Find us on Google+

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Open Thread - NCC Allowances

Some interesting comments / reports on the National Constitution Conference (NCC) allowances in the media this week. The Post on saturday reported the extent of the proposed allowances:

The NCC delegates are entitled to a sitting allowance of K500,000 persitting and subsistence allowance of K650,000 per day. They are also entitled to transport allowance of K100,000 per day and transport refund of K300,000 for those who reside outside Lusaka.
The same article reported Caritas Zambia's opening shots on the matter led by the Executive Director Sam Mulafulafu:

"It is a shame that but now it [Government] has enough money to spoil those who are going to sit on the NCC...Caritas Zambia which is part of the Oasis Forum raised this concern of hefty allowances from the beginning of this debate and the Zambia Episcopal Conference even suggested that bodies being represented under the NCC should meet at least half the costs of their delegates.”

The Times reported Government's position, as articulated by Mike Mulongoti :

Chief Government Spokesperson, Mike Mulongoti, has defended the allowances for NCC delegates saying the Government wanted the participants to find suitable accommodation, transport and other logistics during the conference......Speaking on a live ZNBC radio programme, Mr Mulongoti said in Lusaka yesterday the allowances for NCC members could seem huge but Government did not want them to languish during their deliberations because the conference was a national event. He said that if Zambians felt that the allowances were too high, they should lobby the delegates to declare them as such instead of that coming from non- participants. Mr Mulongoti said the Government, in fact, lamented on the cost of enacting the Constitution but the same people now condemning the allowances said it was expensive to come up with the Constitution and that the Government had to bear the cost. He said the Government had so far done its part but it should not be blamed for answering the calls of the people on the matter.

Mission Press director Father Miha Drevensk has suggested that it is unpatriotic for people to get allowances for sitting on the NCC:

“NCC is not going to give Zambians a constitution, it is going to give President Mwanawasa a constitution. It is very unfortunate that those MPs, who have decided to go there, are just going there for their pockets, not for the people. They have been hooked by Mwanawasa......It is very disgraceful that they have accepted to attend NCC just for their pockets. They should have gone there out of their patriotism and be there free of charge......This is the worst plunder of national resources by the Mwanawasa government. I fully agree with Michael Sata to expel his MPs who have gone to the NCC".

Comment away. A few questions worthy of discussion:

  1. Some say that a new constitution is priceless - should Zambians be willing to pay any amount to achieve it?
  2. Is it unpatriotic for NCC delegates to accept the allowances or should they do it for free?
  3. Are we likely to get a better constitution when people are paid to sit on the NCC or simply a more costly (and probably worse) outcome?
  4. And what about the PF, should it expell its MPs who plan to attend the NCC, apparently for financial reasons?

15 comments:

  1. The NCC has brought alot of divisions instead of unifying the stakeholders. Just yesterday, we heard that Copperbelt University Students have passed a vote of no confidence in the Union officials who decided to register for the NCC contrary the students' resolution not to. Further, ULP has at the last minute changed their NCC representatives. Is it the hefty the allowances of about $300/day? i leave upto the reader to judge. On PF MPs, if their claim that constitution making is part of their manadate. Why then should they paid extra doing their normal duties? Why should they file a court injunction to protect them for doing what they claim is their role? On PF expulsions its estimated that an average bye-election costs K1 Billion. So expelling 24 MPs would cost us K24Billion through bye-elections. With this amount 3 high schools can be built! On allowances, each delegate will get about K200m if the NCC takes 6 months, over the expected 500 it totals to over K100 billion. With this amounts we can have aleast 2 small Universities built! Definetly this is waste of hard earned kwacha. Why spend such colossal sums of money on NCC delegates? What about the indirect staff? How much is been spent.If these delegates were the 1964 freedom fighters, Zambia wouldnt have got her independence. Some who might not even say anything during the whole settings! They are MPs that have not said anything for five years.Whom are they representing. Take out the hefty allowances and will see who will remain. I think Zambian politicians sholud be judged by their conduct and not their wild pronouncements!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hot Kay,

    The cost of expelling MPs would indeed be staggering!

    K24bn if not more...I mean this would be a mini election. The system was surely not designed for such events! It is most unfortunate.

    The problem PF faces now is that if they do not expell the MPs then basically the party would have no discipline. It is difficult to see a way forward on this.

    ReplyDelete
  3. 2. Is it unpatriotic for NCC delegates to accept the allowances or should they do it for free?

    Or would anyone show up? Have you seen any of the photographs in The Times recently? People look as if they have won the lottery. And I don't begrudge anyone winning the lottery, until you realize that this is the taxpayer's money they are throwing around, and that their votes are being bought by the MMD.

    Are we likely to get a better constitution when people are paid to sit on the NCC or simply a more costly (and probably worse) outcome?

    Let's remember that the NCC was called by the MMD instead of a constituent assembly.

    And what about the PF, should it expell its MPs who plan to attend the NCC, apparently for financial reasons?

    Tough question, because it would deliver a double victory to the MMD. First they are most likely to get a lot of new members from the PF. Secondly, they get to buy votes.

    It does make very clear who is in politics for the money though.

    I think the whole NCC should be scrapped, and the original constituent assembly should be used instead.


    http://maravi.blogspot.com/2007/06/what-are-we-waiting-for.html

    Laura Miti-Banda wrote back in June:

    When a couple of weeks ago, President Mwanawasa announced that the Mung’omba reviewed constitution will be adopted by a constituent assembly I felt a sense of deep anger.

    My first response to Mwanawasa’s statement was to think: of the overall amount of money that has been used by both government and civil society over the question of the adoption of the reviewed Republican Constitution were to be tallied, I wonder how much it would come to. Did it have to be spent as it was?

    You see Mwanawasa’s Presidency, will not be remembered for long but when it is, it will be for its scandalous wastefulness. President Mwanawasa must have known for a long time that, sooner or later, he was bound to give in to the popular demand for a constituent assembly.

    He, in fact, begun by saying all he needed was a confirmation from the people via the Mung’omba Commission that they wanted one and he would give it to them. Then he began to play games. “It’s not possible because of financial cost , he said, then it was, “its not possible because of legal impediments;” and even “ it’s not possible because I do not want it.”

    As he danced his merry jig around the issue, money this country can ill afford was being spent by civil society to gather the people’s voice and by Mwanawasa to counter it. The cost in time, labour and money has to be in the billions.

    And this is a cost that did not begin with the final battle over the constituent assembly. President Mwanawasa begun his presidency by refusing to review the constitution at all or is it trying to ignore the matter. The Oasis Forum and wider civil society had to spend lots of money to meet him at State House and garner public pressure for a review before he finally gave in.

    When he did, Levy, characteristically, set up the Constitution Review Commission in such a way that millions more would be spent by civil society in provincial forums to talk about the inquiries Act and why it was the wrong instrument to once again set up the CRC under. More money was to be spent in fights over the appointment process of commissioners.

    At each point, Levy had a choice to make. Take the easier, saner, less expensive road to serve the good of all or watch unconcerned as billions were poured down the drain over a battle that did not need to be fought. We shall not go into what those billions could have been used for either in the constitution review process itself or else in service provision.


    When you put together the fact that a) Mwanawasa didn't want a constitutional review with b) the extravagant waste of money through clearly overpaying the attendees, it is hard to avoid conclusion c) that money is being thrown around for the very purpose of influencing the outcome of what is now the NCC.

    And that is a whole new level of corruption and abuse of the public's money.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I can not think of a more pitiful waste of public funds, than these futile talkshops the Govt keeps hosting, all the time going in with a predetermined mindset not to accept the key recommendations made in the several constitution review commissions we've had a great cost to taxpayers. From the Mvunga, Mwanakatwe, Mung'omba commsisions to the national indaba in 2003 by the current Mwanawasa govt to this recent NCC, the Govt keeps dancing around the issues when push comes to shove.
    In the real world a secretary to an MP would have reviewed the recommenadtions of the commissions ( Mvunga,Mwanakatwe& Mung'omba) and draft a bill to present in Parliament to begin the change process then leading up to a national referendum if hurdles arise.
    it's seems to me insane to keep talking and talking for 16 years since the Mvunga commision without anyone realizing the Presidency will not give in unless threatened in a real and forceful mannner.
    Participating in this NCC is unpatriotic since participatants act in the same manner as enablers to a drug addictive unwilling to change ways.
    We need rationality to set in at this point someone, ought to standup to Mwanawasa and stratight talk to this learned man. Enough BS , he is a lawyer, this is no time for closing arguments the jury has been out for 16 years it's time for a sentence- literally!

    ReplyDelete
  5. This week, on Wednesday 19 December 2007 there will be the first sitting of the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) in Lusaka, Zambia. The NCC is tasked with debating, amending and adopting the Mung’omba Report and Draft Constitution (see note 1 below). The enactment of the provisions in this Draft Constitution does not require a national referendum - the conference will act as a substitute - as stated in the NCC Bill which was assented on 31 August 2007 (see note 2 below). This whole process is aimed at providing a new, people driven, constitution to Zambia.

    “People should now concentrate on debating the content and not the process” - Chief Government Spokesman, Mike Mulongoti (also Minister for Information & Broadcasting) earlier this month.

    Instead the majority of discussion centres on the cost of the process and the stand taken by the main opposition party, Patriotic Front, and various others.

    But mainly it’s is the issue of the cost of the NCC that people are debating. For information purposes, the Basic Needs Basket for Lusaka, Zambia is currently K1.5 million (one million five hundred thousand Zambian kwacha), that is the amount of money required to reasonably provide for a family of six for one month (see also note 3 below).

    Each delegate who registers to attend the NCC (as chosen by nominated stakeholders) will receive the following - K500,000 (five hundred thousand Zambian kwacha) as a sitting allowance, K650,000 (six hundred and fifty thousand kwacha) as a subsistence allowance, K100,000 (one hundred thousand kwacha) as transport monies. Every day. In addition all those attending from outside Lusaka will receive a transport refund of K300,000 (three hundred thousand kwacha).

    Let us assume that there will be a total of 500 (five hundred) delegates attending the deliberations of the NCC as expected. That is over K12.5 billion kwacha in allowances alone EACH MONTH. Or over K25 million for EACH DELEGATE, EACH MONTH. This is based on 20 working days a month. This is in a country where over 60% of the population live in poverty. The Government of the Republic of Zambia have budgeted a total of K299 billion for the NCC process this year (per Yellow Book under Constitutional Reform) for 2007 and more, as yet unknown, in 2008 budget.

    Interestingly Members of Parliament are required to be members of the NCC by virtue of their positions, so they are being paid allowances (in addition to salaries) for doing their jobs! Unfortunately this is not an uncommon phenomenon in Zambia.

    In response to concerns raised on this issue the Chief Government Spokesman said the following, live on Zambia National Broadcasting (ZNBC) radio on 13 December 2007, “allowances for NCC members could seem huge but Government did not want them to languish during their deliberations because the conference was a national event. He said that if Zambians felt that the allowances were too high, they should lobby the delegates to declare them as such instead of that coming from non-participants.”

    While surely no-one would like to see the delegates ‘languishing’ during this process, do their country men and women wish to see them getting fat on taxpayers money? And are they happy that, if they are not a delegate, they no longer have a say on the process? The process has changed from being a search for a people driven constitution to being a get rich quick, with no external criticism, for the chosen few. We wait with interest on what, if any, real debate will take place during the NCC.

    Many have voiced their concerns; the loudest of these is Mr Michael Sata, President of Patriotic Front, the main opposition party in Zambia. But he is by no means alone - both the countries church mother bodies have also rejected membership of the NCC. Every day the newspapers, especially the independent Post of Zambia, carry stories, editorials and letters which criticise the NCC process in general and specifically the level of allowances being paid. Sour grapes at not being involved? Maybe, but many will say that but the concerns bear some further investigation. But that is for some other time and place.

    Mr Sata, and the Patriotic Front (PF), have threatened to expel any PF Members of Parliament (MP’s) and Councillors for taking part in the NCC. So far over 20 MP’s and nearly 10 councillors have registered from the PF party which is in direct contravention of a directive issued by the party’s National Executive Committee, of which many of them are members. Those who have registered have given various reasons to justify going against the party line, none suggesting that they are in it for the money, or that the rewards on offer played any part in their change of heart.

    While everyone agrees that Zambia needs a new constitution (to replace the one drawn up single handed by former President Fredrick Chiluba in 1996), and that this should be people driven, most feel that this could be done in a different way. Feelings expressed by several commentators in Zambia is that the Treasury is, not for the first time, playing games with democracy.

    During last years tripartite elections, President Levy Mwanawasa, made the adoption of a new constitution an electoral pledge. And now in his second (and last) term in office, he has stated that the document will be his legacy to Zambia. But what is that worth to the millions of the country’s population to whom he and his party have made plenty of promises, but delivered very little, the same people who have little or no access to education and healthcare and who are now wondering why their friends are getting rich while there are none of these basic human rights available to them? Earlier this year Dr Mwanawasa said that the continued development of the country would require sacrifices from all – perhaps this is a good place to start?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Let's run by those numbers again. Presuming K4000 is $1,-.

    Sitting allowance - K500,000 per sitting.

    I don't know how many sittings, but that is $125,- per sitting.

    Daily allowance - K650,000 per day.

    That is $162,50 per day. If they work 8 hours per day, that is $20,30 per hour.

    Daily travel allowance - K100,000 per day. Plus a K300,000 refund.

    That is an additional $25,- per day. On top of that, there will be a travel refund of $75 (I guess in case they spend more than $25,- per day getting around.)

    So, to sum up. The delegates are paid $187,50 per day plus $125,- per sitting. So, on a day that the NCC will be sitting, they will earn $312,50 per day.

    I guess no one will be 'languishing'.

    ReplyDelete
  7. all this talk is irrelevant as no-one is listening!! Or rather should ythat be cares?? Just look at the comments by Magande on a donation from the Danes which has gone missing. (post 19 Dec). The Minister of Finance has once again shown that he has only a slim idea of the role of his Ministry. The idea that the Ministry of Finance is only responsible for ‘ensuring that all the monies allocated…were released’. Does the Minster of Finance not feel responsible in any way for monitoring that these funds are correctly utilised?

    I appreciate very well why he feels such embarrassment when meeting ‘ordinary’ Zambians and the Danish Ambassador – he is a willing partner in the theft of large sums of money from both.

    No matter that he is the Minister of Finance, Mr Magande is also a Member of Parliament, and through that role alone is responsible for the incorrect utilisation of funds by civil servants. Does he also feel embarrassed when he meets his constituents or does he avoid that kind of unpleasantness?

    As for the ‘ordinary’ Zambians that Mr Magande refers to – what makes him so special?

    These comments show with great clarity the fantasy world that the current government are living in. The idea that Ministers and Members of Parliament are not as responsible for the corruption that is going on is just unbelievable. Spend less time talking to journalists and think about WHY corruption can exist - get your ministries in order! Unless, of course, there is some advantage for you to leave things as they are.
    I am sure that I am not the only person that also feels embarrassed when reading articles like this. In this case the Post has no need to ‘dig deeper’ as they government are showing their incompetence and ignorance with no encouragement required.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Mpande,

    All this talk is irrelevant as no-one is listening!! Or rather should ythat be cares?? Just look at the comments by Magande on a donation from the Danes which has gone missing. (post 19 Dec). The Minister of Finance has once again shown that he has only a slim idea of the role of his Ministry. The idea that the Ministry of Finance is only responsible for ‘ensuring that all the monies allocated…were released’. Does the Minster of Finance not feel responsible in any way for monitoring that these funds are correctly utilised?

    That is the question. Are they really not following up because they haven't hired the people, or don't have the function for anyone to do so? Or do they just know better than to ask? Or, are they complicit in the disappearance of public funds themselves?

    That is why I always say - follow the money. Do that, and all will be revealed.

    But then there are the donors. They do the same thing. Are these payments in effect bribes to the Zambian government? Could it be that they trace back to the mining companies? Is this why no one in the MMD objects to the removal from Zambia of $4 billion per year in copper and cobalt exports?

    If the government does not make any money from it's main exports, copper and cobalt, then how can it function - through 'donor aid'.

    Is 'donor aid' in fact the bribe paid to the GRZ for the stealing of Zambia's natural resources?

    Because without hundreds of millions in 'donor aid', the government would grind to a halt. And the very term 'donor aid' invokes the idea of charity. But when was the last time anyone gave hundreds of millions of dollars to charity? Every year?

    Just musing.

    I appreciate very well why he feels such embarrassment when meeting ‘ordinary’ Zambians and the Danish Ambassador – he is a willing partner in the theft of large sums of money from both.

    And let's not forget - the donors are complicit.

    No one in the Venture Capital world hands an entrepreneur $10 million and then doesn't follow up on what happens to it.

    Even the simplest temp help agency has a comptroller, who has to sign off on any money that is released by management to suppliers.

    Let's get serious about following the government's money. Put some uncorruptable financial fraud officers on it, give them all the protection and powers they need, and let's get rid of this waste.

    And you are absolutely right, it is unbelievable that the state does not keep track of it's own finances.

    These comments show with great clarity the fantasy world that the current government are living in. The idea that Ministers and Members of Parliament are not as responsible for the corruption that is going on is just unbelievable. Spend less time talking to journalists and think about WHY corruption can exist - get your ministries in order! Unless, of course, there is some advantage for you to leave things as they are.

    I am sure that I am not the only person that also feels embarrassed when reading articles like this. In this case the Post has no need to ‘dig deeper’ as they government are showing their incompetence and ignorance with no encouragement required.


    Let's get beyond embarassment, and let's get angry. And let's use that anger as a fuel for the energy that is needed to get rid of corruption.

    How is that for a New Year's resolution? :)

    Personally, whenever I get angry, I use it by thinking how I set things right, and then work on that until the anger goes away. Some people have punching bags, but I find that tiring and pointless. I like to have the object of my anger feel the difference. :)

    Here are a few suggestions to start off the new year with:



    From: From Third World To First: The Singapore story, by Lee Kwan Yew
    Part I, Getting The Basics Right
    Keeping Government Clean

    When the PAP government took office in 1956, we set out to have a clean administration.

    There were temptations everywhere, not only in Singapore. For example, the first official contacts foreigners have when entering a country are immigration and customs officers. At many airports in Southeast Asia, travellers often find themselves delayed at customs clearance until a suitable inducement (often hard cash) is forthcoming. The same tiresome practice is often found among traffic police; when stopped for alleged speeding, drivers have to hand over their drivers license together with the ongoing rate in dollars in order to avoid further action.

    Petty power invested in men who cannot afford to live on their salaries is an invitation to misuse that power.

    All my ministers except one were university graduates. Out of office, they were confident of getting by and professionals like myself had every expectation of doing so. There was no need to put by something for that eventuality.

    When ministers command respect and confidence of the people, public servants were also able to hold their heads high and make decisions with confidence. It made a critical differnce in our battle against the communists.

    So, from the very beginning we gave special attention to the areas where discretionary powers had been exploited for personal gain and sharpened the instruments that could prevent, detect or deter such pracitces.

    The principal agency charged with this task was the Corrupt Practices Investigations Bureau (CPIB) set up by the British in 1952 to deal with increasing corruption, especially at the lower and middle levels of the police, hawker inspectors, and land bailiffs, who had to take action against the many who broke the law by occupying public roads for illegal hawking, or state land for building their squatter huts.

    For the smaller fish we set out to simplify procedures and eliminate discretion by having clear published guidelines, even doing away with the need for permits or approvals in less important areas.

    As we ran into securing convictions in prosecutions, we tightened the law in stages.

    The most effective change we made in 1960 was to allow the courts to treat proof that an accused was living beyond his or her means or had property his or her income could not explain as corroborating evidence that the accused had accepted or obtained a bribe. With a keen nose to the ground and to investigate every officer and every minister, the director of the CPIB, working from the Prime Minister's office, developed a justly formidable reputation for sniffing out those betraying the public trust.

    In 1963, we made it compulsory for witnesses summoned by the CPIB to present themselves to give information.

    Giving false or misleading information to the CPIB became an offense subject to imprisonment and a fine of up to S$10,000, and the courts were empowered to confiscate the benefits derived from corruption.

    Customs officers would receive bribes to speed up the checking of vehicles smuggling in prohibited goods.

    It was not tood difficult to clean up these organized rackets. Isolated opportunistic acts of corruption were more difficult to detect, and when discovered had to be squashed.

    High profile cases made the headlines. Several ministers were guilty of corruption, one in each of the decades from the 1960s to the 1980s.

    To guard against freak election of a less than honorable and honest group into government, I had promised at a National Day Rally in August 1984 that we have an elected president to safeguard the nation's reserves. He would also have powers to override a prime minister who held up investigations for corruption against himself, his ministers, or senior officials, and to veto unsuitable appointments to high positions like chief justice, chief of defense staff, or commissioner of police.

    Such a president would need an independent mandate from the electorate.

    When the countries of Southeast Asia from South Korea to Indonesia were devastated by the financial crisis in 1997, corruption and cronyism aggravated their woes. Singapore weathered the crisis better because there was no corruption and cronyism that had cost the other countries many billions in losses.

    ReplyDelete
  9. This is what you get when you have an authoritarian regime where MPs and Ministers kneel before the President. The President and his aids feel no pressure from anybody at all. This is simply a continuation of the FTJ Richard Sakala affair, which Levy's regime condemned!

    A new constitution was meant to "Strengthen accountability and institutions..", but your guess is as good as mine as to the outcome of the NCC, what with all those "bribes".

    ReplyDelete
  10. Fr Peter Henriot of JCTR (The Post 18/12/2007):

    ".....Someone contacted the JCTR last week to say that it was disgraceful that when the Basic Needs Basket (BNB) in Lusaka was currently over K1.5 million, the members of the NCC were only receiving K1.2 million. The caller felt that the JCTR and other civil society groups should protest at the injustice of not providing the BNB minimal to the NCC members.

    But then we had to remind the caller that the BNB of 1.5 million was for a family of six, for one full month. The 1.2 million is for one person for one day! K500,000 sitting allowance, K650,000 daily food and lodging allowance, K100,000 daily transport allowance. Well, that certainly beats the monthly BNB!..."


    There's no doubt these participants appear to be motivated by greed.

    Incidentally MrK may want to note that the dollar value is slightly lower that K4000, so we are talking about something like $350 per month!

    I have to say though I think the other extreme may also be wrong (i.e. no payments). If no one was being payed to attend, we could end up with a conference of the rich..since only the rich would have the "leisure time" to come and hold endless discussions...

    Whatever happens with the NCC, we can be guaranteed that if say proportional representation was adopted and power changed hands, we are guaranteed to go through the whole process again!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Sadly, the only time you get unanimous approval in Parliament is when MPs are voting on perks! And this time is no different at all; those called to participate see absolutely nothing wrong with the pay. These are the politics of poverty.

    Is it then that poverty and democracy don't quite go together?

    ReplyDelete
  12. "Is it then that poverty and democracy don't quite go together?" - Zedian

    A difficult question!

    Partly because the question can be intepreted in different ways. I can think of atleast three questions within that question.

    1. Is there a positive relationship between income and democracy?

    2. Do higher levels of income lead to greater democracy?

    3. Is there a threshold of income that is needed for democracy to "work".

    To complicate matters, "democracy" is a bit of loose concept. People use it to mean different things. Leaving that aside, if you meant (1) then the answer is yes. The answer to (2)based on the latest analysis blogged here appears to be "no". If you believe the answer to (2) is "no", then answer to (3) is also likely to be "no".

    Of course on the potentially 4th question of whether democracy is conducive for growth, the evidence seems to point to a "yes". But its interesting that sometimes getting there can be rocky. By the way, worth checking out the blog here that discusses democracy and corruption as well.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Cho,

    I very much had "3" in mind and that's been my belief for a while now following the trials and tribulations of Southern Africa in particular.

    I'm slightly dismissive of the report quoted here as it merely gives the observations rather than the underlying causes, which MrK laid out when he said:

    "That is because even if you switch to a multi-party system, that doesn't mean that the checks and balances on government are in place, or will be put in place by the individuals who planned on benefiting from corruption once they come to power."

    This is fundamental and concurs with my statement above that the Zambian President and his aids act with impunity and without fear of retribution.

    The other report quoted here is a lot more analytical and delves into the causal factors.

    Perhaps the poverty we should be referring to is that of knowledge, not financial??

    Another point; I can't help but feel a sense of deja vu about the President's behaviour in his second term. If I'm not the only one feeling like that, is it then an inherent problem in a fixed-term presidency? Of course, in more mature democracies, the President would be a lame duck President.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Zedian,

    ”I very much had "3" in mind and that's been my belief for a while now following the trials and tribulations of Southern Africa in particular.”

    I understand that to mean you don’t think South Africa is “democratic”?

    On your general point, my personal view is aligned to the “critical juncture hypothesis”, where critical moments in time determine the path that nations take. In that sense, I believe that a combination of political will and adequate institutions is sufficient to make the democratic process work.

    There’s of course a separate question of what democratic institutions we should seek to build and whether part of the failure in Zambia has been the creation of artificial structures. I very much subscribe to the idea that democracy should be absolved within existing traditional structures, rather than the other way round. Zambia’s problem is that we have destroyed traditional functions creating inefficient parallel structures. I discuss this in more detail in the blog A cultural approach to Zambia’s development .

    ”Perhaps the poverty we should be referring to is that of knowledge, not financial??”

    I agree. There’s a knowledge problem in Zambia. I discuss this issue in the post Reflections on true independence… . Would be interested to hear your thoughts on it.

    ”Another point; I can't help but feel a sense of deja vu about the President's behaviour in his second term. If I'm not the only one feeling like that, is it then an inherent problem in a fixed-term presidency? Of course, in more mature democracies, the President would be a lame duck President.”

    I think the problem isn’t so much of a “fixed term” but rather of perpetual incumbency of the ruling party. When the opposition is divided and the incumbent is always guaranteed to win, the seating President has nothing to worry about. Even if he underperforms or does not act to correct things, he knows the next President would ensure all things go well in his retirement. Chiluba being the exception of course. His was simply the case of a chess player who thinks too long about a move and ends up playing a blunder!!

    ReplyDelete
  15. This Day reports on reaction to the announcement of salary cuts for Nigerian government officials.

    ReplyDelete

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

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