|Posted on October 14, 2017 at 12:20 AM||comments (4)|
By Joshua M Ngoma
The recent purchase of ridiculously overpriced and used 42 firefighter trucks at US$1 million each is just the “tip of the iceberg” of how it is now commonplace and acceptable for some individuals in the Zambian Government to publicly and unabatedly loot public funds. Public funds and property, land, and natural resources belong to the Zambian people. Elected officers and government civil servants are custodians of these resources on behalf of their employers, the Zambian people.
The statement from the Anti-Corruption Commission of Zambia is less than candid. What is in contention is not whether the tender procedures were followed or not, but that the overpricing of these used trucks is glaringly obvious. Our demand as citizens is that the Government purchasing authority needs to provide evidence that these trucks are actually worth a million dollars each.
The blatant abuse and theft of public resources, excessive public borrowing, and unwarranted privatization and the sale of Zambia’s land and assets have become part of our nation’s fabric with the advent of the Second Republic under the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD). The PF government, on this score, is proving not to be any different from the party the ousted out of power, only 6 years ago.
The MMD encouraged the neo-liberal agenda of complete liberalization as the centerpiece of their economic policy for Zambia. The central theme of a liberalized economy was that government should not run businesses. There were to be no “sacred cows” meaning that all publicly owned enterprises were either privatized or outrightly closed.
There were almost 300 limping companies running the economy that had to be placed in private hands, which the government was subsidizing as loss-making entities. The copper mines were hemorrhaging money to a tune of one million US dollars per day at the time and the government was itself facing serious financial difficulties and a huge external debt in excess of 7 billion US dollars.
Mr. James Matale, the first and former Chief Executive officer of the Zambia Privatization Agency (ZPA) says that the process, “was led by powerful business interests connected to the government who treated enterprises and assets lined up for privatization as goods fallen from the back of a delivery truck. There is a lot of corruption".
The Zambia Privatization Agency was the primary government appointed institution created to sell off all public enterprises previously owned by the Zambian government.
Some of the so-called rich successful Zambian business leaders today struggle to explain their wealth and cannot answer the simple question: “What are the origins of your fortune and how did you start your businesses?” They were entrusted, on behalf of the Zambian people, with the valuation and pricing of these Government assets for privatization and sale, but they had personal vested interests. Instead, they undervalued some of the assets and sold them to proxy-companies that they actually owned. There is no honor in getting rich from the collective wealth of the nation on the backs of your fellow citizens through “cooking the books”.
President Fredrick Chiluba, himself, was found culpable. In February 2003, he was arrested and charged with corruption and the embezzlement of public funds marking the beginning of a long six years and often, disrupted legal proceeding. In 2007, the London High court convicted him of fraud and was ordered to repay US$58 million in embezzled funds to the Zambian people.
However, the Zambian government did not enforce the London court’s ruling. Under the Rupiah Banda’s administration, the courts in Zambia eventually acquitted President Chiluba in 2009. There is no public record that the embezzled funds by Mr. Chiluba were repatriated to Zambia from the offshore accounts.
Zambia’s past Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda has lamented that Zambians have become “Trojan horses” for foreign investors. Zambia needs smart Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in select areas. As a nation, it is not prudent to let foreign Investors take over every sector of our economy.
Deliberately, Zambians require incentives and subsidies to grow and participate in key areas of their own economy without having to compete with the undue advantage of cheaply borrowed money from Chinese nationals and other foreign Investors. The influx of foreign Investors, in and of itself, is not an indication of a prosperous and growing economy when millions of Zambians remain sidelined and spectators in their own country.
The prevailing foreign investments in the mining sector, in general, amount to “copper colonialism”. Through illicit money flows Zambia has lost millions of dollars from the formal economy, which would otherwise be utilized to provide social services such as schools and medical services. Zambia lost approximately US$8.8 billion between the years 2001 and 2010 to illicit financial flows by the mining investor companies. Zambia’s fight against these multinationals that are involved in this scam has yielded little or no results.
Some multinational companies operating in the mining sector in Zambia have given the Zambian people a raw deal. For example, Vedanta the owners of Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), with impunity, take advantage of Zambia’s weak political will to enforce the laws and easily flaunt health and safety, labor, and environmental regulations in an onerous and potentially dangerous mining industry. For instance, the Konkola Copper Mining (KCM) has polluted the local Kafue River three times.
The Kafue river is a lifeline for small-scale fishing and domestic water supply for hundreds of thousands residents and communities suffering the inter-generational effects of major water poisoning by Vedanta in Zambia and the victims have never been compensated.
Konkola Copper Mines was sold to Vedanta for a paltry US$25 million rather than the asking price of US$400 million by the Mwanawasa administration. According to the Vedanta boss Anil Argawal, who owns 69.59 percent of the company, the mine now brings in US$500 million in profits every year.
In the United Kingdom, the London Mining Network has mounting pressure on the government to immediately investigate Vedanta Resources and potentially de-listed from the London Stock Exchange for the catalogue of crimes committed by them. Vedanta Resources has been accused of tax evasion, illegal land grabs, displacement, major pollution and water poisoning.
The group has also noted the role of British controlled tax havens in enabling insider trading, transfer miss-pricing and tax evasion on a major scale.
The London Mining Network has also highlighted the pattern of human rights abuses, environmental damage, and violation of Indigenous Peoples’ land rights among London-listed mining companies, including other major mining companies such as Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Glencore Xstrata, and Anglo American.
These substantive issues are almost non-existent in Zambia’s local political discourse because the politicians are preoccupied with personal survival and petty partisan gridlock.
Lastly, Zambians ought to be alarmed by our nation’s high levels of unsustainable indebtedness within a short period of 6 years under the PF government. In his Budget presentation address, Finance Minister Felix Mutati said, "The record of the PF government in delivering infrastructure to the people is unmatched". Hon. Mutati falls short in explaining to the Zambian people that it will take future generations to pay back the loans for these “unmatched” infrastructure projects.
What is the correct value of Zambia’s external debt? Since 2005, Zambia was cleared of about US$14 billion owed to the IMF, World Bank, and other bilateral global lenders under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, which allowed poor countries to qualify for relief for un-payable debt.
The Finance ministry’s external debt stock, as of May 2017, is US$7.2 billion (and ZAMK38.6 billion domestic debt) amid growing dissent that this figure is an understatement. The argument is that this amount, apart from the Eurobond debt, does not account for many other bilateral single source project finance debt making Zambia’s external debt burden to likely be four times more than what the Finance Ministry has stated.
The IMF has recently denied Zambia a balance-of-payment package of US$1.3 billion. The fund has expressed concern at the pace at which public debt, especially external debt, has increased and now puts Zambia at “high risk of debt distress”.
It is the solemn responsibility of every Zambian national to account and watch over our collective resources.
|Posted on July 18, 2017 at 11:50 PM||comments (0)|
President Edgar Lungu’s announcement of the State of Emergency comes at the height of a political standoff between his ruling PF party and the opposition UPND, which has resulted in tension and deep polarization in our nation.
Spates of recent fires have destroyed key installations like the ZESCO pylons, courtrooms, and the Lusaka City Market.
Regrettably, Zambian marketers at Lusaka City Market from all walks of life, and across the partisan political divide, have lost their source of livelihood. The torching of ZESCO pylons is a huge economic cost and setback to the nation.
Perpetrators of these crimes ought to be arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
The Government has responded by declaring the State of Emergency to curb these “acts of sabotage” to our nation's infrastructure. The Government's response to step up security is unquestioned, but the intent is.
The Minister of Home Affairs, Stephen Kampyongo, and Energy Minister, David Mabumba, publicly announced extra-judicial killings by stating in parliament that law enforcement agents will shoot suspected “terrorist” Arsonists on the spot without the due process of the law.
Well meaning Zambians need to censure, in the strongest terms possible, this inflammatory talk, intimidation, and the unconstitutional use of power by Home Affairs Minister Kampyongo.
If our history teaches us anything as Zambians, it’s that once the Government takes away our rights and restricts our freedoms in the pretext of safeguarding national security, the freedoms will not be given back to the citizens voluntarily.
The State of Emergency is likely to stay in perpetuity, for the duration that the PF will remain in power.
In 1991, Zambians unanimously defeated UNIP and chose increased democratic freedoms and not less.
The State of Emergency will increase and not reduce fear and tension in the nation. With a mindset such as that of Home Affairs Minister Kampyongo, incidences of police brutality and detentions against perceived enemies of the PF Government will sharply rise.
It will take a negotiated resolution between the ruling Patriotic Front Government and the opposition UPND party in order to resolve the tension in our nation.
The Church has in the past acted as the source of balanced counsel on national issues, mediators of peace, and as the moral conscience of the nation. Regrettably, this is currently not the case. The Church Umbrella bodies, in general, are now equally as divisive on partisan political lines. The Church no longer has a uniform and united voice on fundamental issues of good governance, righteousness, equity, and justice.
The Church needs to reconcile itself, speak with a united voice and become the conduit of such a negotiated peace deal between the PF and UPND.
The current political impasse originates, but not limited, to the following unresolved issues:(
1. THE BRUTAL ARREST AND TREASON CHARGES OF OPPOSITION UPND LEADER Mr. HAKAINDE HICHILEMA.
Without prejudice to the current court proceedings, it is heavy-handed if the leader of the opposition UPND Mr. Hakainde Hichilema’s charge of treason is solely based on the “Mongu motorcade” incidence. The punishment is not proportional to the crime. It would appear that the charge of treason was reached upon by the Government as a means of political retribution against Mr. Hichilema because there is no bail. Silence or a lack of widespread protest does not mean there is peace in Zambia over this issue. The nation is deeply divided. Mr. Hichilema is not a political non-entity. He garnered almost half the presidential vote in the 2016 disputed general elections. In the interest of peace and national unity in Zambia, President Lungu can exercise good judgment by withdrawing the treason charges against Mr. Hichilema.
There is also increased police brutality, targeted at the opposition that also instills fear in the general populace. For instance, the excessive force and abuse used by the Zambia Police in the arrest of Mr. Hakainde Hichilema at his residence, in front of his wife and children, was unlawful and should not happen to anyone else in a modern Zambia.
The 2016 general elections campaigns were the most violent. Violence at the hands of the police and political party cadres has not adequately been addressed. So far, nothing has been done to correct this problem and it is likely to repeat in the 2021 general elections.
2. THE FAILED UPND 2016 ELECTIONS PETITION IN THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT (CONCOURT).
The UPND 2016 elections petition failed to be heard in the Constitutional Court (ConCourt). There is enough blame to apportion between the UPND lawyers, the Concourt Judges, and a Constitution that only allows 14 days to gather the evidence. The hard truth is that the judicial route is a dead-end for the UPND and the disputed 2016 elections petition is water under the bridge. It is highly unlikely that any other court in Zambia or abroad will hear this petition. Therefore, what remains practical for the UPND is to regroup, strategize, and channel their resources towards the 2021 general elections.
The conversation now needs to shift to the restructuring of the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ), so that future elections are conducted with the highest integrity and standards possible. The current team at ECZ needs to be disbanded and replaced with individuals that inspire confidence in all the political players. The current ECZ system of conducting elections is obsolete. Zambians deserve a modern voting system in which all results can be counted and announced within 24 hours of conducting a general election. The integrity of the process is questioned when ECZ takes days and weeks to announce the results of a paltry 2-3 million votes cast.
3. THE RECOGNITION OF Mr. LUNGU AS THE DULY ELECTED PRESIDENT.
While Mr. Hichilema and the UPND have every right not to recognize Mr. Lungu as the duly elected President, the exercise of this freedom, however, is not always reasonable or practical and quite often contradictory.
The “Mongu motorcade” incidence is one such example. Regardless of who the president is, recognized or not, we are required to yield and give the right-of-way to the presidential motorcade, or any other emergency services vehicle for that matter.
The UPND members of parliament are also caught up in a similar dilemma. As a leading opposition in Parliament, they are a government-in-waiting and that comes with responsibilities. It is an exercise in futility to boycott the President’s parliamentary address on grounds that the opposition UPND does not recognize Mr. Lungu as President, but on a daily basis, they debate the Vice-President Inonge Wina who is the leader of Government business in Parliament and is joined as the running- mate to the same disputed presidency.
Finally, leaders and political parties are dispensable but the enduring democracy, peace, unity of purpose, and the posterity of our Republic of Zambia has to be jealously guarded. Peace can be fragile and easily lost. I urge my fellow Zambians, both home and abroad, to put aside blind partisan posturing and the cynicism in our politics, and focus on the bigger picture of national unity. Zambia needs to heal and we are collectively responsible for the direction we allow our leaders to take us.
ZAMBIA for all ZAMBIANS!
JOSHUA M NGOMA
|Posted on August 15, 2016 at 4:15 PM||comments (0)|
ISSUED BY JOSHUA M NGOMA
Our nation, Zambia, has just concluded a tough general election season. I congratulate President Edgar C Lungu and the PF for retaining the presidency. I also congratulate Mr. Hichilema Hakainde and the UPND for a spirited fight and getting almost half of the total votes cast.
This election was very close, signifying that the electorate is almost evenly divided between the two candidates. Unfortunately, this division on the most part, is rooted in political partisanship, religion, regionalism, and tribalism. Our nation has become deeply divided along these lines.
Vigorous debates on bread-and-butter issues and who has the best plan to build a modern economy for all Zambians were clearly missing.
Our nation has to unite again and it starts with leadership. If our history teaches us anything, it is that tribalism is repugnant and should have no place in our political and economic discourse. Leaders who flaunt tribal identity politics are morally and ethically bankrupt and need to be censured out of the political process.
Politics ought to be a marketplace for big and bold ideas and not identity wars.
There is no superior tribe in Zambia except that of being Zambian.
A person ought to be elected based on their leadership qualities and level of contribution to our nation and not by which tribe or region they belong.
|Posted on July 26, 2016 at 11:25 PM||comments (0)|
By Joshua M Ngoma
[Repost, first posted on April 23, 2016]
London Mayor, Boris Johnson, is backing the campaign for Britain to secede from the European Union (EU).
He has criticized US President Barack Obama for his intervention in the EU debate, adding that his attitude to Britain might be based on his “part-Kenyan” heritage and “dislike of the British empire”.
In his written column for the Sun, Mr. Johnson referred to the removal of
Winston Churchill’s bust from the Oval office.
From the onset it is important to understand how inseparable Africa’s past is from its present condition.
Kenya’s struggle and violent resistance for the right to vote and self- determination from British colonial rule was intense and the after effects most likely found their way at the highest echelons of American politics.
President George W. Bush was a huge fun of Winston Churchill and he asked the British for a big growling bust of Churchill, which found its place near his desk in the Oval office at the White House in July of 2001.
When asked why this association with Churchill, President Bush said,
“"Why would you be interested in having the bust of an Englishman in your Oval Office?" And the answer is, because he was one of the great leaders in the 20th century. He was an enormous personality.
He stood on principle. He was a man of great courage. He knew what he believed, and he really kind of went after it in a way that seemed like a Texan to me.
He wasn't afraid of public opinion polls. He wasn't afraid of—he didn't need focus groups to tell him what was right. He charged ahead, and the world is better for it.”
Former President George W. Bush left behind the Churchill bust in the Oval Office at the end of his two terms.
The incoming President Barack Obama had the bust returned to the British and now is in the residence of Sir Peter Westmacott, Britain's ambassador to the US, an act seen by some as antipathy to what Churchill stood for.
To date, the Obama administration has denies this fact.
On Thursday June 6, 2013 Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague announced in the House of Commons that Britain "sincerely regrets" the abuse which included castration, rape and beatings.
Mr. Hague said, "We understand the pain and the grief felt by those who were involved in the events of emergency in Kenya.
The British Government recognizes that Kenyans were subjected to torture and other forms of ill treatment at the hands of the colonial administration.
The British Government sincerely regrets that these abuses took place and that they marred Kenya's progress to independence.
Torture and ill-treatment are abhorrent violations of human dignity which we unreservedly condemn."
Between 1952 and 1960 the British colonial authorities declared a Kenyan “Emergency” to curb reactionary attacks of the Mau Mau movement targeting British subjects.
The Kikuyu, Kenya’s largest tribe, organized through the Mau Mau movement which was formed in the 1950s to push violent resistance for independence from Britain.
The British settlers were alarmed and contacted the government in London to render them security re-enforcement.
The reaction from Prime Minister Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill’s government was decisive and swift.
ts effects however, have come to be known as perhaps the most embarrassing abuses committed by the British forces to their colonial subjects during the whole tenure of Britain’s imperial rule.
The British Empire was the largest in history, and for a century, the principal global power.
The abuses included castration, rape and abuses of the worst order.
In compensating the Mau Mau victims the British government will pay out about £20 million (British pounds) in costs to 5,228 Kenyans in full and final settlement of a High Court ruling.
This compensation will also include support for the construction of a memorial in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, to the victims of torture and abuse during the colonial era, six decades later.
The Kenya Human Rights Commission has estimated that 90,000 Kenyans were killed or maimed and 160,000 detained during the uprising.
Prime Minister Winston Churchill has always been held as Britain’s war Prime Minister and widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the 20th Century.
He was Prime minister of Great Britain from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955.
Perhaps the most forgotten fact about WWII is that one million African soldiers fought alongside colonial Britain and France to defeat the Axis nations.
The African soldiers fought in the deserts of North Africa, the jungles of Burma and over the skies of Germany.
Yet Winston Churchill from the perspective of British colonies was seen as standing at the most brutal and violent era of the British imperialist rule.
On one hand Churchill used his leadership might to save the world from Nazism and fascism and on the other using the same might to trample and crash the weak targets of anti-colonial resistance.
In Kenya, Churchill unreservedly used Britain’s might not only to perpetuate colonial rule but also to secure the highlands.
These lands are the most fertile in Kenya and Churchill was determined to keep them as the sole preserve of the white settlers and approved the forceful removal of the local indigenous populations.
About 150,000 Mau Mau members were forced at gunpoint into detention camps, which became known as “Britain’s gulag”.
Hussein Onyango Obama, whose grandson Barack Hussien Obama was to later become the President of the United States of America was also remanded in the “gulag”.
Onyango Obama was tortured and endured a two-year incarceration without trial in the “British gulag” for resisting Churchill’s empirical rule.
Hussein Onyango Obama’s son, President Barack Obama’s father, came to the United States as an exchange student at the University of Hawaii when he met and married Mr. Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham.
But Dan Pfeiffer, assistant to the President and senior Advisor, insisted that the claims that President Obama “started his Presidency by returning to the British Embassy the bust of Winston Churchill that had graced the Oval Office” was hundred percent false and an urban legend that continues to circulate to this day.
Mr. Pfeiffer also said that the bust is still in the White House, in the Residence outside the Treaty Room.
But Mr. Pfeiffer’s facts were disputed.
The White House has had a bust of Winston Churchill since the 1960’s given to President Lyndon B Johnson by the British in 1965.
This is the bust believed to still be in the Residence outside the Treaty room.
At the beginning of President Bush’s administration in 2001, then Prime Minister Tony Blair of UK lent President Bush a bust that matched the one in the White House.
It’s this version of the bust that was returned.
Governor Mitt Romney affirmed this fact too. The Republican challenger to the incumbent President Obama’s second term bid in 2012 promised to return Churchill’s bust to the Oval office.
Speaking at a fund-raiser at London's Mandarin Oriental hotel, Governor Romney confirmed the bust had been removed and promised his audience that, "I'm looking forward to the bust of Winston Churchill being in the Oval Office again".
Governor Romney’s wishes did not come to fruition because the incumbent President Obama handily defeated him.
President Obama replaced Churchill’s bust with that of Civil Rights Icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the White House’s Oval Office as evidence that Obama holds King’s legacy close to home.
It also serves as an acknowledgement that as the first elected African American President he stands on the shoulders of men (and women) like Dr. King who helped to pave the way for his success.
Apart from Dr. King’s bust Obama displays several other memorabilia like a framed copy of the original program of the 1963 march on Washington.
It was at this march where Dr. King gave the famous “I have a dream” speech.
Churchill was a great orator and poet. Some of the greatest speeches he ever wrote were in defense of freedom and Democracy against Nazism and the growing influence of Fascism in Europe.
But Churchill did not wish the same freedoms for blacks and Asians who were under the yoke of British imperialism.
Churchill however, lived long enough to see democracies emerge in unintended areas across Britain’s imperial conquests.
Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s founding President testified to the spread of freedom under Churchill in unintended regions,
“Never before in history has such a sweeping fervor for freedom expressed itself in great mass movements which are driving down the bastions of empire.
This wind of change blowing through Africa, as I have said before, is no ordinary wind. It is a raging hurricane against which the old order cannot stand.
The great millions of Africa, and of Asia, have grown impatient of being hewers of wood and drawers of water, and are rebelling against the false belief that providence created some to be menials of others.
Hence the twentieth century has become the century of colonial emancipation, the century of continuing revolution which must finally witness the total liberation of Africa from colonial rule and imperialist exploitation.”
Excerpt: The Africans: A continent on the rise
|Posted on April 1, 2016 at 12:30 AM||comments (0)|
By Joshua M Ngoma
According to Reuters, Glencore will invest over $1.1 billion in Zambia to sink three copper mine shafts with new technology, between now and 2018 and it is expected that Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) would be turned into a world-class mining operation by 2023. This measure is expected to extend the mine’s life by over 25 years.
This news has also pushed the local currency, the kwacha, to its highest gains in two months, gaining by 1.3 percent to (ZAM) K11.1100 per dollar, since January.
While Zambia continues to attract large sums of money through Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to harness these huge deposits of copper and other natural resources, much of the money generated does not seem to benefit its local people.
Through Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) and the practice of “trade- miss-invoicing” Zambia has hemorrhaged million of dollars from the formal economy which would otherwise be utilized to provide social services such as schools and medical services.
Zambia lost approximately US$8.8 billion between the years 2001 and 2010 to illicit financial flows.
This amount is equivalent to twice the annual government revenue of US$4.3 billion in 2011.
Zambia’s fight against these multinationals that are involved in this scam has yielded little or no results.
The case of “trade miss-invoicing” needs international attention and multilateral corporation to highlight the concern and the need for reform.
It is typical for measures of corruption indices conducted by institutions such as the World Bank and Transparent International to place blame only on the African nations.
However, with new measures such as the Financial Secrecy Index, the activities of western banks and tax havens that are handlers and facilitators of illicit financial flows are being highlighted as well.
African nations’ loss of money through quid pro quo bribery, corruption and criminal activities is at an estimated 3 to 5 percent of GDP.
In contrast, 30 percent is lost through illegal financial flows.
Western nations that harbor these multinational companies need to get involved in ensuring that illicit financial flows to and from African countries are curbed from hurting these emerging but fragile economies.
Corporate responsibility, accountability and global progress should not be a preserve of the rich nations.
Zambia’s problems with IFFs intensified with the privatization of the copper mines.
Some multinational companies operating in the mining sector of Zambia have given the Zambian people a raw deal.
They have moved capital through offshore banks, anonymous accounts, shell companies, and tax havens in an effort to protect their profits from taxation.
Glencore the giant fuel, metals and Cereals trader owns 73 percent stake in Zambia’s Mopani Copper Mines plc through a secondary company based in the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands.
A report at the request of the Zambian government in 2009 carried out by a Norwegian subsidiary of grant Thornton, which ranks as one of the largest Accountancy firms in the world, stated that there were irregularities in the financial operations of Glencore at Mopani Copper Mines.
The findings of the draft report into internal controls at Zambia’s Mopani mine were irregular.
Indications are that the UK subsidiary of the world’s largest commodities broker helped one of its African mining operations at Mopani to avoid paying tens of millions of British pounds in taxes due to the Zambian authorities.
The allegation was made by a number of Charities that had analyzed a leaked review of Glencore accounts.
The owners of the mine were said to have “resisted the pilot audit at every stage.”
They argued that there was an increase in “unexplainable” costs at Mopani due to rising fuel and labor costs between the years 2006 and 2008 that allowed Glencore to minimize it’s earlier stated profits and consequently lower its tax bill.
The audit also suggests that Mopani sold Copper at artificially low prices to Glencore in Switzerland under a deal struck with the firm’s UK subsidiary in 2000.
The metal was subsequently sold by Glencore taking advantage of Switzerland’s low tax regime.
Glencore’s dealings at Mopani are tantamount to breaching international rules that ensure that they ought to be an arms-length principle when it comes to transactions between related parties.
Glencore maintained that all transactions were conducted at an arms-length basis and at internationally agreed prices.
The international standard of the arm’s-length principle dictates that the price of a good sold between two related parties must be comparable to what the price the good would have been sold for had the two parties been unrelated.
ActionAid Charities has maintained that,
“Based on the Grant Thornton analysis, we estimate that the company's practices potentially cost the Zambian government up to £76m British pounds a year in lost corporation tax".
It is noteworthy that what Zambia would have collected in taxes from Glencore is significantly higher than the £59 m the UK government gives Zambia each year in aid.
Mopani also received a €48m Euros development loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) meant to help bring prosperity to Zambia.
But the report concluded that,
"The pilot audit has shown there is a high need for a determined effort at collecting the taxes that are assessed under the laws implemented by the Zambian government."
The EIB is believed to have informed the European anti-fraud office to launch an investigation into the report’s allegation about Glencore’s operations in Zambia’s mine.
But Emmanuel Mutati, a Zambian native and CEO of Mopani Mines, said that the audit was “flawed” and “incomplete” because it failed to account for third-party transactions that would affect its accounts.
Mr. Mutati also insisted that, "Every year the independent auditors' report has given Mopani a clean bill of health."
The UK government has also called for new measures that would ensure that the poorest people in mining nations should benefit from the mineral wealth.
The Zambian government, however, declined to investigate Mopani’s alleged tax evasion and calls to overhaul and change the whole taxation system have not been heeded.
|Posted on March 26, 2016 at 3:30 PM||comments (0)|
By Joshua M Ngoma
Nearly all high tech consumer gadgets like cell phones, DVD players, video game systems and Computers use tantalum.
Tantalum is a pearly blue-gray mineral mainly found in Brazil, Australia, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Tantalite the ore that bears Tantalum is not traded on commodities exchanges but is instead bought and sold through shadowy dealers making its origins difficult to trace.
Tantalite is refined into coltan at smelters in China, Kazakhstan and the United States.
The mineral is then sold to tech manufacturers that make high tech devices.
In 2014 Apple declared that it had audited smelters in its supply chain and none of them use tantalum from war-torn region in the DRC.
This was an important step in transparency and human rights advocacy.
Currently, the worst war based on “conflict minerals” is being waged in the Eastern Congo and it has largely been forgotten from the international spotlight.
The facts from this conflict are diabolical and the statistics staggeringly painful.
Based on the War Child report, a United Kingdom charity,
“5.4 million people have died as a result of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
That’s the biggest death toll of any conflict since World War II.
2.7 million of the dead have been children.
1 in 5 children will die before their fifth birthday.
Average life expectancy is 47 years (UK average is 79).
The government spends an average of $2 per year on healthcare for its citizen (in contrast the UK figure is $2,939).
More children under 5 years die every year in the Congo with a population of 63 million people, more than in China with a population of 1.3 billion people.
More than 200,000 women and girls have been the victim of rape or sexual violence.
More than 1 million people have been forced to flee their homes.
At 20,000 United Nations troops, Congo is home to the largest peacekeeping mission in the world.
The United Nations Human Development Index report (2009) ranks D.R. Congo as 176th out of 182 countries.”
In spite of this ongoing conflict, essential minerals are leaving the Congo to “feed” the global economy.
Apple, for example, could not make the same claims for gold, tin and tungsten as it did for Coltan, which are also essential elements in the manufacture of modern electronic components but mined in war zones.
Smuggling of ore across porous borders in this region afflicted by conflict is easy.
There is non-existent or scarce paper trail for the ore mined by villagers in small makeshift mines and warlords control exports.
The Apple disclosure went beyond the new 2012 regulation passed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) under the Dodd-Frank financial regulation act of 2010.
The rule requires US publicly traded companies to audit their supply chains and insists that they disclose any use of conflict minerals but not the names of the smelters.
In 2009 the Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative (CFSI) was formed, backed by Apple, Intel, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and General Electric.
CFSI is a self-policing and a voluntary group meant to vet smelters for the sources of potential conflict minerals.
The Eastern part of the Republic of Congo exports coltan and Rwanda is the largest exporter of the metal tantalum on the Continent of Africa.
In 2013 Rwanda became the largest exporter of tantalum and ships out to foreign smelters mainly in China.
Rwanda supplied about 2,400 tons representing about 28 percent of the global output of 8,800 tons.
This increase represented more than a double output compared to the 2012 yields.
But according to the United States Geological Survey data, Rwanda has consistently produced about 1,500 tons of tantalum annually.
This increase has fueled speculation that minerals such as tin and tantalum are smuggled out of the war-torn areas in the Congo into Rwanda and Burundi for export.
It is suspected that Tin and tantalum smuggled into Rwanda is for instance laundered through and incorporated in the domestic tagging system and exported as legitimate Rwandan material.
Proceeds from the sale of coltan to European and American markets have been used to finance the present day conflict in the Republic of Congo.
However, Gold still remains the largest source of the conflict in the Eastern Congo.
With a continued rise in the price of gold on the markets, Gold from Congo remains a conflict mineral in very high demand.
The United Nations report further states that,
“The path that coltan takes to get from Central Africa to the world market is a highly convoluted one, with legitimate mining operations often being confused with illegal rebel operations, and vice versa, making it difficult to trace the origin.
To be safe, in recent months many electronics companies have publicly rejected the use of coltan from anywhere in Central Africa, instead relying on their main suppliers in Australia.
American-based Kemet, the world's largest maker of tantalum capacitors, has asked its suppliers to certify that their coltan ore does not come from Congo or bordering countries. But it may be a case of too little, too late.
Much of the coltan illegally stolen from Congo is already in laptops, cell phones and electronics all over the world.” the statement reads in part.
Excerpt from: "The Africans: A continent on the Rise" by Joshua M Ngoma
|Posted on January 16, 2016 at 5:15 PM||comments (0)|
By Joshua M Ngoma
Tribalism in Zambia’s political discourse has reached alarming proportions. This scourge, if unstopped, is at a precipice of erupting into physical violence and further dividing our fragile unity as a people of Zambia.
There are some among us who still insist on dividing us based on our different dialects, tribes and region or province of origin.
As a nation, we have always done well when we embrace unity in diversity.
We are one Zambia and one nation, indivisible under God.
If our history teaches us anything, it is that tribalism is repugnant and should have no place in our political and economic discourse.
And the so-called “leaders” who flaunt tribal identity politics are morally and ethically bankrupt and need to be censured.
Politics ought to be a marketplace of big and bold ideas and not tribal identity wars.
There is no superior tribe in Zambia except being Zambian.
A person ought to be judged by their quality and level of contribution to society and not by which tribe, region or province they belong.
At the center of this political tension, is the Zambian youth. Some selfish politicians are using you as agents of hate. Tribalism is not a fight for your generation. These are fights whose vestiges were defeated in the 1960’s and 70’s.
Our founding leader Dr. Kenneth Kaunda united the nation against tribalism and exploitation of man by man, in word and deed.
His guiding principle is, “One Zambia, One nation”. Kaunda opened up equal opportunities for all Zambians regardless of tribe or region of origin. He also distributed equitable development in all provinces of Zambia. This is a high caliber of leadership Zambia deserves.
You are the most integrated generation of Zambians, ever to exist. You are second and third generation sons and daughters of proud Zambians who nipped tribalism in the bud through intermarriages. Almost every family in Zambia is a mix of different tribes through marriage.
You have to stand up and protect this sacred union of the Zambian family. There is no political cause that is worth dividing you to fight against your own blood brothers and sisters.
Politicians who are still fixated on tribes and regions belong to the dustbins of the past. They are antiquated. They exhibit bitterness, hate, a sense of historical entitlement and nostalgia as though the Zambian people owe them anything.
They are bridging you to the past that you never belonged. Demand for leadership that bridges you to your future and speaks to your aspirations.
This is on you our youth. Should the country become ungovernable, the politicians you are doing the tribal bidding for will easily hide in their high wall fenced houses or flee the country for safety.
You will be left alone to perish on the streets for a “cause” that was never your generation’s in the first place.
In any case, some politicians only engage the youth at election time.
This is the only time that our youth interact with their elected representatives.
The odds are stark against you. Half of Zambia’s 14 million people are below 15 years of age and about 4 million youths are unemployed.
The youth opportunities challenge is the fight of your generation, and not tribalism.
Embrace leaders that inspire hope and have the best intentions and plans to safeguard your future against selfish vested and special interests, both local and foreign.
In the advent of globalization and social media connectivity the Zambian youth is also exposed and wants the same branded consumer goods just as the youth in the United States, Hong Kong or South Korea.
More importantly you also aspire for the same opportunities for a descent education and a career.
You share a noble ambition like any other millennials or generation Y in the developed world to become business entrepreneurs, medical doctors, Scientists and Engineers.
Yet your generation is captive to unrealistic expectations when the Zambian economy is not delivering the kind of growth that would create enough opportunities for this exploding demographic.
The world has also changed. Globalization also entails that you are now fighting for the same opportunities, in your own backyard, with the Chinese, Europeans and Americans.
The single most damaging loss of dignity by a youth is the inability to find meaningful work and financial independence.
A lack of opportunities for our youth can affect their confidence and psychological wellbeing resulting in a low self-esteem.
Unemployment is a continuing scourge in our society that inflicts pain and can lead to severe loss of human identity and dignity when even the most basic essentials of life are unaffordable.
It is frequently responsible for the break-ups of families and entire communities.
The division between those who have work and those who do not casts blight on the whole nation and triggers social ills such as high crime rates and can potentially create a breeding ground for extremism.
When political promises are not met and their aspirations are disappointed, the youth resort to protest and become vulnerable to selfish manipulation by some political leaders.
As youths, you need to balance between Rights and responsibilities by making use of the organized democratic process instead of protest alone.
Rather than just street protest and violence, you should also vote and participate in the democratic process to achieve meaningful change. You sway a lot of political power. Use it wisely by voting your interest and not personalities.
Just as skin color is not necessarily kin, so is tribe. Vote for leaders that will create 21st Century opportunities for you and not merely on the faulty basis that you belong to the same tribe.
Above all else, get in the driver’s seat and take charge of the direction of your destinies. This is your generation and your time.
|Posted on December 15, 2015 at 5:20 PM||comments (0)|
By Joshua M Ngoma
Idolatry extends beyond the worship of idols, carved images and false gods. Our modern idols are many and varied in nature. Even for those who do not bow physically before a statue, idolatry is a matter of the heart and manifests itself in form of pride, self-centeredness, greed, gluttony, an excessive love for possessions and ultimate rebellion against God.
Modern idolatry of self has at its core in the three lusts: The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.
“15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:15-17
God hates pride and He resists them that are proud. “6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”” James 4:6
Modern day idolatry worships at the altar of materialism that feeds our need to build our egos through acquiring more “stuff”. Then we rush out to buy the newest item, garment or gadget to keep up with others and the whole process starts over.
This insatiable desire for more, better, and newer stuff is nothing more than covetousness and God warns us against it. 17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” Exodus 20:17
The value of our lives does not consist in the things we possess. It is futile to measure your life’s value by the things you own. Jesus warned his Disciples against the addiction to material things.
“15 And He said to them, Guard yourselves and keep free from all covetousness (the immoderate desire for wealth, the greedy longing to have more); for a man’s life does not consist in and is not derived from possessing overflowing abundance or that which is over and above his needs.” Luke 12:15, Amplified Version.
We also worship at the altar of our own pride and ego. This often takes a form of obsession with attaining a high status in society through careers, jobs and business. To aspire for a higher standard of living is noble and it should be accompanied with the right devotion to God first followed by the family.
God intends for us to succeed, prosper and live a quality life in balance with our souls growing and maturing in worship of Him.
” 2 Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in every way and [that your body] may keep well, even as [I know] your soul keeps well and prospers.” 3 John1:2, Amplified Version
“22The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, And He adds no sorrow with it.” Proverbs 10:22
On average many people are now spending 60-80 hours a week working including weekends and Holidays. For millions of people they work long hours out of necessity to make tight ends meet and send their children to school.
For others the “rat race” is to make our businesses even more successful, get that promotion or the next raise, and to close the next deal. But even God rested from His work!
“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” Genesis 2: 1-3
Long hours spent at work are usually done at the expense of our Spouses and children who starve for attention and love. The subtlety lies in fooling ourselves into thinking we are doing it for them to give them a better life.
But the sad truth is we are also doing it for ourselves in order to increase our self-esteem by appearing more successful in the eyes of the world. This is futility.
All our labors and accomplishments will be of no use to us after we die nor will the admiration of the world, because all these things have no eternal value. “36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” Mark 8:36
“21 For there is a man whose labor is with wisdom, knowledge, and skill; yet he must leave his heritage to a man who has not labored for it. This also is vanity and a great evil.
22 For what has man for all his labor, and for the striving of his heart with which he has toiled under the sun?
23 For all his days are sorrowful, and his work burdensome; even in the night his heart takes no rest. This also is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 2:21-23
A senseless pursuit of material gain is very stressful and can lead to physical ailments but contentment is a great virtue.
“6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” 1 Timothy 6:6-11
God wants us to trust Him with our lives and not be over taken by anxiety and the stresses of life. Anxiety can eat on our souls like a cancer. God is our father, talk to Him about your life’s concerns and He will meet you at your exact point of need.
“6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
All Scripture references are from the New King James Version of the Bible, unless otherwise stated, at http://www.biblegateway.com
|Posted on December 15, 2015 at 4:40 PM||comments (0)|
By Joshua M Ngoma
[first posted on October 9, 2015]
His Excellency President Edgar C Lungu has declared October 18, 2015 as a Day of national prayer and fasting in response to the social and economic challenges Zambia is going through.
On the basis that Zambia is a Christian nation by declaration, the President has “called upon all Zambians to, with a deep sense of shame, repentant sorrow, and deep reverence; unite in humbling ourselves before the most high God, in confessing our individual and national sin.”
The directive by Secretary to the Cabinet Dr. Roland Msiska that all bars and other public places of entertainment should remain closed between 06:00 hours and 18:00 hours during the Day of prayer and fasting is uncalled for and an infringement on the democratic rights of those Zambians that patronize, work or own these businesses.
The call to participate in the Day of national prayer ought to be voluntary and Zambia still remains a democracy and individual citizens should be guaranteed the right to believe and participate, or not to believe, in a religion of their choice.
The true determinant as to whether God will hear our prayers on the national Day of prayer and fasting is not dependent on Bars or places of entertainment remaining open or closed.
It is solely dependent on the genuineness and conduct of “ the people that are called by His name”.
“14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. “ 2 Chronicles 7:14, NKJV
Prayer is key to our Christian faith. However, it is not a substitute or scapegoat for things we need to be doing ourselves to improve our lives individually and corporately as a nation.
God gives us the ability or power to work our way out of poverty through productivity. He blesses the work of our hands. As long as the earth remains, there will always be seedtime and harvest.
Even individuals and nations that have no affiliation or belief in God, but plan, innovate and work hard against all odds have yielded tremendous development and material success by following these principles.
“…for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5: 45
Prayer should not be a substitute for prudent national planning, innovation and physical hard work.
But physical hard work can only give us material blessings and bread to eat.
As Christians we also believe that we cannot live on Bread or material things alone. There is a much higher and eternal blessing that comes from every Word of God as revealed in the Holy Scriptures.
Through prayer (and fasting) we seek the face of the Lord for spiritual guidance and blessings that our own personal efforts cannot give us such as peace, unity, compassion, genuine reconciliation and healing as a nation.
These blessings can only come through divine intervention.
We also come together to pray and fast to undo unusually heavy burdens and challenges and to justly deal with the poor and least amongst us.
“Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ Isaiah 58: 6-9, ESV
Zambia has a high percentage of Christians and the declaration of Zambia as a “Christian nation” was welcomed with great enthusiasm and had easy passage in the legislative process.
Based on the year 2000 census report, approximately 87 percent of Zambia’s population is Christian, 1 percent Muslim or Hindu, and 7 percent subscribes to other belief systems, including indigenous religions and 5 percent chose not to report their religion.
The majority of indigenous persons belong to either Roman Catholic or Protestant denominational churches and they also hold some traditional beliefs as well, while many young people have been more attracted to new Pentecostal and charismatic churches.
On the afternoon of December 29, 1991 Zambia’s second president, the late President Frederick Chiluba declared Zambia a “Christian nation” and announced that he was entering into “covenant with God” on behalf of the nation.
The declaration was further enshrined in the constitution of the Republic of Zambia five years later, making Christianity the official religion of the country while upholding the right of every person to enjoy that person's freedom of conscience or religion of choice.
Mr. Chiluba’s premise was that dedicating Zambia and entering into covenant with God would guarantee blessings on the nation and make Zambia a beacon of light to the rest of the nations.
Yet we should still recognize and respect that, even within our Christian ranks, there is still existing conversations of dissent and appeals to rescind this declaration, notably so, from the Catholic Church in Zambia.
The Catholic Bishops argue that in the preamble of the Constitution of Zambia, the declaration that Zambia is a “Christian nation” should be omitted because “a Country cannot practice the values and precepts of Christianity, by a mere declaration.” And that “The principle of separation between State and Religion must not be lost.”
The call to participate in the national Day of prayer and fasting should be voluntary and it is to “whomsoever will”. Those that choose to stay away or doubt the motives of such prayers should not be vilified or labeled as being “anti-God” or “Satanists”.
As Christians we are expected to honorably deal with those that disagree with our set of beliefs or even persecute us for righteousness’ sake.
The opposition leader of the UPND party Mr. Hakainde Hichilema has declined an invitation to attend the Day of national prayer and fasting. It is his right not to do so and the authenticity of his Christian faith cannot be questioned purely on the basis of not attending the national Day of prayer and fasting.
Zambia is our land and territory, fashioned and blessed by God’s good hand. Let us honor our part of the responsibility to work, plan and develop our nation with diligence and our Lord God will help us with the rest.
“12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.” Psalm 33:12. NKJV
|Posted on December 15, 2015 at 4:30 PM||comments (0)|
By Joshua M. Ngoma
[First posted on November 10, 2015]
According to Bloomberg, a team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will arrive in Zambia on Wednesday to discuss “challenges” facing the nation’s ailing economy, amid a record kwacha slump as one of the worst performing currencies in the world, acute electricity shortage and falling copper.
Less than a decade ago most of Zambia debt was written off when it qualified for the World Bank’s Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, allowing poor countries to qualify for relief for un-payable debt.
Since 2005 Zambia was cleared of about US$14 billion owed to the IMF, World Bank and other bilateral global lenders.
Hardly ten years later Zambia is racking up debt through expensive borrowing again and may now seek a new aid program with the IMF.
Zambia is likely to get back on the aid treadmill reminiscent of the IMF’s 1980s Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs).
The IMF and the World Bank imposed SAPs on third world countries with unsustainable external debt.
This comes as no surprise at all; it was just a question of when. Until certain underlying fundamental structural changes are made to our broken economic and political systems, Zambia is likely to slide back into unsustainable debt yet again regardless of the source of the debt or aid.
For example, Zambia is tapping investor appetite for riskier assets on the bond market.
Bonds have become the means for African nations to diversify their sources of investment, moving away from traditional foreign aid.
This is also an opportunity to raise money for domestic use by cash strapped governments and integrate into the global financial markets.
Unlike funds raised from multilateral institutions like the World Bank and the IMF, money from the bonds has fewer restrictions and gives governments more leverage as to how to spend the money.
In September 2012, Zambia launched a 10-year bond at US$750 million and the issue was over-subscribed by US$11million, making Zambia a trendsetter for other African nations.
In 2014 Zambia issued another US$1 billion Eurobond to finance its budget deficit, improve its road and railway network and increase its electricity generation capabilities.
In 2015 Zambia will issue yet another 10-year Eurobond of US$2 billion to fund a widening budget deficit.
Zambia’s Finance Ministry has pegged the country’s external debt stock at US$4.8 billion in 2015 accounting for 18.5 percent of gross domestic product and domestic debt at about US$3.7 billion, about 14.2 percent of GDP.
Zambia has “gone a bit ahead of itself” in racking up this debt without fixing or diversifying its sources of income to make good on its loans.
According to data compiled by Bloomberg, Zambia will pay US$240 million in interest payments alone due on foreign debt in each of the next seven years.
The nation has not done enough to curb public spending or diversify its sources of income from mining.
Zambia’s 60 percent of export earnings are from copper but this income can only fund 5 percent of its national budget.
The slow down in demand for minerals has slumped tax revenues for Zambia. This deficit in income, external risks as global interest rates rise and market volatility are proving detrimental to the national economy.
Zambia accepted its first conditioned loan from the IMF in 1973 and entered the first World Bank Structural Adjustment program (SAP) in 1983.
Zambia’s founding President Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, invited the IMF in an attempt to diversify the Zambian economy from copper and improve the balance of payments support.
We are still an economy heavily dependent on copper exports. Zambia is at a precipice of re-entering the IMF Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) for the same reasons it did 32 years ago. No surprises there.