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Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Defending Mulongotism ?

Kenneth Mwenda has an Op’ed in the Government owned and policed Daily Mail where he weighs in on the current question being considered by the NCC - “whether the President must have at least a university degree or not?”. In many respects it is an attempt to put a more intelligent face to Minister Mulongoti's earlier sentiments which we dismissed on When Mulongotism met sakism, and much of what Prof Mwenda talks about is covered in the exchanges therein. Without rehashing previous arguments, I would simply say that none of Mwenda’s new arguments move me as they do not address the two fundamental flaws with the degree qualification proposal: the measure assumes Zambians are foolish to balance educational qualifications and other skills, so they need to be prescribed minimums (irrational assumptions); and, it tries to repair a broken electoral system through artificial restrictions on political players (poor diagnosis). I also think Mwenda’s assessment is deeply flawed by trying to draw parallels between presidential offices and private sector CEO requirements - being President is a right that should be afforded to all Zambians, whilst firms are corporate private clubs that are free to impose restrictions as they see fit. I’ll step aside and leave readers to reach their own conclusions:

Degree for President : To have or not to have, The Daily Mail, Kenneth Mwenda, Commentary :

That an individual’s formal university education alone is not, and must not be, the sole criterion for determining the individual’s leadership qualities is a settled view that requires no contest.

But to argue that illiteracy or semi-literacy, even in situations where such illiteracy or semi-literacy is devoid of wisdom and decency, are credible values that can propel an individual to the helm of political leadership is a totally misguided view.

If anything, the very constitutional argument imbedded in the Constitutions of many countries, stipulating that the Republican President should be at least of a certain age and should be a national of that particular country, does favour a certain kind of reverse discrimination against those individuals resident in a particular country that are below that constitutional age requirement and those that are not nationals of the said country, though having close ties to the country.

Against this background, to contest the merits of a proposal that the Republican Constitution should provide that a Republican President should have at least a university degree or some professional certification equivalent to a university Bachelors degree is a conundrum that is not free from illogical difficulties.

I am awake to the fact that some arguments have been advanced from certain quarters of society, postulating that championing such a proposal is tantamount to targeting a particular individual and thus discriminating against that individual.

To some extent, this view could be true, especially where the proposal is hijacked by opportunistic ‘politicisation.’
Sometimes, a well-meaning developmental goal can be hijacked by those with a self-interest political agenda. But then, what does experience teach us?

In Zambia’s political history, haven’t there been cases where individuals with decent academic credentials, and sometimes even PhDs from reputable international universities, after forming a political party, could not field a presidential candidate from amongst themselves partly because the majority of the party leadership was below the constitutional age requirement to contest the Republican Presidency?

But nobody ever cried foul that the Republican Constitution was discriminatory or should be amended to allow such young intellectuals to contest the Republican Presidency. Indeed, nobody complained that the age requirement in the Republican Constitution infringed the rights of these citizens.

It is therefore ironic that the issue of a university degree should appear so troublesome and burdensome to some. How different is this from the example of age restriction noted above? Even from a labour law or human resource management perspective, do we not see many companies spelling out specific job requirements for hiring, say, their chief executive officer or managing director?

Can we then challenge the constitutionality of these job adverts for specifying that the company is only looking for candidates who hold, inter alia, a university degree or a certain professional qualification that is equivalent to a university degree? Even in the public service, is it not acceptable practice that certain jobs require applicants to have attained a particular level education? By parity of reasoning, why all this fuss about the Republican Presidency?

Are people defending their own personal interests or what? And is presidency not just a job like any other job? Yes, presidents come and go. We have seen them come and go. So, what’s the big deal really? Even a priest must have some minimal levels of education no matter how well-anointed he or she is with the Holy Spirit.

Yet, nobody cries foul that there is discrimination against the already anointed when we send them to seminaries for years of training, with almost no prospect for a lucrative salary after they graduate.

By contrast, it is perfectly conceivable that there would be discrimination if the hiring of employees was done along tribal or ethnic lines because such criteria have no direct bearing, first, on an individual’s ability to perform effectively, and, secondly, on fostering meaningful competition to get the best candidate. It is in this vein that the use of educational levels as one of the basic requirements for an individual to aspire for public office should be embraced without hesitation.

This approach will help us identify and attract the right people into politics and positions of leadership. Experience alone, without grounded theory, is dangerous. There are some people who claim, and proudly too, to have many years of practical experience in doing the same thing over and over again, forgetting that they may have been doing that same thing wrongly much of their life.

Such human failings, predicated on robotic and dogmatic intuitions, are often a result of treating lightly, or paying insufficient attention to valuable and useful theories or ideas in a relevant discipline. Indeed, practice devoid of enlightenment is a good recipe for failure, as much as the carrying out of unintelligent repetitive tasks does not make one a genius.

There can be no substitute for erudition. Exceptions should only be permitted rarely, such as where an individual is of such unquestionable international stature, despite not having a formal university education. We have seen, for example, how Ghana has been heralded internationally as a success African story of good governance and economic growth.

President John Kufuor, an Oxford graduate, handed over the torch of leadership to Professor John Atta Mills, a former Associate Professor of Law at the University of Ghana Law Faculty. It was a peaceful transition, albeit the tightly contested presidential elections. But we are not saying Ghana is completely free of what obtains in many developing countries.

Ghana, like many West African countries, has experienced a troubled political past with routine military coups. But, in the modern age of technology, where a Republican President should be in a position to understand complex issues of globalisation that are so often juxtaposed between norms of international trade and finance as well as those of law and economics, surely we cannot remain glued to the old ways of tired politicians of the past.

A Republican President should not only have a reasonable understanding of quantitative analysis and logic, but he or she should also be computer literate so as to be able to send or receive email, including browsing the internet.

Indeed, a number of countries are moving away from the old era of mediocre leadership that was evidenced through military dictatorships, corrupt and compromised political leaderships, and the often less visionary governing classes. But then, as we have argued above, education alone is not enough. What about those wise elders in many an African traditional society, who presided over complex disputes, resolving these disputes without resort to theories of modern education, how did they succeed?
As a tool for effective leadership, education is only meaningfully functional if it is supported by qualities of high moral and ethical values. As noted above, education alone is not enough. So, then, how are we to determine an individual’s levels of ethical and moral standing?

A well-informed electorate in a society that is not easily susceptible to corruption can point us to some quality leadership. But, where hunger and poverty are overwhelming and have disenfranchised much of the electorate, some voters tend to be compromised. We are then left to look at what the Republican Constitution says.

As argued above, it is not discriminatory to enshrine in the Republican Constitution that a candidate for the Republican Presidency should have at least a university degree or some parallel professional qualification.

That said, we need to exercise caution here. There are a lot of diploma mills out there that award ‘fake’ degrees. Also, honorary degrees should never count as an earned degree. As a policy recommendation, the Supreme Court should be bestowed with powers to screen the eligibility of Presidential candidates in Zambia, consulting, where appropriate and necessary, any relevant institution in Zambia or abroad.

These include the University of Zambia, the Copperbelt University, the Law Association of Zambia, the Zambia Institute of Certified Accountants, the Medical Association of Zambia, the Institute of Directors, the Office of the President, the Anti-Corruption Commission, the Anti-Drug Commission, the Bank of Zambia, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Pensions and Insurance Authority, and any line ministry or regulatory body within Zambia or abroad, on the eligibility of the candidates.

We have to move away from the culture of politics of the stomach which is currently endemic in Zambia. And the idea here is not to try and fix any particular individuals, but rather to fix those socio-economic problems that are rooted in mediocre leadership!


  1. I would expect Ken to support this policy. The man has repsect for degrees. He has 6-7 including 3 doctorates!

  2. I agree that presidency should be accessible to ALL Zambians and this is why I don’t support the presidential parental citizenship clause, as we do not have the ability to change our parents. Never-the-less, I do think that a minimum of bachelors degree is required for basic comprehension of government policy. It is hard to expect a president to understand the implications of economic or political policy if he or she has never studied at least basic economics 101 or basic history 101. Therefore a bachelors degree will prepare future presidents by mentally conditioning them to be able to understand the basics of governance. Furthermore, being conferred with a bachelors degree is attainable by all Zambians regardless of age! There are no biological barriers to attaining an education much like there is with the presidential parental citizenship clause.

  3. Yeah! If Sata attended night school when he quit MMD, he'd have had a law degree by now, like Fred Mmembe! A lack of adequate education is not a valid excuse.

  4. If the presidential parental citizenship clause were in effect in America, then Obama would not be president.

  5. Hmmm, and here I thought that reliance solely on the opinions of ivory tower educated people was to denigrate the majority population of the country. Then again, I have no degree, only experience, and clearly cannot comprehend the basics of logic. I also note that K. Mwenda does not find all degrees to be equally acceptable, effectively requiring some sort of master list of institutions capable of properly educating a presidential candidate. Vocational degrees and workplace experience may be fine for the private sector, but nothing is too good for Zambian Presidents, and no standard is too high. Additionally, it apparently does not matter whether the degree in question has anything to do with economics or history, thus creative writing majors are clearly more qualified to run the national economy than uneducated and misleadingly economically successful businesspeople. To actually have this standard be reliable in guaranteeing the desired characteristics, the Presidency would be limited only to graduates from certain universities and in certain subjects. Interesting interpretation of democratic choice in leadership.

  6. Yet Obama would have had the education he currently holds. We need qualifications which are attainable by ALL Zambians and not just a few. I'd vote to replace the presidential parental citizenship clause with one demanding a minimum bachelors degree, anytime!

  7. Yakima, you can get a degree if you want to! You just lack the seriousness to obtain one! You can even get a degree based on experience or by studying a few courses. If you have the kind of money needed to campaign to become president, then obaining a degree is the smallest of your problems.

  8. Educated people are not as "scatter brained" as uneducated. The uneducated flip flop on policy regularly because they fail to comprehend impact! Just like Sata and his position on Chinese, Indians & Lebanese! Yaba!

  9. Very true! Without a good education and experience, it is very difficult to make a somewhat accurate assessment of policy implications. We need a leader who can understand situations and not have to depend on bootlickers to explain situations to them with their own bias. A higher educational prerequisite will only make leadership better!

  10. Why stop there? Surely the same logic would mean that limiting the vote itself to only those with degrees would improve leadership even more. The uneducated are probably so scatterbrained that they wouldn't even realize that their votes had been taken away.

    Seriously, unless you are completely confident that in every instance the educated potential candidate will be preferable to the uneducated potential candidate, AND that this fact will not be apparent in the choice of the electorate, why write this into the Constitution?

    I see no reason to restrict the possibility of any Zambian citizen obtaining the mandate of leadership from their fellow citizens, if indeed the goal. While "natural born" clauses are common and traditional worldwide, it seems odd to expect a non-colonial population to elect an immigrant in free and open campaigns. In the extraordinary event that they did desire to elect such a person however, it seems odd to presuppose that their reasons for doing so are unsound, when it is their collective expression of popular will that makes the entire basis for the Constitutional Authority to begin with. Likewise age, or gender, or parentage requirements can only serve to overrule the otherwise expressed will of the majority of the electorate. Personally, when I see a relatively small group of people determining in advance which decisions made collectively by the majority of people are "correct" and which "incorrect", I find it difficult to interpret the result as pro-democracy.

    I will put it this way, over the long term if this clause is not adopted into the Constitution, the Zambian voters may still choose to never elect a single "uneducated" President. On the other hand, if this clause is adopted, then future Zambian voters won't be able to even consider electing anyone who doesn't have a "good" education. The reasons given so far sound like proper criteria for an individual voter to apply in making choices between candidates, I do not understand why such choices should be taken away from voters in a democratic system.

  11. Yakima,

    You are losing yourself in argument.

    Do you deny that a higher education gives a better chance to a president to understand and develop government policy better?
    political issues. Sata is no match for Cho in these areas as well.
    If not, then fine!

    I have proof to show that higher education does deliver better. Cho is one such example! He is sharper than HH when it comes to Zambias economic and political hurdles, and Sata is nowhere near either one.

  12. FMD,

    Really? I don't feel lost. Probably my well known lack of seriousness acting up again! I am simply not well educated enough to understand how in certain circumstances I am to subordinate my personal opinions to that of the majority of Zambian voters even when I think that they might be wrong, while in other circumstances I should know that the people are not capable of making the proper choices for their own good, a deficit in judgment so profound that to even allow them to consider choosing the wrong sort of leader would be to risk total disaster. It is not a sign of strength for political parties to attempt to win elections by excluding their opposition from competing.

    Personally, I am sick of the party cadres, all of you. I could care less about which "Big Man" you all support. Accordingly, I would propose a Constitutional clause that forbids any candidate from any party from standing for election in any two consecutive elections. At least if they have to alternate we might see some variety, and decisions about political structure and systems can be made in reference to more than the same tired three individuals every time. Maybe then the idea of Constitution with a capital "C" will sink in, and it can be recognized as more than simply another weapon with which to wage the next battle for control over Plot One.

    As your efforts to render this site boring with elitist condescension are succeeding, I would congratulate you if I understood how you think that doing so will possibly reflect well on those you support. At least in my case, so far you are only succeeding in turning me from a non-partisan contributor into an individual who feels harassed by the flunkies of a paranoid ruling party.

    Elitists cause me feel as though there is no reason to even try to contribute anything to the nation as long as people whom they support are in charge. So well done on your negative recruitment drive! I would never have even considered taking an active role in the 2011 campaign, until now.

  13. Party Cadres! Today you complain about Party Cadres when I've been complaining about this for a while and you have defended such comments because they were against our government and its leader. I guess someone touched a raw nerve. To mention Sata's inadequacies on this blog is a taboo!

  14. Hi all,

    Transgressing into acquisition of degrees is a sign that the current MMD leadership are failing to deliver. Any Zambian with a basic education, common sense and good leadership qualities can stand for elective office including that of the Office of President. Add to that, good philosophy of life – grounded in liberal fair-play principles: are the necessary ingredients for leadership and not the possession of a degree per se.

    There is no causal relationship between having degrees and good leadership. President Kaunda started off with no degree but delivered well. Nigeria has probably more PhDs that UK. But in spite of that plus its oil revenue, the country still remains an LDC (less developed country).

    Zambians are beginning to have complexes – that is why now they begin dreaming of lame excuses. In Zambia today every politician or preacher wants to be called Dr. something. Why? It is because of a complex. By the way complexes go all the way even up to the university level. [At one time UNZA authorities believed that to be a lecturer you have to have a PhD]. This is false. At many universities in the world you have professors or researchers with only one degree teaching graduate students and supervise PhD students. Pick a prospectus of any good university – you’ll find many professors with no PhDs.

    What you need is simply to be a master or an expert in your field of specialization. That is all. A one degree only nuclear scientist or plant breeder – with say 30 years of applied experience is more knowledgeable than a one year post doc. For example, with my PhD education in economics but little applied economics experience – I cannot claim to be more of an expert economist than those with longer experiences. There are some economists who have been at BOZ or MoF for years who can claim to be better than fresh PhDs in economics.

    Just as a preacher with DD is not necessarily better than a catechist who has read the Bible more thoroughly. The world is littered with many successful leaders who didn’t have degrees at all. As a top leader, you do the heavy lifting – be imaginative, pragmatic and provide vision to move the country forward. Then you leave the details and fine tuning to the backroom boys & girls some of whom might have PhDs.

    Finally, if the electorates say found the late Paramount Chief Undi to be a presidential material – what has the degree got to do with it? Artificial barriers would not produce the best president for us. The way you guys are going, you’ll soon start saying – that anyone who hasn’t been abroad can’t lead – as if going abroad enhances leadership qualities.

    So Mulongoti and others should stop dreaming and concentrate on real issues. Surely there are more other important things than talking about degrees.

  15. Imagine if Abraham Lincoln were disqualified from the US Presidency on account of only having attended 18 months of formal education; both the Civil war and slavery would have turned out differently, I presume!

  16. For those of you who dont know, wait for 2011 and see what the current leadership has delivered. Enhanced agricultural development, MFEZ's, increased accountability, reduced presidential powers, etc... Its a pitty you dont know whats going on in Zambia. People are happy with MMD thats why they voted them in again and again.

  17. Kaela, the current leadership has not failed. You just want it to fail. Zambia may not be as developed as the UK or USA but we are getting there. There are more people driving cars and eating pizza than there were in 1991. There are more successful Zambians than there were in 1991. The list is endless! You guys only see failure because thats all you want to see!

  18. The Chinese democracy was sited as the biggest deterent to development 30 years ago. Today, this democracy, which restricts rights and freedoms, has been identified as the greatest strength behind the success of the Chinese economy. Like Kaela, the West was bent on painting China a failure and now, 30 years later, we see that they could not have achieved their economic success without the 'failure' the west was quick to point out. Keep it up! Zambia is moving forward with or without you.

  19. I say, if the people demand that their leader must have a degree, then so be it. Let the likes of HH head the pact and become president. In a democracy (like ours) we follow peoples wishes.

  20. It is very difficult to skim through some of the foregoing contributions without being compelled to join in the debate.

    For now, I wish to disagree with Musonda Mwale's contention that the current leadership in Zambia has not failed, because, according to him, there are more people driving cars and eating pizza than there were in 1991, and that there are more successful Zambians than there were in 1991.

    If these can be said to be accomplishments, they are certainly not accomplishments that can be attributed to any specific policies initiated by the Zambian government. They are mainly a result of some Zambians working a little harder under very difficult circumstances.

    Our beloved country is currently experiencing unprecedented socio-economic problems which the performance of the MMD government needs to be measured against, such as the following: tens of thousands of Grade 7 and Grade 9 students have continued to be spilled onto the streets every year, the healthcare system cannot meet the basic needs of the majority of citizens, the majority of Zambians have no access to clean water and electricity, a critical shortage of decent public housing has compelled so many of our fellow citizens to live in shanty townships nationwide, public infrastructure and services are still deficient, civil servants are still not adequately compensated for their services, a lot of civil service retirees cannot get their hard-earned benefits, crime and unemployment are still widespread and, among many other socio-economic ills, taxes and interest rates are still very high.

    It is, of course, obvious that "Zambia may not be as developed as the UK or USA," but we have not witnessed any deliberate effort or policies designed to shape the direction of our beloved country's socio-economic system.

    As I have often maintained, it is important to remember that meaningful socio-economic development will not come to Zambia like manna from heaven, nor will it come through waking up every day to castigate critics or argue against voices of dissent; rather, it will need to be adequately planned for and diligently pursued.

  21. " There are more people driving cars and eating pizza than there were in 1991. "

    What is the percentage of people living on $1,- per day or less?

    What is the amount of arable land that has been put under cultivation? Or irrigation? What are the miles of roads that have been built?

    There are other metrics than the number of people eating pizza.

  22. FMD,

    Yes. I am complaining because I am an individual and it is annoying me. You persist in your assumption that because I disagree with a particular point of public policy that I am somehow opposed to the party in power in some fundamental sense. I keep trying to correct this misapprehension, and you keep insisting that I do not know my own mind. So I will once again try to clarify:

    Until you, as apparent resident defender of all things MMD, clarified the elitist nature of the party's support base for me, I would have said personally that Rupiah Banda was the best choice out of the candidates who stood for President in the last election that had any reasonable mathematical chance of winning. But of course, then I was a non-partisan, and would not have stated such an opinion on the relative merits of candidates here.

    Now that you have convinced me that in fact my hypothetical vote would have gone to support a policy based on elitist tenets, I realize that it is a vote I would have regretted casting. As a firm believer in the relative merits of democratic theory, I am naturally opposed to elitists. I have yet to determine which party I think would be best to support in accomplishing this (but you are welcome to criticize Sata or any other politician on policy grounds as far as I am concerned).

    If you truly want the People to be able to demand that their leaders have degrees, why can you not also accept that at some future point the People then may wish to have a leader that does not have a degree, and therefore should not be required to officially amend the Constitution before being able to exercise their will? It is elitist to assume that it is proper for the current majority to predetermine what leadership qualities future majorities will prefer. There is nothing elitist about the voters in any given election showing a preference for candidates who hold degrees. Besides, nobody has yet clarified which degrees from which institutions would be acceptable and which would not (though the original article indicates that such a distinction is necessary in order to successfully implement the clause if written into the Constitution). It is simpler and more democratic to allow each electorate to declare their preference for any of their fellow citizens to act as leaders and representatives of the nation.

  23. Yakima, in this case, the Zambian people have demanded that the qualification to presidency includes a degree. The constitution is supposed to be of the wishes of the people at large and not of a few in Diaspora. So, are we supposed to deny them what they have asked for or deliver? If government denies them their desires, will you not be the first one claiming MMD and RB have failed to deliver?

  24. You people think Zambians are sufferring because you think they dont have access to Pizza and Burgers. Its good to know that you dont use western standards to decide who is suffering and who is not. Anyway, people in Zambia have generally seen their lives improve since 1991. It may not be to western standards, but its getting there within our means.

  25. Mr. K, Do those metrics which are created by foreigners cover those Zambians who fend for themselves through subsistence farming or fishing or fruit gathering, etc...? Going by your western benchmarks, all Zambians should be without food. Unfortunately, they are with food and shelter. Maybe we need to start with home grown economics and not this foreign measure.

  26. Kyambalesa, who told you that Zambians want access to clean water and electricity? Who told you that Zambian kids are forced into the streets? Who told you that our housing is not decent and that shanti compounds are spread nationwide? This is what I am talking about. These ideas are foreign to us. I live in Kalingalinga and I commute to the village every month but i have never seen these situations you write about? Where are you getting these standards from? They are definately not from our people because our people demand fertilizer, seed, farming implements, hearses and mobile clinics, which government is delivering.

  27. Like i said earlier, Zambians in Diaspora are detached from the reality on the ground. We need to start by examining how our people choose to live and whether this lifestyle is sustainable within their means. It appears that where whites are proud of eating pizza we are not proud of eating nshima. We need to change this mindset. For now, Zambians, through the CRC, want a president with a degree, Zambia to remain a Christian nation, etc... Give to Ceasar what belongs to Ceasar! It all starts with connecting with our people.

  28. FMD,

    I think that your definition of terms is somewhat circular. My understanding is that the recommendations of the NCC will be subject to referendum by the electorate. Therefore, by definition, the decisions of the NCC do not yet represent the clear will of the majority. This is inherent in the structure of the process. Nothing has been finalized in any binding way, and members of the larger population including those in the Diaspora have been specifically asked by the MMD government to express opinions on issues now, so that the NCC can consider them before anything is final. This was a policy of which I openly approved and applauded the government for enacting. Your explanation of the underlying logic being employed by MMD in considering changes to the binding Constitutional framework however clarifies that this request for input was apparently not genuine.

    At this point I would like to appeal to the broader population of MMD supporters, to correct my interpretation of your party as presented by recent comments by FMD and others claiming to represent you. As I have explained already, it is the presumption that I am an inherently hostile actor towards the legitimate elected government which is causing me to change my position to a partisan stance from an avowedly neutral one. This is in effect a "negative recruitment" result, which I would caution is not a good sign, unless you feel that persons in the Diaspora are so widely disliked that your support will be somehow increased by a "double negative" effect.

    As with all party-level decisions, this is for your membership to decide for themselves, to choose between grasping the outstretched hand of the blogosphere or slapping it away. Thus far, international results have been positive for governments and parties which have done the former, not so for those who have actively attempted to stifle, censor, or control content. Self-selecting media audiences do not react exactly the same way as traditional broadcast media audiences do. People have to actively seek blog content, and thus once they have decided that they like the type of discourse at a particular site, telling them that they should not like it provokes an emotional response.

    ZE has a very open guest blog and comments policy, but rather than use it as a tool to reach an interested audience with your party message, as those whose stated opinions he objects to so strenuously have done for themselves, FMD's words indicate that you would rather such tools didn't exist. As I continue to explain in a variety of ways, prior to the last few days I had not formed any real preference with regard to party politics. While I never found the rhetoric of the major opposition parties to be particularly persuasive, and have frequently expressed the opinion that their internal structures are not sufficiently strong enough to secure a national majority let alone govern successfully, the representatives of those positions on this blog have accepted my contributions as expressions of my own personal views, and not falsely ascribed ulterior motives nor external agendas to me. This has also been true previously of those claiming to support the government position on various issues.

    In fact, this recent spate of commentary expressing overt hostility toward the very medium being used to make that expression and the others also choosing to make use of it is so unusual and out of character for the blog that I am beginning to wonder if this is not in fact the work of some opposition group trying to undermine the willingness of the Diaspora to contribute to development efforts being directed by government. If so, I must applaud your ingenuity in devising a highly effective means of negative campaigning via the blogosphere, however I feel I must point out that I view the use of deceptive zero-sum tactics to be counter to the long term interests of Zambian political electorates. Invoking Caesar in a debate over democracy, brilliant! Bring on the bread and circuses!

  29. Yakima, I am not a member of the MMD and i am not its spokesperson. Mulongoti and Tetamashimba represent MMD, the government and its public announcements. Like you, i am a concerned citizen fighting the negative image that you have of our country and its leaders. I realize that the west is what it is today because westerners support their governments, just like they have done with the failed war in Iraq. It is not possible to foster development when you are of the opinion that everything government undertakes is a sign of failure. Please forgive me for the misconception purported that I am a cadre of the MMD, but also please realize that anyone who attempts to change your negative mindset about our government and its leaders, will most likely be seen as an MMD cadre to you. As for presidential qualifications, the government constituted a CRC which brought common recommendations from all 150 constituencies for amendments to our constitution. These were supposed to have been adopted in parliament through a constitutional amendment bill but instead the NCC was convened by our president to address ambiguity and inconsistency in the recommendations. There is no ambiguity or inconsistency with the presidential qualifications including a degree. If anything, this will improve leadership quality by assuring older leaders are retired and younger, more educated, leaders are installed.

  30. Them and Us is very cheap discourse! It is cadrerism! Why not confine ourselves to the merits and demerits of issues? What I dont understand is why in this age of the free blosphere, someone can be so masochistic as to be drawn to a blog that is antithetical to everying one believes in!

  31. Frank, so do you think we should grant the people their wish to have a president with a degree or not?

  32. FMD and friends desist from speaking about "peoples' wishes". No one has established that a President with a degree is what people are wishing for. This suggestion is from MMD cadres. Just like the 'Rupiah Banda sole candidacy'. The only thing the people of Zambia should be granted is to make a choice amongst a group of citizens who present themselves for the purpose of election to the presidency! I think every Zambia who is eligible to vote can make a decision as to who is qualified to lead them. I regard myself as a highly qualified Zambian and if I were to be selfish and elitist, I would say the current and past Presidents are highly unqualified for the Presidency. Lets face it most CEO of corporations have post graduate qualifications and we should be demanding the same for the CEO of our country (do you see how the slope can become very slippery?). Honestly the degree requirement is not necessary.

  33. FMD, western public opinion is not monolithic. Honestly, didnt you see the biggest anti-war marches in London and New York in the summer of 2003? To date the British public is split in the middle concerning the Afghanistan war. Obama won the elections because, among other things, Americans thought he will bring the war to an end. It is too simplistic to suggest that western people support their govts. Ask Gordon Brown!

  34. Anonymous,

    I think that you will find ZE includes quite a lot of information about the progress being made by government agricultural programmes, as well as private sector initiatives. Back when the FSP review process was underway, there was a great deal of discussion, and then when the proposed reform plan was released, yet more discussion, with most apparently concluding that on balance it is a step in the right direction for agriculture. Therefore more recent reports of implementation are simply welcome and don't provoke much additional comment. Here are some examples from recent months:


    Thank you for your clarification, and my apologies for assuming that the evidence for the will of the People being cited was their choice of elected representatives, and hence my assumption that you were accusing me of partisan motivation on the basis of affiliation with the ruling party. Perhaps we can both now agree not to accuse each other of partisanship? I will be very happy to go back to simply speaking my mind rather than worrying about which factions I might offend or please in the process.

    My opposition to constitutional clauses that restrict citizens in a democracy from standing for election by their peers is not new to this particular instance, though it does appear to double as a good example of why constitutions also serve the function of restricting the scope of the powers of any given majority through time. In this specific case I think that inclusion of this clause will lead to lawsuits over which degrees are genuine and which are not. I can guarantee that I would applaud the decision by the duly constituted commission to submit for ratification a constitution that did not include restrictions on a candidate's age, education, parentage, etc.

    Had the decision been made to adopt the CRC without further review, this would likely be a dead issue, however since there is a NCC that is reviewing and voting on inclusion of clauses one by one, presumably there is nothing improper about siding with the minority on a given issue. In my view, to adopt this clause is to surrender a portion of the power of future electorates to college lecturers and the ability of electoral commissions and/or courts to determine which degree-issuing institutions meet the standards of the constitutional requirement. The fact that Sata's lack of education is a good reason not to vote for him is beside the point, since that option would still exist if the clause were removed.

    On US Presidential popularity, Gallup has a good page comparing historical trends. The Bush ratings bear great similarity to Truman and LBJ, who faced public reaction from protracted overseas military engagements in Korea and Vietnam respectively. There is certainly a demonstrable positive spike in popularity when a US President declares war, however there are many who argue that this tendency to "rally around the flag" in a manner that discourages questions or dissent towards leadership plays a role in shaping the later failures of the initial war policy.

  35. Listen, people have to understand that building a nation is a collaborative exercise. All inputs (good or bad) are essential. An open discussion is healthy. After all good and successful societies have been built that way. For now, Zambia is very far away from being a good society.

    If CRC degree proposal is peoples’ and must be taken without any debate or changes – then what is NCC doing? If CRC are written in stone, then NCC would not be needed. And if this stand is correct, then Sata is right and NCC must be disbanded. See how you guys in MMD are contradicting yourselves?

    The learned and legal man Levy Mwanawasa had other ideas about CRC. Basically he rejected the CRC recommendations and thought that NCC idea was the best to come up with a constitution. Since we are now where we are – everything is on the table: the degree clause, Dual citizenship and many others. It is these we are trying to debate. If you don’t like the heat, then don’t be in the kitchen.

    Thus, I reiterate: - a degree requirement which is borne out of cadre mentality and being promoted by MMD only – is not a determinant of good leadership. If the people should choose someone with no degree – what should she/he do, change the constitution? Further, is a Sandhurst trained military officer no good? Think carefully!

    M. Mwale;
    My answer to you is contained in what – Kyambalesa, MrK, and Yakima wrote. Please read these comments carefully and with an honest mind. In a nut shell: - to you it is development if you and a few other Zambians are able to own cars and eat pizza, even if the rest are swallowing in abject poverty. To you it is okay for people to live in Shanties with no running water or electricity. To you it is fine for women to deliver babies in wheel barrows (what is Western standard about this?). To you it is okay to prepare the way for Chinese to come to Zambia and take over land and convert Zambians residing on those pieces of land as croppers or laborers. We say – hell no!

    Let me also remind you that – all empires come and go. The once strong and might UNIP came and went. Also remember that colonial masters used to rule black masses from bungalows on anti-hills – where are they? Please don’t think that people are stupid. Many others in Shanty, whom you think are happy, will surprise you. Not every body wants to walk when others are driving. And not everybody is satisfied to live on one ($1) dollar a day. I hope you are only speaking for yourself. OK! We in the Diaspora have joined in the debate because we care. We believe that if other African countries – Ghana, Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland and South Africa, to name a few, can manage to improve things why can’t we? Be honest to yourself Mwale!

  36. Ba Frank,

    The constitutional review commission went into all 150 constituencies and asked for recommendations as required by our current constitution. The most common recommendations were collected and submitted to the office of the president for consideration. As per our constitution, the office of the president was supposed to instruct the ministry of justice to prepare a constitutional amendment bill so that the recommendations could be enacted. At the time, the president decided to create the National Constitutional Conference so as to clear any ambiguity or inconsistency that may arise in the event that the recommendations become law.

    So how do you conclude that this is an MMD created issue? Are you suggesting that even the 50+1% is an MMD created issue too?

  37. FMD;
    There are no ambiguities in the Mung'omba draft constitutional proposal. The degree requirement is not in the CRC. This is a last minute proposal at the so called NCC from MMD psychophants.... one Mike Mulongoti. I think people like you dont mind that this circus is not new. This game has been played for 45 years in Zambia. Why do you think South Africans found it easy to agree on their new constitution? It is because unlike so called Zambian leaders; SA leaders are selfless. I am yet to come across a Zambian president with a mature disposition who puts his country first rather personal ambition and advantage. It is stupid to be drawing constitutions with the sole aim of electoral advantage. We need to depersonalise our laws. What Chiluba did in 1996 was stupid; the degree requirement also falls in the same column. Honestly I do not know why peple can be so psychophantic about someone and not trust him enough to win against other candidates in a fair game.

  38. As pointed out repeatedly above, a qualification clause is not necessary. If the majority demand a president with a degree, then they can demonstrate that preference with their vote. The only effect of restricting who can stand in the constitution is to introduce the potential for the people’s choice not being allowed.

    Some pro-clause contributors have even stated above that anyone can get a degree. If true, surely that would render the clause even more pointless!

    Of course, it is possible that the current majority want the qualification clause, despite its redundancy and potentially unwelcome outcomes. But shouldn’t our “educated” leaders and NCC members be explaining the short-sightedness of restricting candidates and moving on to something more important? What is the point of educated leaders, if they place the fleeting favour of the majority above reason? Please, let us have a constitution that has a chance of standing the test of time.

    Some contributors say it is not the majority that want the qualification, but the MMD, in order to bar Sata from the next election. Sadly, this appears to be the only point of view that stands up to any analysis.

  39. Musonda Mwale,

    I believe Kaela has provided a good answer to your contributions.

    However, let me comment on the following: "Zambia may not be as developed as the UK or USA but we are getting there" and "people in Zambia have generally seen their lives improve since 1991. It may not be to western standards, but it's getting there within our means."

    To reiterate, I have personally not witnessed any deliberate effort or policies designed to shape the direction of our beloved country's socio-economic system by the current MMD government. I may be wrong, and I stand to be corrected. But it is important to remember that meaningful socio-economic development will not come to Zambia like manna from heaven, nor will it come through waking up every day to castigate critics or argue against voices of dissent; rather, it will need to be adequately planned for and diligently pursued.

    So, we cannot expect our beloved country to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) or the Vision 2030 without deliberate policies and a realistic schedule of implementation by the government.

    Sound long-term planning is essential to our country’s future, and to the well-being of future generations, although such planning needs to be balanced with the needs of our generation because in the long run, to paraphrase the famous economist John Maynard Keynes, we are all going to be dead!

    For this reason, it is important to devise a schedule for implementing some of the country's short-term and medium-term projects and programs to strike a balance between our needs and expectations, and the needs and expectations of future generations. I have in mind an implementation schedule like the following:

    1) Inauguration Day:

    (a) Appointment of 10 Cabinet Ministers.

    (b) Abolition of the position of District Commissioner.

    (c) Abolition of examination fees in formal education.

    (d) Abolition of TV licensing and related levies.

    (e) Creation of an autonomous "National Emergency Management Agency" (NEMA), which shall incorporate the functions of The Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) that is currently vested in the Office of the Vice-President in order for it to perform its duties without any political meddling or manipulation.

    (f) Detachment of the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) from the Ministry of Agriculture and conversion of the Agency into an autonomous body in order for it to perform its duties without any political meddling or manipulation, which shall be expected to provide assistance to the needy and, as such, shall incorporate the functions of the Public Welfare Assistance Scheme currently administered through the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services, including the Social Cash Transfer Scheme.

    2) June 1, 2012:

    (a) Abolition of the position of Provincial Permanent Secretary.

    (b) Abolition of the position of Provincial Minister.

    (c) Appointment of Acting Provincial Governors.

    (d) Privatization of the Times of Zambia (TZ).

    (e) Turning of the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) into a public broadcaster not controlled by the government.

    (f) Reduction of Zambian foreign missions, appointment of diplomats, and re-assignment of countries and regions to be covered by each mission.

    (g) Derivation of standardized organization charts for districts and provinces.

    3) October 2012:

    (a) Start improving infrastructure in schools, colleges, universities, ZNS camps, and vacated refugee camps.

    (b) Start providing free seeds and fertilizer for 2 consecutive years.

    (c) Start upward revisions of compensation packages for employees on government payroll.

    (d) Devolution of superintendence over the civil police to provincial governments.

  40. [Continued from above.]

    4) January 1, 2013:

    (a) Reductions in Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) and corporate income tax by 5 percentage points.

    (b) Reduction in value-added tax (VAT) from 16% to 12.5%.

    (c) Reductions in interest rates by at least 2 percentage points per year over a period of 4 years.

    (d) Payment of all due retirement benefits owed by the government.

    (e) Free healthcare without inhibiting the operations of private healthcare providers.

    (f) Free formal education (up to Grade 12).

    (g) Abolition of Grades 7 and 9 elimination examinations for all school children.

    (h) Provision of scholarships to Grade 12 students who shall obtain a Division 1 in order for them to pursue studies at locally based institutions of higher learning registered in Zambia.

    (i) Provision for low-interest government loans for Grade 12 students who shall not obtain a Division 1 to make it possible for them to pursue studies at locally based institutions of higher learning registered in Zambia.

    (j) Mass enrolment (on a voluntary basis) of street kids and other pan-handlers into skills training programs at ZNS and vacated refugee camps.

    5) January 1, 2014:

    (a) Start the implementation of home ownership schemes for the police and all civil servants, provision of low-cost rental housing units for low-income families nationwide, management of a home-ownership scheme for low-income families to be financed through low interest mortgages, and rehabilitation of shanty townships.

    (b) Start improving infrastructure in resettlement schemes nationwide.

    6) October 2014:

    (a) Start providing a seed and fertilizer subsidy at 50%.

    7) October 2016:

    (a) Election of 9 provincial governors and 72 district mayors.

    (b) Election of Provincial Treasurers and Secretaries.

    With respect to the procurement of hearses and mobile clinics, which you believe are signs that the government is delivering, you have probably not been following the negative debate about such procurements among some segments of Zambian society.

  41. Whilst urban people and Zambians in Diaspora argue over hearses & mobile hospitals, the majority rural dwellers are waiting for these to be delivered. After all, they asked for them and no one there is complaining.

  42. 123. (1) A person shall be qualified to be a candidate for election as President if that person - Office of President Qualifications of presidential candidate Prohibition on use of public resources during election period

    (a) is a citizen by birth or descent;

    (b) does not have dual citizenship;

    (c) has been ordinarily resident in Zambia for a
    continuous period of ten years immediately
    preceding the election;

    (d) is not less than thirty-five years of age;

    (e) has obtained, as a minimum academic qualification, a grade twelve certificate or its equivalent.

    (f) is conversant with the official language; and

    (g) declares that person’s assets and liabilities as provided by this Constitution and by or under an Act of Parliament.

  43. 123. (1) A person shall be qualified to be a candidate for election as President if that person -

    (a) is a citizen by birth or descent;

    (b) does not have dual citizenship;

    (c) has been ordinarily resident in Zambia for a
    continuous period of ten years immediately
    preceding the election;

    (d) is not less than thirty-five years of age;

    (e) has obtained, as a minimum academic qualification, a grade twelve certificate or its equivalent.

    (f) is conversant with the official language; and

    (g) declares that person’s assets and liabilities as provided by this Constitution and by or under an Act of Parliament.

  44. So Mulongoti figures it should read...

    123. (1) A person shall be qualified to be a candidate for election as President if that person -

    (a) is a citizen by birth or descent;

    (b) does not have dual citizenship;

    (c) has been ordinarily resident in Zambia for a
    continuous period of ten years immediately
    preceding the election;

    (d) is not less than thirty-five years of age;

    (e) has obtained, as a minimum academic qualification, a Bacherlors Degree or its equivalent.

    (f) is conversant with the official language; and

    (g) declares that person’s assets and liabilities as provided by this Constitution and by or under an Act of Parliament.

  45. I agree that in place of a Grade 12 Certificate we put a Bachelors Degree. A Grade 12 Certificate is not good enough for presidency. We should be striving for more qualified leadership and not less. After all, we can all get a degree if we put our minds to it.

  46. This should apply to our MP's too. We have some very dull people represting us who are just bootlickers of their party presidents. They have never won any position at party conventions and they are there to just support the wickedness of their party leadership. We need people who can stand their ground and represent our people.

  47. So our current constitution does not have any educational qualifications. It only has age floor and citizenship restrictions. So the CRC received ideas from the people at large, that educational qualifications are a neccessity. So whats wrong with that? Whether by grade 12 certificate or bachelors degree, the likes of Sata who posses neither, will not be able to stand anyway!

  48. So one group here figures that if Zambians want a British guy for presidency, they should not be barred from electing him. Whilst the other group feels that qualifications should be strengthened to narrow our choice of leadership. I would not be comfortable with a British national standing for presidency in Zambia and similarly, I’d not be comfortable with an illiterate bus driver standing either. As a Zambian living in Zambia, i think an educational minimum is required for both MP and Presidency. I also support the idea of narrowing our presidential choice to Zambians only regardless of whether the majority think a Briton can do better!

  49. If the people at large do not want someone to be president or MP due to their background or lack of education (or on any other grounds), all they have to do is not vote for them!

    Can someone explain to me the ADVANTAGE of taking choice away from the voters in the manner suggested? Why are people scared of what the “majority think”?

  50. Very true Dominic. But what if people in 100 constituencies demand hearses and mobile clinics? Should their choice be restricted to more efficient burial services (without transport) from the council and more efficient health centres (50km away)? Democracy in Zambia is proving to be quite difficult because of differences in priorities amongst the rural and urban dweller. It is important to engage our people at their level in order to understand their needs and most importantly, to understand their idea of sustainable solutions to their own needs. Without this, we will remain divided over the decisions made by our government, like we are today. In this case the majority voted for mobile clinics and hearses. The majority also requested the CRC to include an educational clause yet we, the educated in urban areas and in the Diaspora, say ‘NO’ to mobile clinics, ‘NO’ to hearses and ‘NO’ to presidential educational qualifications. Like you, I wonder ‘why are people scared of what the majority think’?

  51. The majority are scared of what the majority think?!? Lol

    That the majority may not always make the optimum choice has been democracy’s eternal problem. To misquote Winston Churchill: democracy is the worst system of government, except all the others.

    Yet, while the majority might have views that we don’t agree with, these views are not set in stone. There is the possibility of engaging with the people, explaining the pros and cons of a proposal, persuading them to adopt our own view. Similarly, we must be open to having our view evolve. Engaging with and understand different people is key, as you say.

    Perhaps the real tragedy of the proposed educational clause is that it comes from a lack of trust in the ability of the people to choose their leaders, and that this lack of trust is being accepted rather than challenged.

    I would rather have a clause in the constitution that gives every citizen the right to a grade 12 education, and so by restores our faith in the intellectual ability of the majority, than a clause which accepts the people can’t be trusted to know what is good for them.

  52. Musonda Mwale,

    The following statement is not accurate: "Whilst urban people and Zambians in Diaspora argue over hearses & mobile hospitals, the majority rural dwellers are waiting for these to be delivered. After all, they asked for them and no one there is complaining."

    Mobile Clinics: The decision to purchase the mobile clinics was made at State House by President Banda, health Minister Kapembwa Simbao, health Permanent Secretary Velepi Mtonga, officials from the Chinese Embassy, and representatives from the China National Aero Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC).

    President Banda indicated that the government would purchase mobile clinics during the official opening of the National Assembly, and explained at another forum that the proposal on mobile clinics came from the Chinese. Moreover, he was quoted as having said that the concept of mobile clinics was a "damn good idea" upon his arrival from Zimbabwe recently.

    He did not say that rural dwellers had asked for the mobile clinics. Ronnie Shikapwasha’s insistence that the views of intended direct beneficiaries like traditional rulers should not be stifled in the debate concerning the mobile clinics also explains the fact that rural dwellers did not actually request the government to procure the same.

    Hearses: The decision to procure hearses by the Ministry of Local Government and Housing was also not made because rural folk had asked for them. And the President recently told the nation (during a Press Conference on June 24, 2009 at State House) that he had no knowledge of the procurement while he had been Vice President, and during the 8 months he has been President.

    Besides, one wonders how rural dwellers in the 9 provinces would have channelled their requests for the purchase of hearses and mobile clinics to the central government! By the way, MPs and the Cabinet were also not aware of decisions to buy hearses and mobile clinics!

  53. Kyambalesa,

    I suspect you are in Diaspora because you lack facts.

    1. Mobile hospitals where first discussed during the formulation of the FNDP. Levy then began the process of acquiring these services shortly after the 2006 election. If you’d read the government’s position on mobile hospitals, as issued by Shikapwasha, you’d have known this. Unfortunately, it was not covered by the Post Newspaper. Furthermore, all the chiefs have endorsed the idea of mobile hospitals. They feel this is one way to deliver medical services which their people desperately need whilst awaiting the construction of new hospitals.

    2. The decision to procure hearses was made at local government level when Sylvia was heading it. The various councils around Zambia requested that government supply them with hearses to bury their dead in dignity. The councils stated that many people complained to them asking for government to cushion the financial impact of death in their communities. This was clearly pointed out by Sylvia during her defence of the procurement of hearses.

  54. Now how is the Diaspora going to help develop Zambia when, like FMD has pointed out, they are so detached from the people on the ground?

    You think Zambians in rural areas have no means by which to communicate their concerns. You think there is no means by which government connects to its people. You think our rural dwellers live in trees and speak primate.

    Unfortunately, your thoughts are archaic!

    Our people do make decisions and they do communicate these decisions to our government, and our government does respond to these demands. Yet you think fertilizer, seed and farming implements are imposed on our people.

  55. ToZ 19th May 2009 - THE House of Chiefs has welcomed the proposed mobile hospitals with members generally agreed that the concept will benefit the rural populace which lacks health services.
    House of Chiefs chairperson, Chief Mumena of the Kaonde people in Solwezi said in Lusaka yesterday that Zambians should stop politicking on the mobile hospitals because matters of health were about life and death.
    "The House feels that the mobile hospitals is a bright idea. The mobile hospitals are not new in Zambia, we used to have mobile dental clinics in the past," Chief Mumena told journalists shortly after the House debated the clinics.
    The traditional ruler said the rural areas needed the mobile hospitals more than the urban areas describing the situation in the rural areas as an emergency.
    He said the House of Chiefs felt that while the Government was waiting to construct permanent hospitals, the mobile clinics should be used in rural areas as an alternative.
    Chief Mumena, however, urged the Government to quickly start constructing feeder roads if the project was to be sustainable.

  56. Monday, July 6, 2009, 10:18
    The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) in Mazabuka has supported the controversial purchase of hearses by government.
    CCJP Mazabuka Co-ordinator, Simon Musune, told ZANIS in Mazabuka yesterday that the purchase of the hearses should be supported because it is meant to help lessen transport problems faced by mourners, especially those from poor families who cannot afford to hire transport.
    Mr Musune said it is sad that some people are opposed to the purchase of hearses when some members of society were using bicycles and even bare hands to carry the coffins to the grave yard.
    He said his organisation is in full support of the government’s decision because the programme is targeting the poor.
    Mr Musune urged Zambians to develop a culture of supporting government when it has initiated good policies which are aimed at improving the livelihood of disadvantaged communities.
    He urged Zambians to employ constructive criticism and desist from engaging in destructive criticism which is only meant to derail implementation of policies.

  57. Wow! I see a clear pattern here:-

    1. House of Chiefs chairperson, Chief Mumena of the Kaonde people in Solwezi said in Lusaka yesterday that Zambians should stop politicking on the mobile hospitals because matters of health were about life and death.

    2. Mr Musune (CCJP Co-ordinator - Mazabuka) said it is sad that some people are opposed to the purchase of hearses when some members of society were using bicycles and even bare hands to carry the coffins to the grave yard. He urged Zambians to employ constructive criticism and desist from engaging in destructive criticism which is only meant to derail implementation of policies.

    It appears to me that there is an apparent pattern to derail implementation of policies through politicking.


  58. Musonda Mwale,

    I concur with the facts/information expressed by Kyambalesa in his July 22 comment. Other than ungrounded verbose, you cannot challenge that. Further, if and when people vote for mobile clinics and hearses – it means that people are making decisions based on wrong or manipulated information. Nobody in their right mind can choose to import cars/vehicles to carry their dead bodies instead of asking for drugs to prevent them from dying. Zambians aren’t that stupid.

    Dominic’s interpretation of free vote is dependant on people getting full disclosure of ALL information. This means for example that – if people are told that the preference of those with degrees as president is because they can rule better and be able to speak grammatical English and can hold a folk properly when they visit the Queen or White House, the reaction would be quite different. And I bet you if the question was re-phrased properly, the verdict/ resolution would be a non-requirement for degrees. Even respectable Ng’andu Magande’s comment on the same issue seems to be in agreement with us.

    Moreover, if you understand and agree that age and citizenship are exclusionary clauses – why would you fail to grasp our position on self-imposed restrictions? While it is clear that you do not want a Briton to rule over Zambia, it is another matter to rule yourself out of the enjoyment of your own full privileges. This is also perhaps analogous to a situation whereby it is logical for a man not to expect other men to come and sleep with his wife. But it is completely absurd and illogical for the same man to bar himself from sleeping with his own wife.

    In resource allocation principles and “my home is my castle” survival slogan – age and citizen clauses are only used as means to an end, and not for the promotion of universality as Mwenda argued. That is, to many people who appreciate scarcity and self-interest, relaxing for example, citizenship clause would be considered stupid. As a matter of fact, at Bemba wedding rituals – there is a proverbial song which goes like – “Isese tumutwalile elyo abene bakayonawile”. Basically endorsing that, [let’s take it to the owner so that he can spoil it himself]. That is you’ve to keep what is yours.

    So FMD, Mwenda and others, we’ve to make it clear to you that in the process of protecting and preserving what is ours – we do not want to put unnecessary limits on ourselves. That would be illogical. You cannot amputate yourself. I hope I have made myself clear. I repeat as Magande says – all we need is “a wise and intelligent person” to run Zambia. RB has a degree from Sweden but he does not impress many people.

  59. But Kaela,

    At what point are you going to get in touch with your people? Must all your ideas be based on assumption?

    Your people are faced with many deaths per day (HIV & Malaria related) and are clearly demanding for a means by which to dispose of their dead.

    Here you are saying they have been misled. How?

    They are the ones making the request because they are the ones living this impoverished life.

    You need to connect with your people before you pass judgement on their decisions.

    If the hearses was not their idea, why are they eager to receive them?

    Even the opposition are demanding that the hearses be distributed.


    Once again, i agree with FMD that you guys are too too too detached from people in rural areas, so much that you have no idea what they need and want.

    You only know what you think they should have!

  60. Kaela,

    You depend on the Post too much.

    RB impressed more people in 2 months than Sata did in 7 years or HH in 2 years, which is why he is president today.

    Our country is a democracy. Our people are not stupid, I agree, which is why they want a minimum educational qualification for their leadership. Educational qualifications are attainable. It would have been different if the qualifications are unattainable like the presidential parental citizenship clause.

    If you hear debates in parliament, you’ll know that many of our MP’s are completely ignorant. Opposition MP’s are even worse!

    Governance starts at MP level but if our MP’s can’t comprehend policies and depend on their party leaders and cadres to direct them, then we are surely headed for the crapper, when those party leaders and cadres are just as ignorant.

    Until today, not one MP has a valid reason to impeach RB! They are all waiting for their party presidents to give them direction. We expect these people to understand the law but this is not possible because they are uneducated.

    The educated MP’s have made a decision not to impeach RB. The educated opposition MP's are not allowing their party or its president to bring unnecessary anarchy to our country.

    Uneducated politicians are blind followers with no vision or idea of governance. Educated politicians have opinions, ideas and will not follow blindly due to ignorance.

    It would only benefit us as a nation, if we got our leaders to prove their abilities starting with getting a simple degree. After all, a degree today is like a grade 12 certificate 20 years ago!

    Tune in to 92.6Mhz are hear for yourself!

  61. Dominic,

    "Perhaps the real tragedy of the proposed educational clause is that it comes from a lack of trust in the ability of the people to choose their leaders, and that this lack of trust is being accepted rather than challenged. I would rather have a clause in the constitution that gives every citizen the right to a grade 12 education, and so by restores our faith in the intellectual ability of the majority, than a clause which accepts the people can’t be trusted to know what is good for them."

    I was wondering how long it will take people to grasp the fundamental question raised. You have captured it perfectly.

    The real question, I was hoping people will debate is whether the average Zambian can be trusted to make up his mind or he is too misinformed or just ignorant. What is it about our people that we do not think that they are capable of differentiating a good candidate from a bad one without being spoon fed????

    This really is what I wanted to know...


    You have kind of hinted at this issue as way from a different perspective. I think you are correct that ultimately the local people should define development for themselves. If they want hearses to bury the dead, so be it. But I am not sure what you evidence is that that hearses were indeed the people's choices. So we agree on philosophical foundation, but you have not provided enough arguments to persuade me that these were people's choices. Perhaps you can expand on it?

  62. Musonda Mwale,

    There are perhaps too many exaggerations in your contributions on issues relating to the procurement of hearses and mobile clinics. It is not true that people in rural areas asked the government to buy these facilities. It may also not be true that all the chiefs in Zambia have accepted the purchase of the facilities. There are only 27 Chieftains in the House of Chiefs (3 chieftains elected by Chiefs from each of the nine Provinces of Zambia) who discussed the issue of mobile clinics, for example, out of a total of 286 chieftains. You are perhaps in a better position to tell me what the views of the remaining 259 chieftains are.

    Why did the Chieftains in the House of Chiefs have to be consulted if the purchases were initially recommended by their subjects?

    I wish to share with you the following articles on the two issues:

    2009.05.03 | News | Muvi TV:
    Republican President, Rupiah Banda says the Fifty Three Million US dollars mobile hospitals deal is a good idea. President Banda however says the deal is just a proposal from the Chinese government. Mr. Banda says the Chinese government offered the idea and nothing was agreed.

    The President has denied reports that he is behind the deal. He was speaking to journalists upon arrival at City Airport from Zimbabwe where he had gone for a four days state visit. On the mobile hospitals, President Banda said the idea of acquiring mobile hospitals for rural areas offered by the Chinese government has not yet been approved. Mr. Banda however, said his administration is not against the initiative. ....

    ZANIS, "Government clarifies the issue of mobile hospitals," May 21, 2009:
    Chief government spokesperson Ronnie Shikapwasha disclosed that government has since engaged stakeholders to carry out a comprehensive assessment of the matter.

    Speaking today when he featured on Radio Christian Voice Programme dubbed “Health care delivery in Zambia," Lieutenant General Shikapwasha, who is also Information and Broadcasting Services Minister, said government would ensure that it gets all views from all stakeholders before a decision to procure the equipment from China is agreed to.

    Lt. Gen Shikapwasha explained that government will also wait for the report from the medical assessment team looking at how best the mobile clinics can assist people to access quality and improved health care delivery in the country.

    He noted that the report will also be taken to cabinet for further consideration, adding that government is determined to provide improved health care services to all its citizens.

    Lt. Gen Shikapwasha said that government will not impose the decision on people but will rather accept views from members of the public on the issue.

    He pointed out that members of the public can play a leading role in providing guidance to government through their views.

    Lt. Gen Shikapwasha reiterated government’s commitment to building more rural health care centers throughout country.

    He disclosed that currently about 50 percent of the rural population do not have access to quality health care services hence the government to build more health facilities in such areas.

    He also added that this is also why much of this year’s budgetary allocation to the health sector will be spent on constructing new health post and centers as a way of providing cheap and easy access to health facilities in rural areas.

    The Minster further disclosed that 42 of the 120 constructed health posts in different districts have already been commissioned to ease the burden of people walking long distances to the nearest centre.

    Meanwhile, Lt. Gen Shikapwasha has bemoaned lack of well-trained medical personal in most health centers in the country.

    He said improved health care can only be administered through having well-trained personal all health departments.

    He has however, called on private sector participation in enhancing good healthcare services in line with the Fifth National Development Plan of 2010.

  63. [Continued from above.]

    Times of Zambia: "House of Chiefs Nods Mobile Hospitals Concept," 19 May 2009:
    THE House of Chiefs has welcomed the proposed mobile hospitals with members generally agreed that the concept will benefit the rural populace which lacks health services.

    House of Chiefs chairperson, Chief Mumena of the Kaonde people in Solwezi said in Lusaka yesterday that Zambians should stop politicking on the mobile hospitals because matters of health were about life and death.

    "The House feels that the mobile hospitals is a bright idea. The mobile hospitals are not new in Zambia, we used to have mobile dental clinics in the past," Chief Mumena told journalists shortly after the House debated the clinics.

    The traditional ruler said the rural areas needed the mobile hospitals more than the urban areas describing the situation in the rural areas as an emergency.

    He said the House of Chiefs felt that while the Government was waiting to construct permanent hospitals, the mobile clinics should be used in rural areas as an alternative.

    Chief Mumena, however, urged the Government to quickly start constructing feeder roads if the project was to be sustainable.

    Earlier during the deliberations, Chieftainess Nyakulen’ga of Zambezi supported the mobile hospitals, saying she needed them in her area as soon as possible, while Chief Jumbe of Mambwe District said the mobile hospitals were viable in rural areas.

    Chief Simaamba of Siavonga District and his Samfya counterpart Chief Nsamba said in as much as the mobile hospital concept was good, the Government should first work on the feeder roads in rural areas to improve health delivery.

    In welcoming the mobile hospital concept, Chief Kashiba of Mwense District warned that the concept should not be used as a substitute for permanent hospitals.

    Chief Nkweto of Chinsali argued that in colonial times, the mobile clinic worked well because the feeder roads were better unlike now where rural areas had no access to good roads making it difficult for the rural populace to enjoy health services.

    Chief Ntambu of Mwinilunga District said the mobile hospitals concept on face value was better but it had hidden costs such as maintenance and drivers’ expenses among others.

    He said the Government should therefore inject money in building permanent hospitals.

    Chief Anananga Imwiko of Lukulu District welcomed the mobile hospitals concept, saying his chiefdom would benefit considering that people had to cover long distances to access health services.

    Chief Nzamane of Chipata District who is also the House of Chiefs vice-person called on the House to make the Government accountable in as far as quality health service delivery to the rural areas was concerned.

  64. [Continued from above.]

    "Masebo implicates Teta in hearses saga," by Times Reporter:
    FORMER Local Government and Housing minister, Sylvia Masebo has said her successor, Benny Tetamashimba, was part of a management decision that agreed to buy the 100 hearses.

    She said Mr Tetamashimba, who was her deputy then, should, therefore, desist from claiming to be ignorant of the procurement process.

    Speaking at a Press briefing in Lusaka yesterday, Ms Masebo, however, said the payments were done after she had left the ministry but were signed for by officials at the time that Mr Tetamashimba was in charge.

    Ms Masebo called the briefing to explain the purchase of the hearses, the issue of office construction on Plot 4648, Los Angeles Boulevard at Lusaka Girls and the ‘Make Zambia Clean and Healthy’ programme.

    She said she was able to substantiate her claims with appendices as well as some payment vouchers, which she obtained at the ministry after the president, during last week’s Press conference, allowed her to reveal what she knew about the procurement process.

    She explained that at management meetings held from May 27-30 last year, which she chaired and in attendance were, among others, Mr Tetamashimba and the deputy Defence Minister, Eustarkio Kazonga, who at that time was also deputy minister at Local Government, it was agreed that the hearses should be procured.

    At the same meeting, it was further agreed that 30 tractors with trailers for garbage collection should be procured.

    It was agreed that 150 utility vehicles for health and planning inspections should be bought while public lavatories in all districts should be constructed.

    Ms Masebo said the implementation process of the purchase of the hearses was started on June 2 last year by the then permanent secretary, Joel Ngo.

    At the implementation stage, she said ministers were not involved in the transaction as the matter was technical and administrative. ....

  65. [Continued from above.]

    With respect to mobile clinics, it would be irresponsible for the authorities to buy such facilities when they are likely to last only a few years, given the poor state of roads in rural areas. And there are actually a lot of rural communities today where there are no motorable roads!

    Moreover, the recurrent costs of maintaining the mobile clinics would be prohibitive after spending the following amounts, which constitute the estimated US$53 million, to seal the 2-year contract:

    (a) Cost of the 9 Mobile Clinics: US$36,260,356
    (b) Spare Parts for 2 Years: 3,300,000
    (c) Medicine and Medical Appliance: 6,000,000
    (d) Chinese Engineers and Medical Staff: 5,144,650

    Total: US$50,705,006 + tax?

    Besides, it is hard to imagine how the mobile clinics would be used -- would they be driven around in rural communities on a regular basis in the hope of finding a sick person?

    If there is money for healthcare, it should be used on the following:

    (a) Provision of free healthcare for all Zambians;

    (b) Construction of more permanent healthcare facilities nationwide;

    (c) Provision of adequate medicines and medical equipment;

    (d) Improvements in facilities at all referral healthcare centers to make it possible for them to accommodate Zambians (including government officials) who are fond of trekking to foreign countries for treatment;

    (e) Research designed to find cures for HIV/AIDS, cancer, tuberculosis, and other deadly diseases; and

    (f) Hiring, retention and training of health personnel.

  66. Kyambalesa,

    Thank you for that detailed and well researched reply on this subject. (Which seems to have "miraculously" migrated from limiting the choice for President by the electorate to whether or not rural communities were demanding certain expensive health ministry procurements prior to them being offered by the Chinese. This is particularly remarkable since none of the persons doing so claim to be government supporters in any official sense, which would mean that State Media is more effective in Zambia than we might have given it credit for previously in more generalized human context.)

    I can recall the questions that I raised when I first encountered this procurement policy: namely that there were two different types of medical equipment being discussed, "Mobile Clinics" designed to provide highly specialized and therefore logically otherwise unavailable services on a temporary basis to rural health clinics utilizing truly mobile equipment capable of regularly rotating through the full list of provincial clinics in a reasonable period of time. Such facilities would certainly go a long way towards filling the gaps in rural health delivery with regard to specialized services such as dental care, orthopedics, immunizations "boosters", and others which can be reasonably implemented on a punctuated, non-emergency basis. While the benefits of such a programme were relatively clear, and costs potentially justified due to the reasonable likelihood that such specialized facilities would not be widespread in rural health centres within the next decade, the actual numbers being presented for procurement did not match with a "Mobile Clinic" strategy.

    The other type of medical equipment which might have been referred to is the so-called "Transportable Hospital" concept, which given the actual budget numbers and allocation strategy is more likely to be what is actually being proposed (however we have yet to get any kind of clear statement about just what is being procured, even as government tries to discourage questions on the subject with the argument that it is the "will of the People" despite having no actual polling data beyond parliamentary elections on which to base this statement). Based on the 1950-era Korean War Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals (MASH units), these pre-fabricated medical facilities are indeed a modern marvel of what can be achieved by unlimited superpower military budgets (currently limited to NATO and China). Fully equipped and assembled by highly skilled labour in the nation of origin, these facilities were designed to enable deployment of medical personnel to the front lines of active military conflicts in order to limit the domestic reaction to troop casualties. Together with fully equipped "Floating Hospitals" pioneered by the US Navy, the modern US military has managed to prevent the vast majority of serious injuries from becoming death statistics (though amputations and traumatic brain injuries are at all-time highs since the surgical practices of the US Civil War).

    [to be cont...]

  67. [...inued.]

    Having spent the money to develop this technology and the industries to produce it for military reasons, it is perfectly understandable that these nations would then turn around and try to find external markets and civilian applications in order to increase their sales volume and hopefully defer some of the overly expensive R&D costs associated with military procurement policies in superpower states. The primary market has been in weather-related disaster zones within developed nations, where existing infrastructure has been so negatively impacted that civilian health care delivery resembles front line military conditions, including percentages of physical trauma injuries as compared to endemic disease treatment and prevention. In other words, the key strength of a "Transportable Hospital" is the speed with which it can be deployed and made operational. (This implies that there is no shortage of medical staff.) Any and all construction related costs will go to foreign construction firms, which implies that there is a shortage of skilled Zambian builders or material with which to build. Plus I can't wait for the arguments over where these not really portable hospitals will be located within each of the Provinces respectively. Wherever you put them is bound to be controversial, and moving them is not fast or cheap (unless you have the US Army's endless stream of heavy-lift helicopters on tap, in which case it would cost twice or ten times as much but happen on demand).

    I find it hard to credit the argument that "the People" are getting exactly what they asked for when I can't get a straight answer as to what is in fact being procured. The ambiguity allows politicians to sell both products at once, and I strongly suspect that half the supporters think that they are getting one thing, while the other half think that they are getting the other. In either case, I encourage readers to know what it is that is being proposed before they support or oppose.


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