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Wednesday, 30 June 2010

The Great Swindle, 2nd Edition

"It is all negative. No positive to the tune of -13 per cent…the mining industry is getting out of Zambia Revenue Treasury instead of contributing to it…..the mining companies are duty exempt, VAT Value Added Tax exempt and then they have tax holidays of up to 10 to 20 years. How do you allow somebody who is not paying…somebody who is not whatever it is to go and claim from what other people have paid?....They don’t pay duty these mining companies…some of them are not paying income tax because they are tax exempt....But every month, they are going to ZRA to claim their VAT for which they are not supposed to pay and as a result ZRA is insolvent, bankrupt…from your little taxes you are paying, mining companies are taking back. That is not fair."
Dr Mathias Mpande on the mining fiscal regime (previous comments on the same here).

Better Policing (Police Torture)

Another update to the "Rethinking Justice : Better Policing" that highlights the urgency for further reforms. It appears not only are the police keen to detain innocents, they continue significant brutality :

Police beating leaves accountant on crutches, Prudence Phiri, The Post, Report:

The police in this country are meant to enforce legislated laws, maintain law and order. However in executing their duties, the men and women in uniform override the legislature and operate as if they are above the law. Being the first point of reporting any form of crime, police feel they hold the ultimate powers for justice to prevail.

Zambian police have even nicknamed themselves ‘Boma’ meaning government.  With the embracement of the ‘Boma’ nickname, police have subjected sometimes innocent (until proven guilty) citizens to brutality and harassment. One such victim is George Saminganja an assistant accountant at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH). Saminganja who was once able bodied, now walks on crutches after police officers brutally beat him and broke his leg in a case that would have been resolved without any beatings.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Zambia as a Christian nation

One of my favourite Zambian bloggers, Brian Nyandu is doing a series on the issue of Zambia as a Christian nation.  The first part alone is enough to get me excited! So refreshing!

Mine Watch (DR Congo)

The Democratic Republic of Congo government wants state-owned mining firms to hold a 35 percent stake in all future mining joint ventures, in contrast to a wide range of shareholdings in existing ventures. A new proposed contract, written in May and awaiting government approval, will serve as a basis for negotiation. According to Valery Mukasa, interim chief of staff at the Ministry of Mines "The idea is that this will be the model for partners in future...We've put in the provisions we would like but all contracts will remain open to negotiation". 

Monday, 28 June 2010

Zambia's re-energised diaspora..

It is good to see Zambia Diaspora Connect (ZDC)'s Executive Chairman Mr Musaba Chilainga interview in The Post, especially the revelation that ZDC is undertaking the housing project for teachers, among many other planned initiatives. ZDC has been at the forefront of leading the diaspora's engagement ever since it recommended the setting up of the Diaspora Desk, pushed successfully for inclusion of dual citizenship in the draft constitution and took part in the National Indaba 2009 (see extended report on that here).  Recently ZDC took part in discussions with the World Bank.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

A government think tank? 2nd Edition

Two years since the idea was first floated the government is spinning the idea of a national think. Except this time its not the President, but Tourism Minister Namugala who wants a "strategic national economic think tank which is non-partisan, impartial and representative of a cross section of society". She believes an "economic think tank is important as the country has not fully transitioned from a command economy to a free market economy".  Sounds like another idea which has not properly been thought through.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Is the Mo Ibrahim Prize pointless?

Yes. According to Kenyan Journalist Alex Kiprotich because it is unlikely the Mo Ibrahim committee will find winners on the continent for sometime because the approach was doomed from the start :

However from the beginning, it was not going to be long before the selection committee led by former UN Secretary General ran into trouble because of the approach and selection criteria for the winners. First, putting a limit to the recipients that they must have retired in the last three years was unrealistic. Most Presidents in Africa do not retire. They would rather be bundled out of office by the military, die in office, or at worse hand over power to their sons or cronies when they become senile.

Those who try to be democratic do not leave office without a fight – a fight that drags the whole country in it. And with the first coalition government in Africa two years ago, it has changed the equation on leadership in Africa. Many incumbent Presidents in the continent have found the easy way to retain power by opting for a coalition with opposition leaders. It has become so popular that in any election in the continent, the result will be a coalition government.

Secondly, the decision to give monetary reward to the recipient of the award was also wrong given the fact that many presidents through corrupt deals make such an amount effortlessly within their first few days in power. The prize money is worth $5 million and an annual salary of $200,000, and a further grant of $200,000 per year for 10 years to support any good cause the winners chooses. This was akin to bribing the leaders to surrender power; yet they need the power more to protect their ill-gotten wealth.
In short, it suffers from structural problems - small population to draw winners from and weak incentive structures. But given Mo Ibrahim is doing this for free (at little cost to any African), surely this will always be good value for money? Unless we believe the prize does more harm than good. It appears Mr Kiprotch has not considered the possibility the fund may have been intentionally designed not to have a winner. May be it is there purely so that the likes of Mr Kiprotich can have have a moment every year to criticise African leadership? That would hardly qualify as a distraction and certainly no harm is being done. So Mo keeps his money every year and all Africans have complain about leadership. Its a win-win. Perhaps the Mo Ibrahim Prize is an example of  Cheap Talk?

Is something brewing in Kafue river?

Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) has constituted an environmental team to probe allegations that the Kafue River, which passes through the mine property, has been polluted. Earlier this month, Mulonga Water and Sewerage Co (MWSC) accused KCM of polluting the river, a critical source of water for the Copperbelt. In the words of the MWSC Teta Vundamina :

“I am very sure that even the water you are drinking from Lusaka honourable minister is equally contaminated from here. If the issue of the contamination of the Kafue River, mainly due to mine operations is addressed, it would greatly help us receive cleaner raw water which we can easily treat with less costs on chemicals...The costs on the treatment of water are too high because the other raw water source which is the Kafue River is heavily contaminated"
KCM has naturally dismissed the accusations and decided to institute its own investigative team. The Environmental Council of Zambia, is also carrying out independent investigations. According to ECZ spokeswoman Irene Lungu the actual source and extent of pollution will be ascertained after the completion of investigations.

We shall keep our ears to the ground and our eyes wide open. I have not kept pace with what has happened to the Environmental Protection Fund. Interesting enough the the Petroleum Exploration Bill 2009 also established the Petroleum Environmental Protection Fund. Too many funds, perhaps Mrs Vera Tembo (Deputy Minister for the Environment) when she stumbles on the website can enlighten us? For general discussion on how mining and the local community see - Mining Reflections : Proposition Two.

Journey through Zambia

The wonderful Dimbleby segment cited here is now available via You Tube (embedded in two parts). I am still waiting for some to upload African Railway about TAZARA!


Book Reading Goal : Week 21

Just in case some think I have lost my way on the book reading goal. Not at all. The silence is that apart from a long reading pile of recent reports on Zambia and some academic papers, I stumbled into two huge theological books by John M Frame which between then have 2000 pages! In parallel to that I have also been two slightly technical books on International Law and Economics. Now eventually these books will be finished - though at clearly slower pace if I am not fall behind in my reading goal! But next week I hope to resume regular updates!


Talakata - The Tears of AfricaSo where are in this week 21. Well since the last update in Week 15, I completed and reviewed Talakata by Princess Zindaba Nyirenda. It was of course quite interesting reading the book. Bizarrely, I have had no comments on it from readers?!! Has no one read the book yet?  I did get a comment from the author - which was simply :"cheers...mukwai". Actually, the legendary James Mwape kindly emailed "You are really a true Zambian, my friend. Please, keep up the great work!". So there you go, James approves, that settles it! 


Naked God: The Truth About God ExposedI have also this week finished reading Naked God. A short book that addresses the simple question : Is there a God? My wife picked this up on one of the conference she attended and I thought before adding it to our library I quality assure it :)  A useful reading for those grappling with the same question. Also great to give as a gift to others. 


Where this leaves us with respect to the reading goal is that I have 30 books left to read in 27 weeks, but I am not panicking - those four complex books will come good for me at some point! 


Book Reading Goal Review
Books Read So Far : 20 books
Remaining Books to Achieve Target : 30 books
Weeks Remaining to Achieve Annual Target : 27 weeks

Constitution 2010 : Consultation Response (Henry Kyambalesa)

Our resident contributor - Prof Henry Kyambalesa has responsed directly to the National Constitutional Conference on the new Draft Constitution. I would ask that those responding to the NCC Commissioners to follow HK's example and please copy us in to help you keep a public record of your response (cho@zambian-economist.com) :

Dear NCC Commissioners:

Comments on the NCC Draft Constitution

I wish to join other Zambians in acknowledging your extraordinary effort, determination and commitment to review the Republican constitution and give our beloved country a new constitution that is expected to stand the test of time.

In this connection, I wish to make a few comments and suggestions designed to make the new constitution more acceptable to the majority of Zambians, and more credible in the eyes of the international community.


Asking right questions of the NCC Consultation

Civil Society Organisations have written to the NCC  commenting on the consultation process and seeking clarifications on the next steps. Issue 5 and 6 are particularly important :

5. Another issue of that requires clarification from the NCC is the manner in which differences between what the NCC is recommending and what the people and institutions who comment on the draft constitution and reports will be resolved. For instance, the NCC, in their draft constitution has proposed a minimum degree qualification for a prospective presidential candidate; assuming that the majority of the people and institutions (more than the numbers at the NCC) canvass for removal of this article- how will NCC handle this development? It is important that the process of reviewing and integrating the proposals from the public is made clear from the onset so that this does not turn out into an academic exercise where people take time to read the document and suggest changes and yet the NCC and Government remains adamant on what they would like to see in the final document.

6. Given the stage that this process has reached and some of the issues raised in the draft constitution, it is necessary for Government to present a full roadmap as to what will happen after 31 August 2010. There should be a sense of forward planning on the part of Government and thus ensure that this process does not stall after August 2010 but reaches its logical conclusion. Government, for instance, should consider appointing a Referendum Commission who should start working out modalities for a referendum as soon as possible. Such a step, will be a sign that Government really means well and that a new constitution is a possibility before the next elections.

When China met Zambia

The video documentary cited here is now available via You Tube - I have embedded all the six parts below - it turns out the documentary is 60 minutes so this has everything. Huge thanks to the person who uploaded them!


Friday, 25 June 2010

Compulsory local language learning for children?

An interesting proposal from Education Minister Dora Siliya :

The Zambian government has said children will be required to take a local language alongside English from grade one to four to help them learn initial basic skills of reading and writing local languages, local media reported on Wednesday. Recently, traditional leaders said there was need for the use of local languages foe teaching purposes in schools. Currently, the teaching of local languages is not compulsory in Zambian schools.

Minster of Education Dora Siliya said when she made a presentation to the traditional leaders that the local languages the pupils will be taking will not necessarily have to be their mother tongue but ones spoken by the vast majority of people in a given area of the country, the Zambia Daily Mail reported.
This is a good proposal and is very much in line with our previous call for culture to play a much stronger role in the classroom. But I would like Ms Siliya to go further in two respects. First, ensure it is up to Grade 7. What is the point of learning only up to Grade 4? Secondly, learning a single local language promotes greater appreciation of the local heritage but it may perpetuate divisiveness.  What I would like to see is adopting two or three compulsory languages, so that a Tonga child not only learns Tonga  but also compulsory learns say Bemba or Tumbuka. If we are to foster deeper inter-tribal unity and greater cultural diversity we need an education that embrace differences, but at the same time teach the new generation how to communicate and relate to one other. Compulsory languages of other tribal languages and cultural lessons are particularly vital.

And why stop there?

We should probably consider dropping English as a single national language. As Wangari Maathi has previously noted, in many African countries the adoption of a single national official language probably does more harm than good. Although these policies are predicated upon the desire to foster inter tribal unity, they do so at the expense of reinforcing the dominance of rich African elites. More worryingly, such measures also prevent Africans in many villages from communicating with their governments, effectively turning these requirements into “the strongest forms of discrimination, and indeed, means of oppression and exclusion”. A possible solution is to follow South Africa’s approach and adopt a suite of national official languages.

Weekend reading (AG report on RDA)

The latest report of the Auditor General on mismanagement at the Road Development Agency. Quite heavily trailed in the press :
2006-2009 Auditor General Report on Roads Development Agency

Draft Zambia Constitution - NCC 2010

The National Constitution Conference is consulting on the Draft Constitution can now be accessed here. You have about 37 days to email your responses to info@parliament.gov.zm or gs@governance.gov.zm or secretariat@ncczambia.org .

At present we have no intention for a Zambian Economist response to the NCC. This is out of the principle that the NCC is a flawed process and a complete waste of tax payers money. It is highly unlikely that this Draft Constitution will see the light of day. Frankly there are better things to do than draft responses which wont be taken on board. We would say responding fails the value for money test.

Are mines in Luapula evading taxes?

Yes. According to Civil Society for Poverty Reduction Yvonne Besa, especially those in a "small scale category" :

How can the poverty levels of the people be alleviated if the people extracting the country’s resources cannot comply and pay the tax that is supposed to be used to better the lives of the people? We want these especially small-scale miners to pay these taxes and urge government to channel the resources to uplift the lives of the poor people in society through provision of health, educational facilities and improved infra-structure...As a network that advocates for the marginalized in society, we are saddened by government’s failure to curb this evading of tax by these mining companies...

Although it is said Zambia’s economy was diversifying, mining is still a major tax contributor in the country. Therefore, it needs to be harnessed in order for government to obtain the much needed revenue for national development. CSPR in Luapula Province is appealing to government through the Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development to decentralise its operations in the province so that it can restrain the illegal mining which is said to be on the increase in the province because government would continue to lose income in form of taxes and royalty payments because of non-compliance of the legal and illegal miners operating in the province..

We urge government to coordinate the process by first ensuring that the fragmented small scale firms are captured through normal registration. We further challenge the Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development to smoothen and re-organise the mines licence issuance process to curb illegal mining in the province.
This is not special of course - we have talked about similar challenges with the precious stones industry - see A lost precious stones industry.

China in Africa Watch (Mozambique)

Two Chinese banks recently announced that they are willing to finance three mega-projects in Mozambique totalling US $165m. Of this amount, US $65m will be disbursed by the Export-Import Bank of China, as part of the second and final phase of Maputo International Airport upgrade, to begin later this year. Among other projects include the US $80m construction of a new cement plant in the central province of Sofala, with capacity to produce 500,000 tonnes per year.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

A word on the "aid freeze"

I fully welcome this line from the recent Global Fund press release on the aid freeze to Zambia:

Further investigations by the Global Fund showed that the Ministry of Health was not able to safely manage grants. The organization has demanded the return of US$8 million in unspent funds from the Ministry of Health. 
The reason I am happy that the Global Fund has demanded this money back is because of a previous exchange. A while back I wrote a post on the wasted British tax payers money on the Task Force on Plunder. A friend replied privately and assured me that the Task Force was all funded by donors so poor value for money was irrelevant. Apparently, his view was that we can waste donor aid because it was not "our money". I am being harsh, what he was actually trying to tell me was that the appraisal had to be done from the "Zambian perspective" not the "world perspective". I assured him that I was indeed doing the "theoretical appraisal" from the Zambian perspective, but crucially unlike him, I fully believed the Task Force was being bankrolled by GRZ. Anyway proof emerged later that I was right, but the mentality that aid money is considered free stuck in my mind. That is the  single most challenging aspect of aid. How you ensure that something that looks free, actually has a bite?

Actions like those taken by the Global Fund  go some way in signalling, but in the long term they do nothing to change behaviour largely due to the government cycle (new ministers, new government, old problems etc). I believe to ensure greater aid effectiveness it is vital that methods are found that radically alter incentives for citizens.  A good start is to make ordinary citizens residual claimants against the government. For example, giving aid in form of  municipal bonds for important projects is a good idea. It would certainly make the locals ensure the Council was well run! There are other examples e.g. public sector pensions related bond arrangements.  Basically the challenge is to turn what is evidently a largely docile population into a caring one, especially where aid is concerned.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Does decentralisation reduce corruption?

Yes. According to a new World Bank paper :

The paper concludes that decentralization (localization) has significant negative effect on the incidence of corruption in the majority of our settings. Empowering local governments reduces frequency of bribery and amount of bribes paid to government officials both by households and by firms. Political decentralization matters even when fiscal side of decentralization is controlled for. The empirical results presented here further demonstrate that voice (local accountability) matters more than exit (interjurisdictional competition) in combating corruption.
The literature in general provides mixed results on this question. Whilst localization can help solve the problems of a unresponsive public sector and lack of  local voice and absence of area based competition, it is can also led to capture by local elite, aggravation of macroeconomic management due to lack of fiscal discipline and perverse fiscal behavior by sub-national units.  A huge problem has been definitional problems, as well as absence of quality data. This latest paper appears to have tried solving both problems, although the data on corruption is still perceptional and forms part of a general brigade that has been questioned.   That said, in many ways what is more important is that corruption appears not to be a problem. We should see the benefits of decentralisation not so much in reducing corruption (that is debatable), but as part of broader view of what development fundamentally involves  greater local choice and decision making. See A cultural approach to Zambia's development for some of my reflections on this.

Musokotwane's flawed ideology

Hon Situmbeko Musokotwane (Minister of Finance) on why government has sold ZAMTEL :

“An economy in private hands represents the best opportunity for the people. The private sector is less wasteful but if you over politicise this [ZAMTEL] issue, you will lose credibility and you will suffer in future…In 2000 when the mines were still with the government, copper production went down by 66 per cent but after privatisation, it has gone up again and jobs are secure.”
There’s only one problem with this argument - ZAMTEL has not gone private, it has been sold to another government. Evidently “an economy in private hands” does not represent the best opportunity for the Zambian people. If that was the case it would have been sold to private hands and not Libyan government hands! What Musokotwane really meant that was that “An economy in non-Zambian hands represents the best opportunity for the Zambian people”. The problem with Musokotwane's investment policy is that he does not seem to understand that non-Zambian is not necessarily private. That is Musokotwane’s flawed ideology.

The oldest living things in Africa are its leaders - why?

Daily Monitor's Charles Onyango-Obbo provides the answer . It turns out  "Mugabe and Mubarak are old enough to be Cameron and Medvedev's grandfathers. And all of them, except Botswana's Khama (who, by the way, is still a bachelor) are, assuming they started having children at the age people in African villages do - are old enough to be the fathers of Cameron, Obama, Medvedev, Harper, Rudd, Sarkozy....".  Zambians can relax, our President is only fourth oldest according to the list below! [The usual statistical warnings apply]

Africa :
•Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe) - age 86
•Hosni Mubarak (Egypt) - age 82
•Hifikepunye Pohamba (Namibia) - age 74
•Rupiah Banda (Zambia) - age 73
•Mwai Kibaki (Kenya) - age 71
•Colonel Gaddafi (Libya) - age 68
•Jacob Zuma (South Africa) -age 68
•Ian Khama (Botswana) - age 57
Average age: =72.4

At 66 years of age, our own President Yoweri Museveni would have set well before President Khama, and we would have got an even higher average age, but he is left out in order not to "bring the office of the president in disrepute".

The Industrialised World
•David Cameron (UK) -age 43
•Barack Obama (USA) - age 48
•Dimitri Medvedev (Russia) - age 45
•Stephen Harper (Canada -age 51
•Kevin Rudd (Australia) -age 53
•Nicolas Sarkozy (France) - age 55
•Luis Zapatero (Spain) -age 49
•Jose Socrates (Portugal) -age 53
Average age: = 49.6

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

When China met Zambia! (UK readers only)

A BBC video documentary presentation (90 minutes) - only available to UK readers. You have a month to watch it! The documentary description   :

A historic gathering of over fifty African heads of state in Beijing reverberates in Zambia where the lives of three characters unfold.

Mr Liu is one of thousands of Chinese entrepreneurs who have settled across the continent in search of new opportunities. He has just bought his fourth farm and business is booming.

In northern Zambia, Mr Li, a project manager for a multinational Chinese company, is upgrading the country's longest road. Pressure to complete the job on time intensifies when funds from the Zambian government start running out. Meanwhile, Zambia's trade minister is en route to China to secure millions of dollars of investment.

Through the intimate portrayal of these three characters, the expanding footprint of a rising global power is laid bare - pointing to a radically different future not just for Africa but also for the world.
Thanks to our Facebook Page readers who flagged this up!

A while back there was also another interesting documentary An African Journey with Jonathan Dimbleby - Part 3, which focused on Zambia. I shall be on the look out for both when they make their way to You Tube or other mediums - for non-UK readers.

Press Release : Draft National Constitution

Press Release by National Constitution Conference on the publication of the Report and draft Constitution:


Members of the Press
Ladies and Gentlemen

May I take this rare opportunity to welcome you to this Press briefing, today, Tuesday, 22nd June, 2010.

I feel greatly honoured to launch the publication of the Initial Report of the Conference and the Draft Constitution that the Conference has adopted.

As some of you may be aware, section 23 of the National Constitutional Conference Act, No. 19 of 2007, as amended provides that the National Constitutional Conference should publish the Initial Report and the Draft Constitution adopted by the Conference and facilitate public debate and comments. The Conference is also mandated to receive memoranda from members of the public for incorporation, where appropriate, in the final Report and Draft Constitution.

The Conference has produced three documents, and these are:

Should we reinstate NAMBOARD?

Yes - according to National Farmers Union president Jarvis Zimba:

"What we really need at the moment is to reform the maize marketing sector because it is clear that the market forces of demand and supply have failed to work in this country....This equation of demand and supply has failed to work because not only is it benefiting few people…the millers, while the farmers and the government are both losing out. And the rate at which we are going, the farmers will need an institution like NAMBOARD. A similar arrangement is happening in Malawi and Zimbabwe and in both countries it has proved to be a huge success."
No - according to National Association for Peasant and Small-Scale Farmers of Zambia (NAPSFZ)'s president Roger Phiri   :
“The Namboard system of maize marketing was condemned by many that it was too big and had many functions outside maize buying and we all agreed to restructure the institution. It is better to offer alternative solutions to maize marketing system with relevant facts supporting argument for reviving an old maize marketing institution like Namboard".

Monday, 21 June 2010

Full international gateway liberalisation? 2nd Edition

Finally, we can answer yes, to this question originally posed here. The government has finally reduced its international gateway license fee from US$12 million to $350,000.

The new gateway license fee puts Zambia closer to other countries in the region including Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya, which are experiencing massive investment in the telecom sector. International gateway fees are $214, 000 in Kenya and $50,000 in Uganda. Perhaps we also now know that this is what Mr Kaira meant by reasonable?

This is consistent Information and Communications Technology Bill 2009. This issue of course brings to closure many discussions we have had on this in the last three years. The first ever post to call for gateway liberalisation can be found On proceeding with care.

A SADC Schengen? 2nd Edition

Two years later after it was first proposed, it appears the the regional schengen visa system dubbed Univisa is alive and kicking. But Zambia is not part of the system :

The Zimbabwe Council of Tourism (ZCT) has advised Zambia to consider joining the uni-visa system which allows countries to voluntarily connect to one visa system to enhance interaction and passage of tourists across borders, state media of Zambia reported on Monday.

ZCT president Emmanuel Fundira said in an interview with the Times of Zambia that Zimbabwe was one of the five countries in the southern African region that had joined the uni-visa system but added that Zimbabwe would have loved to see Zambia joining the system.

Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland and Mozambique are the other countries in the region that have joined the system, which allows the use of one visa to enter the border of the member nations without being subjected to other procedures, Times said.

The Zimbabwean tourism official said Zambia would have benefited a lot because of the cross-tourism products that the country shared with neighboring countries that had collaborated under the system.
More detail via Global Times. We have previously touched on this issue here.

Rights and HIV Mandatory Tests

A recent important court judgement on a contentious issue. Two ex-officers in Zambia's air force were awarded damages following claims they were tested and treated for HIV without their knowledge. The men had claimed they were fired for being HIV-positive, but the court decided not to reinstate them. Mandatory HIV screening is not legal in the military, and the government had denied the two men were tested. Some think forced screening is an invasion of privacy - others say it is needed to fight the virus.  What I found interesting was this quote from the BBC report :

Lloyd Bwalya from the Network of Zambian People Living with HIV/Aids told the BBC News website that the case will be a "signal to the rest of the country" that there should be "informed consent" before people are tested for HIV. But Zambia's health minister and some doctors are in favour of mandatory testing, arguing that not enough people are volunteering to be tested in a country were 15% of adults are thought to be HIV positive.
This is a complicated issue but the Minister's argument seems a bit poor. What doctors think surely is beside the point. However, although I can see the poverty of the Ministerial response, I have struggled to think through these questions myself. After much thought, I have at least concluded that Mr Bwalya's argument cannot be supported based on the "human right" arguments and that government is therefore free to consider the case for mandatory tests like any other issue.  This is slightly complex philosophical issue, and it is not my strong suit, so I welcome to hear what others think. My reasons are as follows.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

This Week They Said

“Chiluba’s cross, laden with political, economic, social sins is heavy for Rupiah Banda to bear”
Hon Ackson Sejani MP on President Banda's friendship with 2nd President Frederick Chiluba.
“Have the police been substituted by political hooligans?”
Bishop Derek Kamukwamba on the politically driven nature of Zambian policing.
“I sometimes have a feeling that MMD thinks they have a bank where they generate money”
Inonge Wina [PF Chairperson] on Community Development Minister Michael Kaingu activities in Luena.
“TIZ is being blind because they want people who give them money to continue”
Minister Ronnie Shikapwasha on Transparency International's approach to fighting corruption.
"Sata is fighting for power, HH is also fighting for power and we are in power. The shortest meaning of politics is power"
William Banda [MMD Lusaka Province Chairman] warning that he has no intention of surrending power on a "silver platter".

Investment Watch (Farming)

South Africa's Astral Foods Ltd has opened a new farm starting with a $10 million chicken hatchery, as a first move in plans to expand across southern Africa. According Roedolf Steenkamp, Astral managing director, "The development is another step in Astral's business plan to strategically focus expansion in a responsible and cautious manner outside the borders of South Africa....The hatchery and breeder farm have been established to produce and hatch up to 1 million day-old chicks per week as demand for broilers in the region increases".

Quick notes

Senegalise women have welcomed a new  law on gender parity in electoral lists, recently approved by a large majority in Senegal's National Assembly.

UK offenders doing community payback in Wiltshire are working on a new project to improve lighting for Zambian students.

A British national finds that not all foreign judgements are registered in Zambia, as the  Supreme Court judge refuses an English Order in relation to a child abduction case.

Ten of the greatest maps that changed the world. And yes it does include google earth and the London underground.

Malawian blogger Kondwani Munthali reflects on the recent homosexual trial on Ban Ki-moon, Homosexuality and the price of Africa's poverty

UNCHR on Zambia's poor

A recent report of the UNCHR mission to Zambia. UN Independent Expert Magdalena SepĂșlveda is apparently the first UN human rights expert to visit Zambia, her report focuses on the situation of Zambians living in extreme poverty and the importance of increasing investment in social protection. Much of it seems fairly as expected, for example this recommendation :

Zambia has voluntarily assumed several commitments to eliminate poverty by, inter alia, recognizing international human rights treaties and continuing with its commendable domestic planning initiatives. Yet, the application of these commitments is, at present, insufficient to meet the challenges faced by the country. The economic progress of recent years has not translated into an improvement of the living conditions of those living in extreme poverty. Although resources are scarce, commitments must be urgently translated into action. The millions of Zambians living in deplorable conditions, with very limited enjoyment of their rights, must be placed at the centre of State policies.
But there also some bizarre recommendations :
The Constitution should also ensure that international human rights treaties are automatically incorporated into domestic law. 
This is tantamount to giving up your sovereignty. We must be wary of such from these self declared experts on "our rights". I have no problem with adopting into international law, but we should not place our destiny in foreign legislation by "automatically" incorporating them into domestic law. No country on earth does this, so why recommend this to Zambia?

Friday, 18 June 2010

The Mpombo specter?

An interesting letter to President Banda regarding Hon Lucy Changwe MP:

His Excellency, being the father of this nation, I strongly believe that you will be of help .....the matter is over the “Refer to Drawer” cheque number, 153 dated 21/05/2010 amount of K10,000,000 – issued in my favour by Hon Lucy Changwe MP Mkushi North and deputy minister Gender and Development, which was meant to be a delayed part payment of the agreed first installment of my house purchase contract, which was due on the 16th December 2009.

His Excellency when I brought this matter to the attention of Hon Changwe, she told me to report her anywhere. Sir, I am fully aware that bouncing a cheque is a criminal offence and I know that as a minister, Hon Lucy Changwe even if I report her to police today, she won’t be arrested and the Director of Public Prosecution won’t authorise her prosecution unless and until she is dropped from the ministerial position
The author of the letter claims Hon Lucy Changwe has recently bounced a cheque and therefore has committed a criminal offence.  This incident once again broadly reinforces the points I raised in Decriminalising would-be Mpombos. I say broadly because there's an argument made in that post which eagle eyed readers may now spot is open to challenge since the present case involves a well endowed member of society allegedly committing the crime against a poorer claimant (and indeed reverse that aspect of argument in favour of criminalisation).

Thursday, 17 June 2010

We made the Post!

Another bit of shameless self promotion.

The Post carries some quotes from my letter to Minister of Finance Musokotwane and Commerce Minister Hon Mutati (copied to Andrew Chipwende - CEO Zambia Development Agency ).  I was very happy when I received a text from my nephew in Lusaka that indeed the story has also appeared in the hard copy version!

This is not the first time of course (the Maravi blog keeps some record of my press musings etc) , but I thought this was particularly different because I was inspired by one of our readers Whisper to get active - we all need a gentle reminder! I hope the readership will get on board and write their emails. Please see the post here requesting this report is released. The government is currently in a state of confusion over this matter. Hon Mutati believes it will be made available. Some other elements are not so keen. Pick your side and make your email count!

I should also assure the readership who support the MMD. I know we have many such and I value your sense of balance. I would repeat what I said in that letter - "this is not a party political issue - it is common sense". We must take a stand and begin to push for greater transparency. Otherwise we may as well quit intellectual dialogue.

During the week I wrote to a group of Zambian intellectuals and I urged them as a group the time had come for them to take critical steps to become more proactive in pushing for change in our country in a non-political way.  They have spoken and theorised for too long. I am saying the same to all the readers of the Zambian Economist.  My father always said, if something is worth doing then do it well with all your heart otherwise don't do it at all. It is this motto that has driven all my involvement in any Zambian related enterprise including this website. Life always presents an opportunity for us to decide. Are we change makers or arm chair critics? If it's the latter then we may as well close down the Zambian Economist. Endless banter while our nation wallows in poverty is morally irresponsible. Let us get active. Let us push the confines of our debate outward to those that make decisions. Let us pick up those phones, get your email box open and start emailing and demand for better transparency. Call newspapers and get your voice heard. And yes, on top of all get on your knees and pray that the Lord will turn our nation around. But prayers without action is a sin - God does not promote those who pray as an excuse for laziness or indifference.  Don't look to politicians to change Zambia for you. They won't because it is not in their interests to do.  Change comes when the citizen recognises that he is the master, the politician is merely the servant. This is what realigns the incentive for politicians to act.

A couple of people have emailed me trying to tell me about ZAMTEL and the need for it to be privatised.  I should remind those that it is pointless. All readers of this website know that I have been a champion for reforming ZAMTEL from day one - who can forget the contraversial post Zamtel monopoly....why I oppose it? . Indeed I have been quoted in the press many times arguing just that. This issue is about transparency and due process.  The end does not justify the means. Whether privatising ZAMTEL is good or not is meaningless at this point because procedural justice appears to have been violated. No formal consultation, no proper consideration of alternative views and on top of all secret reports and foreign beneficiaries who are rumoured to control a strange cartel in Southern Africa.

ZDA Spotlight : May 2010

The latest edition of the ZDA Spotlight :
ZDA Spotlight : May 2010

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Global Fund Press Release : Freeze of Aid To Zambia

Press Release by The Global Fund  :


Geneva, 16 June 2010 – The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria confirmed today that it has not disbursed money for grants to Zambia’s Ministry of Health since August last year. It made the decision to halt disbursements in August 2009 after it found evidence of expenditures that could not be accounted for.

However, around US$17 million of a total of US$137 million in affected funds originally meant for the Ministry of Health has been disbursed through other channels to ensure that there is no disruption of lifesaving services.

An additional US$180 million in Global Fund grants implemented by civil society organizations in Zambia are unaffected by this freeze.

Please Release the RP Capital Valuation Report

Mr Felix Mutati claims that Government has no intention of releasing the RP Capital Report on ZAMTEL because Zambians are too dull and illiterate to understand it. This is not the first time these leaders have kept information from the Zambian people. All Zambians will know that the government up to this day has kept secret the official GRZ copies of the Mining Development Agreements, which cost our people many billions of dollars. [These were only known by the public through the great work of two academics].

It does not have to be this way. As a Zambian you have a constitutional right (and moral obligation) to hold those who in leadership to account. You can let officials like Mr Mutati know that there are Zambians out  who regard transparency as the hallmark of effective Government. No one will do this for you.  If you want change in how politicians treat you, you must demand it yourself.

Please email the following leaders your demand for the RP Capital Report to be released - also forward this to every Zambian on your email list. Those with additional email addresses please make these available to us. Let us get the ball rolling.

Hon Felix Mutati (Minister of Commerce)
Email:  fmutati@parliament.gov.zm

Andrew Chipwendo (CEO, Zambia Development Agency)
He sold ZAMTEL - he was in charge of the bidding process.
Email: achipwende@zda.org.zm
Also send to Mrs Chinamanse - she is the Public Relations Person - she will get the email to him if he refuses to open mchimanse@zda.org.zm

Hon Musokotwane
He is the Minister in charge Finance. He is the money and he is against releasing the report.
Email : situmbeko.musokotwane@mofnp.gov.zm
Also email his PS - Mr Chileshe Kandeta : ckandeta@yahoo.com and chileshe.kandeta@mofnp.gov.zm

The President 
His Excellency President Rupiah Banda has no email address!
But fortunately we have the email address of his spokesman - Mr Dickson Jere : dicksonje@nkwazi.gov.zm

I have sent my email -  which you at liberty to cut and paste.

Hon Felix Mutati
Hon Situmbeko Musokotwane
Mr Andrew Chipwendo

Dear Sirs,

Re: Release of the RP Capital Valuation Report on ZAMTEL

I am writing to request the immediate and unconditional release of the RP Capital Valuation Report that underpinned the recent sale of ZAMTEL to a Libyan parastatal company.

My request is based on a simple principle : the assets of this country belongs to all Zambians. As such we have the legal and constitutional right to see this report. We are best placed to assess and judge whether the sale of ZAMTEL was based on reasonable and credible advice from RP Capital.

I reject the misguided argument advanced by Hon Felix Mutati and other self declared guardians of high knowledge that Zambians people are simply too dull to understand the content of this very basic report. You all well know that such were the arguments used by our colonial masters. This is 2010! We do not expect such statements from those we have chosen to represent us. I ask you Sirs, is this the independence that our fathers fought for?

You also need no reminder that Zambians have for a long time suffered due to the secrecy that underpinned the mining Development Agreements. Then like now, the government withheld vital information which only became public after NGOs and academics got hold of the repors and bemoaned the cruel details contained therein. Up to this day the Government of Zambia has never held a single enquiry into the alleged corruption that took place. You have an historic opportunity to show you are politicians of the future and not those that should belong to the political museum. Show this generation new hope for the future. You can start by releasing this valuable report.

Zamtel is a public institution which is owned by ordinary Zambians and any decision made concerning it affects everybody. You as members of government are servants of our mothers and children. You are not our masters - but our servants.

This is not a party political issue, it is common sense.

I urge you to stand-up and be counted. Release the valuation report and let Zambians see the truth for themselves.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Unbridled bigotry

“I don’t see how releasing the RP Capital report will help the citizen because they will not even understand it. It is just figures on paper. I would advise people to instead listen to the rational explanation of the government over the Zamtel sale.”
Commerce Minister Felix Mutati  looking down on the people he is elected to serve.  Can anyone genuinely expect that when Mutati wakes up the first thing he thinks of is "I have been blessed to serve the great Zambian people"?  How can he, when Mr Mutati thinks Zambians are so dull and illiterate to grasp a simple audit report? Well anyway, to his credit at least he speaks what is in his heart rather than hide it. It is up to Zambians to now wake up and begin to demand better from the likes of Mr Mutati.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Global Peace Index 2010

The Global Peace Index for 2010. Zambia is the fourth most peaceful nation in Africa (up from 6th last year).The odd results still remains but one would need to look through the detailed results to make sense of the general ranking.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

The NAREP delusion

NAREP has now made available its vision announced earlier in the week. You can access via Facebook. Though this has still not made its way to their  main website. The central motif :

The National Restoration Party (NAREP) believes that Zambia’s failure to find solutions to its present problems is really a question of leadership. Not only can Zambia propel itself to greatness; for the sake of the majority of its disadvantaged citizens, it must do so. However, our nation will need to promote the emergence of the type of national leadership that can offer a vision that goes beyond the ordinary. Our nation needs leadership that believes politics should be about people rather than just about power.
Unfortunately this is the widely held delusion we have come to call the "dedicated fellow hypothesis". It states that  no matter how many good policies political parties promise, or how much institutional reform we undertake, character is paramount to delivering development to Zambia.  There’s a false delusion among many Zambian commentators (and would be political saviours) that character and steadfastness is the answer to all our problems. But even if one was to entertain this idea, it suffers from two practical problems.  First, how do you find these 'selfless fellows' who will implement NAREP’s wonder policies? Secondly, and perhaps of crucial importance, how do you get them to be involved in development after investing personal fortune to get into power? Whats is to say they will not follow the class of 1991, who rationally sought a return from state coffers for sacrificing much? Without answering these two fundamental questions, the NAREP leadership model fails to sufficiently address how you get the best from the 'poor bunch'.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Quick notes

Brian Chituwo recently launched the latest KCM exercise in "corporate social responsibility" - free eye screening project in Mumbwa District.

Progress update on the on-going programme to increase judicial efficiency by computerising and automating all court procedures.

ZCC go-ahead to Vodacom Gateway Mauritius (owned by Vodafone U.K.) for the 100 percent takeover of Africonnect Zambia - third-largest Zambian Internet service provider.

A wonderful Times of Zambia piece on Boys Brigade - introduced in 1965 by Kenneth Kaunda after his visit to Scotland.

The excellent Gethsemane Mwizabi on Catherine Chisenga - Enterprising Blind Trader. A 51 year old bling woman who has made extraordinary achievements.

Friday, 11 June 2010

$12.8m (K65bn)

The amount allegedly RP Capital Partners Limited will get from the government after the "successful" sale of Zamtel to Libya’s parastatal Lap Green Network. According to a memorandum of understanding (MoU), between Dora Siliya and RP Capital Partners Limited, the Zambian government agreed to to RP Capital Partners Limited fee amounting to five per cent of the negotiated amount and would get US $2 million about K10.3 billion as transaction fees at the end of the transaction. More detail via the Post.  For those needing to be refreshed on this scandal - see Remembering Dora Silya.

Event : Zambia Business Survey - Results (June 16, 2010)

The Economics Association of Zambia are holding the following event on 16 June 2010. Dissemination of events is something we hope to do more of - so those holding similar events are encouraged to forward the information :
Event - Zambia Business Survey (16 June 2010)

Thursday, 10 June 2010

The "double edged" sword of CSR

It is good to see that others are beginning to pick up on the folly of relying on "corporate social responsibility" (CSR). Ultimately we have to win the intellectual debate, even as we pray for better politicians who will look after the interests of our people in this area :

Peter Sinkamba, Executive Director of the Zambian mining watchdog group Citizens for a Better Environment, said it would be far better if mines like Kansanshi abandoned such disputes, paid a fair amount in taxes and let the government provide things like hospitals and classroom blocks....Often, companies will use social spending to try to claim tax exemptions, which results in a “double-edged sword” as the government loses money and stops spending altogether in the mining areas because they assume companies will step into the void, he said, adding that having a private firm provide many of the services that are usually the domain of government sets a dangerous precedent because the mine’s primary loyalty is to its shareholders. Furthermore, the government is allowing mining companies to “rape” the country of its minerals without adequately investing for the needs of future generations, Sinkamba said. “Look at the social investments in those areas. It’s peanuts,” he said.
As reported via The Vancouver Sun.

Leadership of the PACT

Interesting comments from Hakainde Hichilema on the question of the leadership of the UPND-PF partnership (the "PACT") :

"That question has been asked several times. We said that the Pact is here to stay and we reiterate that. The Pact is here because the people of Zambia wanted it...Why are they driving us to give them a candidate? When they are squabbling whether it’s Ng’andu Magande, whether it’s George Mpombo, whether it’s Rupiah Banda and whether MMD will have a convention. Let them focus on their issues and we know what we are doing. Very methodical, we are conscious of competition, we are conscious of what MMD wants to do to destroy us, we are very careful...But we are on top of what we are doing. We want the people of Zambia to understand that in a political process there is also strategy. There are tactics and we would not release our strategy and tactics to the MMD so that we lay ourselves bare."
I don't think the leadership question is critical. What is important is for UPND and PF to agree the programme of government and table it before the people. That they have not got a publicly available working document is worrying.  If people see what the PACT stands for and it makes sense, leadership will become a second issue. I have written on this before - UK lessons for the UPND-PF coalition.  Unfortunately Mr Hichilema is also handling this rather ineffectively. It would be better for him to simply say : Zambians are presented with a unique opportunity to move beyond "personality politics" of which the worst kind is the demand for the PACT to name a candidate. Now is the time to focus on the policies and the need for such a programme of government. That in my view would signal that these guys are not just seeking to change government but our politics as well.

The other reason I think the leadership question is secondary is because no matter what happens in 2011, it seems clear, at this stage, that the PACT will have more MPs. This becomes obvious when we consider that UPND and PF will stand as independent non-competing parties. It is likely that some UPND or PF diehards may not support the preferred PACT candidate for the "presidency", what is clear is that this would not affect the parliamentary equations. The worst outcome for the PACT therefore it seems is that Rupiah Banda remains President because of  the unacceptability of the PACT presidential candidate but together the PACT overwhelmingly control Parliament. That is not necessarily a bad for position for the country and may help force powerful changes. It may even lead to another election in 2012!

So the obsession with who heads the PACT seems somewhat overblown. Its largely driven by syndrome of "personality politics" and the failure to account for the parliamentary electoral maths.

Mining Reflections: Proposition Two (Update)

An update to "proposition two" that demonstrates further that local mining communities are not always being paid the little ground rates (by the way, we will be returning to these propositions when I get a chance, they are seven of them, I have only so far done three) :

Moomba member of parliament Vitalis Mooya has called on the Ministry of Local Government and Housing to investigate allegations that a permanent secretary in another ministry interfered with the payment of ground rates by a mining firm in Kalulushi.

But local government and housing permanent secretary Timothy Hakuyu has explained that his ministry and the Ministry of Commerce were discussing the issue to ensure that the mining firm settles the outstanding debt.

Commenting on revelations that a mining company in Kalulushi had not paid ground rates amounting to K9 billion, Mooya said there was need for authorities to get to the bottom of the issue and ensure that the law was upheld.

The Parliamentary Committee on Local Governance, Housing and Chiefs’ Affairs was recently

Planning to fail? 2nd Edition

We have touched on planning and housing problems in the past (e.g. planning to fail? , unplanned settlements and a complex web of puzzles). I have been playing around with Google Earth and was struck by the aerial view of Msisi compound (Lusaka).


The ground view via Panaromio :

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Notes from ZBTR Interview (Part 2) : Political Congregation

Another interesting comment was raised by Dr Elliott Munsanje  :

The number of political parties we have in Zambia are too many. We should limit these parties to three. The people who started this democracy did not envisage having too many parties. What is your view on how can we fight to have only three parties?
As it turns out this is quite a popular view among many people and therefore it shouldn't be dismissed. I believe one of the reasons that drives this question is the current despondence with regards to the present political outworking. Many people believe the plethrora of political parties only serves to strengthen the ruling party and does nothing to offer people "genuine choice". Put differently, the small parties are allegedly

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Zambia's sovereign debt rating, 2nd Edition

The quest for a sovereign debt rating is back on track with announcement last week that Zambia plans to issue a $1 billion international bond this year "to raise money for power generation plants, railways and roads". The plans were put on ice last year following the global economic crisis, with BoZ Governor Caleb Fundanga emphasising that "Zambia will only issue an international bond if it needs to fund a specific project". One is tempted to ask what are these projects? Also the timing does not seem right to me. We are on the verge of elections, is this the time to start issuing bonds? Why not wait until the elections are done? Is this being done in consultation with the Opposition?

Finance Minister Musokotwane believes "Bond holders want a credit rating and we expect this process to take us about three months".  He is also quoted as suggesting that we may get a credit rating of at least B+ similar to what Angola has achieved. A previous blog on this discusssed a World Bank policy research paper, which  predicted Zambia's shadow sovereign rating to be around Brazil /Turkey's level (BB- to BB) with Angola above at BB+ at Peru/ El Salvador's level.  Obviously these are way off and 2010 is not 2006.  What is clear from that paper though is that Zambia has implicitly lower credit  than Angola. Therefore we are looking at something like B or B- which is five levels below investment grade on the scales of Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings. A view shared by other analysts.

Update (1 June 2010):

Many thanks to YM for point to more recent results. The results though reversed Angola and Zambia's position. These downgraded Angola's results and pointed to B to BB- and therefore in line with the B+ that was awarded to Angola (being the mid rating). In this paper Zambia  has slightly improved to BB to BB+ therefore point to a better showing than Angola. Based on this work, a B+ should be consider the minimum. Its one to watch!

Update (8 June 2010): The video with Minister Musokotwane is now available - also a bit on his defence of the current mining fiscal regime:

Monday, 7 June 2010

Notes from ZBTR Interview (Part 1) : Ideas vs Implementation

This weekend, I appeared on Zambia Blog Talk Radio for 40 minutes or so to talk about the Elections 2011 Project (an extensive show is also planned on Diaspora Voice). Three very interesting questions were asked, among many others, which I thought are worth sharing / expanding on with readers. I will do this in three separate short posts. The first of this related to the urgency of implementation relative to ideas generation :

Zambia has enough / plenty of ideas what we are lacking is implementation. Why do we need any more ideas? 
This appears to be a well rehearsed argument. The interviewer had suggested that a prior guest Mr Bob Sichinga had made the same comment. Although this has some merit, I believe such an argument is misplaced for four reasons .

First, you can never have enough ideas. History has shown that empires that have dominated for some time have usually gone into decline or failed to tap into potential for lack of generation of new ideas. Economic historians have for some time been puzzled on why Portugal, so prosperous in the 15th century began to

Sunday, 6 June 2010

$257m

The price Libya parastatal LAP Green Networks has agreed to pay government for 75 percent of ZAMTEL. According to Finance Minister Musokotwane. LAP Green also agreed to provide $62 million to finance part of Zamtel’s network expansion and to guarantee $75 million in loans. A “substantial part” of the money raised will apparently go to redundancy packages for some of Zamtel’s 2,341 employees.

In the meantime PF president Michael Sata has maintained that once the UPND-PF pact gets in power, they will grab ZAMTEL and ZANACO from new owners. I have previously noted that this is unsurprising and holds important lessons on the importance of consultation in fostering more stable contracts.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Whose to blame for our abject poverty?

This excerpt taken from Fred Mmembe's last editorial before imprisonment answers perfectly :

We have a great country. The good Lord has blessed it with abundant resources and a people who are good at heart. Our people deserve better than they get. Our governance system is skewed against the interests of the majority of our people who live in abject poverty and in many cases total deprivation. There is a silent majority of our people who know that things should not be this way and hope for a better tomorrow. This tomorrow will not come if we all choose comfort over the need to struggle to improve our nation, to improve the lives of our people. Each one of us who is sincere is able to make a contribution. It does not need to be a huge contribution or even a heroic contribution, but just a contribution to the welfare of those around us is all we need.
There's a huge misconception among our people that government is to blame for everything. Infact I would say the big difference between western and African countries is that the former realise all fingers point at them, while the latter have no sense of personal responsibility for their poverty (its a mindset problem). But what does the constitution preamble say? "We the people". What did we say when Mwanawasa died ? "The people's president". We all have governments we deserve.  Mmembe is absolutely right, the finger of blame for the abject condition of our people points squarely at YOU. Not Rupiah or MMD for these are merely rational actors maximising their own welfare, caring only for the wider community where your interests and theirs intersect. There's nothing strange about that. The question is, given this reality, what are YOU doing to maximise your welfare and that "those around us"? What are YOU doing to hold government to account on these things?

Rise of local radio, 2nd Edition

In a week of largely bad news, this is something worth looking forward to :

Government says it has received 110 application for new radio stations and 10 for private television stations. Information and Broadcasting Services Minister, Ronnie Shikapwasha says the government is waiting for the Independence Broadcasting Act (IBA) to be passed in parliament and the appointment of the board to start processing the applications and subsequently issue the licenses. Lieutenant General Ronnie Shikapwasha told ZANIS in an interview in Lusaka today that the processing and issuance of licenses will be done as soon as the IBA is taken to parliament in the next sitting.

He said of the ten Television stations that have applied, five have applied for Christians broadcasting stations and want them established in Lusaka and the Copperbelt Provinces. The Minister has also disclosed that three pay television providers similar to MultiChoice have also applied for the licenses. Lt. Gen Shikapwasha further said other parts of the country such as Eastern and Western Provinces, which were previously shunned have also received overwhelming response for the establishment of the stations. He said 10 applications have been received from Chipata alone and commended the private sector and the community for the good response. Lt. Gen. said this has been realized with support from PANOS, UNICEF and other donor agencies.
Not just in terms of the volume of new radio stations but also the idea that the IBA may finally become operational. We may of course be tempted at this point to suggest that many of these radio stations perhaps are driven by the party in government ahead of 2011! Its certainly not like government to allow so much change at one time! But from the story we have no reason to think so, and perhaps a more accurate reading is that this should be seen within the broader context of an irreversible trend that we have previously touched on here and here. I quite excited about partly also because of the link to the internet. As people find a voice they will demand other mediums as well.

A reason to be cheerful (Update)

We have a bit more detail from the Central Statistics Office behind this recent  government announcement on maize output  :

The 2009/2010 Crop Forecasting Survey (CFS) results show that production of Maize is expected to increase by 48.1 percent from 1,887,010 metric tonnes during the 2008/2009 agricultural season to 2,795,483 metric tonnes during the 2009/2010 agricultural season. The results also show that area planted to maize increased by 10.4 percent from 1,125,466 hectares to 1,242,268 hectares. Furthermore, area harvested to maize is expected to increase by 18.5 percent from 911,492 hectares during the 2008/2009 agricultural season to 1,080,558 hectares during the 2009/2010 agricultural season. The average yield rate of maize per hectare is also expected to increase from 1.7 metric tonnes per hectare in 2008/2009 agricultural season to 2.3 metric tonnes per hectare in 2009/2010 agricultural season. This represents a 34.2 percent increase.

The increase in maize production in the 2009/2010 agricultural season could largely be attributed to the good price farmers received last season and the adequate rains in most parts of the country. In addition, more farmers reported using hybrid seed than recycled or local seed this agricultural season compared to the 2008/2009 agricultural season. At provincial level, the highest maize yields are expected to be recorded in Central province at 3.0 metric tonnes per hectare, where as the lowest yields are expected to be recorded in Western Province at 1.0 percent. All the provinces are expected to record increases in yields compared to the previous season
 More detailed data via the CSO Bulletin.