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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Zambia urged to expand maize production for regional exports 

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- A local farmers’ body on Thursday urged the Zambian government to take advantage of a projected maize deficit in the southern African region by expanding production to cater for regional exports.

The Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) said the government should come up with a strategy to take advantage of the maize deficit—estimated to be around seven million tonnes by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network.

The farmers’ body said in a statement that the high demand of maize in the region had increased informal trade, especially in the eastern part of Zambia.

According to the statement, Zambia should come up with a marketing strategy that would ensure sustained and expanded production to not only meet the national requirements but also increase the country’s exports of maize into the region.

Zambia produced 2.8 million tonnes of maize during the 2015/2016 agricultural season, despite the drought that hit most countries in the southern African region.

Last week, the government said it will take precaution on maize exports in order to safeguard national food security.

Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary Julius Shawa said the government will not allow the exports of maize until it is convinced that the country is food secure.

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EARLIER REPORTS:

COMESA, UK firm ink deal to supply fertilizer to Zambia

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) on Wednesday announced that it has partnered with a United Kingdom (UK) firm to supply fertilizers to Zambia.

Africa’s biggest trade bloc, through its specialized agency, the Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA), has partnered with London-listed African Potash Limited to start supplying fertilizer to smallholder farmers in Zambia for a period of three years.

The fertilizer is being supplied by a local supplier, Gavilon to the Zambia Cooperative Federation (ZCF), to be distributed to smallholder farmers across Zambia, an emailed statement said.

“The initial deliveries of 1,500 tonnes began going out to ZCF sales depots last week. The fertilizer supply to ZCF will continue for a minimum of three years,” the statement said.

It added that the supply was in line with and meant to tap into the Zambian government’s recently launched e-voucher system, in which the government was investing about 130 million U.S. dollars to support and manage an integrated ecosystem of technical and financial support for the smallholder farmers.

“We are excited to be working with African Potash and COMESA/ACTESA on this groundbreaking scheme to supply our 2 million plus farmers with timely, affordable and quality fertilizers, to be distributed via e-voucher initiative,” James Chirwa, the ZCF director said.

He said the partnership will allow his institution to supply fertilizers in good time to the farmers, adding that this will help alleviate a looming humanitarian disaster brought about by the severe drought the region has suffered for the last two years.

The e-voucher system enables the purchase of inputs for smallholder farmers as well as supporting the sale of products. Under the system, the government provides financial support to the farmers through a specialized card.

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World Bank loans Zambia 65 mln USD for women, girls’ empowerment

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- The World Bank has given Zambia a loan of 65 million U.S. dollars to support the empowerment of women and girls’ education over a five-year project, state media reported on Thursday.

The bank has provided the funds under the Girls Education and Women Empowerment and Livelihood (GEWEL) project, which will be implemented in selected districts of the country, according to the Times of Zambia.

Weka Banda, Principal Information Communications Officer in the Ministry of Community Development, said the project would alleviate poverty among the women.

“The World Bank has given Zambia a loan to support women through grants and to also pay school fees for secondary school vulnerable girls,” she is quoted as saying by the paper at the official launch of the project in southern Zambia’s Choma district.

She added that the women and the girls were chosen because they were the most hit by poverty and that many girls were not in school as families prefer sending the boy child to school.

The project would be implemented in 51 districts in all the country’s 10 provinces, she added.

The project, which has three components, namely, Supporting Women Livelihood, Keeping Girls in School, Institutional Strengthening and Systems Building, will benefit about 75,000 women and 14,000 girls at secondary school level.

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Opposition leader demands disbandment of Zambia’s electoral body

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- Zambia’s sole female presidential contender in the recently held general elections on Wednesday called for the disbandment of the country’s electoral body, accusing it of failing to run elections.

Edith Nawakwi, leader of the Forum for Democracy and Development who came third in the elections, said it was clear that the current officials at the Electoral Commission of Zambia, have failed to conduct free and credible elections.

She told reporters during a press briefing in Lusaka, the country’s capital that the ineptitude of the electoral body has resulted in the current political standoff where the presidential winner has not been sworn-in after the results were petitioned.

According to her, the entire electoral process was flawed and that officials at the electoral body failed to listen to the concerns which were raised by stakeholders.

Zambia, she said, will never have free, fair and credible elections if the current leadership at the electoral body remains in charge.

The results of the presidential election have been challenged in the Constitutional Court by the country’s main opposition, the United Party for National Development, saying there were malpractices in the vote count.

The swearing-in ceremony of President Edgar Lungu, who was re-elected, has been put on hold until after the court makes a ruling on the petition.

But on Tuesday, Lungu’s spokesperson denied that there was a power vacuum in the country, saying the Zambian leader was in charge and that all government departments are functioning smoothly.

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Zambia leader dismisses power vacuum reports

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- Zambian President Edgar Lungu’s office on Tuesday dismissed reports that there has been a power vacuum in the country following a petition challenging his re-election.

The main opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) has petitioned the Constitutional Court to nullify Lungu’s re-election in the August 11 polls, citing malpractices in the vote count.

The country’s constitution stipulates that Speaker of the National Assembly should act as president if there is a petition challenging the declaration of a presidential winner.

Lungu has refused to step aside, forcing the opposition party to ask the Constitutional Court to rule on the matter.

But Amos Chanda, presidential spokesperson said Lungu was in charge and that there was no vacuum as all the government departments have continued operating smoothly.

He told reporters at a press briefing held at State House that Lungu was still president and leader of the armed forces, adding that he has the constitutional mandate to president over national matters, including maintaining peace and order.

He said the government decided to suspend the inauguration of the present-elect because Lungu respects the constitution and wanted the court to decide on the petition.

Lungu was declared winner of the August 11 general elections after getting 1,860,877 votes while his main challenger Hakainde Hichilema of the UPND got 1,760,347.

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Zambian radio back on air after license restored

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- Zambia’s broadcasting regulator on Tuesday lifted the suspension of a broadcasting license for radio service Itezhi-tezhi.

Last week, the Independent Broadcasting Authority suspended three broadcasters, among them the country’s main independent television.

The regulator suspended the licenses for Muvi Television, Komboni and Itezhi-tezhi radios for alleged unprofessional conduct which posed a risk to national peace and security before, during and after the August 11 general elections.

But the regulator said it had restored the license of Itezh-tezhi radio after it showed remorse for airing a program that was inciting violence during a hearing.

The radio station was summoned to appear before the regulator and expressed regret over its action and asked for lenience, the regulator said in a statement.

The hearing, which was scheduled for September 14, was brought forward at the station’s request, the regulator added.

The regulator however said it could not act on the two other broadcasters because they had taken the matter to court.

In July this year, the government published a code of conduct for radio and television stations as a way to regulate the industry.

The aim is to ensure that the country’s 96 radio stations and 33 television stations assume responsibility in terms of content provision and professional conduct.

In June, the country’s biggest private newspaper, the Post, was closed by the revenue agency, on failure to pay taxes.

Stakeholders have said the attacks targeted at media houses are meant to silence criticism and were politically motivated, a charge that the broadcasting regulator has denied.

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Zambia seeks to address road carnage

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- Zambia’s road safety agency revealed on Thursday that it has called for a national conference to address the high number of road crashes the country was witnessing.

The Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) said the conference, to be hosted in collaboration with the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU), will be held on September 22, which will bring together stakeholders in efforts aimed at finding solutions to road crashes.

“The purpose of this high-level meeting is to discuss and brainstorm with stakeholders and other partners in the road transport sector in relation to improving the road safety situation in Zambia,” the agency said in a statement.

The forum will provide a platform for all stakeholders at national level to deliberate on road safety, and mitigate the avoidable human suffering and the effects of road accidents in Zambia, it added.

According to figures from the agency, Zambia recorded 9,074 road traffic accidents in the second quarter of this year, resulting in 705 deaths.

Most accidents are due to excessive speeding, and misjudging clearance distance.

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