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The Role of Government in Independent Zambia

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President Michael Sata talks to First Republican President Kenneth Kaunda

By Henry Kyambalesa

We should be proud that at 47 years of age, our beloved country has continued to be a land of lasting peace and stability. We should, therefore, make an earnest effort to build on Dr. Kenneth D. Kaunda’s concept of “One Zambia, One Nation” in order to create a society in which political, ethnic, cultural, racial, and religious diversity is genuinely appreciated, tolerated and celebrated.

In this Press Release, I wish to share my views concerning the role of government in independent Zambia. In this endeavor, let us first briefly examine a point of view advocated by the founders of the free enter­prise ideology, that a government should have very limited functions.

In their view, “That government is best which governs least.” Essen­tial­ly, they advocated for a govern­ment whose functions are limited to the following: protecting private property, providing for public safety and security, enforc­ing business and other forms of contracts among individu­als and/or institutions, inducing (rather than perform­ing) commer­cial and industrial activities, and, among other things, facilitating the provi­sion of quality educa­tion and health care.

There are, however, many factors which may lead to an increase in the functions of a country’s national gov­ernment, such as the follow­ing: increases in the country’s popula­tion, an unprecedented number of demands by vari­ous interest groups for gov­ern­ment involvement in ad­dressing their needs, and, among other things, problems brought about by a multitude of hu­man-induced and natural calamities.

There is no doubt that these and other factors can put pressure on a government to expand existing public servic­es and facilities and/or to introduce new ones. Franklin D. Roosevelt, United States president between 1933 and 1945, must have had these and/or other similar kinds of factors in mind when he said: “As new conditions and prob­lems arise beyond the power of men and women to meet as individu­als, it becomes the duty of … govern­ment[s] … to find new remedies with which to meet them.”

Nevertheless, the proper governmental role in a free-market economy, as Michael E. Porter once advised in an article entitled “The Competitive Advantage of Nations,” which appeared in the Harvard Business Review of March-April 1990, should be that of serving as “a catalyst and challenger … to encourage—or even push—companies to raise their aspirations and move to higher levels of competitive perfor­man­ce.”

42nd President of the United States of America, Mr. William J. Clinton, espoused this point of view in general terms when he stipulated his Administrati­on’s desire in the State of the Union Address of January 27, 1998 thus: “[We need to] build a govern­ment that [func­tions as] … a catalyst for new ideas, and, most of all, a govern­ment that gives … people the tools they need to make the most of their own lives.”

In serving the business commu­ni­ty and other segments of society as a “catalyst and challenger,” a gov­ernment needs to provide adequately for various kinds of guarantees, inducements and essential services and facilities, such as the following:

1) A well?developed transportation infrastructure and ad­e­quate tran­sporta­tion services to industrial, com­mercial, and residential areas to ease or facilitate the distri­bution of production inputs and finished products;

2) Adequate public ser­vices (including police protec­tion, fire protec­tion, public utilities, and decent housing), as well as telecommunica­tions, educa­tion­al, vocation­al, health, and recreational facili­ties;

3) Equitable sales, corpo­rate, and other taxes, as well as tax conces­sions and induce­ments that are more attractive than those in alterna­tive coun­tries or regions which inves­tors are likely to consider for invest­ment;

4) Political and civic leaders who are fair and honest in their dealings with private business institutions, and stable econom­ic policies (inc­luding a formal assurance against nationalisation and/or expropria­tion of privately owned business undertakings by the national govern­ment);

5) Political and civic leaders who are genuine and resolute in their fight against the scourge of corruption in governmental and non-governmental settings;

6) Less bureaucratic licensing, import, export, and other procedures, and ade­quate information about in­vest­ment and marketing prob­lems and opportu­nities in the various sectors of a coun­try’s econo­my and in cross-border markets;

7) A system of justice that is fair, impartial and independent in both word and deed; and

8) A social safety net designed to adequately cater to the needs of economically disadvantaged members of society that is not subject to political meddling or manipulation.

These inducements, ser­vices, facilities, and guarantees, among a host of other things, can enable economic units, for example, to operate more efficiently and eventually deliver economic and social outputs to society at reason­able costs and prices.

As Alassane Ouattara (current president of Ivory Coast) once advised in an article entitled “Africa: An Agenda for the 21st Century,” which appeared in Volume 36/Number 1 of Finance and Development of March 1999, therefore, there is an urgent need for national leaders to re-define the roles of their governments away from direct involvement in commercial and industrial activities toward the pro­vision of inducements, guarantees and essential public services and facilities to their primary stakeholders.

Given the many positive changes currently being introduced by the Patriotic Front administration, our beloved country seems to be destined for a brighter future. Together, we can realize the benefits of independence, democracy and economic liberalization, and we can succeed in our quest to create a more democratic, more peaceful, more prosperous, more egalitarian, and more environmentally sustainable society.

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25 COMMENTS

  1. KyambaSatan, you try too hard to present an intellectual facade but your contributions are to lacking in any manner of intellectual sunstance. For any person who has gone to school for long enough, one woold have thought you would realise and appreciate the fact that it is not necessarily the absence of conflict that constitutes continued and lasting peace and stability. The hunger, destitution, unemployment and lack of basic necessities of life that bedevils the majority of Zambians coupled with the monstrous AIDS scourge ravaging Zambia today make your assertion above wholly hollow, you fool!

    • No need to be so negative. The problem with arm chair critics like you is that you expect politicians to solve your problems. If you are an intellectual, as you seem to be claiming, stand up and be play your role. Most politicians are not professionals and rely experts like you, if I may call you so, for guidance on policy implementation. If you can’t contribute positively keep quiet.

  2. After 47years of independence& 20years of Democracy,the freedoms of association &expression, and the dynamic changes zambians have gone thru,NO ONE PROVINCE will allow another tribe (Lozi) to rule them forever,least it becomes another defacto Sir Roy Welensky.The people of  NORTH-WESTERN,Copperbelt ,Southern &part of central provinces will NEVER ALLOW BRE to rule them.Times of Empires are gone,swept by democratic systems.ZAMBIA was not owned by the British.How do u claim legitimancy OF LAND on the rules given by a THIEF (British) whom we BOOTED OUT to repossess what was RIGHTFULY FOR ALL ZAMBIANS?Zambia is for all zambians not British.If Lozis want Land from Britain let them get isle of wright in Britain.In fact Lozis must be charged for claiming stolen property,ORA64 

  3. War is simply the absence of comfort and peace of mind.The Question is how many zambians qualify to this comfort and peace of mind?It’s only the 20% the rest of the 80% are battered and slaughtered day and night in the bombs and precision missiles of oppression,systematic class divide,poverty, disease,hunger and marginalization.One thing is for real,make no mistake.The oppressed can not remain oppressed forever,time is coming & has come for a new awakening, a new social order that legalizes DIGNITY &RESPECT OF CITIZENS as mother of all LAWS. Zambia is for all zambians not British.If Lozis want Land from Britain let them get isle of wright in Britain.In fact Lozis must be charged for claiming stolen property,esp that BRA64 encompasses other tribes &provinces.We don’t want another Rwanda!

  4. ITS REALLY NICE TO SEE SUPER KEN FLANKED BY BY HE KING COBRA.K.K. IS VERY PROUD TO SEE HIS FORMER LUSAKA DISTRICT GOVERNER BECOME THE 5TH PRESIDENT OF ZAMBIA.LONG LIVE BOTH OF THEM AND GOOD HEALTH.

  5. Kyambalesa, how do you arrive at such a conclusion? That —–“Given the many positive changes currently being introduced by the Patriotic Front administration, our beloved country seems to be destined for a brighter future” And yet in your article you have not outlined any sector programs, policy changes, development strategies to be implemented in each district that the PF government has announced that gives you hope. I read Sata`s 6,423 words address to parliament and its just a wish list of stuff. For instance, there was no mention of target number of jobs PF will create or example by 2012, 2013 or 2014 in each province. There was no mention of how PF`s economic diversiication strategy to reduce dependence on copper by a certain percentage. No economic growth targets.

  6. Continuation from #6————– There was no single mention of how the PF government intends to transform public transportation—especially the road transportation that claims hundreds of lives per year. I dont remember seeing anything on how PF government is going to improve access to clean water. The Zambian poverty levels should be in th region of 70% i dont remember seeing any poverty reduction target in Sata`s address that PF government will reduce the poverty levels to.
    So i dont agree with Kyalabesa`s conclusion.

  7. They say a picture can tells a story…!!!

    The body language pointing a finger on KK shows that Sata has no respect  when dealing with other people. You dont just display yourself as a leader in that manner in the public. Sata needs to exercise humility, especially when dealing with other elder statesmen.

  8. ” there is an urgent need for national leaders to re-define the roles of their governments away from direct involvement in commercial and industrial activities toward the pro­vision of inducements, guarantees and essential public services and facilities to their primary stakeholders. ”

    We’ve tried that with the MMD. The truth is that the great economic powers like Japan did not develop by having the state step back. There was and is heavy government financing and legal protection of key industries – in the case of Japan, the car industry.

    So let’s follow their example, and let go of the neoliberal free market ideology, which has no historic example of working in any 19th or 20th century country (not talking about city states).

  9. A facination for snakes in Zambian leadership. I just made an observation; Kaunda was called Black Mamba when he fought for majority rule, enter King Cobra 47 years later!! The next one will probably be python or boomslang!!

  10. Ba #2 Kabo.. A university Qualification is not that important. What one needs is Experience and the ability to make logical decisions as well as compassion for the people. A leader does not need to have the highest IQ that’s why he has advisers but he does need an average IQ though. I have friends that have Doctorates and yet they know nothing. N most companies in OZ are more likely to employee an experienced grade 7 and not a uni grad.

  11. At what price has this stability come at? Under development, politicians taking govt properties and resources as part of their family resources, injustice, poor in franstructure, poverty, ill health, poor housing (where it even exists), plot 1 being the only best job in the land, lose of confirmance in governance systems, the list goes on. It would have been nice if this peace could have answered 50% of these concerns. the current status only promotes good leaving for the selected few with appropriate sir names.

  12. May the good Lord grant you more days KK to see the achievements Zambia will attain in the next 5 years. God bless you.

  13. and also used sell their produce within that community.In villages it was rare to find a pupil without unform in a class like what is happening now.please take your peacr some where else.

  14. Copperbeltn Northwestern or central is not part of bartseland.Go to the Map of 1953.Mind you Barotseland was not part of the federation of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. read and get knowledge that commenting somethinf you dont really understand.

  15. Kyambalesa. Do not de-tract Zambians from their most pre occupied issue at hand that we have moved 47 yrs back to tribal politics by Sata. Three quarters of the country is alarmed at what the new govt is implementing beginning with appoinyments from Northern and Luapula only. The army just afew days ago is jittery over these appointments confusing the whole ordered army rank system. We are aware the theories you present to Zambians and many have written them but such a position is only attained under a fair sysytem as you correctly state from the founding fathers of the nation. However, departure from those nationalistic ideals are now trumpled down. There is no ONE ZAMBIA ONE NATION. You know it doen’t exist now in this new govt. What we can learn is that you are a PF cadre to apease PF.

  16. To offer “the good life” to Zambian citizens, there must be a mix of both western and orient ways of doing things. Havard alone is not good. The Havard way has only managed to reduce human development further in Zambia. The best economies today are interested in China’s model – or Singapore’s or some such country. Zambia’s UN Human Development Index has been among the lowest of the low since 1970. Early this year, Zambia was standing at number 150. Now, it is ranked 168th and will soon hit the bottom if nothing is done. In truth, people are looking forward to going a hundred or more notches up. That is “more money in the pocket” as promised. The question is, “Can Sata deliver his promises the way he is carrying on?”

  17. Sata needs to have some respect, you don’t point at elderly people. Ala! When the Archbishop of Canterbury came, he was kneeling for him. Why the contrast?? 

  18. Kyambalesa please be professional. PF has not even presented a budget which is a better and more accurate short-term plan. I just hope you are not just lobbying for a job! It might work just to copy & paste The great Potter’s work & just maybe Sata might find a suitable placement for you.

  19. Kabongo wa Ngoi Mutubile (#2) … I have read the article or so-called “Press Release” a few times, but could not find your assertion that KyambaSatan has claimed that “it is … necessarily the absence of conflict that constitutes continued and lasting peace and stability.” He must have had your wife, for sure! I think this article is about the role a government should play in national affairs. You probably have unresolved issues with the author of the article which you would do well to settle with him rather than spoil our spirits with your tantrums. If you are so smart to poke at the intelligence my uncle, why are there so many grammatical errors in only one paragraph of your contribution above?

  20. Chuulu at #2, I have also found Kabongo wa Ngoi Mutubile’s bitterness against the author outrageous. The following passage in the article is most probably what has infuriated Kabongo wa Ngoi Mutubile: “Given the many positive changes currently being introduced by the Patriotic Front administration, our beloved country seems to be destined for a brighter future.” Kyambalesa should be careful not to be seen as giving support to political parties other than his own Agenda for Zambia. Some people can easily kill him or harm members of his family for no apparent reason. Kabongo wa Ngoi Mutubile is most probably one of the MMD folks at the Zambian Mission in South Africa who has been re-called by the PF government. These people can be as deadly as William Banda and his henchmen.

  21. Number 2: Kabongo wa Ngoi Mutubile — I am surprised by your attacks on the author. This article, from the heading to the content, is clearly about the role of government rather than on peace and stability in Zambia. Even if it was on peace and stability, not even an imbecile would expect to find an intellectual analysis of the issue on a blog like the Lusaka Times. One weakness of the article, though, is the author’s apparent assumption that Zambia is a free-enterprise state. Zambia is still a mixed economy, still in the process of privatizing some of the companies which were created or nationalized by the UNIP government. Otherwise the article is a good read on the role of government in a free-market economy.

  22. Cont’d from Number 22: Number 2: Kabongo wa Ngoi Mutubile — The coming into power of Michael Sata is, however, likely to halt or even reverse the economic liberalization program; he seems to have socialist tendencies. In fact, I see the possibility that he will eventually take the country backwards to the UNIP era by creating the position of Prime Minister and give it to Wynter Kabimba, and also re-introduce the Central Committee. He could just be waiting for the 47 or so seats in Parliament which the PF wants to be nullified so that the ruling party can eventually win a majority in the National Assembly and make it possible for it to introduce some of these changes. I may be wrong, but I stand to be corrected. Time for a cup of tea …

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