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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Zambian government denies taking position on ICC membership

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- The Zambian government on Monday dismissed reports that it already has had a decision on its membership to the International Criminal Court (ICC) as well as accusations that its public hearings on the matter was a waste of resources.

Last month, the government started holding public hearings to get views from citizens on the country’s membership to the international court following a resolution adopted by African leaders at the African Union (AU) Summit where they called for a collective withdrawal from the ICC after accusing the court of only targeting African leaders, although the decision is non-binding .

But some stakeholders have accused the government of wasting public resources on a matter whose outcome was pre-determined as it already has a position and have since demanded that the public hearings be stopped.

The situation was exacerbated by revelation by a top official from the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) who said President Edgar Lungu wants Zambia to remain in ICC.

Mumbi Phiri, the deputy secretary general of the ruling party told local media that Lungu told a recent meeting of the party’s central committee that he wanted Zambia to remain in the international court.

But Minister of Justice Given Lubinda said the government has not yet taken a position on the matter.

He said in a live interview on state broadcaster, the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation that the government has decided to consult stakeholders in order to maintain the tenets of democracy and get views from the public.

Zambia, he said, wanted to take a report to the AU in June this year which represents views from stakeholders and that it will not halt the public hearing meetings as demanded by some stakeholders.

“Government is very surprised that the same people who championed the cause of participation, the cause of consultation are today turning around saying don’t consult us,” he said.

The government decided to take the root of consulting stakeholders because it did not want to be misunderstood on the matter.

The government is currently holding public hearings in 30 of the country’s districts while a national symposium will be held on April 11-12 before coming up with a final document to be taken to the AU summit in June.

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EARLIER REPORTS:

Zambia and Zimbabwe aim for major joint power project

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- The governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe intends to come up with a roadmap on the development of a joint power project following the successful holding of a conference to solicit for funds, a senior Zambian government official said on Monday.

Minister of Finance Felix Mutati said the roadmap for the development of the Batoka Gorge Hydro Electric Project will be developed in consultation with stakeholders from the two countries, according to a statement released by his office.

The Zambian minister said the investor conference held last Friday was over-subscribed in terms of attendance and interest, adding that the two governments stressed the urgency of timely execution of the project in order to address the power demand of the two countries.

“The Batoka Investor Conference generated significant interest from both financiers and investors who expressed strong commitment to participate once the project procurement documents were finalized,” he said.

The two governments committed to a transparent bidding process which would ensure a competitive process and value for money, he added.

The two countries want to develop the power plant at a cost of 4 billion U.S. dollars. The project involves the construction of a dam wall and two power stations on the Batoka Gorge to be producing 1,200 megawatts of electricity each.

According to figures, Zambia’s power demand is projected to grow from 1,911 megawatts to 5,508 megawatts by 2035 while Zimbabwe’s power needs may increase from 2,116 megawatts to 5,301 megawatts.

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Zambia leader calls for stiffened measures against wildlife crimes

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- Zambian President Edgar Lungu on Monday directed the ministry responsible for protection of wildlife to stiffen measures aimed at tackling high levels of wildlife crimes in the country.

Lungu said after he received a quarterly report from the Ministry of Tourism and Arts at State House that the ministry should prioritize wildlife conservation because it contributes greatly to the country’s tourism sector and foreign exchange earnings.

The Zambian leader directed the ministry to, among other things, consider recruiting more officers in the Department of National Parks and Wildlife to curb high poaching levels in the country’s national parks.

The Department of National Parks and Wildlife currently has about 1,800 officers against a staff establishment of 4,000, he added.

The depart has of late arrested a number of people, especially in the western part of the country for wildlife offenses such as being found in possession of rhino horns and elephant ivory.

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Zambia arrests 12 more people over wildlife crimes

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- Wildlife authorities of western Zambia on Friday arrested 12 more people over wildlife crimes as efforts to curb increased wildlife crimes in the area intensify.

Early this month, the authorities arrested 11 people in Mongu, the provincial capital, who were found with 412 kilograms of hippo meat while four other men with two pairs of ivories cut in six pieces.

In the latest incident, the Department of National Parks and Wildlife said the eight people were arrested in the provincial capital for unlawful possession of 26 pieces of raw ivory weighing 96.4 kilograms and 2.5 kilograms of elephant meat.

The department also arrested four other suspects in another district of the province, Sesheke, for unlawful possession of 23 pieces of raw ivory weighing 144 kilograms.

The wildlife agency is concerned over the increased levels of wildlife crimes in the province which is also being used as a transit route. 

             

 

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