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Saturday, 31 July 2010

Zambia Review 2010

Zambia Review 2010

African Democracy Ratings ( A Response to Comments)

The EIU Democracy Ratings  map has certainly sparked some passions. Most of them usually important but a few unnecessarily insulting.  We are here to discuss and learn from one another. To label this website and those who question aspects of Zambia's poor governance as fuelled by some perverse form of cadre mentality does no great good to our country. This website is founded on the great belief that two people with opposing views can disagree without suspicion or calling each other names and through that help exchange knowledge to all of our betterment. By and large you all maintain this credo. Indeed you all know that if you substantially disagree and want to make a detailed point you have the Right to Reply.  So there's really no need for insults. Where such takes place, these comments are deleted because they add no value to our country and serve only to perpetuate a Neanderthal culture.

A cautious revival

An interesting report on Chinese investment in Luanshya and the mixture of cynicism and hope that engulfs the urban dwellers (HT : Kafue)

Navigating its way over the remaining shreds of baize, the snooker ball hit the side of the table with a gentle thud. The table was majestic once, with its heavy, intricately carved legs that are now gathering dust.

"I'm sure it worked a long time ago, but it's no longer used," said Marion Malisawa, the young barman as he grabbed the ball and tossed it into a corner, where it came to rest in the remains of a rusty wire cage.

Years have passed since anyone played snooker at the Roan Antelope Horse and Pony Club in Luanshya, a town in Zambia's Copperbelt.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Aviation Watch (Kenyan Airways)

“The airline will from August 6, 2010 operate six flights weekly. The increased frequency is pegged to the increased demand on the route. It is also a deliberate effort by the airline to offer customers flexibility and convenient connections"
Kenyan Airways tripling its flights into Ndola from twice a week because of increased demand from the Copperbelt. The news comes in the wake of Zambezi Airlines recent acquisition of the third B737-500 as a boost towards transforming the aviation industry. We have previously touched on the structural problems in the aviation market here

China in Africa Watch (Angola)

More secret loans to Angola. The Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos announced earlier this month that that China's Eximbank has agreed to provide new funding for the programme of "national reconstruction". More detail via Angola Press.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

African Democracy Ratings

According to this map Zambia is worse than Nigeria in terms of democracy. Also worse than Mozambique. One has to check the underlying data but I think the reason for this poor score may be press freedom. Zambia is doing quite poorly in this area and it is something that needs to be addressed urgently. It does not benefit anyone for a government to muzzle the press and use national papers as instruments of propaganda (and indirectly oppression as we saw in Mufumbwe where the national papers failed to highlight the violence). We need to sell the Daily Mail & Times of Zambia. That is the privatisation we need.

Quick notes

A recent UNICEF report on Children Accused of Witchcraft. Also via IRIN.

An interesting interview with Breeze FM founder and CEO Mike Daka.

A use reference of popular economics books via The Enlightened Economist 

India unveils the $35 laptop with the eye on the global market.

This year marks 20 years of MMD's existence.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Constitution 2010 : Consultation Response (ZRF)

A response to the National Constitutional Conference on the new Draft Constitution. This one from the Zambia Research Foundation led by Dr Mbita Chitala.  Please keep copying us in to help you keep a public record of your response ( :
Submission to the NCC on the Draft Constitution of Zambia

Constitution 2010 : Consultation Response (Kenneth Munyandi)

Another response to the  National Constitutional Conference on the new Draft Constitution. Please keep  copying us in to help you keep a public record of your response ( :
Response to NCC Draft Constitution (Kennedy Munyandi)

Holding ZESCO to account

Ruth Henson: ZESCO Letter 21 July 2010 (The Post)

China in Africa Watch (Dr Congo)

The Democratic Republic of Congo is studying a proposal to provide land to China to grow large amounts of palm for oil production in the vast central African country. Details of the plan are scarce but this appears to be part of general effort by China to secure greater share of arable land around the world as Africa's land supply become more attractive to wealthier resource-hungry nations. More detail via Reuters.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

A privatisation menu...

A revealing statement from ZDA on what is on the menu for future privatisation :
Ms. Margaret Chimanse communications spokeswoman of Zambia Development Agency said the possible sale of Ndola Lime, Zambia’sleading producer of the solvent used in the manufacture of cement and used chiefly by the mines in the Southern African country was not immediate as the company was sourcing for finance to rehabilitate the plant by among other works, replace the old kiln and the hydrator. The funding is coming from DBSA and Afri Exim Bank.

She said that the other companies being considered for options for private sector participation by the government included Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia, Mulobezi Railway, Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority and Zambia National Building Society. She added that the government was in the process of examining the business model for the power utility, Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation, known as ZESCO and makes it viable.
More ZAMTEL style battles to come. I suspect we shall see no such actions before 2011. At the very least one hopes that the electorate will pose tough questions to the parties on the future of these parastatals. 

Monday, 26 July 2010

What is wrong with this statement?

"And when it comes to Belonging or joining of political parties, this is another area marred with nepotism, tribalism, popularism and corruption. At the end of the day it all translates into politics of benefits, if it benefits you and your close relations, why worry about the common good?"
- Matthews Chisanga
(via Zambian Watchdog)
Those too eager for the answer can find it here. A more detailed explanation on Reflections on Corruption.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

The quest for port capacity, 5th Edition

Another update on the quest to boost port capacity at Namibia's Walvis Bay. Walvis Bay Corridor Group reported this week that Namibia plans to invest more than $1 billion over the next decade in transport routes linking southern Africa with its Walvis Bay port to give mineral producers in the region a viable export route. Coal producers in South Africa, including Anglo American, Exxaro and Optimum Coal, have been unable to ship all of their coal destined for exports due to constraints on the rail lines leading to the country's port at Richards Bay. Similarly, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo have also been encountering delays at the borders when shipping minerals out of Tanzania's Dar es Salaam port. The expansion is seen by regional players as quite key part of the North South Project.

Related Posts 
The quest for port capacity
The quest for port capacity, 2nd Edition
The quest for port capacity, 3rd Edition
The quest for port capacity, 4th Edition

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Lusaka Basic Needs Basket - June 2010

The latest Lusaka Basic Needs Basket and the associated press release for June 2010.
Basic Needs Basket - June 2010 - Lusaka

Facebooking (Thank You!)

On 19 May 2010 we set up our Facebook page. I was a little sceptical at the beginning but offered three reasons why it became necessary : First, some readers requested that we have a Facebook page because "many Zambians are on facebook more than any other medium"; Secondly, it provides a good way to "see" readers; and finally, we are always open to new ways of making it easy for readers to access the material.

I am happy to report with just  two months there we have now crossed over 1,000+ fans which clearly affirms the first reason. There are indeed many people who have found this useful and I have enjoyed reading some of the comments there and respond to them when I can. Also its been good receiving emails from those accessing it there. The second reason has been interesting because the profile of Facebook readers is totally different to what I expected. So indeed it is good to see that Zambians from all walks of life have an interest in seeing updates with the website. I am quite keen for us to engage the young people in this intellectual movement we have embarked on. If you want to see what Zambia will look in 2030 just look at its youth - so I believe all effort should be spent engaging with the younger generation - they hold the key to our prosperity as a people.  On the final reason, It has definitely confirmed the merit in being open to new ways of reaching.

So to all of those following us via Facebook, welcome to the Zambian Economist family and many thanks for making this worthwhile.

This Week They Said

“These are empty political hallucinations”
George Mpombo's opinion of Kaingu's suggestion that Zambians would not want elections if only they realised how marvellous President Banda is.
“The fact that now Chiluba is even campaigning for a councillor shows that he is no more Chiluba”
Michael Sata on media reports that Chiluba was on the campaign trail for a ward council by-election in Kitwe.
The pact does not have a common manifesto or political agenda”
Peter Machungwa pointing the finger to what he sees as the source of the alleged difficulties facing the UPND-PF pact.
“We shall build schools, hospitals, roads and we shall explore for oil and minerals”
Vice President Kunda  promising the earth and all that is in it to people in Luena.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Book Reading Goal : Week 25

The Last Christian: A NovelThis week I turned my attention to something totally different - The Last Christian by David Gregory.  Although I do usually read fiction, I have never actually read a science fiction book - until  now. Set in 2088, this book imagines a world where many diseases have been eradicated, Africa has made progress and across the globe life expectancy has drastically improved with life at 120 years expected. It is at this point in history that a young American lady Abigail Caldwell emerges from the interior jungle of Papua New Guinea (cut off from the outside world since birth) after her village was mysterious wiped and heads to America to find that the America that her parents talked about has dramatically changed - and on the verge of something catastrophic. It is a riveting book, with many twists and turns. A wonderful book with a positive message.  Strongly recommended.

Book Reading Goal Review
Books Read So Far : 24 books
Remaining Books to Achieve Target : 26 books
Weeks Remaining to Achieve Annual Target : 23 weeks

The truth doesn't have to hurt...

"It’s not a condition that you should build a road; it’s voluntary for you to do so. If Lumwana wants to do it, let them build but that is the responsibility of the government. There is division on who should do what and who should do what.  Infrastructure development is up to the central government to do that"
Fred Bantubonse (Chamber of Mines) making it clear in Solwezi that  mining companies are not obliged to develop infrastructure in the areas they operate but they can do community social responsibility projects on voluntary basis.   This apparently did not go down very well with the locals. This is what we have been saying all along, perhaps now that Fred Bantubonse has said one hopes the ngwee has dropped! It has hopefully hit home that the best form of Corporate Social Responsibility is a combination of local area taxes and a local  framework that leverages private sector investment into delivering local infrastructure (to ensure "nil detriment").  Incidentally, these are frameworks I have helped develop in the past and many countries have them, so when the time comes they don't need to hire an RP Capital or some young graduate from the World Bank (sorry folks, but you do send us inexperienced kids as advisers) to help them think, we can do it for free (and they can donate to the website in exchange). 

Corporate Social Irresponsibility

Chrystia Freeland argues that many of the global business disasters of the past 24 months have been facilitated by the mini-industry of corporate social responsibility. She echoes an important point repeatedly made on this website - "The problem with CSR is that it muddies the waters.....CSR, and the communitarian philosophy behind it, asks us to believe that the interests of an individual company and those of the wider community are fully aligned. They aren’t — a truth too many regulators forgot in recent years"- Full article below : 

For weeks people on both sides of the Atlantic have been speculating over who would lose his job first because of the BP spill — Ken Salazar, the interior secretary, or Tony Hayward, the oil company’s chief executive. Given last week’s initial progress in capping the well, I won’t try to name a favorite in that race. But I would like to suggest a third, inanimate culprit: the cult of corporate social responsibility.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Quick notes

Zambia  is apparently seeking US $7 billion to boost the energy sector and provide electricity to meet demand from the mines. Its not clear where GRZ will get the money from. Zambia's external debt spiked up over recent external borrowing by ZESCO.

A new World Bank report assesses how open countries are to foreign direct investment. The report reveals what we already know : Zambia is very open - more open than any country in Europe, the USA or China. Infact it appears that all poor countries are very open!

An interesting piece in the Daily Nation over the housing woes of former presidents. Former Ghanaian president Jerry Rawlings has joined Botswana's ex-president Festus Mogae who has publicly expressed his frustrations about the sorry state of his retirement home and office.

WiFi networks are unfurling across SA's towns and cities, thanks to advances in wireless technology and the relatively low cost of the equipment needed to set up or become part of a wireless network, Wugs - or Wireless User Groups.

Swaziland's judiciary is concerned by an absence of detention facilities for children, which forces them to share jail cells with adult criminals. This opens the potential for sexual abuse in a country with the highest HIV / AIDs infection rate in the world.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

A Warrior Princess in Zambia

Princess Kasune Zulu writes :
Warrior Princess: Fighting for Life With Courage and HopeWarrior Princess Get ready, Get Ready... Zambia going crazy for Warrior Princess. Join His Royal Highness Chief Litata, Dr Manassah Phiri at the official Zambian launch, 18 August - stay tuned for details. Warrior Princess available at Planet books shop at Arcades in Lusaka and Book seller at Manda Hill Mall in Lusaka. The response is overwhelming. I'll be appearing on Kwacha Good Morning Zambia this Saturday. It's great to be home. 
The Zambian Economist  review of her extraordinary book - Warrior Princess, By Princess Kasune Zulu (A Review)

Corruption Watch (CDF), 4th Edition

Mulambwa Ward Councillor Mwenda Lishebo (MMD) has allegedly been suspended from Mongu Municipal Council for challenging area Member of Parliament Joseph Mulyata (MMD) over the diversion of Constituency Development Fund (CDF) set aside for emergency works. On March 23, 2010 Lishebo wrote a letter to Mulyata where he stated that the people in his ward would stop at nothing in insisting on the immediate return of the K100 million that was allocated to Mulambwa Ward in accordance with CDF guidelines. More detail via The Post.

elated Posts :

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

What I am reading...


Its not Saturday yet for my weekly report on the book reading goal...but I just love my current reading fantastic book on agriculture, two on China, a science fiction book set in 2088 and two biographies of two radical individuals from different time periods. I shall tell you more...

Too little, too poor and too late.

"We have asked for a special audit to be done on the mining sector and if we find someone cheating, we will deal with that...Cheating is dealt with by punishing offenders, but you cannot deal with cheating by increasing tax rates, you can't....We need a strong mining sector to help us diversify the economy"
Finance Minister Musokotwane announcing over the weekend that the government plans to conduct an audit of mining companies to determine their earnings and will punish companies found cheating over declaration of profits. One can't help but wonder why Musokotwane now appears to have a "death bed" conversion to the idea that mining companies may well be cheating, when many of us have been saying this for years now!

What is sad is that Musokotwane still doesn't get it.

First, I don't think this audit will yield anything because the point is that multi-national companies are experts in this area and I doubt if any single company would be found at fault.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Has Zambian privatisation been a success?

Yes. According to the 2nd President Frederick Chiluba :
"But as a policy, privatisation [in Zambia] is a success. It brought efficiency and predictability to the economy. Money that was spent on subsidies and government subventions can now be spent properly elsewhere. The mining sector has experienced exponential growth. The temporary losses have been made up by new employers in the economy."
No. According to James Matale, the first chief executive of the Zambia Privatisation Agency :  
"It [privatisation] is led by powerful business interests connected to government who treat enterprises and assets lined up for privatisation as goods fallen from the back of a delivery truck. There is a lot of corruption".

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Quick notes

Margot Wallström, UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict suggests that there is almost total impunity for rape in Congo. She reckons the "one statistic quoted is 200,000 rapes since the beginning of the war 14 years ago, and it is certainly an underestimate".

A small Namibian step for people living with HIV. The country recently removed travel restrictions for people living with the HIV virus to align the country's laws with international public health standards. 51 countries, territories, and areas remain with restrictions.

The internet has been buzzing with stories of the custody battle between a British father and a Zambian mother. In the latest twist (which may not be "latest" by the time you read this), the Zambian mother Ms Nyendwa tells her side of the story to The Times.

A statistical sampling adjustment sees Mozambique's HIV prevalence "drop" from 16% in 2008 to 11.5% in 2010. The Health Minister is quick to remind people not get excited - "What has changed is not the number of people carrying HIV, but the way the data are collected".  All clear then.

A wonderful report by Chiwoyu Sinyangwe on the sleeping giant that is Luapula: "I can say that the natives of Luapula Province will, one day, have to answer before the Creator for allowing the province to be so poor and desperate despite its vast natural resources endowment".  I couldn't agree more.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Lazy intellectuals..

The problem I have with Clive Chirwa's comments on the constitutional making process is that they appear not thought through. Not just this comment, but also this one :
The education system will only improve if the Constitution promises the people it is written for in stone that the nation will provide adequate tools for the very best of edification. I urge the Constitution to include a national library that will collect books, education and historical materials for all Zambians. The national library will therefore be the epicentre of academic excellence. It will allow scholars to attend and read and will loan reading materials to any Zambian around the country. All developed countries have this central reservoir of knowledge that facilitates the education of its people.
Can anyone really tell me that this issue belongs in the constitution? Is this not a policy question? But even when Chirwa has the right idea, his explanatory power lets him down. Consider this comment to the NCC on presidential degree clauses :
The call for a degree clause is in my opinion not correct. The reasons are that Zambia has an extremely small educated population. Therefore to ask leaders of the future to have degree qualifications while the government does not provide adequate education for the majority is not only being too elitist but very undemocratic and against human rights. In a democratic society, this should not be part of a Constitution and should be re-assessed and revoked from the document. At current numbers of educated Zambians, I will suggest that leaders must be able to read and write plus have a minimum of secondary education. Many degree holders reject politics and do not want to be associated with back knifing. Therefore the education clause should be deleted from the draft. Vision, charisma, good governance are perhaps more important than a degree qualification. If the President has a degree by default that is fine. If not, it shouldn’t become a hindrance for one to be a good and honest President.

Corruption Watch (Lusaka City Council) Update

An update to the Lusaka City Council alleged gross misdirection of funds. A recent news report by the Daily Mail suggests government have now instituted investigations to establish how K1.7 billion has allegedly been misappropriated at the Lusaka City Council, with the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) taking the lead  :
Minister of Local Government and Housing Eustarckio Kazonga said Government is seeking a comprehensive forensic audit to trace the money and the culprits involved in the alleged scam. Dr Kazonga said in an interview in Lusaka yesterday that Government is concerned and disappointed with people that are misapplying public funds, adding that stringent measures have been put in place to ensure that the culprits are punished.

He said police and the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) have moved to the LCC to investigate the matter. “We have instituted investigations to establish how the K1.7 billion went missing at the LCC, these are funds that were meant for service delivery but now, people are misusing the funds. These people are frustrating Government efforts in the delivery of quality and improved service to the people,” Dr Kazonga said.

Dr Kazonga said once investigations are concluded, Government will act in accordance with the recommendations that the investigative agencies will come up with. He said Government is concerned with the missing funds and that it wants an account of how the local authority will recover the money that was misapplied.

Dr Kazonga said Government has set up financial regulations to ensure that all local authorities spend money on service provision and less on personal emoluments. “We have just concluded our internal audit and what I can confirm now is that K1.7 billion has been misused. We have asked the Anti-Corruption Commission and police to move in and investigate the matter because we suspect more funds have been stolen,” he said.

Are Zambians too illiterate for the PACT?

Yes. According to Sam Mulafulafu (Director, Caritas Zambia) :

The experience of an alliance that presents one presidential candidate but competes among themselves at Parliamentary and local government levels has been confusing to the electorate even in situations where constituencies and wards are shared among the cooperating political parties. With the low literacy levels among our voters, it sounds funny to the electorate to be told by a campaigning parliamentary or council candidate that in the parliamentary or local government vote (which ever the case may be), vote for me but for the president, vote for candidate so and so from another partyIt really does not make sense to an average voter. In fact, some candidates won’t even make an effort to campaign for the chosen presidential candidate if that candidate is not from their party. This must be a learning point for the UPND/PF pact; to convince the electorate that they are a two in one party may be a daunting task.
Mr Mulafulafu's underlying sequential logic is as follows:
i) To understand and be able to vote for a coalition government  you need to be literate.
ii) Zambians have low literacy levels.
iii) Therefore UPND-PF pact is facing a very challenging or near impossible task . 
If (i) or (ii) is wrong then (iii) is bound to be wrong.

A comedian's draft constitution..

This funny quote from Clive Chirwa perhaps is fitting for what continues to be laughable constitution making process :
ARTICLE 6: I believe for Zambia to move on, the National Anthem and the Court of Arms must be changed for the following reasons:

1. The National Anthem music composed by a South African, if I am correct, cannot be truly used as a Zambian theme since South Africa is now claiming it. I urge the Constitution to direct the Zambian people to change the National Anthem music so that our own can be composed. We have many able Zambians who can write music and let us create a competition that will result in our own Anthem. It sounds ridiculous when the two Presidents meet. Zambia despite being independent longer than South Africa, the world thinks it is a satellite region of South Africa, especially when the anthem is played in instrumental without lyrics.

2. The Court of Arms are too colonial. They are not allowing us to break freely from colonialism and must be changed. The man in the shorts depicts the very reason why Zambia is not growing after more than 46 years of independence. Let him wear trousers at least or change it to something positive for the nation. This is an opportunity for us to do it.
Muna Ndulo recently noted that one of the reasons the NCC process is flawed is because the "NCC gives the impression that it has little understanding of the functions of a constitution. Its slash and burn policy on the Mungomba draft appears to be uninformed by an understanding of what must be in the constitution and what maybe relegated to legislation. It has even less understanding of the dynamics and relationships between, institutions and procedures". I think this lack of principled approach explains why commentators such as Clive Chirwa have found themselves misdirected and become comedians in the process. They simply have no idea what should and shouldn't be in a constitution. 

Thursday, 15 July 2010

International lessons for the UPND-PF pact

It is still early days in the UK coalition government but I think it still provides interesting  lessons for the UPND and PF as they forge ahead given the recent external pressures. Four lessons particularly come to mind which addresses many of the comments made by various stakeholders.

1. Parties of opposite ideologies can work together.  The relative differences in ideological positions of parties need not be a barrier for them to work together. A number of political commentators in the UK were sceptical in the aftermath of the election whether the Lib-Con deal would emerge due to differences in their respective ideologies. Similarly, in the Zambian press we have see many political NGOs (affectionately referred to as PONGOs) mention time and time again that the UPND-PF pact is not viable because the two parties have different ideologies. The UPND  is apparently more centre right (liberal / market oriented) whilst PF is seen as a centre left party (in the tradition of Labour). As such UPND is much closer to MMD right wing ideology than perhaps it is to the PF. As the UK coalition government has demonstrated such differences do not always trump when big issues are at stake. It also means there's no need for PF and UPND to ever merge. Its not necessary. They can both remain ideologically divided and still cooperate. Its a government not a marriage.

Linking Zambia (Zambia Girl Guides)

The website of the Girl Guides Association of Zambia. Seems pretty active as well.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

The Great Swindle, 3rd Edition

An excellent editorial from the Business Post on Zambia's broken mining policy which continues to see mining companies emerging as a negative contributor to Zambia Revenue Authority through huge tax rebates and their failure to pay existing obligations :

Zambia has over the years been a recipient of substantial foreign investments especially in the mining sector. This has been necessitated by the privatisation of the mines a couple of years ago by Frederick Chiluba’s government. It cannot be denied that since then, mining has been one of the most favoured sectors by the government in Zambia.

Placing the mines in private hands meant that any income to the state will not directly be from sales and profits from the mines, but rather from any taxes that can be levied on the companies – in the form of income tax for employees, VAT paid on services purchased by the mines, border taxes paid on imports and exports, corporate taxes on profits, and mineral royalties on sales of copper – although these are paid just by a few mining companies.

Luapula Manganese, 5th Edition

Luapula Base Metals Limited and Genesis Group of Companies recently announced that they have invested US $3m in developing three manganese mines in Luapula with an annual output of 60,000 tonnes. Their current output is around 4,000 tonnes per month of manganese was expecting to increase this to 5,000 after acquiring new machinery. More detail via The Post.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Natural resources can help end poverty

In a piece that again shames Zambia's leaders, Collier brings together three key challenges facing all natural resource nations : how to open up the vast resources for exploration; developing appropriate fiscal regimes; and, managing the resource boom. How is this to happen? According to Collier: "there is no substitute for the hard task of building a critical mass of informed citizens, society by society". In short depends on you :

Why natural resources should help end poverty, Paul Collier, New Statesman, Commentary:

Natural assets can be hugely valuable for the poorest countries. In Afghanistan, the Americans have used new aerial prospecting technology to scour the country for natural resources. So far they have found $1trn's worth. Properly used, this would be enough money to transform Afghanistan into a land of prosperity. It could finance the security, schools and infrastructure that are the foundations from which ordinary people can earn a decent living.

But natural resources can also generate huge liabilities. The distinctive feature of BP's catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico is not its physical scale - over the years, the Niger Delta has been similarly wrecked - but that, for the first time, the environmental costs of extraction have occurred within a jurisdiction where the perpetrator has legal liability for them. And environmental costs are a pinprick compared to the social costs that the struggle for control of natural assets can run up if it turns violent. Instead of attaining prosperity, Afghanistan could find itself repeating the history of Sierra Leone. Its $1trn of natural assets could merely morph the violence, turning it from being driven by a warped ideology into the probably more secure motivation of raw greed.

Monday, 12 July 2010

A nation without a vision..

Senior Chief Mwamba is my favourite Zambian thinker. An intellectual giant who is able to step back into our history, tie the knots and offer some fresh perspectives on the challenges facing our country. In a recent piece he reflects on "a nation without a vision"  (previous reflections from His Royal Highness on House of Chiefs) :

A vision stands for ‘intelligent ability to foresee the future; an insight to imagine the future; Doorway to the future; determines destiny and marks and distinguishes intellectual capacities of different people. And this was why King Solomon declared: 'Where there is no vision, people perish.'

Chairman Mao related to the vision of the will as all-powerful, even to the extent that (in Mao's own words) 'the subjective creates the objective.' That is, man's capacity for both undergoing change and changing his environment is unlimited once he makes the decision for change the entire universe can bend to his will. But again, the controlling image is the sense of revolutionary immortality that confers these vaulting capacities upon the mind. And during the Great Leap, Chairman Mao declared that there was no poor soil but poor thoughts.

How much was ZAMTEL sold for?

“We are all aware that LAP Green will pay $257 million for the 75 per cent shares they now hold in Zamtel. And this money will be broken down as follows: $117.7 million will go towards employee benefits and liabilities; $64 million will be injected into the company; $32.7 million will be used to settle external Zamtel liabilities, while $42.6 million will come to the treasury.”
According to the above description by Hon Musokotwane the actual net value paid for ZAMTEL is $106.6m. That is $42.6m to the exchequer plus the $64m which was given to GRZ by LAP on condition that GRZ invests it back into ZAMTEL.  In theory we can say that government bought the 25% shares using the $64m. But then why not just be honest with the public and say that 100% shares were sold for $106.6m and then government bought 25% shares?

My Village, My people

As the Mutumboko Ceremony approaches later this month, its worth checking out the website.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Remembering Obama in Accra

Today nearly a year ago American President Obama delivered  this speech (thanks RS - for the email remainder). These quotes are still worth pondering on  :

"We must start from the simple premise that Africa's future is up to Africans. I say this knowing full well the tragic past that has sometimes haunted this part of the world. I have the blood of Africa within me, and my family's own story encompasses both the tragedies and triumphs of the larger African story". 

"Across Africa, we have seen countless examples of people taking control of their destiny, and making change from the bottom up. We saw it in Kenya, where civil society and business came together to help stop post-election violence. We saw it in South Africa, where over three quarters of the country voted in the recent election – the fourth since the end of Apartheid. We saw it in Zimbabwe, where the Election Support Network braved brutal repression to stand up for the principle that a person's vote is their sacred right".

"Make no mistake: history is on the side of these brave Africans, and not with those who use coups or change Constitutions to stay in power. Africa doesn't need strongmen, it needs strong institutions".
In short we have the Africa we deserve, but it does not have to be that way, and we can be hopeful that the brave among us can bring the change we need. That change must come from the bottom up and must encompass an institutional revolution.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

This Week They Said

"You should read this newspaper  in the opposite. When they say president Chiluba was jeered, it means he was cheered. It is an upside down newspaper"
President Banda taking a verbal assault on the leading member [The Post] of the Fourth Estate.
"Simbao is being a responsible Zambian because the entire government is not responsible".
Hon Douglas Syakalima MP on Health Minister Kapembwa Simbao's SOS call to donors for assistance.
“Who has even seen a picture of Hakainde’s wife in the newspaper or even a picture of him playing with his children? Why is he hiding his wife? Nimwenye?"
President Banda again, this time widening his insults to include Mrs Hichilema and insulting our Indian population in the process.
“President Rupiah Banda  is the real mambala. He was doing umambala when he was in Namboard”
Hon Douglas Syakilima MP on President Banda's recent attacks on the UNPD leadership.
"We reject this corrupt adoption process. Ifwe uyu muntu batupela tatwamumonapo ala ifwe twamukana"
Wilfred Mwanza (Chifubu MMD) on the chosen MMD candidate  allegedly imposed from the top.

Politics of compensation

A potentially interesting revelation by the Zambian Watchdog leaves more questions than answers :

The government of Zambia has in the past few years paid more than K11 billion to citizens it has either tortured or wrongfully detained. Payment records seen by the Watchdog show that President Rupiah Bwezani Banda received the biggest chunk of the compensation amounting to more than K3 billion. The compensations were paid starting from the tenure of late president Levy Mwanawasa but people compensated include those whose rights were violated as far back as 1965 to people detained during the reign of Fredrick Chiluba

One list shows that 211 citizens were compensated a total of K11, 774, 071, 575.36 under the preservation of public security regulations. Among these is president Rupiah Banda who received eight (8) cheques on different dates but whose total amount is Three Billion, three hundred million and seven hundred and twelve thousand Zambian Kwacha. President Rupiah Banda was arrested during the ‘Zero option’ episode when Chiluba was president.
Assuming the above information is accurate, which I very much doubt, this may suggest two potential scenarios at face value [at the very least the Watchdog could have produced the original document - but also see the technical addendum below].

Scenario 1. The former President conspired to give his then deputy [Rupiah Banda] huge sums of compensation which has now been enforced by the latter as President. Under this scenario nothing wrong has been done by the current President except receiving what was rightly due, unless such payments have been inequitably distributed - not in award but in distribution of a limited pot. That is to say the President was only able to get a larger share because he is the President. A bit like how many Zambians are not able to get pensions rightly due to them, but others are able to because of "connections". In both instances there's nothing improper, but it is the "influence" that  makes it more efficient for some.

Scenario 2. The other scenario is that the compensations are equitably distributed and the President simply happens to gain a larger sum because he suffered worse than the others. This is difficult to explain because there many others who aren't even awarded compensations. But assuming it is all legitimate and there are no institutional restraints, the President has done nothing wrong.  The only question here is whether the President has acted morally sound. Is it morally acceptable that the President can accept such large competition for the wrongs he rightly suffered ages ago when such money could be better spent on other things the poorest? The answer of course, partly depends on whether that is a legitimate counter-factual! There's nothing to say if the money was not given to President Banda it would have been spent better on the poor.

My guess is that there's nothing improper here, but it would be interesting to see which of the two narratives emerge as the debate unfolds.

A technical addendum :  It wont be lost on our more eagle eyed readers that the comparison provided by Zambian Watchdog appears to be in nominal Kwacha prices. To really get a handle on the appropriate shares we must account for both the erosion of money over time (inflation) and the pure time preference issues - people prefer money now than tomorrow (discounting). In short RB may have got the lowest share  in real terms (ignoring discounting issues) - but it appears larger than others due to the lack of adjustment for inflationary effects.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Book Reading Goal : Week 23

How International Law Works: A Rational Choice TheoryThis week I managed to finish  one of the two books I am reading about the economics of international law: How International Law Works: A Rational Choice Theory by Andrew T Guzman. A well written book which seeks to provide a rational basis for why nations enter formal or informal international agreements despite the absence of an adequate enforcement mechanism. It comes down to what Guzman calls the three Rs - Reputation, Reciprocity and Retaliation.  Although I found it quite repetitive at points, as many economists probably will, its very useful in terms of using real world examples. Quite a useful reference text to have on your shelf. It will particularly appeal to anyone with an interest in international relations.

Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the ProblemThe same cannot be said for the other book I picked up earlier this week - Money, Greed and God : Why Capitalism is the Solution and Not the Problem by Jay Richards. I was extremely disappointed with this book to such an extent that I put it down before I finished. My disappointment was for many reasons. The obvious one being that it is poorly written  both in terms of economics (the elementary confusion between capitalism (an ideology) and market economics just being one of many), but also biblically poor - from an expository point of view. Really what we needed was a deeper and more serious interrogation of the debate. But I have read poorer books before and completed them. I think what was different about this one is that Jay Richards has written some very good stuff e.g. the co-authored Privileged Planet : How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery.  I guess my expectations were too high. May be its because after reading this very poor book, I could not take another sub-par book. In which the hapless Mbeki ruined my read. We shall never know. But I will look out for Richard's next book.

Book Reading Goal Review
Books Read So Far : 23 books
Remaining Books to Achieve Target : 27 books
Weeks Remaining to Achieve Annual Target : 25 weeks

Quick notes

EU Commissioner for Development is seeking a new aid strategy that has "value for money" as an overriding priority. Among the ideas is that aid to poor countries should be tailored more towards benefiting European firms.

IPS report on the changing face of politics in Malawa. The NGO Gender Coordination Network is pushing plans for its Malawi’s "50/50 campaign" to ensure that more women than ever before sit in local government seats after the November elections.

TAZARA recently launched the first phase of a program aimed at revamping operations in anticipation of increased copper production next year. The plan will initially try to boost wagon capacity; at least 28 wagons in Zambia have been earmarked for rehabilitation.

Campbell and Harwood have a new piece in Project Syndicate where they argue that the conventional wisdom that sub-Saharan Africa has moved beyond military coups may be wishful thinking. In the past two years, Africa has seen successful coups in Niger, Guinea, Madagascar, and Mauritania.

The Malawian government has come under fire for failing to adhere to the Malawi National Land Policy which has seen several foreigners getting land for other reasons and not investment. The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) recently expressed shock "at the rate at which foreigners in the country get land at the expense of the locals".

Thursday, 8 July 2010

A tragic Zimbabwean irony?

SW Radio News Africa on Zambia's bumber harvest:

While farms that were once highly productive lie idle under the new ownership of ZANU-PF officials and cronies, Zimbabwe is in the process of negotiating a deal to import maize from neighboring Zambia. The tragic irony is that the crops being sought after were grown by white farmers who were illegally booted off their land in Zimbabwe. Many wound up in neighboring countries, which are now benefiting from their expertise.

Zambia used to import maize and other food items from Zimbabwe, but with the influx of some of Zimbabwe’s best farmers, they’ve once again produced a surplus maize crop. Zimbabwe on the other hand has recorded a deficit of 500,000 tonnes of the daily food staple this year.
Chiredzi based farmer Gerry Whitehead described the whole situation as “disgusting”. He said: “Approximately 90% of these Zambian crops are coming from ex-Zimbabwean farmers who were forced off their land here.”
Two premises contained above. The major premise - Zambia has a bumper harvest is accurate. The minor premise that this is due to white farmers from Zimbabwe can only be assessed by this FSRP resource. The evidence in that pack is pretty emphatic that the increases are across the board and small holders have contributed significantly. I can only imagine SW Radio forgot to visit the FSRP website.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

MFEZs everywhere

There has been a recent surge in MFEZs announcements across the country. This appears consistent with the Government policy of having "MFEZs in all districts".

The government last month announced that it has given a go ahead for the setting up of tax free zones in Nakonde, Mpulungu and Mbala .

Late last month we also learnt that the Government is in the process of creating an MFEZ in Mansa "to encourage local and foreign investment". As part of the package Chief Kasumawela (Ushi, Mansa) has sanctioned 3,600 hectares of land for development of the zone in Chembe area. Among the suggested facilities would include "a trade center, modern high schools, airport, hotels, lodges and light industries".

In the meantime the Lumwana Economic Zone is now up and running. According to Commerce Minister Felix Mutati the Lunwaba MFEZ will at full capacity create about 13,000 jobs and has already attracted an initial foreign investment of US$60 million, among them Hitachi. The Lumwana MD, Adama Wright, was quick to emphasise that  "the complimentary investment that was being attracted into the MFEZ was not meant in any way to provide direct financial benefit to Lumwana Mining Company". No comment!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

The most inspirational speech by a Zambian politician?

"For as long as I can remember, it has become fashionable in our young country to accept that politics do not deliver sustainably and lack imagination; the notion that hard work doesn’t pay; the death of principled positions; the triumph of neoclassical economics which are less understood even by their proponents; and the politics of non-issues which are devoid of any discernable ideological position. We continue to waste time and resources on non-issues. Put crudely, it is the degrading view gaining ground in our nation that says “forget the ethics and morals, everything goes, the end justifies the means”; and also that “everything is up for sale at the right price”. In Solwezi, however, the concept of the highest bidder secures clearly failed. Politics on this argument becomes little more than theatre—a poorly staged public performance necessary to convince the electorate that the country is moving, or needs a new management".

"I believe that there remains a fundamental need for us as a people of Zambia to clearly define and articulate our national interests that transcend party affiliations. Under girding such national interests should be ethical and moral issues that include setting for ourselves to honor virtues of hard work, honest, trustworthiness and decency".

"Parties devoid of any ideological stand (and by ideology we mean a well thought-out political and economic system) will tend to react to issues; are caught unawares by the obvious and offer no solutions to the complex challenges of the 21st century. If Zambia must survive in this century, we need new thinking"

"We have allowed ourselves to assume mental dwarfism that refuses to think critically and beyond our narrow self interests. We are content to visit political Tuntembas translated as tea cants or prefabricated sheet corner stores when we can get more from political malls with their polished knowledge. To get back to that place requires leadership—leadership that the current government appears demonstrably incapable of providing. Our future challenge is to build across this nation a robust domestic constituency in support of Zambia's future international engagement, one that will not be neglected by inferiority complex".
Excerpts from a remarkable speech delivered on 19th November 2009, Hon Watson K. Lumba MP in Parliament when was welcomed as the newly elected Solwezi Member of Parliament. (HT: Salt and Light Zambia).

Monday, 5 July 2010

IMF - Zambia Watch (June 2010), 2nd Edition

Letter of Intent of the Government of Zambia, which describes the policies that Zambia intends to implement in the context of its request for financial support from the IMF.

UNZA debt

Education Minister Dora Siliya recently announced that her Ministry are looking at "ways of dismantling a K630 billion debt the University of Zambia and Copperbelt University owe various creditors". UNZA  owes K380 billion while the Copperbelt University owes K250 billion. A natural question arises how these two important institutions can run in such debts? One may right wonder, if the two universities can run into debt and they are supposed to be the fountains of knowledge, what hope is there for other institutions?  I speculate that this is not surprising given the previously discussed  UNZA disgrace. I now doubt whether higher education funding solutions would make any difference to our education system, though perhaps some may suggest that if people paid through their noses they would be more upfront in demanding better accountability.

IMF - Zambia Watch (June 2010)

IMF Executive Board Completes Fourth Review Under ECF Arrangement for Zambia and Approves US$27.1 Million Disbursement

Press Release No.10/260

June 25, 2010
The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) today completed its fourth review of Zambia’s economic performance under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement. Completion of the review allows Zambia to draw an amount equivalent to SDR 18.395 million (US$27.1 million) immediately, bringing total disbursements under the arrangement to the equivalent of SDR 183.305 million (US$270.5 million). In completing the review, the Executive Board granted a waiver of non-observance of the performance criterion concerning the non-concessional debt ceiling at end-December 2009.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Investment Watch (Manganese)

Superdeal Investment Limited, a Chinese firm, is set to establish a $2m manganese refinery kiln in Kabwe. According to the CEO Luobin Bin Luo the refinery is expected to create about 400 local jobs: "We have a huge investment in Zambia and our plans are to put up a large furnace besides the plant we have. This investment will not only create employment opportunities but also contribute to the revenue base of this country. We have already presented our investment plans to the Zambia Development Agency and our intention to construct a furnace right here in Kabwe which will boost our production...". 

We have previously touched on the manganese question here, here and here.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

An idea for someone...

We need a new blog that focuses on Zambian books or books about Zambia. I know I would do it because I have a passion for Zambian books,  but I have too many blogs already plus my wife now reads this blog via Facebook so she is monitoring how much time on Zambian Economist and House of Chiefs  :)

The reason I mention this specific need is that I recently visisted the blog - ZED Books. Imagine my disappointment when I found out the title had nothing to do with Zambia!

I am sure we have some very excellent readers out there who read a lot (I sure hope so because we have a book reading goal to achieve). We shall support such a blog to promote Zambian literature. If we don't promote literature about Zambia and encourage people to read these works using new media we shall  continue to allow others to write our stories / history.

So email this to your friends who read Zambian books or books about Zambia. Imagine at present even the papers don't have book sections?  Is it any wonder Fotoaccount shows us that empty Lusaka library? We can start this with a dedicated blog! Who shall step up?

Zambia Diaspora submission to the Diaspora Desk

Zambia Diaspora Connect Chairman Musaba Chailunga recently attended a meeting between ZDC and the Government's Diaspora Desk in Lusaka. There they discussed a range of matters which are contained in the report below.
Zambia Diaspora submission to the Diaspora Desk

Book Reading Goal : Week 22

Architects of PovertyThis week I turned my attention to a book that has been sitting on my shelf for a month or so  Architects of Poverty, by Moeletsi Mbeki. The brother of Former South African President Thabo Mbeki.  I was extremely disappointed that I had wasted my money and time on this book.  It is poorly framed, disjointed and pretty much repeats the mantra we have heard before - African leadership is poor, Mugabe is a mad dictator, colonialism destroyed Africa,  the West are not helping and we need a new breed of leaders to sort it out. Oh, and let us empower the poor. Nothing new, totally nothing. Its fair to say, I bought it for a poor recommendation from someone on Twitter and plus the name MBEKI was in large letters. I know, I should know better. 

Book Reading Goal Review
Books Read So Far : 21 books
Remaining Books to Achieve Target : 29 books
Weeks Remaining to Achieve Annual Target : 26 weeks

Friday, 2 July 2010

New FSRP Web Site

The wonderful people at the Zambia Food Security Research Project (FSRP) have update their website. It has the same url, but an updated title as compared to the old site:   Zambia Food Security Research Project (FSRP) in cooperation with the Agricultural Consultative Forum (ACF).

Regular readers will know that the FSRP has been instrumental in bringing our knowledge and understanding of this important sector up to date - we have discussed many of their papers. The improvement in the user experience is therefore extremely welcome.  Plus they now have RSS, so you can bang it into your Google readers and there's absolutely zero excuse now for being ignorant about emerging research and policy questions around agriculture. 

Its one of those websites, I wish everyone of our readers can make a habit of visiting. From there you will find answers to such interesting questions as  What's Behind Zambia's Record Maize Crop? or  Why are Fresh Produce Prices So Unstable in Lusaka? or How are Vegetables Marketed into Lusaka?

Inflation Statistics - June 2010

The annual rate of inflation, as measured by the all items Consumer Price Index (CPI), reduced to 7.8 percent in June 2010 from 9.1 percent in May, 2010. The 1.3 percentage point reduction is attributed to the "decrease in some food prices such as mealie meal,maize grain, fresh vegetables and dried kapenta". More detail via the CSO Monthly Bulletin.

Weekend fun...

I thought this weekend, I post a video that my wife loves watching and reminds me of my early childhood growing up listening to Bana KB in Nchelenge and when I do watch it, it very much reminds me of my mother in Ndola (my wife also grew in Ndola). But there's also another reason - there's something wonderful about how our songs stirs, anchors and expresses our quiet confident and joy in God in the midst of improbable challenges. I am always reminded that the human need goes beyond the physical - and in areas that truly matter (the spiritual state) our people are truly blessed. In the final analysis, we have a lot to thank God for.