Monday, 31 October 2011
Sunday, 30 October 2011
Saturday, 29 October 2011
We have previously touched on the timber exploitation in the country following an excellent article by Doreen Nawa. The Timber Producers Association of Zambia (TPAZ) is now calling for Government to revoke all timber licences because most investors are plundering the country. In the words of TPAZ's Charles Masange, “the timber industry has been performing very badly because it is overcrowded by foreigners...I call them (foreign investors) harvesters instead of investors because they are abusing our timber which is natural resources from which we are suppose to benefit locally”. Apparently, the "harvesters" are buying timber from local producers for $200 and reselling it $12,000 per tonne.
Friday, 28 October 2011
Thursday, 27 October 2011
Did evangelical Christians, many of whom were afraid he would nullify the Christian Nation clause, breathe a sigh of relief when President Michael Sata stated he will rule the country by biblical principles? Or did they ask what did he meant? After all, the political power of using religious language like “praying for the peace of the nation” is frequently employed to draw people together for a common cause. But Christianity can also be a powerful force to drive people apart. One only needs to look at South Africa during apartheid to see how evangelical Christians were in a crisis of faith as one section was being oppressed and exploited by another section of the same faith.
Wednesday, 26 October 2011
Tuesday, 25 October 2011
Joseph Stiglitz in an interview with IMF Survey Online.One of the things is to make sure you have an inclusive financial system—a financial system that not only links to big businesses, but also to small and medium-sized enterprises; a microcredit system; and an inclusive financial system. If you are going to have growth that is widely shared, you also have to have an educational system that is inclusive, which means reaches both girls and boys; making sure that all the citizens, no matter what the income of the parents, are able to live up to their potential.
Monday, 24 October 2011
Sunday, 23 October 2011
Immigration may be deeply unpopular with electorates throughout the developed world, but that hasn't deterred immigrants themselves: The foreign-born share of the population of high-income countries doubled between 1985 and 2005, to nearly 9 percent. And the percentage who were college graduates increased fourfold between 1975 and 2000. That's great news for the rich countries that benefit from their skills, of course. But as it turns out, it is also great news for the poor countries the migrants leave behind.
Saturday, 22 October 2011
To me it sounds like decentralisation. May be a good direction if there are passionate people at the local level. Ova the past years, the central government has had challenges that have seen them unable to deliver. Local jurisdiction as powerful as it was in the late 80s will have well managed and efficient local governments. Remember, there was a time in history of our country when the council had better working conditions and well managed towns in terms of sanitation. On the other hand corruption in the councils is at alarming levels!
MaChi Mule's :
Yes - more money for councils may solve problems of our communities but what is need from workers in the local government is accountability, which can only happen through intensive monitoring & evaluation. This can be done by govt. in conjunction with community members, hence, the need for encouraging social capital and cohesion within communities.
Looking back a bit, i have been tracking the President's statements. At one point he mentioned change of the governance system. From the current centralised sytem to a federal government system. This means that provinces will become semi autonomous states where they will run a budget and make investments based on local decisions. Obviously we have to be vigilant against corrupt practices. The current cleansing approach should be affected so as to give an example to those with corrupt minds. We need to clean up. Strengthening local governments is the way to go. Accountability is key.
I support PF mainly for their commitment to devolution of power because it is more difficult to steal public resources from people you know and whose respect, trust and cooperation you rely on. Zambia needs a big dose of patriotism if the free- fall plunder of common natural capital is to be stopped. Corruption has spread due to the unequal application of justice by the state with individuals so often getting away with plunder and worse. .... Underlying all this, the fundamental question therefore is whether Zambia can afford to continue following "capitalism's" culture of rewarding unbridled individual wealth acquisition with status and power above age-old universal values that put community interests first. Hehe! I must sound like a communist to some of you but I'm convinced the same question is at the core of the global financial crisis! It come down to good stewardship of the planet.
This is a step in the right direction. Decentralization and empowerment of the local councils does not just deal with jurisdiction matters only but also financial independence of the local government. Revenue sources of the most councils were over taken by party politics. The separation of councils from political cadres. Now with this pronouncements and using local revenue to develop and provide local government services. Increased funding, from central government, each council would be required to submit a budget for the major projects and their deficit. This is how most local agencies can be sustained. Accountability and strict audit would ensure that revenue are applied to pertinent projects and curb corruption. The PF want to go ahead and implement even minor local administration at the village and ward level. This is a welcome move.
Zambia needs a good decentralisation framework. We actually already have a very good one, it has just never been implemented since it was put together in 2006/7. So, what has been proposed is not anything new. What the President mentioned in his speech sounds similar to the intergovernmental fiscal relations policy that pertains in South Africa. This is a great system of non-partisan and non-tribal equitable distribution of resources based on poverty levels and population.
The way i see it is that we are heading for participatory democracy, great for the future of Zambia, the community forums or governing bodies will need some funds, but mostly capacity building is required, communication capability being the first and foremost, a serious assessment of communication should be done for this including the educational system.
Friday, 21 October 2011
Thursday, 20 October 2011
“Business has not been favourable, because of the stiff competition from the phones being dumped on the market from China which are heavily subsided. This has resulted in us failing to fully penetrate the local market"
Wednesday, 19 October 2011
The Zambia Prisons Service has bemoaned the overcrowding in all the prisons centres in Eastern Province. Acting prisons regional commanding officer Robert Mwale said the prisons institutions in the province were highly overcrowded, the situation he said making the operations of the institutions difficult.....He said Namuseche Prisons in Chipata which was built during the colonial era was meant to accommodate 250 inmates but by 06:00 hours yesterday it had a total of 665 inmates....Katete Prisons which was expected to house 50 inmates but currently a total of 199 inmates, while Petauke Prison which is expected to accommodate 50 inmates but currently has a total of 271 inmates...Nyimba Prison was expected to accommodate 65 inmates but this time has 182 while Lundazi Prison by yesterday had a total of 188 inmates instead of the required 58....Superintendent Mwale also complained that it was taking too long for the courts to dispose off some of the cases of the detainees which he said had also greatly the contributed overcrowding in prisons centres across the province."A number of suspects have had their cases dragging in court for a long time, some have not been appearing for trial since 2009 in order to the court to determine their cases," he said.
Tuesday, 18 October 2011
President Michael Sata recently made a rather radical proposal that has not garnered much debate :
"OUR GOVERNMENT WILL ALSO DEVISE AN APPROPRIATE FORMULA FOR SHARING NATIONAL TAXES COLLECTED AT THE CENTRE WITHIN THE JURISDICTION OF EVERY LOCAL AUTHORITY IN ORDER TO STRENGTHEN THEIR REVENUE BASE".
This could be quite revolutionary, depending on the formula devised. But it also raises big questions in relation to the effectiveness of the local councils to handle greater revenue. There are issues around local politics and the scourge of corruption.
What is your view on this proposal? How should national revenues be divided? What dangers need to avoided, and how?
A sample of responses from "properly identified persons" will be published under our Readers Weekly column..
Those on Facebook can leave their comments here.
Sunday, 16 October 2011
Saturday, 15 October 2011
Brilliant idea! An educated guess! It sure beats the idea of having school leavers wait for at least a year before they can get into versity of college. Not quite sure if things have changed, but i graduated in December 2001 and had to wait until 2003 to get into university. I was fortunate enough to get a job six months after finishing, but the majority of my peers succumbed to alcohol, marijuana and other elicit activities in the process. I should mention here that a number of them died as a result. I know of A-level programmes that were introduced many years ago, but i doubt they have yielded any tangible benefits.
Loads of countries have mandatory military training, but I don't think its practical. It would in no way solve the issue of unemployment. National service is a short term solution. Sure kids would have a couple months of military training and learn new skills, but then after they would simply face unemployment yet again. So yes its a good distraction from delinquency- but not a solution to unemployment. So should it be optional? I don't see any reason why not. Should it be mandatory? No. The unemployment problem can only be solved by encouraging entrepreneurship. What Zambia needs is more enterprising people starting quality businesses. And some of Zambia's already existing large businesses need to be more aggressive than they currently are. Fix Zambia's enterprise problems and you'll fix the unemployment problem.
No, I do not agree that Zambia should introduce Mandatory National Service for the youths because mandatory is force. Considering force which is a mass per unit area, I strongly think that just a mere National Service would be very beneficial if the youths join with their consent because force is another form of violence. Yes, [the benefits of] national service can outweigh the costs. Moreover, that will create jobs, encourage the youths to participate in the disciplining of their well being as well as preparing them to be involved in political system of our country. It will be beneficial because youths will become independent. This terminates the burden away from parents who have larger families to support. The [best] way [is] to let youths to make up their choices and that is having freedom and democracy...
National Service will not in any way solve the Youth Employment problem. On its own, it's a cost without any guarantee of any returns on the money to be invested. The government should instead make that money available for entrepreneurship. As it is, we have youths running very profitable ventures but they unfortunately cannot access funds to increase their capital. If these businesses minded youths are allowed to grow they will become employers. We shouldn't go back to those dark years of National Service. Much as we love the PF, we cannot just blindly agree on anything they propose.
This is a great idea. Projects and businesses are not about how much you have as capital, it’s about having ideas on how to grow the little money you have. Most people have pointed out the advantages: discipline, skills being developed etc. This will combat the high levels of unemployment because those skills can be used for starting a self-business, that’s employment. Talking of costs, while the skills taught vary [to include] farming, tailoring, sports, carpentry and plumbing, end-products should be sold to the markets at large. I bet that will give the national service an income to survive on. The service can be self-financed. All they have to do is look for people with the right skills to tutor and section the youths into departments of their interest. It’s a very possible and good project for the youth and nation at large in that the youth gain their skills at a nil cost and the nation won't have to depend on imports.
National service is a good idea. Mandatory for a period. Those days it was 18 months. The people I know who went to national service in the seventies are very switched on individuals…It promotes self-discipline and focus, and though someone may say it does not solve the problem of unemployment, I'd say not completely, but it fills our streets with more disciplined and more skilful youth who though un-employed can do something private and beneficial (for themselves and society) with their skills, like fix a car or make and mend furniture, as opposed to having absolutely no skill at all, which leaves only the option of illegal and often destructive activity. In these centres there can be industry and agricultural production as well, which could create revenue to make these institutions either self-sustaining or profitable to the sponsor (government). Just as it is true that opportunities are scarce, it is also true that there are many who are lazy and complacent and have become used to getting away with it, just waiting for someone else to do it so that they can beg, crying about how hard it is. The benefits of having national service (done properly) beat by far the current condition, and would go a long way also in correcting the mentality towards contributing towards the collective. This is what I think.
My proposal to this effect will be to establish a Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) particularly to sit either under Ministry of Commerce or more importantly under Education. Zambia has not fully tapped into this and there could be a lot of talented young boys and girls out there who have great talent but not been recognised. JETS at one point had a sense of direction but because of no political will to fund R&D, it seems to have died a natural death. Once this is established, a well thought through plan can be ascertained and every element to do with youth development will be properly streamlined as opposed to mumble jumbled up type of approach. We have already existing rewarding models like Don Bosco project, so this is something that can easily be amplified at National level, especially that Decentralisation will be implemented soon at sub district levels. Decentralisation will help provide alot of answers to some of these long pending problems.
National Service is a good move and should for citizens who have the fitness, health, and also willing to do so. The High school recruitment [is a] good target because many young people are seeking a direction and vision for their lives. Basic military training would be useful but engage also in emergency, disaster and business skill. The skill learned in ZNS was what many people in my father's generation ended up using such skills for career advancement and development Increase open recruitment and offer more incentives such as tuition assistance, skills training, especially in vocational related field. Engage the youths in national development, community projects and infrastructure. Do I support increased ZNC? Yes…but may be optional but not mandatory. Ages 18-30 may be a good age to promote and encourage youths in within this category but offer the cons and pros to the candidates before they sign on.
Friday, 14 October 2011
The full transcript of President Michael's speech to Parliament on Friday, 14 October 2011 :
Thursday, 13 October 2011
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
The Dubai-Lusaka-Harare service would be operated by an A330-200 aircraft in a three-class configuration that offers 12 luxurious First Class seats, 42 seats in Business Class and generous space for 183 passengers in Economy Class...Passengers flying Emirates from Lusaka and Harare would be able to connect seamlessly to points across the Far and Middle East, Indian sub-continent, Europe and Australasia via the airline's hub in Dubai. Starting February 1, 2012, EK 713 would depart Dubai every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 09:25 hours, arriving in Lusaka at 14:50 hours. The service would depart Lusaka at 16:20 hours, arriving in Harare at 17:20 hours. The return flight leaves Harare at 19:20 hours, arriving Lusaka at 20:20 hours; and departs Lusaka at 21:50 and lands in Dubai at 07:10 hours the next day.
The airline which will operate the route twice a week every Tuesday and Saturday on a Boeing 737-800 commences on October 18, this year....In Zambia, Kenya Airways operates the highest northbound flights from Zambia via Nairobi connecting to more than 3500 cities worldwide. Jeddah is the economic and tourist capital of Saudi Arabia with an estimated population of about 3.4 million people and is the second largest city after the capital city Riyadh.
Tuesday, 11 October 2011
A glimpse of how the corruption took place in the Road Development Agency (RDA) :
President Sata recently dissolved the RDA board after repeated cases of corruption e.g. here and here. GIven the nature of how corruption took place (through fake bonds), it appears this was a well orchestrated plan fed by strategic ineptitude on the part of the board. It does not take a genius to know that where large projects are being undertaken the risk must always reside with the constructor. The key to that is to ensure that your "bond" verifications are spot on."In Kabwe there was one company given the Kabwe roads and some in Kapiri Mposhi...When you are going to get advance, you are supposed to give the security bond. What happened with these guys [Chinese firm] is that they got a fake security bond. They got the money and RDA realised that it was fake after the contractor had used the money...When somebody submits a security bond, you are supposed to verify with the bank that has issued it..There was about K5 billion for the Kabwe and Kapiri roads as advance payment....How is RDA going to recover that money? Why security bond is required is that in case of bad performance, you can go and encash the security bond..In this case, the contractor knew that he was going to default. We have lost K5 billion and RDA can't recover that money and it is not only this project where we have lost money. It is across."
A special contribution on the North African geopolitics by Dr Mpundu Mukanga. I have specially asked Dr Mukanga to provide some reflections on various "African politics" and "business issues", in an effort to fill the gap in these critical area. We hope to share his reflections from time to time beginning with the essay below.
Prisoners of Regime Change
Monday, 10 October 2011
The Government is allegedly considering making national service training for youths mandatory.
According to Defence Minister GBM, “National service can also be used as skills centres and hopefully this will turn round the situation of high levels of unemployment among the youth in the country". Some have called it “a well thought proposal” which would address the youths “who are languishing on the streets”.
This initiative will of course come with costs and benefits. Interestingly, this proposal is not in the PF Manifesto. Its also not clear whether other models will be considered e.g. some form of privates sector involvement.
Are you in favour of Zambia introducing a mandatory national service for youths? If not, what approaches do you think Government should consider?
A sample of responses from "properly identified persons" will be published under our new column - Readers Weekly.
Those on Facebook can leave their comments here.
Saturday, 8 October 2011
Personally I don’t approve of it, you know it’s not like we have a shortage of skilled labour. The many thousands graduating from several institutions where are they going to go? No where! Reasons being: (1) Government is the biggest employer and if it will hold on to these old folks who have done their worthy part by the time they are 55; and, (2) If Government keeps people until they are 65, when are these people going to learn about entrepreneurship and employ the energetic, skilled and employment hungry youths? I don’t think that’s the best way to build an economy. It’s not the best time to introduce such laws.
This topic requires expert advice from demographers among others. From my little understanding, Zambia has more young people than adults. Blatantly it means that in the next 10 years Zambia will not have people retiring (not including those on contract and are over 55 years). In short people will start retiring 10 years from now. What do this mean? It means that a big number of young people have to sacrifice for at least 10 years! After 10 years we will get back to normal circle of people retiring every year. For some of us who are almost getting to 55 years and are not yet ready to retire it sounds a very good idea but for the young graduate with no job at all it may sound a death sentence! This policy unfortunately still needs a lot of debate, and finally consensus. Lets us not rush. We need to weigh both the positives and negatives.
I agree with Brown Ngenda, in as much as advice from demographers is a must, the concept should be the dynamics of job creation not Job retention-in light of the high level of unemployment! Mindful of the short life expectancy in Zambia, Government should keep the current 55yrs retirement age. Those retired would have left vacancies for new graduates. And as for the retired oldies, Government should have a robust programme to transform these retires with their "vast experiences" into business entrepreneurs creating jobs for the skilled and semi-skilled youths with the help of govt grants and their own retirement packages as liquidity. The spiral effect of this Concept on the economy cannot be over emphasised both in the short and Long term if Zambia is aiming for a middle income by 2030.
Govt should learn from the sale of houses by Chiluba to the old sitting tenants, who have congested the towns instead of going" (back to the Land concept-more bumper harvest)" now there’s no accommodation in towns for new graduates, creating an unnecessary demand for houses, compounded with other variables thus the high rentals in urban areas. Also, Policy should never be formulated to save a limited number of individuals in mind (the Chief Justice, Army Generals etc) but must be an aggregate tool in solving the many challenges facing the country as a whole and moving it forward progressively with the 7th generation in mind. Why can't Government formulate a concept of building retired personnel into chief executives and chairpersons of their own businesses as truly empowered citizens than locking talent and they would be entrepreneurs" into perpetual civil servants/employees for life? The employment concept should be reformed to be the means to the end (business formation or entrepreneurship) and not the end in itself.....
The answer especially to Civil Servants is that its should be optional to choose when they reach 55 whether to continue or not. It should not be mandatory. So that those who get their masters and PHD in late 40's can contribute. It will also be pathetic to teachers where someone becomes the headteacher/principle in his/her 40's and you don't expect any promotion for the next let say 15 long Years. Let it be discriminatory only those with masters or PHD can be in government to serve for the next 10 years after 55...lol It has both good and bad notions. Imagine an old teacher who cant even walk properly at 60 years waiting for five more years affecting pupils attention thereby feeling petty for such workers to retire. Imagine a 62 years old nurse with poor sight looking for your vain to test you for VCT. Please let it be optional for people when they reach 55 period to give chances for those who want to rest and start their own empires...
If this is done it must be phased in gradually not abruptly. The benefits would be fewer pensions to pay out and a more experienced work force. The costs would be fewer employment opportunities for the newly qualified youth and fewer new businesses starting up (retirees at 55years all go into business or farming if they get their benefits) An alternative might be to make the age optional within a range with a sliding pension scale; the longer you wait before retiring, the higher the pension. An immediate boost to the economy could be achieved by paying out all benefits due. It all gets invested in business. Some of the best emergent farmers I have met recently are retired teachers.
No, not in favour for the following reasons:1. This move has the potential to restrict new entrants into the jobs market;2. Older employees are more expensive than new ones i.e., they most probably are at the top of their income brackets and over the years have undoubtedly received progressive salary increments. Therefore, this move runs counter to the promise to cut government expenditure;3. There isn't enough information on the productivity of older employee, so at this stage it's impossible match up the perceived benefits of experience versus productivity;4. The reasons advances for this push are unconvincing. Perhaps the rationale should be posited better?
Friday, 7 October 2011
Higher wages do no good if every price one pays also goes up by the same amount. Wage increases at a rate above inflation is what workers really want, and flatter wages accompanied by a decrease in consumer inflation (or even deflation, though that is a long way away and not necessarily desirable) would accomplish essentially the same thing over the long term. Not to say on my own estimation that the minimum wage should or should not be raised, I think that that is something for careful consideration by duly elected people given access to all available facts on the matter and the advice of experts. Where I think that people may be confused is that more money in their pockets combined with higher prices for everything results in "more or less" in their cupboards. It depends on relative rates. I will try to construct a theoretically sustainable minimum wage formula:
....the duo said that Botswana should adopt a 48-hr cooling period prior to elections, instead of closing campaign activities at 12 am, a few hours before elections. They said this would help people to vote with cool heads. They also said that the creation of multiple voting streams, which are arranged in alphabetical order can help ease queues at polling stations, as it is easier for voting officers to do their work. In Botswana, people just queue up and it takes at least four minutes before a voter's name can be located in the voters' roll, something that the MPs say should be reviewed. They said that the multiple voting streams are effective and voters do not spend hours in queues waiting to vote.
Thursday, 6 October 2011
Wednesday, 5 October 2011
President Michael Sata this week directed Justice Minister Sebastian Zulu to amend the Pensions Act to allow civil servants retire at the age of 65 and not 55 years. This will require a parliamentary majority to become law.
The President believes the current limit is unnecessary punitive on those who have the strength to work longer. Plus he is clearly trying to make the pension system more sustainable. More people working means less pay-outs. But it could also means those who retire get more worthy pension arrangements (if reforms include this component).
As part of our inaugural weekly question (across our Facebook and website pages) we are asking the following questions:
Are you in favour of increasing the public sector pension age?
A sample of responses from "properly identified persons" will be published under our new column - Readers Weekly (every Friday). Responses on Facebook can be found here.
Tuesday, 4 October 2011
Guinea’s new mining code, passed on September 9, promises to maximise the public revenues generated by foreign deposits and impose stricter regulations upon mining companies operating in the country.
Monday, 3 October 2011
Sunday, 2 October 2011
In New Sub-Saharan Leader, Hints of an African Spring, G. Pascal Zachary, The Atlantic, Commentary :Global political pundits are waiting in vain for an "African spring," in which the forces of mass, grassroots democracy course through sub-Saharan Africa, a region arguably in as much need of genuine political reform and civic participation as the Arab world. Ever since the North African countries of Tunisia and Egypt exploded in protest, observers of sub-Saharan politics have observed with envy the seemingly revolutionary activities taking place in the north of the continent.
Saturday, 1 October 2011
It went almost unnoticed on a day of brinkmanship and geopolitical pyrotechnics. At the United Nations, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rolled out his demand for full statehood. Israel responded predictably, backed by the United States and others. Diplomats scuttled hurriedly to and fro, seeking compromises and middle ground – anything to do a deal that would keep the matter from coming to a vote in the Security Council or General Assembly.