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Monday, 14 April 2014

A waste of resources

Zambia Union of Journalists (ZUJ) has called on the Government to bail out state media workers (e.g. Daily Mail, Times of Zambia). It draws its membership from the state media. ZUK president James Muyanwa says :
Our members at Times Printpak Zambia Limited, have suffered for a long time now. The workers have been getting their salaries late for about four years now. For instance, currently they are in two-month salary arrears, and have literally been surviving by the grace of God.....Given this situation, we feel the Government should move from mere words to action on the matter to salvage the company from total collapse and also address the plight of our members. We feel that the company, as a public institution, deserves the same treatment as Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ) and Zambia Railway Limited (ZRL) have received. It requires a bail-out package in line with what was given to NCZ and ZRL. We realize that even if it is a limited company Times needs subvention from the sole shareholder – the government." (Source: Mwebantu)

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Constitution limbo

I would like to state here that if we are going to have a referendum as it seems to be the case, the legal process leading us to that cannot be completed before the year 2016. A referendum under our present law requires that we should first conduct a national consensus of all those citizens who are eligible to vote (above 18 years old)

The justice minister is merely stating the obvious. Everyone knows that the draft constitution cannot be delivered before 2016. This is consistent with what I have said previously. It seems to me that the referendum won't be held in this parliament. I am glad he is finally being clear on this point. And people still need a clear road map not merely media statements.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Energy Developments

GRZ is currently importing expensive finished petroleum products through tankers hired by foreign suppliers Trafigura and Dalbit. According to Energy Minister Christopher Yaluma the arrangement is because Indeni Petroleum Refinery, Zambia’s sole crude oil refinery is obsolete. Yaluma says, “Indeni has outlived its usefulness and cannot meet the country’s demand. In fact, it is running obsolete and all we are doing is that we are pushing it along; otherwise its production capacity has fallen more than three fold" (Source: Daily Nation)

Garry Nkombo MP has advised GRZ to liberalise the energy market and allow more people to supply fuel if the cost of the commodity is to reduce. He believes the solution to fuel challenges lies in government allowing anyone to bring in the commodity without surcharging the 25 percent import levy. (Source : FlavaFM)

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Zambia's New Eurobond

Zambia has finally launched its US$1bn 10-year Eurobond at a final yield of 8.625%, according to government sources. The bond was allegedly oversubscribed by US$4.25bn, much lower than last time. The government tried to do this before Christmas but held back to see which way the liquidity wind was blowing.

As this is a 10 year bond, Zambia will be paying interest of 8.625% or $86m per year for the next 10 years. It will then need to pay back the final $1bn in 2024. Zambia is currently paying around $40m interest annually on its first Eurobond of $750m. It is due to pay back the full $750m in 2022.

This means whoever is in charge from 2021 will immediately have to find nearly $2bn to pay back on top of all other interest repayments from loans accruing between now and then.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Transport Developments

The long awaited Chipata –Mchinji railway line is now operational after stalling over three decades. It is now operating with a locomotive and 51 wagons. ZRL is working towards having 200 wagons including five other locomotives into Chipata by the end of this year so as to create additional capacity. The route now connects Chipata to Nacala port in Mozambique via Mchinji and Nayuchi. (Source : Lusaka Times)

GRZ has begun the rehabilitation of the Mulobezi railway line to facilitate transportation of cargo and people between Livingstone and Mulobezi district. Contractors have been engaged to resuscitate the Mulobezi railway line and will employ a minimum of 600 workers. Transport Minister Yamfwa Mukanga says to ensure that the railway line is viable, Mulobezi railway will be connected to the proposed Kazungula Bridge to maximise regional links and facilitate trade. (Source : Daily Mail)

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Fixing Broken Councils

Municipal councils around the country are currently electing new mayors and deputies, with district councils electing chairpersons and deputies. The new office bearers are being elected by councillors, from existing councillors, and for the councillors! It is democracy but not as we know it!

In many councils what should be an issue about deepening local democracy and governance has become mere politics. In many places most candidates are first being subjected to approval by the PF before running for office, with little internal democracy. And yet these "elections" are but a symptom of a much larger problem! The bigger issue is that our local government model is totally broken.

The current system does not promote accountability because the people have little direct say in what takes place in our councils, let alone who should be the local mayor or where money should be spent. You can create many districts and devolve all the revenue to the local areas, but that will NOT a make a difference as long as you have poor and unresponsive local leadership.