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Zambian human rights probe soldier’s death inside police cell 

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- Zambia’s human rights body on Monday launched an investigation into the death of a soldier who died inside a police cell in Lusaka Saturday.

On Saturday, Flight Sergeant Mark Nchimunya Choongwa, a 34-year-old Zambia soldier, was brutally beaten up by police officers at Wooldlands Police Station in the country’s capital Lusaka, after he was detained on a traffic offence.

He died shortly after he was thrown in police custody. There are conflicting reports about the cause of the death.

Some reports said Choongwa was brutally assaulted by the police officers after he was involved in a minor traffic accident, while the police claimed the soldier was beaten by his fellow inmates in cells.

The Zambian Human Rights Commission said it has launched an independent investigation into the matter to establish the truth behind the soldier’s death.

“What seems to be in dispute is whether or not he was beaten by either the inmates or the police officers,” said Mweelwa Muleya, the human rights body’s chief of information.

The human rights body is also investigating another case of a suspect who died after being allegedly tortured by police in central Zambia’s Chisamba district in order to compel him to confess to a crime.

The human rights body has since expressed concern over the increased use of torture by police officers on suspects, saying it was a violation of human rights under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, commonly known as the United Nations Convention against Torture, as well as the Zambian constitution. 



Australian firm mulls construction of Zambia’s second coal-powered plant

LUSAKA, (Xinhua) -- Zambia may have another coal-powered thermal power plant following an interest by an Australian firm to construct another plant, a senior government official said on Monday.

Currently, Nava Bharat Ventures Limited, a Singaporean firm, is running a 300 megawatts coal-powered plant in Maamba district in the southern part of the country.

Minister of Energy David Mabumba said the unnamed Australian firm has expressed interest in setting up a 2,000 megawatts coal powered plant in the same district.

The government, he said, has been having talks with the Australian firm, adding that the move will help the country in addressing the current power shortage.

“They want to begin with 1,000 megawatts. We had a meeting with them a few days ago,” he is quoted as saying by the Times of Zambia.


Zambia to hold public hearings on ICC membership

LUSAKA (Xinhua) -- Zambia will hold public hearings to get views from citizens on the country’s membership to the International Criminal Court (ICC), a senior government official said on Wednesday.

Last month, President Edgar Lungu said the government would consult the people before making any decision on the country’s membership to the ICC.

This followed a resolution adopted by African leaders at the African Union (AU) Summit where they called for a collective withdrawal from the international court, although the decision is non-binding after accusing the court of only targeting African leaders.

Minister of Justice Given Lubinda said the public hearings will run from March 27 to May 31 in 30 of the country’s 103 districts which have been selected due to their population size.

Citizens in other districts will be allowed to make written submissions through the offices of district commissioners, he added.

He said in a ministerial statement in parliament that after the submissions, the government will come up with a report and a position on the matter to be presented at the AU Summit in June or July this year.

He further said there was no formal complaint on Zambia or any Zambian national at the ICC.


Zambian bank launches program to give women easier access to finance

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- A bank in Zambia on Wednesday launched a program aimed at helping women have improved access to finance.

Stanbic Zambia, a member of Standard Bank Group of South Africa, said its program called Anakazi which means women, was a banking solution that will place strong emphasis on women’s access to finance and business education.

The new program will deliver the tools women need to succeed in business, including easier access to convenient banking, finance as well as business knowledge.

“This initiative will go a long way in reaching out to women, enhancing their financial knowledge and therefore increasing their ability of accessing credit and formal banking services,” said Mwansa Mutati, the bank’s Head of Business Banking, according to an emailed press release.

Under the new program, the bank will provide training, mentorship and networking events to build knowledge in business management and access to markets, as well as assistance in business formalization.

According to the press release, it is Stanbic’s bold move to boost Zambian women’s involvement in business and entrepreneurship since the bank became the first Zambian financial institution to join the Global Banking Alliance for Women (GBA) in February.

The GBA is the only global consortium of financial institutions dedicated to supporting banks as they capture the opportunity of women’s market.

With the new program, the bank will serve women as individual customers, targeting students, public workers and women professionals.

According to the bank’s market research, most women had inadequate information to be able to formalize their businesses or inadequate access to finance.

The program will also leverage its support to agriculture, an industry that supports more than 70 percent of Zambian households.


Zambian cabinet approves 7th development blueprint

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- Zambia’s cabinet has approved the country’s Seventh Development Plan that will guide the country’s development agenda in the next five years, starting this year, a senior government official said on Wednesday.

Minister of National Development Planning Lucky Mulusa said the strategic goal of the plan was to create a diversified and resilient economy for sustained growth and social economic development.

He told reporters during a press briefing at his office in Lusaka, the country’s capital that the plan has five development pillars that have been carefully identified to guide the country’s development.

These include economic diversification and job creation, reduce poverty and vulnerability, enhance human development, reduce developmental inadequacies and creating a conducive governance environment for diversified economy.

The said plan has been contextualized in the framework of the country’s decentralization policy which will allow for bottom-up approach to development, he added.

The plan, he said, has also come up with provincial and sectorial Gross Domestic Products so that each province could fully exploit its potential by utilizing natural resources available there.

The plan, whose theme is “Accelerating Development Efforts Towards Vision 2030 Without Leaving Anyone Behind” calls for a fundamental shift in the way resources were being allocated and has taken into account global and regional trends.

According to the Zambian minister, his ministry has since commenced preparations of an implementation plan which will outline different roles various stakeholders will play in the smooth implementation of the plan.

“In addition, the implementation plan will provide impetus for timely program implementation, monitoring and evaluation,” he said.

He further said a new dimension to the new plan includes the inclusion of result-oriented performance management system to hold duty holders accountable to their deliveries.

He added that a national performance framework has been developed to hold institutions accountable while public officers will be signing performance management contracts to account for their development results.



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