Tuesday, 27 October 2009


(Guest blogger)

A UNITED Nations Population Fund (UNPF) survey in Zambia shows that 80 per cent of all HIV/AIDS infections are transmitted through heterosexual contact.
The survey says out of 100 new infections, 71 are estimated to arise through sex with non-regular partners while 21 per cent of new infections are estimated to occur in people who report that they have only one sexual partner, which signifies a great risk even for those who are faithful.
Other factors apart from low levels of male circumcision, mostly common in North-Western and Western provinces, are gender-based discrimination, migration and socio-cultural norms.
“Many organisations have sprung up to fight the epidemic through efforts meant to minimize infection rates and devise ways within existing structures on how to handle already infected,” according to Mr. Duah Owusu-Sarfo, UNPF country representative.
Mr. Owusu-Sarfo said the church has entered the fray and is now in the battlefront.
“One such church is the Gospel Outreach Fellowship, which has broken the silence in fighting the epidemic,” he said in a speech delivered for him by HIV/AIDS programme officer, Mrs Florence Mulenga at the Family and Friends Health Day on October 18.
The Family Health Day was organised by the Young Couples Fellowship of Go Centre in Lusaka with the blessing of the Senior Pastor, Revered Helmut Reutter. The idea behind the initiative is to promote voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) as a way of preventing HIV transmission and de-stigmatise HIV and put a human face to it through talking about it in an informal way.
The one day event which was also used to promote VCT as an entry point to care, support and treatment and to provide benefits of VCT, attracted about 1,000 people – exceeding the 600 which was budgeted for.
Living Waters Church sent 72 members, 35 of whom tested at this event which was staged to challenge pastors to take the lead and testing for HIV and to promote the use of VCT as a good healthy practice for children and youths.
The Family and Friends Health Day marked exactly three months since the last Family Day in June 2009.
The Kalusha Bwalya Foundation sent three football teams to entertain the participants from Chawama, Kanyama and Chibolya. The players also attended the group counselling.
“I wish to invite the church to rise to these challenges through its moral and religious teachings especially in the area of abstinence,” Mr. Owusu-Sarfo said.
He said the church’s role apart from the conventional moral and religious teachings should be encouraging their members to go for voluntary counselling and teaching (VCT).
He says the low levels – 15.4 per cent – of Zambians who have gone for VCT were unacceptable.
Yet, Zambia is one of the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa with a high HIV prevalence of 14.3 percent among the adult population 15-49 with a projection of 82,681 (59 percent women and 41 percent men) new infections expected to occur this year.
“Further research has revealed that, currently about 226 new adult infections occur per day. These are serious and alarming figures. We can’t afford to be silent anymore, we need to act as a matter of urgency, we need to speak out in our churches, communities and families,” Mr. Owusu-Sarfo said.
In order to access various ranges of treatment medical personnel ought to know their HIV status through VCT.
“It is my sincere hope that more families will use this opportunity to test and be able to take control of their lives so that the church and communities at large can be healthy and be able to make a meaningful contribution towards the social-economic and spiritual development of our country,” he said.
Go Centre was the ideal venue for the Family Health Day as the church, through its social wing – Chreso Ministries Centre for Anti-retroviral (ARVs) and HIV Counselling and Testing (VCT).
The Church presently provides care and treatment (ARV) to over 8,000 people based in Lusaka , 2,000 in Kabwe and another 2,000 in Livingstone.
Levy Phiri, vice chairperson of the Young Couples Fellowship, said Go Centre has different fellowship groups which meet once every month and the Church encourages these groups to put the topic of HIV/AIDS as a priority.
“The Senior Pastor Helmut Reutter was invited by the young couples for their fellowship and HIV/AIDS in our homes, was included as one of their topics of discussion.
The director of Chreso Ministries (Pastor Helmut Reutter) gave a very moving presentation on the need to have healthy families, emphasizing the need to ensure that children and everyone else in the family access such health services as HIV testing together,” Mr. Phiri said.
Thus on 28 June 2009, Go Centre had their first ever family day where all the members were encouraged to bring extended families to Go Centre for a second service that was dedicated to HIV information delivery and the importance of HIV testing.
The service was conducted by Chreso clinic. About 150 people came to attend and 42 ended up having an HIV test
“This success story could also have been attributed to the fact that our leader, the Senior Pastor and his wife were the first to test for HIV and this gave an encouragement to the entire congregation. The event was so successful that churches around our centre started asking for another opportunity so that they can also participate,” Mr. Phiri said.
This prompted the Young Couples Fellowship to put up a bigger act on October 18, attracting 1000 people and 256 people tested. “With our approach on group testing, we believe if they get the information right, two is a crowd. There were lot of young teenagers who could not test because they did not come with their parents, there was age restriction on VCT but they themselves were willing to test,” Mr. Phiri said.
Some people had different responsibilities in organising the event and turned out last to test, hence queues were long, some didn't get a chance to test due to time factor
“We also understand that the UN can help us with a constant and sustainable supply of condoms. We are encouraged that our own senior Pastor (Helmut Reutter) has permitted the use of condoms among married people for various purposes ranging from prevention to family planning,” Mr. Phiri said
He said: “Young couples of Go Centre were very grateful for the UNFPA support to the Family and Friends Health Day. It takes great responsibility to find the value of an event which will help with the people’s morality.
“The UNFPA country representative Mr Duah Owusu-Sarfo must be commended by all faith-based organisations and Government for realising that, faith-based organisations in Zambia account for the majority of the population and sensitising them will greatly improve on the percentage of people going for VCT.”
He said Pastor Reutter's decision to encourage people to go in groups of families and friends for VCT must be supported by all.
“People get encouraged by seeing others test and it has already started showing good results with the prior event. Parents have a responsibility to take the whole family including dependants and infants for testing. Pastor Reutter did not only preach about VCT but he took the whole congregations at Go Centre for testing and he was the first one to test with his wife showing good leadership.
Leaders have a lot of influence in society and if we want to see a bright future of our children they have to take the first step.

Friday, 2 October 2009


GERMANS world over will this week be celebrating 20 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is the Day of German Unity. The fall of the Berlin Wall symbolized the unification of East and West Germany which transformed Germany into Europe's largest economy, writes BENEDICT TEMBO

WEBBY KALIKITI was watching television in his apartment in Paris when people begun to climb the Berlin wall and begun breaking it.

It was spontaneous, the way German politicians on either side of the wall reacted, Dr. Kalikiti recalls. He was a student of history at Paris7 University in France in 1989 when the enduring symbol which divided the two Germans – East and West on ideological grounds, started crashing like the walls of Babylon.

Dr. Kalikiti, now a lecturer of European history at the University of Zambia’s Great East Road campus in Lusaka, said the collapse of the wall meant that Germany had once more become a unified power after the second world war.

“Since the collapse of the wall, Germans are now free to engage in world affairs in the attempt to bring world peace,” Dr. Kalikiti said, pointing to Germany’s contribution to troops in the Balkans (former Yugoslavia) and in Afghanistan as part of NATO.

He said Germany plays a very important role in European Union (EU) politics.

“They have been the largest contributor of the resources to the EU,” Dr. Kalikiti said.

The Berlin Wall was a physical blockade constructed by the German Democratic Republic (GDR) or East Germany completely surrounding West Berlin, separating it from East Germany, including East Berlin.

Prior to the Wall's erection, 3.5 million East Germans had been tempted to escape into West Germany, many over the border between East and West Berlin.

During its existence from 1961 to 1989, the Wall stopped most such migration and detached East Germany from West Germany for more than a quarter of a century.

Dr. Kalikiti said Germany unification was achieved during a revolutionary ripple sweeping across the Eastern Bloc.

“It was a change that came with breaking up of the Soviet Union empire. It precipitated events,” he said.

He said it was a reflection of what was happening when the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics started disintegrating as people got fed up with communism.

“East Germans saw what had happened in Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania. It was a general collapse of the communist bloc. The collapse of the wall symbolised the end of the cold war between the East and the West,” Dr Kalikiti said.

After many weeks of civil agitation, the East German government was forced to proclaim on November 9, 1989, that all GDR citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin.

The announcement prompted crowds of East Germans to go up and cross the wall, joined by West Germans on the other side in a celebratory atmosphere.

According to Dr Kalikiti, “Germany is a leading economy in the world, third after the United States and Japan.

The collapse of the wall has given Germany the possibility of playing a greater role in international affairs. A unified Germany moderates extremist policies of the USA.”

He cited the Iraq war in which Germany and France took a stance which was different from the US by refusing to participate in the invasion.

“Even over Afghanistan, the US has been pushing for an increase in the troops but Germany has been reluctant. Germany plays a limiting role for the US. A bigger and unified Germany is of interest in world peace because it tries to limit the extent to which the US can exert its will in world affairs,” he said.

He added, “A united Germany is of great benefit to Africa and Zambia in particular.”

Dr. Kalikiti said Germany has had privileged relations with Africa, citing Zambia as one country which benefited from both the East and West Germany.

For countries like Zambia, there is technical assistance through GTZ (German Technical Cooperation).

At UNZA, the schools of mines, economics, and development studies have benefited from training in Germany.

“Where Germany has helped, it is of high quality,” UNZA lecturer of history, Friday Mulenga, said, citing GTZ projects in rural areas.

Mr. Mulenga said a united Germany is good for the economy of the world.

“Through out history, Germany has had a very strong economy, not just in Europe but the whole world,” he said.

Nigerian journalist and artiste Olayinka Oyegbile whose birthday coincides with the day of German unification says, “I think the unification of Germany is a testimony to the fact that the human race is one.

You may be German, British or African, the one uniting force is that we are all human. As an artiste the unification for me represents the power of arts. German writers such as Gunther Grass signify this.”

Mr. Oyegbile who was in Berlin in 2007 said, “My memory of the city is that Africa has a lot to learn from it.

The city was divided for several years under two ideologically opposed powers and yet it is now united without any difference between East and West Germans. This is a big lesson that we can also be one as Africans.”

a Kenyan journalist who visited Berlin for the first time 2000 said, “It was one huge construction site, but with desolate empty houses standing all over the city, empty deserted land fills separated the newly-united East and West Berlin.

There was no HauphBan Hof (biggest train station in Berlin), half of Potsdamer Platz (shopping mall) was still under construction, the wall Berlin wall still standing in most places but with tourists still chipping away at it for a piece of history.”
She said politically, there were still strong divisions of Leftists, Conservatives, Liberals and everything in between.
”There was a vibrancy to the city, with ever increasing numbers of tourists visiting the half-closed-for-renovation historical buildings dotting the city from the parliament buildings, to the
Museums Island.
She said politically, it was also the time that the seat of government had just moved from
Bonn to Berlin.

“This added to the flurry of buildings coming up as most foreign missions rushed to construct embassies and High Commissions.
Socially, the country itself was just adjusting to its central location in
Europe, with an influx of foreigners from around the world, music concerts by foreign performers was the order of the day.

But beneath all this also were the media reports of Xenophobic attacks of foreigners in predominantly neo-Nazi neighbourhoods.

As visiting foreign students, my group was well warned to avoid such neighbourhoods, always walk in groups, especially at night and not to get into any altercation with aggressive individuals or groups of people. So deserted U-Bahns and bus stops were out of the question.
On her second visit to
Berlin in 2007, she noticed Berlin, the capital of the united Germany had come of age.

“New sparkling buildings, almost all foreign embassies were now in Berlin. The grand coalition of Christian Democratic Union (CDU) / Christian Social Union (CSU) and Social Democratic Party (SPD) government was in power, working together in parliament.
The coalition government concept was heavily borrowed by
Kenya after the election fiasco of December 2007 that took the country to the brink.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has who swept back to power in after the September 27 election, will now open talks with the liberal Free Democrats (FDP).

She believes a coalition between them and her centre-right CDU/CSU bloc offers the best chance for recovery.

Her previous coalition partners, the Social Democrats (SPD) suffered their worst election performance for decades.

Ms Bakata suggested the German mission in Nairobi was very influential in behind the scenes negotiations between the incumbent President Mwai Kibaki and then opposition leader Raila Odinga.
She said this went on to prove that
Germany was still a force in African politics, being a crucial development partner in Kenya. It should also not be lost on observers that Raila Odinga received his university education in Germany and speaks fluent German.
”This means the policies of the old German and the new German had not changed much, since the government of the day still had the same influence in countries such as Kenya,”

”By 2009, on my third visit to
Berlin, it was like a breath of fresh air. The first thing I noticed was that more people spoke English on the streets, in the trains, and even attendants in shops. It’s amazing how a society can open up in merely 10 years.

In 2000, hardly any German wanted to speak English, even after we were assured that the language is well understood and spoken, and that we would have no problems communicating in public.
In 2009, most of the talk in trains, shops, restaurants and even bars was in English!
The city itself had acquired younger inhabitants, there were always groups of young happy people, going about their business, new foreign stores had come to town to add to the already high quality German stores.
UNZA lecturer of history, Friday Mulenga, said the unification of Germany was unique because it entailed bringing two different systems together.

“It is not good to divide people who are the same like the case of Korea: North and South. Everywhere people want to be united because when people are united, it lessens problems. The unity of Germany was inevitable,” said Mr. Mulenga.

As the Germans toast their unification, they will be doing so knowing that some countries in Europe did not want to see the two Germans re-united because of the First and Second World wars which the country ignited.

But it is history and Germany has been transformed from a bully to promoting peace, regional and international integration as well as economic empowerment in the world.

Germany ambassador to Zambia, Frank Meyke said Zambia is continues to have a reputation of a democratic country that is stable and peaceful.

“Our special commitment to Zambia over the years is because both countries have been through periods without freedom,” ambassador Meyke said.

Thursday, 1 October 2009


By Gershom Ndhlovu

I have just finished reading a book, Ethics For Journalists by Richard Keeble. This book recently caught my attention on Amazon, a website that among other things, sells books because of the threat of statutory regulation if journalists do not come up with a mechanism of self-regulation.

Having taken Media Laws and Ethics as part of my Mass Communication studies at the University of Zambia in the late 1980s, I felt I needed to refresh my understanding of ethics once again by reading this book.

As such, I do recommend that people on both sides of the argument, that is, those for statutory regulation and those against it, should read the book which has largely been written based on the UK media environment, but can, nevertheless, be applied on the Zambian media environment.

The Zambian media landscape is basically dichotomous between state-owned Zambia Daily Mail, Times of Zambia and ZNBC which are seen as compliant to the dictates of government and the ruling MMD, and the private media largely represented by the Post. It may seem though that statutory regulation is aimed at the Post with its patently anti-establishment stance of always exposing wrong doing in government.

After reading, Keeble’s book, I have realised that government officials and the statutory regulation lobby, do not clearly state what it is that the so-called recalcitrant media do not conform to in terms of ethics in the manner they report and write news.

Is it the mere fact that newspapers such as the Post will publish what the state controlled media would not publish such as the abuse of state resources? Do the Post and other private media invade people’s privacy? Is reporting corruption or perceived corruption in and outside government wrong? What is the best way of reporting and writing news?

These are some of the questions that need to be answered particularly by the statutory regulation lobby which should understand that journalists are not just thrown into the field without essential grounding in ethics during journalism training. The same ethics that journalists in public media learnt are the same ethics that private media journalists learnt during their training. It is the ownership and economic consideration that determine a media’s editorial direction.

Obviously, the Zambia Daily Mail, the Times of Zambia and ZNBC tend to echo the ruling MMD government’s line while the Post and other private media will tend to fill in the vacuum left by the government media and also for their need to maximise sells considering that they are not subsidised by the government.

But, as Keeble writes, “ethical inquiry is crucial for all media workers—and managers. It encourages journalists to examine their basic moral and political principles; their responsibilities and rights; their relationship to their employer and audience; their ultimate goals.”

One important ethos that I gleaned from Keeble’s book is that journalists need to pursue accuracy and truthfulness in their course of duty.

“Indeed, there is a strong ethical commitment among many journalists towards accuracy and truthfulness in their reporting. These are values stressed in codes of conduct throughout the world…,” he writes.

Media Ethics Council of Zambia (MECOZ), to which all state-owned media organizations but not the Post, are party to, states in its explanatory note of its role:

“The purpose of distributing news and informed opinion is to serve the general welfare [sic]. Journalists who use their professional status as representatives of the public for selfish or other unworthy motives violate a high trust.

“Journalists uphold the right to speak unpopular opinions and privilege to agree with the majority while at the same time respecting the will of the minority. A journalist shall at all times defend the principle of the freedom of the press in relation to the collection of information and the expression of comment and criticism....”

One of its 10 point code of ethics, MECOZ states that the public has the right to know the truth. Therefore, it says, journalists have a duty to report the truth either as representing objective reality or representing what the source says fairly, accurately and objectively. Vice President George Kunda recently gave media organisations representatives an ultimatum to present to government a framework of their proposed self-regulation, failure to which would force government to enact its draft law to regulate the media.

But most tellingly, was parliamentary chief whip Vernon Mwaanga’s statement recently that the media had lost his support and that once the bill to regulate the media was introduced in parliament, he would support it.

Mwaanga, a former editor of the Times of Zambia, diplomat and minister of information is quoted to have said that it was sad that the media in Zambia had drifted away from upholding reporting ethics alleging that some journalists were irresponsible in their work and that regulating the media is the only way to stop such.

Mwaanga, who said that from the time he served as information minister, government had always advocated for self-regulation of the media but that the media seem to have failed to do so and it is for this reason he thinks that government should move in and assist in enacting a law that will allow the state to regulate the media.

In handling this issue, it is important to go back in history and bring out the fact that journalists in the early 1980s defeated manoeuvres by the then UNIP government to introduce a draconian media bill called the Press Council Bill which was to control the practice of journalism.

Most of the journalists of the time did not have the education that most of us are privileged to have—there are professors, PhD, Master’s and Bachelor’s degree holders and others who have branched into other disciplines such as law among us—and yet we seem more vulnerable now than the early journalists who withstood pressure from the UNIP government which did not easily tolerate dissent. The fight was no walk in the park either.

Among the current crop of MPs, there are people such as Zambezi West MP Charles Kakoma who was once managing editor of the Zambia Daily Mail and Mpika Central MP Mwansa Kapeya who was once a high ranking official at ZNBC who should resist the MMD government’s intention to pass legislation to regulate the media.