Edgar Lungu Defends Ministers

LUSAKA (Reuters) – Zambian President Edgar Lungu, who faces a tough election challenge in August, defended on Friday an amendment to the constitution that allowed ministers to remain in office after parliament dissolved this week.

Ministers are members of parliament, and have previously vacated their offices when the assembly breaks up. The opposition fears letting them stay in place will give the government more leverage in campaigning in the southern African nation, a major producer of copper.

Lungu, who won a disputed presidential election last year after his predecessor Michael Sata died in office, told a televised news conference that the ministerial arrangement was constitutional.

“I am not insisting that ministers remain in office so that we can use government resources,” he said in response to a question, adding that he was very confident of victory.

Having served out the rest of what would have been Sata’s term, Lungu, a lawyer, faces a new presidential vote in August, as well as parliamentary elections in which his Patriotic Front will be challenged by the United Party for National Development led by economist Hakainde Hichilema.

Zambia is Africa’s second-biggest copper producer but its economy has been hit by falling world demand, primarily due to a slowdown in China.

Lungu said he expected inflation, currently running at almost 22 percent, to slow to single digits “within months”, without elaborating on how this would be achieved.

He said Zambia’s budget deficit had averaged 4.8 percent of GDP in the last two years but was expected to fall to around 3 percent in the medium term, starting next year.

“Having addressed the infrastructure backlog, future deficits will be lower, averaging around 3 percent of GDP in the medium term,” Lungu said.

Rainfall had greatly improved and Zambia expected a recovery in electricity generation, which had dropped due to low water levels at hydropower plants, he said.

And diversification away from the copper sector meant economic growth was seen accelerating slightly to 3.7 percent in 2016 from 3.5 percent last year.

“This performance will largely be driven by agriculture, construction and tourism,” Lungu said.

On the agricultural front, Zambia has fared better than its neighbours amid a regional drought, with production of the staple maize crop forecast to rise to 2.87 million tonnes this year from 2.6 million tonnes last year. [nL5N18126H]

But maize prices have still risen steeply, and Lungu said the government had been advised not to bring in price controls to make the staple more affordable. He did not specify who gave this advice.

Zambia said last month it had agreed targets with the International Monetary Fund, preparing the way for an aid programme by the fourth quarter of the year. It started talks with the Fund in March after both sides agreed the budget deficit was not sustainable. [nL5N17P0JA]

(Editing by James Macharia and Mark Trevelyan)


They raised eyebrows when they called their
first child North – and now Kim Kardashian
and Kanye West have chosen an equally
unusual name for their second offspring.
The 35-year-old reality TV star and her rapper
husband, 38, have announced on her website
that their baby boy has been called Saint West.
The brother to the pair’s two-year-old daughter
North was born on Saturday.
Kardashian revealed the baby news on her

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.


Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have
announced the arrival of their second child, a
baby boy.
Reality TV star Kim confirmed the news on her
website with a statement that said: “Mother and
son are doing well.”
He’s here! https://t.co/KlWQrG3Ri9
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian)
December 5, 2015
The superstar couple’s daughter, North West, was
born in June 2013.
Kim announced she was pregnant again in an
episode of her show Keeping Up with the
Kardashians at the end of May.

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife said they’ll devote nearly all their wealth — roughly $45 billion — to good works in celebration of their new baby daughter, Max.
Zuckerberg’s wife, Priscilla Chan, gave birth to a 7-pound, 8-ounce daughter last week. But the couple didn’t put out the news until Tuesday, when Zuckerberg posted iton — of course — Facebook.
In the same post, Zuckerberg said he and Chan will, over time, commit 99 percent of their Facebook stockholdings to such causes as fighting disease, improving education and “building strong communities.” The couple had previously pledged to give away at least half their assets during their lifetime, but hadn’t provided specifics.
They are forming a new organization, called the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, that will pursue those goals through a combination of charitable donations, private investment and promotion of government-policy reform.
“Like all parents, we want you to grow up in a world better than ours today,” the 31-year-old social media mogul and his wife wrote in a letter to their daughter, which they also posted on Facebook.

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.


Hollywood couple Halle Berry and Olivier Martinez have announced they are to divorce after two years of marriage.
The US actress and French actor, both 49, said they had come to the decision with a “heavy heart” and “move forward with love and respect for one another”.
The pair have a two-year-old boy called Maceo and they said they were focusing on “what is best for our son”.
It will be Berry’s third divorce after her previous marriages to baseball player David Justice and singer-songwriter Eric Bennet.
The actress, who wed Martinez in 2013, won an Oscar in 2002 for her lead role in Monster’s Ball.
She met him after she split from model Gabriel Aubry in 2010 following a five-year romance.
Martinez, who used to date Australian singer Kylie Minogue, starred in the 2002 film Unfaithful.
The reasons for the divorce have not been confirmed but the TMZ website said Berry has cited irreconcilable differences.
Berry also has a daughter, Nahla, from her previous relationship with Aubry.
TMZ reported a source saying Berry was not asking for joint or primary custody of Maceo, but rather what was in “the best interests of the child”.

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.


WEIRD but true, a man who run over a woman this morning in Lusaka, was discovered to have a snake on him after he was taken to a police station for a statement.
There was commotion near the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) after a man was found with a snake believed to have been used for witchcraft purposes.
The unidentified man bashed a woman but the injuries sustained however turned out and looked like a snake bite.
He however swiftly bolted for safety after the incident but a mob later apprehended him after the bizarre accident.
It was however when he was taken to the UTH Police Post that the snake slithered out of his shirt much to the consternation of the officers that were questioning him.
The man later pushed the serpent back but it again emerged ready to protect him and attack those who attempted to lay hands on him
Bewilderment and chaos reigned supreme as passers-by surrounded the place to get a closer view of the snake and its owner. Others were busy taking photos from the onset and managed to capture pictures of the snake.

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.