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How Zambia will be negatively affected by BREXIT

Columns How Zambia will be negatively affected by BREXIT

By Kalima Nkonde

Some of the statements that have been recently issued by government officials and the British High commissioner have greatly underplayed the consequences and effects of BREXIT. Zambians have been falsely led to believe BREXIT will have little or no impact on Zambia as a country and its people both at home and abroad.

The statements by the British high commissioner, Mr. Fergus Cochrane – Dyet, Minister of foreign Affairs, Harry Kalaba and Commerce Minister Margret Mwanakatwe asserting that BREXIT will have no impact on Zambia, do not show the full picture and is mere spin. This article attempts to give an alternative view of the impact of BREXIT and how it will affect Zambia and Zambians.

First and foremost, BREXIT was largely premised on a sense of nationalism and the perceived loss of control by the British of their national sovereignty to Brussels. The number one motivation for the “ LEAVE” campaign was immigration. The majority of the British public felt that the United Kingdom had lost control of its immigration. The open borders policy of the EU had resulted in the influx of other European countries’ nationals into the UK especially from the former Soviet block and this had resulted in loss of jobs by indigenous Britons.

It follows, therefore, that purely from the immigration point of view, there is no doubt that BREXIT will affect Zambians in so many ways. Zambians currently living in the UK, whether legally or illegally will be faced with a hostile immigration environment and they better be more aware of this risk. For a start, according to British Media reports, hate crimes on foreigners have gone up by 53% since the Brexit vote. In addition, it will be more difficult for Zambians to get jobs in the UK and visas for Zambians wishing to travel to the UK will become even more difficult to obtain, as the environment in the UK will be much more anti-foreigner than before.

The anti-foreigner sentiment will be a repeat of the 1980s racism in Britain which was spearheaded by the late British Prime Minister, Margret Thatcher’s Tory Government when they took over from the labour Party. Mrs. Thatcher infamously remarked, “If we went on as we are now then by the end of the century there will be four million people of the new commonwealth or Pakistan here and that is an awful lot. People are really rather afraid that this country might be rather swamped by people with a different culture,” She told a television programme, World in Action.

In July, 1979, during the crisis of the plight of hundreds of thousands of the “ Boat people” fleeing persecution in Communist Vietnam, Lord Carrington, the British foreign Secretary then, suggested to Mrs. Thatcher that Britain should take on 10,000 refugees but Mrs. Thatcher refused and added that she found , “ Less objection to refugees such as Rhodesians, Poles and Hungarians since they could more easily be assimilated into British culture.”

The Thatcher administration embarked on draconian anti immigration legislation crusade starting with “ The British Nationality Act”. The regulatory changes included the increase in British Universities tuition fees by a tenfold thus making it too expensive for common wealth countries’ students to study in the UK. It was impossible to get a decent job as a Zambian in the UK in those days even if you had the qualification and experience due to the blatant racism obtaining then.

It appears that the UK is going back to those days and Zambians should be aware and be ready for this. The British in effect ‘disowned’ the Commonwealth in the 1980s in what can be termed as “COMMEXIT” as they opted to identify and have closer relations more with Europe through the European Union rather than its former colonies. Now, only about 36 years down the line, they have acrimoniously exited the EU. One may ask, what exactly do the British people want? Do they solely wish to enjoy benefits in relationships but not be prepared to pay for the costs ? It is for this reason that the remaining members of the EU will in a way play hard ball in their negotiations for the new deal with the UK and they have already been warned by the Italian Prime Minister that the UK cannot pick and choose in its future relationship with the EU.

Numerous experts agree that the British economy is likely to shrink as a result of BREXIT and a recession is expected. Therefore, the bilateral aid that the British government gives Zambia cannot possibly be expected to continue at the same level and should be expected to be greatly reduced.
The United Kingdom is the tenth export market of Zambia. In 2014, Zambia exported $97.7 million to the UK which was about 2.59% of total exports and imported $247.0 million which was 1.01% of total imports. Although it can be argued that trade between the two countries will not be greatly affected, in the light of the impending recession of the UK economy and the great uncertainty that the BREXIT vote has created, one should not expect this trade to continue at the same level. It is a fact that in terms of trade and investment, Zambia may not be affected to the same extent as the three major sub Saharan economies like South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya.

The United Kingdom is the largest contributor to the EU’s Development Fund and is currently, the most influential voice in the EU for granting aid to third world countries such as Zambia. The UK’s contribution will no longer be available for the EU and therefore the Union’s budget for developmental aid will greatly be reduced. Consequently, aid to countries like Zambia will be scaled down by the EU without the UK. All sorts of excuses for reducing or cutting EU Aid will be made and Zambia’s current trend of deterioration in good governance and the lack of rule of law can be expected to be used against the country in AID reduction.

The expected reduction in bilateral aid from the UK and the multilateral aid from the EU may affect the Zambian annual budget, development programmes and the Kwacha value should be expected to depreciate as there will be a reduction in foreign exchange inflow through grants.

The United Kingdom was a proponent and a strong voice of fairer trade to Africa (and Zambia) in the EU and this voice will no longer be there. The EU has a draconian agriculture policy called the Common Agriculture Policy which allows immense subsidies to EU farmers and dump cheap agricultural products on countries like Zambia while at the same time imposing huge tariffs to prevent Africans to export to the EU. In the absence of the United Kingdom in the EU, Zambia should expect that even if we diversify our economy into agriculture, the EU will not be an easiest market to penetrate as Brussels will be more brutal in its implementation of the common agriculture policy. Francophone countries will have France to talk for them in the EU but Anglophone will not have Britain to do the same.

There is no doubt that the BREXIT vote has been a disaster for the UK and affects many countries, including Zambia and thus, the impression that it will be business as usual for Zambia is totally misleading and disingenuous.

There is unanimous agreement that BREXIT was a mistake and there are already over 4 million Britons petitioning that a new referendum be held as the “LEAVE” proponents had lied and misled the public about the benefits of leaving the EU and underplayed the massive costs. The result of the referendum has divided the British Society across generation, social status and within families. The young people are bitter that the old people voted for something that there will never live to experience. The vote for “leave” was influenced by the older generation with the majority of voters over 60 years voting for leaving the EU by over 60% and those below 45 years votes overwhelming voting to remain in the EU.
The voting pattern in the EU referendum is a lesson for Zambian youth. They should learn to participate in elections because the turnout for the British referendum among old people was huge whereas the youth did turn out to vote but they will face the consequences for many years to come.

The writer is a Chartered Accountant by profession and a financial management expert. He is an independent and non partisan commentator/analyst. He has lived in the diaspora in England, South Africa and Botswana for over 25 years before returning home two years ago..


  1. I totally agree both on immigration and economic front. We shall be affected in the short term and it is not right to suggest, even by BOZ, that we won’t be affected. We may even have more influx from there wanting to settle in Africa. Britain should be more than aware that their nationals have settled everywhere in the world. Acting in a manner they do to block others prevents the country from reaching its full potential.

    • This article is scholarly material…and puts Kalaba and his drunk in their right place: ignorance and pure lack of concerns of the suffering millions due to alcoholism that has engulfed PF

    • Uh, so the writer returned to Zambia after all! Good.
      Iwe RAINMAN & The MAGNA CARTA-I MAKE IT RAIN: ON COMMAND, your alias first of all detects that you got no idea what scholarly is. Please check the meaning thereof before showing shallow ignorance.

    • maybe for once, you will understand that umusungu temunobe. those people here who call me racist continue doing so. and perhaps for once you will make sense of the word. Whites do, blacks talk. when they say they hate you, they do, they enslave you, colonise, put sanctions on you, kill you etc. when we say we hate, we just say, we have never enslaved them, colonised them or killed them. do you get the difference. Racism is discrimination plus power, power to do something about what you feel and think. We dont want immigrants, we will chase them etc. I can scream a million times that i will kill you, but if i dont get to do it am not a murderer. but if one screams once that they will kill you and they do it, then they become a murderer. Umusungu temunobe. remember that

  2. The effect of Brexit on the Zambian economy will be little compared to the effect of rigged elections. With rigged elections Zambia may be brought under International Sanctions. If that happens then Zambia will be cut off from international capital markets which means failing to access IMF and other IFIs financial resources. People should be worrying about this prospect than worrying about Brexit which u cannot do anything about. While politicians can rig elections they cannot rig the economy. Zimbabwe is a case in point. Since year 2000 Zimbabwe was put under sanction for human rights abuse and rigging elections and as a result the Zimbabwe economy has collapsed. It is therefore in Zambia’s interest to have the upcoming elections declared free,fair and credible. That will keep the doors…

  3. Muzanya manzi this time! Keep voting for clueless, theiving midiocre leaders and you will always be at the mercies of global economics.

  4. Brilliant analysis, one would think the guys at BOZ should know better and be able to speak nothing but the truth.
    This is stuff every Zambian should know so they can plan for the future.
    But government is in denial and so are the voters:

  5. Good article! Indeed the Brits always want it good both ways,nice and free or cheap! They want to remain in the larger EU market with all advantages but they hate the free movement rules that come with the common market. Indeed there will be some reductions in bilateral aid from UK Aid till they balance their Brexit effects and as observed EU aid programmes will also be affected. However, I do not agree with one issue in the article that France will be helping Francophone countries at the EU .There is an existing mechanism under the EU -Africa-Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP) Partnership where issues are ironed out in a multilateral way so UK absence may not matter much in that regard.

  6. BREXIT is an excellent opportunity for the next Zambian Government to start looking at ways to forge new trade relations with UK. I think Zambians should look at this UK decision with Optimism. UK is the 5th largest word economy is more likely to thrive and succeed outside the EU.

    • @Citizen,
      Please clarify. How will UK ‘thrive and succeed’ outside the EU when:-
      1.) It has walked away from synergising with EU on many fronts, including Research & Development which is the main engine for advancement?

      2.) Scotland is going to hold its own referendum and most certainly break away from UK (with 65million people) to join EU (with 500million people)?

  7. Nice article wonderful analysis. There are definitely more questions and assumptions that can be made, but the gist of the article is that we should not take things for granted. Our relations with European Countries has been favored by Britain, and now that Britain has its own issues to resolve, there definitely will be a change that will affect us. There is need for strategies and risk analysis and preparation for adverse effects….Unfortunately our beloved government and many of our leaders lack all the necessary strategic leadership skills to do so as their priorities are all misconstrued. Oh what a dilemma!!

  8. Not true to say Brexit will make it more difficult for Zambians to work in the UK actually the opposit is true. Firstly immigration for work will be based on points, the more qualified you are the more likely your are to get a visa no matter where you ate from.
    Second the flood of east Europeans have all but taken all the jobs Zambians and other people from 3rd world countries used to find plentiful.

    A lot of The English left inner cities because of the influx of foreigners in particular Africans West Indians and Asians–old foreigners as they are called. But now the east Europeans–the so called new foreigners followed them and flooded them in their idyllic little towns where few of the old foreigners were intrested in living. The English are finding no corner is sacred any more.

  9. ” The statements by the British high commissioner, Mr. Fergus Cochrane – Dyet, Minister of foreign Affairs, Harry Kalaba and Commerce Minister Margret Mwanakatwe asserting that BREXIT will have no impact on Zambia.”

    Those three or Kalima Nkonde, who is a better reasoned person on this whole scenario?

  10. I am impressed by the responses to this article. If we continue reasoning like this, without insulting each other, Zambia will prosper. Keep it up fellow citizens!

  11. Guys,
    Kindly permit me to share a few thoughts.
    Financially, London has always been at the forefront of banking, from the time of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. This will continue to be so. Bolstered by the robust “checks and balances” enshrined by British legislation, This will induce investors to keep their money SAFELY in London.
    The weaker pound will mean that there will be an influx of money from China, India, South Korea and Japan
    Extra liquid cash in the UK means that investors and fund managers will be looking further afield to increase their earning. This could trickle down to Zambia into the agriculture, mining and hospitality sectors
    Sending our kids to study in the UK will be cheaper, and
    Because of our affiliation to the UK, through the Commonwealth, “old timers”…

    • ati commonwealth where is this commonwealth, when they deny you visas, when they cripple your economies, when the traditions of governance and rule are based only on their culture and history. Ati opening parliament and the president is escorted by horses into parliament. what is common here i ask you? Maybe what is common is their tradition and their ways, we, the rest are just imitators. when are we as africans ever going to see these things that are in plain site?

  12. The analysis is completely misleading in all aspects & the BREXIT is a blessing in disguise to all countries outside the EU. For jobs, imports, exports, etc, all EU countries are mandated to source their needs within the EU first before looking outside the Union. Britain inclusive had little chance of sourcing anything outside EU even if only the mediocre were available from other EU countries. Once Britain exits from EU, she will be free to source these needs from anywhere in the world without any restrictions from EU and this will open up for Zambian job, goods and services market. The only challenge is that most Zambian product and labour are of mediocre calibre & full of cadres. Disadvantages are also plenty for BREXIT.

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