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Monday, 28 July 2014

Who will defend press freedom in Zambia ?

Editor's note : An important article on the ongoing attack on press freedom in Zambia by Bruce Chooma. Media freedom is important because as Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen reminds us "development is freedom". 
The work of journalists is becoming increasingly difficult in Zambia due to growing intolerance by the state to independent media and a rise in cases of harassment of journalists. A recent report by Freedom House, a US based human rights organisation showed that in 2013, Zambia fell 21 places from 72 to 93 out of 180 and landed in the category of states that are classified as “not free”. 

Friday, 25 July 2014

Reforming CDF (ZIPAR Response)

Editor's note:  A very helpful response from ZIPAR on some of the questions that the were raised by Zambian Economist readers on Facebook and Twitter pages. You can also follow the discussion to the article below via Facebook.
CDF reform should begin with guaranteeing a fairer distribution of resources across Zambia– before embarking on more comprehensive reform.
On Monday we published an article calling for reform of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF). It argued that the CDF should be allocated on the basis of a measure of need with resources targeted on the most deprived constituencies. The original article is available here.This has provoked a series of interesting responses and comments which are welcome contributions to this important debate.

20 ideas to cut wasteful government spending in Zambia

A while back we asked for ideas on how Zambia can cut wasteful spending. The need to cut down on bye-elections and reduce on infrastructure spending are known. We wanted to identify simple ideas that are often missed. Here are some of the ideas that you came up with.

1# - Reduce the size of cabinet to no more than 12 with each ministry having only one supporting junior minister and one permanent secretary who runs the ministry. All provincial deputy ministries should be scrapped.

2# - Abolish the post of District Commissioner as it merely duplicates other functions. Make the Town Clerk the Chief Executive Officer and introduce an enhanced role for directly elected mayors to improve accountability.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Does Zambia need to change how CDF is allocated?

Editor’s note: An helpful article from Tamara Billima-Mulenga (ZIPAR) on the Constituency Development Fund (CDF). It does not address the fundamental problems, nsmely CDF corrupts the proper functions of MPs; encourages corruption and mismanagement; and, is a poor attempt at “fiscal decentralisation”. But the paper is helpful in contributing to the debate in this area. We need more such discussions to ensure public money is being properly utilised. 
As the Ministry of Finance commences the preparation of the 2015 National budget, it is worth asking how the government allocates spending across the different programmes it funds. These decisions are often based on existing historic allocations and developmental plans. It is, however, rare for the government to base spending decisions on some measure of ‘need’: that is targeting funding at those areas that experience higher levels of poverty, or where the cost of delivering services is higher.

Monday, 21 July 2014

13 ideas to improve road safety

Earlier this year we asked for ideas on reducing road traffic accidents on our very active Facebook page. Its taken a while to sort through the many detailed comments. Here are the best 13 ideas you came up with.  The ideas are over and above basic existing initiatives being undertaken by GRZ such as building more roads, more dual carriageways, increased road maintenance and mode switch. And of course all the ideas would require a proper cost benefit analysis before taking them forward.

1# - Introduce restrictions on where drivers can drive depending on existing experience e.g. those with less than one year driving experience could be banned from driving on intercity roads.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Are some lives worth more than others?

On 3rd January 2011, PF President Michael Sata wrote to President Banda following his wife's treatment in South Africa arranged by the Zambian government. He expressed "profound gratitude" to President Banda for "the consideration, compassion and care extended to [Christine Kaseba] during the period of her illness and stay at Milpark Hospital". Mr Sata was particularly "pleased to see that [Christine Kaseba's] life was saved due to the government’s prompt action to evacuate her".