October 23, 2008

SADC launches mission to observe presidential election

The first group of election observers from southern Africa has arrived in Zambia to observe the presidential elections scheduled for 30 October and deployment to the provinces has begun. At least 25 election observers from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Election Observer Mission (SEOM) had arrived in Lusaka as of 14 October and were dispatched to the different provinces with the assistance of the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ). In total, SADC is expected to have more than 100 observers coming from the different 15 Member States.
The SEOM is backed by Article 5 of the SADC Treaty that outlines the objectives of SADC in which Member States are committed to the promotion of common political values and systems. SADC Executive Secretary, Tomaz Salomão, noted that it was important for the presidential candidates in Zambia, the SADC leadership and Africa to continue setting an example of political maturity and practices in elections. "The presidential candidates must be committed to democratic norms and principles. They must be able to continue setting a good example of political maturity and democracy on the continent so that the people can realise and enjoy peace, security and political stability," said Salomão.
The 30 October presidential poll will see four candidates running for office of president following the death of Levy Mwanawasa on 19 August. The candidates are Rupiah Banda representing the ruling party, and leaders of opposition parties, Michael Sata, Hakainde Hichilema and Godfrey Miyanda. Several other opposition parties withdrew from the race and decided to back Banda, who is standing on the ticket of the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD). There are no major surprises among the candidates. Perhaps the only newcomer to the presidential race is Banda who was chosen by the MMD in September as their candidate for the election. The other candidates -- Sata of the main opposition Patriotic Front (PF), Hichilema of the United Party for National Development (UPND) and Miyanda of the Heritage Party (HP) -- are not strangers to the Zambia presidential contest.
In the 2006 September presidential poll, Mwanawasa of the MMD garnered 42.98 percent of the total votes winning the presidency while Sata came second with 29.37 percent. Hichilema came third with 25 percent of the vote and Miyanda came fourth with 1.57 percent.
Zambia has invited other regional and sub-regional organisations to observe this month's presidential elections. Apart from SADC, other African regional organisations invited include the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Economic Community of West African States, Pan-African Parliament, Economic Community of Central African States, the East African Community, and the Maghreb Union. International bodies invited include the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) bloc, the Non-Aligned Movement, Association of South East Asian Nations and the European Union. Zambia has 3.9 million registered voters, and the ECZ says it will be using the 2006 voters' role due to time limitations to conduct a fresh voters' roll. (Southern African News Features, Harare) October 21, 2008 $75.5 mln power deal with World Bank The World Bank has agreed to a $75.5 million facility with Zambia to boost electricity generation and said the mineral-rich country required up to $2 billion to meet growing power demand. Kapil Kapoor, the World Bank country manager for Zambia, signed the deal with Zambia's Finance Minister Ng'andu Magande. Kapoor said 18.000 new households would be connected to the national power grid. Only 20 percent of Zambia's 12 million people have access to power and only three percent of those are in rural areas, government data showed.
The government plans to raise access to power to 50 percent of the population by 2030. Kapoor said there was increasing demand for power in Zambia due to new copper mines and increased economic activity. The cash will help build smaller hydro power stations, transmission and distribution of power facilities. Kapoor said some $33 million of the total amount would be funded by the International Development Association of the World Bank.
Officials say Zambia has up to 1,650 megawatts generation capacity but currently generates only 1,400 megawatts of power as a result of a breakdown of some equipment. (The Times of Zambia, Ndola)


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