12 Chinese Workers Arrested For Growing Cannabis In Zambia

Zambian anti-drug authorities have arrested 12 Chinese construction workers for allegedly cultivating cannabis without a permit, a top government official said on Thursday.

The group was based in the city of Chipata in Zambia’s Eastern Province where they were building a studio for the state-run Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation.

“It’s really regrettable that the 12 (were) arrested for alleged cultivation of cannabis,” the provincial government permanent secretary Chanda Kasolo told AFP.

“The arrest is really regrettable as it will delay the construction works,” said Kasolo.

The Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) said in a statement that the 12 were arrested on Monday and 6.2 kilos of plants uprooted.

Growing, dealing and consumption of cannabis for recreational purposes is illegal in Zambia.

But growing cannabis for medicinal purposes is allowed provided permission is granted by the health ministry.

If convicted, the 12 face a maximum jail sentence of five years.

Anti-Chinese sentiment in Zambia has grown over lucrative contracts awarded to Beijing, especially in the construction sector, and government borrowing from the Asian giant.

AFP

Court Backs Zambia’s President Seeking Re-Election In 2021

Zambia’s President, Edgar Lungu

 

Zambia’s top court ruled Friday that President Edgar Lungu is eligible to run for re-election in 2021 polls after an opposition party argued he would exceed the constitution’s two term limit.

Lungu completed former president Michael Sata’s term after he died in 2015 before winning a full term in his own right in 2016.

“The presidential tenure starting on January 25, 2015 to September 13, 2016 cannot be considered as a full term,” said constitutional court judge Hildah Chibomba.

Lungu announced in January 2017 that he would seek a fresh five-year term in 2021, prompting opposition parties to block him.

The opposition United Party for National Development and the Law Association of Zambia lawyers’ association argued he was ineligible to run, having effectively served across two terms.

Three other opposition parties simply sought the court’s opinion on the matter.

“I hope the debate comes to an end. This is a victory for Lungu, it’s a victory for the (ruling) Patriotic Front and a victory for the people of Zambia,” said the party’s secretary general Davies Mwila who spoke outside court.

Hundreds of Lungu’s supporters celebrated outside the court following its ruling.

In 2017 Lungu warned Zambia’s judges against blocking him from running in the 2021 vote, saying a judicial intervention like that seen in Kenya could plunge the country into chaos.

Kenya was rocked by two months of political drama and acrimony, triggered by the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn an election in August 2017 over widespread irregularities.

President Lungu has been accused of piling up foreign debt and cracking down on dissent since winning the contested election in 2016.

Zambia’s opposition has accused Lungu of increasingly authoritarian behaviour as several politicians and activists critical of his regime have faced legal action.

AFP

Police Defend Anti-Graft Protesters In Zambia

 

A senior Zambian police commander defended on Monday the right to protest of six activists on trial for staging a demonstration at parliament over a $42 million firefighting procurement deal.

Hip-hop star Chama Fumba, known as Pilato, led last year’s picket over fire engines costing $1 million (880,000 euros) each, seen as emblematic of corruption fostered by President Edgar Lungu.

“The accused have a constitutional right to demonstrate and they complied with the Public Order Act,” said Lusaka province deputy police commissioner Geoffrey Kunda in evidence to Lusaka magistrates’ court.

Kunda said his office failed to respond to a notice given by the protesters signalling their intention to picket parliament during the finance minister’s budget speech on September 29, 2017.

“I think it could have been an omission on our part. That was an omission and not deliberate,” Kunda said.

He added that an attempt to verbally ban the march may have led to the situation and the arrests of the campaigners.

The six have pleaded not guilty to charges of disobeying a lawful order and insisted they had a right to protest within the grounds of parliament.

Magistrate Mwaka Mikalile ordered that the trial should continue on November 29 and 30.

“Since 2017 we have had scandal after scandal… Can our money stop being stolen?” asked accused activist Laura Miti, speaking outside court.

“As long as we are here and the thieves are not here we will continue to protest.”

Fumba was arrested in May when he returned to Zambia from South Africa, where he had fled after his hit song, “Koswe Mumpoto” (Rat in the Pot), drew angry reactions from supporters of Zambia’s ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party.

The track was widely interpreted as a protest song accusing President Edgar Lungu and his government of being corrupt.

Zambia’s opposition has accused Lungu of increasingly authoritarian behaviour.

AFP

Zambia Refuses Entry To Kenyan Law Professor For ‘Security’ Reasons

A Kenyan law professor and former director of his country’s anti-corruption commission was on Saturday refused entry to Zambia due to “security considerations”, authorities said.

Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba, director of the Kenya School of Laws, had been due to deliver a talk on Chinese influence in Africa on Sunday.

On arrival at Kenneth Kaunda International airport in Lusaka, however, he was refused entry before being deported back to Kenya.

“(The) government through (the) immigration department has denied entry into Zambia of Prof Patrick Lumumba, a Kenyan national, due to security considerations,” Information and Broadcasting Minister Dora Siliya said in a tweet.

Lumumba’s planned talk entitled “Africa in the age of China influence and global geo dynamics” followed growing anger at Beijing’s grip on the economy of the southern African nation.

China is the main investor in Zambia as it is in several other African countries and with its offers of “unconditional” aid, most public tenders are awarded to Chinese bidders.

In Lusaka and across the country, China is busy constructing airports, roads, factories and police stations with the building boom largely funded by Chinese loans.

Zambian public debt is officially around $10.6 billion but suspicions have grown in recent months that the government is hiding its indebtedness — as happened in neighbouring Mozambique, which in 2016 was forced to admit it had kept secret $2 billion of borrowing.

Fearing that Zambia might be in a similar position, the International Monetary Fund at one point delayed talks over a $1.3 billion loan deal.

Finance Minister Margaret Mwanakatwe has insisted that in the first half of 2018 $342 million was paid in interest to creditors, of which 53 percent were commercial sector — and only 30 percent of which were Chinese.

But the country’s main opposition party has put China’s debt dominance at the forefront of its campaign to unseat the government.

AFP

Anger As Zambia Announces Tax On Internet Calls

 

Zambia will tax phone calls made over the internet to protect traditional telecoms companies, the government said Monday, a move activists warned would stifle freedom of expression.

The increased popularity of internet telephony services like Skype, WhatsApp and Viber “threatens the telecommunications industry and jobs in companies such as (operators) Zamtel, Airtel, and MTN,” government spokeswoman Dora Siliya said in a statement.

“Government has therefore introduced a 30 ngwee ($0.03) charge a day tariff on internet phone calls.”

The policy, which has yet to become law, follows Uganda’s recent decision to impose a $0.05 daily levy on social media sites including Facebook and Twitter which was met with protests by opponents.

Siliya said that the fee would be collected by mobile phone operators and internet providers.

While WhatsApp and similar apps offer end-to-end encryption of calls, mobile phone carriers and internet providers can tell from the volume of data that a voice or video call is being made, even if they can’t listen in to the conversation.

The Internet has become important for civil society in Zambia, and activists worry the tax will curtail freedom of expression.

“We have noted that it’s part of the systematic attempt by the state to stifle freedom of expression online. This is an assault to freedom of expression and association,” said Richard Mulonga, head of the online rights group Bloggers of Zambia.

“This tariff does not promote digital inclusion, internet neutrality, and affordability. It is an assault on innovation and entrepreneurship,” he added.

Zambian President Edgar Lungu has been accused of growing authoritarianism as several opposition figures and government critics have faced prosecution in what rights groups characterised as politically-motivated cases.

But communication minister Brian Mushimba said that the levy on internet calls was purely economic.

“We don’t believe in stifling the media, we believe in freedom of expression and this decision is purely an economic decision because we have lost income and so we are saying if Skype, WhatsApp are making money, how about us?”

Human rights activist Brebner Changala said that the fee would unnecessarily burden ordinary Zambians to swell state coffers.

“These people want to continue curtailing our freedoms… we all know they are broke but we ask them to allow us to express ourselves without any charge. Let them leave our freedom,” Changala told AFP.

AFP

FIFA Bans Ex-Zambian Football Chief Bwalya Over Bribery Allegations

FIFA Bans Ex-Zambian Football Chief Bwalya Over Bribery Allegations
File

 

FIFA on Friday suspended the former head of the Zambian football federation and former African footballer of the year, Kalusha Bwalya, for two years over allegedly accepting bribes.

Bwalya, 54, was also fined 100,000 Swiss francs ($100,000, 88,000 euros) in connection with “gifts and other benefits” he took from controversial Qatari businessman Mohammed Bin Hammam, FIFA’s independent ethics committee said in a statement.

Bin Hammam, an extremely wealthy former football executive, has been banned from the sport for life over corruption. He was accused of trying to buy votes when he ran for FIFA’s presidency against Sepp Blatter in 2011.

Bwalya starred for PSV Eindhoven and was named African footballer of the year in 1988. He was elected as chief of the Zambian federation in 2008 and replaced in 2016 by Andrew Kamanga.

FIFA’s ethics watchdog began investigating him in February of 2017.

AFP

Zambia Deports Top Zimbabwe Opponent Biti, Defying Court Order

Zambia Deports Top Zimbabwe Opponent Biti, Defying Court Order
(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 01, 2018 MDC Alliance Spokesperson Tendai Biti speaks during a press conference during which he announced that Zimbabwe’s opposition parties are calling for electoral reforms ahead of the July 30 general elections and that there will be street demonstrations in the capital Harare on June 5. Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP

 

Zambian authorities on Thursday defied a court order stopping them from deporting top Zimbabwe opposition figure Tendai Biti, handing him to police across the border, his lawyer said.

“They have defied the court order to allow him to seek asylum and as I am speaking to you right now he has been handed over to the Zimbabwean police,” lawyer Gilbert Phiri told AFP.

Biti, a veteran figure in the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), fled to Zambia on Wednesday claiming asylum, reportedly facing charges at home of inciting post-election violence.

Zambian authorities swiftly refused him asylum, but Phiri said Biti’s legal team had managed to challenge the decision, keeping Biti in Zambia.

But authorities have ignored the ruling and deported him, Phiri said.

He is on the Zimbabwe side,” he confirmed. “This is really embarrassing.”

A hearing at Zambia’s High Court, where Biti was supposed to appear, will go ahead Thursday in his absence, Phiri added.

The MDC were defeated in last week’s historic first elections since Zimbabwe’s military ousted Robert Mugabe in November, ending 37 years of iron-fisted rule.

Mugabe’s successor President Emmerson Mnangagwa was declared the winner on Friday by a narrow margin — results the opposition has furiously contested, alleging fraud.

Biti, an internationally-respected finance minister in Zimbabwe’s troubled 2009-2013 power-sharing government, had proclaimed a victory for the opposition before the results came in.

According to Zimbabwe’s state-run Chronicle newspaper, he is among nine suspects sought for inciting protests over alleged rigging which turned deadly.

The army opened fire with live ammunition on the opposition protesters, killing six people and prompting an international outcry.

The election has been marred by accusations of a crackdown on opponents, with arrests and beatings, as well as the deadly violence and rigging claims.

AFP

Zambia Appoint Belgian To Coach National Team

Zambia’s Belgian Coach, Sven Vandenbroeck, during his unveiling                                     Credit: CAF

 

Belgian Sven Vandenbroeck, the assistant coach of the Cameroon team that won the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, has been named Zambia coach in succession to Wedson Nyirenda.

Former Zambia striker Nyirenda quit two months ago to take up a more lucrative post as coach of South African top-flight club Baroka.

A national football association official in Lusaka confirmed the appointment of Vandenbroeck, but gave no details regarding the length or value of the contract.

Vandenbroeck and head coach and fellow Belgian Hugo Broos were fired after Cameroon fared poorly at the Confederation Cup last year and failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

His first competitive challenge with Zambia comes in September when the “Chipolopolo” (Copper Bullets) visit Namibia for a 2019 Cup of Nations matchday 2 qualifier.

This match will place huge pressure on Vandenbroeck as Zambia made a disastrous start in the four-team group, losing at home against Mozambique.

Guinea-Bissau complete Group K and the winners and runners-up after six matches qualify for the 2019 tournament in Cameroon.

Vandenbroeck assisted Broos when long shots Cameroon were crowned African champions last year, coming from behind in the final to beat Egypt 2-1 in Gabon.

The tall, sandy-haired 38-year-old has been tasked with not only taking Zambia to the next Cup of Nations, but also to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Zambia, the shock 2012 Cup of Nations winners, are currently ranked 16 in Africa and 76 in the world.

AFP

Lungu’s Critic Denies Crimes In Zambia

lungu, zambian economy, agriculture,
Zambian President, Edgar Lungu

 

A former Zambian minister and a leading critic of President Edgar Lungu appeared in court on Wednesday to deny charges that he had profited from the proceeds of crime. 

Chishimba Kambwili has emerged as one of the most prominent voices speaking out against Lungu, who is accused of an increasingly authoritarian rule and of cracking down on dissent.

Lungu had been due to face an opposition motion of impeachment in parliament on Wednesday but the process was delayed by officials who claimed more time was needed to consider the process.

Kambwili, who has been in the hospital for an undisclosed condition since his arrest on Thursday, appeared in court under heavy police guard.

“I understand the charge and plead not guilty,” Kambwili told magistrate Mwaka Mikalile after she read the 34 counts faced by the dissident lawmaker from the governing Patriotic Front party who previously served as foreign minister and Lungu’s information minister.

He has since fallen out with Lungu and repeatedly accused the president and government of being corrupt.

Lungu has denied accusations that he is creating a dictatorship in Zambia and has accused rivals of trying to overturn the 2016 election result.

Kambwili was ordered to return to court on June 4 for trial and was released on $1,000 (800 euros) bail.

Several opposition leaders were in court to support Kambwili.

After the hearing, opposition UPND party leader Hakainde Hichilema — another fierce critic of Lungu — accused the president of intimidating his opponents.

“This is not how you should run the country. They think running the country is to brutalise some people. A dictator has no true friend other than his wife and family,” he said.

Lungu had been due to face a motion of impeachment on Wednesday tabled by opposition parties in parliament — but the National Assembly said in a letter that the hearing would be delayed, prompting anger from Lungu’s critics.

“This appears to be a delaying tactic and we suspect the executive is interfering with the work of parliament,” UPND spokesman Charles Kakoma told AFP.

AFP 

Zambia Deploys Army To Battle Cholera After 41 Deaths

Zambia’s president Edgar Lungu has deployed the army to help combat a cholera outbreak that has claimed 41 lives in the capital Lusaka and affected 1,550 more since September.

The initial outbreak began on September 28 according to the World Health Organization and Zambia’s health ministry subsequently launched efforts to limit the spread of the disease.

Cholera is a water-borne disease which goes hand in hand with poverty and while readily treatable can be lethal if unaddressed.

“I have directed all the three wings of the Defence Force to join the Ministry of Health… to escalate efforts to minimise the spread of cholera in our capital city and the rest of the country,” Lungu wrote on his official, verified Facebook page late Friday.

“Lusaka has been recording an average of 60 new cases every day. I’ve noted with great sadness that a total of 41 people have died of the disease since its outbreak.

“The outbreak was initially linked to contaminated water from shallow wells and unsanitary conditions in the residential and public areas affected. But we now note that the spread of cholera is being propagated through contaminated food.”

Lungu added that there would be a crackdown on street food stalls, bars and restaurants that do not meet minimum food hygiene standards.

“I am deeply concerned at the rampaging advance of the outbreak,” he said.

AFP

Elephant In Zambia Trample Tourists While Taking Pictures

File photo of a one-day old baby Asiatic elephant walking next to his mother Angele, of La Palmyre’s zoo in France, and his four-year old sister Asha (L) during his first open-air. ATTILA KISBENEDEK / AFP

A Dutch and a Belgian tourist were trampled to death by an elephant in Zambia as they got too close to the animal when trying to take pictures, police said on Sunday.

The holidaymakers, whose identities have not been released, were killed on Saturday while on Safari at Maramba River Lodge in the tourist town of Livingstone.

“A lady from Belgium aged 57 and a 64-year-old man from the Netherlands were killed as they went close to the elephant trying to take photographs,” police spokesman Danny Mwale said in a statement.

Mwale said police who visited the scene found the bodies lying on the ground with multiple injuries.

Cases of tourists killed by wild animals while on safari are often reported across southern Africa.

Some people have been mauled by lions while attempting to take pictures.

AFP