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Saturday, 24 November 2007

Quote of the week (Prof Clive Chirwa)

“I am not saying that I will be the one that will be adopted. But the thing is that I have declared interest and that interest will have…like in any other democracy, there are votes which will be cast and hence I’ll prepare myself, present my portfolio, present my case, present my vision, present my capabilities and present my solutions to the problems. And then if somebody feels I am the person to be chosen in a democracy, then I will be grateful indeed......I want to contest the 2011 presidential elections on the MMD ticket. No problem at all, I will win.........I have been exposed to a lot of problems which I’ve participated in their solutions. And the 21st century is all about Zambia moving a step further, so much further than where we are now. Why should we be poor when we are one of the richest countries in the world.......Those are the issues which I think people do not see in Zambia. But they can see that when you are looking from the outside, you can see much better. So that is why I believe that I am not the single one person but I believe that when the contest begins, people will understand that there is only one person who can deliver these developments and take us out of poverty, and that will be me.....I’m currently out but in 2009, I will be back for good. At the moment, I will be coming back every three months like I am doing now......”

Prof Clive Chirwa [The Post 23/11/2007]

Prof Clive Chirwa now has the distinction of being the first person to ever engineer party membership in September and declare as a presidential candidate, for a long established party, two months later. That aside, what is important is that now that he has declared himself a candidate, he has also opened himself up to deeper scrutiny. Zambians must not be afraid to examine his thoughts and ideas. We must begin to ask the fundamental questions - what are his views on the pressing issues facing our nation i.e. poor health, poor management of strategic industries and weak institutions? What does are his views on the role market and role of Government in taking Zambia forward? Does he have the right qualifications for the position of President? Does he have enough experience for the job? Is he free external influences? Does he really understand the problems of a poor grandmother in Samfya living on less than $1 a day and looking after 20 orphans, because all her daughters died of HIV? These questions are even more important for Prof Chirwa, since like many of us he is not in Zambia everyday.

Update (24/11/2007):

The response from the party hierachy has been swift and decisive. In a quote that is a close contender for "quote of the week":

“We have a structure to follow in MMD. You don’t just come from nowhere and say I want to become the party president and later lead the nation. I sit on the MMD national executive committee (NEC) and there has been no time the committee discussed Prof Chirwa and his joining of MMD.....I am afraid, this man (Prof Chirwa) will be politically bruised. This is a political game he is involving himself in. People will reap him off all the money he has worked for as a Professor and later he will even fail to go back to Britain......Yes, he may be well educated. But politics are different from academic qualifications. In politics you don’t need to brag. Politics will terminate his education and become a nobody within a short period of time. It is very normal and this is what is happening in the Zambian politics and Africa at large...”

Lameck Mangani [The Post 24/11/2007]

8 comments:

  1. Hello everyone. Have been reading a lot on Zambia and I'm becoming more confused then ever. I'm doing a research as part of my group project on China's mining in Zambia. Basically I need to build a pro or con position on China's contribution to Zambia's economic development. It's an ethics class, so I need to find an ethical dilemma, if you will. At first, when I started, I was against China's mining business, due to the violation of humanitarian rights..but then I started finding more information on the mess the World Bank and IMF have left behind. So now it seems that China's contribution is helping Zambia/Africa to pay off its debt. So who's unethical here? Thanks

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  2. Hi Natalya,

    At first, when I started, I was against China's mining business, due to the violation of humanitarian rights..

    And you still should be. Many people in Zambia are against China's treatment of workers and safety procedures - which are the same as in China, by the way.

    but then I started finding more information on the mess the World Bank and IMF have left behind.

    The IMF in the nineties and until today has been extremely ideological. They seem to be striving for a world that is neoliberal, with free rein for the corporations to move factories or allocate capital to any part of the globe they choose.

    They have coerced the government of the day into privatising the mines, which means that they are now all in foreign hands, and that the Zambian state and economy are seeing practically nothing of the $4 billion(US) Zambia exports in copper and cobalt every year. (By comparison, the government's budget was $1.7 billion in 2004 - $1.1 billion from taxes, and $0.6 billion from 'donor aid'.)

    Because - and we are guessing at this - either corruption and/or incompetence, as well as IMF strong arm tactics (they were on their way to blow up the government by actually withholding $530 million from the government's budget), the mining agreements were signed in a way that the people or state do not benefit from the country's natural resources.

    That is why 70% of the people live on less than $1,- per day, infrastructure is crumbling and agriculture and manufacturing are not being developed.

    Zambia has plenty of highly educated individuals, mining engineers and people who could and should be running it's institutions. Most of them from the pre-neoliberal era, making use of 'socialist' era institutions that ensured universal education and healthcare. Something the neoliberal crowd (including at the IMF) 'don't believe in'.

    Neoliberals and freemarketeers take the institutions they use every day for granted.

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  3. Cho,

    In many countries, as was the case once in Zambia, there is a separation between the head of state, and the head of government.

    This melding of the two positions has not only given too much power to the remaining presidential position, but basic conflicts in the role itself.

    The Presidency should be ceremonial, and the actual leading of the government should be left to a professional politician.

    That politician should be ably assisted by a profesional civil service, free of political appointments.

    I see an individual like Clive Chirwa as a Prime Minister, rather than a ceremonial head of state. At the same time, the President should be someone who can repreent and bring together the entire nation on the big issues of the day.

    Just a few thoughts.

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  4. Natalya,

    Your questions are most welcome and your confusion quite common (I'm not sure I even know where all the pieces are yet, let alone how they fit together). MrK's comments are steering you in the right direction I think, in that it is important to know from whose perspective you are trying to judge the involvement of Chinese mining companies on Zambian soil. What I mean is that if your group's mission is to evaluate the ethics of China's efforts to secure mineral rights in Africa (and/or specifically copper in Zambia), then the terms in which the actual mining activity is judged may be different than if you are evaluating China's efforts to secure copper rights in Zambia.

    Human rights abuses aside (and that is a big aside I realize, however those are always wrong, and so have no particular bearing on the finer points of ethical discourse), taken from the perspective of the development agenda of 1.2 billion Chinese citizens, there is really nothing wrong with what Chinese companies are doing in Zambia beyond what is being done by any other mineral extraction operation in the nation under the current agreements. I would be interested to hear a Chinese justification for their current conformist role in light of the Boxer Rebellion and their own Marxist response to colonialism.

    Taken from the perspective of the Zambian people whose plight is obvious to any but the most casual observer, the Chinese are simply taking advantage of the same legacy of government corruption, debt, and capitulation to the colonial flavor of the month that the rest are. There is residual good feeling towards the Chinese from decades ago when the rest of the world had its back turned, and they built the railroad (unfortunately it is still the railroad) allowing exports through Tanzania, but that is rapidly eroding in the face of Chinese immigrants behaving in classic concentration and adherence patterns which are nonetheless alien and threatening in the Zambian context of immigration as part and parcel of colonization. This climate, coupled with media coverage of some preventable tragedies and seeming indifference from management, has resulted in a somewhat brighter spotlight being cast upon the mining companies of Chinese origin operating in Zambia. If your emphasis is on China, then this datum point is probably important.

    If your emphasis is on Zambia's relationship with the mining companies of various origin currently operating within her boundaries, then the Chinese companies serve as more of an example of how egalitarian the democratic government has been in allowing nations of all continents to place their own concerns ahead of those of the Zambian people when it comes to access to the nation's natural resources. From this perspective the fault lies not with the Chinese, who are simply doing the best they can for themselves, or their families, or their nation, the fault lies squarely on the shoulders of Zambian leaders who have failed to find a way to use that which enriches other nations to enrich their own.

    I think it may be important to note that Zambia's debt is not being paid off. Much of the principal on decades-old debt has now been forgiven (with the exception of that which was snagged by vulture funds, another enlightening area of research) after decades of often crippling maintenance interest payments, and as much as possible of the active debt has been transferred to domestic banks (with its own constricting effect on domestic enterprise capital), as per IMF/WB conditions. The government is however still running an after-grant budget deficit, which is projected to grow further in coming years. Copper is at an all time high, and Zambian production is scheduled to more than double from a few short years ago into the realm of 1M+ tonnes/year within the next couple of years (on a confirmed reserve base of 35M, i.e. a little less time to empty the copper mines than the current 37y life expectancy). Government has undergone massive privatizations, with hundreds of state and parastatal companies being sold off wholesale in the nineties, with commensurate budget cuts, however the State cannot pay for its operations from its current revenues.

    In a nation where a farmer cannot claim ownership over the land farmed by countless generations of his ancestors, because it belongs to the whole State, a foreign company can lay claim to legal ownership of the irreplaceable minerals extracted from the land (in a manner that leaves the land in question unsuitable for anything else) and keep 99.4% of their market value. That is the central ethical dilemma surrounding the means by which metals are leaving Zambia on their way to the world market.

    Natalya, I do not wish to rant at you, I'd like to be helpful. Please ask for whatever specifics you need, I suspect that there is some sort of time constraint on your project. I only hope that you will not lose interest in Zambia once your project is done, as she has much more to offer than ethical quandries over mineral extraction policies.

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  5. OK, if I may go back to Prof. Chirwa. I like his confidence, I like his poise, and I like his innocence and childly manner in which he dares to declare his candidacy in spite of Dr. Mwanawasa's ban on the talks of his successor. There's one part of me saying Prof. Chirwa has been outside of Zambia so long that he can not tell that what he is doing right now is wrong or right, politically speaking. Then again, there's another side of me saying this man has done his homework with unequivocal attention to detail that nearly nothing will catch him unawares. I am still analysing Prof. Chirwa, but he seems to have the potential to be the real middle of the isle leader that can take all undecided votes and more from PF, MMD, UPND and all other small mom and pop parties. I realise I am a little to quick to annoint him savior, but he appears like a more refined Mazoka; Mazoka without an obvious tribal bias. Prof. Chirwa is scheduled to meet a chief in southern province this week and another in north western shortly thereafter. His moves seem very calculated. In westrn province, Prof. Chirwa will court Sakwiba and the Litunga, and they will listen to him. In the north, he's going to win the favor of Chief Kazembe and Chiti-Mukulu. In the east, Mpezeni and co. will listen to whatever Chiti advises. Hichilema will have no option but to play nice to Prof. Chirwa and hope he gets appointed minister of finance, some day. Sakwiba Sikota should be Chirwa's VP and Nevers Mumba should be his mouth piece. Chirwa has bought my benefit of doubt with his first statements about his candidacy and the manner in which he delievered them. Let's wait and see...

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  6. Thank you everyone for you responses and I apologize for posting in this post, as it doesn't really relate to what I'm asking. I'm glad that I found this blog, as I was getting more confused by reading articles from US, China, England and so forth. I live in Washington DC, where the World Bank and IMF have been building people's perception on China's mining business in Africa. IMF and World Banks accuses Chinese Banks of being "unethical" because the banks are financing mining (and other projects, but for right now my focus is mining) projects that WB/IMF would never fund because it would violate the Equator Principles. However, Zambia's government prefers loans from China, because of the "no stings" attached concept. So as Yakima pointed out "Zambian leaders who have failed to find a way to use that which enriches other nations to enrich their own"...
    So since I'm emphasizing on the economic development (the rest of the group has environmental, people of Africa and land development areas) , I need to focus on the big picture. I agree, China should not be the only country that should be under the microscope, but they are the ones blowing up in the media now days. I also don't see IMF/World Banks and China REALLY working together to promote "ethical" ways of doing mining in Africa.
    I don't plan on losing interest in Zambia after my project is complete, because the organization I work for, will be playing a part in standing up AFRICOM in the next fall to come. I will make it my goal to become one of the country program mangers in AFRICOM, so I can be more involved in this unfortunate situation then just from a school assignment perspective.
    Again, sorry to post in the wrong place...and thank you all for the work you do!

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  7. Natalya,

    Here is a website that might be useful when you are looking into the IMF and ethical conflicts:

    http://www.50years.org/institutions/index.html

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  8. Natalya et al,

    I think this pretty much sums up the propaganda:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7086777.stm

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