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Monday, 8 October 2007

Stop the Borrowing, Please! (Guest Blog)

In February this year, the government announced that Exim Bank of China would grant loans to Zambia amounting to US$396 million. Two-and-half months later, Zambians were informed of a World Bank loan amounting to ZMK103 billion to be re-paid after 40 years with a 10-year grace period. Now we are being told of Ng’andu Magande’s planned trip to China to borrow US$39 million.

Why is the government so determined to mortgage our country? Will our beloved country’s fascination with loans ever diminish? It does not at all augur well for the future of a country that is still in the process of getting relief from unsustainable levels of commercial, bilateral and multilateral debts to be so enthusiastic about securing additional loans.

We need to seriously and urgently consider the prospect of creating a smaller and more efficient government that will be capable of performing existing and planned government functions with a smaller number of Cabinet Ministers, no Deputy Ministers, no Provincial Ministers, no Provincial Permanent Secretaries, and no District Commissioners. And we need to create semi-autonomous provinces that will be administered by elected Provincial Governors and District Mayors.

Besides, we need to reduce the number of Zambia’s foreign embassies and missions by half by creating embassies that will serve groups of countries rather than single countries, and by enhancing the operations of the embassies through advanced Internet portals. Moreover, we need to initiate restrictions on leaders’ trips to foreign countries, among many other cost-cutting measures.

When are we going to find it necessary to get rid of leadership positions that do not add any value to efforts aimed at poverty reduction? If we cannot urgently dispense with sinecures that are draining public coffers, we will not be able to break the cycle of securing loans on a yearly basis for acquiring road-maintenance equipment, and for repairing roads, bridges and culverts damaged by floods, since torrential rains that generate the floods are likely to recur every year.

Surely, our children and grandchildren will judge us harshly if we leave them with unjustified and unsustainable levels of debts that will deprive them of a standard of living compatible with the needs and expectations of their times.

Meanwhile, our beloved country will continue to grapple with the unpallatable situation whereby 65% of the national budget is devoted to the sustenance of a bloated state apparatus, and only a paltry 35% is left for education, agriculture, healthcare, low-cost public housing, roads and bridges, and so forth.


Henry Kyambalesa
(Guest Blogger)

28 comments:

  1. How about having SADC embassies, where every citizen of a SADC country can walk in and be helped?

    I would like to add the following on federalism though.

    KK had it right, when he prevented tribalism. The way he did it, was to draw more power to the center (as well as tribal balancing in central government) - I would have atomized government into units that are so small that no one region or tribe could dominate all of them in a region, leaving regional minorities with an active voice in their own governance.

    However, what both models get away from, is more power for regional entities like provinces or even districts.

    The reason is that this seems to enshrine tribe into the way the country is governed, instead of eliminate it's influence from government.

    If feelings run high enough, sooner rather than later, calls for secession from the nation will be heard. (In fact, they are already heard in some quarters.)

    Secondly, even worse, it could create conditions where people feel more akin to people living across national borders, than they do with their compatriots in other regions. Peculiar to Zambia, is that every region has tribespeople across the national border - Bembas in the DRC, Easterners in Malawi/Mozambique, Tongas in Zimbabwe, etc.

    What is to prevent these regions not to look across the border and basically seek unity with people from neighbouring countries? Which would lead to wars between states.

    I am all for regional integration, but it should be done in a way that takes all tribalism out of it.

    Meanwhile, our beloved country will continue to grapple with the unpallatable situation whereby 65% of the national budget is devoted to the sustenance of a bloated state apparatus, and only a paltry 35% is left for education, agriculture, healthcare, low-cost public housing, roads and bridges, and so forth.

    Let minister Shakafuswa answer that one.

    The MMD has urged people to tighten their belt in the past. It is about time they applied that principle to their own government.

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  2. "We need to seriously and urgently consider the prospect of creating a smaller and more efficient government that will be capable of performing existing and planned government functions with a smaller number of Cabinet Ministers, no Deputy Ministers, no Provincial Ministers, no Provincial Permanent Secretaries, and no District Commissioners. And we need to create semi-autonomous provinces that will be administered by elected Provincial Governors and District Mayors." - Kya

    As you know I agree that the Government should be smaller! I also agree that there's no need for provincial ministers. Mainly because these are ministers without any real authority.

    The area am less clear about relates to Deputy Ministers. Zambia does not really have lower ranked Ministers helping the main Minister (or secretary of state). Is your model basically 1 Minister each Ministry working with an army of Civil Servants? The problem with that is it either will lead to political assimilation of the civil service to enable policy delivery or simply no policy delivery. We must remember that perhaps at the heart of the Zambian policy delivery problem is actually the Civil Service. The lack of competition there has robed the nation of some of the best talent. Getting Civil Service reform right may turn out to be just as crucial as realigning ministries into manageable and more effective units.

    The other point relates to the Mungomba Draft Constitution which from my perspective seems to require the positions you discard. Its unbelievable that Mungomba put that in the constitutions. It seems to require the President to appoint a Provincial Minister.

    "I would have atomized government into units that are so small that no one region or tribe could dominate all of them in a region, leaving regional minorities with an active voice in their own governance". - Mrk

    You would be losing necessary economies of scale! I think
    the issue is to make sure that such devolution of power was handled in the right way. There are things that should remain at the centre. The other point of course is that local corruption could thrive unless other systems where also put in place. PB is one system that may help :)

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  3. Cho and MrK, these discussions are a good source of inputs needed in the generation of socio-economic policies that can greatly benefit the Zambian people; I am taking notes on behalf of AfC.

    With respect to the potential for calls of secession that can be engendered by haphazard devolution of power to provinces, I really believe there is a need to give greater power to the people by providing for the administration of provinces through elected provincial governors and district mayors. It is high time Zambia made it possible for citizens to elect all their local leaders rather than continue to have political appointees imposed on them by the central government.

    I believe the current political dispensation that is characterized by politically clutched meddling in the socio-economic affairs of local communities by Provincial Ministers, Provincial Permanent Secretaries and District Commissioners is a constraint to sound decision making relating to the rational allocation of local resources.

    Don't you think secessionist sentiments would be mitigated if the basic components of the devolution of power to provinces were to include the following?:

    1) National laws and regulations and the provisions of the Republican constitution would uniformly be applied in all the provinces without exception. However, they would continue to generate and enforce ordinances that would not depart from the provisions of national laws and the Republican constitution. This would prevent the confusion being experienced by countries like the USA, where some states have passed their own laws relating to such critical matters as marriage and capital punishment.

    2) Each and every government ministry would directly perform mandated functions in all parts of the country, and would directly coordinate their respective services and operations with those of local governments and private institutions.

    3) Each of the nine provinces would have the authority to generate, as well as appropriate, their own revenues in line with the need to attract investors and skilled labor. In general, local authorities would collect their own revenues from businesses and residents, and would retain the revenues for local service delivery and development projects and programs. Suggestively, the potential sources of such revenues would include the following: water rates, municipal housing rent, investments in commercial undertakings, provincial lottery, property taxes, traffic violation charges, motor vehicle registration fees, personal levy, business licence fees, birth certificate fees, sale of unclaimed impounded property, and grants from the national government.

    Provincial governments would, however, be prohibited from minting money, and from demanding payments for commodities produced in their areas of jurisdiction and sold in other provinces in a currency other than the national currency. However, they would have the freedom to borrow capital from both local and foreign financial institutions on terms that would not subject public property in their areas of jurisdiction to the risk of seizure in the event of a delinquent loan. In the case of foreign borrowing, ratification would need to be sought from the Minister of Finance and Revenue prior to the consummation of arrangements for such borrowing.

    4) Potential revenue sources for the national government, on the other hand, would include the following: personal and business income taxes, value-added tax, postal revenues, nominal rentals of National Housing Authority residential units, commercial undertakings, customs duties, passport fees, fire-arm registration fees, excise taxes, hunting licence fees, work permit fees, citizenship and naturalization fees, NRC replacement fees, and 25% of any budget surpluses of provincial governments.

    The selling and/or buying of government bonds (by the Bank of Zambia) through LuSE and regional stock markets on behalf of the government (by means of "open market operations") would also be an important source of revenue for the central government.

    5) Provincial governments would not regulate inter-province trade or investment, or charge duties on commodities sold across provincial borders.

    6) Provincial governments would not regulate, or place any restrictions on, the movement of people wishing to seek jobs and/or residence across provincial borders.

    7) Provincial governments would be prohibited from entering into treaties, alliances or confederations of any kind with foreign entities.

    8) Parliament or the Cabinet would devise standardized organization / administrative structures for districts and provinces, and such structures would need to include the following positions: (a) district level: Mayor, District Secretary, District Treasurer, and District Police Chief; and (b) provincial level: Provincial Governor, Provincial Secretary, Provincial Treasurer, Provincial Police Chief, and Provincial Prisons Superintendent.

    A Provincial Council, or any semblance thereof, would also need to be established by each province for the purpose of enabling incumbents of the foregoing positions to strategize on matters relating to local projects and programs and appropriation of revenues. Besides, the Republican constitution would need to be amended to include a clause that would provide for elected Provincial Governors to become ex-officio members of the National Assembly.

    9) Superintendence over the civil police, prisons and the rehabilitation of prisoners and ex-convicts would need to be devolved to provincial administrations, while the training of police and prisons officers would be conducted centrally by the central government. Provincial governments would, however, be prohibited from creating military establishments; the defence and security of the nation would be the preponderance of the Zambia Defence Forces.

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  4. On the dangers of secession coming from provinces, I would like to give two examples, one that has been part of a central state for centuries, the other which became semi-independent only a few years ago.

    1) Scotland

    Even though it has all the benefits that come to it while being part of the British state, even the smallest seeming resentment can still lead to greater autonomy.

    Scotland was part of what has been called 'The Celtic Fringe', the areas of the UK that consistently voted one way (Labour), while the major population center of the country in the southeast of England voted Conservative, during the late seventies and into 1997. No matter how much of a local majority voted Labour, they were given a Conservative government for nearly two long and economically painful decades.

    Then, much of Scotland's oil wealth is national wealth, meaning that they do not see as much of their oil and gas reserves as they would if they were independent.

    Together, this has led to a situation where Scotland after centuries of being part of the UK, is becoming more independent - they now even have their own parliament.

    2) Kurdistan

    The Kurds are screwed in that much of their geographic area is part of the states of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria and some former USSR territories.

    This means that if one area of Kurdistan becomes independent, it threatens the national integrity of all the other states around it. This in turn leads to foreign invasion or threats thereof, which leads ultimately to war between states.

    As we speak, Turkey is amassing troops on it's Iraqi border, to deal with the 1/3 of Iraq that is now Kurdish and semi-autonomous. If the Iraqi Kurds would start to give active support to the Kurdish separatists in Turkey, and they already may have, it would lead to security operations and in fact invasion of Iraq by Turkey.

    In the Zambian context, it would mean that a semi-autonomous Eastern Province (for instance) would have a lot in common ethnically and geographically with Malawi, Mozambique, even small parts of Zimbabwe. And so on, because all Zambia's borders were drawn without taking ethnicity into account.

    The remedy to this all, would be to give the people everything they want (education, healthcare, security, public utilities) on a local level. This would prevent the creation of any regional entity that would in fact be ready made for secession. It would also mean taking these issues and their budgets out of the hands of the central government's elected officials, and putting them directly into the hands of local authorities, which would be protected by a national constitution. It would make it impossible for any central government official to play the tribalism card to get elected, because such claims would be without consequence, and at the same time, the people would be too attached to the services their local authority provides by receiving it's share of national revenues.

    I think such a system could be tried out using one or two districts, to see if it works, what the problems are, etc. before it would be implemented on a national level.

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  5. Cho said: "The area am less clear about relates to Deputy Ministers. Zambia does not really have lower ranked Ministers helping the main Minister (or secretary of state). Is your model basically 1 Minister each Ministry working with an army of Civil Servants?"

    Permanent Secretaries are the Chief Executives of Ministries; they are the ones who are responsible for the overall management and administration of government ministries.

    This is basically the reason why even the appointing authorities ensure that each government ministry has a permanent secretary who has the necessary qualifications that are suited to the overall mission and functions of the ministry. With the help of Under Secretaries or Deputy Secretaries for specialized departments of ministries, the executive branch of the national government, I believe, is capable of running smoothly without Cabinet Ministers.

    Prior to the tripartite elections last year, I personally did not notice any unusual problems in the performance of government ministries during the period of time the Cabinet was dissolved.

    In short, Cabinet Ministers are really figureheads. This explains why appointing authorities shuffle them from one ministry to another irrespective of their areas of specialization and/or educational attainments.

    Given the competence and qualifications of the current crop of Permanent Secretaries, it would actually not be unwise to abolish the position of Minister so that it can be replaced by "Secretary of ..." as it is in the U.S.

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  6. MrK said: "In the Zambian context, it would mean that a semi-autonomous Eastern Province (for instance) would have a lot in common ethnically and geographically with Malawi, Mozambique, even small parts of Zimbabwe."

    I am perhaps at fault to have used the term "semi-autonomous" in my contributions. Basically, providing for citizens in districts and provinces to elect their local leaders would not in any conceivable way create semi-autonomous or semi-independent Districts or Provinces.

    After all, don't we already, for example, have elected Mayors for Lusaka, Kitwe, and so forth? And don't we already have elected MPs from the country's 150 constituencies, as well as elected local government offcials?

    The cessation of the political appointment of Provincial Ministers, Provincial Permanent Secretaries and District Commissioners as a cost-cutting measure, and to give the people the opportunity to elect Provincial Governors who would be accountable to them rather than to the appointing authorities in Lusaka would really not create conditions for secession.

    If the basic components of devolution I suggested earlier are incorporated into the process, I do not see how the nation cannot continue to be cohesive as a unitary state, especially if we ensure that each of Zambia’s provinces is well-represented at Ministerial and Permanent-Secretary levels as the case was during the UNIP / KK era. These, I believe, are some of the important safeguards which can forestall secessionist sentiments.

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  7. On the provinces: around the world, the provinces usually perform central government functions that the state does not - enforcement of civil rights, implementation of state legislation, etc. In other words, they are implementors of those state policies that cannot be better done from the ministry or centrally. This basically means that provinces and the central state are the same. At the same time, councils and wards are both local government.

    Although greater power for the provinces would be a decentralisation of the powers of the central state (and the president specifically), and part of a general decentralisation of power to other central institutions like parliament and the civil service would be a good thing, I would wonder how it would improve service delivery.

    I think an improvement of service delivery can best be done at the local government level. There are more people available, there is more local knowledge, and more specialisation in local issues. Considering their size, provinces in Zambia are almost countries in their own right. Even in the Sudan, there is an increase in the number of 'states', so governance can be closer to the people. Sudan went from 9 regions to 25 states in an attempt to bring governance closer to the people (see here), in an interesting article from governor and former minister Daniel Awet Okot).

    2) Each and every government ministry would directly perform mandated functions in all parts of the country, and would directly coordinate their respective services and operations with those of local governments and private institutions.

    I would like to see the above mentioned functions (eduation, healthcare, policing/security, public amenities) taken away from the ministries, and performed by local government, as they are essentially local issues.

    As the ministries would have fewer functions, their size and budgets would be reduced accordingly.

    3) Each of the nine provinces would have the authority to generate, as well as appropriate, their own revenues in line with the need to attract investors and skilled labor. In general, local authorities would collect their own revenues from businesses and residents, and would retain the revenues for local service delivery and development projects and programs. Suggestively, the potential sources of such revenues would include the following: water rates, municipal housing rent, investments in commercial undertakings, provincial lottery, property taxes, traffic violation charges, motor vehicle registration fees, personal levy, business licence fees, birth certificate fees, sale of unclaimed impounded property, and grants from the national government.

    I think the latter functions (highlighted) are typical local government, council functions. I would like to see their levies replaced by a steady income from the state, and reduce taxes collected by the local government to no more a single local government tax if any - no more levies, special charges, etc.

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  8. MrK said: "I would like to see the above mentioned functions (eduation, healthcare, policing / security, public amenities) taken away from the ministries, and performed by local government, as they are essentially local issues."

    This would surely be full-fledged decentralization!

    I would personally be VERY reluctant to completely devolve the provision of education to provinces. This is one of the critical sub-systems that the central government would do well not to subject to local politics. It is the linchpin in any given country's quest for heightened and sustained socio-economic development.

    Needless to say, all other facets and spheres of human endeavor are defendent on it--including national security, public health and sanitation, agricultural production and food security, protracted peace and stability, and meaningful citizen participation in the democratic process.

    Other functions that I would REALLY be hesitant to completely decentralize are healthcare, food security, public housing, and the developement of transportation and other forms of public infrastructure. National defence and security and foreign policy would particularly be non-negotiable for obvious reasons.

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  9. I would personally be VERY reluctant to completely devolve the provision of education to provinces. This is one of the critical sub-systems that the central government would do well not to subject to local politics.

    I would simply put in the constitution that every council would have the obligation to spend a quarter of it's budget on education and present a basic curriculum - this would put it beyond the realm of local politics. On the other hand, councils could localize the rest of their curriculum - more emphasis on languages in tourist areas, more emphasis on engineering in mining areas, biology and agriculture in rural areas, etc.

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  10. Kya, Mrk

    Quite a number of fundamental points made here which I'll contribute to separately!

    But before I do, I thought I should note that the key issue is to be clear on the aims of any devolution of power. What is the problem we are trying to fix?

    To my mind. The problems that centralisation of power has brought to Zambia is "lack of development" and "corruption".

    But by lack of development, I don't mean what most people mean. I mean that there's a lack of development as local people would understand or experience it. For me development is a local concept that means different things to different people. You cannot impose it centrally. It needs to defined at the local level and therefore requires local people to take ownership of it. For this reason, I favour institutions that recognise these local aspects to development and allows greater participation of local people.

    A while back we discussed Sophia Dupleiss's paper on Institutional Change in Zambia, and Yakima pointed out this telling quote from it, which bests illustrates what I mean:

    "The way to work towards an institutional framework that supports economic growth is to create an environment where experimentation and feedback is allowed. The more policymakers and entrepreneurs can experiment with different policy options, the better the chance of survival. Entrepreneurs and policymakers must operate in an environment where they can make decisions, get feedback and according to the feedback, alter their previous decisions."

    So basically for me - devolving power to the local level is that it creats institutions that deliver growth and crucially defines and delivers development that local people would appreciate. The reason why Zambians are not experience personal development despite 65 growth in GDP is that development is locally defined, why GDP is a national phenomenon. We need institutions that deliver growth on the local level.

    The debate is therefore HOW BEST TO DECENTRALISE and DEVOLVE POWER?

    On this I'll return with comments on the comments I have read so far.

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  11. Now on some immediate specifics..

    "3......However, they would have the freedom to borrow capital from both local and foreign financial institutions on terms that would not subject public property in their areas of jurisdiction to the risk of seizure in the event of a delinquent loan. In the case of foreign borrowing, ratification would need to be sought from the Minister of Finance and Revenue prior to the consummation of arrangements for such borrowing." - Kya

    "7) Provincial governments would be prohibited from entering into treaties, alliances or confederations of any kind with foreign entities." - Kya

    I couldn't reconcile the above statements. The first statement seems to indicate that the provincial Governments can enter sunject to ratification from the centre, the second rules out proactive engangement.

    "6) Provincial governments would not regulate, or place any restrictions on, the movement of people wishing to seek jobs and/or residence across provincial borders." - Kya

    This is interesting. The natural question is of course that of regional disparities. What happens if one region develops so well and it leads under population?

    The model seems to encourage competition among regions, which is interesting, but with competition comes income inequality across region and so forth. Central Government has a role to play there probably, but that would dependend on the extent of the Central Government funding pot.

    An issue also worth thing about is the COST of decentralisation. The Provincial Model seeks to elected Provincial offices. In effect you are creating regional Governments. The problem is that these regional Governments would require funding and may have their own mini ministries. The cost of that may be significant for certain provinces who are unable to raise revenue.

    There's also the question of whether these mini ministries would duplicate national ministries and of course the question of how coordinated the two tiers of Government might be.

    Interesting issues indeed!
    Back with more thoughts...

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  12. "Permanent Secretaries are the Chief Executives of Ministries; they are the ones who are responsible for the overall management and administration of government ministries.

    ...Prior to the tripartite elections last year, I personally did not notice any unusual problems in the performance of government ministries during the period of time the Cabinet was dissolved"
    - Kya

    This would seem to indicate that your model suggests that there should be 1 Minister and the rest would be Civil Servants.

    I think there are some problems with that.

    1. The Minister would need to have Special Advisers who can articulate policy on his behalf. It would be very difficult for him or her to work with a whole Ministry. If we really want the Party in Government to govern the nation we have to allow it room to imprint its policies. That requires Ministers being able to translate the vision on the ground. I put to you that 1 Minister would struggle to do that on his own. He or she needs some side kicks.

    2. There's no model in the World that has only 1 Minister per Ministry working with Civil Servant. How do we know it can work?

    3. I am concerned about the independence of the Civil Service. If the Minister basically treated the Permanent Secretary as his Deputy, wouldn't that just corrupt the system?

    Now assuming that your model worked, and indeed the system of Government placed greater reliance on Permanent Secretaries. There would have to be strong reform on how these individuals are appointed. The current system is flawed. I do not think we are necessarily attracting the best talent in these jobs.

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  13. "I would simply put in the constitution that every council would have the obligation to spend a quarter of it's budget on education and present a basic curriculum" - MrK

    In general I am wary of the constitution containing budgetary pronouncements. These are things that can change with Government priorites. We need flexibility in governance.

    The other point is that it strikes me that the very things that we thing are so critical to development are the things that people would be wary to devolve to the local level because they may create disparaties! But for that misses the point....what we need is locally defined development. Let us give money in the hands of locals and let them make decisions on which things they value most...

    Government's role would be there in terms of macroeconomic stability and tackling regional disparaties.

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  14. Apparently Magande has now responded that "Zambia has no external debt".

    Article can be found here.

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  15. -------------------------------
    "3......However, they would have the freedom to borrow capital from both local and foreign financial institutions on terms that would not subject public property in their areas of jurisdiction to the risk of seizure in the event of a delinquent loan. In the case of foreign borrowing, ratification would need to be sought from the Minister of Finance and Revenue prior to the consummation of arrangements for such borrowing."

    "7) Provincial governments would be prohibited from entering into treaties, alliances or confederations of any kind with foreign entities."

    I couldn't reconcile the above statements. The first statement seems to indicate that the provincial Governments can enter sunject to ratification from the centre, the second rules out proactive engangement.
    ---------------------------------
    The 3rd point above is about "borrowing capital" while the 7th is about "entering into treaties, alliances or confederations". The are two completely different matters.

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  16. "2. There's no model in the World that has only 1 Minister per Ministry working with Civil Servant. How do we know it can work?"

    Cho, take a look at Mr. George W. Bush’s administration below. The Secretaries are assisted by Deputy Secretaries. The Cabinet includes the Vice President, the heads of 15 executive branch departments, and other Government officials chosen by the President. The Cabinet meets at least once a week to discuss matters that affect the United States.

    The 14 Secretaries from the executive departments and the Attorney General are nominated by the President, and they must be approved (confirmed) by a majority vote (51 votes) of the Senate. Nominees can not be a member of Congress or hold any other elected office. Executive department Secretaries and the Attorney General serve as long as the President is in office.

    The following is a list of the 15 executive department agencies, when that department was created, and a brief description of the department. The list is organized by order of succession. More detailed information is available in the United States Government Manual.

    1. Secretary of State: Works with other countries.

    2. Secretary of the Treasury: Supervises the collection of taxes and the printing of money.

    3. Secretary of Defense: Oversees the armed forces.

    4. Attorney General: Enforces the U.S. Government's laws.

    5. Secretary of the Interior: Protects natural resources and wildlife.

    6. Secretary of Agriculture: Ensures a healthy food supply and provides support for farmers.

    7. Secretary of Commerce: Promotes business and job opportunities for all Americans, responsible for all copyrights, patents, and trademarks; and oversees matters related to oceans, weather, and technology.

    8. Secretary of Labor: Oversees the interests of U.S. workers.

    9. Secretary of Health & Human Services: Looks after people’s health and provides services including conducting medical research, preventing diseases, assuring the safety of food and drugs; providing financial assistance for low income families.

    10. Secretary of Housing & Development: Oversees housing needs, and focuses on improving and developing communities.

    11. Secretary of Transportation: Oversees the nation's transportation system including highways, railroads, ports, and air travel.


    12. Secretary of Energy: Researches and develops energy systems that are friendly to the environment, but are not too expensive.

    13. Secretary of Education: Establishes guidelines and provides leadership to address American education. It helps local communities meet the needs of their students.

    14. Secretary of Veterans Affairs: Operates programs for veterans and their families.

    15. Secretary of Homeland Security: Works to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce America’s vulnerability to terrorism, and minimize the damage from potential attacks and natural disasters.

    The Secretaries have Deputy Secretaries. They are technocrats, and are the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs); while the rest can be said to be civil servants. The Secretaries may have more than 1 deputy depending on the number of specialized units under them.

    Personal observations:
    In Zambia, Permanent Secretaries are the CEOs and they are technocrats, while the Ministers and their Deputies are mere figureheads and spokespersons.

    One of the provisos in the Draft Republican constitution relating to the Executive Branch of the national government restricts the appointment of members of the Cabinet from society at large, rather than from elected or nominated Members of Parliament. If this recommendation makes it through the NCC deliberations, it will very likely prompt Republican presidents to appoint technocrats to ministerial and deputy ministerial positions and eventually make the Permanent Secretary portfolio irrelevant since the Ministers and their deputies will become CEOs of government ministries.

    So, although Permanent Secretaries do not attend Cabinet meetings, they actually function more as Ministers of government ministries, while Deputy Permanent Secretaries function more as Deputy Ministers.

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  17. "If this recommendation makes it through the NCC deliberations, it will very likely prompt Republican presidents to appoint technocrats to ministerial and deputy ministerial positions and eventually make the Permanent Secretary portfolio irrelevant since the Ministers and their deputies will become CEOs of government ministries." - Kya

    Not sure why thay should necessarily prompt the President to appoint technocrats. I think it will be an option, but remember the President can nominate MPs even now and he has not nominated technocrats. He nominates either people who lose seats or who are royal party members but failed to get on the MP nomination list.

    The only incentive for the President to nominate technocrats would be to ensure that all Ministerial appointments are ratified by Parliament or a higher level scrutiny committee.

    The other issue is that we should be aiming to create some independence between the political structures and the rest of the Civil Service. I would not like to see Permanent Secretaries become irrelevant for that reason.

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  18. Cho,

    In general I am wary of the constitution containing budgetary pronouncements. These are things that can change with Government priorites. We need flexibility in governance.

    I think that is what amendments are for. They can be repealed if they become obsolete and if there are enough votes to do so. They would take more votes than ordinary legislation, so there would have to be overwhelming support for repealing them.

    The other point is that it strikes me that the very things that we thing are so critical to development are the things that people would be wary to devolve to the local level because they may create disparaties! But for that misses the point....what we need is locally defined development.

    And development could not be more locally defined, than if a fair share of the national budget was in the hands of local councillors or mayors.

    However to prevent too great a disparity in the services offered to the citizen, there will have to be minimum standards or demands, and the constitution is the best vehicle to do that for the entire nation.

    Checks and balances. We would devolve the decision making way down to the local level, while keeping some check on how they spend the money.

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  19. MrK,

    I agree that amendments can work, but are there examples from successful growing nations where these things are enshrined in the constitution?

    We need to make sure that we don't let erosion of trust in the parties that govern create more rigidity for the parties that follow.

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  20. This is from New Zealand. Community Governance - the role of local government

    We believe that it is appropriate now to adopt the model that is more common in Continental Europe where, in many countries, local governance through autonomous local authorities is written into a constitution.

    And...

    Political power is moving not only "upwards" from nation states to international groupings but also "downwards" closer to the community. A current example of this is the reforms being undertaken within the United Kingdom. Some countries such as the United States of America, Canada, Australia, Germany and Switzerland have always maintained strong governance structures below the level of the nation state, these structures being protected constitutionally.

    The situation in New Zealand is very different. In the absence of constitutional protection local government is, in legal terms, a "creature of Parliament".


    And...

    Article 2: The principle of local self government shall be recognised in domestic legislation, and where practicable in constitution.

    Article 3: Local self-government denotes the right and the ability of local authorities, within the limits of the law, to regulate and manage a substantial share of public affairs under their own responsibility and in the interests of the local population.

    Article 4: ...where powers are delegated to them by a central or regional authority local authorities shall, in so far as possible, be allowed discretion in adapting their exercise to local conditions. Local authorities shall be consulted in so far as possible, in due time and in an appropriate way in the planning and decision making processes for all matters which concern them directly.

    Article 11: Local authorities shall have the right recourse to a judicial remedy in order to secure free exercise of their powers and respect for such principles of local self government as are enshrined in the constitutional domestic legislation."



    We need to make sure that we don't let erosion of trust in the parties that govern create more rigidity for the parties that follow.

    This goes way beyond trust in the parties that govern. It is a given that elected officials will prioritize aid, development and more to the people they feel are their constituents. This is extremely corrosive of national cohesion. If basic government services (education, healthcare) are going to reach every citizen regardless of where they live or who they voted for, these resources have to be distributed by an independent state agency.

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  21. Kya,

    I apologize that I haven't commented in more detail on the issue of devolution of power to the provinces. I have been more involved with the issue of devolution to local government.

    This is the problem I have with it. Don't more powers for the provinces enshrine existing difference in society into law and government?

    For instance, Western Province has long had a movement that is secessionist, and would obviously want to unite with the Barotse in Namibia.

    http://www.cidcm.umd.edu/mar/assessment.asp?groupId=55102

    If they had their own province, why not demand even greater autonomy?

    On the other hand, if they had local government units that received $1.5 million per 30,000 people per year from central government, there would be no need for secession, and very little or no support for it. The people would lose a lot by not being part of the Zambian state.

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  22. MrK said:
    "Western Province has long had a movement that is secessionist, and would obviously want to unite with the Barotse in Namibia."

    Well, that would constitute a treasonable offence. As stated earlier, "Provincial governments would be prohibited from entering into treaties, alliances or confederations of any kind with foreign entities."

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  23. Henry Kyamabalesa, Hellicy Ngambi, Peter Lutele, Herrick Mpuku, Kalongansofu Mumba, Gerry Muuka these names stick in my mind. I was in my late teens and these young then brilliant young men and women with frshly minted MBA and MAs taught me in the late 1980s at what was then UNZANDO.

    Henry Kyambalesa, you imparted valuable knowledge in an informal witty way. The long debates and probing questions some times way off what we were supposed to be learning opened up my mind. Thanks Henry and I am glad to be here reading some intelligent discourse from you.

    Some your students are:-

    Mark Libakeni Partner Pricewaterhouse
    Glyn Michello Zambia development agency director General
    Desmod Mulenga Finance Director barlows
    Ignatius Chica Senior managerat Citbank
    George Mubipe head asset finance Barclays
    Muyangwa Muyangwa Commissioner ZRA

    The list goes on and on. Thanks Henry.

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  24. Well, that would constitute a treasonable offence. As stated earlier, "Provincial governments would be prohibited from entering into treaties, alliances or confederations of any kind with foreign entities."

    But that would be the state chasing after public sentiment in an attempt to suppress it, instead of placating public sentiment beforehand.

    If the people were already receiving the benefits from being part of the state, secessionists could not use that as the benefit of indepence.

    I would think it would be much better to take ammunition away from secessionists, so there wouldn't be a need for secession on behalf of the local people and no justification for it by grafting politicians, rather than bringing treason charges and the like.

    (And I apologize and cringe for addressing a professor as Kya, but I am just following the internet protocol and using whatever screen name people put up. Just so you and everyone knows. :) No disrespect is intended.)

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  25. On the Title Essay: Bravo, yes by all means let's not sink another generation of Zambians into a debtor's trap. The conversation has moved quite far afield from this initial concept however. So many other important areas have been touched on that it becomes difficult to know where to properly begin, but here goes:

    I think Kya hit the first nail on the head in indicating that there is a line to be drawn between national and provincial responsibilities. The place to draw such a line is in the Constitution, and subsequent disagreement as to where exactly that line falls in any dispute belongs to the Courts. Decentralization of political power in Zambia appears to be inevitable, the key questions therefore are when and to what extent?

    Devolution along the existing boundaries of the nine provinces as Kya suggests is relatively simple to accomplish compared to the extensive plan MrK proposes, but is hardly a recipe for equal competition between sub-national groupings. Where there is advantage to be had is for provincial level constituencies who were either under-represented by national government and/or net contributors to the public purse. Demographic or interest groups which are too small to garner provincial majorities are subject to withdrawal or substandard delivery of services which are devolved to the provincial level.

    The federal tax burden must also shrink commensurate with the imposition of new provincial taxation, within reason. I think it unreasonable to expect both decentralization and streamlined government, however I grant that the bureaucracy appears to be so bloated at present to defy any possibility of increased redundancy.

    I venture to say that for such an approach to work in practice, the relationship between federal grants to provinces and remittance of excess revenue from provinces to federal coffers must be strictly codified so as to address institutional inequities. The EU model of measuring need by income (nations/regions earning <75% EU-Mean annual income qualify) and aid delivery by infrastructure (water, electrical, road, telecom, port, etc.) seems to be working very well in economies like Spain, Greece and Ireland. Establishment of some such formal mechanism for long term equality of opportunity seems a fair trade for the ease of adopting existing Provincial boundaries and demographics as a basis for devolution.

    This does however raise another issue which is the role and responsibility of customary and/or tribal authorities within, alongside or superseding provincial jurisdiction. Is there a blanket policy which can be universally applied to all such relationships, or would, for example, complications arise from tribal boundaries extending within two or more provincial territories? This is tied into policies on land governance and tenure, and above all needs to be clear and predictable for the grassroots economy to grow.

    I am a bit concerned that the emphasis of discourse over ministerial or provincial governance appears to be on the role of executives rather than career civil servants or elected legislatures. Seeking representation from the charismatic executive is a recipe for disappointment in my experience. Successful democracies are based on citizens who seek redress for grievances as one voice among many peers, relying upon justice through systemic process not through allegiance to temporal power. Provincial governors should be checked and even directed by provincial legislatures, likewise political patronage should not be allowed to supersede meritocracy within civil service ministries.

    As for the secessionist movements, I just don't see it as likely that any other nation would want to accept a breakaway part of Zambia. Not only does the UN membership frown on any changes in international boundaries anywhere, but as I have tried to describe to Pacific Rim Americans and Asians, this is the part of Africa that even the British empire couldn't swallow. I can't imagine the Namibians wanting any part of Western (or any more border with Angola than they already have). I can't imagine any of Zambia's neighbors deciding that what they really need is another patch of underdeveloped land populated by poor, dissatisfied people. Okay, Mugabe maybe, but only because I never know what he is going to do next, and seldom understand what he did last.

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  26. Yakima,

    This does however raise another issue which is the role and responsibility of customary and/or tribal authorities within, alongside or superseding provincial jurisdiction. Is there a blanket policy which can be universally applied to all such relationships, or would, for example, complications arise from tribal boundaries extending within two or more provincial territories? This is tied into policies on land governance and tenure, and above all needs to be clear and predictable for the grassroots economy to grow.

    It would not only extend across provinces, but across countries as well.

    A remedy would be to redraw national boundaries, but even if all countries agreed, there would still be significant minorities within each province.

    Therefore, the best alternative I can think of is to make the most relevant representation (education, healthcare, policing, public amenities, town planning) extremely local. This would take a lot of the punch out of anything secessionists would have to offer.

    As for the secessionist movements, I just don't see it as likely that any other nation would want to accept a breakaway part of Zambia.

    I'm not talking about any neighbouring state invading and taking for instance Western Province directly. I'm talking about (hypothetically) Western Province breaking away from Zambia, and then supporting secessionist movements in Namibia or Angola. In the process of suppressing such a movement, Angola or Namibia could invade to secure it's border - and then not leave.

    Look at the example of Iraqi Kurdistan. A nearly independent Iraqi Kurdistan is giving support to the PKK in Turkey. Now Turkey is this close to going to war with Iraq.

    All I am saying, is that making such the provinces more powerful and better funded could have unintended consequences for both other provinces and the state it is a part of. Especially when there are already people talking about secession (see this article).

    And for Western Province, fill in any province. Doesn't Copperbelt have a lot more in common with Shaba Province, as they are both part of the same mining area? And isn't there already resentment that money is leaving their area (see this article)?

    And I am not saying anything of this will happen. However, as we devolve power and money away from the center, it should be done in such a way that it effectively delivers services to the people, rather than to local elites.

    Also, I'm partly playing devil's advocate with regards to a stronger role for the provinces. Just knocking the idea around and seeing where it leads, so to speak.

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  27. "The EU model of measuring need by income (nations/regions earning <75% EU-Mean annual income qualify) and aid delivery by infrastructure (water, electrical, road, telecom, port, etc.) seems to be working very well in economies like Spain, Greece and Ireland" - Yakima

    Works well for Irish, Spanish but not for the British!

    In theory the model could work at the national level, but some improvement would be needed beyond the EU mechanical model.

    The problem with EU structural fund is that poor regions subsidises inefficient ones. There are some regions for example which for deep structural reasons simply cannot be developed e.g. peripheral regions. The structural funds model just pours more and more money there without adequate return.

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