Day of prayer simply wonderful
A day of prayer for the nation is simply a wonderful idea which brings together the nation in a united call for peace, deliverance and harmony.
I cannot think of any country that has dedicated a day to prayer, fasting and supplication. Most countries have holidays for more mundane human attainments but rarely for the sanctification and praise of the creator.
The establishment of this day was a stroke of genius, which will be remembered long after we are all gone to meet a creator to whom we worshipped.
As we go on, I hope the churches can all come together and appreciate that this day is much more meaningful than their Sunday or Saturday prayers which bring congregations rather than the people together.
The day of national prayer should be well organised to ensure that all congregations in a town or city come together in recognition of the commonality of our being.
We should remember that whatever goes wrong or right in our country will affect all of us without exception, hence the need for unity that goes beyond the tribe, language or indeed colour of the person, we all worship our creator, the common denominator to us all.
What could be better?
Removal of Zambia’s fuel subsidy
Firstly, may I thank Zambia’s former vice-president Enoch Kavindele for brilliantly stating that the decision by the PF government through the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) to remove subsidies on fuel would benefit Zambia’s economy and must be taken in the stride it was made that it was meant to save money to go into other developmental projects (“Fuel hike to benefit economy – Kavindele”, Sunday Nation, October 16, 2016).
As part of the PF government’s efforts to transform the economy and guarantee prosperity for all Zambians, the ERB vice board chairman Professor Francis Yamba announcement that in line with the policy decision to remove fuel subsidies and the current policy direction to migrate to cost reflective pricing of energy services and products, it was decided to raise the price of fuel. As expected, since the ERB’s announcement, there have been mixed reactions to its policy decision.
Secondly, let me seize this opportunity to ask the PF administration to expedite the completion of the government-to-government comingled crude oil procurement deal between the governments of Zambia and Saudi Arabia for the Indeni Petroleum Refinery’s feedstock.
Thirdly, without any delay, prudently use the money saved from the removal of fuel subsidies to start the construction of the bilateral oil pipeline and refinery between Zambia and Angola for the neat conveyance and refining of crude oil feedstock for the yet to be constructed petroleum refinery in North-Western province.
The ERB board, management and staff should also seize this opportunity to assure all Zambians that they feel the pain that we all feel.
Personally, they must feel pained to see the anticipated sharp increase in transport fares and the prices of goods and services.
They too, must share the anguish of all persons who had travelled out of their stations, who would have to pay more on the return leg of their journeys.
All in all, fellow Zambians, the truth is that we are all faced with two basic choices with regard to the management of the petroleum sector: either we expedite the government-to-government oil procurement deals with oil-rich countries and survive economically, or we continue with a subsidy regime that will continue to undermine our economy and potential for growth, and face serious consequences.
Needless to say, previous MMD administrations tinkered with the downstream pump price of petroleum products and were unable to effect upstream bilateral procurement arrangements in the petroleum sector.
This approach had not worked. If it did, the former vice-president in the MMD regime, Enoch Kavindele would not be here talking about the advantages of the removal of subsidies on fuel today.
Let’s perfect our Constitution
I totally agree with the calls made by the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) governance director, Mr Isaac Mwanza that urgent need and attention should be found to perfect our current Constitution.
It’s true our current Constitution has a lot of loopholes as seen from the last serious misunderstandings that arose and almost pushed the country into crisis during the August 11th election presidential petition. A lot that is outlined in our current Constitution needs to be straightened up if we are to be in the clear concerning the rules and laws set to govern our nation, Zambia and its people.
Take, for example, the 14 days prescribed for the hearing of a petition, some talked of it applying only to working days (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday) meaning Saturday and Sunday cannot be counted during the prescribed 14 days of a petition.
Another challenge that needs dire attention is; under what circumstances should the president hand over power to the Speaker following a presidential petition because during the said petition it was not clear to many Zambians as to whether the August 11th election was being challenged under article 101 arising from an initial ballot or from article 104 as provided for in a re-run.
All these and many more need serious attention, hence the need to have our current Constitution corrected and made easy for all.
If the above mentioned and others will not be given the much needed attention to have them corrected, then we should brace ourselves for more confusion in our courts resulting in our courts being abused by people who are desperate for power.
Time to work and correct our current Constitution should begin now when we still have enough time away from 2021.
Just a serious thought,
I would like to concur with those Zambians advocating for an open and transparent fuel procurement process.
Fuel is like any other commodity that is traded on the open market. Therefore, there is no reason why it should be given the priority that our Government seems to be placing on it.
There is no justification for the Government to procure oil when all the major oil companies are ready to import their own stocks into the country where they will sell at a profit.
Why should it be the Government to buy the oil?
I, of course, understand the strategic requirement in view of contingencies, but this is all the more reason why the Government has built storage tanks in order to store fuel for the hard times when the country may be in some dire need requiring access to urgent supplies.
As a country, we must make a determination regarding the rationalisation of our procurement considering that we have a refinery that uses comingled stock and a supply system that uses trucks to transport finished products from the Port of Dar-es-Salaam.
Do we need both systems to operate at the same time, thereby committing Government to procurement or should we allow the private sector to operate both independently, with the ERB playing the oversight role on behalf of Government?
Government is not meant to run business because it does not have the flexibility and ability to make quick decisions in times of crisis and need, hence the global preference for privatisation.
The Government must seriously consider appointing a high powered team that should offer a very clear way forward with regard to oil procurement to avoid us paying too much for middlemen who are only interested in the bottom line rather than ensuring that the country obtains value for the money we spend.