Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Motorists queue up for fuel at a refill station. PHOTO: fm101.mw

Hong Kong, Jun. 13 – An energy crisis has engulfed the southern African state of Zambia about two months after it gave out five million litres of fuel to its eastern neighbour, Malawi.

Over the past week, Africa’s top copper miner has been failing to meet increasing demand for both fuel and electricity, which has resulted in some industries and mines to down scale their daily production.

Experts warn that if central government delays to take action, the energy crisis might spiral into an economic disaster for the mineral rich African state.

“There is no fuel at many gas stations not only in Lusaka… Zesco [power utility firm] has also increased their load shedding even when it is cold season [winter],” said Paxina Ngazimbi, a Lusaka resident.

Authorities have blamed the on-going fuel shortage to a burst on an interlink pipeline which feeds Zambia with crude oil from a port in Tanzania, while persistent electricity rationing is reported to have been sparked by increased domestic usage as more people attempt to fight the chilly weather this winter.

A van belonging to Zambia’s energy firm, Zesco PHOTO: zambianewsfeatures.com

Peak power demand when Zambian consumers switch on their heaters outstrips the 1 800MW it currently generates, although Zambia expects to have a surplus of 600MW by 2016, the nation’s utility firm said at the onset of the latest power rationing circle.

An increase in electricity generation will allow Zambia to supply excess to countries such as Zimbabwe, Malawi, South Africa, Namibia and Botswana which also experience electricity shortfalls during peak periods.

Jeremiah “JC Blaze” Chalwe, a radio jockey at a Lusaka radio station said power rationing continues to worsen daily while some selected filling stations still had stocks of fuel.

“Load shedding is the order of the day we even getting used to it. Most of the filling stations are not working at all and am told the situation is worse on the Copperbelt [Zambia’s mining region],” Chalwe said.

Zambia consumes about two million litres of diesel per day and 700,000 litres of petrol daily. The country has no domestic reserves and crude oil supplies are sourced from Middle East through an interlink pipeline from its north-east neighbour, Tanzania, at a cost.

About 80% of Zambia’s annual export earnings are derived from mining followed by agriculture and tourism.  Economic analysts say prolonged fuel and electricity shortages in the country might have adverse repercussions on mining and agriculture activities.

“Things are not easy right now but I am sure something will be done very soon. It’s not easy… but we are very positive something will be done,” said Thomas Mkandawire, an executive at another Lusaka radio station.

Months after being ushered into office, President Michael Sata and his administration scrapped off the 15-day strategic reserves fund which allowed oil marketing companies to stock up reserves for a considerable number of days and invited fresh tenders for the supply of 1.4 million tonnes of oil after the expiry of a two-year supply contract with Glencore International plc, a Switzerland headquartered commodities trading company.

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Former Zambian leader Rupiah Banda with lawyer Robert Amsterdam. PHOTO: robertamsterdam.com

Hong Kong, Apr. 29 – Lawyers representing former Zambian president Rupiah Banda’s son, Henry, have sought the intervention of  various United Nations human rights bodies over attempts by Zambian authorities to extradite him from South Africa to face allegations of fraud and corruption.

Lawyers fear extraditing Banda from South Africa – where he holds permanent residence – would not guarantee him a fair hearing because of what lead lawyer, Robert Amsterdam, describes as “politically motivated persecution” by the Patriotic Front administration led by President Michael Sata.

Amsterdam’s legal firm, Amsterdam & Peroff LLP, sent out two letters [Banda UN Letter – 25.04.12] to various UN human rights bodies last Wednesday April 25, whose full contents were availed to the media Sunday.

Map of Barotseland PHOTO: Gabirro/Wikipedia.org

Hong Kong – Mar. 27 – Traditional leaders in western Zambia agreed Tuesday to establish an independent state – Barotseland.

The western region – which partially borders Namibia, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo – has been pressing for a breakaway state from Zambia, in a struggle that left at least two killed and many others arrested.

Leaders of the Barotse National Council have requested for independence on grounds that the union between Zambia and Barotseland did not conform to the Barotse Agreement of 1964 – an agreement which unified the two regions at the time of Zambia’s independence from Britain in October 1964.

Officials from the region’s seven districts have all agreed to the creation of a breakaway state – whose Constitution, flag, currency and emblem have already designed.

The resolutions to establish an independent state were reached during a Barotse National Council caucus in the region’s capital Mongu.

It was also agreed the United Nations get involved in ensuring that an independent state was created in western Zambia.

Legislators from the region and currently serving in Zambia’s national assembly have been asked to step down and help establish Barotseland.

If the resolutions are allowed to stand, Barotseland will become Africa’s newest state after south Sudan seceded from Sudan last year.

Officials from Zambia’s central government were not available for immediate comment.

Ex-president Banda (l) and his predecessor Sata (r) in Lusaka. Banda is expected to be prosecuted once his immunity from prosecution is successfully lifted by Parliament. PHOTO: lusakatimes.com

Hong Kong, Feb.11 – Zambia’s immediate past president and Michael Sata’s predecessor, Rupiah Banda, is to join a contingent of Zambian dignitaries expected to fly to Gabon Sunday to witness the close of the African Cup of Nations tournament in Libreville.

Banda who lost the presidency to Sata in September 2011 has been accused of mismanaging the country’s affairs while he served as head of state.

The relationship between Banda and Sata has been soured mainly by the media and some sections of the public who accuse the former leader of economic mismanagement and corruptly enriching his family and close associates with state resources.

Banda has maintained his innocence, although calls to have him prosecuted are mounting.

State House in Lusaka said Saturday, Banda would be joining the country’s first president Kenneth Kaunda and other dignitaries on a flight to Gabon to watch the final match between Zambia and Ivory Coast and witness the official closing ceremony of the tournament which started last month.

“Former president Banda will be part of the Zambian delegation to Libreville, Gabon to attend the closing ceremony and final match,” Sata’s PR aide, George Chellah said.

“This was after President Sata requested the former head of state, who is an ardent soccer fan to join first president Kenneth David Kaunda, vice-president Guy Scott and other Zambian dignitaries who are travelling to Gabon to give solidarity and support to the Chipolopolo Boys as they play their final match tomorrow (Sunday).”

Last year, President Sata’s government refused to fund Banda’s trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo where he was invited by US-based Carter Centre to lead a group of election observers in DRC.

Several officers that served in Banda’s administration have either been sacked, arrested or facing investigations on various charges ranging from corruption, abuse of authority of office, racketeering to money laundering.

President Sata has re-launched an anti-graft crusade that he warns, “will not spare anyone”.

Meanwhile,  Sata has sent a goodwill and solidarity message to the Zambian national soccer team “Chipolopolo Boys”, ahead of  Sunday’s African Cup of Nations final match in Libreville, Gabon.

“No doubt, Zambia has become one of the continent’s leading team in football following a convincing and outstanding performance of our heroic Chipolopolo Boys at the 2012 Orange Africa Cup of Nations tournament,” Sata said.

Zambia’s Emmanuel Mayuka (l), Christopher Katongo (c) and Francis Kasonde (r) celebrating. PHOTO: mtnfootball.com

Hong Kong, Feb. 09 – Over 40 casualty cases were recorded Wednesday night at Zambia’s University Teaching Hospital (UTH) after post-match celebrations turned violent and unruly, hospital authorities said.

UTH said it had treated 46 casualties who were injured after Zambia national soccer team  – “Chipolopolo” – beat Ghana’s “Black Stars” to advance to the finals of the on-going African Nations Cup tournament co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

“Out of these 13 are assault cases while 33 are Road Traffic Accidents,” hospital officials said.

Emmanuel Mayuka's lone goal inspired and ignited the victory celebrations across Zambia. PHOTO: mtnfootball.com

And residents of a high density suburb south west of the capital Lusaka torched a motor vehicle after it ran over a person celebrating Zambia’s 1:0 win over Ghana.

Three people have so far been killed in post-match celebrations that are mostly characterized by heavy alcohol intake, careless driving and loud blowing of South African popularized local trumpets – “Vuvuzelas”

Zambia will face Ivory Coast over the weekend for the top prize while Ghana and Mali will battle it out for third and fourth positions.

Zambia announced the currency devaluation Monday.

Hong Kong, Jan. 23 – Zambian authorities have announced intentions to redenominate the local currency – Kwacha – by dividing the current notes by 1000 and knocking off three zeros from all the denominations.

This means that K1, 000 will be K1, K5, 000 will be K5 while K50, 000 will become K50.

Finance Minister, Alexander Chikwanda and newly appointed Central Bank Governor, Michael Gondwe announced the redenomination of the Kwacha at a news briefing in Lusaka Monday.

“The rebasing had to be done when all the fundamentals like inflation and GDP growth were right and we think they are now right,” Chikwanda said.

Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Ghana are some of the African countries that once rebased their currencies.

In July 2007, Ghana chopped off four zeros from the Cedi. Instead of having 10,000 Cedis, it  now has 1 cedi for 10000.

"I am alive" Zambian President Michael Sata dismisses claims he was assassinated. PHOTO: afp

Hong Kong, Jan. 23 – An unverified alteration on Wikipedia that Zambian President Michael Sata had died in an assassination Sunday morning prompted the presidency to strongly criticize online media and suspects facing corruption charges.

Wikipedia – a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit- allowed the publication of over the wire of an edited biography of President Sata claiming that the Zambian head of state had been killed.

“Michael Sata was assassinated in the early hours of the 22nd of January. He was killed through a single shot to the chest, which proved to be fatal,” read the falsified Wikipedia alteration which has since been deleted.

Source

The alteration appears to have been done in the United Kingdom town of Crawley by unknown persons using the IP Address 82.11.64.177 through the domain name virginmedia.com with Virgin Media Limited as Internet Service Providers.

The falsified alteration was sent through a Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) or Digital Subscriber Loop – a family of technologies that provide internet access by transmitting digital data over the wires of a local telephone network.

The coordinates for the altered post appeared to be 51°6’48″N -0°10’58″W while the weather station code for the alter was UKXX0816, signifying that it was done in the England region of the UK.

The falsified death claim was available and accessed worldwide early hours of Sunday.

The false report was apparently picked by news blogs that flight Zambian news and current affairs but later pulled off after State House in Lusaka issued a statement in rebuttal.

Response

Incensed by the altered biography, President Sata’s public relations aide, George Chellah expressed misgivings and strongly blamed a named news website and some unidentified persons that are apparently being investigated on corruption charges for the claims that President Sata had died.

Chellah said State House was saddened by the malicious, sadistic and unfounded story that claimed that President Sata was dead.

“This follows the publication of an insensible and sickening article by a named uncouth website, claiming that the Head of State was assassinated in the early hours of today, January 22, 2012,” Chellah said. “As a matter of fact, State House is aware that such horrid stories are being perpetrated by certain rogue elements, with a bulk of them being investigated for gross misconduct and corruption in the ongoing crusade against graft.”

The presidency has since ordered Zambia’s security wing to hunt down and arrest publishers of online news sites and blogs that produce Zambian related content.

Blackout

The order to hunt down online publications by authorities in Zambia comes barely two weeks after Wikipedia and other major global outfits staged an access blackout to protest against pieces of legislation being pushed by the US authorities regarding copyright on the Internet.

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) are bills in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, respectively.

These bills are presented as efforts to stop copyright infringement committed by foreign web sites.

Opponents of the bills – including Wikipedia – have criticized the bills as a channel that would disrupt free expression and harm the Internet.

Years ago, then Zambian president Fredrick Chiluba’s photo on State House website was defaced by hackers, a case which was later taken to court after the alleged perpetrator was tracked down.

This is not the first time President Sata has been reported to have died.

Reports of his death had become common during election campaigns  prior to his ascendancy to the presidency  in September 2011.

Zambia’s Internet regulator, ZICTA is yet to comment on the involvement of Internet media in the latest Wikipedia alteration.

Nicolae Bogdan Buzaianu suspected to be behind the rebuttal blog posts. PHOTO: enationaltv.files.wordpress.com

Dhaka, Dec. 29 – A series of blog posts claiming that Switzerland-based businessman Nicolae Bogdan Buzaianu who has been implicated in soured gold deal in Zambia have emerged online.

The posts published on different word press blogs claim Buzaianu has been cleared of his alleged involvement in the gold scam and that Zambian President Michael Sata has since apologized for wrongly implicating the Romanian-born businessman in the procurement of the gold which allegedly went missing from the vaults of the Drug Enforcement Commission under mysterious circumstances.

The blog posts which seem to have been authored by Buzaianu or his close aides are published on a blog with Nicolae Buzaianu’s name as the blog header.

Some of the posts state that Buzaianu is not suing Zambia for defamation or claiming US$100m while others say his appointment as Zambia’s representative to UNESCO was never revoked by Sata but that he voluntarily resigned.

It is not yet clear who is behind this arsenal of rebuttal weblogs being published online – some of which claim to have been issued by State House media unit in Lusaka.

What is clear though is that the posts are intended to disassociate Buzaianu from the gold scam which has sucked up several officials that served in ex-president Rupiah Banda’s three year administration – including Banda himself, his son James, his ex-pr aide Dickson Jere and former first Lady Maureen Mwanawasa.

The rebuttal posts appear under wordpress blogs with names such as michaelsatapresssecretary, thediplomatpress, africasvoice, zambiaamswers and fakes of the post, the watchdog and wiredproject316.

Both Banda and State House have not commented on the blog posts.

Prolonged traffic jams are symbolic of Dhaka.

Dhaka, Dec. 28 – The transport system in Dhaka is not something you will find in Lusaka, Zambia or any other part of the world.

Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital city has an acute shortage of transport. The road network is limited. It seems there are as many modes of transport as is the population. The road is as chock blocked as the various transport objects available in this city.

Movement from one place to the other is not easy at all. It takes an art of patience and creativity to wade through the Dhaka’s road network. There are constant and prolonged traffic jams on almost all roads and highways in Dhaka. The roads are wide enough but there is no organised manner in which traffic moves.  A four-lane highway can have six rolls of traffic heading in all any direction. Lane discipline and road courteous are not in the books of Dhaka’s road users. The overwhelming presence of private owned vehicles, public buses, motor bikes, bicycles, pedestrians and the Dhaka famous Rickshaws all add up to the traffic build-up in this city. Dhaka is known as the Rickshaw Capital of the World. Approximately 400,000 cycle rickshaws run each day. This is way too much for a limited road network.

Rickshaw City

The cycle rickshaw is a small-scale local means of transport; it is also known by a variety of other names such as velotaxi, pedicab, bikecab, cyclo, becak, trisikad, or trishaw or, simply, rickshaw which also refers to auto rickshaws, and the, now uncommon, rickshaws pulled by a person on foot. Cycle rickshaws are human-powered, a type of tricycle designed to carry passengers in addition to the driver. They are often used on a for hire basis. Cycle rickshaws are widely used in major cities around the world, but most commonly in cities of South, Southeast and East Asia.

Rickshaws are used for various tasks and come in different designs. Here a cycle Rickshaw is used to transport bags of building cement.

An auto rickshaw or three-wheeler (tuk-tuk, trishaw, auto, rickshaw, autorick, bajaj, rick, tricycle, mototaxi, or baby taxi in popular parlance) is a usually three-wheeled cabin cycle for private use and as a vehicle for hire. It is a motorized version of the traditional pulled rickshaw or cycle rickshaw. Auto rickshaws are an essential form of urban transport in many developing countries like Bangladesh.

Jaywalking or Right of Way?

There is a huge combo of road users – pedestrians, automobiles, motor cycles, bicycles, domesticated animals and other human propelled modes of transport. Not all roads are smooth or paved. A large portion of the tarred road network has pot-holes or badly damaged. Some roads have pedestrian crossings but people never use them. This is because they can easily cross the busiest highway at any point without being cited for “jaywalking”  – in fact, a pedestrian has a “right of way” and can stop moving traffic if they so wish. All it takes is to raise a hand and wave a stop sign and all the incoming traffic will reduce speed, stop or change its direction.

Observation

What is most frustrating about Dhaka’s road network and transport system is that no one pays attention to traffic rules and regulations. The few that attempt to use road facilities and services smartly are easily seen as docile and end up staying on the road for longer periods of time.

Lack of stiff traffic regulation and implementation of the pieces of legislation that exist makes it very difficult to control road usage in Bangladesh. The available public buses are usually overloaded with people packed to fit in as many passengers as possible. Buses can stop anywhere on the road, pick or drop passengers without any offence. In certain places, there are traffic police officers and private security guards that try to control or guide traffic flow especially during peak periods.

It is very common to spend more than an hour held up in traffic jam – even where the destination is within reach.

Besides being over crowded, Dhaka has so many moving objects on its road network. This in turn creates the jams that last forever. Few road users care about other users. It is like once on the road, others do not matter. Road users ahead of the traffic pack control the flow or movement of things on Dhaka’s roads. The combined presence of pedestrians, vehicles, motor bikes, bicycles, cycle and auto Rickshaws creates this never ending traffic jams in Dhaka. There is also a general feeling that Dhaka dwellers do not like walking –even the shortest distance – they would rather hop on a Rickshaw. They also never share the few available seats in their cars or on hired Rickshaws.

Limited roads are shared by pedestrians, Rickshaws and automobiles. This photo shows about this is possible.

Possible solution?

It is a known fact that Dhaka faces a very serious transport and road problem. As a visitor to Dhaka and Bangladesh in general, Bengalis can do justice to themselves and ease up their ever-growing transport problem by considering adhering to some of the basic road rules. If they coordinate the way they use public transport and follow instructions from the traffic controllers, much could improve. Bengalis must also learn to share transport with others. It is unbelievable that people going in the same direction or place would all hire vehicles, Rickshaws or drive in 14 seat buses with only one passenger.  The more objects on the road, the more jams and the longer the time spent in traffic.  The prolonged hold in traffic leads to lost productivity, which has a very negative effect on economic growth.  Public service transporters could do better if they consider being courteous to other road users. It does not make one a loser if the consider other road users. Hooking and hooting never stops. Its like road users move with their fingers on hooters and bells all the time. I wonder how my ears will be after close to two months in Bangladesh. The completion of the on-going overhead road project and flyover bridges in selected areas will also ease up the burden of traffic jams in Dhaka.

Fair road record

What is somewhat impressive about the drivers and riders in Dhaka is the way they make some scene look like a major accident is bound to take place when in the actual sense none takes place. There are very few road related accidents but there are scenes that create an impression like an accident is likely to take place. They drive and ride way to well within the sidelines of each other but never bash other road users. I am very surprised that despite the close shaves between pedestrians and other road users, I have not seen any major accident. I have seen some trucks by roads sides with damaged parts – signifying that they had been involved in a road accident. It leaves me to wonder whether bus drivers in my country (Zambia) can navigate through these roads. Zambian bus drivers are criticized as being mean and selfish of all road users in Lusaka. But what I have seen here and to some extent what I witnessed in Mexico City (Mexico) and Cairo (Egypt) would make any rude Zambian driver look like an amateur.

Generally, there is nothing safe on the roads. The only precaution is strict adherence to basic road rules.

Hong Kong, Nov.30– A Zambian former minister who stashed close to US$420 million in an electrified underground bunker has spent his first night in a police cell.

Liato (l) served as Banda's (r) labour minister. PHOTO: postzambia.com

Austin Liatio was detained at Lusaka’s Woodlands Police Tuesday after investigators recorded a statement from him.

He presented himself before a team of investigators in a flashy flowery beach shirt and walking stick – a scene onlookers likened to a mafia dress code.

Making his first appearance in public since his buried treasure was dug-out last Thursday, Liato – a self-made ‘money grower’- looked reserved and showed no apprehension.

A crack taskforce investigating alleged mismanagement of public resources during ex-president Rupiah Banda’s three year rule, questioned Liato before holding him overnight at a police detention facility in the poshy residential area of Woodlands.

“Mr. Liato is yet to be charged,” Elizabeth Kanjela, a spokesperson for police said. “Investigations are still ongoing.”

Liato is being investigated for concealing a huge amount of money in two metal safes at his farming grounds, west of Lusaka.

He faces money laundering, profiteering and tax evasion charges and could face a long jail term if found guilty.

The new Zambian leader, Michael Sata, has warned that his administration will prosecute any offenders found to have mismanaged state resources – a move his critics have described as witch-hunting.