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Tuesday, 31 August 2010

A costly spectacle

Christina Holder writes in the Huffington Post on Zambia's constitution review process :

"A costly spectacle." "A circus." "A charade." This is how some detractors in the Zambian media have described the Zambian National Constitutional Conference (NCC), the body charged with the important task of rewriting the Zambian Constitution. The body's website describes the NCC as a "unique Constitution-making process that seeks to produce Zambia's first ever people's Constitution." Many Zambians disagree.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Mine Watch (Siavonga)

Two uranium mining ventures are on the verge of opening in Siavonga, meeting resistance along the way from local residents. The residents have rejected the intended opening of uranium mining in two areas of the district because the "dangers of the mineral outweigh the benefits". Denison Mines Zambia Limited and Africa Energy Resources are currently in Siavonga district carrying out exploration works in Muntanga and Sikoongo areas respectively awaiting government approval to award them full-scale mining licences slated for 2012. More detail via The Post.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

A dogged abuse of copyright rules...

Malama Katulwende writes on a recent abuse of copyright by the Zambian Watchdog and Lusaka Times and the issues it raises on the legal and ethical practice of the the websites. At the centre is this article published back in 2008 by UK Zambians and recently abused by the Zambian Watchdog and Lusaka Times without attribution and through some remixing of the content. 

Blogs have recently gained increasing notice and coverage for their role in breaking, shaping and initiating news stories on the Internet. Blogging has thus become a distinctive, alternative media form in its own right – as distinguished from, say, the mainstream media such as newspapers, television and radio stations.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

The road to food security

IFAD's Kanayo Nwanze on the importance of transport infrastructure in delivering food security. Nothing revolutionary there I suppose, the only strange factor continues to be the failure by developing countries to prioritise road and rail access. Indeed one thing that could be amplified in Nwanze's assessment is that investment in infrastructure better allows for an agriculture policy that leads to poverty reduction through broader income diversification - as discussed here.

Recently, I was on a road in the Southern Choma District of Zambia to meet with Rosemary Pisani, a smallholder farmer and mother of eight who struggled to feed her children prior to joining a farmer’s cooperative to raise goats. Thanks to the cooperative and support from other farmers, she now has a thriving business and all of her children are in school.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Zambia Weekly - Volume 1, Issue 20

Zambia Weekly - Week 34, Volume 1, Issue 20, 27 August 2010

Mine Watch (Maamba)

Singapore mining company Nava Bharat Pte announced last week that it intends to spend US$108 million on modernising Maamba coal mine, which it acquired in December last year. The money would be invested in a new coal processing plant and mining equipment over the next 18 months. The mine is expected to produce 360,000 tonnes of coal for the first year. More detail via Reuters.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

The myth of authoritarian growth?

When we look at systematic historical evidence, instead of individual cases, we find that authoritarianism buys little in terms of economic growth. For every authoritarian country that has managed to grow rapidly, there are several that have floundered. For every Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, there are many like Mobutu Sese Seko of the Congo.

Democracies not only out-perform dictatorships when it comes to long-term economic growth, but also outdo them in several other important respects. They provide much greater economic stability, measured by the ups and downs of the business cycle. They are better at adjusting to external economic shocks (such as terms-of-trade declines or sudden stops in capital inflows). They generate more investment in human capital – health and education. And they produce more equitable societies.
Dani Rodrik on the relationship between income and democratic credentials. I don't think people deny that democracy and prosperity co-evolve along the “virtuous” development path, what they dispute is whether there is any evidence that democracy has a causal effect on income (or indeed vice versa). Some of the evidence appears to show countries have embarked upon different development paths, most likely at some "critical junctures" with diverging paths. My view is that the quest to establish causality between income and democracy is fruitless, better to find unity with Sen’s conclusion that democracy has 'intrinsic value' and important in it's own right.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The Auditor General's Report for 2008 (On Parastatals)

We continue to ensure you have the most important information to hand - not to sit on it but to ensure you do all you can to hold your government to account. The mother of all reports which has been heavily trailed in the media. The report covers all the big players - TASKFORCE, ZCCM-IH, ZAMTEL, ZNBC and many more. Well worth the read. I hope to extract some interesting conclusions in separate posts over the next few days.
The Auditor General's Report for 2008 (Public Accounts)
The Auditor General's Report for 2007 (Public Accounts)
The Auditor General's Report for 2005 (On Parastatals)

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Linking Zambia (ZAMBART)

The Zambia AIDS Related Tuberculosis (ZAMBART) Project is a Zambian NGO formed in 2004 from a collaboration between the University of Zambia’s School of Medicine and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine that spans more than 20 years.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Mine Watch (Sinazongwe)

A new coal mine is expected to be opened in Sinazongwe (Southern Province) before the end of the year. Around US$ 10 million would be pumped in as initial capital for the operation of the mine, thought to have 15 year life span. The mine would be an open pit mine and will have a washing plant, pollution control facility, a residential area for high cost and low cost houses. 50 percent of the mine would be owned by Zambians while the other 50 percent would be owned by foreigners. Among the Zambian shareholders includes Livestock and Fisheries Development Minister Bradford Machila.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Investment Watch (Energy)

The Government announced earlier this month that it had signed an agreement with two Chinese companies to build a 600 megawatts plant expected to cost $1.5 billion. The construction of the Kafue Gorge Lower power project would start around April next year, with initial financing of $1 billion expected to come from the Chinese. The work would be undertaken under a new joint venture company, to be formed between ZESCO and China's Sino-Hydro Company and the China Africa Development Fund. More detail via Reuters.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Quick notes

The 2010 State of the Union Africa report ssesses the continental performance of Member States against key governance and political policy standards / rights instruments over the period 2004-2009.

The Namibian Government,especially the Tender Board of Namibia, recently has come under fire on for their alleged bias for foreign companies over local ones.

The South African Government is refusing to allow South Africa's indigenous knowledge to be stolen and is taking measures to document the important information.

Mozambique's state fuel company has partnered with the private sector to invest US $19m in biofuel production. A minimum of 10,000 hectares will be cultivated at first, with possible expansion to 50,000 hectares later.

World Bank's Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala makes the case for why sub-Saharan Africa is on the verge of joining the ranks of the BRICs.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

What is wrong with Constituency Development Funds?

CDFs have a negative impact on accountability and service delivery that most poor countries can ill afford. The risks associated with CDFs should be taken more seriously by governments, donors, CSOs, and other actors involved in the development process. They should actively discourage their adoption in countries where CDFs are being considered and promote other options for strengthening legislatures and improving local project delivery that could be more effective. In countries where CDFs are more entrenched and less likely to be repealed, the issues discussed in this paper should be addressed through a variety of reforms that we outline below. In addition, MPs should resist the temptation of jumping into the task of managing and spending the budget and rather focus on the more sustainable processes of holding the executive to account for service delivery.
From the recent briefing paper by International Budget Partnership. In addition to the points above the usual questions we have raised in the past around corruption  and purpose remain. 

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Investment Watch (Insurance)

Hollard Namibia, recently opened a subsidiary in Zambia as part of efforts to increase its foothold in the SADC region. Hollard Namibia, which boasts of a 19% market share in short term insurance in Namibia, invested over US$1 million for the Zambian operation after obtaining a licence in April. The Zambian subsidiary will specialise in short term insurance. More detail via Namibia Economist.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

The Attorney General Vs Dr Frederick Chiluba

The court ruling in the case Attorney General Versus Dr Frederick Chiluba and others, under the The Foreign Judgements ( Reciprocal Enforcement) Act, Cap 76 of the Laws of Zambia.[Huge thanks again to the good friend of the Zambian Economist. We can't do this without you!]
Chiluba & Others vs Attorney General - Court Ruling

Where outsiders weep for a nation..

"Canadian companies are very anxious to ensure that they understand the local scene and operate within expectation. Rules are very easy to follow but expectations of what mining will do…will it be infrastructure development, for example, in Northern part of Canada, mines provide most of the roads, railways, airfields and telecommunication systems. Mining is not a short-term thing although mining itself does not last a long time.."
A Canadian investor arguing that mining should be at the core of infrastructure development to enable the country to survive post-mining era. Now where have you heard that before? 

Linking Zambia (NW Zambia Development Trust)

The North West Zambia Development Trust is a Charity registered in Zambia, "seeking to alleviate poverty by developing infrastructure and small to medium enterprises whereby the local population are empowered to help themselves and improve their circumstances". The Trust relies completely on the generosity of interested people and organisations within Zambia and around the world to carry out its work. This comes in the form of time, skills, expertise and money, all of which is invaluable. You can find out more and read their newsletter on the website.

Monday, 16 August 2010

The Case for Non-Parliamentarian Ministers (Guest Blog)

I am shocked by the National Constitutional Conference’s decision to retain Articles and Clauses in the 1996 Republican constitution which require the president to make appointments to ministerial positions from elected or nominated members of parliament. Such Articles and Clauses are outdated, backward and outrageous for a burgeoning democratic system like ours.

The appointment of the Vice President, Provincial Ministers and Deputy Ministers should be from Zambians who are qualified to be elected as members of parliament (MPs), but who are not MPs for the following reasons:

(a) It can afford a Republican president or President-elect a larger pool of competent people from which he or she can appoint ministers;

(b) It can provide for greater separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches of the government;

(c) It can afford presidential aspirants enough time to identify potential ministerial appointees well before tripartite elections rather than waiting for parliamentary elections to be concluded;

(d) It can lead to distribution of income to more citizens and thereby reduce existing income disparities; and

(e) It can reduce the apparent work overload on government officials who have to handle both ministerial and parliamentary functions. (Instead of increasing the number of constituencies because some constituencies are assumed to be too large to be handled by a single MP, would it not be wise for MPs to tend exclusively to their legislative functions?)

The historic origins of corruption

A recent paper investigates the empirical relationship between colonialism, elite formation and corruption. This is part of the broader  literature that has stressed the long term effects of colonialism on institutional quality and economic development :
The link between European settlement and corruption works through the formation of local elites, their power and attitudes. More powerful elites are able to enter in acts of corruption with impunity and the ethnic differences between them and the rest of the population make a concern for the other’s well-being all too unlikely. As we have argued, the power of this European elite and their capacity to impose measures that would favor them at the expense of the native population can be related to their numbers. The relationship is non-linear: a larger number of European settlers can solidify their position of power with respect to the rest of the population, but this is no longer true if Europeans are so numerous that they become the majority of the population. We would therefore expect that corruption first increases and then decreases with the degree of European settlement.

Our results present convincing evidence that the above thesis holds in practice. Controlling for level of development and a set of exogenous determinants of corruption we find that the degree of European settlement is a powerful explanatory factor of corruption and that the relationship is non-linear. The result continues to hold in a large number of robustness tests where we instrument for economic development, consider alternative measures of corruption, and add a large number of additional explanatory factors of corruption found in the literature.
The "corruption" in question is actually perceptional corruption (e.g. as captured by the International Risk Register) rather than "experiential corruption" that includes petty corruption (e.g. as captured by World Business Environmental Survey). When tested by the latter the results appear to fail. That is to say there appears no relationship between experiential corruption and colonial settler influence. The authors defend this result by noting that perceptional corruption better reflects the link to "the elites". That may be so but it is still not fully demonstrated what the pathways are from colonial elites to present day elites, though the results do give us enough motivation for that case study based approach to complement the regressions. 

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Children as bread winners...

"I work everyday after I knock off from school, I do different types of piece works and digging pits is one of them. I get six thousand kwacha for each pit that I dig and sometimes I have to share it with other children who help me in carrying the sand out of the pit when I am makes me sad when other children and myself have to work like slaves in order for us to survive while other children have an opportunity to go to school without working for anything..."
A 14 year old in Mansa sharing his experiences of child labour. Most young people in poverty stricken areas of the country are deprived of an opportunity to enjoy their childhood as some of them become bread winners of their families at a young age (largely due to poverty and the scourge of HIV). These children have to work tirelessly to quench the scourge of starvation. The chances are that most people reading this have implicitly exploited child labourers as they have driven through many of our roads. They would have bought food from the child and encouraged such practices to go on. The greater evil of course might be to let the child simply starve. I wont provide moral guidance in this post, but it strikes me that exploiting the poor is something we ought to avoid and where possible should seek to provide charitable acts.

The moment the issue of child labour is brought up people run quickly to definitions. The report cited previously on child labour in Zambia here should help. Chapter 4 deals with the extent to which children’s work in Zambia constitutes “child labour”, i.e., the extent to which work is injurious, negative or undesirable to children. As a general point work by children per se is not necessarily injurious to children or a violation of their rights. Indeed, in some circumstances, children’s work can be beneficial, not harmful, contributing to family survival and enabling children to acquire learning and life skills. Three main international conventions – the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), ILO Convention No. 182 (Worst Forms) and ILO Convention No. 138 (Minimum Age) – define child labour and provide a framework for efforts against it. The 14 year old boy example given above certainly qualifies under the definitions as child labour.

Our Warrior Princess

The Zambian Economist review of her extraordinary book - Warrior Princess, By Princess Kasune Zulu (A Review).

Corruption Watch (Mongu Municipal Council)

Allegations of corruption at Mongu council. An audit report has allegedly cited the town clerk Frank Kalenga as one of the council officers that partook in the misapplication of about K9 million of the K150 million that was given to the local authority as restructuring grant. According to an audit inspection undertaken by the Western Province Local Government office at Mongu Municipal Council for the period covering September 2009 to March 2010, Kalenga received about K1.5 million as imprest from the restructuring grant, although the amount was not posted to the imprest ledger. More detail via The Post.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

The case for multilingual education

We recommend that policy and practice in Africa nurture multilingualism; primarily a mother-tongue-based one with an appropriate and required space for international languages of wider communication. It is important to ensure that colonial monolingualism is not replaced with African monolingualism. The bugbear of the number of languages is not impossible to overcome. It is not true that the time spent learning African languages or learning in them is time lost from learning and mastering supposedly more productive and useful languages that enjoy de facto greater status. It is not true that learning these languages or learning in them is delaying access and mastery of science, technology and other global and universal knowledge. In fact, the greater status enjoyed by these international languages is reinforced by unjust de jure power arrangements. It is not proper to compare local languages to international ones in absolute terms. They complement each other on different scales of value, and are indispensable for the harmonious and full development of individuals and society.
From a recent UNESCO advocacy report on Why and how Africa should invest in African languages and multilingual education. We have touched on this issue here.

Friday, 13 August 2010

The People Vs George Mpombo

The court judgement in the case of The People Vs George Wello Mpombo - where the defendant was charged with a count of dishonoured cheque contrary to Section 33 (1) of the National Payment Systems Act number 1 of 2007 as read with Bank of Zambia Act Chapter 387 of the Laws of Zambia. We have previously touched on this issue - see Decriminalising would be Mpombos and The Mpombo spectre?.  [HT: To the good friend of Zambian Economist who has promptly made this available to us].
Court Judgement : The People Vs George Wello Mpombo

Zambia Weekly - Volume 1, Issue 18

Zambia Weekly - Week 32, Volume 1, Issue 18, 13 August 2010

Mine Watch (DR Congo)

In what must be the highest price for "development" so far, mining firm Randgold Resources  recently announced that it is to begin mining Africa's largest undeveloped gold deposit - in chaotic eastern DR Congo. The only problem is that the mine will require the re-location of 15,000 people, but it still has the "the support of the government and the local community". The mine is thought to have a reserve of about 320 tonnes of gold and it  is as big as any of the current mines in South Africa.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Quick notes

Lobby group Global Witness is planning to take the UK government to court for failing to refer companies trading in Congo 'conflict minerals' to the U.N. sanctions committee.

Sir Bob of Harare recently threatened to close 9,000 foreign owned firms after they ignored a deadline to submit plans on how they intend to release some of their shareholding to locals.

FAO, a specialised arm of the United Nations,  has warned  developing countries to avoid buying blindly into the ‘jatropha for biodiesel’ argument.

Meanwhile, a leaked World Bank report to the FT reveals that investors in farmland are targeting countries with weak laws, buying arable land on the cheap and failing to deliver on promises of jobs and investment.

Women in Madagascar resort to forming their own political parties, in an effort to level the political ground ahead of the November elections.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Zambia and the Africa Peer Review Mechanism

JCTR press statement on the need for Zambia to going through the APRM process :

“Despite the fact that Zambia acceded to the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) in January 2006, we seem to be far from completing the first review (Base Review). Even when early this year we were assured by the National Governing Council (NGC) that Zambia will be peer-reviewed in June 2010, June and July (since the African Summit was moved from June to July 2010) have passed without being reviewed. What is worse is that we have not heard any official information from the NGC or from the APRM Focal Person for Zambia explaining what is the status of the APRM in Zambia and some of the reasons that have led to Zambia not being peer-reviewed. Zambians remain in the dark on this very important governance process,” explains Dominic Liche, Governance Officer at the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR).

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

A culture of leakages in Zambia

Mwenya Chileshe examines the causes and effects of examination leakages in the Zambian education system (the practice of seeing the examination papers in advance). The historical and social perspectives are sound but the ending could have been stronger, particularly in relation to the effects. The main point to be made here is that leakages ultimately create a race to the bottom where everyone seeks to pursue purchased examinations because ultimately it is a "market for lemons". The consequence of course is that employers eventually struggle to identify with confidence quality graduates (could there be a link here as to why foreign companies prefer foreigners?). Also unfortunately the article does not suggest any solutions beyond  "need to emphatically tell our children that the means does not justify the end", which clearly wont work given the powerful incentives the author has already mentioned working in the opposite direction. 

One of my responsibility as Chief Internal Examiner is to advise, prepare, and talk to students about examination practices, rules, and penalties for defaulters and any other matters relating to examinations. I literally beg students to refrain from depending on leakages and going into examinations rooms with ‘memory aides’ or ‘pre-written’ model answers for example. Sadly, no examination session comes to an end without nullifying, suspending or expelling some students for examinations leakages and related malpractices. Most students go to the extreme end of using money, sex, bullying, extortion and blackmail or whatever tool that comes their way to obtain prior knowledge of questions. Lecturers too, in almost all tertiary institutions in Zambia, receive heat from students or relatives who want to have access to what may come in the dreaded examinations.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Mine Watch (Nchanga)

Media reports last week that Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) has extended the life of its Nchanga copper mine by more than 10 years after improvements in the operation. According to KCM : "As a direct result of the strategic decisions taken in recent years, including out-sourcing 80 percent of entire operations and maintenance activities, KCM has extended the life of open pit mining at Nchanga by more than 10 years".

A nation imprisoned?

FILE PICTURE: Former defence minister George Mpombo

Full story via The Post.  Our outdated laws that continue to reflect our mental imprisonment. We have previously touched on this issue - see Decriminalising would be Mpombos and The Mpombo spectre?.

The quest to become a SADC hub, 3rd Edition

The port is busy: millions of tonnes of goods - everything from coal and aluminium to grain and clothing - pass through here. The cargo ships waiting dockside are the final link in a chain of what is known as the Beira Corridor. It is a huge rail transport and infrastructure project designed to create nothing short of a trade super highway. More than 100km (62 miles) long - taking in the coal-rich region of Tete in Mozambique's north west and even stretching as far as the border with Zimbabwe - it all links to the port in Beira
An extract from the BBC report from the port of Beira, halfway up the coast of Mozambique, where the government is working hard to make sure the country is open to the rest of the world.

Related posts :

The quest to become a SADC hub, 2nd Edition
The quest to become a SADC hub, 1st Edition

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Debt Contraction Law

JCTR Press Statement on the need for new debt contraction law. This is something they have been pushing for a long time with predictably little response from Government :

Zambia Needs A Comprehensive, Transparent and Accountable Debt Contraction Law,  JCTR, Press Release (3 August 2010) : 

The issue of the K261 billion loan on mobile clinics from China has raised a lot of concern to organizations, political parties and the general Zambian public. This, says Sydney Mwansa (Programme Officer-Debt, Aid and Trade), arises from the fact that Zambia has continued to ignore the fact that it needs a more consultative, transparent and accountable debt contraction law. Debt has serious implication on poverty and sustainable development of the country as it takes away the country’s resources to debt servicing rather than on social service provision, infrastructure and developmental activities. It is for this reason that the Jesuit Centre Theological Reflection (JCTR) made a submission to the National Constitution Conference (NCC) to include a law that gives power to parliament ( and not the Minister of Finance and National Planning as provided by the current law) to oversee and approve all loans to be contracted by government on behalf of the Zambian people. This, of course comes from the background of indebtedness prior to the debt cancellation in 2006 for which the JCTR with other Civil Society Organizations championed. The NCC, however, failed to reach an agreement (two thirds majority votes) on this very important proposal from the JCTR and referred it to a referendum.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Book Reading Goal : Week 27

Awakening Africa's Sleeping Giant: Prospects for Commercial Agriculture in the Guinea Savannah Zone and Beyond (Directions in Development)This week I reached the half way mark of the Book Reading Goal. Perhaps no better book to mark that milestone than than the Awakening Africa's Sleeping Giant : Prospects for Commercial Agriculture in the Guinea Savannah Zone and Beyond, by Michael Morris, et al.  The book summarise the findings of the study on Competitive Commercial Agriculture for Africa (CCAA), a collaborative effort led by the World Bank and FAO. It looks at the experience two regions with similar geographical challenges / conditions as Zambia, Mozambique and Nigeria - the Cerrado region of Brazil and the Northeast Region of Thailand - and asks that we can learn from them in the effort to conquer world agricultural markets.

There are many wonderful insights contained therein and it certainly enhanced my knowledge and understanding of this important sector. As an avid reader of the latest research on agriculture in Zambia and the surrounding region, principally through the
Zambia Food Security Research Project, I was certainly well prepared but it was good to see the evidence benchmarked against "success stories". Chapter 4 on the "Commodity-Specific Competitiveness Analysis" and Chapter 5 "Factors Affecting the Competitiveness of African Agriculture"  particularly stood out.

Book Details:

  • Author: Michael Morris, Hans P. Binswanger-Mkhize
  • Category: Non-Fiction
  • PublisherWorld Bank Publications
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Page Count: 218
  • ISBN: 978-0821379417

  • Rating :  Recommended

In terms of progress, I am slightly behind the curve with 21 weeks remaining to read 25 books, that slightly above 1 book a week. Part of the problem has been the large volumes (currently reading three books in parallel with combined pages of 2500)! This has slightly reduced the scope for Book Reviews. But I am confident that we shall have a couple of proper reviews in September.  Suggested books are welcome.

Book Reading Goal Review
Books Read So Far : 25 books
Remaining Books to Achieve Target : 25 books
Weeks Remaining to Achieve Annual Target : 21 weeks

Friday, 6 August 2010

Is China exporting prisoners to poor countries?

Yes. According to Indian scholar Brahma Chellaney, author of Asian Juggernaut. As Chinese jails reach the full bream, thousands of Chinese convicts have allegedly been pressed into service on infrastructure projects undertaken by state-run Chinese companies in Sri Lanka and parts of Africa.

China has devised a novel strategy to relieve pressure on its overcrowded prisons: employ convicts as laborers on overseas projects in the developing world. The practice has exposed another facet of China’s egregious human-rights record, which, when it comes to the overseas operations of Chinese companies, includes the government’s failure to enforce its own regulations.

Zambia Weekly - Volume 1, Issue 17

Zambia Weekly - Week 31, Volume 1, Issue 17, 6 August 2010

NCC Documents

In addition to the Draft Constitution 2010, you were also meant to read the 975 page Initial Report. I have also embedded the summary of resolutions for good measure.
Initial NCC Report 2010

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Fiscal decentralisation and economic growth, 2nd Edition

We have previously touched on the difficult relationship between fiscal decentralisation and economic growth. New empirical evidence looking at OECD countries appears to show again a negative relationship between the two. We must of course be wary of extrapolating results from different environment, but given the plethora of results showing this negative aspect - it becomes important that the rationale for decentralisation is always clearly spelt out, especially the evidence that underpins its likely benefits :
The results of the analysis highlight that, given the recent levels of fiscal decentralization of the countries of the OECD, fiscal decentralization seems to be causing more harm than good from a growth perspective. The connection between fiscal decentralization and economic performance is negative, significant and robust to the inclusion of measurements of political and administrative decentralization and of a number of control variables. It is also not affected by whether we are looking at the expenditure or the revenue side of decentralization or by preferences for specific types of expenditure by subnational governments. The association also seems to be linear, with little indication of an inverted U-shaped relationship: the negative impact of decentralization on economic growth rises as countries in the OECD intensify the fiscal decentralization process. And this negative relationship happens regardless of whether decentralized governments display preferences for capital or current expenditure or feel more inclined to promote health, education, welfare expenditure or choose expenditure in economic affairs. The only exception to this trend occurs in cases of preferences for current expenditure in relatively low levels of fiscal decentralization. In these cases there is some margin of manoeuvre for governments, as moderate increases in fiscal decentralization may have a positive impact on economic growth.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

The true source of our poverty

There is a challenge here to all of us: if we want quality political leadership, we should be prepared to contribute in one way or another to its construction. Let’s take time to participate in the affairs of our country’s political parties. Let’s make financial and other material contributions to the functioning of these political parties as far as possible as we can. 
- The Post (Editorial)
It has taken a while but I now believe we are headed in the right direction in putting a finger on the true source of our problems. We not there yet in understanding the important and well tested principle : we get the leadership we deserve.  When Zambians one day realise that politicians are supposed to govern in their interest, I believe that day poverty will be on its death bed.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Zambians Living in the Diaspora (Survey Request)

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has asked to share the survey request below. If you are based outside Zambia, please take the time to fill this in and of course cascade to your friends and relatives.

Dear Zambians living in the Diaspora,

The Office of Diaspora Affairs (ODA) has launched a survey of Zambians living in the Diaspora. IOM Zambia provided technical support in developing of the survey and will assist the Government of the Republic of Zambia (GRZ) to build institutional capacity to engage with the Zambian Diaspora through the establishment of the ODA, mandated with mobilizing and coordinating Diaspora involvement in Zambia.

This survey is designed to find out more about Zambians living abroad, including their wishes in the context of contributing to national development. The results of the survey will be used to inform the development of Diaspora to play a role in national development process.

The findings of the survey will provide policy makers with information that will aid the formation of effective national development strategies. Further, the findings of the survey will serve Zambian individuals living abroad by:
  • Providing an opportunity for individual Diaspora members in various locations, to share relevant up-to-date information
  • Improving information sharing among and between members of the Zambia Diaspora. Strengthening existing Zambian Diaspora networks and associations
  • Providing opportunities for the Zambian Diaspora to contribute to national development
  • Creating a foundation for the development of future programmes and the promotion of policies that make it easier, more convenient and less expensive
Kindly share the link below with other Zambians from your Diaspora association as well as other Zambian Diaspora individuals and associations you may be aware of. We would be grateful if this information could be widely distributed among all Zambians living abroad.

Survey of Zambians in the Diaspora

Thanks and best regards,

Bertha Kalyocha Nguvulu
Information/ Counter Trafficking Assistant
International Organization for Migration
Mwaimwena Road
Plot 4626 Rhodespark
P.O Box 32036,Lusaka, Zambia
Tel: +260 211 256 702 / 254055
Fax:+260 211 253 856
Cell:+260 0975 766 486

Monday, 2 August 2010

Another day, another party, 6th Edition

Well sort of, another party! The Citizen's Democratic Party has now been formally registered as a party according the statement issue via Zambian Watchdog. The party interim chairperson is Robert Mwanza. As the press release below acknowledges, this is not the first time we have heard of this party :
It is with great enthusiasm and patriotic resolve that the Citizens Democratic Party announces its formal registration with the Registrar of Societies.

Our citizens who have had the opportunity to have even a mere glimpse of our vision the past two years have been waiting and wondering why we have shied from political activism since our first mention in the mainstream Zambian media, when clearly we have the most formidable solutions to our country’s woes.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Constitution 2010 : Consultation Response (Ruth Henson)

A response to the National Constitutional Conference on the new Draft Constitution. This from Ruth Henson (Martindale Farm, Livingstone). The first submission I have found myself nodding along - 99%.  I naturally share the very valid point on age being 30 years old myself - I found myself discriminated by the NCC! Please keep copying us in to help you keep a public record of your response ( - other responses can be found at our new Draft Constitution 2010 page:

Here are my comments on the draft constitution:

Declaration of a Christian nation conflicts with numerous other sections. If it is retained we should do away with the death penalty, army, air-force and intelligence service. Freedom of religion would also be compromised.

Section on citizenship is not clear as to who has to renounce other citizenship. Is it everyone who has a right to another or only those who have applied for Zambian citizenship? What happens to people who have a right to another citizenship but have not claimed it or renounced it? Will they be assumed to be foreigners or Zambians? (This affects a very large number of people.)