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Saturday, June 6, 2020

Guy Scott’s Contribution on President Lungu’s Speech in Parliament

Columns Guy Scott's Contribution on President Lungu's Speech in Parliament

Dr Guy Scott Acting President Of Zambia during the Handing Over 129 houses of the Chiwala housing Project by Zambezi Porland Cement in Ndola Rural on 15-01-2015. Picture By Eddie Mwanaleza/ Statehouse.
Dr Guy Scott

Dr Scott (Lusaka Central): Mr Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to commend our Government and its representatives in this House. I include His Excellency the President and, in this context, the Governor of the Bank of Zambia for taking a mature attitude towards the problem of the market crisis because it could have gone much worse.

Sir, I am not saying it is a nice story which we would like to happen again. What I am saying is that given that it happened, there are various things that could have gone wrong. The exchange control regulations could have been re-introduced immediately. We know, from our experience, as mature politicians and students of economics, that that does not work however much we want it to work. It keeps all investors out. There are many people with millions and billions of dollars which they would like to keep in Zambia or have just removed from Zambia. However, they do not want to put it back where it is trapped by an exchange fence. So, controversial as it may be, I would say that they have exhibited maturity. It is not difficult to see where some of the maturity is coming from. Forty-one years ago, our hon. Minister of Finance presented his first Budget to this House. Now, forty-one years later, which is more than double his age, he is in charge of the economy again.

Laughter

Dr Scott: Sir, I knew him when he was still a youngster. I am sure that if something like this had happened at that time, he would have reached for his statutory instruments, left and right, and started shooting from the hip, except he already had the statutory instrument then. So, he did not have to do that. Now, he is able to take this as a negative market occurrence that needs to be market-managed, if I can put it that way.

Mr Speaker, the Governor of the Bank of Zambia is also a very experienced manager of these issues. We could have easily ended up throwing billions of dollars at this problem and not actually have achieved the solution. So, in this world of imperfects where nothing is as you would like it to be, I am glad that things are a little bit better than they might have been. I just hope that the hon. Minister does not come to this House with his new Budget next week or whenever and oblige me to withdraw my congratulations. I would rather not be forced to do that.

Sir, I just want to talk a lit bit about the side issue of maturity in the Government. My idea or take on various Parliaments and forms of Government institutions across the world is that they contain veterans and wise men and women, champions of the State who are a repository of this kind of stability and institutional memory and realism. I am sure Her Honour the Vice-President has been of great help to this Government. She can remember even longer back than I can because she is three years older and she is also part of what I would like to see as the establishment of the House of Lords presence of wise people who had had, like in her case, a whole life in politics, having been married to a very senior politician, to still bring help. I hope the idea that she seems to be currently selling out is a printing mistake of some sort because the last time she moved a Motion that the House adjourns, she said:

“I urge the hon. Members of Parliament, as they move around their constituencies, to identify young people who can be mentored into future leaders. We need to pass the baton to some of the young people who aspire to be politicians. Perhaps, this message is for hon. Members who have been in this House for the last twenty or twenty-five years.”

Mr Speaker, there is not a single hon. Member of Parliament who has been in this House even for fifteen years. I am in my third term and about twelve other people. We are the longest serving hon. Members. There are the two-termers and some of them have even been speaking earlier. However, most hon. Members are one-termers.

Sir, this Parliament is a body that suffers from instability and fluidity. Most hon. Members have to learn from first principles of legislation. There are, however, few who know these principles and can teach them.

Mr Mbulakulima: That is correct!

Dr Scott: So, we should not sacrifice the composition of this House just to pacify our cadres or anything of that sort. Passing on the baton of leadership should not be a question of short-term political convenience. The composition of this House is as good as the collective wisdom this country gets and we should ensure that it is strengthened and available to whatever the Government is doing. If some of the chaps – sorry, not chaps …

Laughter

Dr Scott: If some of the hon. Members on the front benches of your left agree with me, I must be on the right track …

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Dr Scott: … because there is nothing else I agree with them on.

Laughter

Dr Scott: I am a practical kind of person. I am a counter and I do not know how many times I have had to count the word ‘diversification’. I have heard Her Honour the Vice-President and many others in this House say that we need to diversify our economy so that we have something else to sell for United States Dollars. We need to diversify from just exporting copper which, at the moment, is not worth very much in United States Dollars.

I sat down with my friends to take a case example of how we can diversify and chose a commodity. Ideally, we looked at producing a commodity which involved adding value to copper, since we have plenty of it. Although we looked at this from an economic point of view, we also took into consideration the environment and chose something which is generally simple to make in Kalingalinga or somewhere like that.

Sir, we came up with a solar geyser. The hon. Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry should know that Zambia is the only country in the world which does not make solar geysers. We get solar geysers from South Africa or China. We give other people our copper and they engineer it into pipes, radiators and so on and so forth to make a solar heater and send it back to Zambia where it is bought for a high price. At the prime of the last election, I think the Government bought and installed solar geysers on roof tops houses of police officers’ houses.

Laughter

Dr Scott: Other countries also use our copper in many other ways. We cannot even supply ourselves with a simple heating instrument which captures the sun’s energy. The sun’s basic function is to warm up the earth. All that we need to help the sun heat our water is a simple instrument. Solar geysers really work and I have switched over to them. The water is hot even at the crack of down.

Therefore, I wonder how we are such poor diversifiers that we are unable to produce this elementary object. This is a no-brainer, as they say in east England. One does not even need a brain to make these things. What is the problem? So, my friends and I consulted some businessmen. As usual, there was a long list of complaints. There are various issues that came up and I think the Government needs to attend to them.

The first one, of course, is the interest rate. If you are going to import a machine for making copper pipes, which also will be very useful in plumbing, because we import it for that as well, you need to borrow money. If your interest rate is 27 or 28 per cent, which it is at the moment, and you are trying to fight against the Chinese who are at 6 per cent and South Africans at about 9 per cent, you will lose. It is a very straightforward trade off. I mean you just look at the numbers side by side. You do not have to be mystified by it. This strays into straight based policy of trying to stop the private sector from borrowing money, but what is one to do in order to strengthen the currency market.

We are trying to stop the private sector and leave the Government unhindered in borrowing money. Hence this negative effect that you are sitting there and sending a customer to China over something which is not at all sophisticated, but is made on the other side of the world. You have to put it on a ship and bring it on a truck.

The second concern that was frequent among all the businessmen we were discussing with was they keep writing to the multi-facility economic zone (MFEZ) management and applying for plots to build factories on the 2,000 hectare establishment on the Leopards Hill Road.

Mr Speaker, there are two factories there, each of them about one hectare in a 2,000 hectare plot. Not even 1 per cent of the land has been used. There is a barley malting plant for Zambian Breweries to make lager, a small installation for a pharmacist to make pills and an office.

It is like – I do not know whether hon. Members can remember because it was many years ago – there was a film called Pirates Texas. I am sure Hon. Simuusa knows it because he plays the guitar.

Mr Simuusa laughed.

Dr Scott: This person in the film loses his memory and he is seen wondering around what looks like the MFEZ. It is a vast tract of bush with massive power lines and six-lane highways and people going from nowhere to nowhere. This fellow is stuck in Texas in the bush unable to know where and which way he should go.

Mr Speaker, it might be educational for us, as Parliament, to view the movie and see how he got out of the bush with the lack of development and proceeded from there. So, I think we should, somebody said, “walk the talk”. I agree with this. We used to do it in my office. We said, “If your mention the word ‘potential’ one more time, you pay K50.00 and again…

Laughter

Dr Scott: … and, again, a K100.00.” We all got drunk on the money that one sacrificed talking about potential and still the potential is just thin air.

This diversification is the same word basically. It is the same idea, but there is no actual, touchable, tangible, graspable reality to it unless you get in and look at the dirty details and make them come our way, as well as stop the corruption that also surrounds the licences and the number of organisations from the Zambia Bureau of Standards to the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA), the Energy Regulation Board, you can go on and on. You will never get a chance to actually make your geyser in this country because you are too busy trying to find the person who is supposed to be in the office.

Sir, , I think I will just conclude my contribution because the story very nearly came out yesterday when the hon. Minister of Mines, Energy and Water Development was responding to a question from your left hand side where the answer was, “No, it is just a regulator.”

Laughter

Dr Scott: The question was what the Zambia Revenue Authority’s powers are as I understand it. Not the Zambia Revenue Authority but the Zambezi River Authority.

When the Kariba Dam was built and the power station on the southern bank was also built during the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, there was no competition between the two nations. There were no two owners, but only one which was the federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

When the federation split, the power station was kept as a unitary entity operated by a company called the Central African Power Corporation (CAPCO) whose function was to operate this on a rule based neutral basis and ensure that both owners got their fair share. Even the power station in Zimbabwe, as it became, or Rhodesia, we, as Zambia, owned half of it. They also owned half of the so-called power station on the north side except it was very complicated because of having to evade sanctions by the World Bank by legal finangling. For some reason, we decided to split. I think it was in the 1990s. We decided to split this organisation so that we, as Zambia, have our power station, whereby if we want to turn it on, we turn it on and if we want to turn it off, we turn it off. There is a regulator now in place of CAPCO who is supposed to tell us that no, you cannot do that. This is part of the background to the story.

The timer in the Chamber went off.

Dr Scott: I will get another twenty minutes.

Laughter

Dr Scott: Do not worry, Sir. It does not really work that way. Basically, what we have now is a weak regulator sitting between two puppies drinking milk from the same saucer. If one does not lick fast enough, it will not get as much as the other one. The equity between and the neutrality of that installation has got to be restored somehow by effectively bringing back the judgmental status of the neutral body and the discipline between the two countries.

Sir, it is terribly difficult to have a situation where a whole sovereign country can be regulated by a foreign regulator. It cannot happen. It needs to be built into something which you can rely upon such that you are not going to finish the water by September and then look for another source like the ship stranded on the shores of Mozambique.

Sir, this has been made much worse by the 360 MW contraption which was turned on last year. I am the one who turned it on and I said, “Is there enough water for this?” It was a huge contraption and everybody said yes, but we were only taking the peeks, anyway. When I went to sleep at the hotel down from the Kariba Dam, all night and morning the water gushed past. Once they had their toy, they pushed the button, turned it on and left it and down went the water.

I think it is a legal managerial issue, hon. Minister, that has to be addressed. It is not just a technical issue. It is very difficult to share hydro electric facilities with other countries. It is extremely difficult between two countries. It is a well-known problem throughout the world and I think it needs to be addressed.

With these few words, I will end my contribution.

I thank you, Sir.

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31 COMMENTS

  1. Very mature contribution from a former head of State. I’m sure UPND cadres and the Post would have loved to see him tear the so called vision less Lungu to shreds., but I think he has just put the facts on the table on the currency and the electricity situation and even says he was personally misinformed to turn on the switch at Kariba dam and drain it. That is Maturity, +10 from me Dr Former President

    • Thank God, there was a lot of laughter for once, since Sata addressed parliament to bid good bye.
      Zambia Zambia Zambia, why God did to us like this, not to allow a white man, with black heart to be president?

    • Scott was a missed opportunity for Zed. Let’s hope the congratulations don’t have to be withdrawn although that appeals to my funny bone…

    • What I want to know is for the past 50 years what have they been discussing in parliament? How can it be that only now our elders are questioning diversification, why we allow foreign regulator to over see sovereign nations.Perhaps these conversations have been going on for 50 years but it’s now time to do something. So after we applaud Guy Scotts speech what next? Is government going to support the Zambia company that will want to manufacture solar geysers or will they give the tender to some chinese person and the status quo continues.My question -after great parliamentary speeches what happens next?

    • It was a huge contraption and everybody said yes, but we were only taking the peeks, anyway.

      There lies our problem of low water, it has nothing to do with rainfall. The truth is that this contraption has poor efficiency hence taking in a lot of water. PF be advisable at times.

  2. Scott has brains.This is reason why Sata kept him coz he offered solutions.Ba inonge wina bena tefintu.Ba Edger u had time to stop the free falling kwacha.We have reglations to control the foreign exchange rates.This what i was saying.Why did it take kwacha to hit 13-20 to introduced the controls when we have them.All countries in the world including USA controls the dollar. But the president said let the fundamentals of economy play it’s course.Iwe kwena amano yaba Lungu katwishi.It’s true ba mudala knows only drinking.He is a disappointment to us in PF party.He has destroyed the mighty party coz of lack of education with her vice president.I don’t know if he is a genuine Lawyer

  3. These are very pertinent issues that Dr. Scot has raised that need to be considered thoughtfully. My only concern is that Dr. Scot was second in command of this country for over three years in addition to having been Acting President for three months, never in this time did he ever raise or at least seen have seen addressing some of the issues that he has touched including the management structure of the Zambezi River Authority. it bergs the question as to whether he was a victim to the adage that power corrupts and corrupts absolutely. Nonetheless, the issues raised are food for thought.

  4. Comment:
    The problem with zambians is that we ‘re too racial & discriminative. Umusungu Musungu & we we cannot match with them but to draw closer. Had it not been the clauses you have imposed in the constitution, Scott could have made a good president with a vision.

  5. So sweet to listen to English in its poor form! The only part missing is where Dr Scott ommits to state what efforts he made to deal with the nagging question of bringing autonomy into power management at the border dam. Being the President’s lieutenant once, he was better placed to move the issue to finality. Talking as he did like the rest of us do daily (save for his tongue possessing the enviable flair natural to a native speaker) isn’t a mark of distinction. All considered, thanks but no thanks.

  6. Lazy Zambians, what have you been doing with the last National Development Plans( PRSP,TNDP, FNDP, SNDP…., otherwise this poetic discourse by the learned Dr wouldn’t be there!!!!!

  7. So Scot, as a member of the PF has clarified and openly admitted that the poor excuse of drought was just another PF LIE!!!!

    Load shedding was caused directly by incompetence at ZESCO and ZRA. How can such nonsense have happened? It is clearly due to political appointments by this selfsame PF Government. Ignorant and incapable cadres have been given jobs for political loyalty instead of capable qualified individuals that can do the job properly.

    No more excuses, this PF government must go!

  8. Sir, this has been made much worse by the 360 MW contraption which was turned on last year. I am the one who turned it on and I said, “Is there enough water for this?” It was a huge contraption and everybody said yes, but we were only taking the peeks, anyway. When I went to sleep at the hotel down from the Kariba Dam, all night and morning the water gushed past. Once they had their toy, they pushed the button, turned it on and left it and down went the water.
    this settles the debate, its not the draught but mismanagement. I want to hear from Zesco.

    • Can we some seriousness from this PF government instead of lame excuses blaming their failures on nature?

      I want to see the persons responsible for this load shedding disaster identified and FIRED! They have seriously damaged the whole Nations economy, causing much hardship and poverty while they have been drawing huge salaries for being grossly negligent and incompetent. THEY MUST BE PUNISHED!

      The time for talk is over. We must see some ACTION NOW, not more “considering” “addressing” and “investigating”!

  9. Scott did his part and LUNGU and his minions tricked him,. The man would have given us a reliable inteligent President. This talk actually just dwells on that if one can read in between line.

  10. Thanks Hon. Scott for your candid revelation. Some of us have written about these issues before, from our competences, but without the powers. One question though, why do our politicians show their brilliance when they no longer wield power?

  11. Dotty Scotty, just how much WORSE can it possibly be? The Kwacha is the WORST performing currency IN THE WORLD!

    It has lost more than HALF ITS VALUE since PF has been in Government. In other words, Zambians are 50% POORER THAN THEY WERE in 2011.

    We have load shedding, water shortages and massive unemployment which is only getting worse.

    Tell us please, just how much MUCH WORSE can it possibly be?

  12. Umusungu alabilo kwebati nebo nalibepwishe, nigashya fimachine fyenkafi nabo bonse balyaswike abti eeh. ababomfi baku zesco pano balefwaikwa ukwasuka amepushyo ayo.

  13. Dr Scott thank you very much for telling us the truth. The cause of low water level at Kariba dam was not due to drought but to the switching on of this Monster 360MW. I have also learnt that this monster was supposed to be switched on only during peak time of about 3 hours a day and not 24/7. Why has Zesco failed to tell us the truth and accusing God to have brought this problem on us. You shall burn in hell for lying to God fearing and loving Zambians.

  14. It is very easy now for Scott to see the problems that he is not within. How else can one understand that he failed to attend to these or persuade his colleagues to do so when he was working from within. Has he suddenly awoken from his slumber after having been on Scotch Whisky on the rocks whilst in government living a comfortable life? He should tell us what he did about what he was ruminating on and what he did not do.

  15. This what sly and dangerous pipo say and do.
    Why did Scott not admit that it was he who drained the dam after he was ill advised by ZESCO, ERB and ZRA. Who are in charge of these institutions, economists, accountants, lawyers all men in suits to count money and regulate cash. USA, UK , German and Japan appoint duly qualified technical manpower not men in suits. This is a lesson

  16. Diversification has been on the lips of these politicians for decades but they are not serious. Look the tourism treasures of this country like kasaba bay nothing is being done to turn this into a tourist goldmine.!

  17. we are in real trouble in Zambia. Quite well Scott raised issues and offered very minimal solutions! Surprisingly the loads of praise he has received defy the fact that he was a very senior person in PF and government just some 8months ago!! What efforts did he put in place to address some of the challenges he has raised? Producing solar geysers is a good suggestion but why not look further and explore how we can be a leading cable producer using infrastructure that KK put in place at ZAMEFA to make more cables to feed our increasing power generation and transmission projects and plumbing works in our construction works and export??On this KK set a good example and we have failed to improve on it! Exchange controls can still be applied but in a different way to suit current dynamics and…

  18. Everyone is now waking up, including me! I just learnt cooking gas is called LPG gas, 20 years in my working life! I am now gunning for solar connectivity and they were talking about invertors, stand alone windmills for water, well before the year ends I will be an expert in solar power usage as well.

  19. Dr. Guy Scott I salute you Sir. What is the problem with the experts at ZESCO? Even after 50years we can’t make correct calculations. We can not continue making such costly decisions for long. Let us not depend on foreigners to tell us what is correct and wrong without challenging their calculations and design.

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