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Tuesday, January 11, 2022

HH has not secured a single bilateral trade agreement in all the five trips that he has undertaken so far

Columns HH has not secured a single bilateral trade agreement in all the...


By Sean Tembo – PeP President

1. It is important for a Republican President to undertake trips to foreign countries provided such trips are substantially beneficial to Zambia. Kindly note my use of the term “substantially beneficial” as opposed to just beneficial. The question then becomes; when does a presidential foreign trip become substantially beneficial to Zambia? Well, from my standpoint, it is when the benefits of undertaking such a trip outweigh the costs. The costs of a foreign trip include the monetary cost of transportation, accommodation, food, allowances for the entourage, etcetera as well as the opportunity cost of traveling abroad instead of attending to domestic matters.

2. The benefits of a presidential foreign trip in my view include the tangible and the intangible. Tangible benefits are those which can be seen and measured, whereas intangible benefits are those that cannot be seen or measured, and whose existence is a matter of conjecture. Examples of tangible benefits include bilateral trade agreement with other countries whereby say Angola agrees to import all its chicken requirements from Zambia instead of Brazil or America which may translate to say 20 million metric tonnes over the next 10 years, and in return we agree to purchase all our crude oil requirements from Angola, for processing by Indeni. That is a mutually beneficial bilateral trade agreement that would create jobs in Zambia as well as add to economic growth. Another key tangible benefit of a presidential foreign trip would be attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) to Zambia in terms of companies from foreign countries coming to establish operations here and employing our people as well as contributing to the national tax basket. Intangible benefits include networking and creating goodwill between Zambia and other countries.

3. HH has so far undertaken five foreign trips; to the United States, Scotland, South Africa, Botswana and more recently to DRC Congo. All these five trips were to attend summits or conferences. These being the UN general assembly in the US, COP26 climate summit in Scotland, the Inter-Africa Trade Forum in South Africa, the International Children’s Day Commemoration in Botswana and the Africa Business Forum in DRC. Summits are essentially meet-and-greet talk shops which only bring about the intangible benefits of networking and goodwill but hardly bring about tangible benefits such as FDI and bilateral trade agreements (BTA).

4. You see, for a President to attract FDI to Zambia, or for relations between two countries to culminate into a BTA, a lot of one-on-one ground work has to be done. For instance, in the case of FDI, the Zambian mission in say Angola has to identify specific companies that can invest in specific sectors in Zambia and such companies need to be provided with all the information that they need to know about doing business here in terms of Labour laws, economic environment etcetera. Then our relevant Ministers headed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs have to go to and meet the interested foreign companies and answer their questions related to specific sectors. It is only after the foreign companies are happy with the information that they have acquired will they considered coming for a physical visit here to come and see the business environment for themselves. When our President goes to visit such a foreign country, he would visit the premises of companies that are intending to set up shop here, just to get assurance that they are not briefcase investors.

5. Similarly, for bilateral trade agreements, a lot of background work has to be put in at Mission level as well as at the respective ministerial level before a BTA can be drafted for review by each country. Even when a draft BTA is in place, Presidents and their advisors can speak over the phone to iron out particular thorny issues. By the time a President makes a foreign trip to a particular country, they need to just go and put ink to paper, toast some champagne and fly back, because all ground work would have already been done. As President, you cannot just jump on your presidential jet and swing by Malawi or Congo DRC looking for investors or trying to enhance trade relations when you have not done any groundwork.

6. In the case of HH, he has not secured a single bilateral trade agreement in all the five trips that he has undertaken so far. Similarly, he has not attracted a single Ngwee of foreign direct investment despite spending millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money traveling around. That is because his trips are haphazard. They are not coordinated by prior groundwork at Zambian mission level or at ministerial level. Also, he has been focusing too much on summits and conferences as opposed to one-on-one bilateral trips to specific presidents of specific countries. Additionally, HH has got it wrong by believing that he is the Chief Marketing Officer of Zambia. He is not. As President, he is the Board Chairman of Zambia. The Secretary to Cabinet is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Zambia. The Minister of Foreign Affairs is our Chief Marketing Officer. By wrongly believing that he is the Chief Marketing Officer of Zambia, HH is taking over the job of his Foreign Affairs Minister and reducing him to his Aide de Camp. The Minister of ForeignAffairs should be able to embark on various trips in the region and overseas with his own entourage, and not just being in the shadow of the President whenever the President travels abroad.

7. On the other hand, HH should spend sufficient time here at home so that he can obtain a fair understanding of the domestic issues that require to be resolved. Issues to do with reducing the cost of living. Issues to do with hindrances to private sector growth. Issues that make it unattractive for investors to come here. Issues that prevent indigenous Zambians from meaningfully participating in our economy. How the poor and vulnerable can be assisted by the State in a sustainable manner. Those and several other issues require the President’s time and attention. Otherwise HH will be applying effort out there trying to attract investors to Zambia and then will be surprised that despite his manny trips abroad, investors are not coming, not knowing that he did not spend enough time and effort to make the local business environment conducive for investment.

8. My final advise to HH is that he should first spend enough time here at home to understand the structure of our economy and it’s various sectors so that even when he goes out there to the outside world, he will be speaking from a point of knowledge and not a point of ignorance. You cannot claim to be a chief marketing officer when you are new and blank on the job. You do not yet know the intricacies of the agriculture sector, mining sector, manufacturing sector, tourism sector, visual arts, etcetera and yet you want to go out there and speak about these sectors of the economy? You’ll just open your mouth for 5 minutes and your audience will see that you are just waffling. President Donald Trump, despite having been an established businessman in the US, spent about a year at home after becoming President, just understanding what is on the ground, before he ventured on foreign trips. The same with Joe Biden and Cyril Ramaphosa. So please, Mr President sir, you are the Board Chairman of Zambia. Stop knocking on doors around the globe. Let the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who is our Chief Marketing Officer do his job. Thank you

37 COMMENTS

  1. Can kawana or bwalya respond please.. I think this will be beyond chushi as she may take the smoke and leave out the fire.

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  2. Just for you to learn, bilateral trade agreements are not clinched in one trip, it is a series of negotiations, assuming you form government one day, you will learn these things

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  3. What makes you think he has not clinched any trade deal, it is not his fault that you got zeroes in the last elections, in any case it is not only trade deals that will take Zambia out of the wilderness which your colleagues the PF put us in

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  4. Sean is a very intelligent man who is not swayed by popular opinion. He thinks strategically and cannot be cheated by cow boy politicians in upnd. Sean continues carrying out checks and balances. Hh is just flying around wasting time and money yet he has nothing to show for it

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  5. How far have you gone with organizing your party Mr PEP president, do you have any constituency in Zambia where you have atleast a section or ward chairman. The last elections were a disaster for you, I hope you are reorganizing your party, though unfortunately you have reduced yourself to a political commentator against one person, time is running out for 2026. Just issuing statements, how can you be considered by Zambians

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  6. Tell him, may be Mambala is busy cutting personal deals. Zewelanji told us that he’s got no scruples when it comes to business

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  7. @Ayatolla

    Just my thoughts as well. Mambala may just be cutting personal deals. How come there is no bilateral agreements to talk about? As Sean Tembo rightly puts it, there seems to be no background work prior to all these trips HH is making. From all governments we have had so far, we have seen bilateral trade agreements being signed alongside Presidential trips. The problem with HH seems to be that he thinks all foreign relations begin and end with him. By the end of HH’s first term, there will be nothing to show for with his style of running the country. Everything for him is micro-management. His vocabulary has no place for the word “delegation”; Delegation is alien to him. Probably, Zambians are expecting too much from a person who seems to only know economics and very little…

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  8. @ Sean Tengo: or Tembo, whoever u are really your name doesn’t matter to me, but. You talking like this cos Lungu clinched many deals whilst dancing in New York and Swaziland right?

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  9. @10 PF cadres shut up
    No need to belittle and disrespect others….just try to engage fellow bloggers in a civil manner…no insults please…Sean Tembo is just try to keep checks on UPND so I see no need for someone to insult him
    Thank you

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  10. On top of need for bilateral trade ties ……..

    Good chemistry and understanding , forging close relationships between leaders is a must………

    Especially in Africa……

    That is what HEHH is doing……..

    The results of close ties and understanding between leaders translates to bilateral trade ties ………

    This happens even in the developed world….

  11. On top of need for bilateral trade ties ……..

    Good chemistry and understanding , forging close relationships between lead.ers is a must………

    Especially in Africa……

    That is what HEHH is doing……..

    The results of close ties and understanding between lead.ers translates to bilateral trade ties ………

    This happens even in the developed world….

  12. The problem with politicians is that Tembo in opposition is talking a lot of sense but once he wins the election is and sworn in at 10hrs, at 14hours he be talking nonsense.

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  13. To all those responding to issues raised and not the person who has raised them, you have my like.
    Zambians need to learn to debate ideas and not people. Attack Sean’s ideas, not his person.
    HH’s failure to disclose his businesses and companies in which he is a shareholder is concerning as well, we don’t know his personal interest whenever he meets business leaders on his foreign travels.
    He may clinch a deal, but on whose behalf? The man is a major shareholder in Zambeef, what is the agreement with the DRC concerning the export of Zambeef products there?

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  14. Mr Sean Tembo ,the Zambian people spoke, and 0.04% of population paid Attention to your Rantings.
    Did everyone of Edgar Chagwa Lungu’s 95 foreign trips yield a Bilateral Agreement?
    Shut Up , Go get a real Job and Pay your Taxes

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  15. HEHH has a 5 year term…..

    We will ask those questions about signing Bilateral Agreements at the end of his term……

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  16. By the way ……..

    The sad clone is at it again above ……..

    That is not me, must be a very small man to be pretending to be other men…….

    To Mr S Tembo , there is what we call cultivating relations …….

    That is what HEHH is doing…….

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  17. The beggar was quiet when Chagwa was destroying our country, that was the time to talk sense, including Nakacinda. Now that HH is the president, there is no sense anyone can say, you had your chance to talk. Now u shut the …. up. Including Nakacinga or whatever type of kangaroo he is.

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  18. @20 PF cadres shut up
    but still no need to call him dog…what has he done to you….he just sits behind a computer and write whatever he wants…has he physically attacked your family…,NO…has he stolen your property..NO…is he flirting with your wife..NO,……do you know him personally…NO….and do you know HH personally..NO…..has HH ever given you money or provided for your family…NO

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  19. @15 Chiza chirwa
    I agree with you its better to attack Sean ideas but not his personality and someone just called him a dog…thats very unfortunate and no wonder people now rarely visit Lusaka Times…too much insults

  20. DRC is our largest market for agricultural goods yet we treat the customers as smugglers. But give special treatment to some foreigners illegally exploiting Mukula. I would encourage the President to visit neighbouring countries with especially those with a coastline starting with Namibia. The murder rate of truck drivers in SA is worrisome. Dar is congested. Beira/Nacala is threatened by an Islamic insurrection in Mozambique. The proposed NW railway to Angolan ports remains a pipedream. We need an array of ports linking into Zambia to mitigate the effects of putting all eggs in one basket
    ( or 2 major ports, Dar & Durban as the case is now) . This expansion of alternative ports will also aide economic leverage in trade negotiations.

  21. Lusaka times is one of the sites who we know is Pf and so disappointed that they are the only ones who are are giving so much time to fools like Sean Tembo. Mukose

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  22. Check you misguided article. An example, the first trip to US, USAID gave Zambia some money and the president has been making good progress in country to country business so far. It is just Sour grapes from your unworthy article and Kabimba’s. There is nothing worthy you can show us from your parties.

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  23. His Excellency Sean Tembo would sound quite good in 2026. This is the kind of scrutiny we need from an opposition party noti just quarreling everyday but giving arguments supported by facts and logic. Just continue Tembo I will convince John Sangwa to join politics and PEP

  24. It’s gonna be a long haul, but every second counts. Soon the so called 5years will be 3months. Cimbwi with no plan, the unfording of the hh self-prophecy.

  25. Sometimes when you are ignorant it is better to keep quiet. You have no clue what goes into signing a bilateral agreement. Example, do you know how long Zambia and and DRC have been negotiating?

  26. Saulosi November 28, 2021 At 8:12 pm

    @15 Chiza chirwa
    I agree with you its better to attack Sean ideas but not his personality and someone just called him a dog…thats very unfortunate and no wonder people now rarely visit Lusaka Times…too much insults…DON’T you think the one that called him dog is the dog himself?

  27. @Genral Power
    we don’t know those that are fed u up with this government except the cadres that were milking the resource of this country. They are biter because they don’t have any source of income now. All beneficiallies of lawlessness will die of hunger.

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