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Sunday, 14 December 2014

Annual Sabbatical

Dear Friends,

As is customary since we started the Zambian Economist (website and Facebook page) in 2007, we taking some weeks off to recharge the batteries and switch off from social media and active writing. Over the years we have come to value this period.

This means that we wont be reached through the website, Facebook or Twitter. We also will not be able to respond to non-urgent emails or queries or requests for interviews until 7 January 2015.

Many thanks for your continued readership. We are certainly astonished by the progress of this website and its enormous growth in readership. We are even more shocked by how our Facebook Page has also grown over the last year. We started off with 25k facebook readers and ended the year now just under 50k facebook readers.  

In fact our reach at through social media has been well over 100,000 reads often for certain post. Combining the website, facebook and Twitter has often meant our digital foot print is well above that. We are being read and doing our bit to encourage discussion of economic issues. We are also trying very hard to promote other platforms about Zambia which share the same ideals of meaningful debate and analysis. 

It is fair to say that 2014 has been a roller coaster. We particularly enjoyed the debate on the fiscal and monetary challenges. And very saddened by the death of President Michael Sata. The death has plunged Zambia into great political and  economic uncertainty as it enters 2015.

Its fair to say that 2015 is shaping up to be a very crucial year for the country, particularly with the presidential by-elections and what it means for the national Budget, the current PF infrastructure programme, labour and mining issues.

We must also not that we are only 19 months away from the 2016 General Elections, unless the incoming president decides to dissolve parliament sooner because he or she is unable to govern with the MPs in the House.

What is clear is that economic analysis has never been more desperately needed! And we hope to be here to contribute a small bit to these issues from 15 January 2015, God willing!

Wishing you a very special Christmas!

Every blessing,

Chola Mukanga
Copyright © Zambian Economist 2014

Friday, 12 December 2014

Does Zambia need a mother for a president?

The NGOCC has called on Zambians especially women to support Edith Nawakwi in the presidential by-elections. NGOCC Chairperson Sara Longwe recently released a press statement urging “all well-meaning Zambians, especially women to support [Nakakwi]…because at this critical moment that we decide our fate for the next 50 years, it is time Zambians give a woman the chance to lead this great nation”.

The NGOCC says we need Nawakwi because “women are naturally compassionate, loving, caring and understand the complex needs of the community and indeed the country” As a mother “Ms Nawakwi will provide leadership that will accelerate the social economic development of our country”. In short her qualification is that she is a woman and she has children. It is not clear what childless women make of that.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Mining companies stampede on Zambia

Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda, who has been busy quietly doing his job in the middle of the collapsing governance of the country under Scott's watch, has finally spoken on the pressing mining tax issue that is threatening the viability of the 2015 budget.

Chikwanda says he has successfully resisted the “stampede” by some companies trying to force amendments to his taxation plans: “[the mining tax changes] will pass through in its current form...These people don’t allow us to think about our own ideas, they just want to think for us...some mining companies want to stampede us to change the tax regime”.

It will be interesting to see whether that bold declaration does stand. It has not been easy for Chikwanda. Mining companies led by Barrick Gold have been heavily lobbying Vice President Guy Scott to force through the changes. They have also lobbied opposition parties, many who are already in the pocket book of mining companies.

Friday, 5 December 2014

The collapse of governance in Zambia

Vice President Scott's protege Miles Sampa is allegedly running a red beret militia that urgently needs to be investigated and removed from the streets by our policing authorities. If unchecked it will set Zambia on fire. Sadly, this development is only one of many signs that governance is collapsing in Zambia at the hands of the so called Cartel. A coalition of greedy people who want to control the future of the country. We are sleep walking into a national catastrophe.

Over the last few weeks we have been tracking the developments within the country. It is evidently clear to us that at the root of the problem is Vice President Guy Scott who seems to be a perpetual law breaker during this transition period. We have seen his take illegal decisions such as transferring office bearers to support his political aims (See Elias Munshya's excellent piece). He has also blatantly broken the law by clearly ignoring a Court order, a fact which he has been exposed by the lawyer who was present at his illegal conference. He has encouraged political thugs like Silvia Masebo and Chishima Kambwili to attack ZNBC journalists in broad daylight.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

The cost of inaction

The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) announced this week that it will spend around K344 million ($55m) in administrative costs to conduct the 2015 presidential elections. The administrative cost may increase because the actual cost of printing ballot papers will only be known once the size of the ballot paper has been agreed. That in turn depends on the number of contenders.

The last time the cost rose to $70m. This time we probably we will definitely get above $60m as a conservative estimate. Even if part of this cost is funded by aid from foreign governments, Zambia still bear a significant share. Also there are non-administrative costs like providing additional security, as well as indirect costs in form of lost productivity and diversion of public funds to less efficient areas.

Monday, 1 December 2014

The End of Scott and the Rise of Lungu

It has been another day of drama today in the chaotic Patriotic Front (PF. New PF president Edgar Lungu held a press briefing where he fired Bridget Atanga, as expected, and appointed Davies Chama the new SG. It is an interesting move. Perhaps Mulenga Sata was sidelined for this role because his loyalty is yet unproven. He also now has the adoption certificate.

As Lungu was announcing the changes a parallel “illegal” PF conference hurriedly cobbled together from Kabwe residents and cadres from the streets were led by Guy Scott. We say “illegal” because it turns out the Lungu camp had already obtained an injunction against the purported conference. The injunction was served on Scott and his friends.