TODAY’S LETTERS

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Zambia’s missed opportunity for cheap fuel

Dear Editor,

In reference to Energy Forum Zambia chairman Johnstone Chikwanda’s caution to the Government to put on hold plans to disengage from fuel procurement until it had built enough strategic fuel reserves to last a minimum of 90 days (“Don’t quit fuel procurement”, Daily Nation, November 14, 2016).

It is saddening that the incumbent Zambian government has decided not to maintain the status quo in as far as pursuing the government-to-government bilateral feedstock procurement for Indeni Petroleum Refinery with the governments of Saudi Arabia and Nigeria. And not forgetting the suggested oil pipeline between Zambia and Angola.

But the Energy Forum Zambia chairman is not alone.

The National Union of Transport and Allied Workers (NUTAW) and the National Energy Sector and Allied Workers (NESAWU) have added their voices and urged Government to exercise extreme caution in implementing its policy to disengage from fuel procurement and ensure that there was enough stock to last 90 days (“Fuel procurement in private hands dangerous – NUTAW”, Daily Nation, November 15, 2016).

Needless to say, the twists and turns of the global oil economy are having extraordinary consequences for Africa’s oil States.

But is this really good news for the country in terms of oil prices obtaining on the world market? And who will be lapping up the profits when the government disengages from fuel procurement?

While the world economy often frustrates African developmental efforts, the oil-rich countries do not easily fit into a narrative of African hopelessness and foreign exploitation.

All in all, petro-elites, oil companies and the oil-importing States in the industrial world have worked together rather than against each other.

It is true that oil production is controlled by Western and, increasingly, Asian companies which are able to extract from African governments better terms than they would get elsewhere.

The oil contract in some African countries are among the worst worldwide.

But this is hardly the case with Angola or Nigeria, and the tendency is for African States to become more sophisticated at negotiations.

The regulatory capacity of Angola’s national oil company, Sonangol, is widely admired even if its prowess is squarely put at the service of regime ambitions.

The fact that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation falls short of its aspirations is itself a consequence of Nigerian politics and the way the company was plundered, not the product of foreign meddling.

In most oil-rich States, Africans in leading positions have – almost to a man – failed their poorer countrymen.

In short, bad governance, venality and a lack of progressive vision at the level of those who run oil States is key for understanding the tragic outcomes of the past decades. Likewise, the struggle for accountability and good governance is at least partly, an internal challenge for risk-taking individuals and political forces with better aspirations for their countries.

But the outside world has an important role to play here.

For too long, foreign oil companies have been willing partners of the continent’s most despicable regimes; foreign banks have quietly but enthusiastically laundered the proceedings from the oil trade and the governments of oil-importer States have given political and military support to oil-rich African incumbents.

Unfortunately, in as much as African elites can again be expected to indulge in 1970s-style outrageous behaviour, the international actors now exploiting African resources seem wedded to a realpolitik approach that does not rate local prosperity a top priority.

By all accounts, the stage seems set for another missed opportunity for Zambia’s cheap fuel when the Government disengages from fuel procurement.

 

Mubanga Luchembe,

LUSAKA

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Lacunas in the Constitution shouldbe addressed quickly

Dear Editor,

I write to appeal to the Minister of Justice Given Lubinda to quickly address the lacunas in our Constitution as directed by the President for the sake of bringing sanity.

There is right now an unhealthy uproar from councillors country wide who want to be paid salaries for their civic duties just like members of Parliament and Mayors.

Frankly speaking, their reasons for demanding to be paid a salary as well is valid since they are equally voted for a five year term and actually do a lot of donkey work on the ground.

Councillors are ever on the ground answering to a lot of challenges affecting the Zambians in the communities they live in compared to their other elected civic leaders, hence receive nothing as appreciation for their work apart from a paltry K700 allowance per month.

As if that is not enough, they don’t even receive gratuity at the end of their tenure. What a contrast!

It is unfortunate that when motions for better emoluments are moved in Parliament for other elected civic leaders, councillors’ welfare are many a time not even mentioned and one wonders why.

Much as that could be a big stress on the Government treasury, let us call a spade a spade. They surely deserve to be paid a salary and that is not councillors’ faulty.

However, should that will be embedded in our Constitution is another thing because surely, there should be a pay for work for every Zambia.

That sorted out, could make these civic leaders who are more on the ground always even work harder to serve the majority Zambians diligently.

The list of lacunas in our Constitution is endless and the quicker they are addressed the better for the Country.

 

Wisdom Muyunda

CHINGOLA.

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Chinese Ferris Wheel: who benefits?

Dear Editor,

The announcement that a Chinese company wants to build a $50 million 90-meter tall Ferris Wheel at Victoria Falls raises serious questions that must be answered by the company as well as the Minister of Tourism.

Why is the company called “China-Africa Cotton” investing in a tourist trap instead of agriculture which is more needed in Zambia? Why not put the money in hospitals or schools which are of more useful than a tourist gimmick?

How can a Ferris Wheel cost $50 million? Where will it be placed? Beside the Falls which is designated a World Heritage site? Who will own the planned Ferris Wheel and the profits? Who benefits, the Zambian people or the Chinese business?

Tourism Minister Charles Banda, please explain to the Zambian public how your permanent secretary Mr Mwansa can sign an MoU with this foreign company without explaining key details to the people.

Otherwise, we will be stuck with a costly and unnecessary eyesore at our most prestigious tourism attraction instead of real development for the entire country.

 

Concerned citizen

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