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Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The Sata Presidency : An Opportunity for Change (Guest Blog)

President Michael Sata can be compared to former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. They both must think they are the unluckiest politicians ever.  Lula lost presidential elections in 1994 and 1998, against a far more established opponent in Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Likewise in 2008  Sata lost elections against a well established MMD the late Mwanawasa. In 2002 Lula finally secured his goal of winning the presidency and there were rumblings, especially from the markets, that he would steer Brazil onto an economic path to destruction. This year 2011, Sata has secured the presidency against Amalgamated Bank of South Africa (ABSA) Capital, Africa strategist Ridfle Markus who predicted that Zambia will lose investment if Patriotic Front (PF) wins the elections.

Eight years on, as Lula bowed out office on 1 January 2011, Brazil is now the fastest growing economy in Latin America with a stronger emerging middle class while the USA middle class has shrunk. As a matter of fact all those Marco Polo buses you see in Zambia are assembled in Brazil. A study published in September by the Getulio Vargas Foundation, a Rio-based policy group, found that some 29 million Brazilians had entered "the middle class" between 2003 and 2009, with average monthly incomes between 1,126 reais and 4,854 reais ($658-$2839; £417-£1797).

Both Sata and Lula are better known by their nicknames than their real names, Lula and King Cobra which both are the names of animals. They both have an average education one is metal worker while the other one is a former police constable and rail way man. They are both from humble backgrounds and have a great gift to connect and relate to common people and people feel comfortable in their presence. Additionally you are both charismatic leaders.

Besides a set of personal gifts, emotional intelligence towards ordinary people, personal charm and smart political instincts, Lula’s genius lied in surrounding himself with the best political advisor and economic advisor who both had independent and original minds from Lula. Lula’s economic advisor is responsible for designing the economic system that both attracted foreign investors and also the Bolsa Familia a program that lifted millions of poor Brazilians out of poverty. Thus, for Sata to succeed he should find the best economic and political advisors. A genius political advisor will help Sata to connect with the masses and restore pride in the country. The best and brightest economic advisor will help Sata to design sound economic policies that respect civil liberties, democracy and investment alike. Without national pride Sata’s political career like that of KK, Chiluba, Levy and now Rupiah will have a fatal ending.

Here are five areas if well developed will set Sata’s political career apart from others.

Economy: Mobilisation of Zambians and children of Zambians born from foreign nationals in Diaspora regarded as "middle class "to invest back in Zambia by making dual citizenship a matter of urgency.

Resources: Development of commercial agriculture particularly top key foodstuffs including sugar, poultry, rice and beef, and other commodities much in demand by countries in Africa. Zambia should reach out to Israel for agricultural technology as well help in discovering oil.

Environment: The size of our fresh water lakes should make fishing a viable economic sector that has largely been underdeveloped. Developing land for agriculture should boost Zambia’s economic credential after all Soya beans is Brazil’s valuable export.

Political voice:  There's need for Mr Sata to be a genuine president for all people rather than just PF. Valuable time (47 years) has been wasted through political bickering instead of inspiring all Zambians to work harder to deal with modern day challenges. No one is interested in investing in a country where (MMD) culprits against civil liberties and threat to democracy like events in Mongu and Copper belt are yet to be held accountable.

Education: Creation of opportunities for Zambians to use their own talents and original qualities to positively impact others to be entrepreneurs. It is time to instill confidence within and outside Zambia to the masses that have been previously disgusted with mediocre politics and standard of living conditions. In addition, it is crucial to invest  in technology and communication because of the major role these play in facilitating and supporting meaningful education and development in this global village.

Besides President Sata’s charismatic personality and nationwide mass following, he has luck on his side because he has a great opportunity to learn from the blunders of KK, Chiluba and Rupiah. Challenges define leaders. Rupiah squandered the chaos in Mongu from inspiring Zambians to define and articulate a fresh political vision. Rupiah was not only arrogant and myopic but he was also so consumed with winning elections that he stopped governing the country. As for President Sata if he capitalizes on economic and political diversity as source of strength,  his political career will have a stellar ending with a legacy in the hearts of the next generation of Zambians.

Lula is sorely missed both within and outside Brazil, where as for President Sata his opportunity has just began. So far so good!


Nsambila C Mboelala is a financial analyst based in Chicago, USA. He holds a MSc in Human Resources Management and MBA in Finance. He is originally from Mufulira, Copperbelt.

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  1. Good on Rula....but who are the people Sata has surrounded himself with? What criteria has Sata used to appoint people? What really matters to Sata in the people he picks? Rula accepted the workings of the free market economy as imperfect as it is! Has Sata accepted it? Does Sata understand the means by which he will fulfill his populist promises? Is his recent interference on the 'market price' of bread stolen from Rula's book? Does it make sense to threaten the local wheat industry that you will flood the country with imported wheat? Wont Zambia be the loser in the end? Is giving permits to South African retailers (first time in 10 years) to import chicken pieces not going to kill Zambia's poultry industry? How is this 'looking for' the interests of Zambian as he claims in his repeated phrase? Why drop the Bank of Zambia Governor when you dont have the 'right'qualified person to replace him with? How long shall BOZ be in limbo? How do you unilaterally dissolve the legislative constituted position of Treasury Secretary? Does the uncosted fuel reduction (even before his first budget is ready) make economic sense?It has been an amateurish spectacle; Iam afraid. More smoke and mirrors than substance. Indeed so far so good only if the bar has been set so low!

  2. If the constitution was decentralized most of the actions that Sata has taken would have been nearly impossible to do. RB exploited his executive powers except he kept the nation in the dark. So what is needed is to change the constitution and take away some of the executive powers from the president. Like I said Sata has a greater chance to get it right because he has a lot of opportunities to avoid his predecessors' blunders. So far so good in as far as Sata has the passion to work and inform the nation what is going on. To the contrary the out going RB was more of a care taker than a reformer. I would rather put my money on somebody who is willing to work and make mistakes than one who is afraid of failing.

  3. Pragmatic leadership is needed and it require a unity of purpose as well finding experts local and extending the search to Zambians in the diaspora to effect change. The comparison of Brazil and Zambia economically is off the mark because Brazil is larger economy than Zambia.

    Kunda KM

  4. Brazil’s economic position is similar to Zambia in two key aspects: It is has a lot of natural resources, and it is a democracy. USA's economy is larger than Brazil and yet Brazil's economy has gone from a “basket case” to being as solid as a brick while the USA middle class has been shrinking by the day. Developing the country's resources is synomous to expanding the size of the economy. Zambia has a lot to learn from to from Brazil a country that until yesterday was known as backwards “third-world” country. Zambia has largely failed because some leaders including some experts in the diaspora have continued implement economic policies from Rich nations that have no interest in helping Africa develop than looking at Brazil that is more similar in culture and natural resources like Zambia.


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