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Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Glimmers of Hope, By Mark Burke (A Review)

Glimmers of Hope, By Mark Burke
A Zambian Economist Review

I have always been intrigued as to why young Westerners leave behind their “wealthy habitation” to traverse around the globe in the name of the poor. We have seen it. From rioting on the streets of Doha to working in places as hostile as Eastern Congo. It is hard to resist the questions. What drives these young people? Is it some bizarre “quest of pity”? Is it religious humanism? Is it an inbred superiority to help “noble savages”? Is it failed hopes in their homeland? Is it lack of opportunities to serve the suffering poor in the west? It is these questions that drove me to pick up Mark Burke’s Glimmers of Hope. I wanted to understand some of the underlying motivations for their action. The other reason is linked to timing. In recent times we have seen a number of negative foreign commentaries by many young people visiting Zambia, culminating in the infamous A God in Zambia, where a mysterious visitor to Zambia offers a terrible indictment of our people. Glimmers of Hope provides an ideal cross check from a credible source.

Glimmers of Hope is a story of how a British school teacher left the comfort of London and relocated to Chassa Secondary School in Eastern Province for two years. Burke penned the book partly as a recollection of his memories, to go on record so to speak, and to reflect on the economic and social problems facing Zambia, as seen through the prism of his two year experience. Consequently, the book naturally oscillates between narrative and analytical accounts. Equally important is that this is Burke’s first outing as a self described “aspiring author”. What Burke lacks in writing experience however, he makes up through offering a fresh, honest and in-depth account of his Zambian experiences.

Burke is honest from the on-set that going to Zambia was not a long held dream. Rather, it was an outworking of a complex set of events that emerged from personal loneliness following a relationship breakdown with his girlfriend. Forced with the fracture, he turned to look for satisfaction elsewhere. There are many temples that house those who seek solace, from drugs and promiscuity to Avatarian pantheism, for Burke the sedative turned out to be Chassa secondary school, a school with long missionary history. What follows in the book are some interesting observations about our society that every Zambian would do well to ponder.

A major theme permeating Glimmers of Hope is an apparent culture of “begging”. From the moment Burke’s feet touched down he was confronted with the begging bowl. There was a general attitude among the people he came across that because he was European he had plenty of cash, even though he repeatedly made it clear he was merely a volunteer. The "lack of shame" in begging was particularly shocking. Indeed, where he felt compelled to give he often found that people would merely squander the money on non-productive and often addictive things. In one emotional chapter he laments: “The only niggling problem I had was that I was being increasing bothered for money, often several times a day by teachers, pupils and even random people in the community. It seemed “Ask and ye Shall Receive” was the most popular quote from the Bible here”. To many Zambians abroad, this is only too familiar. What is interesting is that what we as Zambians often consider as part of the "hand we have been dealt", outsiders may be better placed to point out that this is not a "normal" way to live as a society. Burke's point is that there's nothing inevitable or indeed acceptable about begging.

The surprising culprit in Burke's assessment is Zambia’s Christianity. For a long time many people have prided themselves that Zambia is a Christian nation. The above quote from Burke however tells a different story. Not only have Zambians have embraced a strange dependent form of Christianity, external reflections as penned by Burke also helps to point to a deeper crisis at the heart of Zambia’s Christianity. Throughout the book important questions are raised regarding the paradox of a supposedly God fearing nation gripped by quite sinful activities which perpetuate under-development. In one incident Burke recounts being begged by a church leader who wanted a beer: “ To be so shamelessly begged by a well dressed church goer [woman] was a surprise to me, and I should have reflected on it more and what it said about Christianity in Zambia” [page 20]. Similar incidents of this double standard are recounted in Glimmers of Hope ranging from rampant polygamy, tribalism, poor attitude towards HIV and AIDs and corruption. He right asks how consistent these things are with a “Christian Nation”.

Nothing perhaps demonstrates this negative culture than the various reflections offered on the docility of the Zambian people and the general tendency towards low expectations. As many Zambians have searched for answers on why the nation is so poor, a line of thinking has developed among largely diaspora Zambian intellectuals, that we are a people that wait for things to be done before we do it. In this line of argumentation, Zambians are generally very lazy people lacking the “protestant ethic for hard work” or often suffer humiliation from extreme poverty – a sort of self emptiness. Glimmers of Hope is not as pointed in this respect, but does offer similar frustrations. In a discussion on poor safety conditions on the road and the significant number of lives lost, Burke painfully concludes “the frustrating thing for me was to see Zambians accept this. [lives lost], as they did many avoidable tragedies, with a kind of fatalism as though it was inevitable. Yet there was nothing inevitable about it all. The drivers drover like lunatics and were frequently drunk”.

There’s much of truth in some these observations, especially with respect to the shabby Christianity that pervades much of Zambia. It is hard to speak of a “Christian nation” when much of the practical reality appear at odds with the true gospel. If Zambia really has embraced the true gospel, why is there so much corruption? Why are many of our people living on less than $1 a day when there are many resources around? While people in leadership enjoy lavish trips abroad and the best medical facilities we see that many of our people suffer daily from social injustice. The voices of the weak are suppressed and cries of mothers are never heard again thanks to the scourge of HIV and many other diseases ravaging our rural areas. The Christian message is that God holds us ultimately responsible for the welfare of our neighbours. The declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation, though having some intellectual basis remains morally at variance with reality.

A little more complicated are Burke's observations around begging. It is correct that begging is extremely rampant in Zambia. Poverty has destroyed our culture and turned respectable individuals into professional beggars. However, it is my view that the level of begging is not worse than that found in Europe. The type of begging is different in Europe, but the scale is probably the same. Many western countries, including Burke’s United Kingdom, are full of people on the welfare system (socialised begging). The difference is that welfare systems in western nations preserves the dignity of the poor by developing a system in which they are helped. If these people are not supported they would literally be on the streets. Burke appeared shocked by begging only because in London he gave the poor the handouts through the tax system.

When we turn to the analytical aspects, we find similar nuances largely absent. The observations around population country are perhaps emblematic of the general analytical deficiencies. In one chapter Burke adopts the western stereotype of poverty that characterises African poverty as essentially caused by over breeding: “A.G Zulu had produced a staggering 15 children and seemed damned proud of it. This of course produced tremendous problems when it came to paying secondary school fees. In the wider context of society the problems were obvious but Zambians would not accept that overpopulation caused poverty”. This is antiquated thinking which also confuses cause and effect. Whether European countries are  rich because they had smaller families or have smaller families because they are rich is an empirical question. What is clear is that very few econometricians think causality runs in the direction suggested by Burke. More importantly, for Zambia the challenge is how to develop a population policy that is consistent with the development needs of Zambia. This must take into account the sparsely populated nature of the country and the abundant natural resources we have to foster long term sustainable economic growth. In my view given the geographical challenges a larger population should rightly be viewed as a critical resource and catalyst a in the quest for greater innovative capacity, technological advancement and socio-economic development. I certainly do not think it is an "economic bad" that needs to be "corrected".

In general, though I appreciated Burke's honesty,  Glimmers of Hope sadly comes across as largely negative. There's more despair than hope.  Indeed Burke’s only glimmer of hope is an HIV/Aids organisation that is seeking to break the taboo around the subject. It appears to have demonstrated the drive for self - help and willingness to make a difference, which Burke believes ultimately holds the key for changing Zambia. That may well be true, unfortunately this is neither here nor there because the positive message drowns in the veiled narrative. As bad as the Zambian predicament appears, it is inescapable that the real story is even more painful - that of a young man overcome with deep loneliness who unfortunately  thought he would find comfort in the strangest of places - but in the end grows even more bitter by it. Nothing perhaps reflects this sadness than the paragraph towards the end : “in the end the bitterness that I would take with me was due to the realisation that no matter how long I stayed here, no matter what I did, I would always be viewed as an outsider because of the colour of my skin” (pg 279)”. It is hard to accept that Zambians are racist. Could this is simply be the classic case of a lonely young man who was unprepared for the challenges that faced him? Would a Burke visiting Zambia out of love for our people have had the same conclusions? Like many areas,unfortunately these too are questions not explored by Glimmers of Hope.

Update (March 17) : Author's Response
Mark Burke has helpfully responded to the review. Response below :

I want to thank you for a serious and thoughtful review of my book. I hope it provokes debate on development issues and otherwise, despite my relative inexperience in economics.

It is inevitable when penning a memoir that there will be some 'catharsis', and when i wrote this book I had a lot to get off my chest. I hope this does not detract from what were also positive experiences ( I will always have fond as well as mixed memories of Zambia )that may not have been penned because I saw them as less urgent than the challenges facing Zambia.

I was also interested as to what you think of the role of Aid agencies and what I would say is their complicity ( by neglect or other ) with much mismanagement in Zambia ?

Zikomo Kwambiri,
Mark Burke


  1. Chola,
    I want to thank you for a serious and thoughtful review of my book. I hope it provokes debate on development issues and otherwise, despite my relative inexperience in economics.
    It is inevitable when penning a memoir that there will be some 'catharsis', and when i wrote this book I had a lot to get off my chest. I hope this does not detract from what were also positive experiences ( I will always have fond as well as mixed memories of Zambia )that may not have been penned because I saw them as less urgent than the challenges facing Zambia.
    I was also interested as to what you think of the role of Aid agencies and what I would say is their complicity ( by neglect or other ) with much mismanagement in Zambia ?
    Zikomo Kwambiri
    Mark Burke

  2. Mark,

    Many thanks for your comments, but most importantly for penning thoughts. As you know Zambians write very little. My sincere hope is that as ordinary Zambians see works written by those who have experienced Zambia, they will begin to start penning their thoughts down and engage in discussions.

    The book certainly has many themes, and I wondered whether I debated on whether to included your reflections on aid. I decided to leave it out mainly because from my reading it was not necessarily the most interesting area, at-least in terms of freshness!

    That said, my view is that your points on lack of NGO coordination are extremely important. The observation that NGOs were basically duplicating each other's function and sometimes competed is something that clearly some attention. This is largely a problem of incentives, but also perhaps due to absence of information. The way to get round this it seems is for Zambia (and other African countries) to do more to work with aid agencies to ensure aid is coordinated. At present it appears that it is only donor countries that worry about coordination. Zambia is just happy to receive and no thought is given on whether it can be a "better receiver". So certainly part of the aid effectiveness agenda must tackle this.

  3. Hi Cho,

    Great review.

    I was wondering whether the review of Grassroots Governance is already up?

    I am really looking forward to this review, because it deals with the interaction of traditional authority and local government throughout Africa and the Americas, and your personal experience on the matter.

    What do you make of the traditional leadership by people in the Surinam, Guyana and Venezuela, the Maroons who are heavily Ghanean (Akanite) in culture because they broke away from the system of slavery at a very early stage.

  4. Hi, Cho,

    I must say this has been one of your more comprehensive reviews. Pretty good job. The prompt response from none other than the author himself makes it even more special. I have not yet read 'Glimmers of Hope' and must confess that I had not even heard of it. I will try and get a copy to read. I am particularly interested to know whether Mark Burke's ideas are in line with those expressed by Dambisa Moyo in 'Dead Aid'.

  5. Areaboy,


    In terms of author feedback, by and large the authors tend to respond to the reviews, usually via email. Mark's more direct response has now prompted me to ensure in the future I append those responses to the review.

    One of the joys of the reviews is actually the interaction with the authors. Usually they are kind enough to even send more books (e.g. Ha Joon Chang sents us a book which clarified some of the points I raised in the review).

    On aid, my reading of Burke is that he is more cautious about "turning-off" of the tap even though he recognises the dependency syndrome. This is not too surprisingly. It always struck me the Moyo thesis lacked that practical experience of poverty. But I'll let Mark expand on that.


    There's unfortunately currently a long line of books for review including our own Zambian sister Kasune Zulu's new book "Warrior Princess" which is slated for review in April. I only do one extensive review each month, with shorter notes every week. The best approach might be for you to pen a review and then I can respond to that. That would much quicker.


  6. Dear Mrk,

    I follow this blog with interest as my interest in economics and development grows, and am always keen to explore development issues. I must however stress that I am a complete amateur economist ( currently at undergrad level in the subject with the Open University ) , and my book is more about what it can be like for a long term volunteer in eastern Zambia.
    I have read 'Dead Aid' and must say however that Moyo's book struck me as very conventional in that it seemed to stress ' comparative advantage' and Zambia relying very much again on the copper mines to kickstart the general enrichment of the country. That's all well and good but my concern is with remote villagers who are struggling with survival just as much as the urban poor. I take the view that many of the more remote villagers are better off pursuing food self-sufficiency via agricultural diversification. During my time in Zambia I could not understand why agric science was not a fundamental part of the basic school curriculum ( it seemed such a good way of reaching the masses when basic edu had just become universal ) until a fellow teacher told me Zambia trains about 7 agricultural science teachers a year ! Surely this must change, and surely Donors too must redirect more Aid towards diverse and sustainable agriculture. Until there is a great infrastructure in Zambia and tourism really takes off, sustainable agriculture I believe will benefit the poor more than such things as 'Income Generating activites'. Aid has a big role to play in this, but the old agric knowledge of your grandparents is vital too.
    I did like Moyo's take on collateral and raising credit ; I think that is a huge advantage the West has over developing countries.

    Mark Burke

  7. sorry i meant to address that to Areaboy. I digress too, perhaps a tendency in my writing ha ! But yes, from what I saw in Zambia many people would suffer if all Aid was withdrawn in under 5 years. I think it was Collier or Easterly who found that Aid was a massive 30 % of the Zambian economy ! The issue of dependency must be addressed, but that can be by the 'fixing' of Aid rather than just getting rid of Aid. My view is that there is much that can be done that is relatively low cost and far more effective than giving large sums to government. The HIV crisis and the role of NZP + support groups might be a case in point. These are Zambians solving a problem in their own way, and more effectively than many NGO efforts. However the NZP + still need assistance with ARV's until the country can manufacture their own generic ARV drugs cheaply. Once Zambia was in a position to manufacture its own ARV's , I don't see why extensive further western help with AIDS would be needed. Moyo would probably say that the economy in general needs to grow to the point that Zambia could easily purchase it's own ARV's. My point is I don't see this happening quickly enough to save many lives. There are too many people in vulnerable positions that would suffer with a quick withdrawl of Aid. And '5 year' economic plans have a long history of disaster ! Even Asian economies took a good 20 years or so with protectionism before they could take on the West in their own marketplace.

    Mark Burke

  8. Cho,

    An interesting review. I may post some detailed comments later. Off the butt, I can simply say that we cannot refute some of Burke's observations. The main factors being - docility of people and their lower expectations, so categorized by you. In short, we should blame ourselves. Though not spelt out clearly, Burke seems to be suggesting that - the deterioration of things and lack of development thereof, are perpertuated by our inept leadership who seem to ignore fixing things which are fixable: - bad roads, poor schools, hospitals, no ARVs factories, bad agriculture, drinking and driving, corruption, etc., etc.

    That is, given good or responsible leadership - developement would have inched forward. And the incentives or primus motto on their part are not there, primarily because they don't suffer. Just as Burke found it strange to see a well dressed Christian person beg, is the shock I myself get when I am home to see all these beautiful SUV's driving on potholes. What does it suggest? This suggests that, either our priorities are mixed up or we don't seem to care.

    The other important points I agree with him are regarding D Moyo's thesis. It is not a question of eliminating Economic Aid/resources which will save the day. No! It is "fixing aid" and changing our leaders' mentality about it. Further, five years switch from it (aid) is simply impractical. It can't be done. Moreover, things would even become more complicated if one scraped economic aid and replaced it completely with others more 'business-like' such as raising money through bonds. Most African countries' ordinary people, including our elites lack sufficient knowledge and experience to succeed with those instruments Dambisa proposes. [I have been castigated for suspecting Dambisa to be a pony for investment corporations like Goldman & Sachs].

    Anyway, in short, though Burke's points are made in a simple fashion - no elegant sophistication, he succeeds in drawing our attention to some of our weaknesses. I just hope that our leaders are pondering about these things. Thanks!

    Kaela Mulenga

  9. an interesting BBC video on corruption preventing aid reaching villagers

    this sums up a lot of my concerns about what i saw in Zambia.

    Mark Burke

  10. Hello Mark.

    My confession first is that I haven't read your book and I hope to grab one as soon as I can. But thanks to Cho's review and your subsequent responses, I feel I have the gist of it.

    I am also glad to note that your concerns appear genuine with very valid observations. But you have also made some wrong conclusions and have been quick to judge. It is with this reason that I am somewhat disappointed that none of my fellow Zambian colleagues have tried to explain some of the context of the problems. For example, your point about Christianity and drinking made for good reading, but should not be used to damn a nation and this is why, the Pentecost Christian from which Chiluba came who declared Zambia as Christian Nation is still a Minority Christian Group in Zambia, the Majority is made of the Catholics, Church of England and the United Church of Zambia who seem to have an official Drinking policy and not consider drinking alcohol sinful, I am one.

    The tendency by most Zambians to pile all development questions on Government leaders is the reason many would just simply agree with you. The issue in Zambia is more complicated that it looks on paper and most of the cases described as corruption may not be or some people just want a quicker service not that they are corrupt in a sense. I can expand on this expand later.

    I am not sure if you have asked this question already, to anyone or to yourself. Why aren't Zambians volunteering, just like you non Zambians? There are also Zambians with issues on Dambisa's book but wonder about the 'syndrome of Begging', we can't over amplify the importance of NGO's and Donor Agencies and question the 'culture of Begging' at the same time.

    Just my thoughts, I hope to engage you more after I read your book.

    Musaba Chailunga, Toronto

  11. Hi Mark,

    I have a lot of problems with the way the BBC reports on Africa. For instance, they will never name names when it comes to who is exploiting and benefiting from Africa's resources. From this article:

    Every year Britain gives more than £5bn ($7.6bn) of taxpayers' money in overseas aid to developing countries.

    It is money that has been ring-fenced by Labour and the Conservatives - but there are concerns that more needs to be done to tackle corruption.

    Uganda receives around £70m annually and the International Development Secretary, Douglas Alexander, has called for a tougher stance to make sure aid gets to those who need it.

    Humphrey Hawksley reports from Karamoja in north-east Uganda.

    This makes Africa and Uganda look like a net recipient of the generocity of the British taxpayer, which is a very odious misrepresentation of reality.

    In the case of Zambia in the year 2004, Zambia received $600 million in 'donor aid'. Generous, right? Until you realize that in that same year, the privatized mines exported $4 billion in copper, cobalt and gemstones, of which $2.4 billion were pure profits. They paid $6 million in taxes. If they had paid their 35% in taxes, they would have paid the state $840 million. They didn't.

    This is the real corruption. The "Development Agreements" are the most corrupt and secretive documents around. And yet, the BBC will never go after an Equinox Minerals, or KCM, or the Oppenheimer family holdings (Ango-American, DeBeers, etc.).

    One big effect of the mines not being taxed, is that the government now operates on borrowing. That means that they borrow from local banks and make money unavailable for local entrepreneurs, which is a big factor in the usurious interest rates of well over 20%.

    Money is leaving Zambia and the way that happens is through corruption at the highest level.

    If I had my way, the mines would be taxed $1.2 billion a year, and 50% would be spent directly through local government, in a completely transparant way. Local government would be responsible for supplying basic services (education, healthcare, security, utilities and administration), and the state would be responsible for national defense and national/regional infrastructure (maybe a few more like consumer and environmental protection, anti-monopolistic laws at the national level).

  12. I did write a lengthy reply but it seems not to have appeared ! Anyway, to summarise : Mrk,I agree that the sums manipulated by foreign corporations and governments are larger than those lost to local corruption. There are some hugely powerful vested interests here, and it will be a long fight taking these people on ; witness the British headteacher in the news article being fired by none other than DFID because he raised concerns !
    Mainstream media is a problem too ; independent media on the net such as Medialens or are generally superior and largley because they do not rely on corporate advertising i guess. The BBC has it's uses i suppose if you can ' read between the lines' as you do Mrk.
    My problem with local corruption is this ; this is at least some money that has at last made it through to the poor. For local officals to steal this from their own people seems a bit like saying ' the West took our thumbs, lets finish the job and hack off our own fingers off too'. It is particularly annoying to hear economists like J. Sachs to call for a doubling of Aid, and then ignore the fact that often half of it gets lost to corruption ! Clearly some economists are far more social scientist than mathematician.

    Musaba,my problem with Christianity in the book is partly my own strong aethist prejudice, and the particularly poor leadership of missionaries I worked with. I met many good Christians in Zambia, but honestly in my locality they seemed a minority or not in power. It was not so much the Christianity per se but the hypocrisy of so many of those who projected themselves as moral leaders in the community. If you cannot believe your leaders when they preach on Christianity, then why believe them when they say ' Corruption holds back development' or ' Get tested for HIV' ?

    As for negative perceptions of Zambia,I accept that i have been harsh but this is not a criticism of Zambian society in it' own right ( British society arguably has worse problems in some ways )but rather an attempt to explain how these factors impact on development and economics. I guess I was reaching for something like the recent 'Economics of Integrity' but my experience and education in economics is not comparable to authors such as this.

    The often negative tone of my book is largely due to the last four months I spent in Zambia, in which I discovered rather a lot. Had I left in August 2006 as originally intended I would likely have written a different book. Rather than wait for some 'emotional distance' before penning my feelings, I preserved them I suppose mainly for other long term volunteers who might go thorugh similar ups and downs. There will be a time for rose-tinted spectacles, but it is not now.

  13. If there is one book I would recommend for a basic understanding of economics and economic history, it would be "Money: Whence It Came, Where It Went" by the late John Kenneth Galbraith. This along with your basic Economics 101 college level course should set one in good steed.

  14. Just to come back to some points on development then.
    Zambia is a vast country with a reatively sparse population. yet I would argue however that it is family size rather than population density that impacts on development. What do you think ?

    On drinking and Christianity - i don't think drinking is inherently sinful , and it's the least of Zambia's problems!

    On leadership - this is a crucial area of course, but i would not pile all Zambia's problems on politicians, i would say all manner of leaders, down to men as the head of households are impacting on development.

    On corruption - i dont think people paying bribes to get faster services is a huge problem actually. Im always tragically amused by the cliched story of the corrupt traffic cop,( who half the time has actually cornered someone legitimally, but they re just keeping the fine for themselves ) yet so many people ignore the theft of public funds from schools ,hospitals and road building projects ; these are institutions which are vital to development and it is this kind of corruption which is holding Zambia back. Consider this ; even if Zambia was getting a fairer share of the revenue from the mines , do you think it make a huge difference to public institutions, or just a bigger difference to the Swiss bank accounts of your leaders ?

    Mark Burke

  15. Nice Review. Must read the book.
    A couple of comments-
    1. Yes as Zambians we don't complain enough to the right people in the right places.
    Last Zesco increase how many Zambians wrote to ERB protesting the increase? Only 50. Including all organisations representing members like ZNFU. If that had been 500,000 there might have been a very different outcome.
    A neighbour and I complained to roads dept and got a culvert fixed. It took 3 years and endless trips and rude letters but it got done in the end. The other 200 or so users of the road who also cross that culvert did not complain otherwise it might not have taken so long.
    How many people have written to their MP over things they are not happy with?
    If I was an MP and got a lot of unhappy letters I would be worried about the next election.
    What if the minister of education received 10,000 letters complaining about lack of funding to schools or lack of places.
    What if everybody unhappy with clinic service wrote to the minister of health.
    If we wanted to make politicians shake we could do it.
    Complaining to your mates in the bar might relive your feelings but achieves nothing.
    (I have been asked why I complain so much and I say they tax me and I want my money's worth. If I don't get it I have a right to complain-I earned it.)
    2. Yes most Zambians are somewhat racist
    People are judged by their skin colour. If you are a white or light brown Zambian the average man thinks you have money from nowhere without realising that if you have money it's because your parents sacrificed to educate you and you work hard. If you are not the same colour as everyone else you are excessively targeted by both thieves and beggars.
    This Doesn't apply however to friends who will treat people as equal or according to what they know of them.

  16. Mark,

    Zambia is a vast country with a reatively sparse population. yet I would argue however that it is family size rather than population density that impacts on development.

    I have wrote quick thoughts on this on House of Chiefs : Go forth and multiply.

    On drinking and Christianity - i don't think drinking is inherently sinful , and it's the least of Zambia's problems!

    I think there's something about the the social cost of drinking, in terms of external spillovers. But in the main I think there are ways of handling this. I make similar arguments in the post In defence of the Kachasu industry.

    On corruption - i dont think people paying bribes to get faster services is a huge problem actually. Im always tragically amused by the cliched story of the corrupt traffic cop,( who half the time has actually cornered someone legitimally, but they re just keeping the fine for themselves ) yet so many people ignore the theft of public funds from schools ,hospitals and road building projects ; these are institutions which are vital to development and it is this kind of corruption which is holding Zambia back. Consider this ; even if Zambia was getting a fairer share of the revenue from the mines , do you think it make a huge difference to public institutions, or just a bigger difference to the Swiss bank accounts of your leaders ?

    I think these are valid observations. However, I think corruption which does affect "law and institutions" is significantly worse probably. It undermines the very institutions that are there to combat other forms. I discuss this in the posts Refocusing the fight on corruption and Corruption Wars Part 2 (Corruption & The Poor).

  17. I suppose the traffic cop scenario has one glaring probelm and that is a law-enforcer breaking the law , and so like ' broken window' theory this encourages other corruption ! But in terms of money lost, traffic fines aren't going to make a huge difference to govt. revenue...
    Thanks for the other references, Ill have a read....

  18. Many institutions limit access to their online information. Making this information available will be an asset to all.

  19. Variety is the spice of life.


  20. My partner and I really enjoyed reading this blog post, I was just itching to know do you trade featured posts? I am always trying to find someone to make trades with and merely thought I would ask.

  21. I need to know what Danial can do about this :D


  23. Having studied economics more formally now, I contend again that high birth rates HAVE impacted real gdp per capita in Zambia, affecting access to education and productivity. I think most economists would agree.


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