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Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Unstoppable Tide

Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe recently offered a $300,000 reward to anyone who will uncover the identity of an internet mole known as “Baba Jukwa”. Three out of five people in Zimbabwe now have direct access to social media in Zimbabwe, and with Baba Jukwa’s revealing of information through Facebook to his 290,000 readers people are becoming more and more aware of what is going on in their government.

The internet is challenging the old ways of old African leaders. Many of their policies and tactics appear no longer viable in the internet age. They are trying to clamp down on access to internet sites and suppressing freedoms. But this is fruitless as our own government has found out with the Zambian Watchdog

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Electricity Watch (Konkola Copper Mines)

Konkola Copper Mines is exploring for coal and may build a power plant to reduce electricity costs. KCM started exploration in Sinazongwe (Southern Province) earlier this year. It hopes to build a power station to generate as much as 300 megawatts, provided it finds enough coal with the necessary energy levels.

KCM's Business Development Director Brad Gnanasivam says, "It's an option that we are trying to develop for ourselves so that we’re not stranded...if power rates continue going where they are going, at some point it will become very unsustainable, especially at the kind of power that we consume.”

Konkola Copper Mines is the biggest power consumer in Zambia, using as much as 250 megawatts, or about 13 percent of the country’s total generation capacity. Zesco has applied for a 26 percent average price increase, and the ERB is yet to decide on the request. KCM would want to have its own power station producing by 2020, when an electricity supply contract with CEC expires.

Monday, 29 July 2013

10 Tips on Writing Effectively

Earlier this year, I crossed  the threshold of writing over 3000 blog articles on the Zambian Economist. I hope to share some thoughts on what I have learnt about blogging and writing. I thought I should start with the top ten tips that has has helped to make my writing as effective as possible. I am no expert but I have more than a million annual readers - so I must be writing right. Okay it is possible people just put up with me. But for what it is worth here are my tips:  

Tip #1: Know your key message. No point writing unless you can answer the basic question, ‘what am I trying to say’? Sum it up in single sentence. Then start writing!

Tip #2: Make it short. Not everyone is blessed with a huge knowledge of English. So make everything short. Make your words shorter. Even more important keep your sentences short by cutting out words. It is also important that you use one topic or idea per paragraph! But make sure you break paragraphs and keep them short too – it makes it easier for readers to scan your text!

Tip #3: Be specific. The writer must capture the reader’s attention. It is therefore important that every word is specific and hits the message being communicated.

Tip #4: Eliminate paddling. Effective writing eliminates comfort phrases. Phrases such as “in effect” and “it is with this in mind” do not add value! The key is to ask yourself, ‘is this phrase contributing anything’? Someone has said, “perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away”.

Tip #5: Avoid repetition. There’s nothing more boring that constant repetition. This is true in speech as well as writing. If you must repeat avoid doing so in close proximity!

Tip #6: Give the reader a map. The writer is like a tourist guide. You are taking a reader along a journey for them to discover what lies ahead. Don’t leave the reader guessing where you are going. Give signposts!

Tip #7: Avoid jargon! We all have words we like to use often which are not known to those outside our expertise or inner circle. The jargon gets in the way of the message. It is important to drop the jargon and think of an everyday English equivalent. All technical or scientific or theological words must be explained!

Tip #8: Use the active voice. Active voice is powerful and engaging. Passive voices sends us to sleep! So be direct. Say, “I will always remember my first to Lusaka” not “my first visit to Lusaka will be always be remembered”.

Tip #9: Don’t over-emphasise. I am definitely guilty of this. I like to use italics and put things in bold. Effective writing does not require that. It certainly does not need over use of words like “very”, “extremely”, “crucial”, etc. Let the argument speak for itself!

Tip #10: Think about your reader. Make sure the tone, type of language and arguments are suitable to your audience. How much do they know about the subject? Get the level of detail right. In short, know your reader! Perhaps this needs to be at the top!

Okay, although I have called this post “top ten” tips but actually there’s one final thing. Edit your writing! In general your first draft should be free and inhibited! Thereafter starts the hard work of editing! Keep editing until you get it right! A crucial part of the editing process is to read it aloud! If it doesn't sound right it is not right! You should also consider giving it to a friend to read and ask them what they think! These tips also apply to public speaking! Keeping them in mind definitely should go a long way!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chola Mukanga | Economist | Writer
Copyright © Zambian Economist 2013

Random Thoughts, 3rd Edition

Ministry of Health recently released more information on the new 650 health posts which are due to be constructed around the country. The posts will be constructed over the next two years and will be "prefabricated". They are being funded under a "grant" between Zambia and the Indian government but the details of the grant are not publicly available. ZNBC says around "3000 jobs will be created once the 650 health posts" have been constructed. But then it says "50 people are expected to be employed at one health post in their various specialties". One does not have to be a genius to see that 50 x 650 = 32,500 jobs. What we need is a ministerial statement on this programme to clear the hubris.

SADC's favorite dictator Robert Mugabe recently vented some fury at the organisation: “SADC has no power. Let it be known that we are in SADC voluntarily. If SADC decides to do stupid things, we can pull out. For now we have a SADC that has good sense. Although from some quotas there was a stupid, idiotic woman saying elections cannot be held by July 31. Did such person ever think as an independent country we would take such utterances which were stupid and idiotic".  The woman in question is spokesperson for the SADC facilitation team on Zimbabwe Lindiwe Zulu. Sir Bob of Harare is not very happy with SADC leaders over the upcoming Zimbabwe elections. SADC leaders want a free, fair and credible election and believe this is only possible with strong reform in place.

Friday, 26 July 2013

How well is PF performing compared to MMD?


From the recent Afrobarometer survey . No your eyes are not deceiving you. People really do think PF is doing better than MMD and the survey is allegedly quite reliable despite its obvious flaw. Namely the sample size of 1,200 prevents us getting a regional picture, although it should be okay at the national level. What this tells me is that PF is not only getting a benefit of doubt people really do believe in its national agenda. The challenge for the opposition is therefore to move beyond the "anti" platiform and actually articulate an alternative and credible vision of change that combines a unified politics and with believable economic vision.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chola Mukanga | Economist | Writer
Copyright © Zambian Economist 2013

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Let us liberalise the oil sector

Energy Minister Chris Yaluma recently announced that Cabinet has approved the sale of 49% of Indeni Petroluem (the nation's sole oil refinery). Government is in talks with a number of parties interested in investing in Indeni but it is not revealing who these interested companies are. Zambia imports nearly all its crude from the Middle East, but GRZ wants the refinery upgraded to enable it to refine crude from Angola. In addition, government is allegedly looking for at least $410 million to build a new refinery to ensure stable fuel supply.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

What is the biggest problem facing the country?


From the recent Afrobarometer survey . No surprises there - the only challenge is how to tackle it! Data from CSO surveys actually shows the problem is largely one of youth unemployment. Perhaps the Government should introduce a prize on who will come up with the most original idea to tackle unemployment? We need to make more use of prizes in policy development! 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chola Mukanga | Economist | Writer
Copyright © Zambian Economist 2013

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Zambia and the falling copper prices

Copper prices continue falling. It has now fallen by 15% this year. This continues a trend which has seen the red metal losing $3000 per tonne over the last two years. That fall has coincided with a slowdown in China's growth. The Chamber of Mines recently said  if low copper prices continue "the industry will have to review its operations in the country". In particular, "mining firms might be forced to address their operations through cutting down expenses which include labour costs".

We have reason to be concerned because the fall in prices will continue as China's economy slows down. China's growth rate is still well above 7 per cent a year, but a slowdown is happening, and the near 10 per cent growth of the previous decade is gone.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Investment Watch (Ndola)

More good news for Ndola following recent investment in housing and electricity. The Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) recently approved the construction of Mwekera Copper Mine; a new underground mine in Kaposhi, Ndola, by Chinese-owned Macrolink Resources Limited. According to Times of Zambia, the company intends to invest over $5 billion in the mine with an expected lifespan of 20 years.

The $5bn is cleary way off the mark. If it was true that would be most largest single investment in Zambia. We have to remember Macrolink last year was served a "default notice" by Government for being slow in taking forward the project. So it is way over the top to suggest they have $5bn to invest for amine with that lifespan. But of course it remains the case that this is excellent news for Ndola.

The other piece of news is that Varun Beverages will soon establish a Pepsi bottling plant in Ndola which is expected to become operational by the end of 2014. Apart from the new bottling plant in Ndola, the company also plans to set up a dairy plant in Lusaka which would also open next year. Varun Beverages are the producers of Pepsi, Mirinda, fruity Mirinda, 7 UP and Pepsi light.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 
Chola Mukanga | Economist | Writer 
Copyright © Zambian Economist 2013

Friday, 19 July 2013

Livestock Farming in Zambia

A recent parliamentary report reviews the current state of livestock farming in Zambia.  The livestock sector is worth over $1.5bn in Zambia, accounting for around 35% of agriculture’ share of national gross domestic product (GDP). The good news is that the sector has experienced stead growth in recent years. Beef and dairy products are growing around 7% and 10% annually respectively. The poultry industry has also doubled in size over the last ten years. 

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Public School Tuition Ban

Education Minister John Phiri recently announced that Government has banned paid-for public tuitions in all the schools. No school shall be permitted to hold tuitions during holidays or weekends unless such tuitions are paid for by the school and involve all the schools.

No school, government, private or voluntary organisation will host learners from other schools to provide extra tuitions unless that particular school organizes its own pupils using the school money. Internally arranged tuitions which attract no cost at all to the pupil are allowed. The Government rationale for the ban is that paid-for public tuitions in schools disadvantage pupils from poor families.

The rationale is very poor. The ban does not really address inequality in access to extra tuition. People who can afford it will still get tuition. It simply loses schools money since it is not making use of spare capacity. Indeed, by shifting premises tuition may even become more expensive for poor students. Also it is the case that not all students that attend the holiday tuitions are from government schools. So it's a poor decision on efficiency and equality grounds.

John Phiri should have justified his policy posture in terms of PF's underlying ideology - namely the PF believes education is a right and therefore should always be free. There's nothing wrong with that belief. It has obvious weaknesses but is a reasonable belief that can be defended. But for John Phiri to argue based on "inequality" is inept. He needs to think much better than that! 

Of course there's the serious problem that allowing teachers to offer tuition lessons to slow learners may have the perverse incentive of encouraging teachers to offer poor quality teaching in order to maximise their out of normal hours income. Those few teachers areeffectively exploiting the system. But the answer to that problem is not banning tuition. It simply requires effective monitoring and enforcement of expected teaching standards! 

Good policies tackle the problems at the root of the distortion. This new policy is dull, disproportionate, ineffective and ultimately counterproductive in reducing inequality in education. It needs to be scrapped.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chola Mukanga | Economist | Writer
Copyright © Zambian Economist 2013

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Political Lemons

I was recently struck by a statement from former parliamentarian Dora Siliya on debt management : "There is lack of a comprehensive legal framework guiding debt contraction..Zambia will go back into debt trap so government should open up this process....people should be informed whenever debts are contracted" (Source : The Post)

Many of us argued for a debt management bill for many years now. Ms Siliya laughed off the idea when she was a minister and MP in the MMD government. Now she has rightly realised that it was a good idea. The question is simple : what has changed? What has changed is that she has now realised the folly that pervades our national thinking.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Land Administration in Zambia

A recent parliamentary report provides a good assessment of the state of land administration in Zambia. A big conclusion is that the country is desperately in need of a national policy on land. But even more desperate is that we do not have proper lands registry because there has been no land audit in Zambia since independence. So no one knows who owns what land and in what proportion. The report is also available via the National Assembly

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chola Mukanga | Economist | Writer
Copyright © Zambian Economist 2013

Monday, 15 July 2013

Is the opposition dying?

Yes. According to Goodson Banda (PF Lusaka Province Chairman) :

“By 2016, the opposition will be no more. Zambians have demonstrated that they don’t need opposition parties anymore, what Zambians want now is development. From the 12 seats in Lusaka, we now control 10, our friends in opposition only control 2, even in school, if a student gets 2% out of a possible 12%, that student could be said to be dull. So the opposition in Zambia is dull and Zambians have rejected them.”
I think the "dull student" would correct him and say its 17% out of a possible 100%. The student may also disagree with him that Zambians don't care about opposition politics. We all do because Zambians like other growing countries don't just want jobs they also want democracy. A vibrant opposition is key to safeguarding those liberties.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Ministerial Statement on the Constitution Process

Ministerial Statement by Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba on the Constitutional Making Process delivered to the National Assembly earlier this week. The main point in the statement is that the Technical Committee  has agreed to complete the work within the existing allocation with any supplementary budget. However, it is unclear when they will deliver the document. The deadline appears to be end July, but its a wait and see. Unfortunately the Ministerial Statement says nothing about the process beyond the current phase.  


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chola Mukanga | Economist | Writer
Copyright © Zambian Economist 2013

Thursday, 11 July 2013

The Opposition Challenge

NAREP's Elias Chipimo on the opposition's greatest challenge :
The big challenge for the opposition is being able to muster the right level of resources, especially for an opposition like Narep. Although it is the fastest-growing party, it is still establishing itself as a serious force in our politics in this country..the big challenge with these by-elections is the size of the constituencies. And if you notice, it is the ruling party that has unlimited resources at its disposal to be able to ensure that it covers every polling district..
The lack of a "level playing field" is a problem. However, we must not necessarily assume PF is using taxpayers' money. I don't think that is what Chipimo means. Rather by virtue of being the party in government, PF is able to attract funding particularly from big businesses, in a way that NAREP or other opposition parties can't. Parties are political investment. The PF brand is currently hot property.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Ministerial Statement on the Fuel Subsidy

A recent ministerial statement by Energy Minister Christopher Yaluma on the recent removal of the fuel subsidy. The statement can also be found at the National Assembly website.  According to this statement GRZ spent a staggering US$500m on fuel subsidies between 2009 and 2013. Thats 2/3rd of the recent Eurobond. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chola Mukanga | Economist | Writer
Copyright © Zambian Economist 2013

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Calling all rural dwellers!

GRZ recently announced plans to employ more than 4,000 people to work as conservation officers under the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) in all the 10 provinces. Tourism PS George Zulu says the new employees "would be employed to improve capacity of the wildlife conservation programmes after a recruitment freeze that has been in force for the past three years".

The officers to be recruited would include village and national scouts. The village scouts will consist of the local people who are literate and have knowledge on wildlife, while the national scouts would need to have academic qualifications. The vacancies will soon be advertised in the media with recruitment starting as "soon as the discussions with the stakeholders are concluded".

Monday, 8 July 2013

Another day, another party, 12th Edition

George Mpombo recently formed a new party. It will be called the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Mr Mpombo says this will be "be broad-based national party, a truly one Zambia one Nation party...that will strive to restore Zambia’s dignity in the comity of nations within SADC and the international community".

He says that "treacherous usurpation of democratic tendencies by the PF government has turned Zambia into a rogue state". PDP will reverse this and set the country as a truly democratic vibrant state.

When asked about sports minister Chishimba Kambwili’s description of him as a fly on the political scene, Mpombo responded: “Mr Kambwili is a political knock engine of political inconsequential and catastrophic consequences.”

Related Posts :

Another day, another party, 11th Edition
Another day, another party, 10th Edition
Another day, another party, 9th Edition
Another day, another party, 8th Edition
Another day, another party, 7th Edition
Another day, another party, 6th Edition
Another day, another party, 5th Edition
Another day, another party, 4th Edition
Another day, another party, 3th Edition
Another day, another party, 2th Edition
Another day, another party, 1st Edition


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chola Mukanga | Economist | Writer
Copyright © Zambian Economist 2013

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Invitation of Proposals for Budget 2014

The Ministry of Finance invites members of the public to submit proposals for tax and non-tax revenue for the 2014 National Budget and the 2014 to 2016 Medium Term Expenditure Framework [MTEF].

The submissions will be used as references in formulating the 2014 national budget. The proposals should meet the following criteria:

1. Clearly outlined proposed measure, justification and expected impact;

2. All proposals on improvement of tax administration must clearly outline anomalies/challenges in current statutes which are proposed to be corrected and justify expected improved outcomes, especially in revenue collection; and

3. Contact details [Phone, Email, Fax, and Postal Address] of the proposer.

The consultation period ending 31st July, 2013 has been set to ensure that all citizens, including the youth, women groups, the private sector, and all other stakeholders and interest groups participate in the formulation of the 2014 Budget and the 2014 to 2016 MTEF. The Ministry of Finance is therefore, making an earnest appeal to the public to embrace this gesture so that consultations on the 2014 National Budget are broadened in line with the Government’s Policy to streamline taxation and create an enabling environment for employment creation and wealth formation for all.

SUBMIT PROPOSALS BEFORE 31st July 2013 TO:

The Chief Budget Analyst [R] Ministry of Finance
Budget Office
4th Floor Room 504
P.0. Box 50062,
LUSAKA

EMAIL CONTACT:
chileshe.kandeta@mofnp.gov.zm
ckandeta@gmail.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chola Mukanga | Economist | Writer
Copyright © Zambian Economist 2013

Friday, 5 July 2013

Investment Pledges

Ministry of Commerce revealed last month that Zambia recorded Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) inflows estimated at US$1.6 billion in 2012 up from the US$1.1 billion recorded in 2011 (Source: Times of Zambia). The figures are largely based on approved projects in 2012.

Despite the 2012 increase, the figure is still lower than the FDI flows in 2010 which were valued at US$1.7 billion. So essentially we are just rebounding from the political uncertainty that characterised 2011 due to the elections.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Price Controls or Label Control?

Luapula Minister Benson Kapaya recently said that Government plans to re-introduce price controllers to prevent "exploitation of Zambian citizens by the business community". Kapaya says shops and other service providers would soon be mandated to display their prices to enable the price controllers to check if they are in conformity with prevailing business conditions.

This policy needs to be fully explained. Kapaya is clearly the wrong person to announce such policies. It should come from Chikwanda. But that does not mean Kapaya is dreaming. He may have heard it "half baked" from Chikwanda.

The real question is what Kapaya means by "price controllers". If by "price controllers" he means inspectors that ensure clear and correct price labelling then that is fine. The consumer and competition authority has a mandate to ensure that firms follow correct labelling to aid consumer purchasing decisions. Enforcing that is quite difficult. Random monitoring would help.

Expensive Search for Jobs

Government announced last month that it was planning to launch an online job portal at a cost of KR7 million (US$1.4m) before the end of June to allegedly "promote job creation". Labour Minister Fackson Shamenda says the "online system will provide means for users to submit their curriculum vitae online which will be seen by potential employers..".

This is part of a broader initiative that includes launch of public employment exchange services centres. The first one has been established in Ndola. GRZ hopes the centres will help "monitor which skills are available on the market and those that are lacking".

Government has already conducted assessments in five field stations including Lusaka, Ndola, Solwezi, Chipata and Livingstone to determine the current employment exchange service status and establish the essential facilities.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Zambia Sugar is Sweet!

Zambia Sugar Plc is growing significantly. It recently announced that that production exceeded 400,000 tonnes for the first time, for the financial year ended 31 March 2013. It increased its domestic sales for the year increased by 10% to 159 000 tons. In what appears to be a rebalancing, its sales to EU markets decreased to 121 000 tons in the year, whilst exports into regional markets increased by 23% to 104 000 tons. The firm’s operating profit improved from ZMW307 million in the previous year to ZMW316 million in 2012/13.

The company was accused earlier this year of tax evasion and price fixing. The accusations followed a damning report by ActionAid which accused Zambia Sugar of evading paying millions in tax earlier this year. Zambia Sugar, the leading sugar producer in Zambia, is a subsidiary of Illovo Sugar, which is owned by multinational food company Associated British Foods (ABF).

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Random Thoughts, 2nd Edition

Neo Simutanyi recently said that Zambia is less democratic today than it has ever been over the last two decades : “We thought we were heading somewhere as a nation and boom! The PF arrived and took away everything we had built as a democratic state. The democratic space is shrinking by the day”. Simutanyi is urging opposition political parties, the civil society, the media and the church to join hands and defend the country’s democracy. Except Simuntanyi does not deal with the most important analytical question :  Is Zambia less democratic under Sata today than it was was under Chiluba, Mwanawasa or Banda? Or is it the case that our democratic expectations are higher than before? I suspect its our expectations!

The Hight Court recently jailed former finance minister Katele Kalumba for 5 years on corruption offences. Kalumba has gone in alongside former permanent secretary Stella Chibanda, directors of the defunct access financial services Aaron Chungu and Faustin Kabwe. The High Court upheld the five year jail term slapped on the four by the Lusaka magistrate court. There was much jubilation and shouts of justice is finally done. Only for Mr Katele and his friends to go on bail again pending appeal. The chances are that they will never spend more than a month in jail by the time the entire is done. The saying goes that jail in Zambia is only for the poor and the foolish. 

Chinga Miyutu (Youth Deputy Minister) recently suggested that Zambia faces the risk of an Egypt style scenario if youth unemployment is not sorted out : “This is a country with a rapidly growing young population that if not well managed will end up with rampant unemployment and large pools of dissatisfied youths who are more susceptible to recruitment in crime and prostitution....This may lead to what we witnessed in the Middle East and North Africa where the Youth Bulge erupted in 2010 and 2011". That's quite a worrying diagnosis for a government minister. It is not the sort of thing one expects a minister to utter publicly. It sounds like these ministers need agreed "speaking lines".

One of the big beasts of MMD lost her seat recently. The Supreme Court nullified the election of Dora Siliya as Petauke Central Member of Parliament. This followed the appeal by loosing PF candidate in the 2011 polls Leonard Banda who petitioned the election of the former outspoken Education Minister citing irregularities and electoral malpractice. Siliya's loss of the seat means another by-election is on the horizon. She follows Maxwell Mwale among a growing list of ex-MMD parliamentarians. I had wrongly thought Dora had survived the High Court stage and the case had concluded. But clearly it hadn't. Presumably Siliya can't stand again based on the Electoral Act. One has to see the judgement.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chola Mukanga | Economist | Writer
Copyright © Zambian Economist 2013

Let urbanisation flourish!

A strange statement from Emeldah Chola (Lusaka Province PS) recently caught my attention. He said,  “the creation of new districts will also help curb the problem of rural-urban migration because development will be taken to the people even in remote areas of Zambia".   The statement expresses a fundamental ignorance on the issue of rural urban drift. Rural urban drift by itself is not bad. In fact, I would go as far as to agree with most urban economists that urbanisation and economic development are intimately related, and the concentration of resources – labour and capital – in our cities is a part of this process.

To the extent that people move from rural areas to urban areas in response to market signals, there is no reason for us to worry about the rural urban drift. However, the problem might be with respect to unpriced externalities e.g. pollution, road congestion and epidemics. The right economic policy response is therefore not to encourage people to stick to rural areas but to internalise the negative externalities (through appropriate urban taxes ), and allow the rural urban drift to flourish. The problem of course is how to set such a tax properly.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Another Nationalisation

Government has nationalised Munda Wanga Botanical Gardens in Chilanga. The South African investors have been given a six-month notice before ZAWA finally takes over the running of the institution. (Source : Times of Zambia).

Tourism PS George Zulu says Government is nationalising the institution because of the "failure by current investors to honour the Tourist Concession Agreement (TCA) which was signed in 1998...Government through ZAWA will in the meantime run Munda Wanga until we find a suitable investor to run the institution.”

The current investors took over Munda Wanga in 1998 after signing a TCA with the then ruling MMD Government. The TCA states that when the investor’s activities are seriously deficient in terms of obligations under the agreement, Government shall have the right to terminate the agreement.

Zambian Watchdog had revealed last month that the Munda Wanga nationalisation was imminent. The Watchdog has again proved to be an impeccable source despite its raw language. Which is why it's recent revelations on Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) needs to be taken equally seriously.

Ministerial Statement on Zambia Agriculture Subsidies

An important ministerial statement by Agriculture Minister Bob Sichinga on the recent removal of the consumptions subsidies and the proposed adjustment to the production subsidy. The statement can also be found at Parliament Online.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chola Mukanga | Economist | Writer
Copyright © Zambian Economist 2013

Random Thoughts

The Government has so far spent $20m on the Constitutional process - most of it in the pockets of Technical Committee and their various "experts". And we are only at the beginning. Cabinet and Parliament have not seen a draft. The referendum is yet to come. I would be surprised if we don't surpass $100m by the time we are done. That is 13% of the much celebrated "Eurobond". May be the entire constitution process is designed as a form of financial empowerment - for the already financially empowered.

Clive Chirwa is facing the serious prospect of arrest. The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) is allegedly after the former Zambia Railways MD for "solicitation of gratification from a foreign company". According to the The Post, the ACC believes it has "overwhelming evidence" that Chirwa "solicited for gratification from one of the companies in the UK where he was supposed to get 10 per cent from the contract to supply passenger coaches." Isn't this a timely reminder to everyone that there's no shining knight?

PF recently won the Feira bye-election comprehensively. The votes tell the story (PF : 3 529; UPND : 967; MMD : 617; UNIP: 344; and NAREP : 63). Quite importantly turnout was around 50%. The victory is important for three reasons. First, it was an MP switching sides; PF beat the combined share of the opposition; and, this was the first bye-election since the PF removed the fuel and maize subsidies. In short, PF is looking very well for 2016. The opposition needs to coalesce NOW not later.

President Sata recently described those who believe the Budget is off track as “premature, unwarranted and mischievous" because “our foreign reserves currently stand at about US$2.4 billion". Economics 101 is sufficient to point out that there's no direct relationship between maintaining foreign reserves (monetary & exchange rate policy) and the widening projected Budget deficit (fiscal policy). You can have a Budget in shambles and still have reserves at $2.4bn because you can fund the deficit by borrowing more. That statement shows that as a country we are failing the President by not even giving him basic economic advice.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chola Mukanga | Economist | Writer
Copyright © Zambian Economist 2013