ZABS exceeds its quarterly product sample testing target

The Zambia Bureau of Standards ZABS has exceeded its quarterly product sample testing target by 37% for the first quarter of 2017.

ZABS Head of Marketing and Public Relations Hazel Zulu has confirmed this to Breeze News.

Ms. Zulu says that the Bureau targeted to test and analyse 2,625 product samples in the first quarter of 2017 for compliance and conformance to set Zambian standards.

She however says that ZABS instead tested and analysed 3,608 product samples, representing an increase of 37% above target.

Ms. Zulu says that products tested during the period under review include miscellaneous food stuffs, petroleum samples, water, condoms and fruit-flavoured drinks.

The highest product samples tested was water.

She says that ZABS is very pleased with this positive development as it reflects the increase in levels of awareness and the value that industry and individuals alike have seen in ensuring that their products are reliable and safe through laboratory testing.

Ms. Zulu explains that product sample testing is important because it is the only sure and accurate way to confirm that products are compliant to set standards thereby making them competitive.

UPND and CSPR against electricity tariff increase

The opposition UPND, United Party for National Development says that the ZESCO proposed tariff increase should not be approved.

Provincial Spokesperson Victor Mbuzi says that the timing for the tariff increase is wrong because the country’s economy is not stable.

Mr. Mbuzi told Breeze News this morning, the any increment in tariffs will push up the prices of all basic commodities in the country.

He further says that most ordinary Zambians are struggling to make ends meet and that any increase will subject them to more poverty.

Mr. Mbuzi says that the increase in electricity tariffs should wait until Zambia’s economy stabilizes.

Meanwhile the Civil Society for Poverty Reduction CSPR says that government seems to have already made a decision to increase the electricity tariffs.

Advocacy and Communication Programme Coordinator Maxson Nkhoma says statements coming government especially Energy Minister, David Mabumba are clear that the tariffs will be increased by 50 per cent on 1st May.

Speaking to Breeze News this morning, Mr. Nkhoma says that this renders the whole process where ERB, the Energy Regulation Board has called for submissions on whether ZESCO should be allowed to increase tariffs useless.

He says that this is against the major principal of governance because the process of consulting stakeholders has not been finalized.

Mr. Nkhoma says that CSPR is aware that electricity bills for senior government officials are paid by government, which is not the case with those running small businesses like saloons and barbershops.

And Mr. Nkhoma observed that 60 per cent of the power generated by ZESCO is consumed by the mines at a very cheap rate.

He says that this means that ordinary Zambians are subsiding the huge costs incurred by mining companies, a situation he described as unfair.

Patriotic Front calls for national peace

The Patriotic Front PF Party has called on Zambians to maintain peace at all cost.

National Committee member, Benjamin Siwila further says that youths should not allow to be used for violence.

Speaking to Breeze News, Mr. Siwila says that it is important for Zambians to support President Edgar Lungu to deliver on his promises.

He says that the head of state has been going round the country to check on projects, just to ensure that all parts of Zambia experience development.

Mr. Siwila challenged young people in the country to come up with project ideas so that they can be supported to develop Zambia.

He also pointed out the need for Zambians to provide an environment that will create investor confidence through discouraging any form of violence.

Christians told to buy vehicles for men of God

A clergyman has directed congregants to buy vehicles for their pastors to fulfill God’s Word that faith without actions does not serve a purpose.

Reverend Harry Nkhoma says that congregations especially from rural parts should start buying vehicles for their pastors so that they become mobile in their delivery of the gospel.

Reverend Nkhoma was speaking in a sermon at the closure of RCZ Reformed Church in Zambia, to mark 50 years jubilee of self-governance in Katete district yesterday.

Reverend Nkhoma explained that RCZ has grown with over 700,000 full communicant members from 170 congregations throughout Zambia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania.

Meanwhile Church Moderator Professor Edwin Zulu says the church is self-supporting.

Professor Zulu says RCZ is an agent of reformation adding that it has continued partnering with all successful governments in all spheres of development in Zambia.

He says the church also recognizes traditional leaders who have provided the land for structures, stating that without their assistance, the church would not have progressed.

ZESCO asked to further break down the 75 percent proposed tariff adjustment.

The Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation ZESCO has been asked to further break down the percentage of the proposed tariff adjustment.

Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry EPCCI says that this will assist to provide relief and reduce the cost of doing business.

EPCCI President Thomas Mtonga says that the 50 per cent increment for May and a further 25 per cent increment for September are too much for ordinary Zambians.

Mr. Mtonga says that although electricity tariffs in Zambia are low compared to other countries in the region, a gradual increment would be the best way to handle the issue.

He says that EPCCI is aware that ZESCO wants to ensure that its operations are cost efficient but the country’s economy has not been performing well.

Mr. Mtonga says that the proposed 75 per cent increment should be implemented for a long period unlike within five months.

ZESCO on Sunday indicated that domestic consumers who use less than 300 units per month will not be affected by the tariff adjustment.

Spokesperson Henry Kapata called on consumers to maintain power usage discipline if they are to continue buying electricity at 15 ngwee per unit.

EPCCI says fruit and vegetable ban is retrogresive

The Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry EPCCI has commended government’s decision not to ban the importation of fruits and vegetables.

EPCCI President Thomas Mtonga says that any decision to ban the importation of fruits and vegetables would have a negative effect on the business sector.

Mr. Mtonga told Breeze Business News, that there are traders who sell fruits that cannot be locally produced in the country on a large scale like apples.

He further says that those dealing in the hospitality business like hotels and lodges have particular meals that require certain types of vegetables and fruits, which are not locally grown.

Mr. Mtonga further points out that horticulture industry in Eastern Province has not fully grown where it can produce specific types of products that meet international standards.

He says that until at a time when the country will have farmers that can produce all vegetables and fruits that have high demand, any ban would be retrogressive.

Government clears 2016 water bill

Government has cleared its 140,000 Kwacha 2016 outstanding debt to Eastern Water and Sewerage Company.

Company Managing Director, Lytone Kanowa, confirmed this to journalists during a press briefing in Chipata this morning.

Mr. Kanowa however, says that government still has an outstanding debt of 4.08 million Kwacha.

He says that in comparison to other customers, government has managed to pay 100 percent of what it owed the company in 2016

And Mr. Kanowa says the amount of money owed to the utility company by other customers has increased.

He explained that the amount went up to 4.5 in 2016 from 4.2 million kwacha.

However, Mr. Kanowa mentioned that despite these challenges, the utility company has continued working hard to supply water to its customers.

Chipata City Council fails to collect K5 million in property rates

A latest report of the auditor general has revealed that the Chipata City Council failed to collect over 5 million Kwacha from property rates.

This is amount, which is owed to the council by 2,862 customers.

The report shows that as of December 2016, the rates had not been collected and that the failure to collect rates when due, had a negative impact on the cash flow of the Council.

The report reveals operations of various councils in the country in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

The report also says contrary to Section 52 of the Local Government Act, the Council did not have audited financial statements for the period under review.

It also shows that during the period under review, the local authority operated without a strategic plan.

On financial Misapplication of Funds, the auditor general’s report reveals that during the period under review, amounts totaling over 820,000 Kwacha meant for the payment of retirees benefits and 650,000 Kwacha meant for the revaluation of the council assets, were spent on unrelated activities, such as purchase of fuel, payment of salaries, statutory contributions and union dues  among others.

The report further shows that as of December 2016, the council owed amounts totaling 8 million Kwacha to various employees and retirees in respect of settling in allowances, long service bonus and retirement benefits.

It also shows that out of an approved establishment of three hundred and sixty four positions, only two hundred and three were filled, leaving a balance of one hundred and sixty one vacancies.

The report which also looks at other councils, recommends that all local authorities should prepare financial statements, which should be audited within two years.

It also advised that all the councils should develop strategic plans to clearly provide a strategic framework on how the local authorities intend to achieve their goals and vision.

Four men sentenced 15 years imprisonment for aggravated robbery.

The Chipata High Court has sentenced four men to fifteen years imprisonment with hard labour for aggravated robbery contrary to the laws of Zambia.

In the first case, High court Judge Mwinde Siavwapa sentenced Chimozi Jere and Nevers Tembo of Petauke district to fifteen years imprisonment each with hard labour for two counts of aggravated robbery.

In the first count, facts before the court are that on May 25, 2015, Jere and Tembo whilst acting together with other persons unknown, armed with a gun, machetes and iron bars stole 900 Kwacha cash belonging to Margaret Phiri and two Bonanza machines valued at 13, 900 Kwacha, property of Robert Banda.

In the second count, Jere and Tembo on May 25th, 2015 whilst acting together broke into Top 20 Bar and Satellite Bar in Petauke district and attacked a security guard at Zambeef.

In mitigation, Senior Legal Aid counsel, John Phiri said the suspects were first offenders, who are remorseful for having committed the offense and are young people that can easily be rehabilitated.

In passing judgement, Justice Siavwapa said he considered the mitigation but the offense committed by the duo was a serious one.

He sentenced them to Fifteen years imprisonment with hard labour, for each count to run concurrently with effect from the date of their arrest on May 25th, 2015.

Meanwhile in another case, Justice Siavwapa sentenced Brian Mfune and Robert Tembo of Chipata to fifteen years imprisonment with hard labour each for aggravated robbery, contrary to the laws of Zambia.

Facts of the matter are that on April 15th, 2016, Tembo and Mfune whilst acting together attacked Elifas Daka and robbed him of a cell phone, one pair of shoes and a belt in M’chini area.

In mitigation, Senior Legal Aid counsel, John Phiri asked the court to exercise lenience on the duo as they were first offenders and young men who can easily be rehabilitated as they were sorry for having committed the offense.

In passing Judgement, Justice Siavwapa said he considered the mitigation but the crime committed was a serious one especially that they took advantage of Daka’s drunkenness to rob him.

He sentenced them to Fifteen years imprisonment each with hard labour to deter would be offenders.

Chipata City Council introduces a 50 kwacha cyclist annual levy.

Chipata City Council has introduced a 50 kwacha cyclist annual levy which was abolished 11 years ago.

This came to light during a meeting held in Chipata between Eastern Province Cyclists Association and Chipata City Council yesterday.

Speaking at the same meeting Chipata City Council Director of Housing and Social Services Judith Maambo told the gathering that the levy will now guarantee cyclists usage of roads legally.

Ms. Maambo says cyclists will be given licenses to legalize the carrying of customers and tags indicating that they have been licensed to operate.

Ms. Maambo says for the local authority to deliver quality services, all sectors, which include road users and traders, need to contribute levy which will go towards the provision of sanitation, health and safety to the people.

Meanwhile President of Eastern Province Cyclists Association Kenneth Simango told Breeze News in an interview that councils should provide shelters and sanitation at places where cyclists will be operating from.

Mr. Simango says that it will be unfortunate if councils will fail to deliver the needed services to cyclists especially extension of cycle trucks in areas where there is none.