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Thursday, 28 July 2011

Zambia expects...

President Banda has formally dissolved the cabinet and parliament. Elections will be on Tuesday, 20 September. This period of 8 weeks of campaigns is substantially shorter than the usual convention of 12 weeks. Although the Constitution says elections should be held within "90 days of dissolution of parliament", previous presidents and  all well meaning Zambians have always taken 90 days as the minimum. Indeed that was actually what happened in the bye-election. Mr Banda should have announced the date 4 weeks ago instead of going around the country campaigning and allowing Dora Siliya to travel to London on taxpayers' money. As I write she is touring Oxford Street and jumping on the "London eye" after her presentation at Chatham House today. Be as it may, we are here now. So, what should Zambians expect between now and the election date, as far as functioning of government is concerned?

We expect ministers to vacate government cars and houses. We expect ministerial security to be withdrawn from them. We expect them to handover their keys. They are no longer on our payroll for the next 8 weeks. We expect the plunder of national resources will be kept to the minimum and the police and the judiciary will be efficient in dealing with any abuse. We expect a full purdah period where no announcements will be made to win political mileage. We expect the non-political machinery of government to run the affairs of the country, with the President and VP maintaining ceremonial roles unless matters of national security arise.  We expect state media particularly ZANIS, ZNBC, Daily Mail and Times of Zambia, to abandon their shameless partisanship and cover all political parties fairly. Finally, we expect the leading opposition figures, principally Mr Sata and Mr Hichilema to be briefed on economic and security issues. Should one of them win, we wouldn't want them to start with zero information, would we now?


The full speech by President is set out below.
Presidential Speech - Dissolution of National Assembly - July 2011

7 comments:

  1. Are you sure that Zambian taxpayers are paying for Siliya's trip? I suspect that Chatham House is paying for it.

    Rushing to conclusions?


    YM
    LSK

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  2. Zambian Economist,
    I am afraid that is just too much to expect. It wont happen. 'Normal service' will continue! What happened in 1991 was merely a change of number plates. The old structures and the software are still in place. What Zambia needs is a general change in leadership from those who horned their political 'skills' under Kaunda to those who started their political careers post 1991. 'Old habits die hard'; so goes the saying!

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  3. …..period of 8 weeks of campaigns is substantially shorter than the usual convention of 12 weeks. Although the Constitution says elections should be held within "90 days of dissolution of parliament…..

    As you have already said the president has done nothing wrong so I don’t know why you are complaining.

    Finally, we expect the leading opposition figures, principally Mr Sata and Mr Hichilema to be briefed on economic and security issues. Should one of them win, we wouldn't want them to start with zero information, would we now?

    Do you know that there is such a thing as hand over and take over? The President can’t be giving security information to any joker who can attract a crowd. The winner will be briefed when the time comes. Right now, HH and Sata are commoners just like the rest of us.

    As I write she is touring Oxford Street and jumping on the "London eye" after her presentation at Chatham House today.

    Please provide evidence that Dora is travelling on government funds. This making of wild allegations not grounded in fact in disappointing to say the least. You are beginning to sound like a PF publication. Why is it that Zambians in the diaspora think that Zambian at home can’t afford to travel abroad?

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  4. Frank,

    I suppose with respect to here and now you are absolutely right. Part of the problem of course is that the electoral code has no strong enforcement mechanism. It would to be more specific and much clearer penalties.

    In terms the post election period, which you allude to, I think your position is shared by many Zambians. The challenge any new Government faces is that it will find itself with more power than they realised! Not only that every corrupt element will seek association. Add to the pot that the nation's finances will get progressively worse between now and 20 September as the treasuries get looted, the ideas of a credible budget by December 31st now looks unrealistic.

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  5. More than a bit late to this particular thread, but I am struck by the strange assertion that the sitting Honourable Minister for Education and ruling Party Spokesperson, along with a prospective candidate for Parliament, would be traveling abroad at the outset of an 8 week nationwide campaign in the first place. I don't quite get the idea that it shouldn't provoke comment because they may not be on the government budget but rather being paid to make the trip by a London private organization world famous for its closed door, off the record meetings.

    I won't take the cheap option by insisting that salaried government officials are acting in an official capacity and are effectively being paid at that moment by the Zambian treasury, and therefore are "on taxpayer money" while doing their job, in London or Lusaka. I am not here to do a hatchet job, to make wild accusations about secret meetings or illicit fundraising or space aliens on the election rolls. I am just curious if this particular trip can reveal anything interesting or informative about the Zambian political process.

    Please don't get me wrong, I am personally convinced that they were at Chatham House for the sole purpose of attempting to, "argue that Zambia has achieved stability and democratic progress in recent years, and will outline the current developments and future prospects of the Zambian economy." I think it is a generally good thing for prominent Zambians to inform others in the world about the Nation and the intent of its Government. If the they were in fact traveling using government funds, then I am sure that it was all duly budgeted for and authorized by the proper officials.

    If they were there as paid guest speakers of a private organization, I am sure that it was all done in a perfectly legal and above-board fashion. It is certainly fact that the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) often hosts all manner of global personages for the benefit of their membership (UK250 for individual, UK2750 for standard corp, and UK12000 for major corp, annually).

    What interests me is not why them, or why there, but why then? Even though the speech was presumably given on the same day that the election date was announced, surely at least the MMD Party Spokesperson if not the Prospective Parliamentarian must have known the date of the election prior to its announcement, and the speech itself was doubtless planned and scheduled months ago.

    It would seem likely that canceling the trip was not considered either media savvy and/or that the days spent in London would not adversely affect either candidates or party. It is unlikely that either person would have chosen such a scheduling conflict, given that their current portfolios are considerable in size and importance, and the added pressure on already busy schedules that a grassroots campaign requires. Therefore it is reasonable to guess that the decision on the election date was reached within the party at some point subsequent to the Chatham House speech being scheduled, but far enough in advance of their departure for London so as to allow the party spokesperson to be well informed in advance.

    The shorter than usual campaign period is therefore not the result of any practical need for haste, but rather a tactical preference on the part of the MMD. The lack of importance placed on the spokesperson being present at the time of the announcement in order to personally participate in the campaign launch does seem to indicate to me a high degree of confidence in existing momentum. It is therefore reasonable to me to accept the assertion that for internal purposes the MMD considered their campaign to have been already well under way at the time of official election announcement and the shortened campaign calendar.

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  6. Hi Yakima,

    Glad to see you're back. I've missed your contributions and viewpoints.

    Cheers

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  7. Hi MrK,

    Glad to be back, and to see you here as well!

    I am pleased to see that you are still calling for sustainable farming practices as agricultural investment increases, equitable return for raw material exports, aggressive development of domestic import substitution industries, and greater decentralisation of certain government functions and public services. It will be interesting to see if we can collectively help inform the national consciousness toward effective methodologies for achieving these goals, revealing their existence and practicality as viable options, and increasing the cost/benefit return on investment should they be adopted. I look forward to rejoining the process.

    Cheers

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