Why Does Zambia Spend More on Public Order than on Protecting the Poor

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Some commentators believe that the best way to keep public order and safety is to ensure that the basic needs of citizens are met. These needs range from food, water shelter and clothing to self-esteem, self worth, freedom and dignity. These are the same needs that constitute a larger component of the Human Rights Bill, which any meaningful constitution seeks to protect.

Among many, many others, four (4) questions that may arise when we looking at the Zambia’s spending priorities in the 2018 national budget are:

  1. When people’s needs are not met, what course of action can they legally take to make concerns heard? Can they freely speak out or express themselves, including through peaceful protests or demonstrations?
  2. What other safeguards are available to ensure that their plight is addressed?
  3. How is The Government expected to respond to the distress calls of it citizens? and
  4. How well have our current governance arrangements performed in providing an environment where basic needs and human rights can be met in a dignified manner?

The amended Constitution of Zambia (2016) states that: “The people of Zambia …. UPHOLD the human rights and fundamental freedoms of every person;

“CONFIRM the equal worth of women and men and their right to freely participate in, determine and build a sustainable political, legal, economic and social order;”

Although the terms “protest” and “demonstrate” do not appear even one time in the Zambian Constitution, I believe the right to protest is a human right and a hallmark of a truly democratic society. It allows citizen to freely and effectively participate in determining the social, political and economic order in any country, Zambia included.

Ironically, in Zambia, we spend more on defence and public order and safety than we do on all social protection programmes – Social Cash Transfer Schemes, Food Security Programmes, Public Welfare Assistance Scheme, Women’s Development Programmes and Youth Empowerment Programmes – combined.

The Chart illustrates that, over the decade from 2010-2020 the social protection allocation in the National Budget will generally have been considerably lower than those to both defence and public order & safety. Moreover, it is projected to decline to an all time low in the near future (in 2019). We do not see priority in protecting the poor and vulnerable in our society.

We are essentially spending our public resources on diminishing our democracy

What is more ironic is, not only do we spend relatively little on protecting the poor and vulnerable (including women, youths and children), but we also seem to prefer to spend on public order and safety in ways that deliberately prevent women and the youth (#VivaLauraMiti #VivaPilato) from exercising their constitutional right to peacefully demonstrate against what they perceive to be immoral public financial misappropriation, corruption and social injustice. We are essentially spending our public resources on diminishing our democracy.

Why is it that Zambia spend more on public order than on social protection of the poor? Do Zambia’s decision-makers have the will to change the policy choices they are making? Or is the general feeling that the social, political and economic order are just fine, underpinned by the right choices? Is the instinct for self-preservation and protection of self-interests in Zambia likely to prevail over the greater good in determining the allocation and utilization of public resources?

I can only hope that at least one or two of Zambia’s prominent decision-makers will see this and give a thorough response that will correct my (hopefully misguided) perceptions about our poor choices (no pun intended).

By Caesar Cheelo
Senior Researcher – Macroeconomics at ZIPAR

22 COMMENTS

  1. +3
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    By Caesar Cheelo………….. KIKIKI
    YOUR GUESS IS AS GOOD AS MINE WHAT HE IS USING TO THINK…NOT HIS ECONOMICS MIND BUT …… LOL

    • +14
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      Thats an excellent question.It’s no wonder we remain a poor country. Our problem in Africa is not that we do not have money ,it’s that we do not know how to handle money.Thats why we keep needing people from Western powers to come and tell us when to spend and how to spend.The little bit of money they leave government to use on their own discretion is used for things like flying abroad multiple times,paying cadres,paying for large police force to arrest any citizen with opposing views..forget about education or health care.#cryourbelovedafrica

    • +3
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      THIS RESEARCHER IS AMAZING – CAN YOU EAT YOUR FAVORITE MEAL LET ALONE SLEEP IN AN OPEN SPACE WHEN THE LION, LEOPARD OR VICIOUS SNAKE IS WAITING FOR YOU. PRIORITIZE YOUR NEEDS.
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      Simply put, it is how you want to place your priorities. How can you even dare separate defence, public order and safety from social protection. What is the fabric of social protection anyway? You can not enjoy your food, water, shelter, clothing and self-esteem, self worth, freedom and dignity when public order is threatened or broken down. When your national security is annihilated. You do not need to appreciate the PO only when the UPND is power. In the absence of food swallow your saliva please because your literal peace is guaranteed.

    • +3
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      Simple question has simple answer, POWER IS SWEET, that is why we spend more on public order than on poverty reduction.

  2. +11
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    IF YOU THINK PEACE IS CHEAP ..GO TO CONGO DR, MALI OR CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC………..!!!!! AND IF YOUR HAVE A VERY STRONG ECONOMICS MIND , LOOK AT THE WHAT OTHER COUNTRIES SPEND THEIR MONEY ON MOST….START WITH US AND END WITH BOTSWANA, MALAWI , LESOTHO… ETC ETC ETC

    • +4
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      Of course. That is why IG Kanganja needs tear gas , armoured cars with machine guns.

      Good old fashioned police tactics against unarmed civilians are out of date.

      And he has decided to do the armys work for them as they are so incompetent.

  3. +6
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    Brilliant article!

    I am sure some one in govt will pick up this and help re-align priorities towards achieving better social and democratic outcomes.

  4. +4
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    My Economist friend, when the government maintains public order, it basically protects the poor. The problem is you want to think too much where simple thinking is required. I can give you an example of what happened to City Market in Lusaka, where a pure act of sabotage and diabolism was at play. How many poor Zambians were affected by that cowardly satanic act? I can give you numerous examples; the list is endless.

    • +3
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      “I can give you an example of what happened to City Market in Lusaka, where a pure act of sabotage and diabolism was at play”. To date, how many have been convicted for this pure act of sabotage, as you call it????? Try to think outside politics…

    • +6
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      “…what happened to City Market in Lusaka, where a pure act of sabotage and diabolism was at play..”

      Zambians should wake up to what is happening here. This ” sabotage and diabolism” was purely an engineered excuse by PF to justify the State of Emergency and even more powers to suppress dissent, calls for accountability, and exposure of the corruption and plain theft Lungu and his gang are doing to the Nation.

      These are CLASSIC DICTATORS TOOLS. We need to go no further than Uganda or Zimbabwe to see them in action and the results.

      Mugabe took a more direct route. He did not burn down markets, He did not close down the free press on non-payment of taxes. He just sent his thugs to burn down the Newspapers themselves!

  5. +3
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    When some leader of a political party is in a hurry to get into state house even after losing an election and his antics fill the minds of those in government with consternation, then you might as well understand why Zambia spends more on public order than on protecting the poor. The political culture also needs to change. We can differ without having to threaten each other. With a poisoned political atmosphere, it is just normal to expect the spending on public order to increase.

  6. +3
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    FORMER FINANCE MINISTER MAGANDE ONCE SAID THERE ARE DIFFERENT FORMS OF POVERTY
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    He said, when you lack something, you are poor in that area bra bra bra! You know these kids when they get stinking rich. Anyways this aside, I can see the blue and the red line crisscross in your graph taking care of the physiological needs as Maslow claims but when public order collapses hell breaks loose, I wanted to let you know about that. The 2018 budget should first ensure public safety before Government can feed you with T-borne. You have to recognize also that the UPND ain’t making it any easier for Gov to concentrate on alleviating poverty. You know what’s up with politics and government or private business. Its hell. Government is on right track though…

  7. +4
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    This story has no merit. The graph shows that spending on social protection is higher than Public order but the author has spoken the other way round. Is he normal. These so called researchers are just researching on how to forment anger in the people on a daily basis. They are being sponsored to do so and because of trying to please the masters, they talk ru*****h. The PF has already reversed the trend he is talking about but extends the projection of 2019 and 2020 to justify his lies because he know Zambians don’t read. They will just look at the heading and bang…….!

    • vote

      Ken, I believe the projections are from the Medium Term Expenditure Framework, a Government document. You are part of the people that dont read.

  8. +2
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    I really would like to meet this researcher face to face to see if he is not been smoking weed lately. What can he see from his own graph?

  9. +4
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    This article and graphs look EXCITING to attract attacks on Government BUT THEY ARE SHALLOW and INCOMPLETE! They would have been trusted if they ANALYSED and COMPARED expenditures across ALL SECTORS where Government applies national resources. Then we could have made a valid cases for misplacement of priorities!! WHERE is expenditure on INFRASTRUCTURE, AGRIC, TOURISM AND OTHER SECTORS that actually grow the economy to generate resources for social protection? Much as the PF needs to up the game, I cannot agree with empty propaganda that is merely peddling lies, though I can agree that the UPND and its supporters are good at it!!

  10. +2
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    Public order act is meant to allow some level of political freedom…implying the police show let politicians play their game without brutality from police……

  11. +2
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    All dictators spend more on police and weapons than social programmes.

    Lungu needs to bribe the police to suppress any protests against his looting or dictatorial rule.

    However he can only tax Zambians so much before they start looking at the corruption around them….that time is fast approaching.
    .

  12. +3
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    The researcher is a UPND cadre…Researching while wearing the Supreme Leader HH’s lenses makes one loses objectivity and becomes subjective…

    • +3
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      And you sir, are a pf cader , when corruption and brutality is all that drives you to be in power you fail to see what the suffering majority feel…..

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