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Saturday, 20 March 2010

Parliamentary Question (Aid to Zimbabwe)

The Government has been providing economic assistance to Zimbabwe. A recent Parliamentary exchange revealed the government contributed K2bn in 2009, and will this year contribute K3.4bn, bringing the total to around K5.4bn. We have previously discussed this misguided aid policy on Robbing Paul to pay Peter :

Zambia's contribution to Zimbabwe's economic recovery, Oral Answer (313), Edited Transcript, 24th February, 2010 :

Mr D. Mwila (Chipili) asked the Vice-President and Minister of Justice: (a)how much money the Zambian Government intended to contribute to the economic recovery of Zimbabwe; (b)why the Government decided to make this contribution; and (c)whether this contribution would be beneficial to the Zambian people.

The Deputy Minister of Justice (Mr Chilembo): Mr Speaker, the Government’s contribution towards the economic recovery of Zimbabwe has principally been in the form of humanitarian aid and has since made and intends to contribute to this cause by doing the following:

(a) in January 2009, the Government released K2 billion to assist fight the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe. Of this amount, K667 million was a one-off donation of medical supplies and equipment to the Zimbabwean Government and the balance of K1.33 billion was directed at supporting cholera prevention activities in the districts bordering Zimbabwe.

(b) a sum of US$600,000 or K2,773 billion (using the current exchange rate of K4,622 per US dollar), in humanitarian aid, will be given to Zimbabwe by the end of this year. By the end of the year, the Government projects to contribute approximately K3.4 billion.

Mr Speaker, with regard to the assistance given to fight cholera, the following is the background. In December, 2008, Zimbabwe experienced a serious outbreak of cholera which affected almost all its provinces. This, in turn, started to affect some of our districts bordering Zimbabwe in the Southern Province. This called for immediate action so as to contain the outbreak as it was going to affect Siavonga, Livingstone and Sinazongwe districts. Consequently, the Zambian Government, through the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders, was obliged to take action by providing cholera medical supplies, materials and equipment to the Zimbabwean Government. In addition, surveillance and preventive activities to contain the cholera outbreak were done in the affected districts of the Southern Province.

During the same period, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which Zambia is a member of, met and tabled the problem of the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe and a resolution was passed for all the SADC member states, especially those bordering Zimbabwe, to assist it contain the outbreak.

Mr D. Mwila: Mr Speaker, as you are aware, Lusaka has been hit by floods and people have started dying. Yesterday, the hon. Minister of Health reported that we had 108 cholera patients. Would the hon. Minister, therefore, explain to this House and the nation the criteria used to give money to the Zimbabwean Government?

The Minister of Home Affairs (Mr Mangani): Mr Speaker, the criterion is that Zimbabwe is a neighbour and as such we are obliged to assist our neighbours when they have problems. Secondly, in our reply, we have indicated that if we had not assisted Zimbabwe, cholera was going to spread to some of our districts along the border with Zimbabwe and that was going to cause problems for Zambia as well. Therefore, the criteria were based on humanitarian grounds and our SADC membership. Whenever we have a problem, other SADC members come to our aid as well and therefore, we cannot isolate ourselves from the regional family.

Mr Kambwili (Roan): Mr Speaker, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia share borders on the same stretch. May I know if Botswana and Namibia also helped Zimbabwe.

Mr Mangani: Mr Speaker, I am not able to answer on behalf of those countries. If the hon. Member of Parliament is interested in knowing that, he can visit their embassies and get the details.

Mr Kapeya (Mpika Central): Mr Speaker, Zambia contributed a lot to the liberation struggle of Zimbabwe. What reward have we received for our contribution?

Mr Mangani: Mr Speaker, when Zambia was contributing to the liberation struggle of Zimbabwe, we did not expect any monetary gains.

Mr Mangani: We did that on humanitarian grounds because Zimbabweans are our brothers. When they got their independence, we were proud that our brothers were free. Therefore, as Zambians, we are happy that Zimbabwe is free and there is nothing that we can talk about in terms of monetary gains apart from appreciating the freedom of our brothers.

Colonel Chanda (Kanyama): Mr Speaker, may I find out from the hon. Minister what budgetary vote was used in this House for this generous gesture to Zimbabwe because we are talking about public funds being used.

Mr Mangani: Mr Speaker, we used contingency funds.

Ms Kapata: Mr Speaker, the hon. Minister has not come out clearly on the rationale behind the decision to assist Zimbabwe when, here, in Zambia, we have similar situations. I will give a very good example of the people of Mazyopa who have lived in tents since 2007.

Mr Mangani: Mr Speaker, if the hon. Member of Parliament for Mandevu visits the cholera centres, she will find a number of organisations assisting us. In the same vein, Zambia cannot just sit idle when other countries are facing problems. Therefore, Zambia is also being assisted because we have been good to others.

Mr Milupi (Luena): Mr Speaker, will the hon. Minister confirm that assisting other countries is a matter of policy for this Government? In the same line, would he indicate to this House other neighbouring countries that have received similar assistance other than Zimbabwe?

Mr Mangani: Mr Speaker, indeed, the policy of this Government is to assist our neighbours, hence Zambia’s great sacrifice to liberate the Southern Region. Apart from Zimbabwe, we fought very hard to liberate Mozambique, South Africa and other neighbours. Therefore, Zambia has done a lot in terms of assisting its neighbouring countries.

Mr Lubinda (Kabwata): Mr Speaker, the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe broke out at the beginning of 2009 and, as we have been informed, the Zambian Government contributed a total of K2 billion in the form of materials and drugs. Given that the cholera situation in Zimbabwe has been contained and, in the meantime, the people of Kabwata, Mandevu and Kanyama constituencies, including Misisi Compound, are in floods and at risk of contracting cholera, would the hon. Minister and his Government consider withdrawing the offer of the US$600,000.00 which they intend to give to Zimbabwe in 2010?

Mr Mangani: Mr Speaker, we have not failed to deal with the situation in the areas mentioned by the hon. Member of Parliament for Kabwata. We are responding very well …

Mr Mangani: … by resettling some of the affected people to the Independence Stadium. You can go there and check what is happening. So far, the programme is running very well. The issue of the assistance being rendered to the neighbouring country is not conditional. I thank you, Sir.

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