituencies in Zambia.

But the Local Government Association of Zambia (LGAZ) says if ZIPAR's recommendation is to be embraced, underdevelopment will increase in well off constituencies.

LGAZ President Daniel Chisenga says even the well off constituencies have needs and reducing their allocation will worsen things.

But Local Government Minister Emmerine Kabanshi says with the implementation of the Decentralisation Policy, allocation of resources will start from the ward to the national level.

Ms Kabanshi is hopeful that once the decentralisation policy is well implemented, planning for development will start at the basic level and utilisation of national resources will be made easier.

The ZIPAR survey based its findings on population, size, infrastructure  and poverty levels in all the 150 constituencies.

Kabwata constituency in Lusaka Province was identified as the richest in Zambia while Sikongo constituency in the Western Province is the poorest.

Among the top 30 richest constituencies are those in Lusaka and on the Copperbelt.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Updates On The Constitution From Parliament

By Paul Shalala

Today's Vice President's Question Time was the last one in this sitting of parliament which is expected to adjourn sine die on Tuesday next week.

As part of their protest on the constitution, opposition members of parliament sat quietly and none of them asked a single question to Dr Guy Scott during the 30 minutes long Vice President's Question Time.

Ruling Patriotic Front backbenchers seized the opportunity and turned it into a field day in which they took turns asking questions to Dr Scott.

The opposition members of parliament including independent Lubanshenshi member of parliament Patrick Mucheleka, all sat and kept quiet during the 30 minutes for the Vice President's Question Time.

Dr Scott said holding a referendum in older to adopt the new constitution will be more difficulty and less manageable than holding a general election.

He said in a referendum, the country is supposed to ensure that atleast two thirds of the population vote in the referendum to make the document legitimate.

The Vice President says this is as opposed to a general election where only registered voters are allowed to cast their ballots in an election.

Dr Scott has also assured the nation that government will not allow any sectors of society to hijack the constitution making process.

He said the ruling Patriotic Front has enough numbers in parliament to ensure that the new constitution is enacted in an orderly manner.

The Vice President said this in response to several questions posed by Patriotic Front backbenchers who posed several questions on the constitution.

Meanwhile, Dr Scott has revealed that Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba has been cleared by the Judge Evans Hamaundu-led tribunal.

Dr Scott says as far as he is aware, Mr Kabimba was cleared of all allegations leveled against him.

The Vice President revealed this in Parliament this morning in response to Lupososhi member of parliament Bwalya Chungu who wanted to know the results of the Judge Hamaundu Tribunal.

Human rights activist Brebner Changala and former Solwezi central member of parliament Lucky Mulusa petitioned Acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda to set up a tribunal to probe the Justice Minister.

The two alleged that Mr Kabimba abused his office when he allegedly used a government legal opinion offered to him in his capacity as Minister of Justice by the Solicitor General Musa Mwenye to allegedly pursue a private agenda of the ruling Patriotic Front and subsequently by a private litigant.

Mazabuka Central member of Parliament Garry Nkombo this morning moved a motion to urge government to provide a roadmap for the enactment of the new constitution.

In moving the motion, Mr Nkombo said his move was non confrontational as it was aimed at highlighting the commitment by the Patriotic Front to the constitution.

He said with the completion of the work by the Technical Committee on Drafting the Republican Constitution, there was need for government to guide the nation on the way forward.

The motion was seconded by Chembe member of parliament Mwansa Mbulakulima who said the new constitution must be able to improve governance in the country.

Meanwhile, opposition members of parliament who earlier this week avoided asking questions for oral answers, today resumed their normal duties.

UPND Mwinilunga member of parliament Stephen Katuka and his Solwezi West MMD counterpart Humphrey Mwanza today posed their questions.

UPND Katuba member of parliament Jonas Shakafuswa and his Kabompo West counterpart Ambrose Lufuma also asked follow up questions.

And contributing to the debate, Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba said government had a clear roadmap which will deliver a people driven constitution.

Mr Kabimba's sentiments were echoed by Lupososhi member of parliament Bwalya Chungu who said all lawmakers must partner with government to produce a people driven constitution.

However, Mr Chungu could not finish debating the motion as parliament was adjourned at 12:55.

The Lupososhi lawmaker is expected to wind up his debate on Tuesday before the house votes whether to adopt or reject the motion.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Shakafuswa Makes Triumphant Entry Into Parliament

By Paul Shalala in Katuba

After a three year absence from parliament, Jonas Shakafuswa is back at Manda Hill.

Following his loss to the late MMD area member of parliament Dr Patrick Chikusu in 2011, Mr Shakafuswa stayed out of parliament as a UPND member.

But at around 10:15hrs yesterday, Katuba parliamentary by-election Returning Officer Mutambi Mwanamwalye declared him duly elected Katuba member of parliament.

This followed Mr Shakafuswa's perfomance in Tuesday's Katuba by-election in which he beat 6 other candidates and emmerged victorious with 4, 787 votes.

After being declared victorious, Mr Shakafuswa said he was happy to have the privilege to represent Katuba in parliament again.

He said he was ready to work with 'useless MPs' and push development further.

As parliament resumed its usual sittings yesterday at 14:30hrs, Mr Shakfuswa majestically walked into parliament and took oath before the Speaker.

Mr Shakafuswa also took part in the protest by MPs inside parliament after Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba issued a ministerial statement on the constitution making process.

Earlier, there was confusion at the totalling center when a Zambia Airforce helicopter which went to the last remaining results from three remaining polling stations took long.

UPND members led by Kalomo Central member of parliament Request Muntanga, who was also UPND Katuba campaign manager, exchanged words with Electoral Commission of Zambia officers as to why the helicopter was delaying to bring the results.

At 06:00hrs on Wednesday, the helicopter took off from Moomba Catholic Parish Hall (which was the totalling center) and flew to Mboshya, Namayani and kananzhiba which are not accessible by road.

After a 2 hour long wait, the camouflaged military helicopter appeared from the sky and delivered the results at the totalling center much to the excitement of the jubilating UPND cadres.

Results for the losing candidates include PF candidate Moses Chilando who got 2, 747 votes followed by MMD's Cecil Holmes who got 734 votes.

NAREP candidate Joseph Mushalika polled 566 votes, Alliance for a Better Zambia candidate Patricia Mwashingwele polled 393 votes and UNIP candidate Friday Malawo got 124 votes.

National Revolution Party candidate Shakespeare Mwakamui trailed them all with a paltry 23 votes.

His party President Cozmo Mumba has since announced that he will petition the Katuba election results because his party sympathisers did not show up at polling stations due to intimidation.

Mr Mumba, who last month threatened to resign if his candidate loses in Katuba, says he will update the nation on his resignation on Saturday.