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Monday, 31 August 2009

Sustainable Roots for Zambia (Guest Blog)

Greetings Zambian Economist Community!

You may remember me from a Guest Blog in Jan. of this year; I run a US-based non-profit for Zambia and in a second post would like to invite feedback from all interested and experienced readers.

As a review, after 3 years of living in the villages of Eastern and Northern as a Forestry Extension Agent, I returned to the US and began Color Me In! in 2008 to address the issue of community empowerment and environmental conservation that I saw as intimately paired. I was able to witness the often short-lived and debilitating effects of easy aid and have been determined to devise a micro-finance program that places the character development of the individual at the center while helping communities to generate their own long term sources of income and addressing the urgent issue of deforestation by allowing groups to pay back 50% of their loan through the planting of trees.

I am writing now because Color Me In! is at a stage of development where we have funded several micro-loans that are experiencing success and as we expand our services, I want to review, revise anPd improve our current methods of implementation, monitoring and evaluation to activate the best strategy possible.

How do you go about building sustainable development? It is a complex, multi-faced issue and the answers also require a similar multi-dimensional approach. I have started a blog called Sustainable Roots to serve as a forum for an online community passionate about true community empowerment, the environment and for those with the desire to image a better way. I lay out CMI's current method of micro-finance and tree planting and present a number of questions critical to developing an improved strategy. While run in the US by many who have spent 2-3 years in the rural areas of Zambia, we are limited both as a small collection of individuals and by our current office position in the US. It is my hope to invite anyone who is interested in sharing feedback, ideas or who may like to explore working with us to visit our blog and spend 5 minutes starting to help us make a more effective difference.

Note: while our web site is currently being re-vamped, I can be reached at sarah.grant@colormein.org and the blog contains the essential outline of our mission and direction.

Thank you sincerely for your time. !! (Zikomo kwambili, Natotela Mukwai.....sorry, I only learned Nyanja and Bemba). :)

Sarah Grant
Color Me In! Founder, Executive Director


Empowering human development and rural poverty alleviation through micro-loans for business development and tree planting.

Another Hospitality Act?

The Government is apparently considering a new Hospitality Act to enable the industry "to trade in a transparent manner" and deal with "the mushrooming guesthouses that are used as brothels". We have previously discussed this issue here. That discussion was off the back of the Tourism and Hospitality Act 2007 that supposedly gives Government power to deal with "mushroom motels". This appears to be another case where enforcement rather than new laws appear to be the problem. It would be good for Government to explain why another act is necessary so soon!

Saturday, 29 August 2009

And a bonus quote...

"An appeal should only be made when there is a likelihood of it succeeding. Appealing because of concerns of members of the public without regard to the likelihood of success is actually an abuse of the judicial process"

Quote of the week (FTJ)

Friday, 28 August 2009

A comedy of errors..

A very good article on the foolish trial that has brought such shame to our country:

The Chansa Kabwela case: a comedy of errors, Muna Ndulo, The Post, Commentary :

In recent times the news from Zambia has been dominated by the events surrounding the prosecution of Chansa Kabwela on charges of distributing obscene materials contrary to section 177(a) of the Zambian Penal Code. The fact that it has even proceeded this far in the court is a sad commentary and a literal comedy of errors. That it is currently before the courts is a result of errors of judgment on the part of the President and the police . The situation is exacerbated by the failure to stop the prosecution on the part of the Director of Public Prosecutions. No other case has damaged Zambia’s image and standing as a tolerant and democratic country in the world than the Chansa Kabwela case. The case has been widely reported in the international media and the prosecution has been condemned by just about every credible human rights and media organisation around the globe.

This case, more than anything else, demonstrates the hegemonic position occupied by the presidency in African politics and the weakness of state institutions that are supposed to provide checks and balances to the presidency. In this saga, three institutions have failed the Zambian people. “Let's go hand in hand, not one before another”, Shakespeare writes in the Comedy of Errors and that is exactly what has happened in this frivolous process. First, the presidency for failing to exercise self restraint and observe the limitations imposed on the presidency by constitutionalism. Second, the police for failure to act as an independent professional force and third, the Director of Public Prosecution for failing to rise to the occasion and use his constitutional powers to stop the prosecution and thereby serve the best interest of the state.

Since 1857 when the first obscenity laws were passed in the UK, the classic definition of criminal obscenity has always been” if it tends to deprave and corrupt morals ” stated in 1868 by John Coleridge. Perhaps the most celebrated case ever brought under the obscene publications Act in the UK was the 1960 prosecution of Penguin books for the posthumous publication of D.H. Lawrence book Lady Chatterley’s Lover. The jury acquitted Penguin of all charges. It was established in that case that the objective of obscenity legislation is the protection of morals. In the United States, the concept of obscenity has been used to draw the line between prohibited and permitted sexual representations. In Roth v US (1957) Justice William Brennan of the US Supreme Court held that obscenity is unprotected because it is “utterly without redeeming social importance. Brennan confined obscenity to “material which deals with sex in a manner appealing to pruriet interest.” He defined prurient interest as either “having a tendency to excite lustful thoughts “or as a “shameful and morbid interest in sex”. He then promulgated the following test of obscenity: “whether to the average person, applying contemporary community standards, the dominant theme of the material taken as a whole appeals to the prurient interest.” In Miller V. California (1973) the US supreme court ruled that “material is obscene if its predominant theme is prurient according to the sensibilities of an average person of the community, it depicts sexual conduct in a patently offensive way; and taken as a whole it lacks serious literary, artistic, political , or scientific value.”

The average person in Zambia, while no doubt being shocked and disgusted by the picture, would not regard the publication of pictures of a woman giving birth in order to expose the plight of ordinary people during a national strike by medical personnel as being prurient and having the effect or as intended to deprave and corrupt morals. Instead, the pictures should lead to outrage and anger at those who were not making maximum efforts to end the strike. The context and manner in which they were distributed leaves no doubt in one’s mind that the pictures were intended to make those in authority realise the serious impact of the medical strike and to bring about action to end the strike. No doubt other situations could have been used but the choice of a maternity case was probably intended to touch the humanity in all of us and clearly succeeded in that objective. As Shakespeare writes in the Comedy or Errors, “Every why hath a wherefore” (2.2.45). The wherefore was to show the horrible impact of the medical strike which justifies the why. The source of the materials distributed eliminates any concerns relating to privacy issues and that would be for the woman in the picture to prosecute.

Pictures of a woman giving birth no doubt are inappropriate and the sight should make many cringe but cannot be erotic and do not deal with sex at all. No doubt they are contrary to African tradition but that is not the test for obscenity and that is not what the obscene offences Act is designed to deal with. The obscene offences Act when it comes to pictures is designed to deal with erotic pictures and their potential to corrupt the morals of those who view them. This case, more than anything else, illustrates poor governance and lack of independence on the institutions involved in the case-the police and the prosecution agencies. It also illustrates the dominance of the Presidency over all other institutions. The President erred in getting involved in a matter that is clearly nonpresidential. If he felt that there might have been a criminal violation in the distribution of the pictures, his action should have ended at referring the matter to the police. He was wrong to more or less direct the police to act. In a system that operates on patronage such as the Zambian system for a President to say “I hope those responsible for the law of this country will pursue this matter” amounts to a directive to officials whose survival depends on blind loyalty to do as he wishes. Investigative and police wings of the government must be left to function professionally and independently. Once the President made the mistake of issuing a directive to the police, the Inspector General of the Police compounded the situation by ethusistically carrying out the directive. The police action shows lack of professionalism and independence. The Inspector General of Police should further realise that he is not a police man on the beat. Where the head of the command is involved in issuing orders of arrest one begins to wonder as to who is doing the planning. The tendency for the Inspector General to micro manage the police force as is evidenced by his recent instruction for the arrest of Kasama police officer who let a woman give birth in a cell regardless of whether an offence was committed or not will lead to an inefficient and ineffective police force.

Once the presidency and the police had erred in their handling of this case, it was then left to the Director of Public Prosecutions to step in and redeem the situation. In Zambia, the powers to conduct and supervise prosecutions of criminal proceedings are vested in the constitutional office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. He or she has power to discontinue, at any stage before judgment is delivered any criminal proceedings instituted or undertaken by himself or any other authority (Article 56). These powers are vested in him to the exclusion of any other person or authority. I cannot think of a more compelling case than the Chansa Kabwela case for the excise of the Director of Public Prosecution’s power to discontinue a prosecution. The case is not supported by the definition of obscenity, the distribution of the pictures was limited to a small section of leaders; and its objective was not to corrupt morals but to draw attention to the appalling conditions in the hospitals. Ms. Chansa Kabwela explained that the photos were tearfully brought to the newspaper by the husband of the woman in the pictures in the hope that their publication might avert more tragedies. Many of us disagree on the approach Chansa Kabwela adopted which might very well have been influenced by her frustration in dealing with the situation, but no one can doubt that any effort to end a strike which had caused so much suffering was a noble cause. Besides, Chansa Kabwela, in a letter to the NGO Organisations acknowledge that in future she might do things differently. In these circumstances, entry of a “nolle proseque” will be in the best interests of the country. I am not advocating this approach because I am worried about Chansa Kabwela being convicted. Not at all. I, like many others, have confidence in the men and women who run our courts and their ability to administer justice and interpret the law correctly. The Kabwela saga should be brought to a rapid resolution in order to end the unnecessary depletion of resources, bring an end to the tarnishing of Zambia’s name abroad, and end the pain felt by Zambians as they endure this unnecessary court process.Written by Prof Muna Ndulo
Prof Muna NduloIn recent times the news from Zambia has been dominated by the events surrounding the prosecution of Chansa Kabwela on charges of distributing obscene materials contrary to section 177(a) of the Zambian Penal Code. The fact that it has even proceeded this far in the court is a sad commentary and a literal comedy of errors. That it is currently before the courts is a result of errors of judgment on the part of the President and the police . The situation is exacerbated by the failure to stop the prosecution on the part of the Director of Public Prosecutions. No other case has damaged Zambia’s image and standing as a tolerant and democratic country in the world than the Chansa Kabwela case. The case has been widely reported in the international media and the prosecution has been condemned by just about every credible human rights and media organisation around the globe.

This case, more than anything else, demonstrates the hegemonic position occupied by the presidency in African politics and the weakness of state institutions that are supposed to provide checks and balances to the presidency. In this saga, three institutions have failed the Zambian people. “Let's go hand in hand, not one before another”, Shakespeare writes in the Comedy of Errors and that is exactly what has happened in this frivolous process. First, the presidency for failing to exercise self restraint and observe the limitations imposed on the presidency by constitutionalism. Second, the police for failure to act as an independent professional force and third, the Director of Public Prosecution for failing to rise to the occasion and use his constitutional powers to stop the prosecution and thereby serve the best interest of the state.

Since 1857 when the first obscenity laws were passed in the UK, the classic definition of criminal obscenity has always been” if it tends to deprave and corrupt morals ” stated in 1868 by John Coleridge. Perhaps the most celebrated case ever brought under the obscene publications Act in the UK was the 1960 prosecution of Penguin books for the posthumous publication of D.H. Lawrence book Lady Chatterley’s Lover. The jury acquitted Penguin of all charges. It was established in that case that the objective of obscenity legislation is the protection of morals. In the United States, the concept of obscenity has been used to draw the line between prohibited and permitted sexual representations. In Roth v US (1957) Justice William Brennan of the US Supreme Court held that obscenity is unprotected because it is “utterly without redeeming social importance. Brennan confined obscenity to “material which deals with sex in a manner appealing to pruriet interest.” He defined prurient interest as either “having a tendency to excite lustful thoughts “or as a “shameful and morbid interest in sex”. He then promulgated the following test of obscenity: “whether to the average person, applying contemporary community standards, the dominant theme of the material taken as a whole appeals to the prurient interest.” In Miller V. California (1973) the US supreme court ruled that “material is obscene if its predominant theme is prurient according to the sensibilities of an average person of the community, it depicts sexual conduct in a patently offensive way; and taken as a whole it lacks serious literary, artistic, political , or scientific value.”

The average person in Zambia, while no doubt being shocked and disgusted by the picture, would not regard the publication of pictures of a woman giving birth in order to expose the plight of ordinary people during a national strike by medical personnel as being prurient and having the effect or as intended to deprave and corrupt morals. Instead, the pictures should lead to outrage and anger at those who were not making maximum efforts to end the strike. The context and manner in which they were distributed leaves no doubt in one’s mind that the pictures were intended to make those in authority realise the serious impact of the medical strike and to bring about action to end the strike. No doubt other situations could have been used but the choice of a maternity case was probably intended to touch the humanity in all of us and clearly succeeded in that objective. As Shakespeare writes in the Comedy or Errors, “Every why hath a wherefore” (2.2.45). The wherefore was to show the horrible impact of the medical strike which justifies the why. The source of the materials distributed eliminates any concerns relating to privacy issues and that would be for the woman in the picture to prosecute.

Pictures of a woman giving birth no doubt are inappropriate and the sight should make many cringe but cannot be erotic and do not deal with sex at all. No doubt they are contrary to African tradition but that is not the test for obscenity and that is not what the obscene offences Act is designed to deal with. The obscene offences Act when it comes to pictures is designed to deal with erotic pictures and their potential to corrupt the morals of those who view them. This case, more than anything else, illustrates poor governance and lack of independence on the institutions involved in the case-the police and the prosecution agencies. It also illustrates the dominance of the Presidency over all other institutions. The President erred in getting involved in a matter that is clearly nonpresidential. If he felt that there might have been a criminal violation in the distribution of the pictures, his action should have ended at referring the matter to the police. He was wrong to more or less direct the police to act. In a system that operates on patronage such as the Zambian system for a President to say “I hope those responsible for the law of this country will pursue this matter” amounts to a directive to officials whose survival depends on blind loyalty to do as he wishes. Investigative and police wings of the government must be left to function professionally and independently. Once the President made the mistake of issuing a directive to the police, the Inspector General of the Police compounded the situation by ethusistically carrying out the directive. The police action shows lack of professionalism and independence. The Inspector General of Police should further realise that he is not a police man on the beat. Where the head of the command is involved in issuing orders of arrest one begins to wonder as to who is doing the planning. The tendency for the Inspector General to micro manage the police force as is evidenced by his recent instruction for the arrest of Kasama police officer who let a woman give birth in a cell regardless of whether an offence was committed or not will lead to an inefficient and ineffective police force.

Once the presidency and the police had erred in their handling of this case, it was then left to the Director of Public Prosecutions to step in and redeem the situation. In Zambia, the powers to conduct and supervise prosecutions of criminal proceedings are vested in the constitutional office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. He or she has power to discontinue, at any stage before judgment is delivered any criminal proceedings instituted or undertaken by himself or any other authority (Article 56). These powers are vested in him to the exclusion of any other person or authority. I cannot think of a more compelling case than the Chansa Kabwela case for the excise of the Director of Public Prosecution’s power to discontinue a prosecution. The case is not supported by the definition of obscenity, the distribution of the pictures was limited to a small section of leaders; and its objective was not to corrupt morals but to draw attention to the appalling conditions in the hospitals. Ms. Chansa Kabwela explained that the photos were tearfully brought to the newspaper by the husband of the woman in the pictures in the hope that their publication might avert more tragedies. Many of us disagree on the approach Chansa Kabwela adopted which might very well have been influenced by her frustration in dealing with the situation, but no one can doubt that any effort to end a strike which had caused so much suffering was a noble cause. Besides, Chansa Kabwela, in a letter to the NGO Organisations acknowledge that in future she might do things differently. In these circumstances, entry of a “nolle proseque” will be in the best interests of the country. I am not advocating this approach because I am worried about Chansa Kabwela being convicted. Not at all. I, like many others, have confidence in the men and women who run our courts and their ability to administer justice and interpret the law correctly. The Kabwela saga should be brought to a rapid resolution in order to end the unnecessary depletion of resources, bring an end to the tarnishing of Zambia’s name abroad, and end the pain felt by Zambians as they endure this unnecessary court process.

Better Policing (Inefficiencies)

A good example of how police resources are being wasted on meaningless adventures. The Government is spending money enforcing foolish bye-laws against Kachasu distillers, when they should be prioritising other areas and catching real criminals. As for Kachasu itself, I have previously set out a better approach to the issue - see In defence of the Kachasu industry..., with related discussion on : Kachasu Women of Kantolomba.

Mazabuka 'kachasu' distillers rounded up

Mazabuka, Aug 27/09 ZANIS - A Combined team of State,Prisons and Council Police in Mazabuka yesterday swung into action and rounded up 20 'kachasu' distillers, among them prominent businessmen who are currently detained at Mazabuka police station cells. Some 12,600 litres of the illicit beverage were seized from Kachasu distillers in Zambia, Nakambala and Kabobola townships.

And the operation, that involved 48 security officers, was almost thwarted when an elderly woman in her 60s from Kabobola township, dared police officers to arrest her if they were brave enough.

The identified woman, who resisted arrest, threatened to bewitch any officer who would lift her, turning security officers into spectators for one and half hours.

The old woman, who has been in the business of selling 'kachasu' for 25 years, only handed herself to police after a middle aged woman requested her to stand up and accept the arrest.

Meanwhile, Mazabuka Town Clerk, Ekan Chingangu, says the clamp down on people producing illicit liqour will continue until the town is rid of illicit alcholo.

He said the council is concerned with the health of the residents, especially that illicit distillers used mollasses, a by-product of sugar, to produce the illicit spirit.

Mr Chingangu said the huge number of security officers was meant to thwart any violence against the security officers given the previous experience in which Kachasu distillers and traders turned violent against them.

He said he has directed police to ensure all the detainees paid K450,000 before they are released from detention and prosecute those that will fail to pay the penalty fees.

He urged Zambia Sugar Company to help the local authority by refusing to sell molasses to residents in 20 litre containers.

Efforts by ZANIS to get a comment from Zambia Sugar Corporate Affairs Manager, Lovemore Sievu, failed as he was reportedly out of the country on official duties.

National Anti Corruption Policy

"In essence, a new legal regime will be put in place to enhance the fight against corruption and preservation of public resources. This is what the policy entails"
President Banda yesterday at the launch of the National Anti Corruption Policy. We are trying to get hold the new document for more discussion. As usual the Government has not disseminated it more widely. So much for Zambian ownership of the drive against corruption. I'll reserve my comments until I have read it, but that quote from the President is a wonderful nod to what we said on Refocusing the fight on corruption.

A poor stance on graft (Guest Blog)

Some observers have expressed fears that the fight against corruption in sub-Saharan countries is waning. One of such observers is Daniel Kaufmann, who is quoted by Celia W. Dugger (in an article which appeared in The New York Times of June 10, 2009 entitled "Battle to Halt Graft Scourge in Africa Ebbs") as having said the following: "We are witnessing an era of major back-tracking on the anti-corruption drive."

In Zambia, such fears are evoked by the apparent lack of political will to address the scourge, dismissals of officials who pursue corrupt politicians regarded as sacred cows, an under-funded Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), selective prosecution of suspected perpetrators of corruption, single-source procurements by government agencies or ministries in contravention of rules and regulations limiting such procurements to emergency situations, and appointment of individuals found wanting for flouting Zambian laws and regulations to ministerial positions.

There are, of course, other factors which militate against the anti-corruption drive in Zambia. In a nutshell, they include poor governance, political instability, regular reshuffles of government leaders, a weak legislative system, a weak judicial system, bureaucratic red tape, inadequate salaries and benefits, greed and moral deficiency among some employees and national leaders, excessive discretionary presidential powers, lack of transparency in governmental decision making, and lax enforcement of criminal and administrative codes.

Approaches to addressing the incidence of corruption, therefore, seem obvious; they include the following: good governance; sustained political will; genuine zero tolerance; streamlining of cumbersome bureaucratic procedures; provision of adequate remuneration of employees; compulsory ethics education; provision for an anti-graft hotline; protection of whistle-blowers; creation of an autonomous agency to handle the distribution of relief food, cash and other supplies to communities affected by floods, droughts and other kinds of disasters in order to reduce politically clutched distribution of such supplies; and active participation in bilateral and multilateral conventions, protocols and declarations designed to fight corruption, particularly in the areas of prevention, prosecution, asset recovery, and international cooperation in generating rules for extraditing alleged fugitive perpetrators of corrupt practices.

As it is often said, actions speak louder than words. Unfortunately, President Rupiah Banda and his administration seem to be paying lip-service to the fight against corruption. If they cannot demonstrate their commitment to combat the scourge through their actions, therefore, the anti-graft policy which has just been launched is meaningless – it is a sham at best!

Meanwhile, corruption, together with the other bottlenecks to sustainable socio-economic development – including poor leadership, economic mismanagement, a bloated national government, and the debt burden – will continue to diminish the country's ability to harness its abundant natural and human resources to meet the basic needs, expectations and aspirations of the citizenry.

Henry Kyambalesa
(Guest Blogger / Agenda for Change)

Presidential Ascent

A useful summary of the 13 bills which have now been signed into law by the President. Among them are two we have discussed - Information and Communications Technology Bill 2009 and The Non Governmental Organisations Act 2009.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

John Mwanakatwe (Nov1926 - Aug 2009)

A mini biography of the late John Mwanakwate who passed away this week (another mini-bio can be found here) :

Mwanakatwe : Passing of an intellectual, Alvin Chiinga, Daily Mail, Commentary :

He was a respected academic and eminent politician who was arguably one of Zambia’s best and longest serving public servants, both before and after independence.

Over five decades in public life, he scored several successes which will remain etched on the minds of many, especially those who rubbed shoulders with him.
Prominent lawyer John Mupanga Mwanakatwe will also be remembered for his humility. He was humble, despite his achievements.

Among the ‘firsts’ that he managed to score even at a tender age of 24 was being the first African to obtain a university degree in 1951 from the University of Fort Hare in South Africa.

This was a remarkable achievement at a time when university degrees were a preserve of colonial masters. Very few Africans would have dreamt of such an achievement.

Mr Mwanakatwe was born on November 1, 1926 in Chinsali, Northern Province.

He died on August 23, 2009 after suffering a stroke. He is survived by three children and his burial takes place today, which has also been declared a day of national mourning.

Mr Mwanakatwe’s father came from Abercon (Mbala). He was a teacher who completed an elementary school course and later qualified as a certificated teacher responsible for supervising village schools.

Perhaps the attribute that made John Mwanakatwe rise so high in his academic qualifications was enrolling early in school at about seven years.

Then, going to school at seven was rare. In his autobiography, he mentions that it was not easy for him to get into school at that age. But his father was a teacher. That contributed.

“I had a difficult time enrolling into standard one at Munali training centre because of my age,’’ he said.

Mr Mwanakatwe pursued teaching from 1947 to 1948 at Adams College, also in South Africa.

His passion to further his education kept burning and it helped him to attain a university degree. Mr Mwanakatwe started climbing the career ladder in the education system in Zambia at a time when the civil service was dominated by whites.

His first stint in the education sector was at Chalimbana Teacher Training Centre, east of Lusaka before he moved to his former school, Munali.

This was to be the beginning of a high-flying career in the public service which saw Mr Mwanakatwe move from Munali to Kasama Secondary School when he was promoted as head teacher in 1957.

In 1960, Mr Mwanakatwe was promoted to Education Officer in Livingstone, a job he described as challenging and taxing.

It was here that political ‘eyes’ started seeing young Mwanakatwe as a potential contributor to the liberation struggle which was gaining momentum. Southern Province was one of the hotbeds of the liberation struggle.

As his experience and influence in the civil service grew, his superiors felt it was important to expose him to even more challenging tasks.

The office of the Northern Rhodesia Commission in London which was looking at the welfare of African students in the United Kingdom offered him a job as assistant commissioner. He did not hesitate to take up the job and relocated to the United Kingdom a year later.

Typical of an ambitious and progressive personality, Mr Mwanakatwe only had a one year stint in the United Kingdom as he had to return home to concentrate on the liberation struggle.

In 1962, he resigned as assistant Commissioner and this meant that he had to leave the public service, at least for that period.

Mr Mwanakatwe had by now positioned himself to work with the more aggressive United National Independence Party to fight for independence.

In his autobiography, he says his father told him politics was supposed to be for older people. He did not give in to his father’s reasoning and worked with first republican president, Dr Kenneth Kaunda, in fighting for independence.

Their endurance was rewarded. In the first African government in Zambia, Mr Mwanakatwe was appointed Education minister.

Mr Mwanakatwe championed the establishment of the University of Zambia and presided over one of the fastest growing education sectors in Africa.

Dr Kaunda had his first cabinet reshuffle in 1968 after independence and Mr Mwanakatwe was moved to the Ministry of Lands and mines.

Then he served as secretary general of the government, the equivalent of secretary to the cabinet now.

In October 1970, he was assigned a new portfolio as minister of finance. It was here that Mr Mwanakatwe had his first experience of what he calls Dr Kaunda’s steadfastness in running government.

He says Dr Kaunda wrote a lengthy letter just after appointing him, warning him to beware of crooks.

“Even crooks will be well dressed when they come to see you. But you should not be deceived by their style of dress or what they say,’’ part of Dr Kaunda’s letter to Mr Mwanakatwe reads.

Mr Mwanakatwe had a lot of challenges building an economy in its infancy, without any background in economics. But he relied heavily on his common sense and team work.

After working for three years at the Ministry of Finance, Mr Mwanakatwe decided to quit politics in 1973 and start his law career. He joined Jacques and Partners, a prominent law firm with representation in major towns.

When he left the Ministry of Finance, he declined re- appointment and was requested by Dr Kaunda to serve as chairperson of the Salaries Inquiry Commission in the public service. He bounced back as minister of finance from May 1976-1978.

In 1979, he teamed up with Bervin Willombe,Willa Mung’omba and his wife Linda to establish a law firm called MMW. Among some of the people the firm represented were those implicated in the foiled 1980 coup plot.

After the end of the Kaunda era, Mr Mwanakatwe joined the Movement for Multi- Party Democracy and after the 1991 landslide victory, new president Fredrick Chiluba envisaged appointing him to a senior position in government but he declined because he was aging.

Mr Mwanakatwe said in his autobiography that he only accepted the position of the Zambia Privitisation Agency chairperson to help the MMD execute the massive privatisation programme it had embarked on. He said this was less involving compared to occupying a senior government position.

Mr Mwanakatwe also served as chancellor of the University of Zambia in 1992. He was happy to serve an institution he had helped to found.

He later served as chairman of the Constitutional Review Commission. Apart from his autobiography, he is author of two landmark publications in Zambia: The Growth of Education in Zambia since Independence (OUP, 1968) and End of Kaunda Era (Multimedia, 1994).

His autobiography chronicles his personal experience of politics, development and the role of legal practitioners in providing effective safeguards for civil liberties in Zambia.

It talks about his belief in hard work, engagement in public life and affirmation in human endeavour, which he considers essential for both personal and national development.

President Rupiah Banda describes Mr Mwanakatwe as a believer in the cause of the nation as he served in various government portfolios with dignity.

“I have learnt with sorrow the untimely death of Mr John Mwanakatwe, who will be remembered as a beacon of peace, unity and hard work among other things,’’ President Banda said in his message.

Mpulungu Member of Parliament, Lameck Chibombamilimo says Mr Mwanakatwe’s service to Mpulungu constituency where he was MP in the 70s for many years speaks volumes of his commitment to improving the living standards of the Zambian people.

“In recognition of his contributions, a full council of Mpulungu sitting on July 30 this year unanimously resolved to name a high school under construction after him,’’ Mr Chibombamilimo says.

Family Spokesperson Robinson Sikazwe describes Mr Mwanakatwe as an inspiration and a role model to the family because of his immense contribution to the country.

Mr Sikazwe said Mr Mwanakatwe was dependable in every sense, especially that he was regarded as an elder in the family.

“Everybody depended on him for wisdom. Whenever the family needed counsel, he was there to assist. He did not discriminate.”

Mr Sikazwe says Mr Mwanakatwe was a pillar of the family and will be greatly missed.

As Mr Mwanakatwe is buried today, his name will go down in the annals of history as a man who applied himself fully from the humble beginnings of a teacher, politician to an accomplished lawyer.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Extreme Politics

Just when we thought here now was someone ready to take on the corrupt cartel, no sooner that he was shown the door by the powers that be that lack integrity. It appears that Mr. Max Nkole was already creating fear in the minds of the corrupt people that he would get to them too. So the easiest way to circumvent that was to fire the man lest they also face the same fate as the ex-mini bus conductor.
Lusaka Gossip on the recent sacking of the hapless Maxwell Nkole. This unfortunately is both inaccurate and unhelpful to the debate on corruption in Zambia. The Head of the Task Force has been a colossal failure. In fact way before this saga many have been calling for his removal. We can all rightly quibble with the timing but for reasons I have set out in Refocusing the fight on corruption, I think it is right and proper that the Task Force should be disbanded. I would encourage everyone passionate about this issue to be objective and not allow emotions to hinder crystal clear thinking and helps us avoid the mud of extreme politics.

Blindspots (Maxwell Mwale)

"We believe that the government policies should not be determined by short term conditions such as the price of copper..We realised that windfall tax was an addition to the cost of production and that it was discouraging investment.."
Mines Maxwell Mwale managing to entangle himself again. First, the price of copper can be both short term and long term. If Mr Mwale believes that "short term" factors are not critical thats understandable. But he should not try and fool people by asserting that the long term price of copper is also irrelevant. Secondly, the windfall tax is defined precisely to reflect "long term trends", not the short term because it is designed to captures windfalls in some undefined, and often distant future. Having a windfall tax is consist with long term vision of how markets operate - they go up and down! The windfall tries to smooth out revenue to government over time!

Oil Watch (Bids Open), 2nd Edition

This story broke two weeks ago, but I couldn't help it, especially since Frank rightly questioned the logic of the short period. Mr Mwale claims he has a box full of bids, but wants to wait for some! I have never heard of a bidding process that is extended when the existing bids are full of quality!

MTN vs ZAIN

Positive news this week from our mobile phone sector. Bad news if you are a ZAMTEL fan :)

MTN reported that it had now breached the one million registered users and was on the road to becoming the country’s most preferred network. MTN Zambia see the market as pretty dynamic offering opportunities for more growth :

"We look forward to penetrate this market and strengthen our position as the market leader and we are the fastest growing network because three years ago we had 200, 000 subscribers but now we have over one million people using our network,” Muyanja said. “And we shall continue expanding since we believe there is still room for growth in this market and very soon, we shall roll out various products that will be tailor-made and suitable for our customers.”
It does indeed appear that MTN is creeping into ZAIN Zambia's share. Although the company increased its revenues by 20 per cent for the first half of this year, its share declined from 75 to 71 per cent during the same period last year. The Managing Director David Holliday blames "global factors" but remains up beat :
“Despite this, we have still been able to grow our revenues by 20 per cent and Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) by 14 per cent compared to the same period in 2008..In order to improve operational efficiency, we re-structured our organization and streamlined internal processes. Recent network disruptions, now resolved, unfortunately marred what would have been an unbroken period of technological excellence and customer experience.”
Zain Zambia Plc remains the nation's biggest mobile phone company with 2.8 million subscribers at the end of June, representing a 23 per cent jump compared with the same period in 2008.

Invest in Zambia

The Zambian Economist has partnered with Brick World Zambia Ltd, an indigenous company based in Solwezi, as we try and build Zambia one brick at a time. The aim is to support our nation not just with words but also deeds. An investment flyer is set out below. For further information please email : cho@zambian-economist.comBrick World Zambia Limited

The quest for port capacity, 4th edition

Angola is looking to develop two new commercial ports by 2013. This is part of Angola's efforts to relieve the pressure on its existing ports. One of the ports will be constructed at Barra de Dande. The other port, will be built in northern Cabinda, where feasibility studies are underway.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Blindspots (Cosmos Mumba)

And Dr Mumba has condemned government's directive to councils countrywide to charge not more than three hundred thousand kwacha for the use of hearses. He said the hearses were bought using tax payers money hence Zambians should not be subjected to a charge.
By Cosmos Mumba's flawed logic everything provided by Government should be free because tax payers pay for it. He fails to recognise that it is possible government does not tax enough to provide everything for free. More importantly, if government where to tax enough to provide everything for free nothing would probably be produced.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Refocusing the fight on corruption..

It has been fascinating reading the on-going debate on whether the "Task Force on Corruption" should be disbanded, having failed to secure a successful sentence against Former President Frederick Chiluba. The anti-Task Force brigade has largely been led by so called - "one man NGOs" and other pro government parties. Recently, Committee for Citizens stated "that people are now supposed to urge government to consider disbanding the Task Force on Corruption for being selective in the way it was handling the corruption cases". With his job at stake, the Head of the Task Force Maxwell Nkole has signalled the intention to forge ahead, pointing to two pending cases worth $28 million : "A lot of money for Zambians to forego hence the resolve by the taskforce to pursue the two issues to their logic conclusion. Those calling for the disbandment of the entity should tell Zambians how they intended to pursue the two scandals".


Both sides are right but are poorly articulating their positions, which has prevented a more informed discussion on the way forward. The anti-Task Force brigade are correct that the Task Force should be disbanded probably for three reasons :

Lack of credibility. The revelation that the Task Force has no legislative framework but was created through a Presidential Executive Order has rightly conveyed the impression that it was a personal creation of the former President designed to fulfill whatever he had in mind. It was not by all accounts a "Zambian Project", as there was no broad consultation on its scope and powers. In short ordinary Zambians do not understand the purpose of the Task Force. A damaged brand is difficult to repair especially one that is solely owned by the State House and not the Zambian people. More importantly if the fight against corruption is to be long term and successful it needs ownership among ordinary Zambians. Creating private presidential armies to fight corruption is not good governance, no matter how successful those armies might be.

Poor value for money. It is true that there's no price that we can put on rule of law and justice in general. But we have to remember that the Task Force was not designed to achive these things, as that is the task for our entire Justice System. The Task Force was created to investigate and help recover the plunder of President Chiluba's government. Many of us were led to believe that Chiluba stole billions of dollars from Zambian coffers. Not even 1% of that has been recovered. I believe a cost benefit analysis would reveal that it has negative net present value. The quantified cost of running the task force far outweigh the benefits. That is even before we consider the gross inefficiencies (duplication of tasks with other law enforcement agencies). If GRZ wants an economic assessment of the Task Force, we are available to advise on how such an exercise can be done. Cheaper than RP Capital :)

Poor institutional design. The fundamental problem with the Task Force is that it is poorly designed. The Task Force has no clear definite end, it serves at the pleasure of the President. This has created the pervese incentives for Nkole and his band of lawyers to prolong the work for as long as possible, as they enrich themselves. They know full well that if President Banda stops it now they would be out of employment. On the other hand, they also know doing nothing will make it easier to spotted and fired. So they do just enough to continue and earn money. Small cases are prosecuted successfully, with the big cases accomplishing nothing! I suspect the reason why Mwanawasa made it indefinite was to ensure it had sufficient time - no one knew really how long it would take. A short period would have allowed criminals to "play out" for time. We could create a definite end to the Task Force (e.g. give it an additional two years), hopefully incentivising Nkole and his friends to conclude investigations quickly. But clearly, whose to tell how long the Carlington Maize deal investigation will last? Also if you know your job will end tomorrow, why bother to do more today? So we are stuck . The only logical solution is to think broader and subsume the Task Force within the day to day tackling of corruption. More on that in a second.

If one was to take these three reasons together, it becomes apparent that Nkole has no leg stand on. But he does have an important point. His critics have not provided a viable alternative. Abolishing the Task Force without a replacement is not ideal. Crimes were allegedly committed. If we accept that projecting justice is crucial in building a law abiding society then we can't be seen to turn a blind eye to corruption. Where Nkole is wrong is that he has conveniently focused on a narrower objective of prosecuting two cases. What we actually need is a broader approach to fighting corruption. The following areas seem essential :

Improve detection : There are many ways in which this can be achieved. One way is through legal protection for whistle blowers. Whistle blowing is a "public good" whose benefits go beyond the individual. In econ-speak the social benefits outweigh the private benefits. But more importantly, no one is going to be a whistle blower if the private costs outweigh the private benefits (there are psychological benefits and of course, reduced corruption benefits all Zambian citizens, including employees in government). So what we need is the change in incentives so that employees find it attractive or less costly to blow the whistle. We don't want to give government employees rewards for whistle blowing because that defeats the overall objective of keeping government costs to the minimum. What we need is something fairly simple : effective legal protection against whistle blowers which protects the employee-employer relationship. This has the effect of substantially reducing personal costs. Another important source of detection (and deterrence) is greater press freedom. Evidence is quite clear that a government dominated press is positively associated with corruption. A free press provides greater information than a government controlled press to the public on government and public sector misbehaviour including corruption. The best way to encourage corruption therefore is to ensure Government owns the television and owns the main newspapers. If you want to know how serious a Government is in fighting corruption, just look at how much media it controls. Finally, we can also improve detection through through innovative mechanisms such as the one discussed here. When detection improves it will lead to less corruption through the "deterrence effect".

Improve prosecution : Detection is only one part, the other part is prosecution. The current approach to sentencing and prosecution of corruption is costly to the tax payer. It is long and by the time cases are done people serve short sentences. For justice to work, it is critical that people are not just punished but are seen to be punished. We need a new judicial process for convicting corrupt criminals, that is swift and definite (I have previously suggested "special corruption courts"). No point of having long prison sentences and good detection, if you cannot actually convict people efficiently and at minimal cost to the tax payer. In fact I would say that a corruption fight without an efficient court system has little deterrent effect on corruption - and is therefore a pure social cost. While we are sorting out the courts, we should also examine whether the burden of proof in cases involving corruption ought to be reduced.

Prioritize : We have very little financial resources, therefore we need to be intelligent in our fight against corruption. We should focus on those areas of corruption which may be more harmful in terms of growth and equity : corruption is likely to be more detrimental where it is likely to disproportionately affect the poor compared to the rich, leading to larger income inequalities over time; corruption is likely to be most harmful where it “hits people twice” ; and, corruption is likely to be more damaging to society where it affects those institutions that are there to prevent it. I discuss these issues in more detail here.

Refocus institutional reform : Corruption is best addressed as part of a wider debate on what we think are the key obstacles for Zambia’s economic growth. The days of long running editorials on one person are a distraction to real debate, which should focus on how we can make our institutions better and indifferent to the personalities of the day. Zambia's number one problem is that we have a "poor institutional framework" – but an institutional framework goes beyond simply tackling corruption, it is about introducing stronger governance and accountability structures. Participatory democracy and effective decentralisation are among those things that have been empirically verified to work.

Still undermining Zambia's development

"Last week, we were amazed that 682 tonnes of nickel was exported at 10,000 dollars per tonne per nickel, meaning six million dollars altogether. The minister of finance was asked how much did government earn? He said government earned 300,000 dollars. So where is the other money? It has gone. The current mineral regime is not fair to Zambians."
Former Finance Minister Ng'andu Magande part of a growing momentum for mining tax reforms. Feels like 2007 all over again. The argument then like now is simple : a profit based tax is not ideal when you are dealing with foreign investors because of significant asymmetric information. The truth is time and time again, mining companies have proved to be smarter than government. In addition, ordinary Zambians have little trust that government acts in their interests. We need a simple mining windfall regime that any person can verify. In my view the only reason government dropped the windfall tax was to pull a wall over ordinary Zambians.

What can Vietnam teach Zambia?

Vietnam’s development performance since the early 1990s has been one of the strongest in the world, following the introduction of its doi moi (‘renovation’) economic reform programme in 1986. A recent paper draws eight key lessons from Vietnam's development strategy for developing nations such as ours :

  1. Manufactures exports can be developed very rapidly by a country if global buyers make it a country of major sourcing and persuade their key vendors to locate there. Buyers and inward investors are strongly influenced both by export market access and by the domestic investment climate. Perceptions of the investment climate depend more on political and policy stability than on the details of bureaucratic procedures.
  2. Export development does not depend on import liberalization. Anti-export bias is an overrated concept, although it may have deterred some smaller firms in the private sector from exporting.
  3. Location in the rapidly growing Asian region is still a significant advantage, offering both adjacent markets and inward investment.
  4. Successful reform of agriculture, particularly land reform, is still a key to development. It can be the basis not only for raising incomes and domestic demand, and reducing poverty, in countries with a predominantly rural population, but also a basis for expanding exports. Vietnam succeeded in maintaining agricultural output growth beyond the initial once-and-for-all spurt caused by land reform by investing in raising productivity, with state organizations taking an active role.
  5. State-owned enterprises can be reformed and made to raise their productivity. This depends both on incentives and on their external environment. Improvements in SOE productivity have not depended on competition from the domestic private sector, at least as yet. Privatization has little to offer if done prematurely.
  6. Educational development is important. Near-universal literacy, and selected technical and higher education, helps attract foreign investors and facilitates industrial and technological development
  7. The ‘East Asian model’ still has much to teach us. An active role for the state, for example in the development of rice production, combined with a willingness to use market mechanisms, remains a powerful combination. Although ‘blue-prints’ for economic reform require adaptation to national circumstances, Vietnam’s reforms have been similar to China’s.
  8. Aid donors can be ‘managed’.They like being associated with success and in Vietnam they admit they cannot ‘buy’ policies. Vietnam has been able to retain strong national ownership of its development strategy.
No surprises here for regular ZE readers, especially those who have also picked up Bad Samaritans. Readers may also wish to note other "success stories" we have previously discussed including Mauritius and Botswana.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Parastatal Madness, 9th Edition

Further evidence on the extent to which government debts are crippling critical institutions. The Eastern Water and Sewerage Company (EWSC) has revealed that government owe the company K2.6 bn in unpaid water bills. Private institutions and individual customers owe an additional K1.4 bn. According EWSC the debts date as far as back as August 2004 leading to lack of funds and poor service delivery by the company.

Maureen Mwanawasa on LPM, Zambia

A Zambia BlogTalk Radio discussion with the former First Lady Maureen Mwanawasa. The discussion starts off slightly uncertain but Mrs Mwanawasa does join fairly quickly.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Case for an Electoral Complaints Authority (Guest Blog)

I wish to request all the participants in the plenary session of the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) to seriously consider the prospect of making a recommendation for the establishment of an “Electoral Complaints Authority of Zambia”, to be included among the commissions or institutions recommended in the Mung’omba Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) Draft Constitution.

The “Electoral Complaints Authority of Zambia” should assume the functions of the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) stipulated in Clauses 6 through 8 of Article 112 of the Draft Constitution. These functions could be designated as a separate Article, and could be amended and paraphrased as follows:

(1) The “Electoral Complaints Authority of Zambia” shall consider and determine all issues and matters of malpractices relating to the ECZ and/or its officers occurring before, during and after elections or referenda.

(2) It shall also determine all electoral disputes and issues of malpractices, occurring before or during an election, within twenty-four hours of receiving a complaint with regard to the dispute or malpractice and shall have the discretion to make an order –

(a) Prohibiting a person or political party from doing any act proscribed by or under an Act of Parliament;

(b) Excluding a person or any agent of a person or any candidate or agent of a political party from entering a polling station;

(c) Reducing or increasing the number of votes cast in favor of a candidate after a recount;

(d) Disqualifying the candidature of any person;

(e) That the votes cast at a particular polling station do not tally in whole or in part;

(f) For filing a complaint and making a report to a court or tribunal handling any electoral petition; or

(g) Cancelling an election or election result and calling a fresh election, where the electoral mal-practice is of a nature that would affect the final electoral results.

(3) A decision of the “Electoral Complaints Authority of Zambia” on any matter referred to in Clause (2) shall be final only for purposes of proceeding with the elections.

(4) Any complaints connected to an election that shall be raised after an election shall be dealt with under an election petition by an electoral tribunal.

Articles 113 through 116 of the Mung’omba Draft Constitution could be amended to incorporate the “Electoral Complaints Authority of Zambia”, except Article 113(3)(b), which, for the purposes of the suggested Authority, could read as follows: “forwarding the names of the short-listed candidates for appointment to a “Committee on Elections” (which would need to be created to expand the number of Portfolio Committees of Parliament) for ratification.

So, in making the appointments of the members of the ECZ, the Appointments Committee (recommended by the CRC) shall forward the names of short-listed candidates for appointment to the President for ratification or confirmation. On the other hand, the Appointments Committee shall forward the names of short-listed candidates for appointment to the “Electoral Complaints Authority of Zambia” to a “Committee on Elections” for ratification or confirmation.

There is a need for a separate governmental watchdog designed to monitor the activities of officers of the ECZ, and the conduct of elections in the country. This will hopefully lessen the vulnerability of the ECZ and the electoral process to the influences, manipulation and/or machinations of unscrupulous politicians and political parties.

Henry Kyambalesa
(Guest Blogger / Agenda for Change)

Seas and Safaris

Southern African states are working on a common strategy to increase their share of the multi-billion dollar cruise liner market, which has proved resilient in a global downturn. According to Mansoor Mohamed, Chairman of South Africa's government-backed cruise liner steering committee the tremendous opportunities exist : "People around the world are tired of going to the same destinations...The Indian Ocean and sub-Saharan Africa offers the sea and safari experience when nobody else can offer ....With that comes significant benefits in the form of economic value that could run into billions of dollars". More detail via this Reuters article, which also notes that the infrastructure requirements appear minimal.

Friday, 21 August 2009

KK v FTJ v LPM v RB

As the analysis in recent days has been of FTJ and LPM legacies, I couldn't escape an internal comparison of our four Presidents. Reducing our leaders to a few lines is an impossible task, but we value our freedom to try. So here is my take on how they compare. Would be interested to hear what others think :

Kenneth Kaunda is probably most important President we have ever had. History will certainly remember the Lumpa massacre among his other many dark machinations, as he effortless wielded the iron fist. Not to mention the massive debt accumulated on our behalf. But we cannot ignore the fact that as poor as his reign was, given the threats Zambia faced, he forged a unitary state, albeit through oppression and repression. More importantly he had the grace to step aside when Zambians said "enough was enough".

Frederick Chiluba stands as the most influential president of all the four. All lovers and haters of FTJ agree, no one has fundamentally altered the national apparatus than President Chiluba. His legacy, good or bad, will live on as long as Zambia's name is mentioned. Many of the freedoms we enjoy today are due to Chiluba. Equally much of the poverty is attributed to his policies. In short, FTJ in government and out of government was an activist. Constantly changing things, for better or for his own enrichment. As I write, he's busy moving the chess pieces from the dark shadows like Capablanca.

Levy Mwanawasa was the most lucky : If I had Levy's luck I would own planet Mars. No Zambian President enjoyed such luck as LPM. From the moment he was awaken from asleep to his twenty something percent victory in 2001, LPM was blessed. Under Mwanawasa copper even breached $8000 per tonne, Chinese came bearing gifts, even the Leader of the Opposition Sata smiled! Zambia will never again have such good luck as LPM had. But as every business man knows, in life you make your own luck and that is what LPM did. It is the LPM policies focused on broad based growth that has held us so well in recent difficult times. Unfortunately, within the midst of all this luck, corruption and nepotism was breeding and LPM's public rhetoric on both was not matched by real substance.

Rupiah Banda appears to be more forward looking. The current President has made a number of terrible mistakes , the most notable being : the reversal of mineral taxes; ineffective strategy on corruption; and, poor handling of the media. Some say he appears to lack a clear vision, but we must remember this is the first Government to be governed by what our resident contributor Kaela Mulenga calls the 3Es - a triad of economists at State House, Ministry of Finance and Bank of Zambia. If these three economists fail to turn Zambia around, it will be a while before we get another economic triad. RB's recognition of the Diaspora, prioritization of infrastructure and promotion of more liberal approach to ICT development stands as visionary examples shunned by his predecessors. It is too early to judge whether RB can sidestep the monkeys and deliver, but even his hardent critics probably have to concede that we are still headed in a positive direction since LPM died. The debate is whether we can move even faster!

Mined out in Zambia

An important new article on mining in Zambia that brings together many of the uncomfortable truths we have discussed in the past. Excerpt :

Has the collapse in the price of copper given businesses another opportunity to blackmail Zambia's government?

Last spring the Zambian government finally decided to review its mining contracts. It raised corporate tax from 25% to 30%, and tax on profits went up from a miserable 0.6% to 3%. The World Bank - forced to recognise how modest the Zambian treasury's share had been up to then - supported the measure. Zambia was getting nothing out of the exploitation of its copper reserves, while the multinationals were making a handsome profit. The mining companies had even set up sophisticated systems to avoid paying taxes by channelling their profits through offshore companies in islands like Mauritius. In 2006 Zambia earned $133m from copper exports estimated to be worth $3bn.

Mining companies made $3bn from copper extraction last year. But of the $421m that should have made its way into Zambia's state coffers, only $200m was actually collected. Even though Zambia has some of the lowest taxes in southern Africa, the multinationals contested them, threatening to take their disagreement to a commercial court - in their home countries. That was before the risk of redundancies, on the back of falling prices, offered them a new way to put pressure on the Zambian government.

It seems they have achieved their objective. After winning a narrow victory at the end of October 2008, following the death of his predecessor Levy Mwanawasa, President Rupiah Banda announced that his government was having discussions with the mining companies - on cutting taxes: "We must ensure that we do not kill the goose that lays the golden egg. There is little point in taking in a few million dollars in tax if thousands of jobs are lost as a result".

Parastatal Madness, 8th Edition

Another recent example of how Government failure to pay its debt is holding back investment in critical sectors. Nkana Water and Sewerage Company (NWSC) last week disconnected water supply to two police camps in Kitwe, including the nurses’ hostels at Kitwe Central Hospital. The government debt owes it K7bn billion in unpaid water bills. This is particularly unfortunate because as we have discussed before water delivery is largely donor funded.

Achieving stable mining policies..

Nathan Chishimba, president of the Chamber of Mines of Zambia (CMZ), which represents interests of the mining firms, said companies wanted stable and long-term policies that would reduce risk to their investments. "(Mining companies) are not saying the policies should not be changed, but that there should be consistency so that any changes to the policies should not result in fundamental shift in the direction of the industry,"
Nathan Chishimba's comments are long overdue and fully in line with what we have been saying all along. What he does not say is "how" you get these stable mining policies. You get that by ensuring that you have a mining settlement that has the full buy-in of all Zambians. Otherwise, every government that comes along will constantly alter its mining policies. We need a Zambian solution, not an MMD or PF or UPND solution. [Thats how Botswana have managed to harness the diamond resources]. The mining companies need to realize its in their long term interests to push for transparency - deals made under the table are not sustainable. The approach should be consultative and transparent. The model for stability should follow the approach we have previously proposed in A human Approach to the "Mining Debate".

Parastatal Madness, 7th Edition

An update to the 6th Edition. ZESCO has refused to bow down to Lameck Mangani :

ZESCO disconnects electricity power to police houses in Itezhi-Tezhi

Itezhi-Tezhi 20th August, 2009, ZANIS - Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (ZESCO) Limited in Itezhi-tezhi has not restored power to the police camp regardless of the assurance given by Home Affairs Minister Lameck Mangani that government would soon settle the bill.

In another development police officers in Itezhi-tezhi have welcomed government's decision to start paying police officers allowances for settling their electricity and water bills, saying the move was long over due.

A check by ZANIS at the police camps in Itezhi-tezhi found that electricity supply at the camp was still disconnected after home affairs minister Lameck Mangani requested the company to restore power and water at the police camp on Monday, 17th AUGUST, 2009.

And Police officers interviewed by ZANIS said the move by the Ministry of Home Affairs to start paying them allowances for utilities was welcome, as it will save them from embarrassment and inconvenience each time there were disconnections of electricity and water supply.

"The government's move to pay us allowances for electricity and water is the best that they have done because now we will be able to settle our utility bills on time and avoid embarrassments associated with power and water disconnections" said one police officer who sought anonymity

The police officers wondered why ZESCO in Itezhi-tezhi could not restore power in their homes for close to a month now despite the minister's plea to restore power after assuring them that government would soon settle the huge electricity bill owed to the utility company.

"Our friends in the Copperbelt and Lusaka had their power and water restored after the minister requested them to do so but we are still wondering why zesco in Itezhi-tezhi cannot do so here" said one of the police officers.

When contacted for a comment ZESCO referred all queries to their superior offices in choma.

On Monday this week government announced that police officers will from next year directly pay police officers allowances for the settlement of their electricity and water bills to save them from being disconnected from water and electricity supply.

Home Affairs Minister Lameck Mangani was reported as saying the move to pay utility allowances to police officers would be introduced in the next budget and that it was aimed at ensuring that police officers took the responsibility of paying for their bills instead of being inconvenienced over long-standing government bills.

Mr. Mangani further said the Home Affairs Ministry had entered into an agreement with the utility companies to re-connect water and electricity power to the affected police camp.

Meanwhile ZESCO in Itezhi-tezhi has postponed the planned mass disconnetions of power supply to defaulting government ministries and house tenants due to lack of police manpower to help in the exercise. Acting Itezhi-tezhi District Commissioner Hampende Hichilema confirmed the postponement to ZANIS today.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Alternative Perspectives on Chiluba's victory

We continue our tradition of alternative perspectives on issues usually dominated by one view. We run similar posts on Zimbabwe (e.g. see here). This time we turn to this interesting piece by David Blair on Chiluba's recent aquittal :

Why a controversial acquittal is good news for Africa, David Blair , The Daily Telegraph (as reproduced by The Post), Commentary :

During Frederick Chiluba’s rise from lowly bus conductor to president of Zambia, good fortune only deserted him once. That was when he ejected his wife, Vera, from State House after finding her engaged in conversation – nothing more – with a local businessman. Vera then took her revenge by joining a vociferous and ultimately successful campaign demanding her husband’s resignation.

Mr Chiluba can rejoice this week that his fortunes have turned: the former president has been acquitted on six charges of theft. As a devout Christian, he gave God the credit for his exoneration and hailed the return of “the Almighty’s” favour.

The ruling of the Lusaka magistrates’ court is unequivocal and the former president is entitled to be considered innocent. But there is something odd about this verdict.

Mr Chiluba was cleared because the sums he spent on designer suits and platform-heeled shoes all came from private donations, intended for his private personal use, not from state funds. But what about the ethics of these “donations”? Did Mr Chiluba declare the largesse he received when he was president? Who were the donors – and what, if anything, did they get in return for their generosity?

The court’s failure to answer these questions – and the puzzling omission of any charges other than straightforward theft – makes the whole business “confusing”, to quote Transparency International.

Many Zambians will have been dismayed by the sight of Mr Chiluba, who was deeply unpopular for much of his 10-year rule, celebrating his courtroom victory.

But regardless of the merits of the case, Mr Chiluba’s acquittal is good news. Africa is filled with leaders whose main purpose is to cling to obstinately to high office: no less than eight of the continent’s presidents have been in power for longer than 20 years.

Mr Chiluba tried to prolong his own rule by trying to remove term limits from the Zambia’s Constitution. In other countries, notably Uganda, incumbent presidents have got away with this dodge.

It says much about Zambia’s democratic spirit – and the country’s long tradition of peaceful politics – that Mr Chiluba failed. After the president’s feisty second wife signed up to a national campaign urging her husband to stop tinkering with the constitution and resign, he duly left office in January 2002.

One of the main reasons why African leaders try to die in harness as they fear persecution if they lose power. Hounding your predecessor is a perk of the job that few African presidents can resist; indeed the tradition has been taken so far that former leaders who live peacefully in their own countries, as opposed to spending the rest of their days in obscure exile, are rare birds indeed.

Hence the importance of Mr Chiluba’s acquittal. The fact that he has escaped jail, and may now be able to live in Zambia undisturbed, could serve as reassurance to other leaders contemplating whether to stand down. Losing office may not necessarily entail personal disaster.

The Department for International Development, which spends millions on promoting “good governance” in Africa, tries to measure what this concept means. Let me offer a new indicator: the number of retired presidents living peacefully within a country’s borders is a crucial sign of whether it is well governed. Zambia does pretty well on the “ageing ex-presidents living in peace and not being persecuted” scale. Mr Chiluba is joined in retirement by the man he defeated: Kenneth Kaunda, 85-year-old independence leaders, who still lives in Lusaka 18 years after losing an election and stepping down with dignity – a most unusual combination.

At the other end of the scale is neighbouring Zimbabwe, where Robert Mugabe is the only leaders the luckless country has endured since independence 29 years ago. If he loses office without dying first, it would be hugely tempting to heap on Mr Mugabe a fraction of the suffering he inflicted on so many innocent people.

No one more richly deserves a good dose of persecution. But even in Mr Mugabe’s extreme case, it would still be wrong. In the end, African leaders will only leave office if they can be assured of a safe and dignified retirement.

Every day the long-serving kleptocrats spend in power inflicts more damage on their countries, so getting them to step down is more important than anything else.

This should even take precedence over natural justice. So Zambians should take heart. In African politics, the spectacle of Mr Chiluba leaving court a free man is what passes for progress.

The ills of Levy's legacy (Guest Blog)

Mr. Rupiah Bwezani Banda (RB) was elected president of Zambia on the 30th of October 2008 taking over the reign of power from his late predecessor, Dr. Levy Mwanawasa, who passed away after a stroke whilst attending an AU summit in Egypt. RB fought factions within the party to emerge victorious and stood on the ruling party ticket for the presidency of Zambia. The leading free press newspaper, The Post, embarked on a slander campaign to discredit RB and they accused him of being corrupt, passive and without vision. The opposition took advantage of this situation and marketed themselves as the only option to replace the late president. Rupiah did not realize how difficult taking over where Levy left off was going to be when he was sworn in on the 2nd of November 2008.

Nine and a half months later, RB has shown that he can continue with change where his predecessor left off, as promised in the 2008 campaign. Never-the-less, RB has had to deal with tumultuous situations that have arisen as a result of the rule of his predecessor.

When he was appointed vice president on the 10th of October 2006, RB found himself in the middle of a fight against corruption which is targeted at the former leader, Dr. Chiluba and his colleagues in the ruling party. This fight was systematically tailored to investigate and prosecute only the 10 years of rule by Dr. Chiluba. It started with the stripping of his immunity by parliament and the consequent prosecution of cases where only selective top officials in the ruling party were targeted. Seven years later, a lot of these cases are still in court whilst a few have been disposed and the erring government officials implicated have been jailed. Furthermore, several senior military officers have been investigated for corruption and have been found guilty, and some are even serving time in prison for their offences.

Dr, Chiluba has claimed that the late president was vindictive and overly reactional to the threat of political division within the ruling party. He has stated that the late president’s fight against corruption ignored existing investigative bodies and was channelled through a state house task force created to give the leader absolute power over the investigation, prosecution and judgement. He stated that the task force was an illegal body which was created to allow the president to abuse the justice system in order to settle scores with those who oppose his ideas. Chiluba further stated that he would not receive a fair trial if the prosecution was being driven by the most powerful person in Zambia at state house.

On the 17th of August 2009, Dr. Chiluba was acquitted of fraud and theft of US$500,000 in a judgement he considered free and fair. He thanked God for allowing justice to prevail and is now looking into the restoration of his immunity by parliament. In 2006, it was alleged that the opposition would pardon him for all offences once they were elected to office and in turn, Dr. Chiluba threw his support the opposition way as he campaigned in his stronghold of the Northern provinces of Zambia.

RB found himself in another predicament earlier this year when reports of corruption at the Ministry of Health showed that over K200 billion in tax payers money was systematically siphoned out of the institution by an organized civil service clique. The late president’s personal physician was implicated in these crimes as chief executive officer (Permanent Secretary) of the ministry and he wrote a letter to RB begging for leniency and forgiveness when dealing with this issue. The letter was leaked to the press and the case was investigated by the legally constituted Anti Corruption Commission which brought the culprits to book. The investigations show that the theft of public funds goes back to 2006 when the late president failed to discipline his personal physician, and chief executive officer of the ministry, who threatened and chased away government auditors who were scheduled to audit the financial accounts of the ministry.

Then RB was faced with a rebellion within the party as those loyal to the late president accused him of failing to continue with the legacy. They claimed that RB was surrounded by bootlickers whose intentions are to remove all of the late presidents’ remnants from the party and create a new ruling clique of their own. These rebellious members were known to be very close to the late president, and some were even related to him, but they did not share a similar relationship with the current leader. They began to question RB’s integrity in the free press and disobeyed party orders to channel grievances through clearly laid down party processes.

RB dishonourably discharged the two most vocal rebellious members from government and the party, who were also directly related to the late president and were suspected of being brought into politics through nepotism. These members immediately challenged their expulsion in the high court when they realized that RB had the support of the grass roots in the constituencies they represent. This means that they stood no chance at winning a by-election against the ruling MMD in their constituencies. They have since chosen to rally behind the president and his intention to contest the 2011 general election.

Finally RB was met with hostility from the late presidents’ wife over his presidency of the party. She insisted that the former finance minister, Magande, was the chosen successor of the president. Magande also insisted that he was a better candidate as he was destined to continue with the late presidents legacy despite the party’s executive overwhelmingly picking RB as the successor.

RB ignored these utterances and stated only once that the country was not a monarchy and that he was delighted that the party’s executive was ready to work with him in bringing development to Zambia. He stressed that the party was headed by an executive committee whose role is also to preside over who leads the party.

Shortly after, Magande decided to start campaigning for the party presidency in next year’s scheduled party convention. Thereafter, the MMD executive committee members held a meeting and resolved that RB should stand on the party’s ticket in the 2011 general election and that he should go unchallenged during the party’s convention next year. This brought about controversy as some members of the party with presidential ambitions felt the party executive committee was depriving them from a democratic system of elections to party presidency.

The late president froze the position of party vice president from being contested during the last party convention because of the intense campaign between opponents. The late president’s preferred candidate was being overshadowed by the other contestants and his ability to win the position was diminishing with every day that the convention drew closer.

RB responded by stating that unlike what happened in the last party convention, he saw no reason why other party members should be restricted from trying their luck at the upcoming convention. He stated that whilst the party constitution allows the executive committee to freeze elections of certain positions, he was ready to be challenged at the convention in order to be democratically elected and receive the support of the party majority.

Recently, a parliamentary committee was given a report by the defunct Zambia National Oil Company chief executive of 2001 who showed the late presidents involvement in oil stock trading and the deliberate closure of ZNOC in order to conceal irregularities in its dealings. This report indicates that during the rule of the late president, he was directly involved in a cover-up of millions of dollars and that contracts signed with oil suppliers were dubious. This allegation brings to light the reasons behind the Zambian government losing the case held in South Africa where ABSA Bank have sued our government. Our government has been ordered to pay ABSA Bank US$80 million as the bank was legally commissioned to finance crude oil supply to Zambia.

Whilst the former energy minister, Mr. Mpombo, did not state whether he was aware of these dealings and consequent legal battles, the Zambian government did not attempt to defend itself and the court ruled in absentia in favour of ABSA Bank. Mr. Mpombo has since resigned and decided to give up both his ministerial appointment and his ruling party executive position.

We can see from these few events that have taken place during the last nine and a half months that RB has had to find a way to continue with the legacy left by his predecessor without perpetrating the ills of this legacy. By the time RB is done getting things right, I wonder how much of a legacy will be left for RB’s MMD to continue with. We have left out other controversial issues from Levy’s seven year rule like the purchase of 100 hearses for rural areas and the decision to procure mobile hospitals which was initiated and concluded before his death.

The more that is exposed about the decisions made during Levy’s rule, the more this legacy is exposed for what it truly is.

Today marks one year since Levy was announced dead and the debate of his legacy remains hot in all political circles yet many wish to call for a national suspension to this discussion.

FMD
(Lusaka / Guest Blogger)

A vanquished windfall tax barrier...

In Towards a vanquished windfall barrier? we noted that copper prices were close to breaking the $2.5/lb barrier that would have triggered the now abandoned "windfall tax". That barrier has now been comfortably breached this month, with many analysts revising their forecasts for even stronger prices in 2010 due to stronger global recovery coupled with slower growth in mine production boosting the mining deficit. The windfall tax was designed to match rises in the price of copper: it was set at 25 percent while copper sold for $2.50 per pound, 50 percent for the next 50 cents and increased to 75 percent when copper fetched above $3.50 per pound.

As we have discussed many times, and MrK helpfully continues to usefully remind us, although in theory the profit variable tax can go some way to capturing some income, when dealing with mining companies we should focus on revenue based taxes because they are easier to detect. Also easier for the public to check how much revenue government is getting. With profit taxes it is an accountant's job! That is not say revenue taxes are optimal, but there's a reason why the mining company wanted it removed! They saw the prices and they knew they have better accountants!