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La Naissance de Jesus (Luke 2:1-20)

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The Eastern Fodya Association of Zambia, EFAZ says there is need to adjust some of the sections in the 1968 tobacco Act.

Speaking on the sidelines of the TBZ consultative meeting held in Chipata yesterday, EFAZ chairperson, Franklyn Mwale, says changes to the act are needed because of the transformation that has taken place in tobacco farming methods and marketing.
Mr. Mwale says the tobacco Act has been in existence for over 40 years and needs to be amended to suit the current trends and growing number of farmers in the province.
He emphasized that the act should just be amended so that it addresses current issues such as sponsorship of farmers without farming equipment and levies that farmers pay, instead of completely being repealed.
Meanwhile, Mr. Mwale says that due to last year’s good market for the crop, more farmers have been encouraged to grow tobacco during the 2017-2018 farming season.
Mr. Mwale has urged farmers to provide the association with information that will assist EFAZ to start negotiations with the government through TBZ over buying companies.

And The Eastern Fodya Association of Zambia (EFAZ) has also called for the establishment of a tobacco processing plant in Chipata in Eastern Province.
This is to reduce the cost of transportation of raw tobacco and promote value addition.
EFAZ president Franklyn Mwale said that there was need for a tobacco processing plant to be established in the district.
Mr Mwale said that farmers were currently transporting all the produce to Lusaka and Malawi were it was processed.
“Eastern Province produces a lot of tobacco; everything produced here goes to Lusaka for processing and this is proving to be costly in terms of transportation.
“So when a processing plant is opened here, the cost of production will be reduced,” he said.
Mr Mwale side establishing the processing plant in Chipata would encourage farmers in the province to grow more of the crop and further create jobs for local people.
He projected that this year’s production was expected to drop because most farmers had only planted flue-cured tobacco which was easy to sell.
Mr Mwale said that farmers were learning to grow the flue-cured tobacco and that not much was expected to be produced this year.
Mr Mwale said that most farmers in the province had stopped growing barley which was easy to grow but difficult to sell.
He said that only farmers that were supported by Japan Tobacco International had planted barley tobacco.

The crocodile snaps back

Along with the early morning mist, a mood of quiet elation enveloped Harare as news spread that President Mugabe was under house arrest

During the night of 14-15 November Zimbabwe Defence Forces soldiers were posted to strategic points in the capital, such as the police headquarters, the Central Intelligence Organisation, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and The Herald newspaper.

The lead authors of the military action – sacked Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and General Constantino Chiwenga – had prepared the ground for the operation and troops encountered little resistance at the barracks of the Presidential Guard and its commander Brigadier-General Anselem Sanyatwe.

Neutralising them was the first part of the military action, we understand.

Although the action was triggered by the sacking of Mnangagwa on 6 November, it had been planned several weeks earlier, with senior officers consulting South African and Chinese officials.

Within Zimbabwe, security was tighter still amid concerns that the CIO had been monitoring the movements of Chiwenga and other top officers.

In South Africa, Mnangagwa, Chiwenga and Chris Mutsvangwa, the ‘war veterans’ leader and former ambassador to China, talked to local security officials about the implications of their military action in Harare.

We understand they were given assurances of non-intervention by South Africa so long as the action didn’t spill over the borders and remained ‘broadly constitutional’.

Chiwenga and Mnangagwa promised to find a way to avoid the action being stigmatised as a military coup by the African Union or the Southern African Development Community.

For that reason, Zimbabwe’s top officers kept emphasising that it was ‘not a military takeover’ and that it was not aimed at President Robert Mugabe, ‘only targeting criminals around him’, despite all the evidence to the contrary, including reports of arrangements for Mugabe to leave the country.

As Chiwenga and Mnangagwa try to consolidate power, they may seek to use the forthcoming congress of the ruling party Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front next month to win an imprimatur for the transition, and Mnangagwa’s role as leader.

The action could hardly have come at a worse time for the opposition, which is fractious and on the back foot.

There are signs that veteran Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai has been offered a role in a transitional government along with Joice Mujuru, who was sacked as Vice-President three years ago.

Such a move could buy the new order some time and perhaps trigger an inflow of new money into the sinking economy.

Most Zimbabweans were treating the military action as an internal ZANU-PF affair.

Opposition activists were struggling to produce a coherent response to the military takeover: alternately glad to see the demise of the Mugabe regime, but with grave concerns about the chances of a democratic transition.

Military movements in the capital were disciplined and professional, as if the soldiers were acting according to a rehearsed plan.

The larger grain borer has broken out in Chilubi, Luwingu, Chadiza and Chipata.

Food Reserve Agency Executive Director Chola Kafwabulula confirmed the outbreak at a media briefing in Chipata yesterday.

“The larger grain borer is one of the most serious pests affecting the agriculture industry.
It is a nuisance such that it can reduce maize to powder in one week. “We are treating this outbreak as an emergency,” Mr. Kafwabulula said.

He said the pest came from farmers who went to sell maize at FRA Mwangazi satellite depot in Chadiza. He disclosed that the said farmers were turned away with their 1,000 bags of maize after it was discovered that their grain was infested with large grain borer.

He said FRA was working closely with scientists from Zambia Agriculture Research Institute to contain the pest.

“We have already started fumigating the affected areas and we quarantined the affected maize. We have immediately stopped the movement of maize from infested areas to non-infested areas,” he said

He added the affected farmers had lost out because they listened to bad advice from stakeholders who stopped them from selling their maize in the hope the floor price would go up.

“These are consequences because they held onto their maize but it is now infested. It is no longer fresh. The maize has been rejected and this has worked against the affected farmers.

“As leaders and as managers we must be careful with instructions that we give to our people because this is a big loss to the farmers who listened to bad advice.”

Most farmers in chadiza are worried with grain borer which have attacked their maize they kept for food.

End//……………A.P

 

Sweet Potatoes: From Planting To Harvesting

Sweet potatoes are tropical plants that grow best when it’s hot. The plants are sensitive to shade which leads to low yield. However, for maximum root filling to occur, the temperature should be between 25-32°C. Higher temperatures slow photosynthesis leading to vegetative growth (lots of kalembula) and not for tuber filling.

Preparing to plant

Sweet potatoes typically grow from slips, which are shoots that are grown from a mature sweet potato. You can buy slips or grow your own. To grow your own slips, be sure to find out if you’re getting a bush type or a vining type sweet potato.

To grow your slips, start with several healthy, clean sweet potatoes. Each potato can produce up to 50 slip sprouts. You can cut the sweet potato into large sections or use whole. Place each section in water with half of the potato below the water and half above. Because the slips need warmth, place them on a window ledge or on top of a radiator. In a few weeks your potatoes will be covered with leafy sprouts on top and roots on the bottom.

You then have to separate them into plantable slips. To do this, carefully twist it off each sprout from the sweet potato. Take each sprout and put it with the bottom half of the stem submerged in water and the leaves hanging out over the rim of the bowl. Within a few days roots will emerge from the bottom of each new plant. Once that happens, you are ready to plant. Remember to keep the water fresh and discard any slip that isn’t producing roots or looks like it’s wilting. You can also get slips by planting halfway in soil for a couple of weeks.

Growing sweet potatoes works best in loamy, well-drained preferably sandy soil to form large tubers. You don’t want the roots to face resistance when they try to expand in the soil. Ideally the pH has to be between 5.8 and 6.2, although they will tolerate a more acid pH to 5.0. Before planting, mix in a 2.5 cm layer of compost and thoroughly dampen the bed. If your soil is heavy clay, raise the beds amended with compost and sand. However, potatoes in clay are sometimes thinner and oddly shaped. Good root development depends on there being plenty of air space in the soil (good aeration). Shade plants if they wilt too much after planting them in the heat.

Plant sweet potatoes about 30 to 45 cm apart, and allow 100 cm between rows so the vines will have plenty of room to run. If you plant your sweet potatoes when it’s very hot and sunny, cover the plants to shield them from baking sun.

Once all of the slips are in place water them. You’ll need to give them a thorough soaking until all of the surrounding dirt is wet everyday for the first week and every other day the second week. Each week the watering will get a little farther apart until you’re watering once a week.

Thoroughly weed your sweet potatoes 2 weeks after planting by pulling them gently; if possible avoid deep digging with a hoe or other tool that disturbs the feeder roots that quickly spread throughout the bed.

Historically, sweet potatoes have been a poor soil crop that produces a decent harvest in imperfect soil, but will do much better with a little fertilizer. About 2 weeks after planting, feed plants with a fertilizer that contains potassium (the third number on the fertilizer label), such as 5-10-10. Use about 2 cups 5-10-10 per 900 square cm. Gently scratch the fertilizer into the soil surface.

Then mulch over the soil with an inch of grass clippings or another biodegradable mulch. Continue weeding and adding more mulch for another month. After that, sweet potatoes can can withstand drought but they’ll produce less, though they do benefit from weekly deep watering during serious droughts.

Harvesting Sweet potatoes are usually ready to harvest just as the ends of the vines begin to turn yellow. Most sweet potato varieties mature between 14 to 18 weeks after planting. Lift tubers after removing vines using hand forks, separate and sort tubers according to market requirements and pack in crates.

End//………A.P

Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander Constantino Chiwenga on Monday demanded a stop to the purges in the ruling party.

The ruling Zanu-PF called political statements by Zimbabwe’s army chief as “treasonable conduct,” Reuters reported on Tuesday night.

Tanks were seen in the streets of Zimbabwe’s capital Harare on Tuesday – a day after army chief Constantino Chiwenga, in an unprecedented move, openly threatened to ‘step in’ to end a purge of supporters of ousted vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Sources indicated it was a ‘show of force’ rather than a coup.

Both Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s famous ‘blue house’ and the Zimbabwean Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) has been sealed off by heavily armed military personnel, Khuluma Afrika is reporting.

South Africa could be forced to intervene in Zimbabwe in the event of a coup, the SA Institute of Security Studies (ISS) said.

According to Reuters, Zanu-PF says it will not succumb to military pressure.

In a statement, the party said it stood by the “primacy of politics over the gun” and accused armed forces chief Constantino Chiwenga of trying to disturb the peace and stability of the impoverished southern African nation.

End//………A.P/ Lusaka (Zambia)

PARADISE PAPERS REVEAL HOW TAX HAVENS DAMAGE AFRICA

Nigerian Senate President Bukola Saraki, former Kenyan minister Sally Kosgei, Zambian opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa and the brother of former Ghanaian president John Mahama, Ibrahim, were mentioned in the Paradise Papers.

The new leaks of financial records illustrate how powerful individuals and companies across Africa use offshore havens to not only avoid paying taxes, but also to hide bribery and illegal dealings. The Paradise Papers is a new major data leak of 13.4 million confidential files, most of which are related to the Bermuda law firm, Appleby. A group of media organizations is collaborating to investigate the documents, coordinated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

The leak shows just how many of the Africa’s rich and powerful – from the head of Nigeria’s Senate, Bukola Saraki, to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the president of Liberia – park their money in offshore havens.

It also raises the moral question of whether it is legitimate for the continent’s elites to avoid paying taxes while the majority of Africans live below the poverty line, says Peter Jones from Global Witness, an NGO dedicated to tackling resource corruption.

At the same time, he says, it’s important to remember that tax havens are also secret jurisdictions that can easily hide criminal activity, he said, from bribery to money laundering.

"Companies set up in these places hide their real owners. You can’t find out very much information about who is behind them, about what the business does, or what capital it has," Jones told DW.

Paper trail to disreputable dealings in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In the past few years, numerous investigations have detailed the cronyism and corruption in the mining sector that have left DR Congo as one of the world’s poorest countries despite its mineral wealth. What’s new in the Paradise Papers is detailed evidence of some of these shady dealings.

In 2008, the Swiss-British mining giant Glencore loaned $45 million (38.7 million euro) to Dan Gertler, an Israeli middleman close to DR Congo’s president, Joseph Kabila. The loan was conditional on Gertler successfully negotiating a new deal with Congo’s government for a mine in which Glencore had a stake. The deal enabled Glencore to take over the Katanga copper mine, with Gertler also buying a stake – directly financed by the Glencore loan.

"The loan was really a kind of reward scheme," Jones from Global Witness told DW. "Gertler provides his services, which is apparently access to power, and in return he gets these little bonuses like being loaned the money to take part in the takeover."

"This is a story about how huge companies can go into environments where there isn’t much regulation and hide the kinds of deals that they are striking by using offshore companies and vehicles," Jones said. "And that means they can get away with deals that can prove quite damaging to the countries they work in."

A 2013 report estimated DR Congo lost 1.4 billion dollars because it sold its resources below value.

SHINING A LIGHT ON ANGOLA’S OIL FUND.

Angola’s sovereign wealth fund was created to great fanfare in 2012 to invest the country’s vast oil profits for the benefit of the people. The Paradise Papers reveal that one of the fund’s managers is using its money to invest in his own businesses.

Jean-Claude Bastos, a Swiss-Angolan entrepreneur, administers the majority of Angola’s $5 billion wealth fund through his company, Quantum Global. According to investigations by the Guardian newspaper, as one of the consortium members Bastos has invested capital from Angola’s wealth fund in at least four assets that he controls. The entrepreneur has denied that this is a conflict of interest.

Bastos, who was previously convicted in Switzerland of illegally paying investment monies into his own pockets, won the contract to manage most of the fund without any competitive tender. Interestingly, the fund’s chairperson is Jose Filomeno dos Santos, who is not only the son of Angola’s former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos but also a friend of Bastos.

This cozy arrangement is further fuel to the fire in a country where the elite control much of the country’s wealth and resources. Raul Danda, the parliamentary leader of UNITA, the main opposition party, told DW that someone who has been convicted of breaking the law "shouldn’t be trusted with the money of the Congolese people."

"I note a large lack of transparency in this management," Danda said.

Speaking to DW, Angolan journalist and anti-corruption activist Rafael Marques called Bastos "a big swindler" who together with Jose Filomeno was "robbing the fund of money that belongs to the Angolan people.

"Angola’s new President Joao Lourenco is also in a gold mining partnership with Bastos in Huila province, Marques pointed out.

UGANDA, GHANA AND THE REST

Although the Congo and Angola have garnered detailed evaluation in the Paradise Papers because of the international scope of the revelations, the leak reveals leaders in other African countries are among those with offshore companies.

For instance, Uganda’s foreign minister and former UN General Assembly president, Sam Kutesa, set up an offshore trust in the Seychelles, a haven for bank secrecy, to manage his personal wealth.

In Nigeria, the President of Senate, Bukola Saraki, has a company registered in the offshore tax have of the Cayman Islands. According to Nigeria’s Premium Times, a member of the consortium evaluating the Paradise Papers, Saraki failed to list this company on his assets declaration when be became governor of Kwara State in 2003.

And in Ghana, the brother of the country’s ex-President, John Dramani Mahama, is among those named in the papers for wanting to open offshore companies on the Isle of Man.

End//………..A.P