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Wednesday, 21 April 2010

A hopeless generation?

Bishop John Mambo this week expressed sadness with what he has termed "government’s poor approach to social problems".  In the quote below, he offers a litany of hopelessness :

"We have an economy that can’t create jobs for our college and university graduates. Our state institutions are paralysed because politics have taken centre stage in everything. Our civil service is demoralised in every sense, and we wonder what is left for us to have confidence in. We can cite so many examples of crippled institutions: the judiciary, parastatals, the executive, and everywhere. This is not healthy for a normal society. Our civil service operates at 30 per cent because there is nothing to motivate them. And now we have also messed up our constitution making process. The National Constitutional Conference is saying that giving people a right to food and water is a joke. Now, if you have a situation where you don’t hope for anything, what do you do? I hope that the voters will reflect on this and do the right thing when it comes to voting next year.”
These thoughts have been echoed in the past by others.  It is difficult to disagree with the diagnosis. But just how do we rescue this hopeless generation? Bishop Mambo's hope is "that voters will reflect on this and do the right thing when it comes to voting next year" . I fear that may not materialise. For one thing, the problems Bishop Mambo's alludes to are not new. In fact in the main article he suggests that Zambia has been
in perpetual poverty for the last 35 years and during that period only experience one change of government (the rest being changes in administration). So why should voters reflect now? We should also have reason to question the logic underlying Bishop Mambo's hope - don't voters already reflect? I believe Zambian voters have appropriately been reflecting just fine. The problem is not the voter as such, neither is the problem "information" available to voters. Each voter is perfectly capable of assessing how much MMD has contributed to his personal welfare and what the other parties are offering as an alternative.

I hold the view that the problem nothing has changed electorally in the last 35 years is the electoral system perpetuates incumbency. The first past the post (FPTP) systems requires the reach and depth of organisation and electoral platform that is frankly beyond many of the opposition parties, especially given the MMD political elite has only been too eager to use government resources to keep hold on power. See In rich Zambians' palm where I touch on this.

Some will say, there's no ideological differentiation!  But that is a proximate argument. Ideological differentiation' among political parties is actually a product of contestable electoral systems. Asking parties to be 'ideologically different', as seems to be the call often misses the point . What is the point of inventing new policies, at some financial cost to the organisation (its not cheap inventing policy platforms!) which are different from the incumbent if your policies will never see light of day ? I believe correctly understood, the lack of ideological differentiation is simply an attempt by opposition parties to manage their costs down, in face of low expectations of getting into power - mimicking other policies keeps the financial costs down. So those who want more ideological differentiation should push for making the system more competitive. Innovation always comes through competition - whether in product markets or in the political marketplace. For the avoidance of doubt I don't believe the route to more political competition is through political funding - see Sakism and When hichilenomics met sakism...


  1. Chola,

    On the slate there is fundamentally no alternative to the ruling MMD unless a new team emerges.This we can debate all year through way into the ballot, the country lacks an alternative by every argument.The major rivals to MMD are nothing but regional parties without a national agenda and heart.They present no agenda but perfection in insults, hatred, and utopia.That is not what Zambians need to develop the country or indeed move forward.None of the MMD rivals are entrenching even basic values of democracy and systemic leadership on national matters.They lack economic,education, security, domestic and foreign policy direction. We have a circus in individualistic opposition politics. It will be a miracle to see them win a tripartite elections under any circumstances. They have failed to stay relevant in institutional reforms, capacity building and such. 5-10 years have been wasted on spewing insults on Mwanawasa, Chiluba and RB.Tell me what dividends these have delivered to a institutional democracy?

    I respect Mambo's personal views despite being a bonafide card carrying political cadre of fortune. No doubt he is too amoral for any platform on national issues for him to advocate for anything considering that he is another excommunicated donor funds plunder Church of God criminal besides being a .... in consecutive regimes.

  2. Report exposes misapplication of funds in PF-run councils
    By Times Reporter

    THE preliminary financial reports on the Patriotic Front-run councils have revealed massive misdirection of funds with Lusaka City Council using K42 billion on personal emoluments and administrative costs leaving only about K17.7 billion on service delivery in the financial year ending 2009.

    In the two-year period between 2008 and December 2009, the council raised a total of K124 billion but only K27 billion was used in providing services while the rest was used for personal emoluments and administrative expenses.

    This represents 15 per cent on service provision of the total amount while 85 per cent was used for personal emoluments and administrative costs in the two-year period.

    The council collected K14,278,819,000 from rates in 2008 and K14,055,171,000 in 2009 but the total income, including other services amounted to K64,400,503,000 in 2008 and K59,647,502,000 in 2009.

    The transition into percentages for the two years shows that 44 per cent of the funds were spent on personal emoluments while administrative costs gobbled 34 per cent, leaving only 22 per cent for service provision.

    Local Government and Housing Deputy Minister Moses Muteteka said a process had been started by a special team of experts to identify specific individuals who might have abused resources for onward reporting to the security wings.

    The report says the council faced the challenge of irregular payments from levies, and Government grants as well as unaccounted for grants.

    There was also reduced expenditure on service delivery instead of the 40 per cent of the total budget as directed by the Ministry of Local Government and Housing.

    Ndola City Council had a total income of K21,652,772,000 in 2008 in grants from the Government, land rates and levies while the figure went up to K29,725,246,177 in 2009.

    Of this amount, only 21 per cent was spent on service provision while a total of 77 per cent went to recurrent expenditure and only two per cent was used for infrastructure development.

    The report states that the council overspent by about K5,495,015,960 without preparing a supplementary expenditure. There was also non-availability of title deeds for council properties and non maintenance of ledgers.

    There was no preparation of certificate of completion for projects while the format for the receipts did not meet standards.

    Other irregularities included under-banking, irregular payments, failure to update stock ledgers and poor management of imprest apart from failure to remit withholding tax to the Zambia Revenue Authority.

    Kitwe City Council only spent K4,488 billion representing 13 per cent on service provision and infrastructure of the total K35.5 billion in 2009 while only 29 per cent of K62,630,000,000 which was income for the two years was spent on service provision.

    The council generally failed to maintain ledgers and also failed to manage imprest effectively.

    Chingola Municipal Council only spent two per cent on service provision in 2008 while 45 per cent of the total revenue was utilised as employee-related costs and also failed to prepare final books of accounts. About 53 per cent went to admin-istrative costs.

  3. So far MMD has shown that it is the only party that embraces democracy.

    It has been 10 years since the party was established and PF has still not held a convention. Party positions are unilaterally picked by Michael Sata (just like Hitler did) and his party presidency was never voted on. He just became party president without a meeting to choose him, an election to office or a convention to pick members and their positions. To top it off, he never even started the party. The party’s board members are the Sinyangwe’s (rebel MP for Matero Constituency and her immediate family). Therefore, Sata is at their mercy, in case he has forgotten. Sata has abandoned democracy just to stay in power at PF.

    It is clear that UPND’s HH is fearsome of a convention. He swung into the party’s top position after Mazoka died and has since never held a convention. Mazoka held two conventions whilst he held the top position in the party. HH has abandoned Mazoka’s legacy and has chosen the PF way where interparty democracy is not practiced. He is ready to abandon democracy just to hang on to power in the party thus stopping younger and brighter members from succeeding him.

    This leaves the nation with only MMD as the party that practices interparty democracy and follows a legacy left by Arthur Wina, which was carried on by FTJ and Levy Mwanawasa. It is only the MMD that gives choice to the masses. They have held 4 conventions and have had 2 NEC elections for party presidential candidates to date. This is why they never complain when they lose by-elections. Once again they will go to a convention so that they give choice to the people.

    MMD has proved that it embraces democracy both internally and nationally!

    The NCC should push for conventions to be included as a prerequisite for party participation in elections of any kind in Zambia. This way, only parties which embrace democracy internally should be allowed to participate in our national democracy. After all, we should be examples of what we preach.

  4. Chola, your post is a honnest one!

  5. I agree with Masebo. She (or he) has a very good point.

    Bishop Mambo is an opportunist. He has been sidelined after his hand was found looting the cookie jar. Now he is trying a comback when funds are short.

    From the council audits, it is obvious that PF do not have the capacity to run the country let alone the council.

  6. We need to bring more education into the system. It is embarassing when an MP spends 45 mins of parliament's time accusing government of misapplying road taxes collected and charged on government vehicles, only to be advised that govt vehicles do not pay for road taxes. This is the worst kind of ignorance exhibited by an MP and is very common amogst the uneducated.

    There should be a degree or diploma clause for MP's as well.

  7. FMD, should your post appear on the corruption watch of this blog? Cho has a corruption watch area which covers irregularities found during audits of public institutions.

  8. FMD,

    Good to see you are alive and well!

    Thanks for the heads-up! I have pulled this together in a separate post :Corruption Watch (Lusaka City Council)

  9. Actually, this is PS posing as FMD. Good to hear from you bro!

  10. PS (posing as FMD)29 April 2010 at 08:02

    Hey this is PS posing as FMD. He begged me to clarify this because he is no longer interested in public politics.

    Good to hear from you Cho.

  11. Ba PS / FMD

    Yaba! I can see you guys have not changed!
    Warming up to the 2011 no doubt.

    I trust you are well,



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