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Friday, 20 June 2008

More money more embassies.....

An interesting story earlier this week on the foreign policy front. The Government plans to open new embassies around the world. In the words of the Foreign Minister:

"The emphasis on economic diplomacy, which mainly refers to promoting economic relations not only among states but also with non-state actors to enhance economic development, has indeed changed the face of international relations world-over. It is against this background that Zambia plans to open more missions in strategic regions in the world in order to enhance political and economic relations....The issue of attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) shall also occupy centre stage in the country’s foreign interactions,”
Naturally, I support a refocus of our foreign policy towards development goals. Zambia has for many years wasted money on pointless political adventures. However, I would be even more supportive of Mr Pande's new initiative if it comes with some closures of other embassies. I don't see why we should spend new revenue from the mines only to reward political appointees with new posts? There are a number of Zambian embassies around the world that simply wastes tax payers money. Equally there are some places in the world where Zambia should be forging new economic ties (e.g. Latin America). Zambia has a limited pot of funds new criteria is needed for determining where an embassy is necessary. I suggest a country should qualify for an embassy if it fulfills any of the following :
  • Major trading partner (e.g. China)
  • Has more than average of Zambian diaspora living there (e.g. USA / UK)
  • Large contributor of aid (e.g. Norway)
  • Home to an international organisation Zambia belongs to (e.g. UN, SADC)

I decidedly suggest that reciprocity should be abandoned. If other countries want representation in Zambia, that should be their business. We have a limited pot of funds and should be driven by economic imperatives.

Update :

In the meantime, the President has acknowledged that many embassies are not managing the tax payers money properly. Which raises further questions on the very wisdom of having additional embassies.


7 comments:

  1. Zambia has for many years wasted money on pointless political adventures.

    I completely disagree, if this refers to support for countries around the region.

    However, how about combined SADC embassies, where people from all SADC countries can go to for help abroad, visas and passports, etc?

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  2. MrK,

    Are you saying the investment had some "infinite" return? The truth is that looking back a wise government would have approached matters different. We did not spend the money we had prudently. We wasted it. Yes including dishing money to the ANC, Mugabe etc. I am not saying we should not have helped them, I am simply saying we could have been a bit wiser. You don't let your house burn down while putting fire out of your neighbours house.

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  3. Cho,

    Ok, however, helping Zimbabwe and South Africa has also meant helping Zambia itself. There is very little commerce taking place when there is an absence of peace.

    Just look at the price paid in the lack of democratisation and the increase of the concentration of power around the president, which is a direct result of the threat of war and foreign invasion during the 60s, 70s and 80s.

    Currently, some people are falling for the personal squabbles between the leaders of Zimbabwe and Zambia and are acting very churlishly. That just irritates me a lot. I couldn't care less about 'insults', when a country is literally under siege by 'regime change' artists and sanctions that they (the MDC) hypocritically deny exist. Combined with their desire to sell of the country's assets for next to nothing, that doesn't bode well for how they would govern.

    I have said it before, but if the MDC try to reverse land reform, there is going to be a civil war in Zimbabwe, which is going to make the present economic hardship look like the good old day.

    Sanctions are economic warfare, by the way. In Iraq, sanctions killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children through the absence of antibiotics and food.

    I really like the fact that Robert Mugabe stated that he will not give up power until the ownership of land by the majority is unassailable. That destroys the argument that he is just clinging on to power for power's sake. It also puts the onus on the MDC to state that they are not in politics to restore land ownership to the white minority.

    It effectively calls the bluff of the MDC and it's backers.

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  4. mrk, Killing your own people in the name of safeguarding so called land rights is inexcusable. Even If it were the case that the MDC want to give away the land; any civilised person would simply decampaign the MDC in a non violent manner. Mugabe should sell his programme to his people in a peaceful, free and fair democratic election without resorting to thuggery. Besides there are no economic sanctions on Zimbabwe. What exists are political sanctions whereby the European union and the USA do not permit Mugabe and his corrupt cronies to visit their countries, the exception being matters to do with the UN. These sanctions cannot explain what has happened to Zimbabwe. The blame lies squarely on Mugabes poor governance.

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  5. Frank,

    mrk, Killing your own people in the name of safeguarding so called land rights is inexcusable.

    How about having British troops kill Zimbabweans for the purpose of returning land to a few thousand white farmers? Which is what the MDC wants to see happen, every time they call for foreign invasion. And if you think civilians wouldn't be killed in a 'raid' (to use the word used by archbishop Pius Ncube), ask the people of Iraq.

    Even If it were the case that the MDC want to give away the land; any civilised person would simply decampaign the MDC in a non violent manner. Mugabe should sell his programme to his people in a peaceful, free and fair democratic election without resorting to thuggery. Besides there are no economic sanctions on Zimbabwe.

    But whose word do we have for the thuggery? The opposition MDC? The BBC, which abandoned any pretence of objectivity because of the death of a few farmers? How often do you read of a government spokesman quoted in the internatinal media? This is the only instant I have seen, in which the media dialogue is set by the country's opposition party.

    What exists are political sanctions whereby the European union and the USA do not permit Mugabe and his corrupt cronies to visit their countries, the exception being matters to do with the UN.

    That is the propaganda. What is appalling about that, is that the MDC do not even have the guts to take ownership of the fact that Zimbabwe is under sanctions, even as they call for more sanctions, and even foreign invasion.

    There is nothing 'targeted' about the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001 (Senate bill 494 of the 107th US Senate). In it, Zimbabwe is banned from borrowing money internationally, from among (and businesses and countries that do business with):

    http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=s107-494


    (1) INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS- The term `international financial institutions' means the multilateral development banks and the International Monetary Fund.

    (2) MULTILATERAL DEVELOPMENT BANKS- The term `multilateral development banks' means the

    International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Development Association, the
    International Finance Corporation, the
    Inter-American Development Bank, the
    Asian Development Bank, the
    Inter-American Investment Corporation, the
    African Development Bank, the
    African Development Fund, the
    European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the
    Multilateral Investment Guaranty Agency.

    SEC. 4. SUPPORT FOR DEMOCRATIC TRANSITION AND ECONOMIC RECOVERY.

    (a) FINDINGS- Congress makes the following findings:

    (1) Through economic mismanagement, undemocratic practices, and the costly deployment of troops to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Government of Zimbabwe has rendered itself ineligible to participate in International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and International Monetary Fund programs, which would otherwise be providing substantial resources to assist in the recovery and modernization of Zimbabwe's economy. The people of Zimbabwe have thus been denied the economic and democratic benefits envisioned by the donors to such programs, including the United States.

    (2) In September 1999 the IMF suspended its support under a `Stand By Arrangement', approved the previous month, for economic adjustment and reform in Zimbabwe.

    (3) In October 1999, the International Development Association (in this section referred to as the `IDA') suspended all structural adjustment loans, credits, and guarantees to the Government of Zimbabwe.

    (4) In May 2000, the IDA suspended all other new lending to the Government of Zimbabwe.

    (5) In September 2000, the IDA suspended disbursement of funds for ongoing projects under previously-approved loans, credits, and guarantees to the Government of Zimbabwe.

    (b) SUPPORT FOR DEMOCRATIC TRANSITION AND ECONOMIC RECOVERY-

    (1) BILATERAL DEBT RELIEF- Upon receipt by the appropriate congressional committees of a certification described in subsection (d), the Secretary of the Treasury shall undertake a review of the feasibility of restructuring, rescheduling, or eliminating the sovereign debt of Zimbabwe held by any agency of the United States Government.

    (2) MULTILATERAL DEBT RELIEF AND OTHER FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE- It is the sense of Congress that, upon receipt by the appropriate congressional committees of a certification described in subsection (d), the Secretary of the Treasury should--

    (A) direct the United States executive director of each multilateral development bank to propose that the bank should undertake a review of the feasibility of restructuring, rescheduling, or eliminating the sovereign debt of Zimbabwe held by that bank; and

    (B) direct the United States executive director of each international financial institution to which the United States is a member to propose to undertake financial and technical support for Zimbabwe, especially support that is intended to promote Zimbabwe's economic recovery and development, the stabilization of the Zimbabwean dollar, and the viability of Zimbabwe's democratic institutions.


    What do these sanctions consist of? Notice that nowhere is this act directed at individuals in the government, as the MDC liars would like the world to believe. Instead, they didn't count on us reading the actual legislation. :)

    (c) MULTILATERAL FINANCING RESTRICTION- Until the President makes the certification described in subsection (d), and except as may be required to meet basic human needs or for good governance, the Secretary of the Treasury shall instruct the United States executive director to each international financial institution to oppose and vote against--

    (1) any extension by the respective institution of any loan, credit, or guarantee to the Government of Zimbabwe; or

    (2) any cancellation or reduction of indebtedness owed by the Government of Zimbabwe to the United States or any international financial institution.


    Again, all these economic sanctions are aimed at the government of Zimbabwe, not selected individuals.

    These sanctions cannot explain what has happened to Zimbabwe. The blame lies squarely on Mugabes poor governance.

    The absence of a few tobacco farmers cannot explain an inflation rate a thousand times worse than in countries ripped apart by war, and without any government at all (there is a 100% annual inflation in Somalia, which has no government, yet Zimbabwe has a 100,000% inflation rate?).

    Even the Soviet Union didn't have an inflation rate like that.

    The explanation is that Zimbabwe was a highly dependent, landlocked economy, which had access to foreign capital suspended overnight.

    Remember, that 'economic mismanagement' means land reform, and nothing else. They want Zimbababwe to serve as a negative example of what happens when land is returned to the people. That is why they want the world to pretend that there are no sanctions against Zimbabwe, when the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001 (S.494) clearly is just that - far reaching economic sanctions.

    The people of Zimbabwe have sacrificed much in their struggle to have the land returned to them.

    Maybe with the new high food prices, and the inevitable worldwide famines, it will be clear to anyone what the real price of neglecting agriculture is.

    If Africa is to progress, it can only do so by returning the land to African farmers, who have the local knowledge, and who have the numbers on their side. A few thousand white farmers never have and never will grow enough food for the majority of the population.

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  6. I really like the fact that Robert Mugabe stated that he will not give up power until the ownership of land by the majority is unassailable.

    I really like the fact you're trying so hard to believe him.

    That destroys the idea that your opinion on the topic makes any sense.

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  7. Mr. K.

    Please let us stop the myths. Zimbabwe has free access to capital to any country in the far East, Africa, South America. Infact a private company can access funds anywhere including Amercia and the UK. The rise of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) has created a deep pool of money available to invest particularly in the raw materials the BRICs need. The Middle East is awash in petrodollars. imbabwe is simply not an attractive investment opportunity any more.

    The Senate bill you mentioned does not stop private investment or trade with Zimbabwe. Zimbabwean firms can access AGOA. Nor does it stop foreigners from trading with Zimbabwe. Nor does it stop US citiens from trading with Zimbabwe.
    Most of Zimbabwe's economic problems are due to:

    1. Completely unworkable and unsustainable macroeconomic policies
    2. Completely unworkable and unsustainable micro-economic
    3. Creation of an environment that is hostile to foreign and local investment.
    4. Creation of a political climate that can only be called unstable, violent and counter productive.

    Even the Libyans, Chinese, Malaysians, Indians who have no sanctions with Zimbabwe have failed to make money in Zimbabwe due to Alice in wonderland economic policies.

    Regardless of the reason no country can justify killing its own citiens extra judicially, seizing land from them on the basis of skin colour, beating, killing and harassing them on the basis of political affiliation.

    The white farmers used to be the largest foreign exchange earners in Zimbabwe. Driving them off the land caused incredible economic dislocation an chaos. Britian and the US did not do that Mugabe did.

    Running a budet deficit consistently over 10% of GDP is economic suicide. Mugabe did that for 10 years in a row. He sowed the seeds of hyperinflation not Britain and the US.

    The piddling sanctions on Zimbabawe don not compare with what Sudan, Libya, Cuba, Burma and even Rhodesia in 1965-1980 contended with.
    Look up the economic statistics. Mugabe did it to himself and a whole country suffered. Do not be brainwashed by Mugabe's propaganda.
    Kenya under Daniel Arap Moi was suspended from the IMF. Had aid suspended for 6 years. It never descended into the economic and political chaos that is Zimbabwe today.

    Sheer power greed and incompetence can never be excused.

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