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Dear Next Zambian President

Columns Dear Next Zambian President

15th August 2021

Dear Sir,

I trust that you are well and preparing to take on the huge challenge of restoring Zambia on the path of prosperity. I write again to you sir and hope that my concerns shall be favourably considered this time around. As an ordinary concerned citizen who voted a few days ago, the following are the issues that are most supreme in my mind for the next 5 years of your term of office and I hope and pray you shall deal with them.

1. Corruption:

This is the first thing you need to deal with from day one in office. We are tired of reading the Auditor General’s report and seeing huge sums of money embezzled, misappropriated, misapplied or unaccounted for. We are not seeing erring controlling officers facing the law. We are tired of reading in the newspapers about the endless financial scandals at Ministry of Health for years and years. We are not happy to see money meant for widows and orphans stolen by the people entrusted to administer it. We are tired of seeing ministers flaunting their ill-gotten wealth as they build their mansions and buy Range Rovers using money not commensurate with their known earnings. We want to see concrete action by the Anti-Corruption Commission on the dossiers generated by the Financial Intelligence Centre. As we say in Zambia, “umulandu taubola”. We want to see the crooks who stole tax payer money or got kickbacks from corrupt inflated contracts to face the law. We want to see their assets seized because they are proceeds of crime. It is high time people in political office and the civil service get to see that corruption does not pay.

2. Devolution of power:

As Lord Acton aptly observed, absolute power corrupts absolutely. One of the worst things about our current governance system is that there is too much power in the hands of the president and Cabinet. It seems no Zambian president can resist the temptation to abuse and misuse that power. I implore you sir to voluntarily kill a lot of your own powers. The best defence against abuse of power is to diffuse it. Spread it around. There is no need for the president to be appointing Permanent Secretaries anyhow instead of letting them rise and be chosen from within the ranks as career civil servants. There is no need for the president to be declaring districts willy-nilly whenever some chief petitions him. Why is the Ministry of Local Government there? Why should everything be decided from Plot One? Why are technocrats there in the civil service? Why should the president be picking winners and losers or sticking his nose into the Justice system by preventing his henchmen from getting punished by the law when they break it? Why should the Police be used and misused to settle political scores using the evil Public Order Act? The less you micro-manage the nation, the better. I think you should seriously consider creating a Federal State like the USA where Governors are directly elected and can make decisions at a local level without waiting for instructions from Plot One.

3. Wasteful expenditures:

So much money is wasted in Zambia it is unbelievable. We are poor but want to live beyond our means. We have pointless Ministries like Religious Affairs. What on earth do they do? Or ministry of Gender. Do we really need a whole ministry for Chiefs? Why can’t all these be small nimble departments under other ministries? Did we really have to split so many ministries? The USA has only one Education Ministry and one Finance Ministry despite being a much larger economy. Do we need a whole Presidential Affairs Minister? Or a PS for the Vice-President? Why is the Chief of Staff there? I urge you sir to reduce the number of ministries down to 15 and also the Ministers. We need to live within our means. Civil servant emoluments already consume 75% of local revenues which makes us go with a begging bowl for donor support every year and we end up having our sovereignty compromised. We must balance the budget and generate our own revenues for the budget 100% locally without donors financing a third of our budget.

4. Debt:

The runaway public debt must be arrested immediately. First we have to stop borrowing like there is no tomorrow. Our borrowing comes from the budget deficit, which itself is because of a bloated civil service. Trim it down and you need less money. Killing corruption will remove inflated infrastructure contracts that have driven much of our new debt. Reducing the budget deficit by cutting the civil service means government will not crowd out the private sector by borrowing money from banks as much.

5. Lawlessness:

Zambia has descended into an increasingly lawless nation where people ignore the law with impunity. Whether it is people in political office, civil servants, private sector, marketeers or ordinary private citizens, it is most appalling. Minibus drivers park and load people anywhere on the road. Street vendors have choked our once beautiful capital city and are selling anywhere with no permits. Procedures are ignored or circumvented in government and there is no sense of respect for rule of law. You need to come down hard on law breakers sir and bring back respect for the law. The strength of the judicial system, especially its ability to enforce contracts is one of the pillars or prosperity.

6. Caderism:

This is a huge cancer that has been left to grow and consume our society. Political cadres are more powerful than the police and law enforcement agencies. They beat up anyone anyhow, disrupt radio programmes, storm police stations and beat up police officers. They are wealthy and untouchable. This is unacceptable and needs to be stopped immediately. Late President Levy Mwanawasa dealt with them and we never saw any cadre violence during his reign because no one was shielded from prosecution. You would to well to take a leaf from him.

7. Mines:

Although it is fashionable in Zambia to bash the mine owners, they need to be handled with care whilst ensuring laws are obeyed. KCM needs to be given back to Vedanta immediately and government should get their hands off the mining industry. Most people unfortunately do not appreciate that a few large companies in Zambia are generating much of the income. The mines generate 80% of our forex and pay lots of salaries which are taxed. Not to mention the other taxes they pay. You should create a predictable environment for investments, especially in mining. We need to ride the coming wave of electric cars which shall need lots of Copper. We should not be seeing the appalling spectacle of mine owners going to court to battle questionable liquidations. Whilst some mining houses are culpable for pollution or other offences, you can firmly deal with them by enforcing existing laws. But you should not fall prey to being bought by the mining houses.

8. Title deeds:

We need an accelerated decentralised programme for issuing title deeds en masse. Owning property makes it easier for people to borrow and start businesses.

9. Urban development:

Please sir, can you get rid of shanty compounds. They are an eyesore and untenable. You can negotiate with property developers to buy off the land and compensate the occupants and build proper structures. The structures can include affordable high rise flats with proper water and sanitation.

10. More economic freedom:

We need Zambia to be business friendly. Less complicated and cheaper licensing procedures. We need lower Corporation Tax which at 35% is one of the highest in the entire world.

This needs to come down to 20% so that producers are rewarded and stimulated to produce more. Lower taxes in general are also good to help development.

As I conclude, remember that you have a short 2 year window to really push your agenda. If you miss that window, it becomes increasingly difficult to implement your ideas as you approach your next election. Also remember not to take the people of Zambia for granted and always stay truly humble. If you do your job well, we shall gladly vote for you again in the next election and you won’t need to resort to authoritarian methods to retain political power.

Yours sincerely,
Michael Chishala

42 COMMENTS

  1. Some of these are impossible looking at the sad state of affairs. I promised to employ graduates and increase salaries for civil servants yet the write is proposing that I trim the civil service

  2. The corporate tax cannot be reduced at this point if the budget deficit has to be fixed. Who pays for the 15% hole created?

  3. We have to follow the law KCM must go back to the owners. This is the law no matter what the miners think.
    We are now going back to a land of laws

    11
  4. Which ever way you like it Vadenta will win the arbitration and we will even have to pay more. We voted out a useless president and is gang of thieves to stop such nosense

    10
  5. Next Zambian president mop up the huge financial/economic mess created by Lungu .Prosecute the culprits and seize their assets.

    10
  6. I haven’t seen any candidate – including the president elect – say anything about CLIMATE CHANGE. Is an important issue though, also in Zambia. There will be more and longer droughts, there will be more and longer flooding.

    8
    2
  7. Cleaning up the parastatals, especially Zesco. No more cadres in management, no more Zesco finances being looted by government. Zesco needs the finances to strengthen the infrastructure and increase generating capacity. And please let’s have an MD with knowledge of energy, not some “friend” who needs a favour.

  8. @No Corruption in Zambia: Climate change in Zambia? Which climate change bra? Esp when u are first country the whole world to default on debt, rampant corruption, poverty everywhere, so which climate change will people eat?

    1
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  9. I see your flag shows that u are based in Zambia, I can only guess that u are one of those Zambians that go to bed and wake up the morning wishing they were Amelicans or English people born in England and then grew up in the London & later settled in Great Britain.

  10. Repeal the Act that has declared Zesco as the single buyer of electricity to allow other producers to deal directly with consumers. Let Zesco remain with the power generation function alone and allow others to take over the marketing and distribution

  11. A few things where forgotten.
    1. Please do not allow those guilty of having perpetrated corruption and violence with impunity get away with it in the name of reconciliation. People like kaiser Zulu, edgar lungu, kampongo, chitotela, chilufya chitalu, bowman lusambo must all go behind bars. No mercy must be shown to them, because their crimes are not just against HH but against the zambian people.
    2. Caderism. You have those so called “commanders” whose only competence is violence and bootlicking. They have become millionaires and drive very expensive land cruisers that they could not possibly buy.
    3. Appoint people into positions based on competence not caderism. Look at bowman lusambo. From an MMD Cadre who had nothing to an overnight millionaire.
    4. Remember the 42 million dollars…

  12. ….
    4. Remember the 42 million dollars fire trucks
    5. Those fake ambulances bought for USD360k
    6. Remember the 48 houses owned by a ghost
    7.Remember the FIU report which showed some people with 7million dollars in their banks as well as 17million kwacha. Along with all the other pf involved in money laundering.
    8. Remember honeybee
    9. Remember macopolo
    10. Remember the murder of innocent people by police under instructions of kanpyongo.
    11. Remember the raiding of Central Police by Jay Jay and his cadres.

    Your excellency HH, Please remember

  13. Michael Chishala, your good will is evident but be realistic. Do u know how expensive it would be to get rid of the shanties? At the most just wish the nxt president will stop them growing. They’re not going to go away in your lifetime. Yes, they’re an eyesore but the problem started whn the UNIP government removed the colonial government’s law that regulated the influx of people from the countryside into urban areas where formal sector housing demand quickly outstripped supply. U hv to deep into Zambia’s political and economic history to hv a grasp of the problem. China to date still has laws that regulate rural-urban migration. The Chinese can pull it off because it’s has no chance of being an election issue.

    3
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  14. Thank you sor bringing out those issues.
    The other issue to add on No. 8 is to ban all foreigners to own land in Zambia except through registered companies. A lot of land is under the Chinese who are bankrolled by their government through the Bank of China Zambia Limited. A lot of our youths are reaching adult age and they will need land to build houses to build their families.
    In South Africa and Botswana, foreigners cannot own land. It is in their laws. UPND must urgently deal with the Land ownership quagmire which the pf is leaving.

    2
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  15. # 11 Remove the ABSURD Borehole TAX- Boreholes are a necessity to have self-sufficient clean water. Zambians should not be penalized for taking the initiative to have access to water.

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  16. Mopani was bought off from private investors by government needing new owners. KCM already has who it belongs to, Vedanta. But it must, I propose, be on new terms. Our mines have been treated with kids gloves. In conjunction with ZCCM-HI, they have failed to pay terminal benefits to our mine workers, though quick to change ownership.

  17. Say what you will… the economy is now in IMFs hands. Tighten your seat belts. Lifes gona be tough here on forward

  18. You can’t lower taxes,arrest the huge public debt,reduce the budget deficit and then generate 100% own revenues at the same time.LET’S GET REAL and true with ourselves.

  19. @Votehimout, climate change is now a necessity whether we like it or not. See the heat records and wildfires in US, flooding in Europe and Asia, disasters in Greece and Turkey, I can go on. Climate change requires changes in behaviour more than anything else, and LONG TERM planning about power stations, electric cars, planes etc. More about MODIFYING things than new investment. Nobody has to get hungry over this if prepared in time. I’m retired Zambian, in Zambia, have lived in UK, Europe, Australia and no plans to move away again. As long as Edgar China Lungu gets removed……

  20. @Ayatollah, yes indeed split up Zesco in generating and transportation/distribution arms, and open up the market for competition. Plenty opportunity for competitive (solar) generating plants. I’m busy with that for years – maybe with UPND government we get the chance now.

  21. But first we need to get rid of the corruption, both ERB and Zesco are VERY corrupt, as well as the ministry of energy

  22. Mr. chishala the first thing should be to discard tribalism. Dont run away from this monster.

    How could u leave it out or is it shameful.

  23. After the victory comes the hard work… He’ll have to deliver and show the people the reason why he was worth their vote. Judgement will be passed after a presidential term. For now, we wish him well and God bless Zambia and Zambians!

  24. Traffic police officers should not be allowed to mount unnecessary road bloks everywhere.They are irritating alot

  25. Congratulations upnd kindly mr president elect. Route out corruption in zesco ,Zambia police more especially traffic section and no more caderlism. in markets let markets and bus stations run by by council ns

  26. McDreamy Chishala is indeed a wishful thinker. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Already seriously indebted, you can’t magically stop borrowing and flourish at the same time. Neither can you replicate the US federal system without institutional bodies in place. By the way, the US borrows heavily and invests equally heavy. They lead in space science and technology on borrowed resources and brainpower. Stop being delusional. You have some sound ideas, so just present your resume to the Head-Elect to be considered for a post in his govt. Realistically, corruption, tribalism, nepotism and incompetence ought to be rooted out. A more comprehensive approach to infrastructure issues should be a priority warranting a Ministry of infrastrure and technology led by career technocrats and…

  27. 100% no unnecessary road blocks with traffic officers and zesco should be cleaned from corruption. Rea also should be cleaned and no cadres in markets and bus stations. Let the council work in markets and bus stations

  28. Congrats to our new house President. My advice to you Pres HH is to reduce expenditure amongst top govt office holders, we dont want to be spending our money for them to be buying luxury SUVs to show off as GRZ so that eveyone can salute them no! Allow farmers to export their maize, this will bring us forex and promote agriculture, remove the FISP program and reduce the price of fert at wholesale and retail level, avoid taking on large infrasructure projects but rather focus on the incomplete ones such as poor rural feeder roads, and general poor state of roads in Zambia. We believe you can do it but rest assured if you fail its you too will be booted out possibly in a shorter time than your predeccessor.

  29. Your suggestion on Shanties is highly misguided – developers don’t develop land for the poor, you will simply move the poor further peripherally – thus not sorting out the problem. What is needed is upgrading the shanties – improving road, water supply + sanitation/sewage & engage with Council town planners to reach an agreed way forward – by not displacing them, buys their confidence into engaging, know that at the end of the day, they will still have something to call home.

  30. Michael, you have raised some very pertinent issues affecting Zambia in particular and the whole region in general. I agree with all the sentiments raised, save for one. Building high rise affordable homes. If you look closely at the western world, you will see that they are doing away with them because of safety reasons, which in my humble opinion could be catastrophic for countries like ours in mitigating things like fire, rubbish collection, maintenance, accessibility and the general health of the people.
    Zambia has vast swathes of land which can be utilized to build safe environmentally friendly homes with easy access to green outdoor spaces. Homes designed to offer affordable abodes to the majority of Zambians in both urban and rural areas.

  31. HH has won this election, thanks to the massive youth vote, and we congratulate him. If he forgets it is the massive youth vote that has put him in power and does not create employment for them, he will be shown the exit after five (5) years. But what I find already worrisome from comments above is insistence on prosecution of former leaders. When Chiluba left office, I supported this idea. But because of the rushed manner in which this was carried out without a legal framework and limited prosecution capacity within GRZ, a lot of cases against Chiluba and his cronies were bungled by the office of the DPP. Those cases also increased political tension in the country. The incoming UPND government needs to guard against mistakes of the past and tread carefully when it comes to prosecution of…

  32. … those that abused their offices for personal gain. PF still has a large following as seen from the many votes amassed by its outgoing leader and the number of MPs it has. Therefore, any carelessness in the manner prosecutions are carried out is bound to create tension and work against the unity of the country. The issue of control of markets and bus stations and appointments into civil service by political cadres needs to be fought head on. It is one of the major factors in the loss of political support for the PF. Already, we are hearing of UPND cadres chasing PF cadres from markets and bus stops in Lusaka’s Kamwala area, City Market, Mandevu markets etc. UPND will need to act fast on this and create business opportunities for cadres. UPND cadres feel they should reward themselves…

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