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Saturday, 4 July 2009

On the President's Press Conference (Guest Blog)

This post provides a few comments and observations on President Rupiah Banda's speech presented during his Press Conference on June 24, 2009 at State House (see President Banda : Press Conference Transcript and President Banda : The Other Transcript).

Cost-Cutting Measures:

President Banda has revealed that 50% of government's domestic revenues are spent on 1% of the population, including Ministers, the civil police and soldiers, and wondered how provision for roads, hospitals, schools, energy, and defence and security can be met.

Unfortunately, the measures he announced to address this problem are not enough – that is, rational use of personal-to-holder vehicles, suspension of purchases of luxury vehicles, limitations on trips abroad by government officials, and reduction in the number of workshops held by government ministries.

The following would have made a more meaningful contribution to the resolution of the problem: a drastic reduction in the number of Cabinet Ministers, abolition of the positions of Deputy Minister and District Commissioner, and reduction in the number of Zambia's foreign embassies by having clusters of countries to be served by single embassies.

Salaries and Wages Commission:

The Salaries and Wages Commission proposed by the President to reconcile disparities in salary structures in the public sector is a sheer waste of time and resources. The dissatisfaction among public-sector employees and the 7 unions which represent them is about the inadequacy of compensation. What employees on government payroll want is for the government to provide for the following, which would lead to improvements in their livelihoods:
  • Provision for home-ownership and car-ownership schemes, and adequate upward adjustments in their salaries and allowances;
  • Provision of free life-saving healthcare to all Zambians that is respectful, that recognizes personal dignity, and that adequately provides for personal privacy;
  • Provision of free formal education, abolition of examination fees and Grade 7 and Grade 9 elimination examinations, provision of scholarships for high-school graduates who obtain a Division 1 and low-interest loans for other high-school graduates and working Zambian men and women wishing to pursue further studies in classroom-based or correspondence-based study programs offered within Zambia; and
  • Improvement in Zambia's food security through government-financed irrigation dams and canals, cattle re-stocking and disease control, free seeds and fertilizer for 2 years, a seed and fertilizer subsidy at 50% after 2 years, zero value-added tax on agricultural inputs and raw food, promotion of food canning, and promotion of agricultural schemes by municipalities, the civil police, the prison service, the defence forces, and educational and training institutions.
The Fight against Corruption:

It may not be entirely true that revelations of corrupt practices in government have emerged because the President has allowed the investigative wings of the government to exercise their mandates without interference. The President would have been more honest by acknowledging the role played by The Post newspaper in bringing to light the importation of GMO maize, the procurement of hearses, the K10 billion theft at the Ministry of Health, the planned purchase of mobile clinics, Dora Siliya's alleged misdeeds, and the alleged plunder of public resources during President Frederick Chiluba's administration.

Good Governance:

Zambians expect their government to apply the elements of good governance in both word and deed. The mere mention by the President that his government believes in transparency and accountability is meaningless without applying these elements of good governance in practice. Transparency, for example, requires members of the public to have access to information about the state, its decision-making mechanisms, and its current and planned projects and programs. The procurement of hearses by the Ministry of Local Government and Housing, which the President has sworn to have had no knowledge of when he has been both Vice President and President, provides a good example of the lack of transparency in government.

Accountability, on the other hand, entails the availability of a mechanism for ensuring that civil servants and public officials are directly accountable and liable for the outcomes of their decisions and actions, and the appropriation of resources assigned to them. The re-appointment of Dora Siliya to a Cabinet post after she was alleged to have defrauded Petauke District Council of K12.5 million in fake refund claims, mishandled the appointment of RP Capital Partners in respect of its valuation and potential sale of Zamtel, and cancellation of a duly awarded contract for the supply, delivery, installation and commissioning of a Zambia Air Traffic Management Surveillance Radar System (ZATM-RADAR) at Lusaka and Livingstone international airports provides a good example of the lack of accountability in government.

There are, of course, other elements of good governance that are not applied by President Banda's government, including the following:
  • The existence of non-discriminatory laws and law enforcement organs of the government that are efficient, impartial, independent, and legitimate – an element that is undermined by failure by the police to arrest MMD cadres who have continually harassed journalists, newspaper vendors and other innocent citizens;
  • Availability of channels and mechanisms through which the citizenry and non-governmental institutions can have an influence on the actions of public officials, such as the procurement of hearses and mobile clinics; and
  • Fostering the development of a free press to facilitate the exposure of unscrupulous activities in institutional settings, such as the K10 billion theft at the Ministry of Health.
Public Procurements:

The President's call for the strengthening of procurement systems through the enactment of new procurement regulations is weakened by his government's adoption of single-source procurements – particularly with respect to the construction of the Kasumbalesa border post, consideration of a decision to buy a radar system, the evaluation of partial privatization of Zamtel, and consideration of the decision to buy mobile clinics.

The Call for Sacrifice:

The people are sick and tired of being told to make sacrifices from the 1970s to date by successive government regimes. Today, the waists of the majority of Zambians do not have any more room for further belt-tightening! The common people do not really need to make any more sacrifices than they have already made over the years. On the contrary, it is government leaders who need to avoid wasteful spending of meager national resources on maintaining sinecures, for instance, so that they can apply the savings on projects and programs that would bolster socio-economic development and lead to poverty reduction.

It is not fair for the President to ask the poor people to sacrifice any portion of their meager incomes after government leaders had given themselves hefty pay packages late last year through the Presidential Emoluments Amendments Bill and the Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices Emoluments Bill.

In other words, sacrifices need to be made by government leaders – even to the extent of reducing their own pay packages, and/or instituting a freeze on the not-so-essential political appointments.

So, rather than give examples of workers in Ireland and at British Airways who have taken cuts in their salaries, the Zambian government would do well to emulate the example of an African country – that is, Senegal – whose President recently announced a new Bill aimed at cutting salaries and scaling down cabinet size. According to the Bill, the President's salary would be slashed by 30%, government ministers and senators would lose 25%, while members of parliament would have their pay packets cut by 20%.

Increase in ZESCO Tariffs:

The President's backing of ZESCO's proposal to hike electricity tariffs by 66% is unfortunate. Unreasonably high tariffs are likely to fan away skilled personnel and locally based investors to other countries where utility and other costs are relatively lower and more stable. In fact, low and stable utility costs, among other factors, can enable the national government and local governments to lure investors from countries which have relatively high and unstable utility costs, while retaining business operators currently doing business in Zambia.

Besides, the rampant depletion of woodlands occasioned mainly by charcoal burning and fire-wood collection can be reduced greatly through affordable electricity tariffs.

Peace and Stability:

Sustained peace and stability, as the President has observed, are essential in Zambia's quest for heightened socio-economic development. Unfortunately, the politics of disrespect, violence and hooliganism that he says he is opposed to is being practised with impunity by cadres in his own political party.

Recent mass demonstrations by MMD youths in Lusaka and Ndola against continued membership of Ng'andu Magande, Elias Mpondela and Sebastian Kopulande are a case in point. Also, the attack on a newspaper vendor in Solwezi and the regular harassment of journalists by MMD cadres do not augur well for the maintenance of peace and stability in our beloved country.

In conclusion, 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.

Henry Kyambalesa (Guest Blogger)
Agenda for Change


  1. Excellent blog. I would add to this - reduce the size of central government and expand the size of local government. Presently, the central government consists of:

    Ministry of Community Development
    Ministry of Science Technology and Vocational Training
    Ministry of Information
    Ministry of Lands
    Ministry of Communications and Transport

    Ministry of Tourism
    Ministry of Works and supply
    Ministry of Justice
    Ministry of Local Government
    Ministry of Energy

    Ministry of Agriculture
    Ministry of The Mines
    Ministry of Health
    Ministry of Education
    Ministry of Labour

    Ministry of Commerce
    Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    Minister of Home Affairs
    Ministry of Finance
    Ministry of Gender

    Ministry of Central Province
    Ministry of Copperbelt Province
    Ministry of Eastern Province
    Ministry of Lusaka Province
    Ministry of Northern Province
    Ministry of North Western Province
    Ministry of Southern Province
    Ministry of Western Province
    Ministry of Luapula Province

    Office of the Attorney General
    Office of the President

  2. I agree with the idea of cutting down ministries and offices of deputy ministers. Specifically, it would not hurt to do away with Ministry of Gender and all provincial ministries because just like offices for DCs, they are merely cost centres.
    After that Cabinet Office needs to pull up its socks in providing oversight on ministries. In most instances ministries are vertical monoliths. For example the ministry of labour needs to assess what industry wants in terms of skilled personnel to avoid instances where we are having foreign companies having an excuse of employing their own personnel engaged from wherever country they are coming from. [I am not implying that the target should be satisfying foreign companies, but even local companies] After identifying areas of expertise required, Labour together with Education and Science & Technology ministries should pool resources together targeted at training that cadre of critical mass as identified by ministry of labour. [Here a balance has to be struck between mass education and elite education]. Vocational education has to be carried out under mass education scheme but it should not be skewed towards business courses (Accountancy, Human Resource, Purchasing and Supply, etc.), while elite education should focus on MSc level and upwards. So cabinet office should have a deliberate programme aimed at coordinating such interactions and checking which ministry is causing hindrance in progress.

  3. I am also a firm believer in decentralisation. However, the best approach would be devolution rather than delegation or de-concentration. Doing so would transform local government ministry into A JOB CREATING AGENCY. Local government ministry should thus get programmes that are under Ministry of Community and Social Welfare and those that have wrongly found themselves under Ministry of Agriculture such as rehabs of feeder roads and storage facilities, or even distribution of fertilisers. Once the country decides to go irrigation in resettlement farming blocks, even such should fall under local government through contracts with water utility companies. That is the more reason I have always been saying agriculture in Zambian sense of peasants receiving free inputs is a social activity coz it does not create employment, rather it is services supporting it which should be focused on - manufacturing. I have just digressed to add my view on how unprofitable agriculture through peasants is. And that is where I cannot agree with the idea of free fertiliser for 2years being proposed because we have had that scheme for kaya years and we are still not making it. If you say fertiliser be given to social welfare department of the transformed local govt ministry it would be reasonable but headmen have to be involved to identify beneficiaries (ideally munzi) and spelling out punitive measures should the village fail to abide by the conditions. The "manna syndrome" has to be done away with. Other jobs to be created would be packaging industries and value addition on the produce. But one direct job creation would be for local authorities to engage local companies to produce things like grain bags, ploughs, insecticides etc.
    The other loose link which cabinet Office should oversee is between ministries of Education, Science & Technology as well as commerce. It is surprising that there is no common agenda among these three ministries by way of encouraging innovation. One would have loved to see an effective "triple helix" whereby Commerce would be a conduit for increased industry participation in innovation for example through provision of tax incentives. For instance 50% tax rebate on any product produced using 50% local raw materials. That would stimulate R&D through Science and Technology whose human resource has to be provided by the universities under the oversight of Ministry of Education. Anyhow even if that was not utilised, the question of linkages among ministries needs to be addressed because currently it only happens through initations to workshops where whatever is being discussed has no bearing on the invited - except an allowance - because there usually is no sense of collective ownership of the programme being implemented.

  4. Its unfortunate that Henry Kyambalesa (Guest Blogger)Agenda for Change has choosen to take RB out of context on the issue of the electricty tarrifs. The president clearly said that tarrifs needed to be adjusted but not necessarily by 66%. His view was that failure to do this would result in lack of investment in the eletricity generation sector.
    It is true that "Unreasonably high tariffs are likely to fan away .... locally based investors to other countries where utility and other costs are relatively lower and more stable." In the same vein unreliable or complete lack of power due to lack of investment in the electricty sector due to uneconomic rates would have a similar if not worse effect. So any argument for or against tarrif hikes should try and consider all sides of the situation.

  5. General-
    RB has no agenda for Zambia his is "playing it by ear" there is no straight forward goal that has been articulated by RB. He was tendering to his crop on his farm one day and in the Vice President office the next and the office of President that day after Mwanawasa's death. Bwezani as I prefer to call him has no new ideas, no firm understanding of liberty, freedom of press or multi party democracy. He is trapped in "one party participatory democracy mode" like in the UNIP days when "my way or the high mentality was the norm" he fires ministers , rehires those he pleases at his whim, he thinks his is a little god waving his wander over 12 million Zambians and no one can question the president as he sees it.

  6. General,

    Thank you for your observation. President Banda said the following: "I am aware that the issue of increasing ZESCO tariffs is emotive. As a country, if we resist the proposed increase in tariffs now, we will have to accept the energy shortages in the future."

    ZESCO's "proposed increase", I believe, is 66%.

  7. Kwambalesa,

    You spoke of a "provision for car-ownership schemes". Knowing that the country's road infrastructure has stagnated for a while, do you not agree that this would exacerbate the problems especially in the capital?

    I would rather advocate for an improvement in the road infrastructure, public transport, bust-stops/stations, taxi ranks, etc, so as to get more people out of their cars and onto buses which would de-congest the roads and give commuters that much needed sigh of relief on public transport. It's also 'green', i.e good for the environment. In Zambia we tend to ignore green issues, yet we're bearing the brunt of its effects.

    I perfectly understand why 'everyone' wants to own cars, not least because I own one. But someone has got to explain that there are serious environmental effects to everyone (or the majority in a city) owning a car. So far there's no one doing that.


  8. Zedian,

    Why would any one in their sober mind want to limit doctors, nurses, teachers and other members of society from owning an automobile? Would government ministers, permanent secretaries, district commissioners and other government officials also be limited to the use of public transportation under the guise of "green issues" and poor road infrastructure?

    Car-ownership schemes can be provided for through low-interest loans, and the government can continue the construction and maintenance of public roads. The government can also provide for incentives designed to reduce carbon emissions and the use of fossil fuels.

  9. Kyambalesa,

    I did not say limit cars to any particlular group of people, because I believe I am of very sober mind. The main thrust of my argument is that there is a major congestion problem which you seem not to have shown enough appreciation of by calling for car-ownership schemes which will simply add to the problem.

    In my view, the lack of forward thinking by town planners and policy makers has led to the mess we're now seeing in Lusaka and other parts of the country. I should probably qualify that statement, because quite clearly not everyone is seeing it as a problem.

    Perhaps I am 'evangelising' this because I happen to live amongst a society where congestion, green issues, and road infrastructure are recognised to be issues of priority. But I have certainly seen the sense in it and would want my own motherland to reap the benefits of similar policies.

    You seem shocked at the idea of government officials taking public transport. I wouldn't blame you, perhaps you're picturing public transport in it's current form in Zambia. In the UK, the main mode of transport for MPs is the train! There are even MPs who cycle to work, believe it or not.

    Here's the sober logic behind it. How else are Ministers and other govenrment officials going to improve public transport that they don't have to use? The argument extends right across the board, to hospitals, schools, and all. And the lack of such policies has led to 'sacred cows' being airlifted to South Africa for treatment because local public facilities are not for them! The same goes for schools; top government officials' children do not attend public schools, instead going to private schools and even abroad, at government expense. How do you expect local public schools to improve?

    Sticking to the transport issue, most Eastern European countries have done an excellent and exemplary job of establishing extensive and clean public transport infrastructure, such that owning a car is an option. Clearly the mentality in Zambia is the opposite.

    It all comes down to what people need vs what they want. In my view it is incumbent upon the policy makers to realise that what's needed is good, reliable, safe, clean public transport which is for the good of everyone.

  10. Kwanunikwanu
    I don't believe that you are right is saying RB has no agenda for Zambia. As a Zambian in a rural district, I can see what this government is doing. Its unfortunate that people who say RB is not doing anything are begining to believe themselves.

    Ideas that RB was tending to his crop in Chipata does not necessarily mean he can't make a good president. Mwanawasa was sleeping in bed before being dragged to state house. Let us be objective about RB.

    RB does not believe in freedom of the press. Excuse me, just because RB challenges some of the things that the post publishes does not mean he does not beileve in press freedom. Listen to some of the things said against him on radio stations such as SKY radio. If accusation against him were right, such stations would have long been closed.

    He fires ministers and hires those he wants at a whim. Shakafuswa and Chibombamilimo had it coming. Besides, people had been calling for the dismisal of Shakafuswa for a long time since the days of Mwanawasa. Remember the parliament motel scandal. Now that he has been sacked, its RB at fault.

    Dora resigned and was re-appointed after the courts cleared her. This in itself is justice. Why continue to punish someone who the courts have cleared? In legal matters, you have to take the bitter with the sweet. Government has lost some cases and has not climbed an anthill complaining and it.

    People who have issues with RB are yet to convince me what his faults are. Most statements against him are not justified and can be seen for what they are by just a little application of the brain. (thinking and analysis)

  11. Kyambalesa
    Yes the proposed tarrif by Zesco is 66% but if you listened to RB's speech as opposed to just reading it afterwards, you would have heard him clearly say " and I am not saying 66% is the right amount by which to increase tarrifs". RB's position was that he agreed with Zesco increasing tarrifs in principle but that the amount of the increase was subject to debate.

    Listen to people like EAZ president Mwilola Imakando on the issue of electricity tarrifs. Imakando said electricity tarrifs are too low to attract investment. Hence the loadshedding we are now suffering.

    Tata group, who were supposed to make some investement in Kafue Gorge are now dillydallying. It coukld be for the same reason of tarrifs.

  12. Bwana General-

    Dishing out sugar and cheap fertilizers in rural areas to win a election is not a development agenda. RB is not new to Zambian politics, This guy was ambassador, governor, Munali MP under Super Ken, his track record is awash with bribery, corruption poor administration and unpaid bills for unauthorized services in Canada and New york by his kingmen.
    It no wonder under his reign a Human resources employee in Ministry of Health can have the audacity to steal 10 Billion Kwacha of public money buy a Hummer and drive it to work every day, what do gave Kapoko the arrogance to act in that manner?
    Fish rots head first, RB & sons have from UNIP days dipping fingers in state funds to feed his apamwanba mentality.
    After how this guy managed the recent strikes and the overall economic troubles, you are still expecting anything good in his next term?

  13. Kwanunikwanu,

    In all your venting you are ONLY proving one thing, "hatred for Easterners which is bound to fail you".You are not only mischivieous,malicious bankrupt,but very envicious, polarizing and irrational blogger.

    As a young patriot I was privileged to serve under Dr.Kaunda, Chiluba and Mwanawasa on their Presidential foreign office desk without intrusion. I worked with all protocol offers from Mukondo Lungu to Darius Bubala, and indeed relating with all foreign affairs ministers from VJ to Pande yet never came across a file of lies you spewing here about RB in the USA and Canada.Why haven't you reported him to the the economic frauds office in the USA now that he is President?

    Lastly, lets forgive your ignorance that the ZK 27 billion happened between 2005-2008 long before RB.In 2005 Levy even announced that ZK 3 trillion had been stolen.Todate nothing has happened.We have the ABSA US$100 million scam prompting Mpombo to resign today who was then energy minister under Levy.

    We have ZANACO and KCM goin for US $25 million each only, ZNOC, Medicas stores all multi billion dollar institutions being dismantled and alligning their funds in the hands of few individuals.Had RB not adopted the power to law enforcement offices, do you think these scams could have been coming out like this?

    Don't you see why the desperation in turning Zambia into a monarchy that Levy whom the MMD machinery just built from nowhere into Presidency said he had annointed Magande? Do you see that without MMD and state machinery such rubbish could have been haunting us today.

    Respect the fact that Zambia is for all Zambians.Easterners you hate, are as Zambian as any other citizen. If they were not Zambian enough, why did Kaunda, Chiluba and Mwanawasa let their sons serve in all strategic offices.

    All we see today among easterners appointed by Mwanawasa are CJ Sakala, General Isaac Chisuzi, Army Commander and Chief of Staff, Justice Chirwa, Chulu, General Mbabo and many more.As a Easterno xenophobia, why didn't protest that they not be included in national service but other tribes.RB is there to serve and to make you banana, we vow to give him another five year mandate.

    If you completely want, please fell free to denounce your Zambian citizenship. The united country will miss nothing about you.

  14. Anonymous-
    This is not about easterners, there are brilliant minds from the the eastern province, Dr Jacob Mwanza, Prof Lameck Goma and others that have shown vision and intellect.
    There are debt collectors in the US and Canada whose job it is the pursue unpaid bills, I bring this up to show the character of RB.
    He was out there in Eastern province and other places dishing out sugar and fertilizing, am not making this up.
    About track record in UNIP , please visit any insaka and talk to anyone with gray hair and memory.
    It's people like you who think tribal or regional affiliation trumps everything who need re-educating the days of "amozi kumawa" "wako ni wako" are over!!

  15. Zedian,

    1) Much of the congestion in Zambia is actually in the capital city, Lusaka. Doctors, nurses and teachers are not all based in Lusaka. So, car-ownership schemes would not really pose any additional problems in terms of congestion nationwide. Besides, if Zambian doctors, nurses and teachers were remunerated adequately, no one would stop them from buying cars. I, therefore, do not see any reason why making it possible for them to own something they can call their own would be problematic.

    2) The British MPs who take the train or cycle to work all have personal cars; they can choose between different modes of transportation. Zambian workers would certainly want to have alternative means of transportation. By the way, many Zambian workers cannot even afford to buy a bicycle!

    Allow me now to comment on the current congestion in large cities, and on Zambia's population.

    Congestion in Large Cities:
    In modern Zambia, municipal authorities are, by and large, faced with the problem of congestion in urban centers. The problem has particularly become more profound and mind-boggling due to the lack of adequate resources to provide decent social services and amenities to unprecedented numbers of people in such centers.

    By and large, the problem is a result of what development economists have referred to as the "dual economy," that is, uneven development in the national economy between the agriculture-based rural sector and the manufacturing-based urban sector, whereby the latter sector is relatively more developed than the former. There are several situations which have lead to such uneven development in Zambia’s economy; they include the following:

    (a) The general lack of transportation, recreational facilities, decent housing, healthcare, educational institutions, and other basic facilities and services in the agriculture-based rural sector causes a drift of people to the relatively more developed manufacturing-based urban sector;

    (b) Distorted government policies and incentives that are more favorable to the manufacturing sector and less favorable to agricultural activities; and

    (c) Relatively higher wages in manufacturing facilitated largely by collective bargaining attract skilled people away from the generally non-unionized and low-wage agricultural sector.

    Larger populations in urban areas have overwhelmed existing public facilities in such areas, as well as diminished municipal authorities’ ability to cater to the basic needs of communities in their areas of jurisdiction. Besides, the emigration have made the rural areas even more unattractive to private investment than before, and has discouraged local authorities and the national government from providing educational, recreational, healthcare, and other essential public services and facilities in depopulated rural areas.

    The unsavory symptoms of uneven development are easy to notice: widespread unemployment, frequent outbreaks of communicable diseases, an increase in crime and social vices, and a mushrooming of spontaneously created shanty townships in and/or around the towns and cities.

    Uneven development needs to be addressed by local authorities and the central government through special incentives designed to lure investors and job seekers from urban centers to rural and sub-urban areas. Also, local authorities and the central government need to provide essential public services and facilities in designated rural and sub-urban areas if businesses and job seekers are to be enticed to move to such areas.

    In all, an understanding of important factors which determine the location of a business entity is essential in this endeavor, that is: the attractiveness of government incentives; adequacy of public services and facilities (including police protection, inter-modal road network, fire protection, low-cost housing, and educational, vocational, recreational, and healthcare facilities); and the supply of raw materials, water, energy, and labor.

    [... continued below.]

  16. Zedian,

    [... continued from above.]

    A Suitable Population Policy:
    There is a need for government leaders to generate a population policy that is consistent with the development needs of Zambia. In this endeavor, it is essential for our poor, sparsely populated country that is endowed with abundant natural resources to recognize the need to direct its efforts, time and commitment at creating an economy whose growth in commercial and industrial outputs out-strips existing and potential demand than on restricting population growth.

    The Malthusian view that population growth needs to be stemmed in order to prevent the misery, hunger and pestilence that can follow if population exceeds the carrying capacity of a given physical environment does not, therefore, apply to a sparsely populated, resource-rich country like Zambia. In short, there is a need to consider a "larger population" not as a hindrance but as a critical resource, catalyst and prerequisite in our country’s quest for greater innovative capacity, technological advancement and socio-economic development.

    As such, global population control efforts need to be targeted at countries whose economies have already benefited from inventions and innovations induced by pressures on socio-economic institutions resulting from steady increases in population, and/or those whose population densities are, on average, excessive – such as the following: Singapore (6,669.12 people per square kilometer), Malta (1,271.77), Bermuda (1,241.33), Bangladesh (1,123.50), Bahrain (1,065.52), Barbados (651.85), Mauritius (616.20), South Korea (499.49), and the Netherlands (489.05).

    Also, countries whose population densities are low but are currently ranked among several most populated countries in the world need to be included in global efforts to control population growth; the following are good examples of such countries: China (1.3 billion people), India (1.1 billion), United States (306.2 million), Indonesia (229.3 million), Brazil (188.5 million), Pakistan (165.4 million), Nigeria (148.1 million), Russia (141.7 million), Japan (127.7 million), Mexico (106.7 million), the Philippines (90.5 million), Vietnam (87.4 million), Germany (82.1 million), Ethiopia (79.2 million), and Egypt (75.8 million).

    I believe Zambia, with a population of around 12 million and a population density of 16 people per square kilometer (40 people per square mile), should be one of the countries in the world that should be least concerned about population control.

  17. Kwanunikwanu
    I understand your having issues with RB distributing sugar in eastern province but if truth be told, RB was not the only politician who gave out handouts. Just because the post has issues with RB and choose to expose him while protecting other politicians like HH and Sata does not make him any worse off.

    Be a little analytical and you will find out that the theft at the ministry of health starts before RB's tenure. Why did the auditor general protest at the attitude of Dr Miti before the public accounts committee? When was this? This was in 2007 and who was president then?

    Kwanunikwanu, your argument is for people with a natural dislike for RB and not for people that are willing to analyse all these public statements.

    You claim RB's track record is awash with bribery, poor administration and unpaid bills. Well, show us these things. Just because you or the post said it does not make it true. Provide evidence and we will judge your statements based on the evidence provided.

    If you have even basic ideas on how government works, you would know that it is impossible for a human resources officer to still that much money alone without the involvement of directors and the permanent secretary. This was a syndicate that goes all the way to the secretary to the cabinent. Dr Kanganja was called to intervene between Dr Miti and the auditor general and instead of taking disciplinary action against Miti, he sided with him.

    So like I said, without evidence your data should be relegated to PF campaign rallies and minibus gossip. This is not something any open minded Zambian should take seriously.

  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. Kyambalesa,

    A Suitable Population Policy: There is a need for government leaders to generate a population policy that is consistent with the development needs of Zambia. In this endeavor, it is essential for our poor, sparsely populated country that is endowed with abundant natural resources to recognize the need to direct its efforts, time and commitment at creating an economy whose growth in commercial and industrial outputs out-strips existing and potential demand than on restricting population growth. The Malthusian view that population growth needs to be stemmed in order to prevent the misery, hunger and pestilence that can follow if population exceeds the carrying capacity of a given physical environment does not, therefore, apply to a sparsely populated, resource-rich country like Zambia. In short, there is a need to consider a "larger population" not as a hindrance but as a critical resource, catalyst and prerequisite in our country’s quest for greater innovative capacity, technological advancement and socio-economic development.

    The damage done by Malthus is untold. I completely agree that Zambia's population policy has to be geared toward economic growth - putting Zambia's unused arable land in use in a labour intensive way (organics), creating jobs in manufacturing and infrastructure. The best thing to limit population growth is to raise people's incomes and standards of living, including reducing child mortality, which makes it possible for people to plan the size of their families. The money for that reinvestment requires a few corrupt politicians to stop shielding the mines from taxation, and start reinvesting it in other economic sectors like agriculture and manufacturing.

  20. General,

    I actually agree with Kwanunikwanu that RB does not have an agenda (or is it a vision?) for Zambia. If he does, tell us what his agenda is for any of the following:

    (a) Education and training;
    (b) Public health and sanitation;
    (c) Agriculture and food security;
    (d) Taxation policy;
    (e) Job creation;
    (f) Debt reduction; and, inter alia,
    (g) Crime-fighting.

    And, contrary to your point of view, RB does not believe in press freedom. If he does, why has he continued to hold on to the Times of Zambia, Zambia Daily Mail, ZNBC, and ZANIS? I cannot think of any rationale for a government to maintain so many public media institutions!

    Meanwhile, Zambians have continued to implore their leaders to put an end to the current situation whereby large segments of the mass media are state-owned, under tight controls by the government of the day, and the virtues of individuals’ rights and freedoms are subordinate to those of the ruling party and the state. It is undemocratic for RB's administration to continue to have large segments of the mass media that operate as tools of ruling political party and its leaders.

    Besides, why has RB not made any attempt to operationalize the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) in order for the broadcasting industry to be regulated by an independent body? Moreover, he has not shown any interest in enacting the Freedom of Information (FoI) Bill and make it possible for journalists to access information that is vital to both the media and members of the public.

  21. Anonymous,

    I must say that I was taken aback by your diatribe of July 8th to Kwanunikwanu. Accusing someone for expressing a different view about your appointing authority as tribal, kind of shocked me. It is not only inappropriate but it shows a sense of immaturity on your part. That talk is generally not common on this blog. One would imagine that you being in the system since KK up to today (under Pande); you would have learnt how to debate or argue with those who disagree with you.

    Nobody hates Easterners or any other tribe for that matter. But when someone is holding a national post he or she is expected to perform satisfactorily. When you are a President, nationals must hold you accountable for the running of the country. These are the sentiments people are expressing. When it comes to corruption or misappropriation of government funds – it is not enough for RB to brush it aside and say that it didn’t start under him. As a President it is his job to try and clean up the mess. That is if he wants to end up as a good president.

    Mwanawasa was not trying to introduce monarchy in Zambia. Believing that the economy under Magande was doing well – for continuity’s sake that is why he expressed a liking for N’gandu. It is called grooming and there is nothing wrong with that. Quite frankly many Zambians would have preferred Magande to RB. But that is another debate. So please Mr. Anonym (why do you hide yourself?) take it easy.

    Lastly, I must agree with Zedian’s of 7th July to Kyambalesa. Last time I was in Zambia, not only that traffic in Lusaka was chaos, but roads even in the capital city full of luxurious vehicles was totally broken down. This state of affairs suggests few things. A) It shows that authorities (town planners and government) either know nothing about city planning or don’t care. A road system which has only a capacity for 5,000 cars say, cannot cater for 15,000. Just as a piece of land which can adequately support only 500,000 people cannot possibly be loaded with 2 million people. B) That Zambians are thinking in pre-historic times, when the philosophy was: “fileisova”.

    In a primitive society, you don’t plan but live for the day and hope that the ancestors’ spirits would come in handy. For how else would you let the roads breakdown to the level it has in Zambian compounds and townships? Mind you, it is not a question of money because sacrificing a few SUVs (buying cheaper ones, using trains or public transport as Zedian suggests) would repair a few roads and stock a few clinics with medicine. In short, what is lacking is lack of proper planning. So Anonym since you are close to those people running the country, please take our message to them. We need focus and better economic policies. Thanks!

    July 9, 2009

  22. Hi Kyambalesa
    I can't go into the details of what RB's agenda regarding Education, Agriculture etc is. You can do that yourself by logging on to This will give you information of what the manifestor and policies of the MMD are. What you are asking is not an individual agenda but a party agenda.

    Also look at the FNDP, vision 2030 among other documents. RB campaigned on a platform of continuity with the policies of Mwanawasa and not starting something completely new. Yes a few things might change to suit situations but MMD has a long term economic programme that Mwanawasa and RB both hbought into.

    You have to bear in mind that unlike other parties e.g PF where the president is the begin all and end all of party policy, MMD is not based on individual personalities.

    So take an interest to read these documents and you will have your questions answered.

    Regarding the IBA and other public media houses, if you expect RB to correct all of Mwanawasa's shortcomings over night, then you are expecting too much. This is where I have a problem as people want to create the impression that these problems are RB's creation.

  23. Kaela,

    Thanks for the intervention. I was very much dissapointed in the language used and was immediately going to delete Anonymous's remarks. Unfortunate Kwanunikwanu had responded politely. This made it difficult to break the exchange.

  24. Kyambalesa,

    I would agree to a car- ownership only if it were to be targeted to specific groups of people, e.g medical personnel, on the basis of need, not open to everyone, for the reasons I have given above. Otherwise you endup buying hearses when you needed more ambulances. That was suppposed to be a metaphor, unfortunately it is literaly so true!

    I must stress here the need vs want, which again I alluded to ealier.

    I largely agree with your comments on the uneven population problem. However, it should be recognised that it is far more difficult to adress this problem than it is to control car-congestion. Population control with the measures you stated requires some long term planning, to which there are no easy answers. Nonetheless, it's got to be addressed.

    You said, many Zambian workers can't even afford a bycyclle. Well, give them good public transport!

    This is an area which has been left to rot rather unecessarily. I simply do not buy the story that there's not enough funds to at least begin sorting public transport. The private sector has taken on the more costly part of it, which is the buses. If you look at for instance some of the coaches available on the inter-city routes, they could match Western standards very easily! Then take a look at the inter-city bus terminals where these buses have been forced to use, and the contrast could not be more stark!

    How much would it take to upgrade those bus terminals, stations and stands? As Kaela said, give up a few SUVs and you'll have enough money to solve some problems, rather than sitting back letting everything rot for the flimsy excuse that you don't have enough to go round.

  25. Kaela,

    I respect your PF responsibility to indorse any lie and mischivieous statements on RB and easterners. However i have failed to understand your failure to see some clearly expressed xenophobic behavior against easterners.

    First you are ignoring the fact that the use of kwanunikwanu kumawa was deliberately applied to dress RB the none sticking tribalist tag. For debate sake,how many easterners has RB appointed to his administration to serve for this smear of kwanu nikwanu kumawa to hold credence?

    not condoning it, Didn't Chiluba line up Ben Mwila,Chitalu Sampa (HSRIP),Emmanuel Kasonde(HSRIP)and Sata all four top most government slots as ministers of Homeland,Defense, Finance and without portfolio?

    Didn't Mwanawasa line up George Mpombo and Shikapwasha in Defense and Homeland with 95% embassies family staffed? Is this the case with RB to be a kwanunikwanu kumawa?

    Have you seen that grand scale impunity with RB? If you have, where and give us a list here to learn the basis of kwanu nikwanu kumawa. I have not seen any easterner lining up for RB's appointing previlege.

    Its just today that we are seeing Mangani rising to homeland portfolio.If RB was a kwanu nikwanu kumawa would you have seen easternization of government?

    And on the canada and US debts kwanu nikwanu kumawa is cooking up here, you as an official PF cadre based in Canada, why has it taken you ages to bring up this data to finish RB? I spent years on the foreign office desk doing all sorts of behind the scene assignements on all foreign office team members looking at a lot of interest but never got such a report.How did RB contract the canadian debt and from home that cannot escalate the recovery efforts now that the man is head of state?

    Can you show me maturity in line with your age ba Mulenga? Umwaiche ala naluba.Mwilapala ifilubo just because they are coming from fellow PF cadres.Provide leadership every zambian irrespective of age or ethnic background can measure your maturity and intellect as Dr.Mulenga.

  26. Zedian,

    Thanks for the rebuttal.

    There is more congestion of automobiles in the United Kingdom where you are than in Zambia. By the way, I live in the United States where the average family has at least 2 automobiles. In some parts of the United States (such as Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City), grid-lock is not uncommon every working day. And I teach in a university where almost every student has an automobile. But I have never heard anyone, not even Al Gore, suggest that there should be limitations on car-ownership in order to solve the problem of congestion.

    With respect to "green issues," the carbon foot-print of the average Zambian cannot be compared to that of a Canadian, a Briton, a Japanese, an Italian, a French citizen, and so forth. And one of the reasons why a British MP is likely to cycle to work is to burn down excess calories. Also, one may decide to use a fast train to avoid the usual grid-lock that has come to characterize life in industrialized nations.

    Automobiles in the United States, for example, are periodically subjected to carbon emissions testing to ensure that they contribute little to environmental pollution.

    There is, of course, no doubt that much more needs to be done in the area of constructing and maintaining road infrastructure in Zambia, and in expanding cities outward into uninhabited areas.

    Regarding the upgrading of bus terminals, stations and stands, my understanding is that this is one of the roles of local authorities rather than the central government. My suggestion on the provision of home-ownership and car-ownership schemes, and adequate upward adjustments in employees' salaries and allowances is for the central government to use this as one of the incentives to be extended to employees on government payroll. Without such incentives, we will continue to have strikes and emigration of talent to Western countries.

    Your suggestion that if many Zambian workers cannot afford to buy a bicycle, then the government should "give them good public transport" implies two things: that public transport would be free, and that the central government should get into the transport business and compete with the private sector.

    If someone cannot afford a bicycle, where would they find money to pay fares to and from work?

    And since the government disbanded the United Bus Company of Zambia (UBZ) during the late 1980s, it would be unwise to get back into the transport business.

    By the way, even the British government privatized the mass-transit system after its failure to run the same, although the private owners also failed to run the system efficiently during the 1990s. I particularly remember a scholar by the name F. Vrazo who commented on this in the following words: "Privatization of public properties ... [in Britain] produced a number of fat-cat private owners who couldn't run the trains on time."

  27. Kyambalesa,

    I actually didn't see my contribution as necessarily a rebuttal; it's more an attempt to get you to clarify a policy you proposed. I like to look at it as healthy debate.

    Congestion is, of course, subjective. It depends amongst other things on who is experiencing it, and how much they think it's a problem. And the path to determining a solution very much hinges on that, as I said previously.

    Lusaka is relatively small both in terms of size and population, in comparison to the Western cities you have mentioned where congestion is a really big problem. Nonetheless, Lusaka seems to be accellerating its congetion problem at a rate which is alarming to some people, including myself, while there appears to be no plan in sight to begin addressing the situation. The problems there are mainly due to lack of planning and not necessarily due to the perceived large size or population, nor lack of funds.

    It's not just in large Western cities where calls for congestion and emissions controls are being made. I live in a relatively small town, by UK standards, where congestion is not a problem, yet calls for people to go green, dump their cars and get onto public transport are everywhere, because the authorities are forward thinking and want to avoid the problems seen in larger cities.

    My call for good public transport was followed by a specific example of where the local authorities could do their part, which is bus stations, etc, because the private sector had already taken on the more difficult and costly part; the actual transport. Therefore I did not call for the Zambian authorities, local or central govt, to get back into the business of running transport. 'Public' transport is used here rather loosely to mean 'for the public', not 'govt owned'.

    I would welcome a home-ownership scheme, if handled properly (which is a bit of a challenge, looking at previous schemes), but I would agree only to a targeted car-ownership scheme.

  28. Cho,

    I think there're people hell-bent on spoiling this debate. This forum has championed freedom of expression we otherwise never had, but some are now abusing it.


  29. Anonymous,

    Is that your interpretation of freedom of expression? What is wrong with disagreeing with someone without hurling insults at them? If you're interested in healthy debate, you could begin with trying to debate with reasoned arguments rather than insults, at least on this very professional forum.


  30. Anonymous,

    I am now convinced that you must be one of those who under KK’s government, went for training in Rumania under Nicolae Ceausescu – to become the red brick product. At the peak of KK’s autocracy one in every three Zambians was an informer. Why? That is the logical conclusion because you are making conclusions about things based on assumptions only. For, I am not a PF member and I have never been one. From UNIP I became an MMD member and have always remained in MMD.

    Further, although I know Sata personally, I have never been a PF member even though I may sound sympathetic to their policy outlook. Actually I criticize Sata on a number of accounts. First, he is too old and relying too much on “mposa mabwe” politics. This is 21st century. Secondly, he is not a strategist – he runs everything on a ‘commandist Soviet Union style’. And finally, he is not a democrat since he doesn’t allow endorsement of officers at a convention.

    If you followed my writings on UKZambians, my column was more pro HH. This is primarily because he is younger. I believe younger Zambians must be given a chance to try running things. Our way is out dated. We absolutely need re-newal. The weakness with HH is only his believe in Tonga base. Andy Mazoka could have become Zambian President had he not been convinced by Tonga backers that it was now his time to rule. He turned down my advice of taking advantage of his roots in N Province, where he went to school with us. Had he done so, the few votes he needed could have at least come from Kasama. Mungwi boys and others from Northern Province were ready to back him up. His choice to side with Tonga handlers cost him the presidency.

    Anyone who is purely regional in outlook cannot rule Zambia. Had RB come with your “Easterners only” mentality he was not going to make it. And please don’t drag him that way. That said, once elected the tendency of RB has been to run a prospect less and corrupt society. That is what we detest. He must change otherwise; he will make Sata ride highly in Shanties and compounds where everyday the government fails its people. Do you like the poverty faced by the ordinary Zambians? I hope not.

    And please a pseudo name: Kwanunikwanu is not specifically aimed at Easterners. It is only your figment of imagination. Kumwenunikumwenu would be an opposite cousin. Should I transpose an answer to that as – niku mpoto? No! Do not curve “negativities” from nothing.

    As regards Kyambalesa’s rebuttal to Zedian – I still believe that Zedian is on the right. In USA where I have lived and worked for over a decade, owning motor vehicles has passed the prestige level. It is no longer purely a status symbol. Because of ‘suburbia life’ – migration from downtown to suburbs and commuter towns, owning cars became imperative. Having three cars in one family means that you’ve three family members needing means of transport to work or school.

    In poor Zambia, why would you need an expensive SUV to run from Matero, Libala or Chelston? A simple Toyota Corolla would do. Better still, since the majority of people can’t afford cars anyway – why would you tie in large sums of money in importing Hammers or Lexus? It just doesn’t make sense. In Canada and many places in Europe you still have street cars or trolleys – but in Zambia even riding the Mini-Buses Chiluba encouraged has become a nightmare. Come on! Unless public transport is improved investors wanting to come to Zambia would have to think twice. Otherwise how do you get people to work?

    We need policies which can be pro-masses instead of pro-apamwamba as the tendency is right now. We know that a radical policy can change things. In a stroke of a pen, Chiluba made property less Zambians become owners of houses. With imagination and strong political will, things can be turned around. It is this argument Zedian is striving to make. He is right!!

  31. Kaela,

    "We need policies which can be pro-masses instead of pro-apamwamba as the tendency is right now. We know that a radical policy can change things."

    I could not agree more!

    To cement what we're saying here, take South Africa as an example; with all it's beauty spots, one of the areas which has remained underdeveloped until now is the transport sector. And that is because the minority policy makers of the Aparthied government were not interested in public transport for the masses, as they had the wealth to buy private cars for themselves. And this is what we're saying about the Zambian situation. Apamwambas are exempt from using public services and the result is for all to see.

    We now have a situation where the recipients of aid are now riding in more luxurious cars than those that give them aid! There's something fundamentally wrong with that picture.

  32. Am grateful to Cho and Dr Kaela for coming to aid against the onslaught, a thick skin is necessary in blogosphere, its best to assume everyone has the best intentions when debating difficult issues.
    I too agree in calling for policies aimed at the masses rather than the apamwamba,, what RB I fear is doing is taking acre of the stakeholders and leaving the masses to fight for crumbs. As soon as his assumed the Presidency he increased cabinet and MP's pays and appointed members of MMD central committee that mattered to cabinet positions then he kicked out any that threatened his present and future prospects.
    I like many have said before, can't understand why Zambians would vote against their immediate interests RB and his likes only care about average Zambians when its time to vote, after that it's the chiefs,MP's and apamwambas that count.
    Reversing 90% unemployment rate will need a wise, tough and intelligent leader who will be willing to force the masses into productive lifestyles if need be, until that leader is President it is impossible to fathom how every Zambian with a good education can expect a good job in the city. My view is there will never be enough jobs in the cities for all grade 12 or college graduates, we need Zambians to go back to basics the business of meeting local needs, food growing, block making as Cho have suggested in the durable block making company, growing local economies first then our national economy will create better opportunities for more educated people. The trouble right is everyone is seeking a white collar job but there are only a few so it's either one becomes part of the 90% unemployment statistic or the find a place in the local economy were they can contribute in a small but productive manner.
    RB would have my favor if he would follow through with the citizen economic empowerment program that was in last budget, if he would zero rate VAT for small business products, create demand for small scale produce by having govt. ministries buy from small scale businesses instead of having his sons import GMO maize have local farmer supply maize for mealie meal to boarding schools and hospitals.

  33. To put it in as few words as I can:

    We Need To Create Value

    That is what is needed. If you do that, the money will come. We need to put the 80% of arable land that is not under cultivation under cultivation. We need to use poor land, irrigate it, grow grass, put cattle and chickens on it, build soil, and create more arable land (in that order). We need to unlock the market potential of remote areas by building infrastructure that connects them with to the national economy. We need to make sure every child graduates from High School, and everyone who wants to gets through at least college.

    Water. Roads. Capacity building.

    Any party that does that has my vote and support.

  34. Zedian and Kaela,

    There seems to be a communication breakdown between you both and my suggestion of an incentive scheme designed to retain civil servants and/or forestall strikes in Zambia. It is not a policy prescription as you seem to have perceived it. Simply, it is a tangential issue to my comment on President Banda's proposal for a Salaries and Wages Commission.

    So, to have digressed so much from my main comments on the different themes in the President's speech is somewhat surprising to me. If you want to have an exhaustive debate on how the Zambian government can decongest the capital city, deal with "green issues," and/or improve the country's road infrastructure, I'm sure Cho will place your policy initiatives on these themes on the blog, and we will join in the debate.

    I have no doubt that you both own cars and you may not really appreciate the value the average family in Zambia would place on car-ownership. May be I should tell you a personal story in order to drive the point home:

    Upon completing my studies in 1985 in Oklahoma City, I returned to Kitwe where I had worked previously as a Staff Development Fellow (SDF), without a car. At least once per week, I had a hard time walking to class in the rain over a distance of around 1 kilometer from my residence in Riverside to the Copperbelt University to teach. I would enter my classroom with socked shoes and socks, and sometimes rain water would sneak through my brief case and sock my teaching material.

    In 1988, my pregnant wife started vomitting after mid-night; I had to walk to a neighbor's house to ask for help with transport using a ZCCM van which he used to drive in order to rush my sick wife to Kitwe Central Hospital 5 kilometers away.

    Zambian doctors, nurses, teachers and other civil servants face similar problems day in, day out. And how do you take kids to school, go for work, get kids from school, rush to see a sickly relative at the village, or even shop for food supplies for a family if you do not own a car?

    By the way, the following excerpt by Kaela is taken completely out of the context in which my suggestion was made:

    "In poor Zambia, why would you need an expensive SUV to run from Matero, Libala or Chelston? A simple Toyota Corolla would do. Better still, since the majority of people can’t afford cars anyway – why would you tie in large sums of money in importing Hammers or Lexus?"

    In any case, if individual Zambians have the money to spend on SUVs, Lexus and Hammers, I do not see why they cannot purchase them; after all, it is their money they would spend on such luxurious cars.

    It is also important to note that mass-transit trains in a poor, sparsely populated country would be uneconomic due to diseconomies of scale and scope. And the street cars or trolleys you would recommend to any investor would not yield the needed return on investment. In other words, not everything we see in developed countries can be replicated successfully in a country like Zambia.

  35. Kyambalesa,

    [[In any case, if individual Zambians have the money to spend on SUVs, Lexus and Hammers, I do not see why they cannot purchase them; after all, it is their money they would spend on such luxurious cars.

    It is also important to note that mass-transit trains in a poor, sparsely populated country would be uneconomic due to diseconomies of scale and scope. And the street cars or trolleys you would recommend to any investor would not yield the needed return on investment. In other words, not everything we see in developed countries can be replicated successfully in a country like Zambia.]]

    Paragraph I defines what I call the “Zambian problem”. This is the cockeyed philosophy and attitude of many Zambians. We do not want to cut clothes according to measure, so to speak. It is this political philosophy, belief or ideology which is responsible for many of our bad economic policies. The target beneficiary in today’s Zambia is very diffuse. While seeing luxurious cars is circumstantial evidence that we favor the top 0 – 5% of the population, failure to fix broken roads confuses the situation.

    KK’s humanism was at least based on socialism tenets. Straight forward, nice and simple. Thus, I can say that Kyambalesa’s 1st paragraph is quite sympathetic to the top few Zambians. This is caustic not only because it is based on falsities – it also contributes to the misallocation of resources.

    On the other hand, your Paragraph II contains the misdiagnosis of the problem itself. You don’t talk about “diseconomies of scale and scope” if you know the sample size you are dealing with and planning for. For instance, you can’t buy a supersonic jet for landing at Kasama airstrip, or buy 100 commuter trains when you only need 10. The either/or argumentation is a misrepresentation of reality. Because of that mentality/thinking – that is why a Minister with his/her Permanent Secretary can decide to buy 150 hearse vehicles rather than drugs to prevent deaths. Here, rationality is lost.

    Certainly, I am not suggesting carbon-copying what exists in the West – but only interested in copying principles and foundations. Using street cars or trolleys is only a method for solving public transport. We do not need to re-invent the wheel. Dambisa Moyo even forbids the importation of aid.[cont...]

  36. Kyambalesa [cont...]

    You see, the money they use to buy luxurious cars – is not theirs. They didn’t earn it legitimately, because they cheated, stole, misappropriated it or misused somebody else’s money. Those who earned it legitimately cannot have so much overflow of the money. The bulk of this money they spend on SUVs comes from government sources, donors or NGOs. We have seen that people like Kapoko are able to divert enormous amounts of money from government projects. (And please note that – government or donor money is in essence other countries tax payers’ money).

    Those who are in NGOs, even Preachers solicit donations and funding in the name of poor masses. Instead of using that money as intended – to reduce poverty or assist those in need, they pay themselves abnormal salaries.

    Although pilfering in the private sector is minimal – real funds (resources) are also milked away by companies or contractors who don’t produce real or legitimate products or services. Because of rampant corruption – some of these contractors get paid for shoddy or unperformed tasks. I hear that some Chinese mining companies are able to employ laborers or workers at a pittance wage under deplorable work conditions. Thus, private sector (investors) too siphons off resources from Zambia. Of course those who participate in these schemes sometimes end up with lots of money. Instead of holding these jobs in trust, they romp around in SUVs, when plenty others are Zamfooting. Shameful!

    Would you really call these people as using their own money? Never! Remember Aristocrats and later in the Third Reich – Hitler’s fascists enjoyed comfortable life styles when others were dying. They had endless parties served by slaves or prisoners. The evil and madness of Hitler’s Germany Society had to be overthrown by allied forces, which included everyone else but German.

    What is the relevancy? Yes, it is that only 44 years after colonialism there has come a class in Zambia – apamwambas, who have really gone out of hand. Who in overabundance, they are shunning down every iota of “collective” responsibility. This business of only caring about their luxuries at the expense of basic necessities for the rest is what irritates many.

    Kyambalesa – your case about needing a car – in fact endorses what I and Zedian are preaching – the principle of collective thinking. I think every lecturer should be entitled to a car loan and mortgage. But you can’t meet this objective if you remain in the “me mode” and the bulk of resources are tied up by serving the one percent (1%) of the population. A more rational (or reasonable) approach would be to spread the resources more equitably.

    In your case you needed a CBU Chancellor who believed and could introduce car/housing loans or schemes. Only when one has the belief and will for doing something can you have the motivation to look for resources to match your requirements or needs.

    It is this misguided view or lack of vision of what is good for us all – the majority Zambians, which has landed us in a vicious circle. I hope I didn’t confuse any body. In one sentence (to borrow MrK’s analogy) – there is too much concentration of resources in the hands of few. While a lot of it also slips away to foreign lands.

    July 11, 2009

  37. Kaela,

    Please refer to your statement that "Paragraph I defines what ... [you] call the 'Zambian problem'". I thought you currently live in Canada, where the government and private citizens do not interfer with the purchase decisions of individuals? If this is your thinking, then it is the problem faced by all Western countries.

    You know very well that if you referred to the freedom of individuals to spend their personal resources the way the want without government interference, as long as what they spend their money on is not an illegal activity, you would be called a socialist or communist in Western societies.

    The same would apply to your assertion that purchase decisions made by private individuals contribute "to the misallocation of resources." It is actually the decisions made by bureaucrats which contribute to the misallocation of resources. We witnessed this during the UNIP era. The decision made recently by the Zambian government to erect a printing press in Kasama provides a more recent example.

    In short, free enterprise provides a more flexible mechanism for the movement of capital in an economy.

    By the way, a Chancellor in a government-run university in Zambia does not have a budget through which he or she "could introduce car/housing loans or schemes." The financing of such universities is done through the Ministry of Education.

    And your statement that "the money they use to buy luxurious cars – is not theirs ... [t]hey didn’t earn it legitimately, because they cheated, stole, misappropriated it or misused somebody else’s money" is not entirely true; there are many Zambians who have worked hard for the luxurious lives they are enjoying, and they may not take kindly any of such accusations.

    Even the case of Henry Kapoko, he is actually innocent until he is proven guilty by an impartial and competent court of law. You probably have evidence which you have used to presume his guilt.

    And I used the term "diseconomies of scale and scope" the way we use it in development economics, in which case it has really nothing to do with "sample size." I used it to mean the opposit of the following:

    1) Economies of scale: Reductions in the average cost of producing a particular class of products resulting from mass production of the products.

    2) Economies of scope: Cost savings gained through the production or distribution of a wide variety of products.

    The decision to buy 100 hearses is, of course worrisome, just like the decisions concerning the construction of the Kasumbalesa border post, consideration of a decision to buy a radar system, the evaluation of partial privatization of Zamtel, and consideration of the decision to buy mobile clinics -- which are all a result of government's adoption of single-source procurements.

    This is what happens when procurement procedures are subverted by the authorities, who may have personal stakes in such procurements. Normally, the Zambia Public Procurement Authority, technocrats and Parliament are supposed to be intimately involved in making final decisions relating to such purchases.

  38. Kyambalesa,

    You said: "So, to have digressed so much from my main comments on the different themes in the President's speech is somewhat surprising to me. If you want to have an exhaustive debate on how the Zambian government can decongest the capital city, deal with "green issues," and/or improve the country's road infrastructure, I'm sure Cho will place your policy initiatives on these themes on the blog, and we will join in the debate."

    I think we have a bit of communication breakdown. So I will use this as my last post to say that I simply tried to point out that I noticed, in my humble view, that one of your proposed policies did not 'hold water'.

    I do not see any digression, because such is the gravity of the consequences of that single policy that it affects so many things, as I and Kaela laboured to explain above.

    I have no doubt that that particular policy was well intended, however, personally I was of the opinion that it had some rather serious unintended consequences that needed addressing.

    There're other points on which I actually concurred with you, because they were sound.

    Lastly, when you put forward public proposals you should expect people to scrutinise them and they will either agree with you or not. It is only with such rigorous scrutiny and debate that we together can come up with even stronger policies for the good of our nation.

    Yes, a wider debate on how to de-congest the capital would be welcome by me! However, I would probably not be the one to propose that as I am likely to struggle to come up with strong data because the topic is well outside my area of expertise. But I would certainly contribute, as I usually do.

  39. Zedian,

    You probably did not read my contribution of July 10, in which I emphasized that my suggestion of an incentive scheme designed to retain civil servants and/or forestall strikes in Zambia was not a policy prescription as you have continued to call it.

    The discussion has continued because of your notion that the Zambian government should not extend a car-ownership incentive to its employees as this would worsen the congestion particularly in the capital city, and because of "green issues" and the fact that roads are not properly maintained.

    I have continued to discuss the issue mainly because I have never heard of a country where an employer (government or otherwise) is prohibited from making car-ownership loans to employees due to congestion, "green issues" or poor road infrastructure.

    With respect to the last paragraph of your last contribution, there is a need for the Zambian government to consider the prospect of providing a wide range of incentives designed to stimulate commercial and industrial activities nationwide. Such incentives may consist of tax relief, low-interest loans, and any other forms of incentives which may be deemed necessary to induce certain types of local and foreign investment in the country's economy.

    In this endeavor, government leaders have to decide whether the provision of the various kinds of incentives should be activity-based, organization-based, industry-based, sector-based, region-based, and/or general in nature. The various forms of incentives Zambia may decide to extend to investors may, therefore, be defined in terms of the basis on which they may be given as follows:

    (a) General incentives, provided indiscriminately to all business and non-business institutions in a country, such as incentives intended to enhance productivity, stimulate innovation, promote economic diversification, or induce investments in sub-urban and rural areas.

    (b) Activity-based incentives, intended to encourage a particular project or activity, such as research and development (R&D), the use of local inputs, employee training, contributions to the needy, or creation of jobs for disadvantaged citizens.

    (c) Organization-based incentives, targeted at selected institutions which provide certain essential goods and/or services.

    (d) Industry-based incentives, intended to facilitate the success and survival of, say, the publishing industry, the iron and steel industry, and/or any other industries which are critical to the overall performance of a country's economy.

    (e) Sector-based incentives, aimed at revamping a particular sector of a country's economy, such as the primary sector, the secondary sector, or the tertiary sector. And

    (f) Region-based incentives, designed to promote investments in a particular region or province of a country that may be relatively under-developed.

    In addition to these incentives, local authorities and the central government need to provide essential services and facilities to facilitate the creation of jobs, and the creation and delivery of goods and services to meet the needs and expectations of society. The more important of the public services and facilities that local authorities and the national government need to provide include the following:

    (a) A well-developed transportation infrastructure and adequate transportation services to industrial, commercial, and residential areas to ease or facilitate the distribution of production inputs and finished products.

    (b) Adequate public services (including police protection, fire protection, public utilities, and decent housing), as well as telecommunications, educational, vocational, health, and recreational facilities. And

    (c) Less bureaucratic licensing, import, export, and other procedures, and adequate information about investment and marketing problems and opportunities in the various sectors of a country's economy.

    [Continued below.]

  40. [Continued from above.]

    Besides, there is a need for government leaders to provide for equitable sales, corporate, and other taxes, as well as tax concessions and inducements that are more attractive than those in alternative countries or regions which investors are likely to consider for investment.

    Moreover, Zambia needs political and civic leaders who are fair and honest in their dealings with private business institutions, as well as stable economic policies -- including a formal assurance against nationalization and/or expropriation of privately owned business undertakings by the national government.

    These inducements, services, and facilities, among a host of other things, can enable economic units to create jobs, operate more efficiently and eventually deliver economic and social outputs to society at reasonable costs and prices. Unfortunately, both local authorities and the national government in Zambia today have tended to expect business institutions to perform miracles in a socio-economic environment that is not at all conducive to efficient business operations.

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