Tuesday, 24 May 2016

2016 Manifestos: What PF And UPND Are Bringing To The Table

Zambia holds general elections every 5 years
By Paul Shalala
They launched their campaigns and unveiled their manifestos for the next years.
The ‘big boys’ President Edgar Lungu and Hakainde Hichilema had a field day on Saturday as they pulled record crowds to show their popularity.
Social media was abuzz with photos of ‘mammoth’ rallies, over crowded venues and thousands of cheering supporters on the streets.
What went viral on social media were these images of supporters.
The real message was however missing from the conversations on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and everywhere else.
People were not talking about the manifestos that were unveiled.
Being the two major players in this year’s elections, the PF and UPND are of interest to the 6, 710, 455 registered voters.
Due to their bulky nature, these manifestos may be too long for the man on the street to read and digest.
But this blogger has summarised and analysed them.
Below is a short summary of the major issues in the two respective manifestos.
President Lungu at the launch of the PF manifesto
PF MANIFESTO 2016 – 2021

During the launch of the campaign at the Heroes National Stadium in Lusaka, President Lungu said the PF manifesto will ensure it continues with the developmental projects started in 2011.

President Lungu, who prides himself with a number of developmental projects done under his administration and that of the late President Michael Sata within the past five years, is running a campaign anchored on development where PF members are challenging the opposition to ‘Sontapo’ (Point) at what they have done for the nation.
Below are some of the summarised excepts from the PF manifesto as adapted from the launch speech:
HEALTH: We shall embark on making Zambia a Medical Hub. Instead of referring patients abroad, we shall transform selected Health facilities into Centres of Excellency where Zambian can access specialised services.
We will venture into a new era of the growing medicinal plants such as Itembusha and its associated Industries.
EDUCATION: On Education, Children will be equipped with the necessary skills by ensuring that there are enough Books, Teachers, Desks and Computers.

Learning Institutions will be fitted with State of the Art equipment and technology.
AGRICULTURE: We shall diversify the Agriculture and expand the livestock Sectors to ensure food security and make Zambia the bread basket in the region
Part of the PF supporters at Heroes National Stadium
ENERGY: With the PF government's massive invested in the energy sector, loadshedding is shortly become a thing of the past.
We shall complete and expand the projects we have started in Solar, Coal and Hydro
INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT: The Patriotic Front will continue with the infrastructure development as we are the only ones who can finish them because we have the experience and the tested capacity to deliver.
We shall empower Councils countrywide to build low-cost Houses in order to improve the living stands of our people and upgrade the Townships. Once re-elected, we will complete the remaining road projects

The UPND Manifesto 2016 – 2021
On Saturday, Mr Hichilema unveiled the party’s new manifesto which is anchored on economic revival.
HH at the UPND manifesto launch in Kitwe
This was at a rally held at Kitwe’s Freedom Park grounds.
This manifesto puts Mr Hichilema at the center of the 10 points and describes him as a ‘fixer’ who will use his economics profession to resuscitate the Zambian economy.
Below is the verbatim of all the Ten Points Plan as posted on the UPND website:
Point One: We plan to start with job creation and employment. From the first day in office, our Government will help Zambian companies to create jobs, by ensuring we start manufacturing most of the things we import. Isn’t it an embarrassment that we are importing toothpicks? Are you telling me we can fail to make toothpicks? We will promote investment, trade and economic growth, diversifying the economy and investing in under-developed sectors with huge potential for job and wealth creation such as tourism.
Point Two: We will be an attack on poverty and inequality, with a strong focus on youth and women. On day one we will start addressing youth and women empowerment. The women folk present here today, can’t you sow uniforms. So why can’t Government give you contracts to supply uniforms in Government schools? Youths are found making furniture at Nakadoli market. Why is Government importing furniture for their offices and not buying furniture from Nakadoli market? This is what we mean by empowering women and the youth when you give us a vote.
Point Three: We will be investing in our people through education. There is no nation in this world that has advanced without a population that has the right skills. The youths that will be making chairs and desks for Government schools will need education before they get skills to start making desks. Our women who will be supplying uniforms to Government schools need education first before they can learn knitting and tailoring. This is why we are saying education for all is a must. The waste we shall save from ending corruption in procurement of Government goods and services, by-elections and other areas will be invested in education. Now listen carefully here. In Zambia building a road costs 2 million dollars per kilometer, while in South Africa its 400,000 dollars. This means the money we pay for one kilometer, you can do 5 kilometers in South Africa. Why are our roads expensive? It’s because of corruption.
Point Four: The PF has failed to run the power sector resulting in load-shedding, limited and unreliable access and high costs of production. How are businesses supposed to operate under such conditions? Our plan is very simple, we are discussing with the private sector to build power stations from renewables. What do I mean colleagues? Zesco is broke that they cannot build new power stations, we will talk to our friends in the private sector to build power stations, and the power produced will be sold to ZESCO, that is how we will end load shedding.
Part of the UPND supporters at the launch
Point Five: We will improve competitiveness so that our local businesses can grow and create jobs, and new ones can start up. We will tackle areas such as heavy regulation, the high costs of transport and trade, access to finance and power supply.
Point Six: We will focus on aggressively cutting Government waste. We are not going to have 71 ministers in our Government the way our friends did. We are going to reduce on the number of ministers and review their conditions of service. A minister gets 800 liters of fuel per month, that is about 500,000 kwacha for the entire cabinet. By the end of the 5 years of PF we will have spent over 29 billion old currency on fuel for ministers. This does not include the free phones, cars, housing and many other things we provide to them. We cannot continue making a few people rich at the expense of 14 million Zambians.
Point Seven: We will develop our agriculture sector. Our job once you put us in power is to reduce the price of mealie meal. How will we do this? We will increase farmer support in both input provision and reduce the unit cost of production. In this country a farmer produces about 40 bags of maize per hectare when it is possible to produce 100 bags with the same inputs. What farmers need is a robust extension service system so that they can produce more by improving their management of fields. Once this happens then the price of a 50kg bag of maize will come down and with it mealie meal. We will also help farmers diversify their crop to produce other foods and grow produce for neighbouring countries.
Point Eight: We will end the flip-flops and policy inconsistencies that are costing people jobs. In this place over 10,000 miners and their affiliates lost employment. And the PF Government looked on as our people were losing jobs. From the time the PF took over they have changed mining tax policy three times, scaring investors away. What we are doing immediately you give us the instruments of power is to instill confidence in the economy. As a responsible Government we will rather lose a bit of mineral royalty than see you lose your wages and your livelihood.
Point Nine: Building a healthy nation, cannot be compromised on. Colleagues, people are going to hospitals that have no medicines and doctors. We have a shortage of over 13,000 nurses and yet we have thousands of young people looking for jobs – another PF miscalculation. Meanwhile, the high maternal mortality rate remains a stain on the conscience of our nation. Immediately we take office we are reforming procurement of medicines in hospitals. The money we will save from a reduced cabinet and corruption will be used to hire nurses, doctors and buy medicines. We have already spoken to people that are willing to come and set up mini water plants in places like Chamboli so that you people can have access to piped water.
Point Ten: Good Governance. Zambians under PF are living in fear. If you say something against the Government or the President, then you are threatened with arrest. Police are being misused by the PF. People have to apply for permits to have church meetings. We are taking over Government to ensure that Zambians can enjoy their rights. We will immediately repeal the Public Order Act. We are also going to embark on reforming the Anti Corruption Commission and the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) to make them independent bodies to pursue corrupt elements. There will be no sacred cows in a UPND-led Government. We need to fight corruption to the bitter end, it has made us poor and I am telling you now, anyone who is corrupt will face the law. Corruption is a cancer that needs to be aggressively tackled.

With the above manifestos, Zambians can now start analysing the two parties based on what they are bringing to the table.
Of course without disadvantaging the other ‘third parties’ who are yet to unveil their manifestos, this blogger will endeavour to analyse and summarise each and every party manifesto as and when they are released by the respective parties.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Zambia's Main Parties Launch Their Election Campaigns On Saturday

By Paul Shalala

It is being called Big Saturday by those so passionate about this year's campaigns.

It is a day when the 'Big Boys' get to the people, tell them what they have done and what they offer them for the next five years.

On Saturday, the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) and the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) are both expected to launch their 2016 campaigns and their manifestos.

This follows the start of the officially sanctioned election period which commenced on 16 May.

PF will hold its launch at the 60,000 Heroes National Stadium in the capital Lusaka while the UPND will hold its launch at Freedom Park in Kitwe on the Copperbelt.

PF and UPND are the big boys of the 2016 general elections while the rest of the more than two dozen political parties are treated like what American political pundits call 'Third parties.'

President Edgar Lungu, who won a bitterly fought poll in January last year following the death of President Michael Sata in October 2014, is hoping to get a full five year mandate of his own on top of the one year seven months he would have served by the time the polls will be held on 11 August.

Using his position as the incumbent President, his access to public media, ruling party loyalists and the support of a number of immediate past opposition Members of Parliament, President Lungu straight away becomes a frontrunner and hopes to get a clean sweep of the votes.

Bolstered by the completion of the construction of several roads, schools, hospitals and several other infrastructure, the ruling party handlers have even coined the campaign slogan 'Sonta Epowabomba' meaning 'Point At What You Done' to project the President as a working head of state.

Key to President Lungu's campaign will be the person he will choose as his running mate.

Repeatedly, he has announced that his running mate will be a woman.

At the campaign launch, President Lungu is also expected to unveil the names of all candidates who have been adopted to contest the 156 parliamentary seats as well as the local government seats.

On the other hand, President Lungu's arch-rival Hakainde Hichilema of the UPND will be giving it a try for a straight fifth time.

This follows his unsuccessful presidential bids in 2006, 2008, 2011 and 2015.

Bolstered by the defection of several immediate past ruling and other opposition Members of Parliament including former President Sata's son Mulenga, Hichilema is positioning himself as an alternative to the PF.

With the recent economic challenges the country has faced such as the electricity crisis, high inflation and increase in prices of mealie meal, Mr Hichilema has been presenting himself as 'Mr Fixer' who will use his vast knowledge in economics to bring hope to Zambians.

According to some observers, his choice of a running mate is being narrowed down to two of his deputies in his party.

Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba, who is popularly known as GBM, is a wealthy politician who is a former Defence Minister and immediate past ruling party Member of Parliament in Kasama Central Constituency in the Northern Province of Zambia.

Another UPND Vice President is Dr. Canicius Banda, a medical personnel-cum politician whose rhetoric at public rallies usually makes headlines.

The UPND is also likely to unveil its candidates for parliament and local government at the launch.

Both parties will be hoping to win the elections in the first round due to the fact that in the second round, a re-run is usually a difficult task due to the high stakes.

The amendments to the constitution enacted in January 2016 provide for presidential candidates to be elected through a majoritarian system by amassing 50% plus one or more votes.

The new laws also provide for a Vice President who is elected during the general elections as a Running Mate, a provision Zambians have been crying for since 1991.

For the former ruling party the MMD, the party is still rocked by indiscipline and infighting.

A faction allied to the party president Dr. Nevers Mumba seems prepared to contest the elections under him while another faction led by immediate past Lunte MP Felix Mutati is pushing for a party convention this weekend to choose a presidential candidate.

Just like last year, the MMD is yet again finding itself fighting during an election period and its presidential candidates may risk being 'beaten' by the number of rejected ballots just like Dr. Mumba did in 2015.

Other politicians who are likely to contest this year's presidential elections are FDD's Edith Nawakwi, Wynter Kabimba of the Rainbow Party and the Green Party's Peter Sinkamba.

Major Saudi Arabian Agro Processor To Invest In Zambia

By Paul Shalala in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

A major Saudi Arabian agro processor has expressed interest to invest in Zambia and tap the nation's agro raw materials.

Halwani Brothers, a family-run agro processor, produces various products such as cheese, jam, halawa, ice cream and several beef products.

The company, which commenced operations in 1830, is worth US$1 billion and annually makes US$400 million.

On Wednesday, Zambia's President Edgar Lungu toured a number of its factories which sit on a 60,000 hectares of land owned by the company on the outskirts of the Red Sea resort city of Jeddah.

"We process over 20,000 tonnes of raw materials annually. Most of these materials come from African countries such as Ethiopia and Sudan," said Halwani Brothers Chief Executive Officer Saleh Ahmed Hefni.

He also disclosed that the firm only has one factory in Africa and it is located in Egypt.

Mr Hefni said the firm supplies many African countries from its Egyptian factory and South Africa is one of their major markets.

During the tour, President Lungu interacted with a number of female employees who were packing jam in one of the factories.

After the tour, the Zambian head of state could not hide his joy of seeing females working alongside men in a strict Islamic state.

"We are always told that women are discriminated against and not allowed to work here. What i have seen here is otherwise. You have 10% of your workforce as females, when i come back in future let me find 50% but dont exceed that.......," joked President Lungu.

And the company chief said Halwani Brothers was employing females because they want them to be an integral part of the workforce.

"We have 1,000 employees and more than 100 of them are women. Here in Saudi Arabia there is a deliberate government policy to employ women and we are just following it," said Mr Hefni.

President Lungu later urged the company to come to Zambia, set up a factory and use local raw materials to process finished products.

"We have eight neighbouring countries who are also into agriculture. Setting up a factory in our country wand it will give you a big market in the region. As a government we will give you the protection and support," said the President.

In response, Mr Hefni said he will visit Zambia soon to look at prospects of establishing a permanent base for the company's operations in southern Africa.

Next week, the head of the Saudi Fund for Development is visiting Zambia to finalise preparations for the construction of the US$100 King Abdulaziz Hospital in Lusaka which will have an 800 bed capacity.\

The hospital is planned to be constructed in a densely populated area of the capital and it will be specialised in women and children.

The visit will also be used to finalise details of the US$20 million government to government five year oil deal which was agreed in February and is yet to be operationalised through the state owned Saudi Aramco oil firm.

And in a few months time, a business delegation from Zambia is expected to visit Saudi Arabia to forge business links with their Saudi counterparts in the wake of President Lungu's recent two day state visit to the Kingdom.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Saudi Arabia Offers Five Years US$20M Cheap Oil To Zambia

By Paul Shalala in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

The Saudi Arabian government, through the Saudi Fund for Development, has offered a US$20 million revolving fund to supply cheap oil to Zambia and reduce domestic fuel prices for the next five years.

The oil money, which is being offered at a 3.5% interest, is meant to reduce Zambia's fuel prices which are one of the highest in Southern Africa.

Currently, a liter of petrol in Zambia is sold at around K10 (US$1).

Zambia occasionally faces shortages of fuel which mostly leads to the increase in pump prices.

Due to lapses in procurement processes and sometimes bureaucracy, shortages occur and most of the times they result in panic buying and motorists spending hours, queuing up for fuel at filling stations. 

The country imports its fuel from the Middle East through the Tanzanian port city of Dar es Salaam and the commodity is then transported through the Tazama pipeline to the city of Ndola where Zambia's only oil refinery is located.

 "We are now in the final stages of our negotiations and we are hopeful that within a month, the supply of cheap Saudi Arabian oil to Zambia will start," said Zambia's Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ibrahim Mumba.

The Zambian diplomat says the Saudis have already given a go ahead to help Zambia but a few logistics are remaining before the deal can be done.

"The Saudi Fund has come to our aid. We have already spoken to Saudi Aramco, the largest oil company in the world and they are ready to produce and ship the fuel to Zambia."

It is understood that the Saudi Fund has offered to release the US$20 million to send the first consignment of the fuel but talks on how the funds can be transferred to Zambia are still on.

Zanaco, formerly the Zambia National Commercial Bank, is in talks with the Saudi Fund to help in the payments for the deal.

Zambia's President Edgar Lungu is expected in the Saudi Arabian port city of Jeddah on Wedneday for a two day state visit.

According to officials in his advance party, President Lungu is expected to broker the oil deal and several other bilateral issues which would benefit Zambia.

Already, Saudi Arabia has financed the construction of the Kalabo-Sioma road and the rehabilitation of the University Teaching Hospital, Zambia's largest referral hospital which is based in Lusaka.

 Ambassador Ibrahim Mumba
Over a year ago, Saudi Arabia offered to build a US$100 million specialist hospital for women and children  to help in the reduction of infact and maternal mortality rates.

The 800 bed hospital is expected to be based in a densely populated urban area but progress on the project has been allegedly delayed by the Zambian authorities who are yet to agree to the Saudi terms and conditions.

Saudi Arabia and Zambia each have years of diplomatic representations but Zambia's mission in Riyadh was closed decades ago andit only re-opened a few years ago.

Despite abit of progress on a number of fronts, the two countries still do not have a Joint Permanent Commission where bilateral issues, disputes and collaborations could be discussed.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Chinese Firm Building K150M Dola Hill Mini City In Ndola

 By Paul Shalala in Ndola
President Lungu (middle) at the event

A Chinese firm is investing K150 million in a mini city project in Zambia’s mining town of Ndola.

Mei Mei Limited is constructing the Dola Hill Mini City which will have over 70 houses, warehouses, an amusement park, a five star hotel, a shopping mall and wholesales.

The Chinese company has so far constructed what they call whole city which opened to the public on Wednesday.

“During the construction stage of the Dola Hill Mini City project, 500 direct jobs will be created and 300 more will be created indirectly,” said Jacky Gao, Mei Mei Limited Executive Chairman.

The company entered the Zambian market  in 2007 through quarrying and so far it has expanded to Solwezi, Lusaka, Ndola and other small towns.

In all its operations, Mei Mei Limited has employed 1,000 Zambians on a permanent basis since 2007.

On Wednesday, President Edgar Lungu broke the ground for the project.
The Zambian head of state called on foreign investors to pay local workers good wages.

“It is unfair for some investors to pay slave wages to their employees. This is not good. We want investors who just come and make profits here. Mei Mei Limited I hope you will take keen interest and pay the workers well,” said President Lungu.

He also said the project comes at a time when government is building the new Greenfields International Airport on the outskirts of Ndola.

The Dola Hill Mini City is a 10 year project which will constructed in different phases.

The project is located along the Ndola-Kitwe dual carriageway and next to the Levy Mwanawasa stadium, which was also constructed by the Chinese a few years ago as a gift to the Zambian people.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Copperbelt To Have First Ever Livestock Laboratory

By Paul Shalala in Luanshya
Cattle grazing in the Copperbelt town of Chililabombwe

Construction of the K4.5 million veterinary laboratory at Baluba in Luanshya have advanced.

Marks Industries Limited is constructing the two story building which will be helpful in fighting animal diseases on the Copperbelt.

It is a project which is part of the diversification process from mining to other industries on the Copperbelt.

For decades, Copperbelt province has relied on mining but slowly, agriculture is becoming the second industry in the area.

The construction of this multi-million state of the art veterinary laboratory will also be the first of its kind in the province.

For an area, with an extractive history of minerals, agriculture and animal husbandry seems to be taking root.

This laboratory in Baluba is expected to help authorities in combating animal diseases.

The structure is expected to have latest equipment using hitech gadgets to fight diseases which have ravaged the country.

The technology in this laboratory will be one of the best in the country.

So far, the ground floor is almost complete and works on the first floor are expected to start next week.

"We have done a lot of work and we are on course. Next week we will be pouring concrete on the second floor,” said Marks Industries Project Manager Brown Banda.

However, those in authority have their worries.

“This project has taken too long. Let me use this opportunity to ask the contractor to expedite the works. We want the laboratory to start working as soon as possible,” said Copperbelt Province Permanent Secretary Reverend Howard Sikwela.

But the contractor is optimistic that works are on course.

“We are hopeful that by October this year, we can finish all the works and hand over this laboratory to government,” said Marks Industries Public Relations Officer Fabian Mutale.

Currently, livestock farmers on the Copperbelt send samples of their animals to Lusaka for tests.

This is because the technology used to detect diseases and treat animals is not yet in the province.

But all that will be in the past, with the completion of this laboratory.

"Am happy with this project and i hope it can finish soon so that we can protect our animals from diseases," said John Tonga, a farmer in Mufulira who has been keeping livestock for over six years.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Zambia's US$4.2 Million Irrigation Project Kicks Off

By Paul Shalala in Luanshya
Senior officers at the project site

The World Bank has funded the Zambia Correctional Service (ZCS) to a tune of US$ 4.1 million to set up 21 center points countrywide which are expected to irrigate over 100 hectares of land.

Under the Irrigation Development Support Program run by the ZCS, this funding is aimed at boosting Zambia's food security and reduce hunger.

The installation of these center pivots has already commenced and expectations are that the pivots will be able to produce maize and other crops year round.

Zambia's staple food is maize and the commodity sometimes becomes scarce due to the over reliance of rain water for growing the crop.

One site where the center pivots will be installed is Luanshya District on the Copperbelt.

There, a contractor is already on site and works have commenced.

The Zambia Correctional Service has already dug trenches and cleared the land where the four pivots will be installed.

Greenline Agricultural Service, the company which is installing the pivots, has started installing the first pivot which is expected to be complete within seven days.

"We are finishing the first center pivot within seven days. The remaining three will also finish within a month. We want to hand over this project to government as soon as possible," said Alfred Simfukwe, Greenline Agrultuural Limited Managing Director. 

This project will cost US$1.4 million.

Zambia Correction Service Commissioner General Percy Chato recently visited the Chitwi Prison Farm in Luanshya where the center pivots are being installed.
Trenches have already been dug
Mr Chato said the project is expected to triple the service’s annual output of maize production which is meant to feed prisoners and some surplus sold to the public.

He said once fully operational, the 21 center pivots will help in the production of maize throughout the year and will help reduce mealie meal prices and shortages of the staple food.

"We want to be a major contributor to food security in the country. At the moment, our contribution to national maize output is minimal but when all the 21 center pivots start working, we shall be producing maize in hundreds of hectares," said Mr Chato.

The Zambia Correctional Service was formerly known as the Zambia Prison Service.

Initially, the institution was running farms to feed prisoners but in the recent years, it has gone commercial.

In Kabwe, where the ZCS headquarters are based, the institution runs a milling plant which produces thousands of bags of mealie meal.

ZCS is even running a retail shop in Kabwe where the commodity is sold to the public.