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Monday, 6 April 2009

Clive Chirwa 2011

Prof Clive Chirwa launched his MMD and national presidential campaign for 2011 last week in London.

For more information see Clive Chirwa 2011.

There's a blog section. We look forward to reading his thoughts beyond his contribution in The Post on the latest cars which majority of Zambians cannot afford (also strange that the current downturn has not persuaded him and The Post that perhaps other topics may be in order).


  1. I skimmed through his address. As I see it, the biggest weakness for Prof Chirwa is that – he lacks a vehicle to get him to the mountain top. His assumption that MMD would adopt him might not materialize. If it was open competition then he might stand a chance. Thus, he needs to really connect with the grassroots. This is where others would have a better advantage.

    The other point is that – he always thinks from a “technologist” angle. That one needs to sell more cars or planes to uplift Zambia from poverty. But yet, the majority of Zambians do not have disposable incomes to afford (spend) on those gadgets he has in mind. He thinks too big, which may hinder him from looking for plausible solutions in the Zambians context.

  2. Kaela,

    I don't know much about how the MMD picks their candidates, but I agree that Prof. Chirwa seems like a longshot. (Though if political parties start having "primary" elections like in the US, then I think that they should be paid for only by the party membership not the taxpayer.) From reading through his bio, his only real claim to fame is being a world expert on car and plane crash survivability. Not that that isn't impressive, and ironically it is probably more applicable to government this year than in most years, but as you say not the sort of topic that is likely to connect him to the everyday problems of the majority.

    I am also somewhat concerned about his mandatory grade 12 completion in education policy, given the number of child-headed households revealed by the Health Survey. What punishment does he envision for a teenager that leaves school in order to feed their siblings? I think that grade 12 should become available to all students that want it as soon as possible, but one-size-fits-all education seems like a bad idea to me.

    Policy pronouncements such as, "no Zambian should die from a treatable disease," are probably far too ambitious for the next president to fulfill. No Zambian should die from a preventable disease strikes me as a more realistic target to strive for first. Then again, the only reason that I can criticize is because he has the guts to actually publish what he thinks, and because of that I think that he can make a meaningful contribution to the next election cycle.

  3. The basic problem Prof. Chirwa has is that he is out of touch with Zambian politics. He has no constituency within the MMD and is viewed by many members with great suspicion. Unless he has tonnes of money to throw at the cadres during the convention there is absolutely no way he is going to emerge as the MMD candidate. I doubt if the party will even allow him to contest the position. Katele Kalumba is quoted in the Post today questioning his MMD membership status and that the party is not happy over his recent comments on RB (watch out for that letter of expulsion via royal mail).

    My advice to the good Prof. is that he should concentrate on his academic career and his stop writing his irrelevant column in the POST.
    The PANEL

  4. I think the prof has a lot of good ideas and his vision gets a B+ from me. However, I really don't think 2011 is to best time for him to run for president. My concerns are that 1) he has been away from Zambia for too long and as much as he would know how best to sort out a lot of Zambia's problems from a global perspective, his expertise will not suffice to solve the problems of the people at the grass roots. 2) He has got under two years in which to convince every Zambian why he is the right man for the job. So far, my understanding from his website suggests that 50% of his time is still not spent in Zambia and nobody is blowing his trumpet for him back there. 3)In order to implement changes in Zambia, he has to actually get a feel of living there for a set period and experiencing first hand what has gone wrong with the developmental progress at home. 4) why settle for president when he can actually do a better service as consultant or an adviser to the government and will be better placed to lobby government when policies are not implemented as he as a vast range of expertise and exposure? I don't think he should limit himself to partisan politics as he has strongly pointed out that his heart is set on seeing Zambia progressing.

  5. Kaela,

    The other point is that – he always thinks from a “technologist” angle. That one needs to sell more cars or planes to uplift Zambia from poverty. But yet, the majority of Zambians do not have disposable incomes to afford (spend) on those gadgets he has in mind.

    He would be good as a minister of technology o industrialisation.

    On the other hand, he may be better for the country than any of the MMD candidates.

  6. To begin with, launching one's bid for Presidency in a foreign land is not a good start, in my humble opinion.

  7. I think it is fair to say Chirwa is not welcome according to Ronnie.

  8. To be fair to Prof Clive Chirwa, he's actually in a different league to some of the despots currently in government (like Ronnie Shikapwasha). As AfriWoman has said, a man of his calibre and stature in his professional field, should not be wasting his talent jostling with some of those MMD despots.

    Yes, MMD is a legitimate political party (as is the BNP), but the question many people who would otherwise want to support Prof Chirwa are dying to ask is, just what is he doing in the MMD?

    Is it because it offers an "easier" route to the top (assuming he gets passed the NEC hurdle)?

    Just what does Prof Chirwa and MMD have in common? What is his history with that party or any of its prominent members?

    If anyone has some of his writings where he's explained all that, Zedian would much appreciate a link.

    Or indeed if Prof Chirwa happens to be listening, please oblige us. Thanks in advance!

  9. Eish. He somewhat has the right callibre but what about his Red Passport

  10. The criticisms I constantly see being levelled against Clive Chirwa strike me as rather simplistic:

    “He thinks too big, which may hinder him from looking for plausible solutions in the Zambians context.”

    I’m sorry, but aren’t 'big thinkers' what Zambia needs? Perhaps disillusioned with empty political promises, and piecemeal developments, we see “too much ambition” as a bad thing. I’m more inclined to go with Harv Eker on this one “If you shoot for the stars, you’ll at least hit the moon”. I’d rather have a leader aiming for big things, and thereby achieving more than he would otherwise have achieved from simply “setting realistic targets” – these are purely subjective and facilitate excuses for low achievement.

    “he always thinks from a “technologist” angle. That one needs to sell more cars or planes to uplift Zambia from poverty.”

    This is simplifying his argument. He recognises that Zambia cannot attain economic prosperity by exporting its raw materials to countries which sell them back to us at a higher price as commodity. His solution is not much different to Singapore’s – once a third world country and now rubbing shoulders with the world’s richest: focus on securing a service and technology-based economy - use your copper to make electrical components which fetch a higher price on the world market rather than simply selling it to someone else to use. Developed countries run on technology - from the humble glasses worn to improve eyesight, to the aeroplanes flown to cut across large distances. Even our present exchange of ideas is dependent on technologists working hard behind the scenes. Perhaps Zambia needs less political 'solutions' to its problems, which these days seem to amount to no more than inter-party bickering, and more practical, technological solutions to its challenges. What more can an MP do than possibly petition your complaint in Parliament, or try and mobilise resources for your problem? The practical implementation of any policies debated by politicians is by technoligists themselves.

    “He has been away from Zambia for too long and as much as he would know how best to sort out a lot of Zambia's problems from a global perspective, his expertise will not suffice to solve the problems of the people at the grass roots”

    This is everyone’s favourite criticism, yet no one ever stops to consider that those who supposedly are in ‘touch’ with Zambia’s problems aren’t doing anything about them! How many Zambians actually see their “in-touch” MPs except during elections? That is why a president has a cabinet and works with a host of individuals and organisations which are in touch with the immense challenges Zambia faces. The problems of “the people at the grassroots” are in themselves diverse and immense, and not one person alone, even if he’s never left the country, can know them all, and deal with every one of them.

    “From reading through his bio, his only real claim to fame is being a world expert on car and plane crash survivability.”

    Yes, and Hilary Clinton constantly emphasised that Obama’s only real claim to fame was his 2005 speech. Look who is calling the shots now?

    “Because of that I think that he can make a meaningful contribution to the next election cycle.”

    A lot of people, myself included, said the same thing about Obama, but thankfully, his ambition was bigger than our hesitations and he proved us wrong.

    If we continually shy away from aiming big by focusing solely on supposed impediments, we'll never make any meaningful progress. If a black man, of part Kenyan parentage at that, can run a nation that not long ago would never have treated him as an equal, why cannot Zambia have a president who, although having spent a lot of time abroad, brings with him the same ambition, ideas, and drive to propel us forward?

  11. Clive Chirwa is a longshot to be MMD's candidate for the Presidency in 2011, I stick by that statement. After all, Rupiah Banda shows every sign of intending to run again as the incumbent, so I see little reason to suspect that he will not have the full backing of his party in doing so. Professor Chirwa can (and by some lights already is) make a meaningful contribution to the next election cycle, but his circumstance is only comparable to Barack Obama's by the simplest of measures, and comparisons to the US President are becoming cliche at this point. Besides, Obama has a longstanding reputation as a pragmatist in policy circles, and "Yes We Can" is as much a statement of intent to produce practical solutions as it is an inspiring campaign slogan.

    Given that this is the 2011 campaign (not 2031 or 2051), policy proposals should be realistically within the scope of resources available to the government, so as to avoid being mere empty rhetoric. I still maintain that the promise to deliver health care treatment for every disease is unattainable, while a commitment to universal access to means of disease prevention are not. This is the cost and infrastructure difference between, for example, vaccinations versus chemotherapy. To quote from John's Hopkins University, "Some chemotherapy drugs are relatively inexpensive, such as 5-FU and leucovorin. However, newer anticancer drugs are very expensive, especially when they are used in combinations. Whereas the drug costs for eight weeks of treatment with 5-FU and leucovorin will run in the $100–$300 range, adding oxaliplatin or irinotecan will increase this cost to $10,000 or more. The further addition of bevacizumab (Avastin) or cetuximab (Erbitux) will raise this cost to $20,000–$30,000. This is for the cost of the drugs alone. " Cancer is a treatable disease, but Zambia is in no position to pay for every form of treatment available, especially if the therapies only improve survival by a few months.

    Likewise to speak of requiring all Zambian citizens to complete grade 12 presupposes that the 80% of students who currently cannot even access that level of education resources will somehow instantly be able to do so. Professor Chirwa has an admirable record in his own field, and yet we do not hear him promising to use that expertise in order to prevent all traffic related deaths in the country. I suspect that this is because he knows full well what an empty promise that would be.

    In terms of his policy platform, I encourage you to visit his website and review "The Issue" section, to which the answers on Economic Vision, Mining, Manufacturing, Energy, Environment, Family, Faith, Ethics, Foreign Policy, Health Care, Home Affairs, Homeland Security, Defense of Borders, Infrastructure, the MMD Party, and Poverty Reduction are all essentially blank or simple repetitions of the same short biographical paragraph:

    Professor Efford CLIVE Mulubwa Kondwani CHIRWA is one of the true Zambians who resonates peace and unity of "One Zambia One Nation". His roots can be described as a love affair between two cousins who bear a son passionate about the well being of all Zambians. The only one that isn't blank is his education policy. This cannot seriously be compared to Barack Obama's incredible campaign organization and "Big Tent" approach.

  12. Hi Yakima,

    I'm glad to see you're back.

    On Clive Chirwa's run. It is completely refreshing to see someone moving away from depending on FDI for development. Zambia will only develop when the political leadership starts to prioritize the Zambian people, economy and interests, instead of the wholesale sellout of national interests to 'foreign investors'.

    I reluctantly include a link to prof. Chirwa's website (and I haven't included one on my site for the same reason), because it is still unfinished, and includes a lot of restatements of irrelevant information under the policy points - which should really be there. Perhaps we can help? fact, there have been recent approaches between Hakainde Hichilema, and Michael Sata. Now if they are to break from the present Neoliberal development model, we may actually help in form the framework of a new development and growth model, or at least put ideas and possibilities into people's heads. These could be very interesting times ahead.

    Cheers, and I hope you're feeling better.

  13. Hi MrK,

    Thank you for the kind thoughts, everything seems to have healed well other than a few residual bumps and bruises which are serving as good reminders not to push myself too hard. I hope and trust that you and yours are equally doing well, and wish you all the best.

    In keeping with the non-partisan character of Zambian Economist, I hope to provide useful advice and perspective to policy makers of all political parties (perhaps in my case "equal opportunity offender" is more accurate by some lights), although I try not to have any delusions that any such persons are necessarily listening.

    In terms of the Chirwa 2011 campaign, the state of the website I think is symptomatic of a more general deficit in rank-and-file campaign organization. I too withheld direct criticism except on existing content when the site first went public due to the obvious unfinished appearance, however having detected no further additions over the period since I feel it is appropriate to indicate that interested persons are indeed seeking answers on policy positions from this official source, and coming away no better informed than they went in. I think that it is important that all political aspirants to high office understand that it is not enough to give speeches and obtain favourable media coverage, and that due attention and resource must be given to grassroots organizing and delegation for such campaigns to succeed.

    Certainly Prof. Chirwa has in speeches and newspaper columns a wealth of statements on a wide variety of issues, however there doesn't yet appear to be much of a support team present to help correlate and disseminate those statements as coherent messages to voters. Reaching and convincing an electoral majority of voters will require significant numbers of supporters willing to deploy diverse skills and personal efforts on any candidate's behalf, and thus I would encourage those who wish to help Prof. Chirwa or other would-be leaders to coordinate their efforts in a manner consistent with the candidate's vision and campaign structure.

  14. Yakima,

    In keeping with the non-partisan character of Zambian Economist, I hope to provide useful advice and perspective to policy makers of all political parties (perhaps in my case "equal opportunity offender" is more accurate by some lights), although I try not to have any delusions that any such persons are necessarily listening.

    In light of the potential shakeup of the 2011 elections, and the disrepute the neoliberal development model has fallen into because it once again blew up the global economy, there is an opportunity to create a pro-development, non-partisan thinktank on economic development, government and other issues that affect the economy and society.

    I have commented on Professor Chirwa's article to The Post here. I like a lot of what he has to say, mainly turning away from chasing foreign investors at all cost, and starting the need to turn away from 'donor aid' and start taxing or even nationalizing some of the mines.

    I disagree slightly on his disemphasis of agricultural development, but is is a very minor issue, considering that he is the only potential candidate who is even talking about the mines. What I also like is that he used the example of Norway's economy, which makes a clear distinction between the extractive industries which are key to the nation and it's economic lifeblood, and the rest of the economy (services, agriculture, technology, etc.). Zambia should certainly do at least the same.

    The reason I put a greater emphasis on agriculture in the short term, is that it is critical that Zambia produces more than enough food to feed itself, and that this is done in such a way that it benefits the majority of the population not only through cheaper food, but through job creation and wealth concentration (i.e., not through giant agribusinesses - which the MMD of course would insist must be foreign owned). Most people still live in the rural areas, and creating jobs in the city trough industrialisation is only going to lead to more urbanisation, I would think. So why not create lots of jobs where people live right now?

  15. MrK,

    There are certainly aspects of Prof. Chirwa's latest article, as well as many of his other speeches and writings, where I find areas of agreement, and some aspects where I would differ. This is of course normal, and while it is often the nature of political discourse to more fully explore the differences, I would not want to give the impression that because there are some points of difference it means that I am dismissive of the entire body of work.

    Personally phrases such as, "at all cost", worry me in any context, because pursuing a particular course of action whose costs are known to outweigh the benefits requires an ideological mono-focus which may prevent the nation from making "course corrections" or taking advantage of opportunities that may arise but are not accounted for in the original plan. To me this applies equally to those who claim that the nation needs more FDI at all cost, as well as those who claim that all investment in certain sectors must be domestic at all cost.

    As I have pointed out elsewhere, not all investors are basing their decisions solely on maximizing short term monetary gains, and the Norwegian Public Employee Pension Funds are an excellent example of FDI which is willing to accept a lower annual return from extractive industries such as mining provided that they are satisfied with the longer term aspects of environmental damage, corruption, and local empowerment. This type of "fair trade" doctrine makes certain assumptions of course, principally that the citizens of, in this case Zambia, will remember which investors were complicit in creating environmental disasters, supporting corrupt governments, or extracting minerals without appreciable benefit to local populations, and either reward or rebuke future generations of Norwegians seeking trade and investment partnerships in the country.

    It is unfortunate that many seem to view manufacturing and agriculture in the future as somehow disconnected. As you have pointed out, there are certainly many aspects of manufacturing which directly enable improved agricultural performance. There are also reciprocal manufacturing industries which are enabled by the existence of agricultural surpluses, such as bioplastics derived from maize and other plant starches rather than petroleum (not to mention food preservation and processing).

    However this should not be taken to mean that limited capital resources ought to be used to foster every infant industry that might be possible, and Prof. Chirwa's push for domestic steel production is an example where the nation would be well served by applying due caution in proceeding. There are many elements required for success in such a competitive industry, and Zambian demand for steel may be satisfied by external sourcing more efficiently for quite some time to come. Especially if the South Africans choose to leverage their massive manganese reserves as a means to gain competitive advantage over established steel producing nations, or the DRC's Grand Inga's massive potential contribution to regional power pools fails to materialize for whatever reason.

    I think that you make an excellent point about agricultural development as the chief driver of rural economic development and as a check against growing migration to urban areas. Improved diets can also have a dramatic effect on productivity and long term health (e.g. I know several Cambodian immigrants here from the Pol Pot era whose sons are all half a meter taller than them). The nature of such development however will be key in determining the amount of labour (and quality of compensation) sustained by agriculture, as the plantation, sharecropper or factory farm models may actually promote urban migration if implemented without regard to preservation of opportunities for smaller operations. As always, improved transport infrastructure and watershed management will be crucial elements in enabling both agriculture and related manufacturing in predominantly rural areas.

  16. MrK,

    "The reason I put a greater emphasis on agriculture in the short term, is that it is critical that Zambia produces more than enough food to feed itself, and that this is done in such a way that it benefits the majority of the population not only through cheaper food, but through job creation and wealth concentration (i.e., not through giant agribusinesses - which the MMD of course would insist must be foreign owned".

    I will refer you back to my posting of 31 January, 2009 where as “Anonymous” I posed a question linked to an article in the Daily mail:

    "Government has allocated K435 billion to the FSP this year with the hope that should prices of fertiliser remain low, many small-scale farmers would benefit" Zambia Daily Mail (31/01/09).

    Then I made a comment to the effect that it was a waste of money because we had continued spending such huge amounts on programmes that yield little result - and I meant the focus on small-scale farmers. It is on that basis that I tend to agree with Prof Chirwa that agriculture in the Zambian context is not the way to go at all. We need the sort of agriculture you showed us through your posting some 2 or 3 days ago using green construction. But where will the materials come from? RSA? Ney! Our own, Zambian companies should be the ones at the centre of providing the materials through manufacturing.

    MrK, your fear of multinational companies in agriculture is rightly answered by “government getting involved” – which you also agree with. So government should get involved at a large scale level so that we “put a greater emphasis on agriculture in the short term”.

    What about the small scale farmers? In agreeing with you on some of the points (Maravi blog) on decentralisation, that is why in my postings connected to the one on 31 January, 2009 I have been saying we need to take away some of the activities from MACO to social welfare ministry, water utility companies and local govt ministry at district level. Distribution of fertilisers should be an activity under social welfare ministry because they are best suited to identify vulnerable and deserving recipients. That automatically creates employment for local people in target areas because it has tom be an on-going activity not just reviving it in December. Similarly, if local authorities can procure services for road construction and maintenance, irrigation as well as storage facility building and maintenance jobs will be created in respective districts where such services are being sought. It is therefore support services/ industry to agriculture which should be emphasised – e.g. production of say 1. bags for grain and fertiliser 2. Tarpaulins 3. Escalators 4. Chilindamatula dust 5. Ploughs and irrigation equipment 5. Spare parts for machinery etc. Thereafter, we need to have what Prof. Chirwa points out as value addition related to the agric produce – companies for jiggies, canned foods or nicely packed pamelas (relatives to Iwisa of South Africa) etc.

    Therefore, I agree with Prof Chirwa in having reservations on putting agriculture as a major driver of job creation. We can just take a leaf from Zimbabwe whose manufacturing has been the power house of her economy and not agriculture as we usually perceive it to be. If we look at your posting of the green farms construction as well as animal powered agriculture, we still see that manufacturing is at play through what Prof. Chirwa has capped as innovation because if we were to train SMEs to make QUALITY ngolos and ploughs we would be building the manufacturing industry. If we have NCZ up and running, we would create employment. So, it is SUPPORT INDUSTRIES to agriculture and other sectors which we need to concentrate on, and that is where manufacturing takes the major share in job creation.

    Besides, I have not heard of a country whose major contributor to GDP is agriculture (RAW MATERIAL PRODUCTION) having anything to write home about in terms of job creation.

  17. I would like to know whether Prof. Chirwa has done anything before or even currently to try and help reduce poverty in Zambia. I believe someone who is desiring to be president must show even in the smallest of their efforts how much they care and are willy to do for the nation. A man of his caliber must have contributed already to the well being of our economy else its just the ego...

  18. Chama,

    My understanding is that the Prof has been doing some consultancy work in Zambia for various organisations. Passing his knowledge as it were -not sure whether it has been for free.

    His broader approach is that he'll do the work when he relocates back this year or next year.

    I still think his biggest problem is that MMD have rejected him and he is still in denial.

  19. Not,

    I think that you make some very good points about the important role played by agricultural support services in the overall contribution to development and job growth. However, I would encourage you to likewise not overlook the importance of agricultural surpluses as raw materials in development of value-added manufacturing. From simple freeze-dried coffees and canned fish, to fruit and honey-infused beauty products, to cutting-edge bio-plastics manufacturing, a significant output from the nation's farms over and above the traditional subsistence level is a crucial enabling factor. Zambia simply does not have the advantage of position to replicate the sort of import/export based "tiger" economy of nations like Ireland, so the vast bulk of raw materials for any competitive manufacturing effort will have to be locally sourced in order to bypass and/or offset uncompetitive transport costs.

    Just as the presence of copper mines and hydro-power enables the existence of increasingly competitive smelting and processing operations, the existence of a diversified agricultural surplus, even if primarily exported in raw form initially, would open the door to other industries currently unable to compete due to import costs and/or restrictions. There is no real reason to fear that simply because there is an emphasis on primary production of flowers or mangoes or potatoes with low export returns, that somehow that will preclude development of high value-added perfumes, juices, and plant starch-based plastic device casings and packaging. To the contrary, without easily accessible supplies of a wide range of locally produced raw materials, rather than the few traditional staples which when unsupported in isolation can only be exported, the deficit in key infrastructure like transport and power will continue to hamper the ability of Zambian companies to compete profitably.

    To the extent that supply-side economics can influence the direction and extent of development, measures which encourage widespread, if marginal, productivity gains on geographically diverse small rural farms will create a localized raw material surplus in areas with relatively deficient transport networks. Raw material surpluses represent a supply-side opportunity for investors, who must then balance the costs of the materials and processing equipment with the costs of bulk transport. In order to successfully exploit the existence of the raw materials, either the transport system must be improved, or sufficient processing and manufacturing must take place locally such that the value-additions and reductions in required shipping volumes outweigh the high transport costs and/or low capacity and speed.

    On the demand side of the equation it is likewise beneficial to target lower-volume, higher quality export markets when possible. This is where the concepts of organic certification and fair trade marketing and organizing by small farmers and supporting service providers can significantly increase revenues even with only minor increases in productivity.


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