Economist Chibamba Kanyama has suggested that Zambia decriminalizes the early disclosure of national documents such as the national budget.
Mr Kanyama said it may be advisable that any clauses that criminalize unauthorized disclosure of the national budget be revised so that officers found wanting can be reprimanded administratively.
He was commenting on the arrest of Ministry of Finance officials for allegedly leaking the 2021 national budget.
“With regard to National Budgets, a lot has changed in terms of content and the communication profile. Under the centralized ‘Kaunda’ system, budgets were a solemn and tightly controlled event. This was primarily because governments played a central role in controlling the economy, particularly with regard to price setting,” Mr Kanyama said.
“Come budget day, we were all glued to TV and Radio to listen to Rabson Chongo, Luke Mwananshiku, Gibson Chigaga announce, ‘From midnight tonight, the price of cooking oil, petrol, salt …will be K10, 50 ngwee.’ Imagine someone leaking the budget prior to the announcement in parliament! Long queues would form with individuals with this information hoarding up commodities hoping to make a kill after midnight.”
Mr Kanyama observed that a lot has changed since adding that government now directs the economy largely through policy pronouncements and setting economic targets.
“Since two years ago, budgets are aligned to the actual budget year. The Minister of Finance will present estimates in October only for the budget to take effect 1st January. Something else has happened: Government is much more transparent about budgets than before.”
“First, you can easily predict the budget via the medium term expenditure framework (a national budget with a long term view). That’s why when journalists ask me to predict the budget, I just go to this document, which often gets revised and then consider the prevailing economic circumstances to make predictions.”
“Second, government makes a lot of consultantions with various stakeholders for budget input. In short, today’s budgets are very predictable (I did not listen to the 2021 National Budget presentation because the MTEF was enough for me to know the broader context).“
He added, “Under these circumstances, I can as well predict that in the near future, budget presentations to parliament will serve ceremonial purposes because the public will have known what is contained weeks earlier. In any case, there is a three month window between the day of announcing it and when it becomes law; meaning anything can, therefore, change in between.“
“Given this context and the evolving context of National Budgets, it may be advisable that any clauses that criminalize unauthorized disclosure of this document be revised so that officers found wanting can be reprimanded administratively.”
Too much sense in it. Just too much reasoning. It used to be a long budget: imagine announcing the prices of all essential goods.
How do you do that for all government documents. We deal with a lot of data which borders on national security. Have some pride in your own country. Do not belittle our need for security. Even the countries you idolise like UK and USA have oaths government workers take not to leak vital data for security reasons. Remember there is such a thing as economic security. Afterall, the upnd have been trying, without success, to sabotage our economy
ignore this lab tech, what does he understand on journalism
Fake Kaizar Zulu, did you even read the article? The man didn’t suggest all documents, he was arguing the criminalization of the budget document has been overtaken by times. There’s no need to make this document a state secret and a criminal offence to leak it. He has a point particularly with KK prices control of commodities.
Where I live, budget contents are discussed 2 wks leading to the formal announcement for the govt to get public ‘buy-in’ and acceptance to pretty much blackmail the opposition into accepting it.
Kaizer Zulu, why is it that everything is about UPND? You once held the position which you got fired for…….. what security does the budget contain? what sabotage is their when i tell you that this is what i plan to do with my income? mune, learn to think beyond the broader context than always trying to point everything to the opposition. just do the good homework in the party.
Kaizer Zulu, why is it that everything is about UPND? You once held the position which you got fired for…….. what security does the budget contain? what sabotage is their when i tell you that this is what i plan to do with my income? mune, learn to think beyond the broader context than always trying to point everything to the opposition. just do the good homework in the party. do get a life boss
Is it your speech to start sharing with media houses to begin with? Why not just wait for the rightful office to address the nation and speak to the bdget, as simple as that. You loose nothing. You people who are in support of these two gentle men must have your heads checked. What type of a country would we have if Civil Servants just leaked whatever information they come accross?
It is just the Zambian budget, nobody follows anyway.
There is PF minister who has ever looked at budget of the month for their ministry.
In fact Kandeta was trying to excite citizens with number, but those Primates arrest him and charge him with treason.
Information is power. We would have an enlightened country if access to information was encouraged and was part of the role civil servants conducted. Seriously speaking, what is wrong to have access to a budget speech in advance of its delivery by the Minister of Finance? This nonsense of criminalizing early disclosure of national budgets and speeches should be stopped.
Ngoma, these are frightened little men. But don’t worry, hope is on the horizon. That would be the behavior of tyrants especially that they have failed on both governance and the economy. We should have kept MMD in power, that change was just too costly. The dollar was at K5.
Journalists asking a fellow journalist for their budget predictions.
I totally agree with Mr Kanyama’s suggestion but as things stand – disclosure of government documents such as the national budget is a criminal offence in Zambia. So until such a time when it is decriminalised please do follow the laid down procedures and laws of the Zambian government. Do not be found wanting out of ignorance. And if anything what was the rush for leaking such a sensitive document. Was he pandering to the opposition?? As a nation, we will be going into an election year and so be on your guard. Ignorance is not an excuse. Let Kandeta exculpate himself.
This is why bill 10 was important if Chibamba made that submission at the right time and if UPND did not abscond parliament, it was going to be a different story to day
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