By Gershom Ndhlovu
This week I reproduce reactions to last week’s column entitled “NEPAD is dead.”
“Yet today, boatloads of Africans from almost all countries perilously float on the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea hoping to land on the shores of European countries for a better life when the continent can adequately provide for its peoples if only with a determined leadership not driven by kleptomania,” I wrote in the same column.
I think, writes a reader signing himself as MrK, kleptomania is just a symptom, because it is part of a system.The system works like this. 1) Western corporations own Africa's natural resources2) African politicians willing to facilitate this exploitation of their country and people are cannonized. 3) Corruption, mismanagement, brutality are overlooked and are (for instance) not cause for the IMF or World Bank to stop lending to these regimes - why not? Because it is irrelevant to them. Just as dead white farmers in Zimbabwe OR South Africa are irrelevant to them. The only thing that gets them excited is when someone breaks ranks and says 'I will not implement your Structural Adjustment Programme or sell off state assets. 4) Anyone who says no to the IMF (Kenneth Kaunda, Robert Mugabe) has their economy destroyed by a cut off of foreign exchange to their country. The way out of this position, is to make sure that our economies consist of a myriad of local economies that trade with each other especially regionally, instead of producing for distant foreign markets. Profits from the mines should be used to build infrastructure and lower taxes. I hope you have read my Manifesto for Economic Transformation (http://maravi.blogspot.com). I would like to see it as a living document…. Unlike NEPAD, it contains very practical suggestions for improving our economies in a self-sustaining and self-perpetuating way, continuing for centuries to come. If for instance the World Bank demanded that- 50% of national revenues was handed to local government- all government expenditures and income are monitoredwe would be in a completely different situation today. I also discuss land and agrarian reform, and of course the mines, which are Zambia's economic lifeblood and future.
Another reader, signing himself as Cho, wrote:
“I always thought NEPAD was doomed to fail. Everyone knows what needs to happen for Africa to develop. What is lacking is political will.“Change in Africa will take time. It took years before Western nations embraced democratic ideals.”
I agree entirely with the observations by the two readers whose comments appeared on my blog, http://gndhlovu.blogspot.com. Even as delegates from all over Africa gathered in Libya last week to discuss the possibility of a United States of Africa, there are a lot of issues that need to be tackled. First and foremost, is changing the mindset of African leaders and tuning them to acceptable democratic principles and practices.
Some of the champions of the U.S of Africa do not allow even as much as a cough of dissent among their citizens. One therefore wonders how they would fit in the larger continental picture which is expected to be democratic and open.
There is also the issue of structure. Are we talking in terms of an American type U.S.A where there is a sole president with the rest as governors, or are we talking of a European Union-type of structure where nations retain much of their sovereignty?
There is also the issue of economic control. It is a notorious fact that the majority of African countries are poor. The question arises of who takes the overall control of economic and political resources, is it a chap from a country oozing with poverty or the more affluent guy who can even stand up to the West and its Bretton Woods Institutions?
Last but by no means least, today’s African leaders lack the genuine continental patriotism that was exhibited by Kwame Nkrumah, Sekou Toure, Haile Sellasie, Ben Bella, Kaunda and other founding fathers who were the nemesis of the colonialists.—email@example.com.
Friday, 29 June 2007
By Gershom Ndhlovu
Posted by Gershom Ndhlovu at 21:40
Friday, 22 June 2007
By Gershom Ndhlovu
A few years ago, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) was on everybody’s lips, more so among African presidents who even embarked on jaunts from one capital city to another proclaiming the new initiative which was to bring an end to the continent’s social and economic woes.
A few days ago, one of the architects of the same NEPAD, Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade declared it effectively dead. In other words, NEPAD has not lived up to its vision, mission and objectives, but rather only served as a meeting point for African heads of state.
NEPAD was meant to commit African leaders to promote democracy and good governance in return for increased Western investment, trade and debt relief, but President Wade said that it had proved no more than a talking shop."I've decided no longer to waste my time going to meetings where nothing gets done. It's very agreeable to meet among ourselves but it doesn't drive things forward," Wade said in an interview last week on West African TV channel Africable and quoted on Independent Online website, www.int.iol.co.za.
"Expenses adding up to hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on trips, on hotels. But not a single classroom has been built, not a single health centre completed. NEPAD has not done what it was set up for," he said.
NEPAD’s key objectives are to eradicate poverty, put African countries on a path of sustainable development and prevent Africa being marginalised in the process of globalisation.
But then, who can fault President Wade whose Omega Plan formed the genesis of NEPAD alongside South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki’s Millennium African Programme (MAP), and a couple of others?
One can understand the frustrations of the man who has since declared that the relationship between his country and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will no longer be that of borrower and lender, but simply a facilitator of economic development in his country.
President Wade says his country, and indeed by extension Africa, has a lot of natural resources for its people to wallow in poverty. Yet today, boatloads of Africans from almost all countries perilously float on the Atlantic Oceans and the Mediterranean Sea hoping to land on the shores of European countries for a better life when the continent can adequately provide for its peoples if only with a determined leadership not driven by kleptomania.
A key part of NEPAD was the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), under which governments were to open themselves up to scrutiny by a panel of African leaders. But so far, less than half of the 53 members of the African Union have signed up for the process.
This is in a continent where leaders can freely batter their opponents like in the case of President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and in the case of Darfur in Sudan, a government can freely engage in genocide by Arabic citizens against Blacks while they all look on.
Nobody has the courage to question leaders such as Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi on the apparent racism perpetrated by Arabic citizens on Black Sub-Saharan Africans who, legally or otherwise, find their way into that country to seek jobs.
Not to rock each other’s boats, African leaders are still encumbered with the archaic diplomatic notion of not interfering in internal affairs of other sovereign nations on the continent.
Several months ago I wrote on this very forum how the attainment of the United States of Africa is a far-fetched dream for this and other reasons.
While still on this issue, I thought that President Mwanawasa on his recent visit to the UK could have taken advantage to meet the incoming Prime Minister Gordon Brown to discuss with him issues not only on Zambia but Africa as a whole.
Mr Brown, who has been Chancellor of the Exchequer for the last 10 years, is very passionate about Africa and an opportunity like that could have just been perfect to buoy NEPAD’s flagging fortunes.—firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Gershom Ndhlovu at 06:03
Friday, 15 June 2007
By Gershom Ndhlovu
There is one thing that unites us a nation after we have insulted each other on the political platform as members of the MMD, PF, UPND, the FDD and other political parties, and that is football. But, unfortunately, this is one social element that our successive governments have ignored through failure to construct suitable stadia.
This failure has yet again needlessly cost us 12 lives in a stampede at Konkola stadium. And for as long as we depend on the goodwill of some foreign government that keeps on promising to construct us a national stadium, we risk more deaths from an activity that our people should enjoy regardless of their political affiliation and economic status.
For those Zambians that have travelled to neighbouring Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo, they have seen what infrastructure they have in the National Stadium in Harare and the Stade de Martyr (Martyr Stadium) in Kinshasa and these two countries cannot claim to be as great footballing nations as Zambia. Even neighbouring Botswana has done very well in that area with its own National Stadium, although it is not as magnificent as the other two mentioned above.
Our Independence Stadium is such an unstable pile of concrete that it vibrates when one is walking up or along the terraces. In other words, it is another disaster waiting to happen.
Our three Presidents, the two former and the incumbent, all claim to love football. In fact, Dr Kaunda even had the national team named after him as the KKXI. Sadly, none of them has thought of bequeathing the nation with an appropriate sports edifice probably due to lack of resources, which, incidentally, are found for other more mundane and rather spurious activities like the procurement of 150 MMD vehicles a few years ago.
We are not talking about constructing a Wembley Stadium type of infrastructure or indeed Stadium Yokohama in Japan which hosted the World Cup final in 2002 which is the ultimate in stadium architecture, but something in which our boys can play international matches and above all, where the spectators are assured of 100 percent safety.
One or two foreign governments have promised to build us a stadium but it has not been forthcoming for a while, but surely the Zambian government can kick-start the project and whoever it is that wants to help us, could join in. This is definitely not a one year project which, therefore, means that resources could be budgeted towards the project over several years. For instance, the newly re-opened Wembley Stadium took over seven years to build. Ours can take even longer but at least a start will have been made.
But as it is now, with our Nkoloma, Nationalist, Matero and Woodlands stadiums, we stand to lose out in three years’ time when the World Cup goes to South Africa. I am sure the David Beckhams, if they will still be playing in 2010, would not want to play preparatory matches in such grounds.
With foresight, the Zambian government would have started making arrangements for foreign teams to camp in Zambia a few days before the World Cup so that the country could cash in on the big spending international footballers who would gather in South Africa. But here we are, still grappling with basic infrastructure not suitable even for our boys and worse still, supporters.
Maybe the question to ask is where did we go wrong as a nation for nothing ever goes right for us? Is it the charlatans that man most of our strategic institutions, or is it the culture of bootlicking that has worn us down to an extent where even simple things become a burden to cogitate about them?
Going by similar incidents in the past, none of the officials responsible for the fatal mishap will ever be brought to book for criminal negligence and manslaughter. In Zambia, issues of health and safety in industry and the public sector generally, are not taken seriously. People culpable of this heinous crime will surely not be scratched by the law in anyway. –email@example.com.
Posted by Gershom Ndhlovu at 06:54
Monday, 11 June 2007
By Gershom Ndhlovu
Sending letters and parcels to Zambia from abroad is an absolute nightmare because one is never sure whether the intended recipients will receive the items or not because of the untrustworthiness of some Zambia Postal Corporation (Zampost) staff.
Quiet often, letters arrive with a torn corner when they arrive because someone in the sorting office thinks the envelope may contain foreign currency while chances of a parcel bearing a foreign stamp ever turning up are almost zero. Almost a year ago, I sent two parcels to Zambia from the UK which never turned up on the recipient’s doorsteps, never mind whether they were registered or not. I also know other people who have lost items in the post.
In the number of years I have lived in the UK, if there is one institution I have come to trust above anything else, it is the Royal Mail and its agents, the Post Office. There is no way the Royal Mail can ever fail to dispatch an item. Of course, this is not to say there are no dodgy postmen and women out there, but those are far and wide apart and when they are caught, the punishment is heavy.
This is the trust I want to bequeath Zampost, knowing that each time I enter into a contract with it whether in foreign lands or locally, It will deliver and, most importantly, that those who tamper with mail are punished heavily. As such, I would like to believe that it is just a small fraction of Zampost workers causing pain among its customers.
The problem with Zampost staff to me seems to be that they are still living in the past where they think pinching postal items is part of “amadilu” or deals without knowing how much pain they cause to people sending these items and more so, those expecting them. The items may not cost the world, but it is the sentimental value attached to them that matters.
I do not know how Zampost is performing in terms of profitability, but really, it risks losing business if private entrepreneurs offering a cheaper and more reliable alternative come up. The other alternative is sending stuff through DHL and other courier companies although it would cost a limb.
The British government has opened up postal services to other players in the market and one can only imagine how the Royal Mail, trusted as it and has been in existence for close to two centuries, has had to double its efforts in terms of efficiency not to mention security.
It is for this reason that the Zampost management should weed out undesirable elements now so that the corporation can once again be viewed positively not only by the customers to whom they are supposed to deliver items, but also by other postal authorities who lose money in compensation for lost items.
It is quite shameful that postal workers in other countries sneer when one is sending an item to Zambia and insist, gently of course, that you insure your item because they know that it is a destination that is least trusted.
But what does one expect when every Jim and Jack is picked from the streets to go and sort out mail at Zampost without any background check? The result is a chaotic postal system as is obtaining in Zambia at the moment. The new post-master general should clean up the corporation if it is to regain its image of the by-gone era of the General Post Office when postmen respected people and were in turn respected.
It should not take PF’s Rhoda Nsama to storm a Zampost sorting office to bring this issue to the attention of the authorities like she did with Spar Supermarket which she and other cadres exposed selling expired foodstuffs which is also quite common among so-called mini-marts in townships.
These mini-marts are brazen enough to even cut out the expiry date from packaging on such items as biscuits which children like and therefore exposing them to the risk of catching unknown diseases.—firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Gershom Ndhlovu at 18:40
Sunday, 10 June 2007
“RESEARCH ZAMBIAN PRESIDENCY”
By Gershom Ndhlovu
This week I reproduce a reaction I received from a reader to my column “Regulate Presidential Gifts.” “I thank you for your wise suggestion to 'Regulatepresidential gifts'. However, do not just stop there.I feel people have reacted very emotionally becauseever since we got our independence, they have neverunderstood the 'Presidency' as an institution and thesecrecy that surrounds it.
After all, the “Shushushus”/Intelligence exist primarily for that.Now that our 'Transparent' current President hasunveiled it, there is need to educate ourselves aboutit.
Why can't you suggest that our university studentsand anyone interested research widely on it, from thetime it was instituted in Zambia, up to date?
I am still curious about how much was spent digging thosetunnels, the salary structure for the 'Shushushus',the presidential trips abroad including those thataccompany them, allowances and transport for thedancing women at the airport, the money for thepresident's treatment abroad and for the ongoingmaintenance of the 'Presidency'.
Is the ZAMTROP Account still open or has it changed names? While still at it may be we can extent the research to comparing how other 'Presidencies' including Monarchies are run andwhich country is the most extravagant. It might beinteresting to watch other leaders' faces when theirunderwears (sic) are being counted in public.
I have always thought the institution in its present structure istoo expensive for nothing especially for developingcountries. In fact, the only time I see things running alittle bit better in this country is when parliamentis dissolved. But instead of being angry and callingour former and current leaders names for running theinstitution in accordance with the way they hadinherited it, let us use whatever information we come upwith to restructure the whole institution and come upwith one more affordable and useful to the Zambianpeople?” The author signs off as Concerned Zambian.
There are a lot of pertinent issues raised by “Concerned Zambian” on the issue of the Presidency. First and foremost, the primary source of the President’s powers is the Republican Constitution which should be the starting point for anybody who wants to research that institution.
As you may be aware, my dear Concerned Zambian, various NGOs including the Law Association of Zambia through its membership of the Oasis Forum, are fighting, and rightly so, for the amendment of the Constitution so that the President’s powers are curtailed by that important piece of law whose amendment Mr Mwanawasa seems to be dragging his feet about.
To further understand how the Zambian Presidency has functioned and operated, it would be of importance to access Cabinet documents, which in other parts of the world are declassified after 40, years because that is where major decisions are made and parliament just rubber stamps them.
Another very important document any serious student of government and politics ought to follow keenly is the weekly Government Gazette in which all government decisions deemed legal, should be announced including how much the president earns and everybody else employed by government. Statutory Instruments are also another mine of important information about government operations from time to time.
As for the operations and functions of the Zambia State Intelligence and Security also known as Office of the President (Special Division), it would be important to look at the institution’s governing Act.
It appears to me that under President Chiluba, the smoothing running of government broke down because most of the important procedures were either ignored or simply done away with to facilitate illegalities to be carried out.
As for those that accompany the president on foreign trips, in most cases not less than 40 people in an entourage, they are paid for by Cabinet Office according to their gazetted entitlements depending on the destination.
For the women who are ferried to the airports, it is some local arrangement based on coercion and pay-outs by the local party organ and also the provision of transport by parastatal companies.
This is by no means exhaustive but merely scratches the surface of what really goes on behind the scenes.—email@example.com.
Posted by Gershom Ndhlovu at 10:35
REGULATE PRESIDENTIAL GIFTS
By Gershom Ndhlovu
The nation has just been driven round the bend in the on-going Chiluba fraud case in which the former president claims that most of the money he used under the Zamtrop intelligence account came from well-wishers.
Now that the nation has learnt a lesson from that, it is high time parliament came up with legislation for leaders and senior government officials who receive gifts in the course of duty to declare them for the sake of transparency.
It is not too long ago that a similar issue arose with President Mwanawasa when one of his aides withdrew several billions of Kwacha from one commercial bank, money which was claimed to have come from well-wishers.
Chiluba could have received gifts from Raphael Soriano alias Katebe Katoto who was involved in the unfulfilled arms deal, from Gokul Binani, the failed RAMCOZ investor and all sorts of shady, fly-by-night characters, but for now, and perhaps in the future, he is not obliged to tell us who showered him with gifts which he, unfortunately, confused with state resources.
What should be borne in mind is that there is a thin line between a genuine gift and a bribe which constitutes corruption especially where it concerns a head of state and senior government officials who are in a position to give out contracts and other favours to those who are seen to be generous.
Those who have read the Vulture Funds judgment should be familiar with how Donegal officials donated money to Chiluba supposedly for use in the construction of houses under the PHI project. But whether that money went to the intended project is a matter for Chiluba to say. It is now clear that donations that Donegal officials made were simply for the purpose of dubiously milking Zambia out of huge amounts of money.
It is strongly rumoured that a former permanent secretary, now on the wrong side of the law, used to take brief-cases full of dollars to State House which probably ended up at Boutique Basille to kit the former president whose sense of haute couture defied logic in a nation in which 80 per cent of the population rely on Salaula, or madingimunwa as the Tonga call it.
It is only after cases such as the one involving the former president that the nation should put in place laws and regulations to prevent potential abuse tomorrow, next year and for generations to come. In fact, this is all the more reason why Zambia needs a strong constitution not just tailored to the whims and caprices of a sitting president.
It is not uncommon for African leaders who visit Libya and China to receive huge personal gifts from the leaders of the two countries who also extend free lodging and food for the visiting delegations. It is also not uncommon for businessmen seeking investment opportunities in Third World countries to give gifts to leaders of those countries. While it is not wrong for anybody to receive a gift, laws and regulations should be put in place for the declaration of these tokens given to leaders and government officials.
These gifts should be declared either through Cabinet Office, or better still, the Chief Justice to whom political leaders declare assets and liabilities on taking up of elective office. If such a law were enacted, even political parties should disclose the sources of their money so that the electorate know who gave what to which party to expose those seeking favours at some point in the future.
Such a requirement is standard in most advanced democracies where leaders declare gifts and freebies they receive while in office and if they exceed a certain value, they revert to the state. Obviously, what those who framed these laws in those countries wanted to avoid was the abuse being witnessed in Zambia in the Chiluba case.
The challenge now is for the gallant Members of Parliament to take up the matter so that posterity does not judge them harshly when a similar situation arises sometime in the future. –firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Gershom Ndhlovu at 10:28