Alexander Chikwanda has a fascinating piece in the The Post. The discusssion on agriculture is particularly interesting, but its the following observation that caught my attention :
A few years back a wise decision was made to close some of the diplomatic missions to cut expenditure. Since then all the closed missions have been reopened and yet new ones opened with all the severe cost implications. Foreign missions are a very costly adventure. Some sombre statistic has remained in my mind arising from one of the pre-budget cabinet meetings when I sat in attendance as president Chiluba’s chief of staff. In 1996 the expenditure on the children of Zambian diplomatic staff was K4.6 billion when the outlay on education services – that is the expenditure on goods and services for the Ministry of Education was K2.5 billion. Ordinarily such injurious disproportions should warrant attention but it appeared and still appears to be a matter of indifference in Government. Zambians happily embrace this culture and legacy of fiscal irresponsibility and even our external benefactors have innocently underwritten our fiscal indiscretions except, I suspect they may not do so in the not too distant future on whatever pretext.We have previously discussed the issue of embassies here and here. Alexander's observation really does magnify the problem. Reducing the amount of embassies may a well be a necessary, but not sufficient solution.