Find us on Google+

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Zambia's Development Challenges....Part 1: Clean Water Delivery (Guest Blog)

The dictionary defines development as growth, increase or advancement. Whatever their values, the greater majority of people the world over desire better material conditions , need of options , general increase of welfare and personal wealth regardless of how the then use the increased wealth. The Indian economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, put it in a far better context "poverty is not just material problem. It is something wider; it is about powerlessness- being deprived of basic opportunities and freedom of choice. Small income is often symptomatic of the absence of these things, of people’s marginalization or subjection to coercion." (Business & Economics- Johan Noberg).

I will limit my discussion to human development which means enjoying a reasonably healthy and secure existence; with a good standard of living and freedom to shape ones own life.

In Zambia the dominance of neo-liberal economic programs that promise faster and sustainable economic growth, with a specific belief that the poor would automatically gain from adjustments not only through aggregate growth but also because of devaluation and trade liberalization - has failed to bring about real growth especially to the rural poor who expected the removal of anti export and urban bias restraints. The majority of Zambians still live on less than a $1, with poor or no access to education and medical services. Even among the urban population low wages, and government corruption causes a poor standard of life - an increasing urban population has overwhelmed old public utility infrastructure especially water and energy delivery systems.

Since rural population relies heavily on agriculture, a failure to development an effective commodities market for their produce has rendered the rural farmer venerable exploitive buyers. One might argue that this is a characteristic of free market activity, however this phenomenon extends it self to corporate Zambia with international financiers buying retail, manufacturing and mining ventures at rock bottom prices. The attendant risks of using international capital to improve human development are therefore, obvious - increased marginalization of the poor is the most significant factor in my view especially in a population like Zambia where over 50% experience absolute poverty. Whatever gains result from increased capital is dwarfed, when weight against the terrible effects on the marginalized poor who despite availability of more choices can not participate actively. In the words of International financier George Soros “Although I have made a fortune in financial markets, I now fear the untrammeled intensification of laissez-faire capitalism and the spread of market value into all areas of life is endangering our open and democratic society. The main enemy of open society, I believe is no longer communism but the capitalist threat.... Too much competition and too little cooperation can cause intolerable inequities and instability". Source (Working together for Change business and civic partnerships for poverty - Ariel Fiszbein).

Water and energy needs in Zambia impact the quality of life more than other needs, with the Lusaka water and sewage company and Zesco trying to source international capital to expand and renovate existing infrastructure. Let's discuss these two cases-Since the impact of HIV and other diseases such as malaria increase the urgency to resolve these needs, I will first address the clean water provision challenge - how does using international capital vs. partnerships between local people and aid organization to expand infrastructure impact access for poor people to clean water?

Lusaka Water and Sewage Company been trying to secure international capital to renovate and expand its water delivery (see www.lwsc.com.zm/company%20profile.htm). A Germany agency GTZ worked with LWSC for more than a decade but pulled out because the GRZ defaulted on its end of the bargain. A German economic advisor argued that“it is our view that the budget situation is not a sane one, budget discipline is not being observed.... the Zambian government has not paid their paid their water bills..." (Political and economic liberalization in Zambia 1991-2001 by Lise Rakner.)

In absence of fiscal discipline on the part of the Zambian government, no private foreign investment is likely to occur in the water sector. GRZ through public institutions like hospitals, schools, prisons, public offices etc is a major consumer of services such as water, energy, and telecommunications. As long GRZ lacks the capacity or commitment to pay for these services use international capital to extend water delivery will not materialize.

Aid organizations partnerships with local communities probably offer a more viable approach to the water crisis in Lusaka. By exploiting ground water systems Irish aid and Jica (Japanese aid) have sunk boreholes in peri- urban areas and erected water reservoirs. Local communities then manage the water system by charging small token fees. Though water is not readily available in their homes the poor have a least an easier access to clean water. As this excerpt from Matt Damon's letter from Zambia shows the challenges in rural Zambia are much greater-

"One of the reasons I got involved in the project was because of the day I spent with a 14-year-old girl in Zambia earlier this year. I walked two miles with her to the closest water source, a well outside her village. I asked her if she wanted to stay in her village when she grew up, and her face exploded into a huge smile. The translator said to me, "She is being very shy...she says that she wants to move to big city—Lusaka—she wants to be a nurse." And it was clear to me at that moment that if this well were not there for her, she would never even be able to entertain the concept of planning for the future—she would have been trying to survive just for that day.

This one well was giving hope to thousands of people in the surrounding area, and this hope translates into something concrete—that girl can now fulfill a dream to become a nurse, and can become an economic contributor to the Zambian economy.

Running the Sahara is happening NOW. These guys are there and they are going for it. And we want the world to sit up and take notice. These guys are my heroes, and I want to do whatever I can to support them and their mission.Please join me.
Thank you,
Matt Damon
For more information go to
www.H2oAfrica.org. ''.

Are partnerships with aid organizations our only hope for ensuring clean water supply to poor Zambians or can we attract sustainable private sector participation with current Govt fiscal indiscipline?

David Kabamfwile
(Guest Blogger / USA)

28 comments:

  1. Also of interest regarding ongoing efforts to improve Zambian water and sewerage infrastructure is this article reprinted from SciDev.Net (London). We can only hope that University of Zambia gets properly recognized and compensated for their contribution to the effort. Thanks also to the European Space Agency for providing technological assistance beyond the present reach of the Zambian people.

    ReplyDelete
  2. In Zambia the dominance of neo-liberal economic programs that promise faster and sustainable economic growth, with a specific belief that the poor would automatically gain from adjustments not only through aggregate growth but also because of devaluation and trade liberalization - has failed to bring about real growth especially to the rural poor who expected the removal of anti export and urban bias restraints.

    A lesson the MDC in Zimbabwe should be eager to learn - if they have that much independence from their financial and political backers, let alone the IMF.

    The attendant risks of using international capital to improve human development are therefore, obvious - increased marginalization of the poor is the most significant factor in my view especially in a population like Zambia where over 50% experience absolute poverty.

    Real development will only take place when the constraints on the participation in the economy by ordinary people are taken away. Until then, poverty will remain a reality. It should really be any government's single priority.

    And of course this of course has nothing to do with trade liberalisation.

    On the issue of attracting foreign capital for infrastructure investment...

    1) There should be an option to buy back the shares or bonds they sell for cash, by these utilities companies and even local councils.

    2) I am very concerned that the people in charge do not have the right mental attitude to demand the best deal for Zambia. They seem way too keen to make concessions, and give away the store. The government needs scrappers, and streetfighters in it's corner, not individuals who are trying to make a good impression or not trying to make waves. Also, the government should give it's negotiators all the right tools and support to do anything they can to get the very best deal for the people and the country.

    The issue of the original mining agreements has not been cleared up.

    Why were the terms so poor, and who was responsible?

    Also, back on 2002, Nkana Water and Sewerage Company was the first to list municipal bonds on the LUSE. Maybe this is a market that deserves much more development and attention as well.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think Mr. K your obsession with neo-liberal is a bit too much.

    Markets work. They will always do a better job than bureaucratic fiat or politician populist meddling.

    The issue is about participation and inclusiveness. I am a real beliver in markets.

    Markets always respond to signals and always allocate things accordingly.

    Water in the end has to be delivered and this costs money and somehow these costs must be covered. This is true of everything.

    Any country or policy that flies against economic logic always ends up causing serious economic problems.

    Imagine the situation. As an oil producing country Zambia decides it will subsisdise fuel. Fuel in Zambia is now the cheapest in the region.

    All of a sudden fuel consumption soars and the governemnt has to allocate mor and more of its oil production to local domestic consumption. Then the local refinery breaks down. Then the paradox occurs, an oil exporting country starts importing fuel. Meanwhile consumption continues to soar.

    One day the finance minister tells the President he can not afford to pay these bills. He also points out that despite record oil production, his curent accouint is heavily in the red.

    Then the energy minister calls there is no fuel available despite massive imports of the stuff.

    Then the political adviser tell the president he may lose the next election because despite the pump price being $0.10 per liter fuel is only available at $1 on the black market.

    The above is a real scenario and is actuallly something or something like what has happened in Nigeria and Iran.

    Nigeria has subsidised fuel and as a result Nigeria has fuel shortages. Why ? Well first of all a massive proportion of the fuel is smuggled to neighouring countries where fuel prices are more realisitic.

    Second no one wants to run a refinery in Nigeria. It is a loss making busines because the government expects you to produce below cost.

    Meanwhile because fuel is cheap usage is very wasteful. Consumption is soaring. Meanwhile the Ministry of |fiance is faced with an ever increasing bill for fuel subsidy. This bill is fast becoming unsustainable.

    Now if market forces had set the fuel price, none of the absurdities would occur.

    Neo-liberal makes more sense than command economy alice in wonderland fantasies that always produce perverse results and unsustainable absurdities.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I think Mr. K your obsession with neo-liberal is a bit too much. Markets work. They will always do a better job than bureaucratic fiat or politician populist meddling.

    Well you haven't answered the video links I provided on the IMF's policy prescriptions, and their (devastating) effect on the economies of Jamaica and Argentina.

    Neo-liberal makes more sense than command economy alice in wonderland fantasies that always produce perverse results and unsustainable absurdities.

    That is a false choice, and I have presented you with an alternative.

    Free markets that that are kept free through state intervention. Free markets that are oriented to the productivity of ordinary citizens and their companies or farms, not corporations. Free markets that depend on the state to deliver free education and healthcare, and that encourages indigenous businesses and protects them through legislation. A state that is decentralized so it can better supply services to the people and be accountable.

    Besides, neoliberalism is being abandoned throughout South America. It is neoliberalism that is the utopian theory, where the world is run by corporations. It has nothing to do with development, and no economy has been developed by the IMF or World Bank.

    Take a close look at how America, Saudi Arabia, Japan and Korea developed, and you will learn a lot more than listening to the Leo Strauss school of economics.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Stated preferences for or against neo-liberalism aside for the moment, we do seem to keep returning to the theme of accountable governance as a necessary pre-requisite for development. Cho has named several agencies whose powers and independence he would like to see strengthened, such as the Electoral, Corruption, and Communications Commissions. He has further identified competitive employment practices by such agencies as key to their long term success. What other structural elements would encourage independence and uncorruptability in government enforcement agencies?

    I see no reason why development dollars arriving as donor aid should suffer any less from the inefficiencies of corrupt or incompetent government agencies than domestic tax dollars do. If so, then I would venture to guess that foreign aid money gets somewhat more efficient the greater involvement it has with domestic NGOs or local governments rather than central government, but the same might be said for the private versus public sectors as a whole.

    Planning for water requires thinking in terms of watersheds rather than traditional political units, so the best thing the government could do in the short term is recognize the boundaries of each watershed within the nation, and determine a process whereby the stakeholders within the watershed can be given oversight authority and technical assistance to manage development. Central ministries are less likely to be responsive to the needs of local subsistence populations than more economically powerful lobbyists. The people planning for water distribution need to look their neighbors in the eye while they do it.

    Zambia has rich water resources, 10% of all the fresh water on the continent flows through, yet poor management still allows crippling droughts, poor irrigation, and a rising hydroelectric deficiency. Even war-torn Afghanistan benefits from centuries-old aqueducts carved into the mountains by their ancestors. It is high time Zambia took control over the rain falling on her hills, and gently persuaded it to linger a bit longer in convenient places, perhaps to flow this way rather than that, in a sustainable way that future generations can count on. The are plenty of different workable models for implementing widespread irrigation upgrades across the country, what is missing is sustained political will to make it a true national priority and do the thing right the first time.

    With proper surveys and planning, truly remarkable things can be done in irrigation, even just with simple manual labour and specialized tools. Water is very predictable and malleable at the local level once you know exactly which way is downhill. As David indicates what is required is, at best leadership from government in responsible allocation of resources to such efforts, and at least a regulatory environment which does not hamper the efforts of private sector actors.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yakima,

    What other structural elements would encourage independence and uncorruptability in government enforcement agencies?

    1) Separation of powers
    2) Check and balances
    3) Decentralisation
    4) Electrification of government
    5) Fewer minor regulations


    1) Separation of powers

    There should be much more power in the hands of parliament and the civil service, instead of just the office of the president. And that doesn't matter whether it is Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania, etc.

    2) Check and balances

    There should be a series of government bodies that should sign off on important legislation or for instance these development agreements. Parliament and the civil service should have a say. There should be clear professionalisation of the civil service, with only the top civil servant being a political appointment. We should seriously study the American example of checks and balances in government.

    3) Decentralisation

    Decentralisation would increase democratic accountability. If governance came down to municipal and rural councils of 30,000 people, everyone would know their councillor, people could easily drop in on council meetings, etc. Now, the main complaint is that people don't see their MPs for most of the year, unless there is an election coming up. People expect the wrong things from MPs, who are mainly there to represent their constituencies when national legislation is debated in parliament. A councillor, empowerd with $1 million from national revenues, would actually be able to generate development. He or she would be a local person, know the language, the local issues, and be able to prioritise some of his allotted cash to solve local issues.


    4) Electrifictation of government

    So much time is wasted and so much corruption is possible, because files are stuffed away to become part of the fiefdom of some bureaucrat. Information should be freely available to the public. Right now, civil servants can hide behind paper work, instead of providing information to the public in a speedy manner.

    5) Fewer minor regulations

    Lack of transparancy also encourages 'petty corruption' where civil servants can dole out information in exchange for services or bribes. If there are fewer minor regulations, there is less opportunity for petty corruption.

    ReplyDelete
  7. MrK,

    Thanks for "setting the table" so thoroughly, I agree wholeheartedly that you have properly identified five areas where the performance of the Zambian government could be dramatically improved. The need to address government's role in these areas brings the current constitutional reform process into sharper focus.

    Is the language currently being proposed to reform these five areas of government performance adequate to provide the desired outcomes? Are powers being effectively separated?

    Are checks and balances being put in such that different branches of government will be independent enough from each other to provide meaningful oversight of each others' activities?

    Is the proposed degree and manner of decentralisation sufficient to empower local communities to successfully negotiate with other economic and political actors to their benefit?

    Is there sufficient political will within the existing bureaucracy to successfully prioritize and adapt to modern information tools and services?

    Is there enough emphasis on transparency for consumers of government services to ensure proper knowledge of the rights and privileges of citizenship to avoid the problems of petty over- or mis-enforcement as a means of corrupt harassment by public servants?

    The new Constitution is being written in committee as we speak, and input or opinion from outside the immediate legislative process is not being actively sought (one might go so far as to say "being actively discouraged") by the individuals empowered in the process. All five of these areas will be affected to some degree by the precise language adopted into the Constitution, which could still become the template for future political competition and guarantor of citizen rights under the rule of law, rather than yet another African rubber-stamp for the selfish decision-making of post-colonial elites. Let us take a close look at the exact language being used to define these areas of political contention, now is not the time to give attention to the politicians' statements as to the "intention of the lawmakers", this is a "letter of the law" moment, that's what Constitutions are all about.

    ReplyDelete
  8. "Decentralisation would increase democratic accountability". - Mrk

    It is important when we speak of creating incentives we also do not ignore the negatives one. Yes decentralisation increases accountability but it can also have some bizarre effects.

    A key example being now quoted is Spain. In a bid to improve 'government accountability' and assuage ethnic tensions, Spain has handed over the power to regulate transportation, commerce and the environment to regional governments. Unfortunately for Spain the decentralisation has had some unintended effects.

    The Wall Street Journal this week noted:

    'The proliferation of regional legislation means that, in some cases, companies have to abide by 17 different regulatory frameworks in their domestic market . . . posing obstacles and higher costs for private enterprise,' said Gerardo Diaz Ferran, head of Spain's employer's association, Confederacion Espanola de Organizaciones Empresariales'.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Yakima,

    Is the proposed degree and manner of decentralisation sufficient to empower local communities to successfully negotiate with other economic and political actors to their benefit?

    I think the position of councillor would be extremely powerful (which is why so many clearly stated duties and sanctions are necessary).

    Having said that, a councillor could play a major role in attracting business to his locality. This is why it is also so important to have national standards that councils must be bound to, so that they have more negotiating power and can in fact hide behind the law, when it comes down to giving concessions to companies.

    For instance, a council could give a tax break to a foreign business setting up in their locality, but they couldn't look the other way when it comes to environmental and labour laws.

    Again, checks and balances. Local decision making, but within the confines of national legislation and local democratic accountability to local people and in my setup, financial accountability to the money supplying authority, which would be the ZRA.

    In my setup, there would be 350 councils of 30,000 people each. They would each receive $1.5 million per year, from 50% of national revenues ($1.1 billion in 2004 - $550 million by 350 councils would be $1.57 million per year per council).

    It would be up to the council leader to prioritize how much money is spent on each of his 5 obligations, as long as they are all being met. He could also have a low council tax, which could be used for local priorities. However, there could be national legislation banning all council charges, levies, etc. other than a low local tax. This would seriously cut back on paper work and the ability to take bribes.

    There is an interesting overview of international local governments at Wikipedia.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_government

    ReplyDelete
  10. Cho,

    It is important to fully understand which rights and obligations councils would have by law.

    There should be one national set of rules to govern businesses, and once they comply with those, they should be able to set up shop anywhere in the country.

    It all depends how many and which rights you decree that councils have.

    For instance, once they have the obligation to supply everyone in their council with public amenities like electricity or running water, they cannot turn around and make special demands from the businesses in their area.

    The same for environmental regulations, labour laws, etc.

    But that again is an issue of transparancy, and cutting down on red tape (my fifth point).

    The way I see it, the council should have the 5 following obligations:

    - education
    - healthcare
    - policing
    - public amenities
    - administration

    Once they supply those, they would receive the following rights:

    - to prioritise remaining funds toward local issues that are not part of their 5 core obligations.
    - collect local taxes, but no charges, levies, etc.

    To avoid a situation like Spain's, the council's compliance officers (the third obligation of policing/security), would be ensuring compliance with national standards, not standards set by the council. Companies shouldn't be dealing with lots of different council regulations. Basically by not having them deal with any council regulation, other than zoning, and of course compliance to nationally set standards on labour, emissions, etc.

    I think that just having clear zones (industrial, residential, business, agricultural, etc.) could avoid a lot of minor regulations.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Mrk,

    Its interesting!

    In most countries the local authority would have enormous countrol over local planning.

    You seem to be suggesting centralising planning and put it in the hand of central Government.

    Some could argue that without the necessary levers of the planning system, local authorities would not be able to have enough levers to distinguish themselves from the next?

    To rephrase is your model simply about how local authorities spend money rather than how they raise it?

    ReplyDelete
  12. David kabamfwile18 August 2007 at 17:34

    I could'nt agree more with points raised by yakima and mrk. This person posting under the anonymous shield should venture out of his/her little pond and desist from constantly blogging in lumpen mode!

    The basic framework for separation of power,check and balances and even devolution or decentralisation in some form already exist in Zambia, the challenge has always been how to engage and maintain the interest and active participation of the mainstream population in the planning,design,implementation and evaluation of development projects.
    For example the Govt has been dishing out monies to community develompemt funds managed by local leadership across the nation,however the absence of active local participation creates opportunities for misappropriation and corruption even at this level.
    It may be as economist A. Sen states poor people feel powerless and are often vulnerable to subjudication and coersion. In this case an insistence on morality and ethical prerequisites for leadership may be the only hope.
    The recent prosectuion of thieving politicians gives one hope of a process of accountability begining to take root.
    The of selection macro economic policy is a national challenge. Without argument free markets have tremendous benefits, however it is the cruel manner in which the IMF and World banks prescribes and limits Govt intervention in developing countries that raises cause for concern. As events in the US mortgage market this week have shown, when the rubber meets the road the US Govt thru federal reserve does not shy away from intervening in the markets. Mr. anonymous might also be interested to learn that the US Govt does not leave the poor's welfare to the whirls free markets- there is provision ranging form section eight accommodation, free public transportation to food stamps.
    Back to the issue of how to fund water delivery infrastucture expansion and renovation- Mrk brought up bonds. I think this option worked in the case of Nkana because of the small amount of capital needed and the private mines been a major consumers of water in that region.
    Lusaka needs $128M, can we raise this amount on LUSE?

    ReplyDelete
  13. Cho,

    You seem to be suggesting centralising planning and put it in the hand of central Government.

    Not at all, I would suggest that town planning should be mainly restricted to zoning, and that should be in the hands of local government. And of course roads, parks, etc.

    On the other hand, the Zambian version of the EPA should be setting maximum emissions standards, the ministry of labour should be setting minimum labour standards.

    Council compliance officers would be in a perfect position to observe and if necessary enforce these regulations.

    Think of all the labour regulations that are there, but are not adhered to by businesses. Having enough compliance officers would be the ideal way of enforcing national standards.

    These regulations should be made at the ministry, and ratified by parliament, and then enforced by local compliance officers.

    Or they can just alert provincial or district safety inspectors if necessary.

    Either way, the local government approach puts a lot of ears on the ground.

    To rephrase is your model simply about how local authorities spend money rather than how they raise it?

    It is very much about how they spend it - but of course also that they don't have to raise most of the money they make. This would really cut down on local charges (which people have to pay on top of whatever national taxes they pay) and petty corruption.

    It is about them having the resources to do all the things they should be doing in the first place. It is also about taking away all these local charges that would make it more difficult to do business.

    At the same time, local councils would have to account for every penny they spent, to a central government agency, after they spend it. This way, no large amounts of money will go missing, as they do now, and cases of overcharging or overpaying would show up very quickly.

    In other words, there should be lots of interaction between levels of government - lots of checks and balances.

    Also, I like Singapore's laws banning unexplained wealth among government employees and their relatives. They take away the burdon from the courts of having to prove the source of illegally gained wealth.

    Some could argue that without the necessary levers of the planning system, local authorities would not be able to have enough levers to distinguish themselves from the next?

    I think any notion of a competitive advantage in government is out of order if they don't supply the people's basic needs first and foremost. Whatever they attract in business is secondary, although they could play a major role (mainly through the absence of red tape, but of course also by marketing their local features and attracting companies that way). And through zoning, they could designate areas as business or industrial parks.

    So they would have a lot of power in local planning - they would just be subject to national environmental and labour standards.

    ReplyDelete
  14. David,

    The basic framework for separation of power,check and balances and even devolution or decentralisation in some form already exist in Zambia, the challenge has always been how to engage and maintain the interest and active participation of the mainstream population in the planning,design,implementation and evaluation of development projects.

    Right, which is why what I am proposing is not radically off the charts, but it would be revolutionary if it was applied. Such a powerful role for local government is unheard of in Africa, maybe much of the world.

    For instance, President Mwanawasa did support decentralisation, as in responsibilities, but not the decentralisation of the budgets that go with them. Gee, I wonder why? :)

    The separation of the powers of state already existed in Zambia, but under Kenneth Kaunda, under economic pressure and military threat, drew more and more powers into the presidency, to the point of abolishing democracy. Actually I have a lot of sympathy for the problems he faced, and in many cases his decisions were the right ones. I also believe that without infrastructure and an informed electorate, parliamentary democracy is severely hamstrung. I would have liked to have seen local democracy used as a way to undermine 'tribalism' and regionalism (which my small 30,000 person councils would do).


    For example the Govt has been dishing out monies to community develompemt funds managed by local leadership across the nation,however the absence of active local participation creates opportunities for misappropriation and corruption even at this level.

    Under my plan, councils would be permanent 'community development' entities, with full financial and democratic accountability.

    The government doesn't seem too keen on tracking it's finances, or seeing this issue as crucial to it's fight against corruption.

    In fact, I suspect that a lot of the MMD politicians (and to be fair, a lot of PF and UPND politicians, if they were in that position) are benefiting from this state of affairs.

    'Among chaos they can steal' applies not only to Iraq, but to all government.

    This was from the handing out of cabinet posts back in October, 2006:

    After the ceremony, most drivers who had come from line ministries to pick up ministers and deputy ministers had problems identifying their ministers especially deputies. Some mistook fellow drivers who were clad in suits to be ministers. ... Some of the deputy ministers handed over their personal vehicles which they used to State House, to their relatives and got on the ministerial vehicles.

    A few of them suppressed what appeared like smiles as they took the back seats of the Pajeros that had been waiting for them.


    I wonder what they were smiling about? I also wonder whether they will champion close scrutiny of all the ministries' expenditures.

    This is the real essence of corruption - that politicians who are appointed by the President gain too much from their newly found status and in fact benefit from the way money is mishandled. For instance, how can a minister like Bwalya transfer money between personal accounts and official accounts? That shouldn't even be possible.

    On the other hand, if a body like the World Bank or IMF started demanding transparancy in government expenditures, it would happen, because 1/3 of the budget (2004) comes from 'donor' money.

    ReplyDelete
  15. "It may be as economist A. Sen states poor people feel powerless and are often vulnerable to subjudication and coersion." - David

    I agree that the incentive to engage in local issues depends on the extent to which you feel your participation can make a difference. But I am not sure why this must depend on your level of income. Sen's assertion is probably too simplistic. Are poor powerless becauses they don't engage in the system or they don't engange in the system because the system is designed to "listen" more to the rich and powerful? There's a lot of evidence that by and large institutions are built to serve the rich and powerful in society.

    I would argue that when institutions have been built to be inclusive the poor always find their voice and are heard. Two examples come to mind:

    - Traditional/village models of governance have always given voice to the poor. Yes those close to royalty have been treated differently but by and large people have always felt part and parcel of the local community. They have always felt that their voice counts and when injustice happens they don't hesitate to run to the local Chief.

    - Systems of participatory budgeting. See the blog here. These systems which involve the people in decision making have always delivered and encouraged participation of the poor.

    So it seems to me its not whether the poor can engage in local institutions and take ownership of issues, but whether the institutions in place recognise the social and cultural circumstances. I would argue that Government needs to do more to meet people where they are for them to see people really engage in the process. We can start by recognise the cultural settings and instituting some form of participatory budgeting.

    "In this case an insistence on morality and ethical prerequisites for leadership may be the only hope" - David

    I have never been a believer in the 'dedicated fellow hypothesis'. We can't just "insist" or "hope" for good individuals to emerge. As I argue in the blog here, the key is on ensuring that the political institutions delivered the right incentives for selfless individuals to take part in politics. One way of doing this is to ensure that you have a strong constitution in place that is culturally self consistent, you create a proper economic consensus that is uniquely Zambian, and most importantly you find ways of engaging people with knowledge in a non-committal way. When you have the right policies that repair the political institutions, more or less the right individuals will emerge. A good political arena will have the right checks and balances and it won't matter whether a person is selfless or not. The system will ensure they delivered the right policies for the people.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Mrk,

    How would you implement your model? Would it be through an act of parliament? In other words, are you advocating a permanent shift?

    ReplyDelete
  17. David Kabamfwile21 August 2007 at 01:58

    Cho-

    Thanks for your valuable insight on bridging community and institutional interaction, you are right there isn’t enough incentive in the current framework.
    The status quo where the 150 plus constituencies and are subdivided into several wards each with a ward councilor position that at best only provides –
    i) A short at been voted city mayor.
    ii) Local land administration ( usually creates conflicts with Lands ministry role)
    iii) Community development fund administration
    iv) Local politics administration etc.

    -has not succeeded in engaging active local participation or attracting effective leadership.
    The disbursement of funds to community development entities managed at constituency level is an attempt to give councilors financial and budgetary capacity in their jurisdiction.
    I think the current system was modeled after the UK set up, what aspects do you think would need remodeling for cultural and social sensitivity?

    ReplyDelete
  18. Cho,

    How would you implement your model? Would it be through an act of parliament? In other words, are you advocating a permanent shift?

    I would like to see these rights enshrined in the Constitution, so no politician can easily change them. (Although at some point they will be bound to try. I guess at that point it depends on how satisfied people are with this solution.)

    My present strategy is to get my message out to and picked up by as many people who will listen, and hope that one of them will be elected to office.

    That might sound arrogant, but I am that sure that this is the way forward. Which is why I welcome as much criticism as possible.

    ReplyDelete
  19. David,

    I think the current system was modeled after the UK set up, what aspects do you think would need remodeling for cultural and social sensitivity?

    Your question was directed at Cho, but I'd like to answer that one too.

    Here are a few issues to think about:

    1) How would you include traditional authorities in the overall scheme of national governance, to what extent, and in what capacity?

    On the one hand, there is the respect that these authorities have among a lot of people. On the other hand, there is an inherently undemocratic, unaccountable and intransigent quality to hereditary leadership and hereditary positions.

    2) In the British system, local authorities play a huge role in governance.

    I think 50% of national revenues should go to as direct payouts to local governments. Give them a maximum of 5 core responsibilities and monitor their expenses, but they should receive most of the country's revenues, because they are in a perfect position to deliver services where people live.

    I don't know if you have read my Manifesto for Economic Transformation, but feel free to comment if you wish.

    In the end it is all about how much power a president is willing to give up, and how accountable he wants the nation's finances to be.


    The status quo where the 150 plus constituencies and are subdivided into several wards each with a ward councilor position that at best only provides –
    i) A short at been voted city mayor.
    ii) Local land administration ( usually creates conflicts with Lands ministry role)
    iii) Community development fund administration
    iv) Local politics administration etc.

    -has not succeeded in engaging active local participation or attracting effective leadership.

    The disbursement of funds to community development entities managed at constituency level is an attempt to give councilors financial and budgetary capacity in their jurisdiction.


    On local participation - are councilors and MPs legally obligated to discuss major legislation in townhall meetings? That would change public participation a lot.

    On community development funds - in my scheme, every 30,000 person council would receive $1.5 million from the national revenues. Lusaka, with a population of 1,084,703, would receive a total of $54 million - the expenditure of all of which would have to be accounted for. How much in 'community development funds' is the city currently receiving?

    On land - I would say that land should be a local issue and should be taken out of the hands of the Ministry of Lands.

    On Ministries - I think the central government is bloated, takes up hundreds of millions of dollars without much development or economic growth to show for it. Money can best be prioritised locally. I would bring down the number of ministries from about 29 to 10, and take away a lot of the tasks they are currently performing and give those to local government.

    ReplyDelete
  20. David Kabamfwile22 August 2007 at 13:01

    Mrk-
    Thank you for your feedback.

    The role of traditional leaders in governance/politics was the subject of national debate around 2000. The ultimate consensus was that traditional leaders should maintain their place among their subjects and not meddle in politics/governanace. The risks of disrupting social cohension that partisan politics generates were weighed to be too high for traditional leaders involvement in direct political governance. In the days of KK there was a house of chiefs that participated in formulating legislation and policy, a cost vs benefit analysis revealed a negative result that no longer justifies it's reintroduction.
    The case of the barotse royal establish selling off more than half of a nature reserve in western province to a Danish businessman against the wishes of the political leadership in the area, perhaps best illustrates the problem of undefined roles/conflicts of dual systems.
    My p view is that traditional leadership roles should be well defined. Further chiefs should be empowered with formal eduaction thru education scholarship. This would prevent their vulnerability when dealing with land and mineral rights transactions especially when dealing with foriegn investors.

    I have read your manifesto for economic transformation, you have pretty radical views on decentralization; I think an impact analysis of such a huge undertaking would be in order.
    No offense or fun intended I remmember an episode of the Yes prime minister comedy in which just such a venture was sugested. The prime minister went about desolving departments and firing staff he thought were irrelelvant, needless to say by the end of the episode, he found out that he could no longer get anything done and that it was more prudent to implement a phased reform.
    In Zambia, decentralizing health and education functions would be particularly challenging, how would local communities especially in rural areas deal with high recurrent costs of operating clinics and schools?
    Furthermore the amount $1.5M you propose to allocate each 30,000 population grouping would not be sufficient. It works out to $50 per person, is this meant for a month or a year?
    Centralised policy, planning and budgeting for staff,drugs and other logistics at the ministry of health in Lusaka definately reduces costs of providing medical services to the population especially rural populations. Tranferring these functions to local communities would obviously increase costs.
    We probably need a feasibilty study to understand the current system and identify inefficiencies then see how your manifesto was fix them.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Furthermore the amount $1.5M you propose to allocate each 30,000 population grouping would not be sufficient. It works out to $50 per person, is this meant for a month or a year?

    I agree that it doesn't sound like a lot, but consider how little income they have right now.

    I guarantee you, it is a lot less - and ordinary people still pay the same taxes to central government, and then they get to pay local taxes, levies, charges, etc.

    For instance, Solwezi Council has an income of (USD) $525,000 (K2.1 billion at K4,000 to the US dollar). They have a population of 38,000 people. In my scheme (averaging things out, they would receive $1.9 million. (38,000/30,000 x $1.5 million)

    Instead of getting $525,000 from local taxes and charges, which inhibit business, they would receive $1,900,000 from central government.

    (I would have money disbursed by the same agency that collects taxes, the ZRA, and have the council's right to national revenues and how much written down in the constitution. For this reason, the ZRA is the only ministry I would expand.)

    And at no extra charge to the taxpayer. All the functions (and their budgets) currently performed by the central government would simply be spent at local level.

    If there were urgent local issues they could not pay for with their allotted money from central government, they could charge a low local council tax (say, 5%), but wouldn't be allowed other charges, levies and the like.

    This would also seriously cut back on red tape, the opportunity for petty corruption, etc.

    Plus, all expenditures must be accounted for. Right now, hundreds of millions of dollars of the government's budget are being lost to corruption. I would put an end to that by monitoring all government expenditures.

    Centralised policy, planning and budgeting for staff,drugs and other logistics at the ministry of health in Lusaka definately reduces costs of providing medical services to the population especially rural populations. Tranferring these functions to local communities would obviously increase costs.

    I would disagree. In principle, economies of scope would be more efficient. However, we are also talking about the allocation of funds, which is notoriously inefficient when done centrally. I think in practice, it would be much cheaper and more efficient to have funds prioritized locally.

    The state can still buy in supplies in bulk, but the councils and schools should be able to prioritize their specific needs.

    Consider how few councils have hospitals, or schools. That would change overnight. It wouldn't be Yale, but it would be there.

    And I'm not talking about the present districts, but 350 local councils of 30k people. Major cities could have super councils, because of the short distances. However, you'd still be talking about between 5 to 10 for the larger cities.

    We probably need a feasibilty study to understand the current system and identify inefficiencies then see how your manifesto was fix them.

    I completely agree with that, and it would be exciting to know how what the options are.

    ReplyDelete
  22. David,

    ”I think the current system was modeled after the UK set up, what aspects do you think would need remodeling for cultural and social sensitivity?”

    This is a question I have been giving some thought. Its still developing but I would encourage you to read the blog Insights from Chiefs for my early thoughts. Briefly, I have a two step process in mind:

    Step 1: we must recognise that the notion of development and culture are interlinked. Our quest for development must not come at the expense of weakening our cultural institutions but rather development should come through a greater affirmation of our traditions and bringing them to the centre. If this logical premise is accepted then, Chiefs who are the very heart of our traditions must be recognised as having a primary role to play in our quest for development, and in defining that development.

    Step 2: We must work to reinforce these traditions within a constitutional framework. We should seek to ensure that chiefs play a more significant role in local Government, have access to basic level of education supported by Government and then ensure that we have a strong second chamber with real powers to challenge Parliament. It is unfortunate that as a nation we continue the legacy of our colonial masters by sideling traditional systems of governance that served us so well before colonialism.

    I would be very interested in your thoughts once you read that blog. Its a subject that deserves a paper of some sort rather than a simple blog. I am currently reading around the "Boma class" and how chiefs operated during colonialism to get a sense of some of nuances.

    ReplyDelete
  23. If this logical premise is accepted then, Chiefs who are the very heart of our traditions must be recognised as having a primary role to play in our quest for development, and in defining that development. - Cho

    The question then is - what form will this participation take?

    Also, if the chiefs were given certain advantages, what is there to prevent them to try and keep their subjects economically small, so they do not pose a financial or political threat to them?

    How would a chief feel about one of his subjects having more money than he or she does?

    Real development should be set up, so that chiefs would actively encourage the enrichment of their subjects.

    If they had a direct and legal minimum financial interest in the business done in their areas, I think they could have a positive influence on economic development.

    For instance, companies could deposit a percentage of their shares in a chief's fund. This way, they would be part of the income stream, without having to get involved in the business itself.

    ReplyDelete
  24. "How would a chief feel about one of his subjects having more money than he or she does?"

    There have always been people who financially richer than chiefs in the areas chiefdoms. I don't see that as an hindrance.

    "If they had a direct and legal minimum financial interest in the business done in their areas"

    The problem is not that chief's have no motivation to engage in development projects. They do and they have repeatedly said so.
    see the blog
    http://zambian-economist.blogspot.com/2007/04/insights-from-chiefs-2nd-edition.html

    As Chief Nalubamba says in that blog:
    "There are quite a number of chiefdom structures I visited throughout the country that are doing a commendable job in governance and development process. If they have not done as much as you expect, it’s not totally their fault. It is lack of government appreciation and support to these noble efforts.The government needs to take radical steps, through workshops and seminars designed to sharpen chiefdom structures as instruments for good governance and development in rural societies.""

    The problem is not one of motivation - its one of resources and the appropriate framework for doing so.

    Your proposal is interesting of funding pot is interesting, but we need something that connects the local initiatives to the national picture. A holistic change where Chiefs shape national dialogue and link it back to the people. It goes beyond funding, and strikes at the very heart of who we are as a people.

    ReplyDelete
  25. There have always been people who financially richer than chiefs in the areas chiefdoms. I don't see that as an hindrance.

    It is an impression you get when viewing the political elite. That part of their lack of interest in real indigenous development, and their preference for foreign corporations and investment, is to make sure that no political rivals become rich enough to (for instance) afford the same type of campaign budget that the party in government has at it's disposal.

    The problem is not one of motivation - its one of resources and the appropriate framework for doing so.

    Your proposal is interesting of funding pot is interesting, but we need something that connects the local initiatives to the national picture. A holistic change where Chiefs shape national dialogue and link it back to the people.


    Please expand on that. How would you connect chiefs to the national dialogue, on what issues, etc?

    Financially speaking - right now, most chiefs are poor. I think a key way of changing that is to make them part of the flow of money that would be generated in their areas, once agriculture, mining and even manufacturing would develop. I think it should be made mandatory that public and private companies should deposit between 1% to 5% of their shares in a fund run by the local chief.

    The state could even start them off by depositing $100,000 in each such a fund (73 chiefs would be $7.3 million).

    Just a few ideas.



    It goes beyond funding, and strikes at the very heart of who we are as a people.

    And that is the only reason I'm discussing chiefs, because all my libertarian emotions are against hereditary leadership. :)

    You know, there are countries that are constitutional monarchies. The king/queen has very little power, but they simply provide another check and balance to parliament. They are the official head of state, but not the head of the government. This creates a kind of lifelong presidency, within a form of government where virtually all the powers rest with the Prime Minister and parliament. It hasn't only worked for the UK, Holland, Denmark, but also Japan, Thailand, etc.

    It is a compromise between tradition and democracy.

    ReplyDelete
  26. MrK, David

    I have now created a new blog on the issue of culture.

    http://zambian-economist.blogspot.com/2007/08/cultural-approch-to-zambias-development.html

    ReplyDelete
  27. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on shopping online.
    Regards
    My weblog : cigarettes online

    ReplyDelete
  28. you are in reality a excellent webmaster. The web site loading velocity is incredible.
    It seems that you're doing any unique trick. Moreover, The contents are masterpiece. you have done a wonderful activity on this matter!
    Also visit my page how to play piano

    ReplyDelete

All contributors should follow the basic principles of a productive dialogue: communicate their perspective, ask, comment, respond,and share information and knowledge, but do all this with a positive approach.

This is a friendly website. However, if you feel compelled to comment 'anonymously', you are strongly encouraged to state your location / adopt a unique nick name so that other commentators/readers do not confuse your comments with other individuals also commenting anonymously.