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Friday, 19 October 2007

Corruption Wars - Part 3 (Corruption & The Press)

President Mwanawasa during his address to the Institute of Directors [IOD] on Corruption and Corporate Governance observed:
“Government officials cannot corrupt themselves, but are assisted by business people….The Government alone cannot, therefore, fight and win the war against corruption in our country. The IOD and its members must join hands with the Government in combating the vice"
His statement raises an interesting question of just who is to blame for corruption, and therefore who is best placed to resolve the problem. I have always believed that businesses are motivated by profit and simply respond to the incentives put before them. The power lies at the door of government. Regular readers of New Zambia will be aware of the many incentives we have talked about that reduce corruption. But I thought in light of the President’s observation, I should point out the reverse – some things that governments actually do that encourage corruption. For it is there that the blame lies.

One of the things that encourage corruption is excessive legislation. The graphs above are from a recent paper by Gonzalez et al which shows the relationship between graft and various measures of excessive regulation. Svenson (2005) also found similar evidence, showing that a number of days to open a business (as a measure of excessive legislation) positively encourage corrupt activities. Its well know of course that one of the things that encourages informality and keeps small firms from developing is excessive legislation. The only way for them to keep doing business is through illegal activities, since becoming formal would lead to higher taxes and other forms of excessive requirements.

Another well known factor that encourages corruption is poor institutional environment. Where accountability of Government officials is limited, we are likely to see more corruption. A previous blog Corruption Wars makes the same point.

But the most obvious is government dominated press. A free press provides greater information than a government controlled press to the public on government and public sector misbehaviour including corruption. The best way to encourage corruption therefore is to ensure Government owns the television and owns the main newspaper. Daniel Kauffman has an interesting presentation on this. You can access it here.

The questions for Zambians is whether we think government has done enough to address the three key areas highlighted above. International surveys on
governance and business regulation seem to point the finger at the government. And of course there’s the obvious elephant of in the room – government owned press. All roads to fighting corruption lead back to government.

30 comments:

  1. Cho,
    In order to create a good institutional environment, there has to be ample legislation, but how much is excessive legislation? We put law makers to make regulations for us and if we think they do too much of that, well, too bad. Legislated regulations are a good guide to doing business. As long as one meets all the laws on the books and the books of accounts are legitimately balanced, whatever personal profits one gets beyond that is NOT illegal. At that point, it becomes a question of conscience and good judgement and that is too subjective to even think about discussin.

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  2. You have hit the nail on the head. We are assailed: by statutory instruments creeping stealthily upon us without one iota of civil society input, by bills which turn into atrocious, illogical bites into the civil liberty corpus, by the contempt which the political establishment has for those same laws, cherry picking that which suits their purpose and ignoring that which does not, by the misuse of the state security apparatus to stifle dissent and whistleblowing, by the expulsion of investors who don't toe the line. And the debt starts once more to build, and almost without exception the donors, complicit in what is happening, look the other way. Where are the poor now to turn.

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  3. "by the misuse of the state security apparatus to stifle dissent and whistleblowing" - i.p.a manning

    There's no better example of this than Shakafuswa's latest comments which can be found here . I quote:

    “As government, we have eyes that see through bedrooms and we know what skeletons people have, we even know the outspoken bishops who have children but I will not mention them. They are running homes; they shouldn't say they are willed by God because they are men of the flesh. You all know what happened to archbishop Pius Ncube (Zimbabwean archbishop).”

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  4. "In order to create a good institutional environment, there has to be ample legislation, but how much is excessive legislation?" - Fitty_ngwee

    Two assumption you have made that are worth untangling...

    1. Legislation is a PRECONDITION to good institutional environment. ('has to be' - is your phrase)

    2. Good institutional environment rely on the QUANTITY of legislation ('plenty' - is the word).

    In so far as institutions embody traditions and practices (e.g. convention) within organisations, as well as rules that govern these organisations I would say legislation may not necessarily be a precondition but is likely to be vital. Remember legislation on its own without enforcement is meaningless. There has to be political will to ensure that the full legalities are adhered to. And that is where convention and traditions come in, and help reinforce that will over time!

    The other point you must remember is what is termed by "good institutions". In some respect this could mean adaptable and changing over time. Written legislations are exactly the opposite and in some sense could even weaken institutions over time!

    Your second point relates to QUANTITY. That you need plenty of laws to make institutions work. I would say QUALITY is more important. And as I have said above, more legislation could make the system more rigid over time. The law of diminishing returns does indeed apply to many things!

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  5. In order to defeat corruption, rogue journalism should be defeated first

    There is one thing that makes corruption so insidious and difficult to fight in Zambia. And I write from personal experience. Journalists are some of the most corrupt people and yet they are supposed to be the whistleblowers.

    I first heard of Chiluba's apartments in Belgium from someone I worked with in a state run newspaper. He was told by SP Mulenga about the apartments. Mulenga, because of his real estates business experience, was the one that was sent to purchase the apartments for Chiluba, which Mwanawasa came to seize.

    But journalist's hands were tied, because he was being bribed by SP Mulenga and Chiluba himself. The other thing is, even those of us who would have liked to write the story, there was nowhere to publish it at the time having worked for state newspaper.

    In short, most politicians do not represent their constituencies, but a clique of corrupt journalists and a few others they reward with cash, or promotions or political appoints for protecting them from scrutiny. The only way the war on corruption could be won in Zambia is by privatizing the public media--Times of Zambia, Daily Mail and ZNBC.

    If rogue journalism is defeated, then there will be hope that journalists will represent the public and not their pockets. The media is now full of state agents spying on independent thinkers within the media, those who refuse to compromise their professional ethics.

    It is a problem that not too many people understand. It is basically the reason why newspapers have been turned into photo albums and diaries for politicians. And the public is not stupid, it stopped reading a long time ago.

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  6. Nkhula21,

    I agree totally that privatisation of the media is the best way forward for fighting corruption.
    But its interesting that you see the independent media as above reproach! I actually see the opposite! Free press does not necessarily mean good press!

    It seems to me the quality of independent papers is actually poor.
    Although I contend that Daily Mail and Times should be free of Government hands and have a more free rein, my hope is that they would bring much needed competition in the "free media". I have often found the Times editorials to be more well researched than the Post editorials for example. Unfortunately, the Times editorials suffer from "credibility problem". My hope is that with the Times independent people can actually start reading the paper and give it the same level of credibility that they may wrongly ascribe to supposed independent papers!

    The other point is that I find the Post dominance in "free press" equally bad for Zambia's democracy. While the blog focuses on Government induced corruption through owning the press, we must not forget that democratic ideals are just as vulnerables to the whims of individuals who own papers.

    Government has a responsibility to ensure that we have a "free press" that is a genuinely free and not simply run by individuals or businesses pursuing specific agendas. The best way to do this by encouraging competition in the free press by selling the Daily and Times to different owners.

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  7. murray.sanderson21 October 2007 at 18:48

    Murray says...

    Several important causes of corruption have been mentioned, but with one major exception - DELAYS.

    Bureaucratic delays are caused, not by business employees or by private individuals, but by government officials.When the retiree applies for a pension or the vehicle owner for a registration certificate, the interminable delays to which they are commonly subjected are the sole responsibility of government.

    How can delays be combated? It is not easy. But much could be done by advertising the period within which applications must be processed, by giving applicants a written record of each visit made, and by encouraging them to report undue delays to certain specified officials. Officers in charge should be required to maintain records of the time taken to process various types of application, and should be commended or reprimanded on this aspect of their performance.

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  8. it's amzing that we still dream that a private or gov. free media will solve some of the corrupt practices.

    as for me even if you made CNN our voice,the point is whose ears are going to be listening to reason?

    how many zambians can be objective or knowing which is propanganda, bad journalism what you write is interesting but one BIG factor is the literate level in zambian is low.

    politicians even laugh at the so called academicians because they are so stupid that they fail to realise numbers they are dealing with.

    tell zambians something sensible or academic and watch how a thug is going to draw crowds?

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  9. Do not underestimate the intelligence of Zambians. By the way literacy levels are 76 percent in Zambia. Zambians know issues, they can read between the lines.

    Remember it was Zambians denied Chiluba a third term. Chiluba bribed a group of journalists to help stay in power, but Zambians said no.

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  10. Cho,
    I did not mean to say the private media is better. I wrote from my experience in the public media. The Post earned its reputation on the premise of investigative journalism, and comprehensive and concise writing. The paper is currently different, mainly reporting the same stories that the Times and Daily Mail carry, that is stories from "scheduled assignment," or politicians meetings or "interviews". You are actually right, the Times editorial, and not stories or feature articles, remains the best written, though its credibility remains in question because of political interference.


    Privatizing the media will encourage competition. When newspapers or television stations competes, it is the readers who benefit, and democracy in general. Currently, there is no critical thnking, what you see in the newspapers is opinions of politicians which go unchallenged. We are still in the age of "He said, She said." But what is the truth? It is that part that is missing.

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  11. I think there are several factors involved. Corruption thrives where there is lack of political will to stem corrupt activities. Journalist have a moral reponsibility to be ethical and convey the truth. Both politicians and journalists may not adhere to their principles depending on the situation. I do not want to go into too much analysis here, but I think there is a third way.

    Individuals can get involved in reporting and highlighting issues that affect them. As the numbers increase so does the influence of the masses. If politicians and journalists fail, it is up to each one of us who get affected by these corrupt practices to stand up and challenge them. It can be done, it has been done in so many other places. We can always rely on the international community whenever our rifhts are violated.

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  12. “How can delays be combated? It is not easy. But much could be done by advertising the period within which applications must be processed, by giving applicants a written record of each visit made, and by encouraging them to report undue delays to certain specified officials” - Murray

    Totally agree.
    When such delays occur in critical areas, they have a double effort. They encourage corruption and at the same time discourage business activity.
    The solution as you say is devising systems that report such delay and monitor.
    e-government is buzz word!

    “Do not underestimate the intelligence of Zambians. By the way literacy levels are 76 percent in Zambia. Zambians know issues, they can read between the lines.” - Anonymous

    The point is that with a competitive media machine, we can even have better information to make their decisions on. Yes, we do well given the current constraints, but we can even do better if we had better media!

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  13. A competitive media would surely help. It appears The Post have stopped feeling the need to improve. At this point, they should diversify their staff; hire economists, doctors, lawyers, etc to be doing regular work for them. M'membe being all of the above, especially with his emotional biases makes what is supposed to be a becon of excellence in broadcasting in central Africa so mediocre.

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  14. The media's role is not only to shape socioeconomic or political debate in a country. By keeping government accountable, it creates an aura of expose`, which embarasses the government whenever there is a scandal. When outsiders watch or read, the government is under pressure to correct its ills, and it is ordinary people who benefit.

    By the way friends, I would like to introduce you to the website I edit; www.integritynewz.com. it is not launched yet,we are still doing some work on it.

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  15. Nkhula21,

    The site looks very good! Is it meant to be an economic / financial portal on Africa? Is it going to pick up information on african market trades?
    Let me know when it is up and running and I'll URL it here.


    Fitty,

    Do you think the state has deliberately helped maintain the Post's dominance in order to control the agenda?

    Or is the Post's dominance in free press accidental?

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  16. I think the Post has become the most dominant paper in Zambia because of its past reputation. I think currently people read it for nostalgia for what once was.There is no alternative anyway.

    I am just suspicious of how cozy the Post has become with the Mwanawasa government.

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  17. Cho,
    Yes, I am in discussion with Reuters, they will provide live market feeds from Johannesburg Stock Exchange. From the rest of sub Saharan Africa it is not possible to get live feeds. They have not reached that stage yet.

    However, we will get update market and general business news as it happens from across the continent.I hope we can make a difference and contribute to the transformation Africa is going through today.

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  18. Cho,

    I concur with Nkhula21 regarding The Post. They have earned the success they are enjoying right now, although they have stagnated since the time Chiluba was bidding for a third term. They need a full time doctor on the staff to be writing about HIV/AIDS issues. They need a full time economist to be interpreting the very dynamic Zambian economy. They need a full time lawyer to be commenting on the agreements Zambia signs. They need a lot of professionals on their staff. I read The Post just to get some laughs, such as Sata Vs China

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  19. Illiterate, Zambians are not and even if they were, there is such a strong interest in politics that most people in cities are able to get the information and make relatively informed decisions. However having campaigned last September for the Mwembeshi seat just 25 km west of Lusaka, I was again shocked as to how dark people's lives have become. There are no newspapers bar an irregular supply by a marketeer at Nampundwe Mine which lies on the edge of the constituency. Radio reception is confined to radio 1 and Radio Mazabuka which breaks down regularly. There is no tv reception because of the rather steep escarpment into town. The 20 Post newspapers I brought every day were torn away hungrily and I suspect became valuable commodities to wield in a society often too poor to afford batteries for radios. Not surprisingly therefore, despite a promising start, my efforts to enlighten the citizenry with practical ideas on how they could develop tourism and agriculture an area rich in wildlife, land, water and close enough to Lusaka to turn promises into reality were dashed by a destructive counter-campaign of fear, witchcraft and racism by the encumbent thug. By all very vocal accounts he had done nothing in his previous five years except sell a truck load of relief maize. So I think we need more than free press and efficient management of the newspapers, we need a new style of government with a fresh attitude of inclusion. Call me when you find such a gang!

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  20. Rolf,

    Maybe the locals weren't waiting for a white guy to deliver them from their 'dark lives' and 'enlighten' them.

    Maybe the 'local thug' was more in tune with where the people were at?

    Perhaps what is required is not an attitude of selfrighteousness, but an analysis of what is really going on.

    Maybe the people are more interested in agriculture than in wildlife conservation/tourism. How about setting up a few farms where people can make a living on a sustainable basis. Especially as the area you are talking about is so close to Lusaka - which would provide a ready market.

    There must be many herbs and flowers that can be grown and sold profitably in town.

    Check out saffron, which is the stigma of the saffron crocus or crocus sativa. They sell for 1550 UK pounds per kilo, and the flowers yield about 5 kilos per hectare. Most of the cost is in labour, which is extensive at 400 hours per kilo. It would yield 3,875 UK pounds per hour ($7,75 US).

    Other interesting spices are vanilla, from vanilla orchids.

    Teak can be grown for a more long term investment.

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  21. I would not normally bother to respond to such anonymous, prejudiced chip-on-the-shoulder reactions but perhaps I did sound a little self-righteous and you have made some practical suggestions at the end. Yes our focus was on agriculture as I did mention in my earlier contribution, a challenge as Sala wealth was kept in the cattle bank until the vet dept completely failed to control disease on the migratory plains and most of the cattle have died over the past 25 years. Young people are trying cultivation especially along the mwembeshi river bank but have little knowledge and no help from the "gx" club that call themselves ministry of ag. nor from the many donor projects that seem to be more interested in organising relief food. The rivers have silted up to the point where there is no flow except in high flood. Most of the dry land in Mwembeshi is not ideal for cropping being rocky in the east and clay to the south (most arable land towards Lusaka has been taken up by richer commercial farmers of all creed). And now that you mention conservation, yes the vegetation has become brittle through over burning and under-stocking and would struggle to support any normal stocking rate until this situation is reversed. Desert is a very real possibility. I relished the opportunity to expand sugar production with local farmers, as Kafue sugar employs almost no locals. Roads are appalling in Mwembeshi and minor ones haven't had any maintenance since 1962. Obviously this punishes marketing of what is produced. Women wait at Sibuyungi etc until 4.00am for lifts to City market to sell fresh produce- if they go earlier they get robbed.
    Of the 30 odd schools the average teacher pupil ratio is 100:1 and 50:1 for the classrooms. Average age is 37, $200 per capita income is probably ambitious from our surveys and there is almost no HIV-AIDS program. I helped one person to go through VCT in Kanyama and it turned into a 3 month 10 trip ordeal most would not afford. So my original point was that information to help most Zambians to make informed decisions is completely lacking. Perhaps if you send your suggestions to Hon Kasoka c/o Nat Ass. he will do something.ha ha
    Concerned (white, if you must) Zambian

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  22. Nkhula21,

    ”I think the Post has become the most dominant paper in Zambia because of its past reputation. I think currently people read it for nostalgia for what once was. There is no alternative anyway.”

    I don’t think the Post’s dominance is based on past reputation – people are able to make choices and know a good paper when they see one. Your second point is more likely. The lack of competition explains the Post.
    There are products there like the Times and Daily, which probably have better quality of editorials, but suffer from credibility problems and lack of effective web presence.

    This way I see it.
    Best Editorial: The Times
    Best News Coverage: Daily Mail
    Best Website: The Post

    If the Times and Daily Mail became independent I think they would give the post a run for the money.

    What is your opinion on the balance between television and newspaper in shaping public opinion? It strikes me that more Zambians watch television which is Government owned than read papers. Is ZNBC therefore the real elephant not Daily Mail and Times?


    ”Yes, I am in discussion with Reuters, they will provide live market feeds from Johannesburg Stock Exchange. From the rest of sub Saharan Africa it is not possible to get live feeds. They have not reached that stage yet.”

    I thought a new exchange was being planned for the rest of the continent (excluding RSA)?

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  23. Fitty,

    Yes, some of the debates are funny!
    Especially when Mulongoti or Shakafuswa are quoted!

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  24. Rolfshenton,

    ”I think we need more than free press and efficient management of the newspapers, we need a new style of government with a fresh attitude of inclusion.”

    You are absolutely right in tackling under development you need more than free press! However, in tackling corruption, the original subject matter, free press is cardinal. There’s a broader question of course whether tackling corruption is necessary in fighting under development – my current view is that corruption is somewhat overrated as a problem – I touch on this issue in corruption wars

    Now on “fresh attitude” – your emphasis seems to point to good character and vision as the solution for saving us from the current predicament. But as you point out, just where does one find these individuals? And more crucially, how do you get them to be involved in development?

    Here is my take on this. I think we can all accept that Zambia has good selfless intelligent individuals, the issue is how do you get these individuals involved? How do we make the good emerge from a large pool of the bad politicians? This is where the clarifying power of economics becomes so useful. Good economics as Professor Nicholas Stern once said is about "incentives" and "policies aimed at realigning those incentives". In my view there's a minimum level of policies that are necessary to aid the 'natural selection' of the 'good bunch' from a greater 'bad bunch'. However, this assumption immediately creates a paradox or vicious cycle - you need some initial institutional policies that encourage these selfless individuals to be involved who'll then deliver other development related policies, but to have the initial institutional policies you must have some selfless individuals who make them happen! I have no answer to this paradox but I would say we should concentrate our efforts on finding some initial institutional policies because it is a more objective target.

    We should initially focus 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. So my rallying call to the Zambian intellectual community is let's get the institutions sorted out (starting with a new constitution, organisations that taps into Zambian expertise abroad, etc) and everything will begin to fall into place. But obviously that very process is not so straightforward given the vicious circularity discussed above.

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  25. Cho
    Appologies for tainting your good forum with unprofessional conduct.

    At the moment the constitutional process is being railroaded again and whatever forum people agree on, it will be a partisan affair used to deal with immediate battles such as the thrust of MMD's 1995/6 focus was to keep KK out of the race. How do we win the bigger war against disenfranchisment and really get people power working?

    1) The value of the internet as an alternative and more international forum is perhaps a key to beating the corrupted information flow system. There are internet cafes all over Zambia already for instance, at least 2 internet cafes in Mkushi, in Serenje and two in Mkpika. Zambians buy cell phones before they buy food! combine these two with independent tv and community radio and you have a way of breaking the monopoly and chnage. With a little help, the voice of the average Zambian even in rural areas could be channeled onto the internet through sms, emails, blogs and even camera phone interviews from are not impossible from the deepest bush. This would sharpen the blunt madia axe.
    2) Litigation: Zambia has so many good laws in fact the bad ones could be counted on two hands, sometimes just a clause can completely water down a good law: ACC for instance was a state of the art institution but the clause requiring public office processcutions to be vetted by the president negates the whole thing and in fact makes ACC a useful oppression tool for him.
    Someone needs to find money to support challenges, both private and class actions. Again on the internet forum much of the expertise needed could be accessed for free. Once people realise they have a law to protect them the sky is the limit and combined with putting everything in the limelight .....hmm
    Expose the donor complicity in supporting bad governance, expose public servant abuse, and most importantly get a direct feed back from the majority so that investments are targeted to stimulate growth and not big man's pipedreams

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  26. CHO
    ***********************************
    What is your opinion on the balance between television and newspaper in shaping public opinion? It strikes me that more Zambians watch television which is Government owned than read papers. Is ZNBC therefore the real elephant not Daily Mail and Times
    ***********************************

    I think many people watch television than they read newspapers because watching is easier than reading.

    I learnt in journalism that the advantage publications have over electronic media is the fact that people could read one article repeatedly until they digest the subject, while a news clip will go and, in the case of ZNBC, if you missed the main news you may never see the same news again. But how many people want to read an article severally?

    There is a counter argument especially in the information age about the impact television images have on the mind of a human being. Images we see on television are usually indelibly etched in our memory. If you had access to CNN for example, you still can picture the live images of Kabila matching into Kinshansa with his army to overthrow Mobutu, or, though most of us were young at the time, the Berlin Wall tumbling in 1990, or Nelson Mandela being released out of prison.

    In Zambia's case however, there is only one television channel, that is ZNBC. The last time I was in Zambia in 1999, I had problems watching television after having lived abroad. I often found myself with the remote trying to change channels, only to realize there was no such a thing out there if you had no MNET. Not too many can afford cable television, and cable tv does not report local news anyway. It is good for kids who want to watch P.Diddy, or Snoopy and the likes, or adults interested in world news.

    People watch ZNBC because that is all there is. You cannot purchase a television and let it gather dust because you do not like the news, or programs generally. I think the common man has learnt to live with what is there, ZNBC, and not only for news, but for entertainment as well, television drama, for local and foreign, for instance.

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  27. Rolf,

    I'm just saying that you win over more people with sugar than with vinegar. That's all. Now to the substance.

    Young people are trying cultivation especially along the mwembeshi river bank but have little knowledge and no help from the "gx" club that call themselves ministry of ag.

    Which is why local people shouldn't be depending on the ministry, but such information should be available from the local council. Which is why I think 50% of national revenues should be paid out directly to local councils by the ZRA.

    Most of the dry land in Mwembeshi is not ideal for cropping being rocky in the east and clay to the south (most arable land towards Lusaka has been taken up by richer commercial farmers of all creed).

    This requires a two-fold answer.

    1) It is possible to turn poor soil into rich soil, using sustainable agriculture methods. I suggest checking out Keyline Designs, by the late Australian PA Yeomans.

    http://www.keyline.com.au/ad1ans.htm (Yeomans Keyline Designs)
    http://www.keyline.com.au/liqasset.htm (What is Keyline?)

    Keyline boasts of increasing humus formation by a factor of 100.

    If you take a crop that can grow on poor soil, over a couple of years, you can build enough humus to expand to other crops. Especially if you increase the supply of water, through rainwater catchment and restocking areas.

    Hemp (for instance) would need little pesticides and only a little fertilizer (which can be home made). It's roots, leaves and stems can provide humus. Also, it can be made into fiber, which can them be used to make clothes, paper, rope, cardboard, etc.

    2) Clay soil. Irish potatoes are ideal for heavy (clay) soils, as their roots have a tendency to loosen up the soil, making more root space available for other crops as well. Root crops also give a higher yield per hectare than grains. I would say the Dutch did pretty well, growing potatoes on extremely heavy clay soils. (Most of the agricultural land in the west is heavy sea clay.) Clay happens to be extremely nutricious to crops.

    The fact that a soil is clay shouldn't be a hindrance to agriculture.

    And now that you mention conservation, yes the vegetation has become brittle through over burning and under-stocking and would struggle to support any normal stocking rate until this situation is reversed.

    Isn't that really a function of overuse, because too little land is actually available to local people? It sounds more like an issue of land ownership and the need for a fair distribution of land.

    Also, my guess is there is little attention to rainwater catchment areas, so the supply of water is more evenly distributed across the year.

    Every time I hear of floods, I can't help thinking - why aren't there ponds and depressions made available to catch excess water? And use it for agricultureu for the rest of the year?

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  28. Friends, I must confess I am impressed with the quality of debate here. You are great minds. But one thing I need to remind you is the fact this level of free thinking is not allowed in Zambia. If we were meeting somewhere in Lusaka to discuss these issues, we would have long been discredited by the media, if not the politicians themselves. If you remained unyielding, they would have picked on the "ring leader", in this case Cho, scandalized him with the sole purpose of impugning his integrity. I have seen it all.

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  29. rolfshenton,

    Not to worry! I am very interested in agriculture..so I am following your insightful exchange with MrK with close interest!

    On the question ”How do we win the bigger war against disenfranchisement and really get people power working?”. I agree with your assessment. I think the role of ICT in empowering people to have a voice through more information is crucial. I have also been encouraged by the development of independent televisions in Lusaka. In time these should spread to other provinces. Local radio stations are also on the march as you say, albeit with occasional attempts to force them to toll a certain agenda. We have one or two cases where Government pressure has led to firing of certain individuals in supposedly independently owned media outlets.

    That said, the Government of course is unwittingly encouraging these positive processes. Both the National ICT Draft Policy and the proposed ICT Bill should contribute to this gradual rebalancing towards people power. The proposed ICT bill especially should have tremendous impact on the efficiency of the telecommunications sector, hopefully breaking ZAMTEL’s inefficiency, as CAZ assumes the role of economic regulators. That should bodes well for both mobile access and the spread of internet access in rural areas.

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  30. Khula21,

    ”In Zambia's case however, there is only one television channel, that is ZNBC.”

    As rolfshenton points out that there are one or two independent channels. For example Muvi TV, currently broadcasting only in Lusaka. Now with internet access of course, you can access news for free online!

    Its not uncommon now to see a piece of video footage from rural Zambia make its way to youtube!


    ”But one thing I need to remind you is the fact this level of free thinking is not allowed in Zambia.”

    Lol!

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