Sunday, July 27, 2014

Despite 21 Days In Captivity, Felix Ngoma Ready To Go Back To Darfur

By Paul Shalala

Upon arrival at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport at around 14:17hrs this afternoon, Zambian humanitarian worker Felix Ngoma (right) was all smiles.

He was not looking shaken as most rescued hostages look.

"Am a happy man, am free and my spirit is still high," said Ngoma at the airport's VIP lounge.

Mr Ngoma was abducted by the Janjaweed militia of Sudan's Darfur region who demanded a ransom for his safe return..

"After three weeks of intense negotiations by various teams, am happy to report that Mr Felix Ngoma is back in the country and he will be reunited with his family today," said Zambia's Foreign Affairs Minister Harry Kalaba who handed him over to his family at the Ministry's headquarters this afternoon.

During interviews with journalists at the airport, Mr Ngoma spoke of his hope and determination to see freedom after his abduction.

"I'm ready to go back to Sudan to continue my work. My days in captivity were hard. The first 4 days i had no food but later they fed me. I did not give up hope as i knew one day i would be free," he said.

He described his stay as horrible.

His wife Mary who could hardly speak much, also described the 21 days as horrible adding: "They were my longest 21 days of my life."

Mr Ngoma has worked for the International Organisation for Migration for a long time and he has been to Sudan on two different missions.

He first went to the war-torn East African nation in 2007 and stayed there for a year.

Mr Ngoma returned to Sudan in march this year until this morning when the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing
787 Dreamliner plane flew him back to Zambia to a heroes welcome.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Eastern Province Youths Receive 2014 Youth Development Funds

By Paul Shalala in Chipata

The disbursement of the 2014 Youth Development Fund in all the 10 Provinces of Zambia has commenced.

Eastern Province, which missed out last year, is the first province to receive its share of the annual budgetary allocation.

This year, 40 youths have been funded for their various businesses.

The number of this year's beneficiaries has increased by seven.

Last year's allocation of 33 has been grouped together with this year's beneficiaries.

Youth and Sport Minister, Chishimba Kambwili was in Chipata on Monday to deliver the 73 cheques to the beneficiaries.

During the handover ceremony, Mr Kambwili tendered an apology to the youths in Central and Eastern Provinces, for having failed to give them the funds in 2013.

The two provinces were not funded as their respective provincial committees delayed to submit names of respective beneficiaries.

The Minister later warned the beneficiaries to use the funds appropriately and later pay back the money to government as failure to do so will result in seizures or jail.

Mr Kambwili also clarified that the Youth Development Fund is non-partisan as the selection process is above boardt.

He reiterated that all beneficiaries are picked on merit and on the viability of their business proposals.

And Eastern Province Deputy Permanent Secretary Zachariah Luhanga revealed that 53 jobs have been created by the 18 groups that benefited from the 2012 allocation of the Youth Development Fund.

Meanwhile, the 73 beneficiaries come from all the districts of the Eastern Province.

Chipata dominated the list and the newly created Vubwi District only had one beneficiary.

Among the beneficiaries was Salati Njobvu of Chipata District who was given 26 thousand kwacha for his tailoring business.

SALATI is an ambitious young man who is disabled and crawls buts has a huge dream.

He plans to open a tailoring shop and create jobs for several youths in Chipata.

Joseph Legros is a Principal of a Youth college in Mambwe District where they train youths in various skills.

The Ministry has given his institute a grant of K60,000 which is expected to boost the institution's capacity.

For Vubwi District, Amina Sululu is the only person who was successful in receiving the Youth development fund and she hopes to grow her business.

Soon after receiving their cheques, the 73 beneficiaries of the 2013 and 2014 Youth development Funds embarked on a two day workshop on business management.

The youths were taught how to manage their business, how to handle money and how to payback the funds.

With the end of the workshop, the youths went back to their respective districts to start their businesses with the boost from government.

Among the businesses that were funded were metal fabrication, tailoring, agri-business, information and communication technology and education.

Meanwhile, Mr Kambwili has revealed that government is now forming a financial institution to effectively manage the Youth Development Fund.

"We have gone a step further, we have created the Youth Development Financial Enterprises which is like a bank. It will be disbursing funds to our youths. It name has been cleared by the Bank of Zambia and its now at PACRA where its being registered," Kambwili said.

With Eastern Province having received its share of the Youth Development Fund, Central Province is in the coming weeks expected to receive its share.

The Youth Development Fund is allocated in the National Budget on an annual basis.

It is distributed to provinces for onward allocation to successful youths who have brilliant business ideas.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Kafue Retirees Shine At Provincial Agriculture Show

By Paul Shalala in Kafue

Khosa Stadium in Kafue District was yesterday a hive of activity as it hosted this year's Lusaka Province Agriculture and Commercial Show.

All the seven districts in Lusaka Province exhibited their agriculture products at the show including the newly created Chirundu, Shibuyunji and Rufunsa.

The private sector as well as government ministries and departments where also present.

Despite not being in the agricultural sector, the Anti-Corruption Commission exhibited at the show and sensitised show goers on the evils of corruption.

The commission mounted a Public Address system at the show and played various anti-graft messages which ranged from what corruption is to how to report suspicious activities.

Even the recently recapitalised Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia also pitched up at the show, showcasing its fertiliser products which are now being produced in Zambia for the first time in decades.

Kafue District Council Chairman Gibson Sinkala, who was the guest of honor, told show goers that this year, government had made strides in promoting agriculture in the sector.

"This year government has increased the Farmer Input Support allocation for Lusaka Province from 66,964 packs for maize to 77,626 to ensure that more small scale farmers benefit from the program and are freed from hunger," he said.

Several awards were given to deserving private companies, government departments, individuals, cooperatives and clubs which exhibited at the show.

The Kafue Retirees Association was the most awarded as they bagged two awards in the cooperatives category and the overall best stand award.

The newly created Shibuyunji District managed to get third prize in the productivity awards while the first prize was scooped by Lusaka District.

The Ministry of Community Development in Kafue District walked away with the best government ministries award while Kavinra Enterprises scooped the Small scale industries award.

The show was held under the theme: Breaking new grounds

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Speaker Clears Vice President Over Police 'Invasion' Of Parliament

By Paul Shalala

Speaker of the National Assembly Dr. Patrick Matibini has cleared Vice President Dr. Guy Scott of any wrong doing following the entry of his security detail in parliament earlier this year when opposition lawmakers protested over the constitution.

Passing ruling yesterday on a point of order raised by Mwandi member of parliament Dr. Michael Kaingu on why Dr Scott's security detail entered the chamber on 28th February, Dr Matibini said the circumstances in which they entered where justified.
Dr Matibini added that the house was at the time in a state of gross disorderliness and Dr Scott deserved to be protected at all cost as he holds the second highest office in the land.

He further ruled that Dr Scott did not breach any rule of the house and he was in order to have his security in the house under the circumstances.

And the Speaker has also cleared Mwandi member of parliament Dr Michael Kaingu for allegedly uttering words insinuating that he had removed his respect for the speaker because he did not understand English.

Passing a ruling on a point of order raised by Sports Minister Chishimba Kambwili,, Dr Matibini said he read the transcript of Dr. Kaingu's debate and he did not find such words being uttered.

He said as far as the verbatim from that day's proceedings are concerned, Mr Kambwili's point of order did not stand as he never uttered such words.

Meanwhile, Dr Matibini has reprimanded Chipangali member of parliament Vincent Mwale for filming the constitution protests in parliament using an ipad.

Dr Matibini said by using an Ipad, Mr Mwale breached parliamentary rules and deserved to be punished.

However, the speaker only gave a verbal warning to the Chipangali lawmaker because he was a first offender.

Parliament Opens With Changes In The House

By Paul Shalala

The third meeting of the third session of the eleventh National Assembly opened on Tuesday in Lusaka with expectations high from various stakeholders.

A number of changes were noticed on the floor of the house due to various reshuffles and movements cross the floor.

Notable among them were Chongwe Member of Parliament Sylvia Masebo moving from the front to the backbech following her demotion from her ministerial position.

Another lawmaker who left her ministerial seat and set at the backbench is Lukashya member of parliament Efridah Kansembe who was dropped as Home Affairs Deputy Minister.

Mandevu member of parliament Jean Kapata moved from the middle bench to the front following her elevation to the position of Tourism Minister after the dismissal of Ms Masebo.

Mkushi North MP Ingrid Mpande left the backbench and sat in the middle row following her appointment as Community Development Deputy Minister.

Following a mini-reshuffle which saw about four cabinet ministers swapping offices a month ago, Cabinet ministers also swapped seats in parliament.

Eleven seats remain vacant in the house as seven of them were nullified by the courts of law.

These are Mangango, Mulobezi, Petauke Central, Zambezi West, Solwezi Central, Mkushi South, Vubwi, Kasenengwa and Malambo.

On top of that, seats belonging to Steven Masumba of Mufumbwe Constituency and Moses Muteteka of Chisamba constituency will remain vacant as both MPs were convicted by the courts of law and they have since appealed their sentences.

Meanwhile, stakeholders are hopeful that as members of parliament resume their sittings, several issues of national importance will be handled with national interest at heart.

With the hand over of the final draft constitution and the Constitution of Zambia Bill to the Ministry of Justice two months ago, the constitution is expected to feature high on people's expectations.

Monday, June 2, 2014

President Sata Says He Has Not Been Evacuated

By Paul Shalala

President Michael Sata this morning chaired a Cabinet meeting which was attended by several Cabinet ministers and other high ranking government officials.

As is the case for every Monday morning, Cabinet met at State House in Lusaka to deliberate on various issues of national importance.

The opening session was open to the media for about 10 minutes before the meeting went behind cameras.

President Sata, who was in his usual jovial mood, spoke on several issues before the closed door meeting started.

The head of state first started by rubbishing rumours that he had been evacuated outside the country for medical attention.

"I have not been evacuated outside the country, not even to Mpika. Even the Minister of Health who is supposed to arrange for that has not done so," said Sata as Health Minister Dr Joseph Kasonde noded his head in agreement.

Rumours about President Sata's alleged ill health have made rounds mostly in the online media in the past few weeks but State House has consistently said the head of state is enjoying good health.

Later, Mr SATA repeated his directive for ministers to go back to their constituencies and explain government programs and policies.

He said the opposition was spreading lies across the country and there was need for ministers to move around the country and explain government policies.

"You have government resources, you have government vehicles. Go to your constituencies and talk to our people," he added.

In Cabinet meetings, Ministers and some high ranking government officials discuss the state of the nation and review government perfomance.

The meeting also looks at bills and proposed policies before they are implemented or enacted.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Zambia Targets 4 Million Maize Metric Tonnes Harvest For 2014/2015 Farming Season

By Paul Shalala in Kafue

Zambia has flagged off its distribution of farming inputs for the 2014/2015 agriculture season with an ambitious target of producing a 4 million metric tonnes maize bumper harvest.

This comes barely a week after the announcement that in the 2013/2014 farming season, Zambia has recorded a projected 3.3 million metric tonnes maize bumper harvest.

Agriculture Minister Wylbur Simusa, who flagged the exercise, says the 4 million metric tonnes is achievable if the farming imputs are delivered on time to all districts.

“Am directing all Provincial and District Agriculture Coordinating Officers to ensure that all the farming inputs are delivered to our farmers by end of August or latest September. This year we want to produce a super bumper harvest,” said Simusa.

The flag off was held at the Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ) plant in Kafue town, a significant parastatal was recently recapitalized following years of its neglect.

NCZ has been contracted to produce 106,000 metric tonnes of compound D fertilizer which will be distributed to all farmers in the coming three months.

So far, NCZ has produced 10,300 metric tonnes of compound D.

The fertilizer will be delivered under the Farmer Input Support Program (FISP) which was chaotic last farming season.

To achieve the 4 million metric tonnes maize harvest, government has this year increased beneficiaries under the FISP program from 900,000 to 1 million small scale farmers.

According to Mr Simusa, this will help in increasing productivity which will in turn help in securing food security at the national level.

And Zambia Cooperative Federation (ZCF) Director General James Chirwa says the 4 million metric tonnes is achievable  if all the strategies are followed well.

Mr Chirwa says government must ensure it delivers inputs on time and extension services adequately offered to farmers.

“The minister talked about 4 million metric tonnes. But I can tell you that even 6 million is achievable if we put in place measures to empower our farmers in this marketing season,” said Chirwa.

He said the country must move to a level were farming inputs are permanently in the districts through out the year, as opposed to distributing them just before the rain season.