Elections Set for 20 September

ELECTIONS SET FOR 20 SEPTEMBER: President Rupiah Banda has dissolved Parliament and set September 20, 2011 as the date for presidential, parliamentary and local government elections, the sixth to take place in Zambia since the re-introduction of multi-party politics in 1991. Ten candidates including one woman have since filed nominations for the presidency, the highest number ever. 

KAFUE GORGE PLANT COSTS RISE: The estimated cost of building the Kafue Gorge Lower power plant has risen to about $2 billion from $1.5 billion after factoring in the cost of borrowing. Sinozam Power Corporation, a joint venture between Zambian state power company Zesco and two Chinese firms, is to build and operate the plant before handing it to Zesco after 30 years. About 70 percent of the financing for the project will be loans from the two contractors, China-Africa Development Fund and Sino-Hydro, and the remainder will be provided by Zesco. Construction has just started and is expected to be completed by 2017. 

STIFF PENALTIES UNDER NEW DRINK LAWS: Selling beer to underage people will now attract a penalty fee of K90 million or five years’ imprisonment, according to the new liquor licensing Act of 2011. Offences such as selling liquor without a licence will attract a penalty of K18 million for a first offence or one year in prison, and K54 million or three years’ imprisonment for a second offence. Drinking in a vehicle will also lead to a fine, whether or not the offender is the driver, and so too will taking a child into a bar or drinking in public. 

TWO MEN EATEN BY LIONS: Two men have been eaten by lions and two others mauled in recent attacks in chieftainess Mwape’s area in Nyimba district. The latest incident involved a man returning to his village late at night after spending the evening drinking. The Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) was called in and in conjunction with a professional hunter at Nyakolwe have since killed the three marauding lions. 

38 KILLED IN ROAD ACCIDENT: Thirty-eight people died when a Zambia/Malawi bus travelling to Lusaka collided with a Chipata-bound truck in Nyimba District in Eastern Province, apparently while overtaking on a bend. Fifty-five people were also seriously injured. The bus driver fled the scene, but he was later caught by police. One of the bodies was discovered by Michael Sata, Leader of the Patriotic Front, when he visited the scene two days later.

100th BIRTHDAY FOR OLDEST REFUGEE: Erculano Salugardo has celebrated his 100th birthday in the Mayukwayukwa refugee settlement in western Zambia. He arrived in Zambia in 2001 after fleeing the civil war in his home country and leaving behind his wife and four daughters in Angola's Huambo province. He does not know what happened to them. The celebration was organized by UNHCR, Zambian government officials and other refugees in the settlement. A beaming Salugardo was presented with a cake and several gifts, including a new hut, mattress, blankets, food and clothing. Zambia currently hosts 49,000 refugees, with the majority being Angolans. 

PUMA BUYS BP ZAMBIA: Puma Energy Zambia, which has acquired BP Zambia, has projected 70 percent growth by the year 2020 driven by the continued growth in the mining industry in the country as well as an increase in the number of vehicles. A K15 billion rebranding exercise starts this month, in which the predominant green with red and white will replace the traditional BP colours of green and yellow. The US company Puma now owns 75% of Puma Energy Zambia, and is obliged by Lusaka Stock Exchange rules to make an offer for the remainder of the shares, but has applied for a waiver as it wishes to leave the other 25% in Zambian hands. 

NEW COMMITTEE MEMBERS NEEDED: The ZST Committee is looking for two new members to be elected at the AGM on Saturday 5th November 2011, ideally with recent experience of Zambia – even better, people who visit the country regularly. We would be particularly pleased to welcome someone from the commercial sector, and at least one who is of Zambian descent living in the UK. 

1000 UNZA DOCTORS LIVE ABROAD: The University of Zambia has disclosed that of the 1,600 doctors trained by the School of Medicine in its 40-year history, only 600 have remained in the country, with 1000 now in the diaspora. The World Health Organisation (WHO) requirement is at least one doctor to 5,000 people, but at present there is only one doctor to 18,000. More expatriate doctors are to be recruited, and foreign doctors who have worked in Zambia for a long time should be offered citizenship if they are willing to stay, according to President Banda. 

ZAMBIAN SIGN LANGUAGE GAINS RECOGNITION: The Association of Sign Language Interpreters of Zambia (ASLIZ) has been admitted to the World Association of Sign Language Interpreters (WASLI) after meeting all the requirements. Zambia becomes the 14th country in Africa and the second after South Africa in southern Africa to be admitted to this global organisation. WASLI chairperson Mulenga Kapwepwe appealed to the Electoral Commission of Zambia to engage ASLIZ and the National Association of the Deaf to participate in voter education and monitoring, to ensure the deaf community not only turn up in large numbers, but also have adequate knowledge on voting and issues of malpractices before and during elections. 

LUSAKA GENERAL HOSPITAL OPENED: President Rupiah Banda, accompanied by the Chinese Ambassador, has opened the Lusaka General Hospital, built at a cost of approximately K48 billion. It is hoped that the new hospital, with its high-tech facilities, will relieve some of the pressure on the University Teaching Hospital (UTH). It was constructed by China Jiangsu International Economic Cooperation under a grant by the People’s Republic of China. The project was initiated by the late President Levy Mwanawasa. 

OPPOSITION ATTEMPT TO BLOCK BANDA’S CANDIDACY REJECTED: The Lusaka High Court has cleared President Rupiah Banda to take part in next month's elections after the main opposition Patriotic Front (PF) party sought to have him blocked on grounds that he does not qualify to stand, claiming that his father was not Zambian . Zambia's constitution requires both parents of a presidential candidate to be Zambian by birth. The PF has said it will appeal to the Supreme Court. 

CHILUBA’S CHILDREN GRANTED INJUNCTION AGAINST WIFE: The High Court has granted the late Frederick Chiluba's children an injunction restraining his widow Regina from administering his estate. They want the court to determine how the former Republican President's estate should be administered. Chiluba divorced his wife of 33 years, Vera Tembo, with whom he had nine children, in order to marry Regina with whom he had no children. 

KK FALLS ILL IN NAMIBIA: Former President Kenneth Kaunda was taken ill with a viral infection and admitted to hospital in Windhoek, Nambia, where he was staying on holiday with his wife while working on the final draft of his memoirs. His son Waza complained that he had not been allowed to leave Zambia to visit his father, but later flew to Windhoek. The Zambian government sent a team of medical experts, including the ex-president’s longstanding personal physician, to assess his condition. Dr Kaunda is expected to be released from hospital shortly.

COPPER OUTPUT FALLS: Copper output decreased to 472,891 tonnes in January-July 2011, compared with 478,734 tonnes in the same period a year earlier, according to the central bank. At the same time, cobalt output rose to 4,869 tonnes during the period from 4,719 tonnes in the same period last year, and exports increased to 4,894 tonnes from 4,707 tonnes. 

Exchange Rate, 18 May 2011: £1= K8,263.78 US$1= K4,960.00

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