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Saturday, 30 August 2008

A costly constitutional blunder...

A simple requirement in the constitution to have a presidential running mate would have saved Zambia (and its donor partners) a staggering $70m dollars - that is the estimated administrative cost of the upcoming bye-elections. Emphasis on "administrative" there because, there are other costs associated with diversion of public funds to less efficient (e.g. through corruption) and unproductive activities etc etc. All of this could have been avoided.

Now in case you are wondering what $70m can do. Let me remind you. Zambia has many of our households living on less than $2 dollars a day (probably as many as 70%). $70m would therefore feed nearly 96,000 households for a whole year. So rather than live on $2 dollars, they would live on $4 dollars a day. At this stage you may be wondering, $4 dollars, would that make a difference? Yes. $4 dollar is roughly K14000 a day or K420,000 per month. Guess what? That is more than the statutory minimum wage, and certainly more than what many
security guards earn!

A more humane assessment should be based on the
Monthly Bread Basket. This stood at $550 for a family of six in Lusaka. Equivalent to $6600 per year. We can therefore confidently predict that $70m would comfortably feed over 10,000 Lusaka households (of six) for a whole year.

I suspect our current constitution is littered with many costly phrases which people ignore because they do not see them as explicit as this.

***I await the inevitable arithmetic corrections!!

7 comments:

  1. Actually it is 60% of $70 million because it is paying for 2 years (2012-2013) of what would have been the next term.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Unfortunately that is incorrect. There's no advanced spending here as this is a bye election. As the article makes clear towards the end, everyone will be up for election in 2011.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oops, you are correct, I should have read the last paragraph.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Cho

    You are right, it is tragic that lack of foresight and frugality pervades other aspects of Zambia life. See picture here
    http://www.cyberiapc.com/gallery/uploads/Other/pole_middle_of_road.jpg

    Thank God, this picture was not taken in Zambia but some other Africa country I won't name,not that this lack of foresight might not be possible in Zambia!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Kashikulu,

    haha!!

    That is something!

    ReplyDelete
  6. "A costly blunder ..."

    Well it's not a blunder. A VEEP makes sense when everyone has democracy in their minds...

    1) I believe it's better this way, it diminishes the chance for a coup but, more important, it also makes sure the president doesn't need to keep other politicians as a friend but needs to adress the people of Zed.

    2) In Zed it s better because of ethnicity. With two people, you risk to go for etnic groups that can get you most (or, if the constitution would be changed, a majority) of the votes...

    With one man it won't happen... He needs to cross cultural borders.

    ReplyDelete
  7. CF,

    "it diminishes the chance for a coup but, more important, it also makes sure the president doesn't need to keep other politicians as a friend but needs to adress the people of Zed."

    The sources of coups can come from many places. I do agree that it concentrates power on the Presidency but that also have negative effects. I am not persuaded by "politicians being able to address the people of Zed". There's no evidence that historically in Zambia that has been the desired effect.

    "In Zed it s better because of ethnicity. With two people, you risk to go for etnic groups that can get you most (or, if the constitution would be changed, a majority) of the votes..."

    Again, I don't follow that because opposition can come from other seats of power controlled by other tribes.

    ReplyDelete

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