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Wednesday, 29 July 2009

VP George Kunda : Africa Business Forum 2009

An interesting speech by Vice President Kunda at the Africa Business Forum in London, sings praises of the mysterious "great strides" of the MMD led government over the last 20 years, and of course defends Chinese investment.

Part 1 :

Part 2 :

Part 3:


  1. Hmmm... I was almost having a bit of a cringe moment somewhere in Part 2 where he was essentially praising the Chinese for turning a blind eye to governance issues, human rights and corruption.

    He didn't realise at all he was talking to the wrong crowd about that.

    May I remind Honourable George Kunda that had it been left to the Chinese, UNIP would probably still have been in power today in a one-party participatory 'democracy'. He would not have stood there as VP under MMD for sure!

  2. Yes, "Embarrassing" sums up that speech.

    I would have thought the Africa Business Forum gave African leaders a platform to pitch their countries' 'business case' to attract Western investors. But Honourable GK decided he should give them more of an earful than anything else! Was it his intention to really tell the West to stuff themselves because his govt. had found a new best friend in China?

    If that pitch was intended to annoy Western investors rather that woo them, then Honourable GK should consider himself very successful.

  3. oh my God! and this is why EXPERTS should be sent to such forums. Is this how Zambia is being 'advertised' by the MMD delegations that are ever out on missions to woe foreign investors?! I am no business expert, but even if I had money needing investing, I would not for a second be convinced to put it in Zambia by anything said in that speech...I agree with the above posts, the speech was embarassing especially in Part 2. I saw an interview of Paul Kagame on CNN; he made a more decent (or rather intellegent) arguement for defending Chinese investment in Rwanda.

  4. Lawrence Michelo4 August 2009 at 15:45

    I have not heard the speech yet but its common in zambia even among professionals to condemn government. I think its very bad.Why not write a positive critiqu to office of the vice president and advise how he can make better speech in future.
    Government is all what we have and it reflects much of who we are. Lets not find pleasure in in bringing government down.
    Can anyone list the good points in Kundas' speech. What he would have presented better,so that a reader of this blog will go away with something positive about Zambia.

    China remains and is Africa greatest hope and partner to end the poverty, disease and bad image that characterises the continent today.Whichever way the point is made, it should do to embrace and attract Chinese investments in Zambia and Africa in general.
    My simpathies to the Chinese investor killed in Lusaka. Zambian on the street do not understand.Opposition leaders,especially PF and their president are no good to the country on this cause.
    We need to woo the chinese and treat the with respect and good laws. That is what governent is for and should be encouraged to do.

    It is the duty of every zZambian to preserve our dignity even when we do agree with the government of the day.

  5. In the interests of improved "spin control" overall, I will try to take up the recent challenge to effectively support the VP's speech above:

    Vice President George Kunda may not have told the audience in London what they wanted or expected to hear from the deputy executive of a developing African nation, but perhaps he managed to drive home a few "new truths" of the 21st century world that they needed to hear. He plainly admitted that Zambian citizens do not possess sufficient available capital and credit to successfully develop the sort of large scale enterprises which a highly globalized economy requires for competitiveness. No doubt there were more than a few in the room who had often advocated for lowering trade barriers to enable just such an outcome. Given this postulate from Western-developed economic dogma, Zambia has no option but to seek sources of external capital sufficient to compete.

    The VP then patiently laid out the three "pillars" on which African governments are told by the G8 governments are necessary to attract external capital. These are: 1) The importance of good governance, fighting corruption, respect for the rule of law, and respect for the will of the electorate.

    2) Investing in people and infrastructure. Limited access to education and skills training making them less productive than East Asia. Sustaining high levels of growth also depends on provision of infrastructure, however as percentage of GDP the percentage of investment in infrastructure has been declining in Sub-Saharan Africa. Public Private Partnerships are one way to bring more capital into infrastructure projects. The Government of Zambia has recently started to enact a regulatory framework to accommodate such PPPs.

    3) Encourage Private Sector development. Government must put in place regulatory mechanisms but not necessarily assume the operation of companies or industries. The private sector must remain the chief engine of economic growth. It is important to encourage a spirit of innovation in Zambian citizens and the international business community in general.

    Then the VP briefly described the fallout for Zambia's mining sector in the wake of commodity price crashes, and the reaction of companies based in traditional partner nations, many of whom closed their operations due to lack of profitability. He then (apparently) chose to abandon his scripted remarks in order to patiently explain the reality that Chinese investors only care about pillars 2&3 when negotiating for deals, which puts them at an advantage over their g8 counterparts with their potentially expensive or difficult to implement "conditions" on human rights or good governance.

    Certainly there are specific factors at work within the established global trade and finance system which enable China to achieve other advantages over their rivals as well, however the existence of said global economic factors can certainly not be laid at the doorstep of Sub-Saharan Africa. Indeed few audiences are likely to find themselves more to blame for the existence and persistence of such a state of affairs than London investment governance seminar attendees. After all, China is playing the game by the G8's rules, and if/where they are cheating no-one is seriously calling them on it.

    If the government and corporate officials in that room didn't like what VP Kunda had to tell them, they should do something about it. Zambia certainly is in no position to force the Chinese to care about Pillar #1.

  6. I don't think this is an embarassing speech at all.

    What I am very much disagreeing with are the terms of investment. As long as the government is giving the country away, there is no point to foreign investment. What I am looking for is a much more nationalistic approach to both investment and development.

    That is the only way to ensure not only 'jobs' but actually to grow the middle class through higher wages and savings - and of course universal access to education and healthcare.

  7. Yakima,

    He plainly admitted that Zambian citizens do not possess sufficient available capital and credit to successfully develop the sort of large scale enterprises which a highly globalized economy requires for competitiveness.

    This is just a lack of imagination.

    For instance, there are the mines which should be taxed to the tune of $600 million to $1200 million per year (they make about $2.4 billion in profit).

    Then, there is the reduction of government expenditure. Someone estimated that $300 million is wasted in procurements every year.

    If those were directly invested in Zambian MFEZ's for local Zambian SME's, that would make a huge difference.

    And neither of those options require new FDI.

    In fact, if the government removed all taxes on the mines except for the royalty tax on turnover, and increased that from 3% to 20%, I would be for all the FDI in the world. However, the government seems hellbent on not allowing the economy to benefit from FDI, so that is one big reason why I oppose it. The other is that Africa needs to develop it's internal markets, if it wants to grow sustainably.

  8. MrK,

    I agree about the lack of imagination, which is why I am glad my brief tenure as George's Press Secretary is now over! There are almost always more than two possible solutions to a problem after all.

  9. Yakima and MrK,

    I totally agree with you. Perhaps when a country wants to please the Western world - for reasons which have to be beneficial to such a country - yes it is embarassing. I think we have to be careful not to be blind followers as it was during the called war just because the West is unconfortable with China's surges towards Africa. We have to be strategic this time around and make our stance known in the sense that as Africa we have resources which everyone wants to have a piece off. At this time Africa stands a better chance to bargain good and not to be short-changed

  10. Well, first and foremost let's appreciate that everyone is entitled to their opinion. If one thinks that the VP's speech was embarrassing and another thinks it wasn't, that's perfectly fine.

    But to accuse others of being "blind followers" is something else.

    I for one pointed out exactly what I thought were the shortcomings of the VP, and I minced no words about it. In my humble opinion, if that speech was a pitch in the corporate world, the deal would have been lost straight away! That presentation was poor! That's just my grading of it.

    Nevertheless, the presentation aside, we all know that the VP did have a point he wanted to drive home. And as "Ntezi" pointed out, Rwanda's President Paul Kagame "made a more decent (or rather intellegent) arguement for defending Chinese investment in Rwanda."

    Sometimes presentation is everything. That speech lacked the diplomacy, tact, and just the persona I personally would want my VP to have in such an environment where he was meant to pitch his country to investors.

  11. Appointed Zambian Vice President George Kunda made himself an enemy of the World today when he invoked the dying cry of every Repressive State in history when he told the press that, "their security is not guaranteed." With that single statement he has confirmed our worst suspicions that rather than abide by a truly democratic process, the MMD party is determined to hold power by any means in the 2011 elections. What they seem not to realize is that they are making more enemies than they imagine by using such rhetoric. That phrase is entirely familiar to the international press. It gets used a lot by governments that cannot withstand the scrutiny of a truly free press. Those words are the equivalent of blood in the water to a shark for many journalists (for Zambians who have never encountered a shark, the scent of blood sends them into a "feeding frenzy"). I have thus far refrained from alerting my press contacts to the VP's statement in the hopes that he will retract it before the march actually takes place, and do his civic duty to promise that the police will in fact do their job no matter which Zambian happens to be in danger. If the march takes place without such a statement by the VP, and if the MMD cadres he has given the "green light" to engage in violence indeed do so, then my gloves will come off, and I will use every means at my disposal to take this anti-Free Press government down. I never used to hate the MMD, but after the attack on this site last month by their cadres (we remember you FMD, even if you have retreated), and this kind of blatant anti-democratic statement by the unelected VP, well I have lost patience with the argument that these men have any kind of public mandate. They are clearly not seeking another one, but rather using what powers they have to suppress dissent before it can be heard. For some baffling reason these old men think that they can get away with it. It is up to the rest of us to demonstrate that times have changed.

  12. To today's protesters:

    I would like to recommend a chant for the march, six and then seven works very well in practice (encourages the next verse):

    G. K. has had his say,
    But Free Press is here to stay!

    There are many possible variations off this, use your creativity, but above all have all the same sign, slogan, or chant. Don't allow other media to script coverage of your protest by handing them a choice of message. Big tents are fine, but not when several hours can be edited down to 15 seconds. Make sure your 15 second message is everywhere before addressing nuance.

    Good Luck and God Bless!

    [Korean Police demo on self defense against batons: ]

  13. Oh my!

    But the warning signs were there, though some people accused us of bias when we spotted them. This fella is a despot in the making! He believes not in democracy and holds the opinion that those calling for it are an inconvenience to his cause, and must be dealt with.

    I'm pretty sure RB will see nothing wrong with it, as did FTJ who according to the Post dodged their question on these ongoing press beatings, but instead chose to praise RB as a wise man. And this was straight after emerging from church where he had been preaching the Gospel. Yes, the Gospel.


    G. K. has had his say,
    But Free Press is here to stay!

  14. Here's Rwanda's Paul Kagame saying it better than GK, so much so that his speech has been reported by major news agencies. One get's the sense they're sort of saying he's got a point, unlike our GK.


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