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Monday, 30 April 2012

First Draft Constitution of Zambia

The First Draft Constitution of Zambia has been released for a 40 day consultation. First impression is that there are certainly some interesting additions, but overall this looks to be a popular but not well thought through draft. It aims to please everyone rather than offer an intellectually sound position. But that is only after a scan. Do please read it and write your responses. We would be happy to coordinate a single response, but clearly that is not possible because we all have different opinions. So feed back directly. We will try and flag up things that you may wish to look out for. A special page has been be created to pull this together. The document is embedded below. Further information can be found at 
First Draft Constitution of Zambia - April 2012

Submission of 2013 Budget Proposals

Press release by the Ministry of Finance asks for proposals for the 2013 budget. Zambian Economist may coordinate a response over the next three months, if we have sufficient interest from our readers :

Lusaka, Friday, 27th April, 2012. The Ministry of Finance and National Planning [MOFNP] wishes to announce the commencement of preparations for the 2013 National Budget and the 2013 Medium Term Expenditure Framework.

In this regard, members of the public are invited to make submissions on Tax and Non-Tax Revenue Policy Proposals which they hope to see in the 2013 National Budget and the 2013 to 2015 Medium Term Expenditure Framework.

Dressing for Labour Day

Roy Mwaba (ZCTU) recently asked Government to buy quality attire for workers during this year’s Labour Day celebrations. Mr Mwaba said it is important for employers to always consider motivating their workers even in a small way by ensuring that they are bought quality attire when they march to commemorate Labour Day :
“We want to appeal to employers, investors, the mines including the government to ensure that they buy quality suits for workers. They must dress them properly. We don’t want them to buy the chitenge materials from Kamwala in Lusaka to dress our members. The companies and Government must buy quality suits for workers like the ones ministers wear".
Is this not just perpetuating folly? Employers should pay workers well enough for them to dress properly all the time not just on labour day. When are we going to start thinking properly? Incidentally, all employees would prefer to be motivated by cash payments instead of suits. Money is more efficient than rations (economics 101). Also, the practice is also very North Korean - marching around, doing what and for whom? Is it a crusade?

Friday, 27 April 2012

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Reflections on Stockholm Internet Forum 2012

By Chola Mukanga

The first ever conference on internet freedom and global development was held in Stockholm last week (18th – 19th April). The Stockholm Internet Forum was hosted by Sweden’s Ministry of Affairs and Swedish Development Agency (SIDA).  This "invitation only" event brought together 350 knowledgeable and committed decision-makers, activists, and representatives from civil society, the business sector and the technology community to take part in discussions on Internet freedom. Zambian Economist was delighted to have been specially invited to take part. It afforded us an opportunity to share the Zambian perspective on these important matters and to learn from others around the world on just how the internet can be leveraged for development and how best to secure free access in a world of increasingly competing corporate and political interests.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Cost of Poor Sanitation in Zambia

Poor sanitation costs Zambia K946 billion each year, equivalent to US$194 million, according to a desk study carried out by The Water and Sanitation Program (WSP). This sum is the equivalent of US$16.4 per person in Zambia per year or 1.3% of the national GDP.
Economics of Poor Sanitation in Zambia

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Shaping the Future Conference (March 2012)

The British Council recently hosted the above conference at The Taj Podmozi Hotel. The conference was designed to allow Zambians to meet, discuss and decide on policy issues affecting the following areas:

Food Production and Security – main speakers Mr Gareth Haysom University of Cape Town and Auckland Kuteya - IAPRI Research Associate – Chair Alex Mwanaksale

Resource rich and people poor – main speaker Anwar Ravat, World Bank, Lusaka – Chair Professor Oliver Saasa

Energy use and alternatives - main speakers Mr Elias Chipimo, President NAREP and Dr.Thomas Krimmel, MD Southern Bio Power – Chair Elias Chipimo

Improving access to education and health - main speakers - Mrs Ruth Mubango, Director of Teacher Education and Specialised Services, Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Childhood and Health – Dr Felix Masiye, Head; Economics Department, University of Zambia – Chair: Ms Chileshe Chilangwa, Deputy Chief of Party Zambia-led Prevention Initiative, FHI360

Poverty Reduction – main speaker - Dr Francis Chigunta, Department of Development Studies, University of Zambia – chair – John Birchall, Development Economist

Monday, 23 April 2012

Zambia Human Development Report 2011

The Zambia Human Development Report 2011 has been released. The good news is that at 0.395, Zambia’s ranking on the Human Development Index (HDI) is above the average of 0.389 for Sub-Saharan Africa, and slightly above the average of 0.393 for low-HDI countries. [These are 2010 figures]. The bad news, is the huge disparity between the lowest and top performing provinces. The worst performer Western Province scores 0.321, with the top performer Copperbelt province at 0.480 [These are 2008 figures]. 
Zambia Human Development Report 2011

Friday, 20 April 2012

Death Penalty, 5th Edition

The death penalty debate is back as the deplorable conditions of prisoners came to fore following VP Scott's visit to Mukobeko. Times of Zambia have been quick off the block:
On a larger scale, the Constitution Technical Committee should ensure that the ambivalence in the Constitution is harmonised. Part Three of the Constitution on the Bill of Rights is clear on the need to preserve life; the right to life. It is against human rights and also against the law to take away another person’s life; capital punishment should be abolished. This contradiction should be sorted out.
But this is sprinting blindly! If what is stated is true then Zambia would never fight any war or kill anyone if invaded. Indeed, why are individuals permitted in law to kill criminals who try and take their lives? Why have a right to self defence at all? Why maintain national security at all costs? The answer is that the right to life can be forfeited! There are perfectly good reasons why some people are killed by the State. Indeed, the law provides for certain instances when individuals are within their right to kill. That is not contradictions, it is logical. 

The point here surely is that simply arguing that we should abolish the death penalty because killing is against human rights is not good enough! Better reasons are needed. That is not to say such reasons don't exist. We are simply saying the reason offered by the Times is not a good one.

Related Posts :

Thursday, 19 April 2012

From Beijing With Weapons, 2nd Edition

The Government has bought eight K-8P jets for Zambia Air Force (ZAF) from China. ZAF Commander Eric Chimese said the jets would "enhance the military wing’s ability to monitor the stability of the country". Government also plans to purchase helicopters, presumably also from China.

One can only imagine this deal was struck by the MMD administration. General Wisdom Lop was in Beijing exactly one year ago to meet military officials as Beijing seeks to strength its military hold across the continent through under the table military cooperation and general arm sales. Though given Mr Mwamba's eagerness for military hardware, may be that assumption needs to be checked. It could be a PF deal - totally initiated by them, without Chinese encouragement.

Since Zambians never ask questions, we will never know. We also will never know why all of this military expenditure is being prioritised and how much it all costs.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Local Funding

By Chola Mukanga

Deputy Finance Minister Miles Sampa has recently been championing municipal bonds. In the one media report he was it was reported that Mr Sampa has “implored local authorities to put their houses in order and start raising finances from Lusaka Stock Exchange instead of endlessly looking up to central government for operations finance... decentralisation could be accelerated if the local authorities started raising finances from the local bourse. The councils… can actually raise their own funds through municipal bonds like it is done in other countries”.

Unfortunately, this is another old idea that has never been thought through. The idea was first mooted by MMD administration in 2004. It quickly died quickly due to difficulties in securing assets and income streams from the local authorities. The MMD administration had in fact released K7 billion to selected councils that had set aside land for the construction of houses, with little known about how many even materialised. The bottom line – no bonds were issued!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Barriers to Justice (Crowded Prisons), 4th Edition

Vice President Scott got a rude awakening when he became the highest ranking Government official to visit the deplorable Mukobeko Maximum Security Prison in Kabwe since independence :
“The President heard of the conditions in this death row and he directed me to come to you and report back. Others have had your appeals rejected. We have to find a solution because this is hell on earth. As government, we can’t allow the present situation to continue. IIndeed, the congestion is visible even for the press to see and indeed, that’s not the way it is supposed to be. It is inhuman that a cell where one person is supposed to sleep is occupied by seven people. We know your toilets are in the cell in form of a container, that is surely inhuman...This whole country needs rehabilitation. It has been allowed to deteriorate. The disadvantaged have become more disadvantaged.
In some way, this is not surprising. If the MMD in its rampant greed never cared for the poor, how would it have cared about prisoners? Politicians will only care about prisons if there's a chance they may end up there because the country is built on clear and enforceable laws. MMD saw jails as the avenue for the destitute not for them. Whether much will change remains to be seen. The good news is that it has once again brought prison reform back on the agenda, with the like of Roger Chongwe weighing in :
"Accommodation in these prisons has never been expanded considering the rise in our population. Chimbokaila in Lusaka, that prison was built for a population of Lusaka which had half a million and the same with Maximum Prison in Kabwe…And we are 13 million people in Zambia today and we cannot, with that population, expect to use those prisons which were built at a time when numbers were less than what we have. The solution is to build bigger and modern prison infrastructure so that the inmates are kept there as human beings not as animals as described by the Vice-President that Mukobeko Prison is merely hell on earth."
Chongwe's focus is on the need for larger prison capacity, such as the New Mwembeshi Prison currently under construction.  But helpfully, he also flagged up the need for reforming sentencing. Instead of imposing custodial sentences for minor offences like stealing a cob of maize, petty thievin, its much more effective to impose monetary fines and where they cannot pay, community based sentences should be explored. These ideas of course have "retributive justice" problems. The punishment clearly has to fit the crime and therefore government needs a better criteria for how certain offences are define as crimes in the first place rather than civil offences.

The Human Rights Commission has also helpfully noted the need for a serious look at the "rehabilitation agenda". In their words, "The Commission is greatly concerned that today, Zambian prisons still echo the times when such facilities were viewed as places of punishment instead of being centres for rehabilitation of offenders who would later be integrated back into society after serving their respective sentences".  What they have in mind are initiatives like this donor funded project which is designed to help get prisoners back to school. 

Monday, 16 April 2012

Energy Watch (New Pipeline), 2nd Edition

A Zambian registered company plans to build a pipeline from oil-rich Angola to Lusaka after a refinery is completed in Angola, according to Zambia Development Agency. Basali Ba Liseli Resources will construct the multi-petroleum product pipeline and other ancillary infrastructure from the Sonaref refinery in Lobito, Angola. According to ZDA the refinery is initially earmarked to refine 200,000 barrels of crude oil per day. The first phase of the refinery project in Angola was expected to be commissioned by the end of 2013 or early 2014. The project is estimated to be worth US$2.5bn

This becomes the second proposed new pipeline. The other being the Sub-Saharan Gemstone Exchange Industrial Park led project discussed here

Friday, 13 April 2012

Better Policing (Police Torture), 2nd Edition

A disturbing report from the Human Rights Commission on the regular occurrence of police torture across  the country, with special reference to the shocking case in Kasama. The case also serves to highlight how tackling victim's fear is vital in enabling people to come forward and report this rampant abuse. 

Today I use a case that has been investigated by the Kasama Office of the Human Rights Commission (HRC), which is sadly a regular occurrence in many police stations across Zambia, but which should never occur at all.

A resident of Chitambi Village in Kasama, a domestic worker was on Sunday January 9, 2012, taken to the police station on suspicion that he had stolen a carpet which he had been given to clean the previous day.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Corruption Watch (Various)

Recent "corruption watch" related news :

Two Ministry of Community Development employees in Mongu recently appeared in a magistrate’s court charged with 12 counts of theft by public servant involving about K90 million. Principal community development officer Jenifer Malembeka, 46 and Lubinda Wakwinji, a practical instructor also 46 have been charged with 12 counts of theft by public servant.

The Commission of Inquiry on the procurement of petroleum products has established that K2 trillion was allegedly embezzled in the supply chain between 2007 and last year. The malpractices occurred in the then Ministry of Energy and Water Development, Zambia Public Procurement Authority and ERB. The commission has recommended that law enforcement agencies should take action immediately.

Hon Mwalimu Simfukwe MP (Mbala Central) has been arrested and charged with abuse of authority of office.
 Mr Simfukwe, who is former Northern Province permanent secretary, was been jointly charged with a former procurement officer Elias Simukonde.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Rewriting History?

The Fourth President gave a lecture last week in the USA where he appears to have recast himself as the champion of the people, a superhero at the height of the economic storm even, whose only mistake was failing to communicate his many successes properly. A champion of 50%+1 who tried his best to deliver a people driven constitution. The Banda in the essay is not one many ordinary Zambians recognise. The Banda we remember is one only failed to get troops to our streets when he saw defeat because the Generals told him no. We remember the man who forced the First President to cry because he refused to give up power. It took stern warnings from western countries and   the bravery of Justice Mambilima who threatened to spill the bins to the nation for Zambia to see pass that dark hour.
President Rupiah Banda - Lecture April 2012

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Booming Soya

Soya production is set to hit a record of nearly 160,000 metric tonnes this year compared to the 100,000 metric tonnes harvested last year as most commercial farmers cut back on maize production to search for higher and more certain profits. While maize is selling as low as $140 per tonne, soya beans is now fetching about $615 per tonne up from $560 per tonne from last year’s farming season, even more than wheat.

The growth in soya production appears to reflect a broader resurgence in other areas. The number of small-scale farmers in cotton production has increased to 400,000 metric tonnes up from 180,000 metric tonnes last season. There is also a “boom” in poultry that has grown to 43 million chicks in the last two years up from 18 million chicks. Demand for beef also continues to grow. In one respect, the future for agriculture is bright, though more clearly needs to be done particularly in terms of delivery of public goods. The maize marketing monster also needs to be resolved.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Aid Watch (China)

Zambia recently signed a “grant” deal with China worth US$15.8m. The grant is towards provision of solar mobile power system; Confucius Institute of the University of Zambia and construction of the Chinese Doctors’ residence at the Levy Mwanawasa general hospital. This appears to be genuine “free money”, if there's such a thing, as opposed to a loan arrangement. More detail via Lusaka Times.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Corruption Watch (Various)

Recent "corruption watch" related news :

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) is now investigating a bribery case involving some senior members of the MMD and a French engineering firm. The investigations emanated from the World Bank’s action to slap a US$9.5 million (about K50 billion) fine on Alstom Corporation after the company allegedly bribed a former MMD government official in 2002. (Previous report here).

The nine employees of Disabled Multi-purpose Association of Zambia (DMAZ) are facing court charges for allegedly obtaining, by false pretences, more than K30 million meant for the supply of fertiliser to their members.

Three former defence service chiefs were arrested last week and jointly charged with theft by public servant involving K1.5 billion meant for defence operations during and after last September’s tripartite elections. The three are former Zambia Army commander Wisdom Lopa, former Zambia Air Force commander Andrew Sakala and former Zambia National Service commander Anthony Yeta.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

The Case Against Windfall Tax

We always encourage contrasting perspectives on Zambian Economist. The article below by the Chamber of Mines  is a useful counter perspective on  the windfall taxation debate. It represents the best that the mining companies have come up with in arguing for the status quo:  

The issue of tax incentives for the mines vis-à-vis the call for higher taxes keeps popping up at various fora. People hold different opinions on the matter, but major stakeholders are generally agreed that whichever way it goes, it must be a win-win situation.

We have made our position very clear over the current tax regime on the mines. Taxes should not cripple the industry because that would have an adverse effect on the economy.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Parastatal Madness, 17th Edition

Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company (LWSC) is among the long line of parastatals that have been crippled by Government debt. The company revealed recently that Government owes it a staggering K56 billion in unpaid bills. Perhaps the problem does not lie with Government because we are told, "the company has been receiving funding from the World Bank, Japanese International Cooperation Agency, the United Kingdom Aid and Australia Aid". So foreign donors are giving money to LWSC, which ends up as unpaid bills indirectly to Government. 

LWSC is not alone of course. Last year, the Southern Province Minister proudly announced that he had ordered Southern Water and Sewerage Company (SWASCO) to reconnect water to all prisons in the region, which were disconnected over K160 million unpaid bills : "Three weeks ago in the prisons, water was disconnected over K160 million bill. Can we kill people? Some people are in prisons by implication. Yesterday, I ordered SWASCO to connect water immediately so we remain to sort out the money issue". The failure to pay parastatals the debt owed to them is one of the main reasons for their under-performance, as any careful reading of any Auditor General's Report on parastatal would reveal. 

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Bank of Zambia Policy Rate

The Bank of Zambia has introduced a Policy Rate to replace the money supply targeting framework which had been in place under the MMD administration. The inaugural benchmarch interest rate has been  has been set at 9 percent. With the overnight lending rate to commercial banks due to be set at -/+2.5% of that rate, this suggests a monetary tightening. Presumably this is all part of a march towards explicit inflation targeting. 
Introduction of the Bank of Zambia Policy Rate

Monday, 2 April 2012

Mine Watch (Various)

A number of recent mining watch stories.

Kansanshi Copper Mine profits have been soaring of late. In 2011 it recorded a 19 per cent increase in gross profit as compared to the 2010 figures, mainly due to the high copper prices that occurred throughout the year. According to financial and production results it raked US$1.2 billion profit as compared to US$ 998.4 million, was recorded in 2010.

The much anticipated Trident project appears to be taking shape. Investment is now projected at $2.4bn up from the $1bn. Zambia has seen large promises of new investment fail to materialise (who remembers the great Zhongui Mining Group project which promised to deliver 34,000 jobs?), but this indeed looks like the real deal.