Sunday, June 23, 2024

Zambia after the 2021 General Elections

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By Henry Kyambalesa

Introduction

Thus far, I have shared some of my most provocative views and opinions with my fellow Zambians concerning our beloved country’s development-related problems and prospects in several articles. This article is most probably going to be the last one before the general elections scheduled for August 12, 2021.

In the article, I hope I will succeed in provoking a protracted and constructive debate concerning the potential for the United Party for National Development (UPND) Alliance to assemble a more representative government than the Patriotic Front (PF).

However, I will be amiss not to briefly discuss the problem of inadequate financial resources which some of our former Republican presidents have cited as having been a contributing factor to their failure to provide adequately for services and facilities, among a host of other things, to meet the needs and expectations of the people.

We Need An Inclusive Government

The list of at least 30 Permanent Secretaries and the 30 or so government ministers in the PF Cabinet that was dissolved on May 12, 2021 to pave the way for the forthcoming general elections shows that the positions were, by and large, held by citizens from provinces in the north-eastern part of the country.

One would have expected the Republican President, Dr. Edgar C. Lungu, to ensure that his administration was as ethnically inclusive as possible, at least with respect to the position of Permanent Secretary. At the Ministerial level, the President could have nominated 8 deserving citizens from the other provinces to join the National Assembly, as provided for in the Republican constitution, and add them to his Cabinet.

Zambia belongs to all the citizens who constitute the 73 tribes, and who hail from its 10 provinces. There is, therefore, a need for a new team of political players that, by design, will at least be composed of UPND Alliance Partners at the highest level of government.

The UPND Alliance Partners include the following eminent citizens: (a) Mr. Hakainde Hichilema of the UPND; (b) Ms. Mutale Nalumango, UPND Alliance Vice Presidential Candidate; (c) Mr. Charles Milupi of the Alliance for Democracy and Development (ADD); (d) Mr. Felix Mutati of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC); (e) Mr. Kelvin B. Fube of the Zambia Shall Prosper Movement (ZSPM); (f) Mr. Ernest Mwansa of the Zambians for Empowerment and Development (ZED); (g) Mr. Kaluba Simuyemba of the Movement for Change and Equality (MCE); and (h) Mr. Joseph Akafumba of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

Besides, and as I have maintained in some of my previous articles, the UPND Alliance is much more likely to reverse the current socioeconomic decay and backwardness and improve the socioeconomic vistas of ordinary citizens over the next 5 years. I sincerely and profoundly believe so mainly because its administration will draw from the knowledge, expertise and experience of prominent leaders and other citizens from Alliance partners who, by and large, hail from the country’s 10 provinces.

In February 2020, my traditional cousin and Vice President Inonge Wina was quoted in a news story entitled “Opposition Has Not Done Much to Ensure that Kaande Ward in Mongu District Is Developed – Wina” as having said the following:

“[Over] … the years, the people of Kaande [Ward] have voted for candidates from the opposition who have not done much to ensure that the area is developed.”

The idea in this regard is to dupe some of our gullible fellow citizens that opposition political parties should compete with the government by using their private resources in the pursuit of economic development, in providing assistance to chieftains, in responding to disasters, in disbursing social cash transfer funds financed by Western development partners, and so forth.

One would, of course, expect all Zambians to know that only the political party that is given the mandate to form government has both the authority and the responsibility to use public resources to pursue development projects and programmes and to provide for essential public services and facilities nationwide.

So, they have clearly and effectively perfected the art of using development, assistance to chieftains, the disbursement of social cash transfer funds, and the provision of public services and facilities as political weapons.

We need a government that will, for example, pursue development projects and programmes in all communities, districts and provinces irrespective of the political parties and/or candidates the citizens in such communities, districts or provinces vote for.

Inadequate Financial Resources

Since our beloved country’s political independence in October 1964, we have miserably and lamentably failed to use our national resources wisely in our quest to attain meaningful socioeconomic development and improve the livelihoods of the majority of our people. Besides, we have continued to mortgage our country by borrowing heavily from both local and external sources of funds in order to sustain government operations.

The UNIP Era:

During the UNIP era, for example, rampant economic and public-sector mis­man­agem­ent re­sulted in the di­version of human, financial, and other national resources to unpro­duc­tive projects and programmes.

For instance, the creation of the Central Committee (a somewhat parallel structure to the National Assembly) and the position of Prime Minister that followed the introduction of a one-party State in 1972 contributed greatly to the misappropriation of public resources, and also escalated the cost of performing government functions.

During the same era, implementation of socialist policies increased our country’s public-sector borrow­ing and government spend­ing to finance the operations of state companies, and the operations of their subsidiaries, especially in times when they were not able to generate profits.

Alan Whitworth has summed up the financial situation which our beloved country faced between the late 1960s and 1991 in the following words: “[Virtually] … all resources were devoted to wages, debt service, subsidies … and bailing out parastatals.”

Besides, the compulsory recruitment of Grade 12 students to undergo military training and engage in agricultural production activities between 1975 and 1980 at Zambia National Service (ZNS) camps (as mandated by ZNS Act No. 121 of 1972) contributed to the draining of public coffers.

A lot of money was wasted on ZNS personnel, the construction of facilities to accommodate Grade 12 graduates, payments of stipends to the graduates, and on procurements of food, uniforms, semi-automatic rifles (SARs), and live ammunition and blanks for training purposes.

The MMD Era:

In March 2007, the former and late President Levy Mwanawasa, during his official visit to Namibia, revealed that 65% of the national budget was devoted to the sustenance of a bloated state apparatus, and that only a paltry 35% was left for education, agriculture, healthcare, roads and bridges, and so forth.

In June 2009, former President Rupiah Banda decried the fact 50% of the government’s domestic revenues were spent on 1% of the population, including government ministers, and wondered how provision for roads, hospitals, schools, energy, and defence and security could be met.

The PF Era:

In October 2012, an article by Kabanda Chulu, which appeared in the now-defunct The Post Newspaper, revealed that 50% of the 2013 national budget would be spent on the wages, salaries, allowances, and fringe benefits of civil servants and government officials.

And in October 2014, Mr. Alexander Chikwanda was quoted by Zambia Weekly as having revealed that 75% of Zambia’s domestic revenue in 2015 (amounting to K35 billion) would be consumed by wages, including those of Zambia’s 200,000 civil servants (K15 billion) and other salaries supported by government, leaving only 25% to cater for all other government operations designed to facilitate socioeconomic development in the country.

So, there is a need to ask all political leaders and their parties contesting the forthcoming presidential election to explain where they will find the funds to employ in implementing their grandiose projects and programmes.

In the ensuing sections, I have outlined viable ways and means by which the government can administer the process of saving our beloved country’s resources for application in meeting some of the needs and expectations of the people. The viable ways and means I have pinpointed can only be implemented by a new government; they cannot be implemented by an existing government like the PF administration, which has maintained a massive structure of government and a huge number of sinecures.

Sources of Government Revenue

Traditional Sources of Revenue:

There is a need to improve the collection of revenues from traditional sources, and to ensure that the revenues collected are prudently used in the dispensation of public services, construction of modern public facilities, and maintenance of public facilities.

These sources include the following: (a) personal and business income taxes; (b) sales tax; (c) postal revenues; (d) national lottery; (e) commercial undertakings; (f) customs duties; (g) passport fees; (h) fire-arm registration fees; (i) excise taxes; (j) hunting licence fees; (k) work permit fees; (l) citizenship and naturalization fees; and (m) NRC replacement fees.

The selling and/or buying of government bonds (by the Bank of Zambia) through the Lusaka Stock Exchange and regional stock markets on behalf of the government (by means of “open market operations”) should also provide additional revenues for the central government.

Besides, there is a need to bolster economic growth and job creation through lower sales tax and lower income taxes in order to make it possible for individuals and business entities to keep more of their hard-earned incomes for investment, savings and consumption and consequently broaden the tax base by getting more citizens to work and who will pay taxes, as well as incentivising existing and new business entities that will bolster the country’s tax revenues.

And effort in this regard will need to be made to lavishly incentivise both local and foreign investors in order to bolster the supply and variety of goods and services, as well as expect them to make a contribution to the stock of jobs and absolve large numbers of the unemployed.

Consolidation of Public Services:

There will be a need to consolidate some government services that will be expected to result in cost savings. For example, there will be a need to create an autonomous Bureau of Statistics and Archives to replace the Central Statistics Office (CSO) and the National Archives of Zambia (NAZ) so that the new entity will freely and independently collect, process, maintain, publish, and archive essential data and information about our beloved country;

Realignment of Foreign Missions:

Zambia will need to reduce the number of its embassies and consulates in order to save some money for allocation to poverty reduction and other social needs. In this regard, most of our country’s smaller number of foreign missions will need to serve groups or clusters of countries through extra-accreditation rather than serve single countries.

This, of course, is not to slight the role the ministry responsible for foreign affairs plays in our quest to work hand in hand with other peace-loving nations worldwide in creating a more democratic, more peaceful, more affluent, and more egalitarian global community.

A Smaller National Government:

There is a need to create a smaller national government by streamlining the government structure, and by creating ministries that do not have overlapping functions. The national government should, in this regard, have fewer government ministries than we have under the PF government.

To paraphrase Mr. William J. Clinton, a former U.S. president, we need to create a government that is smaller, a government that lives within its means, and a government that does more with less.

The creation of a “smaller” national government can be accomplished by getting rid of sinecures—that is, positions that inflate the cost of running government but which contribute little or nothing to the overall output of government services.

Civil servants who would be affected by the streamlining exercise should be encouraged to seek early retirement with full benefits. Professional and skilled civil servants should be re-deployed in the handful of new government ministries, while others could be re-deployed in executive agencies.

Huge savings in the form of salaries, special allowances, and utility allowances could be made through the streamlining of the national government.

Other savings would be in the form of the various kinds of payments currently being made by the government on behalf of government officials who would be retired with full retirement benefits, including payments for housing, phones, buildings, office supplies, automobiles, gasoline, water, and electricity.

The creation of a government with a smaller number of Cabinet-level portfolios should be complemented by the following measures designed to capture additional cost savings:

(a) Removal of unnecessary and cumbersome bureaucratic procedures and excessive paperwork that prevent civil servants from competently performing their work;

(b) Waging a vicious war against corruption and, thereby, reduce the current haemorrhage of public resources through the scourge;

(c) Ensuring that tenders to perform sub-contracted work and/or supply materials to the government are awarded to companies with traceable relevant experience but whose bids are the lowest;

(d) Scaling down on government involvement in the operations of state-owned companies in order to ease the financial burden of such companies on the public treasury;

(e) Management of complementary or executive government agencies by a small ensemble of technocrats to save both financial and material resources for application in meeting some of the basic needs and expectations of ordinary citizens; and

(g) Going through public expenditures line by line, programme by programme, agency by agency, department by department, and ministry by ministry in order to eliminate unnecessary application of public funds.

An Efficient National Government:

Our country needs a national government that is not only “smaller,” but one that is “efficient” as well. This can be accomplished by means of such measures as the following: (a) by enacting pieces of legislation designed to reduce the incidence of by-elections, which have been costly to the nation; and (b) by devising and implementing strategies designed to create a work environment that will be conducive to the nurturing and tapping of new ideas and innovations from civil servants—ideas and innovations which will be used to improve the dispensation of public services.

Aid from Development Partners:

There will be a need for wise utilisation of financial and material resources provided by our country’s development partners, and to periodically thank them for their development-related assistance. Currently, our country’s multilateral and bilateral cooperating partners include the African Development Bank, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, the IMF, Ireland, Japan, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, and The World Bank.

These countries support our development efforts in different fields and sectors, including agriculture, decentralization, education, energy, gender, governance, health, housing, HIV/AIDS, macroeconomics, private sector development, social protection, science and technology, tourism, water, transportation infrastructure, and the environment.

There is no doubt that their support has continued to bolster our country’s efforts to address some of the problems facing the country and its people, including poverty, hunger, ignorance, illiteracy, disease, widespread unemployment, disadvantaged children, dilapidated infrastructure, crime, corruption, and moral decay.

22 COMMENTS

  1. Ba Kymbalesa, the comment from Veep Inonge Wina was not meant “to dupe some of our gullible fellow citizens that opposition political parties should compete with the government by using their private resources in the pursuit of economic development, ” as you wrongly suggest. The idea behind the comment is that if opposition party MPs cannot lobby private business organisations to set up or fund business ventures in their areas, then they cannot expect to have their areas developed. It is either they work with government and lobby government to take development to their areas or they find private business organisations to help them do this. There are chiefs in parts of Zambias, like Chief Mnukwa in Eastern Province, who have attracted private investors to their chiefdoms. Opposition MPs…

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  2. …risk being held to ransom by their parties, particularly the UPND that wants UPND controlled constituencies not to have development so that they can blame this on government. UPND MPs risk being punished if they are seen to work with the ruling PF party. This is a fact. You only have to carry out field research in UPND controlled constituencies to hear how people are frustrated by the lack of development in their areas because their MPs are UPND who are not ready to work with government. Some people are so frustrated in some of these constituencies that they talk of voting for a PF candidate in the hope of seeing change in their constituencies.

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  3. Ok yet again essays like this from someone who opens his first few lines with flaws are a turnoff but from just just one flawed line where the author calls for an all inclusive government I would like remind ba Kyambyalesa of one thing:

    Michael Sata and E Lungu made attempts or actually did appoint members from the UPND. What happened? Under 5 made sure they were alienated from the part. To date , Siamunene and Monde are in the wilderness. Under 5 simply does not want his people to work with government for development purposes.

    So Sir, Kyambyalesa please spare us from unrealistic theories.

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  4. Oh another last minute attempt at pretending he is an analyst….all the best we are 24 hours away…mukakose….wafwa walala

  5. The longer the article, the fewer the comments and the few comments will come after reading only one paragraph. Watch this space. Having said that, nearly all party manifestos have many or all of the ingredients in this article. The Sata led PF manifesto was drawn up after consultations from several people from various areas of Zambia. Zambians are not short of ideas on how to proceed to make Zambia great. The problem is that we have a very powerful President and eventually all appointees will suspend common sense and do the bare minimum while licking boots for fear of losing their jobs. We cannot go on depending on the good heart of the President. We must make that irrelevant for these plans to work.

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  6. 1… Henry, I respect your Machismo. That said, majority of people who would hold senior positions if HH had to win, will not contain the names you have listed as UPND Alliance. Apart from Mutale Namulango, the rest will be roasted by HH like popcorns. They are using HH. And HH is using them. It’s a marriage of inconvenience made in hell.

    Please don’t manipulate the UPND demographic and portfolio. The truth is that UPND has MP’s who are expecting to be given top jobs who are mainly from Southern Province.

  7. 2… HH will not form a government using these one-man-band political leaders. If he does not give these top jobs to Southerners there will be civil war from day one. And frankly, I expect guys like Cornelius Mweetwa, Gary Khombo and many to get top jobs because they have stood in through thick and thin for HH. And not these latecomers jumping on the bandwagon such as Felix Mutati, Kelvin Fube, Ernest Mwansa, Joseph Akafumba, Kaluba Simuyemba

  8. 3..Without a doubt, the government has to lay national benchmarks and infrastructure vehicles that the private sector or private citizens need to add development to the nation such as constructions of good Transport, Communication, Energy, Power, Educations, Health, Social Infrastructures. When these structures are sound and good, it boils down to every one of us to drive the nation forward and not develop chronic-negativity one sees on Lusakatimes every day coming from bloggers.

  9. 3..Without a doubt, the government has to lay national benchmarks and infrastructure vehicles that the private sector or private citizens need to add development to the nation such as constructions of good Transport, Communication, Energy, Power, Educations, Health, Social Infrastructures. When these structures are sound and good, it boils down to every one of us to drive the nation forward and not develop chronic-negativity one sees on Lusakatimes every day coming from bloggers.

  10. 4… However, UPND must stop promising things that they cannot do. This is where you, I and others must preach the gospel of inspiring Zambians, to bring minds and good ideas together and tap into unchartered territories.

    Today, a new or upgraded Airport has was commissioned, which will handle modern and faster logistics. Virgin Airlines from LONDON-LUSAKA-JOHANSBERG is expected by end of next year. We the private citizens are lobbying with Virgin Airlines. Who knows British Airways might return one day. And hoping Zambian Airways starts landing in London soonest.

  11. Too long and boring. This is not a thesis please. You clearly state the problems faced by our government leaders. Low income and high expenditure. But you favorite party promises to bring heaven on earth. Pure lie. All that you have mentioned is Already in the PF manifesto. Tribal balancing at ministerial level failed as those approached from the opposision declined fearing to go the Siamunene way. Most important, the Lungu government managed to distribute development to all parts of Zambia.

  12. 5…This is time for creative minds to tap into the export of horticulture and agriculture produce into Europe, USA, Middle East and China because demand for tropical foods is there.

    Zambia has lacked behind in exporting fresh products because we have failed to ship agricultural products that are needed to arrive fresh in Europeans Supermarkets for immediate consumer consumption. This is time not for What Could Have, Would Have, Should Have…!!

    Creating success, wealth and jobs in a nation is a **Mindset followed by Actions, Dedication, Discipline and Commitment.

  13. 6… Lastly, I totally agree with you that big government has to be reduced. We have a bloated government, past and present.
    But you are contradicting yourself. If the government has to reduce the civil list which is currently at about 225,000. Who is going to create the jobs if the private sectors does not fill up the gap on a country which is 17.2 million Zambians?

    Again the answer is the private sector. And that’s why guys like you who are educated need to change the *mindset from { Talk, Talk & Talk } and change to { Do It, Do It and Do It }. Because anyone can talk good. But talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words.

    It Is Not What The Country Can Do For You, But What You Can Do For Your Country { John F. Kennedy }

  14. Who is this guy? He starts by saying upnd should form a more inclusive government than PF. Pure comedy. Has upnd ever been inclusive? If your mps are from a few regions of the country, how do you form an inclusive government?
    This is nothing more than a poor attempt at propagating upnd propaganda. We know that the ministers will be from southern province mostly. That’s what upnd is.

  15. What is the fee for replacement of National Registration Card, NRC? K2.50, two Kwacha fifty Ngwee, the same price as an egg.

  16. Thanks for the article, if PF had implemented these things, they would not have turned out to be the failed project they have been

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