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Thursday, 11 November 2010

Yes, let us sell failing parastatals!

Treasury Secretary Likolo Ndalamei has indicated that the government will not recapitalise parastatals that have continued to face operational challenges : "We are in the process of seriously examining all the remaining parastatals, especially the loss making ones to see which ones should be privatised".  I think I know where Ndalamei needs to start with his "excellent" idea, :
I am reliably informed that the Post newspaper has the largest circulation of about 40,000 copies per day, as compared to the Daily Mail and Times of Zambia which have a combined print run of not more than 15,000.

The Post usually sells like hot cakes, whereas the public tabloids would be very lucky to push sales above 3,000 copies per day. I also speak with absolute confidence as someone who has sold newspapers before: for every 100 copies of the Post sold on the street, one would be very lucky to sell 5 copies of the Times and the Daily Mail combined. People hate these papers. The “unsold” copies are over 90%.
That excerpt is from Malama Katulwende's lengthy piece “Shikapwasha’s Dogs”: Why the Public Media in Zambia Has Lost the People’s Trust.  The reason why people continue to be baffled by Ndalamei and his friends' approach to privatisation is that it has no credibility. If their approach to privatisation is principled they would have sold the Daily Mail and Times of Zambia. Not only are these companies lossing making parastatals but they stand  in the way of a genuine democratic dispensation and the fight against corruption. The papers also continue to be a personal toy of the government of the day at huge expense to tax payers. 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer once spoke of German literature at the height of Nazism in the following terms :  "Do you know a work of literature written in the last, say, fiften years that you think has any lasting value? I don't. It is partly idle chatter, partly propaganda, party self-pitying sentimentalism, but there is no insight, no ideas, no clarity, no substance and almost always the language is bad and constrained". That I think describes these two papers pretty well. I can't ever remember reading anything that I thought added value to our country. Even the well intended are shoddy and lacking in meaningful quality. These papers as shown by Katulwende's statistics are unnecessary luxuries that have outlived their usefulness. 

The term "government controlled media" was not invented by some "anti-govt" figure, it was actually coined by the late Hon Tetamashimba. What is sad is that the men and women who work for these papers are complicit in this charade they call newspapers.  I have no sympathy for those that trade moral rectitude for earning a paltry wage, even against impossible situations. We are to live upright at all costs. We should not seek financial improvement at the sake of others. Our people do not need a Department for Propaganda (like under the Nazis), which is what these papers actually are in practice. They need clear and unadulterated coverage of what is happening across the country. Fair and balanced.  So I repeat the question to my friends at the Daily Mail and Times of Zambia : 
How do you sleep at night, knowing your whole careers are built on acting as spin for the party of the day? Do you just see it simply as a job like any other? Is it lack of alternative employment which has helped you park your moral consciousness? Or have you convinced yourself that you are independent ? Is it a sort of stockholm syndrome? What is it? I really want to know and I am mean in no way to sound disparaging. Its just that money is wasted on employing organisations such as yours and when I read garbage daily it gets to me a bit. I don't want the hardworking poor like Stellia Jere paying taxes just to prop you up without end product. 
I am convinced that these papers are unpatriotic. They do not serve the interests of our nation and to all intents and purpose stand as forces against progressive development.

1 comment:

  1. What if under some future management, The Post decides to sell out to Rupert Murdoch?

    In such a situation, The Daily Mail or The Times (of Zambia) may be the only papers to give a counterweight to corporate propaganda.

    The problem with the neoliberal ideology has always been that it is pro-corporate. There is for instance no complaint about the inefficiency of commercial business, only of state businesses. However, even for startups, the ratio is that 90% of them fail (usually because of undercapitalisation).

    There is no proof that private businesses are more efficient, or less corrupt than public businesses.

    For instance, with all the complaints about corruption Zimbabwe, check out this story. And I most definitely see tax evasion as a form of corruption too.

    ACR's Cranswick declared bankrupt in Australia, no perm dom
    By: Ralph Mutema

    AFRICAN Consolidated Resources chief executive officer Mr Andrew Cranswick has been declared bankrupt in Australia for alleged tax evasion to the tune of A$1 million.

    Mr Cranswick is believed to be currently operating from Kent, United Kingdom where ACR is headquartered.


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