Find us on Google+

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Mangango, PF and 2016 elections

By Michael Chishala

On 20 August 2014 (the day after the Mangango by-election), an article was published on Zambian Economist (ZE) Facebook page claiming that "...if elections were held today across the country, PF would win it comfortably because they continue to consolidate the rural vote, capitalising on their better organisation and financial resources." Furthermore, "It also means that any broadly reasonable candidate for PF in 2016 should secure re-election, provided PF do not do anything stupid between now and then." I wish to respectfully disagree with both the conclusions and reasoning in the article as follows:

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Zambia Annual Economic Report 2013

I was going through my report archive and I stumbled on this report. After checking I have concluded that unfortunately I have not shared it before. It has some helpful statistics pertaining to the Zambian economy last year. 

Chola Mukanga
Economist | Consultant | Researcher
Copyright © Zambian Economist 2014

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

When the party equals the government

A couple of months ago, a long time ally of the Zambian Economist, asked us an important question : ‘Why do you always refer to government as the “PF government?’ We suspected she felt we were inadvertently promoting a one party state. We explained that we use the term pejoratively. We would love to refer to government as the Zambian government. Unfortunately, PF does not draw distinctions between PF and government, so until it does we shall continue to call it the PF government.

That remains our view. However, what we should have also said is that every government since independence has behaved this way. It is wrong to single out PF out. We have had UNIP and MMD governments where the party was equal to government. For example, in 2011 Dora Siliya MP who was serving as an MMD minister said this:

“A lot of people are busy saying the MMD government is abusing ZNBC because ZNBC only covers the MMD government. Yes, ZNBC has to cover us because it shows government developmental projects...Even when Sata comes into power, ZNBC will be covering him alone. THIS IS OUR TIME. Those who want to be feeling bad about themselves when they wake up every day, they should be buying The Post newspapers because it always talks about negative things, saying things are bad in the country when the economy is doing well...”- Dora Siliya (Source : The Post)

Siliya’s argument is that others ate in the past, and now it was MMD's turn to control the levers of power (and eat). We can actually find similar statements from Chiluba, Banda and Mwanawasa. In short whether it is UNIP, PF or MMD all parties once in government believe the party is equal to the government.

This is why we continue to see cadres filling important positions and diminish the effectiveness of government. Government is the party cadres' paradise and the poor peoples' hell. All parties in government are quick to claimnational resources are theirs. They use State positions (especially diplomatic postings) to reward their party cadres (and foreign campaign funders). While this helps the party of the day (at the moment PF) to achieve its political aims it has two serious implications.

First, it puts ordinary citizens in an adversarial position against their government. Consider a NAREP supporter who loves their party but also wants to support their government, as a patriotic citizen, to deliver meaningful development to its people. Unfortunately he / she can't do that because the policeman is now a PF cadre instead of a legitimate government employee. The permanent secretary appointed by President Sata is not a legitimate civil servant but merely a political cadre. How is the PS going to relate to NAREP cadres who in practice are his real employers?

Secondly, it is eliminates the legitimacy of a sitting government. This is the more serious issue. When the party equals government, it essentially means the party in question has usurped state power and using it to reward itself at the expense of the poor. This of course has serious consequences. In some countries it would be considered treason, but in our country it’s the practical effects that are worrying.

Consider the Barotse riots. It was clear that the riots were organised by those aggrieved by "government" actions / statements on the issue. But were they? Or were they grieved by the actions of PF and MMD ( as usurpers of state power)? Was PF acting as a legitimate government or acting as a bunch of cadres with a mindset of "this is our time" to eat in the Dora Siliya mode? When legitimacy is gone it breeds chaos. Equating government with the party is therefore not a way to govern. It breeds violence which disproportionately affects the poor.

The other point to note is that the coalescing of the party with government complicates issues for independent analysts like Zambian Economist. While we aspire to ensure that our take is as non-partisan as it can be, it virtually becomes practically impossible to do so because the party is the same as the government in Zambia. It is this point that the our friends in PF and MMD have always missed when they criticise us.

They should recognise that those of us who stand in defence of the Zambian people will always side with our poor in our critique. We care about their oppressors. In doing that it will most certainly mean that we have no choice but to attack the misguided practices of the party in government because we look for government and we see only the image of PF (as we saw MMD in the past).

Our friends in the Western world have an easier task because in real democracies it is clear where the government ends and the party in government starts. Not so with us. The PF cadre is also the permanent secretary, he is also the police man, he is also the journalist, he is also.....[fill in the blanks].

AUTHOR Chola Mukanga Economist | Consultant | Researcher Copyright © Zambian Economist 2014

Green Paper - MTEF 2015 - 2017 and Budget 2015

The Government has released the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) for 2015 - 2017 and the outline for the 2015 budget. This is essentially the PF plan for re-election as the MTEF runs to 2017.

Chola Mukanga
Economist | Consultant | Researcher
Copyright © Zambian Economist 2014

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Intellectual Poverty (ZCTU)

“We reject the continued artificial suffering of public service workers that comes with the imposition of the wage freeze while the cost of living continues to rise... In view of the escalating bank lending rates, Government should introduce fixed interest rates for public service employees whose incomes have remained static in the face of increasing interest rates and high cost of the cost of accommodation keeps rising, government must consider providing social housing for public service workers because accommodation continues to take up a big share of workers incomes.”
ZCTU General Secretary
(Source: Lusaka Times)

The ZCTU sharing  its proposals for the 2015 budget. These demands by the ZCTU are in addition to the proposal for an increase in the minimum taxable taxable threshold from K 3,000 to 4,000 because of a "rise in the cost of living". Even if one believes the proposals are needed, we surely must ask the basic question : where is government going to get the money to do all these things?

Friday, 22 August 2014

On the Kindle

We are currently kindling 'Journey toward Justice : Personal Encounters in the Global South' by Nicholas P. Wolterstorff. The greatest moral philosopher alive today. What he observes about injustice in Honduras is fascinating:
"..It is commonly said that the failure of Honduran officials to deal with crime against the poor is due to corruption—graft and bribery...Though there are indeed corrupt officials, the fundamental problem is not corruption but fear and a pervasive lack of trust. Poor people do not trust the police, the judicial system, or the bureaucracy. The police do not trust the prosecutors; the prosecutors do not trust the police. The result is that the poor are afraid to take action when they are the victims of crime or illegal treatment; they fear that if they file a report with the police or some government official, the person or organization that wronged them will retaliate. The police and prosecutors likewise fear that they will be the victims of retaliation if they take action. There is plenty of evidence that these fears are warranted. What I saw, more clearly than ever before, is that justice in ALL its forms is impossible in the midst of pervasive fear and distrust.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Facebook Debate : Is Zambia a loser country?

Zambia Is  A Loser Country 
By Anonymous

Ours is a loser country. Everything about this country is depressing and uninspiring. Here, everything is politics. The whole lot of Zambian leadership is an inferior species incapable of moving forward. We deserve the poverty we are experiencing because of the leadership we have allowed to govern the country. There is an erroneous belief that our pitiful condition is the result of lack of money. No. Progress is not a priority here. No amount of money can develop this country. Poverty has become part of the Zambian culture.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Eurobonds : weighing the risks against gains

Editor’s note: A recent article from Albert Halwampa (ZIPAR) on the costs and benefits of external borrowing through Eurobonds. It argues for a comprehensive legal and institutional framework to address the risks associated with this form of debt instrument. 
There has been recent media speculation about the government issuing another Eurobond – the third in two years. Earlier this month, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock talked about the possibility of floating a bond to plug the US$400 million financing gap in agriculture. This has resulted in apprehension in some quarters of the economy regarding the risks associated with this seemingly allure of Eurobonds. I therefore attempt to weigh some of these risks.

Saturday, 16 August 2014


“Members of parliament go through difficulties and I know the distances because I travel across the country myself, if we want MPs to serve the people to the degree that we expect them and promote democracy and interact with the people we should facilitate...How do we facilitate that, we facilitate that through emoluments. If you want to curb corruption, to ensure that our MPs do not fall in category of people who do not have the interest of people at heart then we should look at the issue of emoluments. You can justify the demands [for a pay rise].”
(PF Secretary General)

There are three problems with. Kabimba's misguided argument.

First, Kabimba argues that additional wages would reduce corruption among parliamentarians. That is a myth. Empirical evidence decisively concludes that the "systematic evidence on the relationship between pay and corruption is ambiguous". Most importantly, paying higher wages reduces corruption, if and only if, the monitoring apparatus is effective. In other words, wage incentives might reduce bribery and corruption but only under a well functioning enforcement apparatus. This apparatus is essentially good effective institutions. Lets get the ACC and DEC be more accountable in following up parliamentary corruption. This is what Kabimba should focus on, and then we can look at higher wages if necessary.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Why Do We Have Members of Parliament?

When former Msanzala MP Joseph Lungu resigned and joined the PF in 2012 his only reason was that he wanted to “ensure development of Msanzala which had lagged behind for some time”. Mr Lungu said he felt he could not take development to his area as an independent parliamentarian.

A year or so later Howard Sikwela became the the first parliamentarian to abandon UPND in this parliament. He said, "One asks a question, where would an MP get resources to develop his constituency? Of course it is from the Government of the day. An MP must think development, talk development and dream development. It is with a heavy heart that today I have to announce my resignation as area MP and as a member of UPND”.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Zambia's Quest for Real Develoment

By Henry Kyambalesa

With a Human Development Index (HDI) score of 0.561, Zambia is currently ranked 141st out of 187 countries – a rank that falls within the 'medium human development' category. And while there was a declining trend in the country's HDI between 1980 and 1990, there has been a rising trend in the Index between 1990 to date. This is certainly a good trajectory!

Saturday, 9 August 2014

This Week They Said

We feel like foreigners in our own country and this makes us very sad. We are very peaceful people with no intention of promoting anarchy
Susanne Matale revealing that the church is facing unprecedented intimidation in its quest for freedom of assembly and praying for the country.
Power is addictive for it offers infinite possibilities. Once you taste it you want more. There is the lust for power in Scott’s eyes
Field Ruwe suggesting that VP Scott senses a big moment for a power grab as debate intensifies over President Sata's health. 
It is not right for any institution which is not even making any profit to go on strike and say we want money when they are not even making any profit. It is only that government as a mother will come in and assist
Yamfwa Mukanga MP on the maternal instincts of the PF government. He was commenting on whether TAZARA workers should go on strike over pay. GRZ has now settled the $3m arrears.
We cannot have a president who does not speak to the people. Every President in the world holds a press conference where they are subjected to scrutiny by journalists
Muhabi Lungu bemoaning the  public disappearance of President Sata for nearly two months and Mr Sata's refusal to host a press conference or give an interview.
To comment on an international disgraced lawyer, I think government is above that. Who is he anyway? Is he a politician or what does he want to do? If he is a politician we will send him to the appropriate party officials to respond to him
Joseph Katema MP commenting without commenting. He was responding to concerns raised by international human rights lawyer Robert Amsterdam who has been a thorn in the flesh of the PF.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Road rehabilitation and construction in Zambia

Editor's note: an important recent ministerial statement on the 'Road Rehabilitation and Construction in Zambia' by the Transport Minister Yamfwa Mukanga MP. This is an helpful and unfiltered statement on where road construction is at present. We have made some minor editorial changes to enhance readability. 
The Road Development Agency (RDA) was established by the Public Roads Act No.12 of 2002 with the following specific functions: "To provide for the care, maintenance and construction of public roads in Zambia; to regulate maximum weights permissible for transport on roads; and to provide for matters connected with and incidental to the foregoing"

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

March of Freedom

Facebook Inc is launching a mobile app that gives users in Zambia free access to a handful of online services on mobile phones, broadening an effort to boost Internet usage in underdeveloped countries.

The app will offer, in partnership with wireless operator Airtel, more than a dozen services including online encyclopedia Wikipedia, websites devoted to weather, job listings and health information, as well as Facebook's own social network and messaging service.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Bye, Bye Zambia!

KLM is pulling out of Zambia effective 29 October 2014 in a move described by the Zambia Tourism Board (ZTB) as "devastating and bad for tourism in Zambia". According to a KLM statement :
The recent optimisations in the airline’s network portfolio in East Africa means connections to Europe and the United States [will be] in combination with KLM’s strategic and long-term partner Kenya Airways via Nairobi. From Nairobi, passengers can choose from services to London Heathrow, Amsterdam Schiphol and Paris Charles de Gaulle in Kenya Airways’ newest equipment including the Dreamliner and with KLM’s recently updated World Business Class.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

This Week They Said

“They are preaching bad omen against the President but at the same time they want to see him … we want to ask through our party leadership at national level not to allow this to happen because their thinking is negative. The calls for the opposition to meet the President are in bad faith and should not be condoned because the President is working as he should be in line with the mandate that the Zambian people gave to him and the PF”
(PF Kapiri Mponshi)

Friday, 1 August 2014

The State of Konkola Copper Mines

Editor's note: an important ministerial statement was issued recently by Mines Minister Chris Yaluma on Konkola Copper Mines PLC. It seemed to contain rather interesting statements against President Sata’s threat to nationalise against KCM.
Konkola copper mines plc (KCM) has of late come under increasing public debate and media attention following the attempt by the company to lay off 1,529 employees. This is in addition to the media report of 15th May, 2014 in which Mr Anil Agarwal, Chairman of Vedanta Resources limited was quoted as having said that he is making US$500 million from KCM, a mine he bought for a song (US$25 million) and not the asking price of US$400 million.