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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.


  1. Cho,

    Have you been to Nigeria or ever served as that country's specialist to hold such insinuations of its democratic credentials. Some of you active political cadres amuse me to the bone. Nigeria being better than Zambia in what way? Do you even know that the same media impunity in Zambia lands a bullet in Nigeria? Do you know that you can't insult the head of state there which RB is taking daily from the Zambian tabloids?

    Do a focused research on the tabloid nonsense in Nigeria, the Gabon, Uganda, Egypt, Rwanda, Senegal, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Tunisia or Algeria then see what happens.

    Zambia is one of the most thriving nascent democracies in Sub Sahara Africa only despised and smeared by its very own mischievous citizens unfortunately. Until you lose it, then only will you realize the gains your country has made in the last 18 years.

    Sometimes I wonder if you are mature enough for national leadership because of this pandering to inimical foreign concocted perception.Make and learn to take constructive criticism if you have to stay relevant to the country.

  2. Anonymous
    Please read what Cho has written and stop making assumptions about his political inclinations or intentions.
    What I have read from Cho's piece above is that he has not seen the underlying data that places Zambia and other countries on their respective positions on the democratic continuum. It seems to me that Cho is at pains to understand the reason(s) why Zambia should score lower than Nigeria and Mozambique. He has picked on the issue of Press freedom as a plausible reason for Zambia's score. I am entirely in agreement with him on this. We have not made made progress in this area. The other issue is the constitution which is always written in the interests not of the country but whoever the incumbent is at the time of drawing it.
    So Mr Anonymous not every Zambian who comments on Zambia's political and economic affairs is a political cadre. Cadres are people who always see political motives when fellow citizens comment and participate in the affairs of their own country.
    Lastly, I do not give a damn what the state of the media is in the countries you've mentioned. We should strive to have a free and democratic Zambia for Zambians. That is what counts. It doesnt make sense for Zambia to have undemocratic credentials and sing about how not much worse we are compared to the other country. It's like a student scoring 33% in an exam and not caring because there were five other students who got 31%.

  3. Mr. Capitalist29 July 2010 at 08:12

    Honestly I don't see how Zambia qualifies as a hybrid state. I personally believe Zambia has a far much healthy democratic system than that of Nigeria. What is even more shocking to me is that Malawi is also put in the category of Hybrid state. I don't see how Malawi qualifies to be a hybrid state.

    Concerning the media, I believe the media in Zambia is for the most part free. It is only in Zambia where a Newspaper can insult the President and not get persecuted for it. Qfm, MUVI TV and The Monitor and Digest newspaper have not complained about press restrictions. I do however agree that the Daily-Mail and Times of Zambia should be privatized.

  4. If it helps, I work for the EIU, and Zambia was incorrectly classified. Somehow it was missed during the fact checking stage.

  5. Even with an exaggerated sense of humor, Nigeria’s Democracy cannot begin to be compared to Zambia’s nascent Democracy. To compare the two Democracies can only be the result of political biasness intent to malign opponent’s philosophy. The same attitude is the underlying drive concerning government policy positions critiqued by Mr. Cho. Very clear to see!

  6. Thank you, Frank

    You have answered anonymous perfectly.

    I have nothing further to add!

  7. Chola, I agree with your observation that our poor performance in media freedom is likely a contributor to the overall low score in “being democratic”. The Daily Mail and Times newspapers have been irrelevant for so long they’re not worth the paper they are printed on; they should have been the very first to privatised under Chiluba. If we’re striving to be a truly democratic state why should we be financing propaganda tools for politicians in power? They should fight to have air time on the private air waves and in the print media just like everyone else, and maybe then they’ll be forced to talk sense in the little time and space they are allocated.

    I would also add poor accountability of our government to the people (lack of transparency) and slow institutional reform to be contributors to the low score. We still have a lot of wheeling and dealing that takes place behind closed doors by politicians and their appointees that do not reflect the will of the people, and this effectively shuts us out. As Zambians we shoulder some of the blame as we continually look to the state as a provider for everything and with our inability to unite and speak up when needed give tacit approval to some of the wrongdoing that happens. (Of course there are exceptions to this but this is the general rule of thumb)

  8. Even if Times of Zambia and Dailymail were to be privatized, it will not make Zambia’s Democracy better than it is already. Democracy cannot be limited to an opinion concerning whether a state funded media is a propaganda tool or not. The three arms of government – Executive, Legislature and Judiciary – in their independence and complimentary role is what determines the vibrancy of A DEMOCRACY.
    Nigeria’s military rulership has shaped an hybrid Democracy that we see today which we cannot in any way begin to compare with our own. Unless of course we feel aggrieved and politically inclined.

  9. Do not speculate!Find out the undelying reasons.As far as I know Zambia is only an electoral democracy and not a liberal democracy.Press freedom is nil and human rights are trampled on.Ministers and the Police take arbitrary actions like deportations and Police deny permits for demonstrations.What else do you want for Zambia to be rated as done?

  10. Even if we get complete press freedom it won't help much till we get better journalists. They easily fall for well prepared spin jobs. They rarely dig a little or publish the really newsworthy bits. We also need a right to information law like they recently introduced in India. It keeps the politicians a little more honest if they know anyone can access any information.
    Any member of the public should have a right to know anything about how taxpayers money is used. ie no secrets allowed, nothing is confidential. After all the money belongs to the public!

  11. There are several reasons I would strongly agree with the fact that Zambia is rated lower than Nigeria, even if you try to qualify that with freedom in media. I believe the media is not just limited to the newspapers, radio is playing a very big role, TV is coming up as well;there are several independent radio stations that are not run by the government where news is reported independently. This rating is skewed on many different levels. I would like to know the source and basis of this rating, in find it inconclusive would you mind sharing.

  12. Thanks for all your comments. The comments are now closed as I have responded to them here - African Democracy Ratings ( A Response to Comments)